That which thinks is bound, and in this bondage, it dreams of freedom. And like a prisoner in his dreams he can see the walls of his prison, and he can imagine the outside world. But when he wakes, he still sees the walls of the prison and has not escaped.
— Oral scripture of the Unfettered
62 · The fire doesn’t know where all that smoke came from.
— Jesma Shirancord, “Vectors”
Unique among all laminae, no petitionersSouls of the dead that have re-manifested on the most well-suited lamina, where they perfect and reshape themselves while carrying out pursuits in accordance with that lamina's principles.Turn to chapter or laminalsLaminals are beings that natively reside on the laminae but which are not manifestations of mortal souls. 'Laminal' can also be used to indicate anything relating to, stemming from, or residing on the laminae.Turn to chapter are known to populate the Pasture. It exists in a state of permanent whiteout, a deafening snowstorm over a wasteland interrupted by sheared-off crevasses and cliffs. The only life here is a nomadic community that refers to themselves as the Unfettered: about one hundred mortals who, according to their oral history, have been travelling here for over thirty generations, searching for petitioners and hoping to become them.
Believing that each lamina and its petitioners perform a critical role, and that their apparent absence here throws the multiverse out of balance, the Unfettered are utterly dedicated to their quest. The Unfettered seek a state of “unknowing”—to empty their minds of the complexity of existence and enter a cloud of forgetting. Their tradition states that this path will align them with the nature of the Pasture such that, upon death, their souls will repopulate this place as petitioners, and that as petitioners they could spread the purity of unknowing, a vital counterbalance for the exhausting and unsustainable mission of creation that preoccupies the minds of their mortal brethren.1 And so apart from the toil of their meagre survival they spend their days marching through the snow, to the sound of fire and drums, throat singing and ethereal hymns, the entire troupe with their eyes closed2 save for a lookout to navigate the landscape.
The Unfettered sustain themselves on the flesh of mammoth beasts they search for buried in the permafrost, each one of which provides months’ worth of food. At the core of their caravan is an unusual double-apertureLocations where two realms are joined in such a way that you may slip between them. They appear as uncanny distortions through which passage can be disorienting and dangerous.Turn to chapter embedded in a dolmen that they drag across the snow on sledges. On one side of the structure is an aperture to SobleiAn ancient metropolis suspended in the moment of its apocalypse, Soblei contains thousands of apertures to realms all across the multiverse. Its hurricane winds and blinding light and darkness render it a wildly inhospitable place to pass through even briefly.Turn to chapter, by which rare visitors arrive and from which a steady gale of wind clears snow from their path and creates an eye-of-the-storm in which their convoy is partially shielded from the blizzard. On another side of the structure is an aperture to an unknown place from which spills the flames of a perpetual inferno, warming the community and allowing for the cooking of meat and melting of ice for water, and creating a plume of black smoke that ascends into a whirlwind above—a landmark by which to return to the caravan after searches for food or petitioners.3 Scholars report other apertures that have been determined to lead to the Pasture but that open upon only blizzard; nothing has been found.
so perfectly embodying dissolution that there seems to be nothing here at all
some give up and hazard into soblei to find a new world. others have been known to give up and wander off into the blizzard
they love the blizzard!
is this the right word? non-judgy, those who leave - some come back. meanderers?
searching for petitioners
the bounty of finding meat
Indeed, scholars have long supposed that there is a fundamental imbalance in favor of CreationCreation tends towards activity, energy, passion, agitation, change, mutation, excitation, creativity, egoism, instability, uncertainty, and dynamism.Turn to chapter, for if this force were equally balanced with DissolutionDissolution tends towards finality, rest, release, destruction, nullification, loss, ignorance, waste, death, and certainty.Turn to chapter then how would we come to find that there is anything present in the multiverse at all? It is much easier to destroy than it is to create and yet everywhere around us we see the building of civilizations. Perhaps it is the lack of petitioners on this lamina that has permitted our existence at all. Should the Unfettered succeed in their goal and this endless growth cease, may we hope it replaced not by the collapse of things but instead by a true EquilibriumEquilibrium tends towards maintenance, harmony, protection, pureness of essence, persistence, stagnation, indifference, serenity, observation, renewal, inertia, and preservation.Turn to chapter.↩︎
The closed eye is a symbol that the Unfettered hold dear, and they carve it into simple ivories with which they adorn themselves. This visitor lost track of the time—weeks perhaps—that she spent with these pilgrims, walking in darkness and listening to their chants and the howling blizzard that they call the Curtain and embrace as their own, and as a reminder of their dedication and clarity of purpose she still wears their gift of a closed eye pendant.↩︎
The Unfettered tell that in early days they kept warm only by furs and oil lamps of blubber, but that many generations of constant flame and ritual intention opened up an aperture to a world of fire.↩︎