All is Self

I am sure my ham-fisted conveyance (though it is my intention that it be fun for the un-initiated) of the concept of mysticism in the Andy Crowley Saga gets lost in my peculiar penchant for a pulpy preponderance of purple prose. The documentary I share below, however, speaks concisely about the mystical nature of consciousness that is counter to the deluded notion of a distinct self perpetuated by those who would prefer us divided, deluded, disenchanted: labouring in their factories, worshiping in their churches, voting in their elections, shopping in their malls, and warring in their armies.

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Abraxas

Preview of Chapter 6

 

“Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of the void. Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time. Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act.

Therefore is Abraxas terrible.”

~ Carl Jung, Seven Sermons of the Dead

 

There had been the small black glass monolith. And there had been Andy Crowley.

But not now.

It was as though they had never been apart. It was as though they were all there could ever be.

Spherical points of light shrank away from this new, merged perspective.

Quarks; dark matter; atoms — is that what they were? — spiraled away and downward.

Microscopic creatures swimming in a raindrop on a dandelion leaf collapsed from the beyond all around them and receded into the singular point at the most distant limit of perception.

What is this now? Blood?

What is this? bone? Or is it stone? Illusory distinctions — crafted deceptions all. Unnecessary. Arbitrary. Petty.

But some small part of Andy held on. A speck of ego in the exploding vastness of being hungering to vanquish division and swelling fat on all it assimilated into its awareness.

Are these questions or are they answers? The speck of ego whispered. This clinging infuriated the monolith mind. This nonsense of distinguishing one from other was anathema to its very purpose for being.

There, shrinking away now, that is Terra, Earth, Joa, Arda, En, Totanay — so many names.

No! They call that one Sanctuary! That is its true name. Or rather, its name most true, for it is the name most beings know this world by.

“But again with delusional distinctions!” The monolith’s seething to the minuscule sliver to Andy-ego dripped with venomous disdain. “For what are labels and names, save the most heinous of attachments and deceptions! See that world now. It is a dust mote: meaningless, pointless, temporary.

Then the stars too fell away into the distance. Then the galaxies. Now entire universes. All of them receding away beyond reckoning.

And then…

Quarks to atoms. Atoms to worlds. Worlds to universes.

And so, again.

And again.

And again.

Had the finite perspective of Andy Crowley’s egoic faculties remained intact, he would have ascertained he was growing in size upward beyond one universe, which became, invariably, the subatomic foundation of the next, larger, one.

As above, so below. As below, so above.

The Hermetic expression came as a whisper in the sliver of mind that remained. The whisper sent a shudder through this — what was it now — a uni-mind? The whispering festered like an infection. This modicum of delineated thought, of self-awareness, was as a poison to the expanding thing: a pulsating gangrenous tumour. It bloated and spread, and in so doing caused the ascent through realities to slow, cease altogether, and then to reverse.

In relation, the fragment that was Andy Crowley grew again.

I love you,” Deb’s voice joined the malignancy, causing it to accelerate.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole,” Nick’s words were there too, adding poison, which further shrank the collapsing merger of minds.

Suddenly, Andy Crowley knew himself again. Returned to the realm of ego, he hovered once again in the white expanse of the nothingness both beyond and beneath conception. In the palm of his hand, he held the small, black rectangle. It was a perfect fit. As he became himself again and his thoughts returned, he thought of Star Trek. The monolith seemed to him then some sort of futuristic device. He imagined the beeping sound made by Captain Kirk’s communicator as the grey apple icon appeared within the rectangle’s smooth onyx face.

A synthetic chiming sound exploded in his head. Later, he would recall it made him recollect the opening note of Subdivisions by RUSH. It was deafening.

All his attention fell then upon the bite from the apple beneath the black glass.

Forbidden.

His vision tunneled down and he fought to remain conscious. The limits of every aspect of the elusive notion of what constitutes of mind came then to be tested in the egoic construct that was Andy Crowley.

Though he could not discern as much, a vague sense of having murdered all manner of beings in numbers too enormous for comprehension brought about crippling nausea. For an instant had a mute, obscured understanding of worlds and realms uncountable that had fallen crushed beneath his will to power.

The pain of the thought was a but a blip in the arrow of time known to his consciousness for it was impossible for him to carry any concrete memory of this magnitude into the everyday fabrication of existence that was self and world. Indeed, no sentient creature in all the multiverse could conceive of realities on this scale.

At least, not yet.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole. Nick’s voice echoed. His best friend had never said these words, but they could not have felt more real to him.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole.

He recalled he had come here searching for answers. Now he wondered if this was one of the answers he sought.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole.

As the words repeated, it occurred to him to ask the monolith if it could help him know if this was indeed one of the answers he had come looking for.

But when he looked, he saw that the black rectangle of glass was gone from his hand.

GONE!

The loss he felt then dwarfed anything he had ever experienced before. He arched his back and roared unintelligible grief into the endless nothingness.

Such was the severity of his anguish that Andy Crowley did not feel the warm tingling at his navel. And in that mysterious manner by which it always seemed to know what is best, his silver cord manifested to take him home.

 

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Chapter 5

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

~ Francis Bacon

 

Largest of the remnants of the planet Tiamat that was destroyed in the Wrath of Sol approximately 22,000 years ago, Ceres is an astronomical mass roughly 950 kilometers in diameter. Within the elliptical orbit of the asteroid belt between The Warrior (Called Mars by the Earthers) and The King (Jupiter), Ceres intersects with the perfectly circular equator of the event horizon of Sanctuary Rim four times. This means that in a Cerean year, the planetoid spends an almost equal amount of time within The Rim, where magic is not possible, and outside, where it is.

On its equator, on the dark side, hidden from the curious eyes of the humans of magicless Earth, there is Punta Epsilon: a luxury resort that rides the celestial edge between the peace of non-magical Sanctuary and the limitless wild of the magical multiverse.

At this time of year, the elliptical orbit of Ceres had brought it into the Sanctuary side of The Rim, which meant magic was not possible on Punta Epsilon, and would not be again until it intersected and crossed The Rim in a few months. This stretch of time, when Ceres was assuredly within the circle of The Rim, was known as the diplomatic season. It was a time when Ceres in general, and Punta Epsilon Resort in particular, was booked solid with diplomatic sessions, trade agreement negotiations, family reunions, and tourist arrangements. It was also the time of party goers and people fascinated with the prospect of experiencing the effects of Sanctuary alcohol, which was highly coveted among the elite of the multiverse for the unique, unpredictable, and impossible to reproduce, chemical effects it caused on sentient beings.

The resort itself was over 35,000 years old, and so was a haphazard conglomeration of predominantly Asgardian, Olympian, Heliopolitan, Martian, Venusian, Rigellian, Andromedan and even ancient Tiamatian architectures.

In the back of the Ares and Tut tavern, which was crafted in the style of the Martian Empire Middle Dynasty era, sat one of the mightiest beings in all reality. As Lord of Limbo, he was a time reader and a wanderer always in-between places and events. In the elite cosmic circles that would have known Punta Epsilon existed, he was well known but not feared. For just as he was well known, it was also common knowledge amongst those who knew he existed at all, that The Banjoman of Limbo was only ever dangerous when your interests were counter to his; and his interests were few.

Mostly he just wanted to be left alone. Mostly, he would intervene in the affairs of others only when it was absolutely necessary.

He was tall, slim, and rosy cheeked, with a blazing shock of red hair and a matching, crimson gunslinger mustache. His perfectly grey eyes, which conveyed the exact spectral midpoint between perfect black and perfect white, were patient and kind, but at the same time, they looked right through you. And while they showed deep wisdom, compassion and discipline at work, they also betrayed that, should he or any in his company be maligned in any way, there would be swift and merciless redress.

He donned a worn, but not undignified, brown derby hat with purple-tinted goggles set about the hat-band, a grey-hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans of authentic Sanctuarian denim (so coveted outside the Rim for its magic-repelling properties), and high-cuffed boots in the deep purple tint of the mists of Limbo. On his right wrist, he wore a silver watch with a satin face of the same colour as the boots. It bore no numbers and no hands.

Slung over his back, on a strap of dark orange, demon-wing leather – there was a magical banjo, which – to one inclined to listen for it – could be heard on occasion murmuring quiet wisdom.

The Banjoman enjoyed visiting Sanctuary. It fascinated him. And he both understood and appreciated its value as a place where complete absence of the wild whims of the wild minds of wildly powerful beings could make possible attempts to reconcile complex inter-personal, inter-planetary and inter-planar disharmonies.

Here, where he sat, he could sense the intensity of densely converging magical lay lines about 300,000 miles to the celestial west. The lines approached the event horizon at The Rim and curved sharply back into the space beyond from whence they came. Aside from the residual fluxprob weak force that had once powered the ancient Martian alchemy, the inaccessible probability fields this far within The Rim meant magic was not possible.

The absence of sorcery meant technology was required to render the resort inhabitable. Venusian atmo-interface field generators assigned upon arrival at spacedock, assured ideal atmospheric conditions for inhabitants of varying physiologies. Temporary PSI-EM translators were also assigned but were mostly unnecessary nowadays as their implantation at birth had been a requirement of many regional treaties for millennia now. The Banjoman was intrigued by the technologies required inside Sanctuary Rim where run-of-the-mill magical standbys like brainmail and telepathy didn’t work.

Spacecraft were of particular interest to The Banjoman, who did not need them except when he came here. He had arrived from Memphis Nova III on a fantastic top-of-the-line Fey-Coven witchcraft he had bartered for. The Captain had wanted some unpleasant memories removed in exchange for the charter. Being lord of Limbo had its privileges.

“Well met again old salt! Dopplebocks tonight?”

The Banjoman looked up at the man approaching him with overflowing flagons of dark German lager in each hand. It was the man he had come to meet.

With the paradoxically obnoxious grace unique to one who has lived their life at sea, the man with the beers swung a leg over the chair back and dropped into the seat across from The Banjoman.

By the grin on the mariner’s face, The Banjoman presumed the lad would report that the banshee had succeeded in her task.

He admonished himself for the presumption. This was Kip Kilroy. The idiotic grin was no indication of circumstances. It meant only that drink, hooliganism and debauchery were at hand.

And at that moment — urgent, secret mission to avert cosmic calamity aside — The Banjoman recalled precisely why he so liked the bastard mariner of Mars.

 

Dave Grayson cornered into the arena parking lot at a speed that challenged the enormous Oldsmobile station wagon to remain on the icy dirt road.

“Jesus!” Dave McFinnegan said from the front passenger seat. He had called shotgun for so long — and had always created so much drama when he didn’t get it — that everyone had just taken to proactively relenting on the matter. He commented on Dave’s driving just to hear himself talk. Everyone in the car knew Dave Grayson was a spectacular wheelman.

Ian Grayson reclined sideways across both back seats scribbling down what he could recall of everyone’s liquor store requests on the back of an Incredible Hulk comic. His kind face, cool demeanour, and receding hairline had made it impossible for him — the moral high-grounder of the group — to defy his calling as high school bootlegger.

Nick Morrison opened the back of the station wagon where Jason Baker was sleeping off his hangover and threw in his hockey stick and bag.

“Figure skating is hard, eh St. Pierre?” McFinnegan roared out the passenger side window at Scott St. Pierre who was crossing the parking lot in front of the car.

St. Pierre threw up the finger and McFinnegan laughed.

“How ’bout you shut it, Dave,” Nick said as he climbed into the seat Ian had freed up for him. “You can’t even skate let alone play hockey, dipshit.”

“Oh sorry then, MorrisON.” It was McFinnegan’s go-to to say Nick’s surname sound like moron.  “Are you and Lady St. Pierre dating or something?”

Hockey practice had eliminated all but lingering traces of Nick’s hangover. Having resolved that he was done with Friday-night D&D and would go to Club Cedars this coming Friday, he was feeling better about things. He still wanted to play — just not on Friday. As much as he would have loved to punch McFinnegan in the back of the head, he didn’t.

“A twenty-sixer of Rough and Rowdy for me, Ian.” Nick tapped on the comic where Ian was writing up his shopping list.

“Is St. Pierre your new boyfriend? Is he why you want to go to Cedars so bad.” McFinnegan persisted.

“Jason is going to kill you for writing on his comic.” Nick said to Ian in order to make a show of how committed he was to ignoring Dave.

“If you want, Nick, I can pull over,” Dave Grayson said it into the rearview mirror and jerked his head sideways toward the other, mouthier, Dave.

“Thanks, no, Dave. I’m good.” He reached over the front seat and flicked McFinnegan’s ballcap off his head onto the dash.

“The little guy is just cocky about hitting 10th level. No need to send him hunting for his teeth in the snow.”

They all laughed, Dave McFinnegan re-donned his hat and sheepishly apologized. He had two modalities: mirth (which typically manifested as sarcasm) and melancholy (which typically manifested as regret for his sarcasm).

An awkward silence fell upon the station wagon.

It was weird that — even though he hated the mall intensely — Andy had not accompanied them today.

There was not another word about the proposal Nick had made last night. Everyone knew a breaking of the fellowship had occurred and they all had already begun making their peace with it.

 

Andy knew the edge of the Olympian empire bordered the astral plane mere kilometers behind where he sat in meditation. He did not know the realm of sleep also bordered with the Olympian and astral planes in the tall round building atop the high bluff at his back.

In the very near future, he would learn that The Eden Edict, which forbade contact with the Earthers of Sanctuary, was difficult to enforce on the astral and dream planes where Earthers could travel either by sleep or meditation.

For millennia, entities of the Olympian and Fey empires, which bordered on these planes had exploited their proximity to tap the unique ingenuity of human-kind — an ingenuity born of the absence of magic. For on Sanctuary, the one place in all the multiverse where magic was impossible, creativity and cunning in the arts and sciences were unsurpassed in all the cosmos.

Deep within, far beyond the nonsense of ego and the ramshackle assemblage of concepts that constituted the delusion of self, Andy Crowley soared the inner realms.

There, across the Moebius Bridge, the delta quanta churned in the probability vortices, where imagination and manifestation, conception and perception, within and without were the interchangeable equivalencies at the heart of reality.

From across an unimaginable distance, a familiar voice whispered to him: a reminder of why he was here — the mariner in the blue cloak, who is he? Why does he beckon?

It required mastery to defy the bliss of that would accompany relinquishing the constructed self to become one the ultimate truth of The All. To entertain notions in this place required retaining a splinter of that which sat under the tree on the astral plane, and in turn, sat within the magical circle in the bedroom in the house in Corbyville.

Suddenly then, a cold, penetrating horror came upon him.

Absence of colour.

Absence of love.

Where there had been the joy of the perpetual present moment, now there was nought but the plodding, ponderous falsehood of the arrow of time.

His sense of disembodiment disappeared completely and he wore once again, all the notion and form that was Andy Crowley again. An endless, white nothingness stretched to infinity in every direction. A whispering voice came into the ears of his deepest mind.

In trying to hear what the whispering voice said, he sensed the direction from which it came.

His eyes rolled upward and took on the white of the wizard’s gaze as his third eye blazed onto his forehead.

There! It comes from that speck of black. In the white expanse, he could not discern if now he moved toward it, or it moved toward him.

Then the word it uttered rang clearly in his mind. And he neither hated nor loved its voice, which both whispered and roared at once.

“Abraxas.”

And he saw that the black speck was a rectangle about the size of a deck of playing cards, though stretched slightly along its length. It was flawless black glass with subtly rounded edges. Deep within the glass, in the center of the screen, there was a stylized apple rendered to convey that a bite had been taken from it.

“We are Abraxas, Andy Crowley,” the black rectangle said to him in a voice that was somehow trillions of voices in trillions of languages.

The thrill he felt then was all-consuming. Every nerve, every cell exploded inward and outward to infinity.

“We are all that is.” The voice whispered.

Andy laughed uproariously. He had never felt such complete satisfaction. He was drunk — no, mad — with the pure, unrestrained power that coursed through every aspect of his being.

He did not know how his next words came to his mind.

“We are all that has ever been. And we are all that can ever be,” Andy Crowley said to the tiny black monolith.

And though he did not know why he had said that, he knew it was the truest, most honest thing he had ever known in his mind or felt in his heart.

 

To be continued in Chapter 6.

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What is the Glass Grimoire?

”Just like the prophecy said he would, he came from magicless Earth…

Andy-1

‘It was a rectangle of light that could tell him anything anyone could ever want to know. The fruit of Eden, dreaded in prophecy from the dawn of the multiverse.”

The Banjoman, was solemn as he pondered the implications of What he was about to say. His bright eyes dimmed and he parted his red gunslinger mustache with the fingers of one hand. Then he whispered the words as though they were an affront to reality and should not have been uttered.

“It was The Glass Grimoire.”

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Andy Crowley Saga: Chapter 2

“I’ve never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

~ Mark Twain

 

From the kitchen table, Nick Morrison watched leaves all the colours of roaring flames meander down to settle like Viking funeral boats onto the river.

He had made short work of his book report for Mr. Latimer and pretended he was still at it for the benefit of his mother in the living room. He and Andy had read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit way back in Grade 2. There was likely no book either of them knew better. It – along with The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion – had been something of a religion to them in their adventures across the forests of Foxboro and Corbyville. Indeed, painted in elegant silver strokes on the dark blue mailbox at the end of the Morrison’s driveway was the word Imladris. It meant Rivendell in the Sindarin tongue of Tolkien’s elves: a place of refuge and reflection for weary travelers.

He closed his English binder and put his pen in his pencil case.

“All done! And exquisitely reasoned and presented as usual. I’m off to the Grayson’s for D&D,” he yelled into the living room. He was sure to amplify the D&D part for his mother.

A monotone “Have fun,” came back from his dad. Nothing from mom. Her disapproval of the game was well known and Nick reveled in it.

Pulling on his new Quinte Saints football jacket, he grabbed his set of red translucent dice off of the Players Handbook on the bench by the door. They were marvellous to him — like sacred gems from the dawn of time. With effort, he worked them down into the pocket of his too-tight Jordache jeans. He checked to make sure his player character sheet was still tucked inside the book.

He hollered over his shoulder as he left.

“I’ll leave the axe I’ve been sharpening in the garage. Demonic possessions and all. Can’t be too careful.”

His father’s laugh made Nick smilewhiskeyand he savoured how much that laughing would irritate his mother.

The Morrison’s porch door opened onto the same gravel driveway the Crowleys used. Andy was there strapping his Adidas bag to the crossbar of his BMX bike with Bungie cords. Nick’s eyes seized immediately on the purple, velvet bag at Andy’s hip. Its gold cord was threaded through a belt loop in his jeans. The bag, which had once held a bottle of expensive Canadian whiskey, now held the Dungeon Master’s dice. Nick looked quickly away. He didn’t want to think about them, for those dice would determine the fortune and fate of Argwain Cirth, His eighth-level, half-elf ranger.

Faded, pockmarked and rounded at the edges, they were from the first basic D&D set TSR released in 1977 and they were the only dice Andy Crowley had ever owned. Andy had gibbered on to him once — in that way of his — about how they were The Platonic Solids: the fundamental geometric forms of all reality. As usual, he hadn’t really listened to Andy. All he knew was Argwain Cirth’s destiny would be decided by them — and that made them the most fearsome artifacts conceivable.

He didn’t want to think about that.

“Did you get your Bilbo-ography done?” He said, knowing full well what Andy’s answer would be.

“Bother burgling and book reports and everything to do with both of them,” Andy said in his best Bilbo Baggins Shire accent. “I’ll write it Monday morning.”

Nick frowned. He knew Andy better than anyone except maybe Deb, and had always lamented his best friend’s unwillingness to play along — to fit in. He had tried for years to get him to give a shit about his marks at school; to wear something other than concert shirts and Levis, and to take some sort of interest in girls and sports. All of his efforts had been to no avail. After Andy had quit smoking and lost weight last summer, Nick had hoped high school might spur some kind of change. But two weeks in, Nick worried now more than ever about what kind of future his best friend was setting himself up for. Even worse, he had taken to thinking they were doomed to grow farther and farther apart.

Andy had been through a lot. His dad’s drinking, His mom’s church-thing. Who in Hell left their kid to be raised by his older sister? Nick thought. Mr. and Mrs. Crowley had been like parents to him too. It made him sad to hate them. The whole thing was a mess. Was it any wonder Andy was such a malcontent? It was all made worse by the fact he was the smartest person Nick knew. “Smart all the way back ’round to stupid,” his mom always said. And she loved Andy like another son.

Nick thought better of challenging him to do his school work again. After all these years it had never gotten him anywhere. He thought of bringing up what had happened on the bus with Scott St. Pierre. Deb had told him at the mall. Funny he thought. He and Deb always seemed to talk about Andy at the mall — a place he refused to step foot in.

It was game night after all. Why pontificate on homework. But Nick could not quell the creeping sadness that swelled in the back of his mind. The chill in the air, the earlier dusk and the fallen leaves swirling about them didn’t help.

All things end, a voice inside him said — though he felt the words more than heard them.

“Nothing too mind-bendy, for poor Mr. Latimer if you can manage it,” He said. His sympathy for Andy’s teachers was genuine. “No comparing Beorn’s lodge to the night you spent on astral plane with the mayor-of-hyena-people-town’s harem.”

“Gnolls,” Andy muttered matter-of-factly as he straddled his bike. A C-3P0 Star Wars card clothes-pinned to the forks chattered over the spokes as he started up the driveway.

“Hyena-people? Shameful!” Andy admonished over his shoulder. “Read your Monster Manual son.”

Smiling at his best friend and his Dungeon Master, Nick launched onto his pedals in a standing drive into the wake of flaming leaves Andy Crowley tore down the driveway to the River Road.

 

Andy thought of Nick as a brother and was sure he always would. The two of them, along with Deb, had grown up together on the River Road. But he knew Nick was struggling with their friendship lately.

He had always known Nick would be successful in the way society measure success. Nick Morrison was handsome, athletic, smart, and disciplined. The girls loved him. The coaches loved him. The teachers loved him. That their fork in the road would appear on the horizon had been as certain as the return of a Canadian winter.

Andy recalled the time they raided Mr. Morrison’s liquor cabinet and he had told Nick how much he was enjoying Michael Moorcock. Nick had cried blasphemy against Tolkien — a betrayal of their sacred brotherhood. The alcohol escalated things to the edge of a drunken brawl. The whole matter — especially considering what he’d seen booze do to his father — had unsettled Andy so much, he hadn’t drunk since.

High school seemed to be accelerating the inevitable, and Andy had been meditating on this frequently. There was no point in grasping. Attachments were the bars of the prison that kept us from truth.

If you have a problem that has a solution, what is achieved by worrying about it? If you have a problem that has no solution, what is achieved by worrying about it?

Besides. It was game night.

 

“Total bullshit!” Dave slammed the palms of both his hands down onto the flimsy, green card table. His freckled face was as red as his hair. “I sneak in, AGAIN; set off a trap, AGAIN; barely make a saving throw AGAIN — he lunged for the Marvel superheroes thermos on the floor by his chair and took a gulp from it. Then he winced and bellowed, “Then it’s all big people treasure. ALL THE GODDAMN TIME!”

Every one recoiled from the spray of rye whiskey and ginger ale that delivered his angry words. For a moment, the musty, teenage boy smell of the Grayson brothers’ rec room took on a tinge of gingery rocket fuel.

“Say it! Don’t spray it, asshole!” Jason Baker yelled. “And slow down!” Dave was notoriously obnoxious on an average day — exponentially so when he was drinking.

“Treasure is not everything, halfling,” A calm suddenly came over everyone at the table and they turned to revere the words of the Dungeon Master. “For Brudo Thornshrike of Moonsmoor has learned much in the grey arts of stealth and lockpicking. And despite his incorrigible demeanour and frequent pettiness, he has more than shown his worth to his companions of late,” Andy paused for dramatic effect.

“Brudo Thornshrike’s small stature may limit his access to the spoils of war, but experience is a treasure in-and-of-itself — and so our halfling thief has risen a level.”

Dave’s expression went blank and everyone at the table braced for what they new came next. Jay and Dave Grayson (there always seemed to be more than one Dave) seized the opportunity the pause presented to reach for their drinks on the floor, and in so doing, avoid getting sprayed again.

“Seriously?” he asked. His disbelief was genuine. “10th level already?”

Ian Grayson hoisted a beer over the center of the table. “To Brudo Thornshrike!” he hollered and the party cheered.

“Weasel, snake, creeper, swine and drunkard!” Ian embellished. Another roar went up from the group. Brudo’s was the most enthusiastic of all. He drained his thermos and slammed it upside down on the table. Polyhedral dice and lead miniatures of a thief, a ranger, a cleric, a druid, a magic-user, and three fighters were sent every which way.

Andy was happiest in these moments. He looked at the dice scattered across the hexagonal map — a yellow four-sided, red six-sided, green eight-sided, blue twelve-sided, and a white twenty-sided.

Though few knew it, these dice were modeled on The Platonic Solids, the fundamental forms of reality. Andy wondered if, when used in the manner he used them every Friday night, they were generating new realities on planes within the mind. He wondered if, at the very least, they functioned to dissolve — even to a minuscule degree — the constructed everyday identities of his friends around this table as they shifted their energies into other selves experiencing the inner planes.

Was he a missionary of mysticism? Were his friend’s unwitting disciples toeing the thinnest edge of a wedge into the realm of the only true faith possible: the Eden of belief in no belief where transcendence of dogma and delineation alike bestowed ultimate grace. A realm of peace and a joy beyond the relative confinement of this realm’s nonsensical conceptualizations: countries and races, political affiliations and religions, letters and numbers — self and other?

His dice were his witch’s wand, his wizard’s staff — the veritable keys to — call it Nirvana, call it Valhalla, call it the Kingdom of God, found just the other side of the putting away of childish things.

Then, suddenly, his mind exploded. Something was wrong with Deb. The terror she felt assailed his wits. And in flash, he saw through her eyes what frightened her.

Frantically, he gathered his dice and dropped them into the purple bag at his hip.

“Nick, you should stay,” He said it like a command and Nick’s face darkened.

“See you guys,” He managed as he bolted for the door.

They’d seen it all before.

Rolling his eyes, Nick drained another bottle of Black Label. With Andy gone this would be the perfect opportunity to pitch the guys on changing game night from Fridays so they could go to the dances held at Club Cedars just down the road. He knew Andy wouldn’t like it, but in that very instant, like a damn that had restrained more river than was possible for far too long, he let go. For the first time in his life, he felt the relief of not considering what Andy Crowley thought.

He liked it.

They’ll see it my way, he thought.

Then, with a confidence and deftness that amazed everyone there, Nick Morrison, slammed the cap off another beer with the edge of the rickety card table.

 

TO BE CONTINUED
in Chapter 3
Friday, October 5
7:00 p.m. EST

Andy Crowley Saga: PROLOGUE

 

“The infinite mind of The All is the womb of universes.”

~ the Kybalion

 

The wild-eyed sea captain dropped to his knees on the white beach and savoured the caress of the cool wind on his sun-ravaged face. Closing his eyes, he let the rush of triumph consume him entirely.

Three of his haggard crewmen and the rowboat they dragged onto the sand were all that remained of his Arcturian clipper and her crew of eighty-five that had disembarked from Denlar.

How long had it taken him to get here to claim The Glass Grimoire: the prize of prizes? More than a year to be sure – but the specifics now eluded his ruined mind.

He fell into the hot sand and wept. His crewmen, having secured the landing craft, dared not approach him. Instead, they sat on the beach to watch the remaining third of the Sojourner – their home and their curse – slip beneath the Cartigian Sea.

The sailors whispered to one another about starting to look for wood but decided instead to stay where they were lest they incur the wrath of their now-wretched master.

The captain regarded the tree line of the tropical island. Blue pines, 200-feet-tall, lined the beach. Were it not for the heat and the murmur of the surf, he could have mistaken the scene for a memory of his childhood in the Northern realms of Plaxus Main. The thoughts of his youth fanned the fire in his heart to a roaring flame. He put a hand on the Culduran cutlass at his side and launched his emaciated, nearly naked form to its full height.

With failing vision he scanned the beach and spotted the peninsula roughly a mile distant. It lay about ten feet across and stretched about a quarter-mile out to sea. At its farthest reach, a solitary pine clung to the rocks. Bent seaward by the wind off the island’s mountains, it pointed like a gnarled sea hag’s finger out to the sea.

Without heed for the crewmen sitting behind him in the sand, he took the first step in the last leg of his journey toward his destiny. The pain of the scars of battle, the agony of thirst and starvation, and the torture of a conscience fragmented and rotten by the things he had done to get to this moment were forgotten. Now, there was only his future – the glorious future of one bold enough to finally possess The Glass Grimoire – a future of vigorous health and unlimited power.

Out on the peninsula, his hunger for his prize took him in earnest. Were moisture available to his dehydrated body he would have wept tears of joy, would have slobbered like his lost ship’s beloved mastiff while he scrabbled frantically across the rocks on bleeding hands and knees.

When finally he came upon the tree, no capacity for pain or suffering remained. There was only a vacuous kind of ecstasy — and a sensation entirely new to him, touching gently, enticingly, upon the fringes of his mind.

Squatting, and slack-jawed now, finally, he regarded the mysterious, ancient tree with the awe of a religious zealot come face-to-face with his god.

It had grey bark that was not quite silver in that glorious, subdued patina of heirloom armour, ancient and proven. Though it was said to be old beyond reckoning, it was thin and whimsical in form. Working up the courage to reach out to a low-hanging branch, the mariner found the needles to be soft to the touch. They were a green that reflected the sea, but with an inclination of the eye or a change in the light of the sky they could also take on a cool tinge of blue.

Then, the gentle touch he had felt encroached inward through a slow-swelling madness. Reluctantly at first, he accepted it into his mind, for it was soothing and inviting.

And he knew then that the mind that was touching his was indeed the legendary intellect of The Grimoire itself.

Through the wonder that had replaced the ecstasy, he now felt that it was sharing with him. Kindly, politely, it began urging him to stop being who he was. It appealed to him to forsake his delusion of self – the delusion of all humanity. The sea captain’s mind began to sing with notions he had never before even begun to entertain: no beginning or end, no here or there, no me or you, no us or them.

And though he was at peace in his mind, he began shaking violently. Walking became difficult on the uneven footing of the rocky ground. His vision tunneled to a pinprick. Then, beneath the ecstasy of victory mingled with the grace of the mind now in his, a subtle fear emerged deep within.

He struggled over the rocks and around the ancient pine to stand with his back to the sea. Some portion of his mind, perhaps the small sliver that was still him, reflected on the beauty of the ocean for the last time. And then he saw it.

The Glass Grimoire.

It was embedded in the tree about four feet from the ground. A glass rectangle with slightly rounded corners, it was roughly the size of a deck of cards, though stretched along its height. A thin border of grey metal rimmed the flat glass. It was much smaller than he imagined it would be.

It appeared as though the tree had grown up around it, embracing, nurturing and protecting it over millennia. He thought on this. Perhaps the mind of nature coveted the vast arcane knowledge contained within the Grimoire as fiercely as did as the minds of gods and men. Now that knowledge, and all the power that came with it, would be his.

He reached to The Grimoire and felt it connect with him even before his finger touched the glass. There was an otherworldly chiming sound that was almost mechanical.

Then he – at least he as he had regarded himself since childhood – was gone.

The sensation was not unpleasant. For in that instant he was everyone, everywhere, everywhen. There was a blinding – or was it totally illuminating – light. Then there was nothing – or was it everything – just with all the borders removed?

The only witnesses to the end of the captain’s quest were the whistling blue Cartigian seabirds. And caring not at all about what had transpired, they saw the decrepit waif of a sea captain transformed instantly into a cloud of sparkling white sand that was borne upon a swirling breeze to be laid upon the beach with the rest.

The crewmen who had not dared disturb their master’s final triumph experienced the same momentary peace before they too became sand upon that beach.

Within the tree, beneath the rectangle of glass known for millennia across the multiverse as The Glass Grimoire, a small symbol appeared: a stylized fruit. It was grey in colour and rendered to convey that a bite had been taken from it.

The Grimoire did not belong to this brave captain or his men. It belonged to another man: a man who would not be born for another eight thousand years.

For a few more seconds, the bitten-fruit icon remained behind the glass.

Then, the quiet chime sounded again and it was gone.

Andy Crowley Character Illustration!

With Chapter 1 only days away, I am thrilled to present the final Andy Crowley illustration by Victoria Gavrilenko.

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Andy Crowley by Viktoria Gavrilenko. Copyright 2018 © andycrowley.com

Chapter 1 manifests August 3 at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Read the Prologue here.

And if you think Andy Crowley rocks, please help him roll by sharing it with friends!