The Great Cathedral of The Absented is certainly the most important site of pilgrimage in all the land of Otherwhile and perhaps the most important site in all the globe1 , housing at its centre the Lake of Loss, the silver-watered lake - its circumference a perfect circle, its surface ever still - where The Absented took Her and His and Itself from this world.
Though the Lake has existed beyond the memory of humankind, the cathedral that presently surrounds it was first erected some thousand years ago, during the reign of the Queens of Day, and has been added to and amended many times over the years. Viewed from above the original building took the shape of an equilateral triangle: the southerly side housed accommodation, kitchens, workshops and such whose purpose was to serve both those who attended the Lake and also the many visitors who came, if not on pilgrimage (the Absented having forbidden her/his/its worship), then on something very like it; the westerly side contained the Great Library; the easterly side provided a space for merchants to ply their trade.
Those divisions of the building's use remain essentially in place even to this day. However, a thousand years of building have left little of the original design of the cathedral visible. Instead there is a great encrustation of towers and turrets, annexes, wings, buttresses and the like built in at least a hundred different styles. It is said that one could spend many years in the Great Cathedral moving to a different room each day and one would never be forced to visit the same room twice, though whether one would want or be wise to do so is another matter altogether.
In the present time both the Great Cathedral and its equally Great Library are under the control of The Unvoiced2 , though a large area to the cathedral's south-east is reserved for Farla's Veils3.
1. One can never be definite about these things: the world of Otherwhile is large and may be home to continents as yet undiscovered, those continents may in turn be home to new and unfamiliar cultures and those new and unfamiliar cultures may have built even greater sites of pilgrimage. On the other hand, they may have seen very little point in the whole building sites of pilgrimage thing and preferred to discuss predicate logic, invent new forms of musical notation or go surfing instead, but it's best to be on the safe side.↩
2. Of whom more will be revealed at a future date.↩
3. Who are discussed briefly in Ye Gods↩
Wednesday 12 February 2014
I've been spending a lot of time down among the dustier shelves in The Great Library of the Absented, shelves where the thick leather bindings of the books have been untouched in decades, perhaps centuries, and where the heavy chains that keep the books from wandering are flecked with red rust.
This morning, in the middle of clearing away an unusually heavy covering of dust from one of the thicker books, I stumbled upon a small and very delicate scroll, tucked away. Much of what was written on it was indecipherable and much of what could be deciphered was gibberish but the few fragments that did make sense threw up what might be a very interesting possibility: it seems that when Arbor Vulpa stole the great gem known as the Heart of the World (a tale that begins here) he may have left a tiny sliver of the Heart behind. What happened to that sliver I don't know for certain but other documents, as old or even older than the one I happened to find this morning, lead me to think that it may somehow have found its way into hands which meant, perhaps still mean all these hundreds of years later, to change the fate of Otherwhile itself. It's an exciting discovery and one I intend to follow up. In the interim I hope you'll excuse me if I continue to be a little slow in delivering the tale of Vyolla Who Sings. Poor Vyolla, her story deserves my full attention and it would be wrong for me to give it anything less.