The Twenty-first Leaf

The mysterious illness which plagued me for many days has now passed though I know not from where it came and whether it will return. I owe Iona a great debt for her tender mercy and care during this time. The King has still not returned and his absence seems to have upset her more than one would expect. I know not what to make of this.

The man in my dreams has not been satisfied and his questions continue. However, in some way my release from the strange illness has given me new strength, and maybe even some amount of courage. I can avoid the dream-man for as long as I write in this book. But I now have a sense that that is not enough, for I too have questions - for this intruder. And so I will begin my own interrogation. You and I are now bound. If you treat me with contempt, you can expect the same from me. If you attempt to intimidate me, I will make every attempt to do the same to you. You, look into me eyes and answer me …..

Ghost Journal

What if all our days are but a moment, a flash of color from a far off, spent rainbow? And what if the hours that we spend within our dreams, within desire, are just the fire from a gentle afterglow? And is it not true that the storm of the soul can send a shower of love, and then beget the rainbow?

- S

The relationship of the King with his young servant Iona is well known and the subject of much speculation. It is not possible that Sorren does not know this. So then, what is he actually saying? I believe that there is no connection between the King’s visit to the mainland and his absence from his mistress. Sorren is seeing ghosts and demons where there are none, and he is inventing new reasons to justify his growing disquietude.

I am much more interested with his relationship to his inner demons that haunt him in the night and ask him questions. What could Sorren possibly know that would cause him to be thus interrogated by ghosts and inner demons? This man has no significance beyond his ability to serve his King. His real battle seems to be with himself though he does not even know this.
— M

What an utterly strange relationship it must have been for Sorren to confide in, and take comfort from, Iona, herself a servant to the King. I wonder if Sorren even thought of Iona as a servant, or possibly he thought of her as something on the order of a Queen. And when Iona gave comfort to Sorren, was she perhaps seeing herself through the eyes of Sorren? I hope that there is more to learn in these subsequent leaves, for the picture of Iona, as described in the novel King Bartholomew, has given me a very positive understanding of her particular relationship with the King, and I hope to learn more about her life together with him. M has implied, rather bluntly, that the King was in the midst of an ongoing relationship with his servant while Queen Kathryn yet lived. Sorren has not said this and the novel makes no mention of this type of relationship, and therefore I will disregard the dishonorable suggestions of M and assume that his understanding of the facts is incomplete. His suggestion even implies that his annotations were written some time after the events described by Sorren took place.

I must admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I find the slow disintegration of this man Sorren’s mind, fascinating to witness. Although Sorren sees his condition as an illness, he nevertheless, laments when it is gone, and further, even fantasizes about questioning the interlocutor to discover his motive. And yet, even in the midst of his illness he is able to see the manifestation of his illness as something else, something outside of himself, and he promises retribution. He is fully cognizant of his illness and has emerged from the dream world into a new, waking dream.

I am curating these leaves because they were entrusted to me, but I am in no way qualified to accomplish such a thing without special liberties taken. I am no psychologist. And I will never hand this book over to another person, so I am committed to do the best job that I can without academic oversight.

What is it that could so completely consume this man? The obvious answer is guilt. That is too obvious, too convenient, and too easy, and that is why I do not believe it. Sorren has until now, spoken very little about his feelings and has revealed little of his own personal story. He is a servant and it is his nature to serve. I find him to be quite noble in fact. Here now I offer speculation, for I have no training in this field.

I think it is very possible that Sorren’s ongoing and escalating hallucinations, if we may call them thus, is the product of poisoning. Consider for a moment the ink that was commonly used for book copying and annotating during the Middle Ages. Many of these types of pigments were derived from the extract of crushed insect exoskeletons. In a previous leaf it is even alluded to by Rheingold the painter. Only now do I consider seriously the possibility. Perhaps Rheingold the painter taught the esoteric art of making ink to Sorren, and the subsequent poisoning, slowly as it may have been, is beginning to intensify. It may be that the words of Sorren will become even more abstract, more phantasmagorical, than they already are as these leaves continue.

I know not what to make of the Ghost Journal he has begun. Is this poetry, or an ode to the dream world to which he is now attached? I fear that he may only be attaching himself more securely with this action, but I cannot deny that Sorren may be using this device to keep his demons at bay. That he can so effectively serve his King beneath the weight of this condition is truly amazing to me, for were this to happen in my own world, he would be forced into some form of treatment center with a doctor’s order.

The Twenty-second Leaf

I know not what to make of this new event. In order to avoid the endless questioning I have avoided sleep. The effect has been exhausting, and quite unpleasant. But now this? Now, even without sleep, I am hearing his voice, or other voices. Perhaps not voices at all, but suggestions, intimations. And the imagery of numbers oppresses me. How can this be? I know nothing of numbers and take no effort to become acquainted with them. Perhaps this is all from lack of sleep. I can take it no more. I have made my decision, I will take a great risk and once again succumb to the dreamworld. May Finn help me.

- Sorren

There must be an explanation for such a continuing torment of this man and that he should try to stay awake forever. And now, the mysterious specter follows him into his waking world. I know of only one explanation to describe this horror. Sorren has surely penetrated the realm of Satan, and the devil has answered. What form of witchcraft does this man practice in the dead of night? And how strange it is to me that he should evoke the help of Finn McCool, instead of Christ. His torment is beginning to frighten me as I read these malignant words.
— M

This leaf is beautiful and dreamy.  Is Sorren being driven to these words by this persistent melancholic state, or are his words instead, a reaction to this condition from which he is helpless to emerge?  Many writers complain of a condition known as writers block, but in this instance, it seems to me that Sorren would welcome such a condition.  And though his words are beautiful to me, my guess is that Sorren is driven to the point of exhaustion at this stage of his illness, if in fact it is an illness at all. 


My method thus far has been to read these leaves of Sorren in order, and to reflect on them for a day or two before offering my subjective analysis.  After reading, and then subsequently responding to leaf 21, I read leaf 22 before going to bed that night.  The nightmare to which I was subjected has left me in a state of uncertainty as I ponder the dream in the light of day over a cup of coffee and a croissant.  I feel the need to describe this dream before offering my analysis of leaf 22.


In my dream, I was awoken suddenly during the night by a peculiar sound, a faint tapping on my window.  It was the sound of a whippoorwill, and I was terrified because I had been stalked by the whippoorwill for several days until I was exhausted.  All I knew of the whippoorwill was that it was waiting for me to die so that it could steal my soul. The tapping continued, and I soon understood that I was to go to the window and open it.


I went to the window and there was the whippoorwill on the ledge, staring directly into my eyes.  The eyes were like the eyes of a serpent, and I was captured and could not look away.  My mind began to reel.  And then I felt my spirit leave my body and enter the body of the whippoorwill until it began to glow.  I pounded on the window, trying to get out, but the whippoorwill looked at me once more before flying away.  Finally I was able to open the window and I jumped out.  Suddenly I was falling, falling to the ground, but I did not hit, for now I was flying like a bird over the dim rooftops surrounding my house.  The sky was obscured with a strange mist of frozen fog, but I was able to get back to my house, back to the window ledge.  I landed and tried to get in, but my head was now the head of the whippoorwill and my beak could not break through the window. 


I tapped, harder and harder to break the glass until a strange man appeared and stared at me through the glass.  It was I, or me, or he, or whatever I was.  He pounded and pounded but he could not break through the thick glass.  His eyes were like terrible, amorphous orbs, and I became frightened and flew away.  When I woke up I was in my bed and my body was wet with perspiration.


Now it is not my intention to analyze myself in these pages, and I will not do so.  But since I began studying this book, I am beginning to wonder if it may be some form of key, or catalyst into another secondary structure of consciousness.  What method of sorcery could this be that can transfer sickness across time?  What form of sympathetic magic is it that can project such thoughts across the centuries?  I am no less outlandish in my musings than M, and in this way we are alike.  It is also clear to me that I can never allow anyone other than myself touch this book.  It is too dangerous.


Sorren is now seeing numbers, though he claims to be unfamiliar with them.  What kind of numbers?  Why doesn’t he say?  Is it possible that Sorren is being programmed by some strange form of mechanism that he cannot even understand?  What are his visions then if not some peculiar system of wolf tone?  Just as M is subject to the same residue of this wolf tone, and just as I am beginning to succumb also, I see this as a manifestation of the same thing.

Lastly, I must make note of Sorren’s plea for help from Finn McCool. I was under the impression that Sorren was a Christian, but I see that the vestiges of his past pagan heritage come back in times of crisis. This may have been an accidental admission on his part, or it may reflect his closest inner beliefs uninhibited by the social protocol of his position. Finn McCool represents the supernatural, the psyche, the Jungian archetype, and it may be that Sorren is looking for comfort in such powerful mythology.  I must stop this analysis here, for I am beginning to rant.  I know not what else to expect from this strange Book of Sorren.


The Twenty-third Leaf

I see things, some things, more clearly now, at least I believe that I do. But in all honesty I am unsure of some of the most certain things in life. The events of last night will take me time to understand, if ever. What is clear to me is that I collapsed into a complete and absolute sleep from which I was utterly removed from this world. But now that I am returned, and in my retreat, I can see it: there is another, and another.

And when I was awakened back to this life I find that it too is mysterious. The King has returned, but something has changed, something within him, or about him …. And perhaps even more significant, although I cannot say, the King has brought with him another. A man of numbers.

- Sorren

It is clear that Sorren is communicating with someone, or some thing that is outside of his limited ability to describe. No, I cannot maintain my conjecture that Satan is involved, and I may have been over zealous and not disciplined in my analysis. If these voices come to him even when he is awake, they may in fact be vestiges . . . ghosts, or phantoms from another realm, hidden from our eyes, but somehow manifest to the eyes of Sorren. But something even more disturbing has been awakened within me now, and I shudder. He does suggest that there is more than one phantom. Could this book which I hold in my hands be sensitive to my very presence? What if it is I that is the phantom of which he is so frightened? His illness is beginning to reach out to me until I too am becoming ill.

What is a man of numbers? Sorren is not even familiar with numbers as he clearly states in another leaf. Perhaps he is referring to a man that knows numbers. But why would the King bring in a man of numbers? This could be a tax man. Perhaps the King seeks to finance a war. I do not believe this. The King is trying to finance something I am almost certain. Perhaps we are finally coming to the beginning of the Great Hedgewood Wall odyssey. Sorren could not know about this yet, or he would have suggested it himself. I merely look backward.
— M

A strange thing has happened.  In the previous 22nd leaf I posited a question that was nagging at the edge of my awareness for an entire day with upmost persistence.  It was that a form of sympathetic magic had connected the very thoughts of Sorren into my own mind through the leaves of this book, and that an empathetic synergy was at work.  M had left decisive comments in which he evoked the name of Satan, and I was curious and slightly annoyed by this.  But in the very next leaf, a leaf that Sorren wrote perhaps only a few days later, M has disavowed his own insistence that Satan was involved.  What is strange to me is that his new speculation should so closely follow my comments made in leaf 22, several centuries after his own comments, but through the simple turn of a page, seemingly preceding his own.  The reversal is both bizarre and disturbing, as a similar thread seems to be weaving us together.  Books do not live, and servants do not compel servitude.


And then, with the twenty third leaf, Sorren further defines this strange mechanism which is penetrating even his waking mind.  He does so with surprising eloquence.  But if these same sentiments were uttered in my contemporary world, the reaction would be universal and sudden, and would end with calls for professional intervention or banishment.  This is something I often contemplate, as some of my thoughts and words are clearly outside of accepted consideration.  One must be careful with words . . . or even with the expression of certain thought, because much bloodshed and violence has been committed by people that have expressed similar strange and bizarre thoughts.  Authoritative bodies of professionals universally agree that such interventions are not only proper, but necessary for the protection of society.  Sorren surely is trying to be careful here with his words. He writes at night, alone, and by candlelight, possibly for fear of being discovered and of being ostracized.


Now then, how far afield of mainstream thinking is one allowed to wander in this present day?  The question frightens me.  Sorren could not exist in this world.  Soon it may be that to even discuss one’s dreams may warrant admonishment and incarceration as our very dreams are analyzed and stripped from us as Jungian psychology has become codified and weaponized.  But even this does not describe the experience of Sorren in my opinion.  For even if I accept the fact that his dreams and waking fantasies are the product of hallucination, that still does not explain his ability to integrate these hallucinations into his own personal, existential model.  Sorren is not insane.  Instead, I think that he is serious and quite sober. 


The issue with the man of numbers for me is simple.  King Sigmus is bringing Patrick Beauchamp to the island in anticipation of the Lady Kathryn’s death.  Of course Sorren could not know this, but I am writing this after many centuries, and I have had time to correlate these pages with the events described in King Bartholomew.

The Twenty-fourth Leaf

That I had fallen into a deep sleep seems like such a poor description, for in that place I had never felt more awake. Much of the "dream" was as in other dreams, in places unfamiliar and strange. But at one point in the dream I began to sense a familiarity, as if I should know this place. I was lost, but about to become found. I was in a garden, or rather a maze within a garden, trying to find the way out. Turn after turn led me into one blocked passage after another and eventually I became desperate to escape. It was then that I heard the other voice, someone calling out as if they too were lost, seeking a way out. I shouted to gain the others attention but got no response. The voice was young and boyish. He sounded frightened. I escaped the maze but the boy did not. The King’s staff was alerted but the boy was never found.

In the dream I was distressed by the loss of the boy and I would return to the entrance of the maze each night, under the cover of darkness, when no one else could witness me. I wanted to enter the maze to find the boy, but I was afraid. Would I not become lost at night and then be found out in the morning by the King's staff? Why I should be so cautious in the dream to save the child is not clear to me now. But in the dream I had the impression that this was the King's struggle and that perhaps it was not my place to interfere.

And as painful an experience as that was within the dream, the dream now took on an even greater experience, one of horror. I was at the entrance to the maze again, late in the evening, deciding whether to venture in to find the boy. But this night I would not need to make that fateful decision because a more pressing decision was forced upon me. I began to hear a sound, a call or a music, from far off. The music was foreign to me, strange and frightening, but yet it moved me. I wondered, could this be John, the harper? But I knew that it could not be John. This was not music for enjoyment or merriment. This was music of a purpose, although I had no idea what the purpose could be. I followed the music and soon became lost in a maze of a different sort. I was winding my way through thick brush and trees, across small streams. Dark eyes peered back at me from the safety of the woods. Finally, I came to a clearing where the music was most certainly coming from. My fear was now at its highest as I crouched low and tried to peek through the coverings into the haunted place. It was then that I saw them, and it was then that I knew I had no more need for the Ghost Journal. They were before me.

- Sorren

Good Lord, this man never sleeps but yet spends his whole life dreaming. The complexity of his nocturnal hours overwhelms me, and part of me wishes he had the comfort of a woman to help him forget his demons. Gardens, mazes, twisting foliage, lost boys . . .I am at a loss to explain it. He is surely lost in the maze of his own imagination as the darkness makes a willing mistress. The strange music he describes makes me think of the sirens of Odysseus, but Sorren could not possibly know of the words of Homer but for snapping the necks of chickens and fixing pipes for the King. No, in fact the music is in his head and he is wont to get it out. I wish I could wrench it out of him so that I could spend my nights with my own dreams lest these fantastic and grotesque dreams begin to merge. Partly these leaves of Sorren fight back at me, and then suddenly I am lost in musing of what I have done, and what I should never have done. I stare into the wan candlelight perhaps even as Sorren does, and I think, but I cannot speak. How can the dreams of one man so tear at the dreams of another? I refuse to believe that I have something to learn from this man. I refuse! Trapped within the regiment of his daily duties, the mind of this strange man has asserted free rein over his willingness to subdue it. He may be a victim of his own invention. This possibility is fascinating to me, but I must stay objective to serve my purpose. The ghosts he has been running from have finally lured him to their lair . . .and this is where Sorren puts down his pen? This is where I blow out my candle and wander the empty corridors until Lauds, for Sorren has taken something from me even as a man takes heat from a fire.
— M

This garden is increasingly on the mind of Sorren. He has mentioned it more than once in his writings, and he visits this place in his dreams. But this is much more than a garden to Sorren; it is a maze, a maze that draws him further and further inside, only to be assailed with abstract and strange fears of which he cannot assimilate or even escape from. To me, this maze represents the subconscious and buried fears of the servant, and the closer he comes to recognizing those fears the more obscure and fragmentary they become. Horror is the recognition of one’s worse fears, but Sorren’s horror is as of yet, undefined and buried, perhaps even to himself. This garden obviously plays an important part in the novel King Bartholomew, but Sorren could know nothing about this at this stage, and his precognition would seem to be affecting him in a peculiar fashion. This does further the speculation on my behalf that Sorren is actually clairvoyant and not merely imagining endless possibilities of which he has no control over. In fact, he seems to be much more concerned about this garden than is the King, but this I find to be dubious at best. In truth, the King has already trapped Sorren inside his garden, for he cannot escape from it even during sleep. This garden was not meant to trap Sorren however, and the irony is that Sorren has wandered in where he was never summoned, even as he is summoned by an even more strange and diabolic entity, for it is likely that the entity has manufactured the spirit of such a boy to lure the servant deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of his twisted and tortured soul. I find this astonishing, and for myself, Sorren has taken on a new persona, and now he represents a tragic figure, trapped within the magic if his own supernatural gift . . .or possibly it could be better termed a curse.

The end of the leaf I find the most cryptic. The music seems to be calling Sorren, even leading him into another state of consciousness. I think that the music is symbolic of the unknown realm which we call death, and that the sound is tempting the servant to enter, even as one enters a new city or a new atmosphere. Will Sorren have the courage to follow? I will stop this analysis of this leaf, for Sorren has ended this leaf so abruptly for a reason of which I have no knowledge, and I wish to consider this leaf more thoroughly before proceeding.

Finally, I want to add that, as a curator, I find this task to be increasingly difficult, for I am not a curator at all. This book was given to me while I was visiting Scotland on a journey to climb Mt. Nevis, and the fact that I received it at all is still a complete mystery to me. I have taken on the task of curating this book partially out of an obligation I felt toward the person who entrusted it to me. Perhaps they saw something in myself that I am yet to discover. In fact, I am ordinary in every way, and the daunting task of curating this book I do partly out of sheer joy. Yes, I would like to know things about Sorren that I am likely never to discover, and much of what I learn I may be too inarticulate to put into words. Yes, I like to speculate about what he ate, and if he drank hard alcohol, or if he maintained secret lovers. And what did he look like? I do not know these things, so I will not maintain the illusion that I am hiding these pieces of minutia for my own personal reasons. Sorren is a fascinating person, and that is the direction from which I approach these notes. Curating, I have come to learn, is a intensely formative endeavor, and I am sure to fall short of the expectation of a true archivist, but I will continue to try to uncover the hidden jewels within this Book of Sorren.

The Twenty-fifth Leaf

The courage of the dreamed ... As I looked upon the two in my dream, I next did something I would never be able to do in my world, in the cradle by the sea: I accepted their invitation.

I tremble even now as I think upon it again. How I knew that the two were the others is surely part of the mystery of dreams. Before me stood two great, glittering white wolves, eyes burning red in the twilight, hot breath steaming in the vapors of the night. Whereas the first wolf, the smaller of the two excitedly paced in the fore, the second, larger and more menacing, sat on its hindquarters near the back of the clearing and howled an unearthly music, that which had drawn me to this hidden lair. How this beast could produce music on its own again belongs to the mystery of dreams.

The first spoke, in a calm, detached manner, and I understood it to say, "I see that you have come now. Are you prepared then to answer my questions this evening?" I remained silent as I tried to understand the vision before me. No series of fantastic stories told in empty, dark taverns by the isle's disturbed could prepare me for this. But then the second raised up and began to pace around the clearing, in a circle, as if he were studying us. I ignored the first and spoke to the second, in a quiet voice that belied the terror coursing through my blood, "Who are you to judge not only me, but my confessor?" The second wolf lowered his head, as if in thought, and continued to stalk us, slowly tracing a path that described a space I could never escape. His song began to hypnotize in new ways and my mind reeled. The first spoke again, "But who are you speaking to, my friend? It is only you and I, here, in my study. Come, see what I have written about you." My confusion grew and the second wolf's music now seemed ever more threatening. Through my terror, a small voice, or maybe the boy that I once was, stood in awe of the powers of the night, powers which were more mysterious than I could ever have imagined.

But sometimes the courage of the dreamed is an illusion and should be avoided at all costs. As the second wolf paced behind me to block my exit, he suddenly leaped upon me and began to tear away at my flesh, quickly biting to create multiple wounds. The pain was magnificent. As the blood drained from my body and his teeth moved towards my neck to finish me off, he paused to place his mouth near my ears, his music tormenting me further. I longed for beauty, for simplicity, for the sea. I cried out for John, and for his song. In the final moments of my dream, with the darkness of the night dissolving into a new emptiness, I lay quiet and stared up through the trees into a patch of sky that was just visible. And there I beheld a pattern of stars I had never seen before and my wonder was returned. The second wolf slowly backed away while the first approached me again and in the human voice that I knew so well from my dreams murmured, "I want your story."

- Sorren

I am at a loss to explain this leaf. The more I study it, the greater becomes its complexity until I am lost once more in utter confusion. I do not even understand how to understand, or how to interpret this leaf. Surely I will miss the subtlety which has herein been codified by the servant. And why would Sorren write such a complex fragment to himself? I can only imagine that he knows that about which he writes, so the question still remains . . .who is this written for?
— M

This leaf has completely baffled and surprised me. It is so far from what I expected to read that I am in denial and read and read again until I am satisfied that I have understood what is written. I wondered if it was some form of joke by Sorren, but then I quickly realized that it couldn't be. Sorren does his writing during the long, dead hours of the night when he should be asleep, and he would have no expectation that his words would ever be seen, most especially by the King. No, this leaf is something different. In this leaf, Sorren is speaking in some form of metaphorical symbolism. But there is no purpose for it! Sorren is attempting to write literature here . . .but he does not know how to put it together, so he flounders and only speaks in broad terms. Admittedly, this was my first impression of this leaf. It made no sense to me, therefore I decided that it made no sense at all and could be attributed to pure fantasy. I now admit that my first impression was naïve. My first impression was based upon my own notions of human nature, but my first impression was wrong.

I now believe that Sorren’s dreams have more in common with visions, and that further, he is experiencing a kind of lucid dreaming that has supplanted his very mental bearing. My wonder is: how can this man function? Does the King not see this, or in any way detect what can only be described as mental illness? The answer is no. In modern times this would be described as mental illness, but in Sorren’s time it is likely that they would be described as visions. Even this is too simple of an explanation though. Were this truly a form of illness, I suspect that it would not fall so directly into an area so open to interpretation. Sorren is showing a facet of precognition. He is looking into the future, not unlike Nostradamus. To me, this is easier to believe than that he is staying up all night to fulfill his dream of writing literary fiction.

Another element of these dream sequences intrigues me although I do not understand it at all, and I only speculate. Sorren has mentioned John several times in this book. The harper, as he is called. This man has made an indelible impression on Sorren from the first time he saw and heard him. John, the harper, is a wandering, travelling minstrel, a troubadour essentially. He tells stories with music, powerful words and music. Sorren is drawn to music in a profound way. I do not know why this should be. Perhaps it is due to the glorious music that he can hear wafting from the abbey at all hours of the day and night. Perhaps it triggers emotions within him that speak to his deep longing for answers to questions about eternity and identity, both of which are endlessly turned over and over in this man’s mind. Yes, music is powerful, and these same philosophical questions have inspired my brother and myself to explore these airy, vaporous, ambient aspects of music. Sorren however, had not the time nor the capability to nourish such deeply personal expressions in his own life . . .he found them instead, in his dreams.

Being devoured by wolves is really the strangest and most unexpected side to this leaf, and Sorren was careful to describe it in as much detail as he could remember. The wolves wanted something from him, they threatened him continuously, and when he did not satisfy them, he was devoured. They demanded his story. They demanded his story, as if his story was somehow important to them. What is this all about? The wolves are the harbingers of death, and yet they demand to hear the story of a simple servant? Perhaps it is that this Book of Sorren is his story, and that explains his chronic and utter restlessness that cannot be assuaged. In this context, Sorren is an artist trapped inside the life of a servant, hoping for relevance in a difficult and barren existence, and aren’t we all . . .

The Twenty-sixth Leaf

Last night I slept, without dreams.

Today was a day like any other. There were no voices plaguing my serenity. Today was a day of labour, with no insight into the world beyond my sight, beyond the music of the trees and the birds.

I saw the King today, momentarily. I had a question for him on the construction of his garden but he showed no interest in this project, this obsession which he has devoted so much time and energy of his kingdom to complete. Though I am still embarrassed from my behavior of our last meeting, I now feel a greater emotion, a sense of sadness for the man, a man that I seemingly cannot help. And this night I would trade my serenity for a way to touch the world.

Touch the World

The need that never finds its rest

that lives alone

and slowly bleeds,

like yesterday

Or the cold that never seems to know

its time has passed

now shriveled dry,

like yesterday

A touch can also meet its end

if caring comes too slow

The hand now bleeding

shriveled, dry,

like yesterday

- Sorren

There is no doubt in my mind that this man has true fondness for this sovereign King to which he is attached. Far beyond duty, obligation, or the will to survive, this servant empathizes, and even feels the pain of his King. He responds to him even as a son responds to a father. I can empathize with this man. If only I could feel such love how my life may have changed . . .like yesterday.
— M

A rare night without dreams, without the sound of disembodied voices, and without the coldness, and the bristle of horror, Sorren makes special note of this fact as if it were unusual. How difficult and how draining such a life would be to live with such anxiety, such uncertainty, such drama. Sorren spends his day in the labor of his craft, as he calls it. As so his time would be filled with the simple and ordinary chores of a servant, from serving coffee and snapping the necks of chickens, to the procurement of fresh vegetables and clean water, and to the supervision of the chores of lesser servants. But even during such basic, and I suspect welcome labor, he still has time to ponder the relationship he has earned with the King, and worry that he may be sad, or melancholy. I like this trait, this idiosyncrasy, but I would never wish this, or accept such enduring devotion to another person. This is an entirely different level of love that has sadly faded away from us without remorse, systematically destroyed and taken from us in these modern times; filial love I suppose it should be called, but strangely to a King, and not a parent. I wish Sorren would talk about his parents, but something tells me that it would be a bitter tale to tell.

The love Sorren has for his King may be unusual or difficult to understand in a world as this, when every man is his own King, and every woman a Queen, and we accept the burden placed upon us by the forces that allow us to lead our own lives in freedom. Ironically, Sorren has even shown a type of personal love, a love for the world of which he laments his inability to affect. I admire this quality most, for today our world has been stricken, infected with the disease of self-love, self-righteous love, narcissistic voyeurism, and the world has grown much colder. Sorren would look for a way to heal our world, but he would only make himself weaker, sicker. and more lonely.

The poetry which he so casually includes in this leaf is majestic and wonderful. Even though he omits the basic rudiments of classic protocols of poetry determining poetic feet and meters, he instead has written something from the gut. This fragment of poetry is powerful and visceral, and I am not surprised to see that even M was profoundly touched. M was obviously touched in a way he has not shown so far in these leaves, and one can see the emotion ripped from this man suddenly. Well done, good servant.

The Twenty-seventh Leaf

Iona has told me of the Queen’s poor health.  This must be why the King is so distressed.  I have not even seen the Queen in many months/I had thought she was visiting the cont. I have nothing to give the King.  Poems, stories and song have no power to undo the evil of a spell, or the whims of a familiar.  Even Iona does not seem herself, as if she too has been afflicted.  The Bishop has now been seen several times in the castle.  Why does this man of God fill me with such a sense of dread? I begin to wonder if my stirrings are pure fantasy with no purpose for anyone, least of all myself. I want to touch the world but cannot even understand my own mind. Perhaps John’s song is simply another type of spell and I too have been afflicted by an ancient. Should I flee this phantasm or pursue it into battle, a battle I have no idea how to wage? If only I had the courage of my dreams.


Why does Sorren care so deeply about this Queen, and that she be absent, or sick? The state of the Queen has affected those around her as a moth is drawn to a flame, or the vultures to the scent of death, and this is to be expected most likely. But for Sorren to feel such dread over the presence of the Bishop is significant. The Queen is beautiful . . .not unlike the eyes of my own mother as my memory tells me. I remember her eyes, they were hazel, the color of the grey willow in autumn, so common, so ordinary, a hedge weed . . .and yet so beautiful.
— M

As these leaves continue I come to believe that Sorren is very much a mystic, and that he may still hold true to some of his pagan ancestry. I know that even after Christ was brought to the British Isles, vestiges of earlier paganism remained and were kept alive in practice and in the writing of folklore and have never truly vanished. This is one of the things that attracted me most about the Isle of Man. Sorren served a Christian King, and his entire life would have been connected and interrelated to the Christianity of the King, but that does not mean that Sorren would have forgotten, or turned his back on the rich folklore of his homeland, for he is constantly concerned with spirits and ghosts and devils and other supernatural phenomenon; he is superstitious, paranoid, and frightful, but he is honest and he is loyal.

I must admit that part of Sorren’s personality has rubbed off on me already, and I find myself awake, long into the night, reading leaves, working on my curating notes, and trying to put into music the strange, melancholic and ethereal thoughts of a man long since turned to dust. And how does one write music that is both poignant and ethereal where the music tries to convey a brief moment, a fleeting, transient impression? I knew that I could never do this with ordinary musical instruments, for the vocabulary was not written in musical notation, but was instead, just a distant thought that was struggling to be remembered. Like poetry which takes the shape of strict, traditional forms, music also is tied to such forms generally derived from the chromatic and the diatonic scale. This did not interest me. I wanted something different, something that was ethereal and undefined. I wanted something that could take any form the listener imagined, and so I knew that much of the music of these leaves would be ambient and atonal, just like the imagination of Sorren. For what is music? A single sound, a single tone is not music; music is a relationship of tones either melodically or harmoniously associated; music is extracted from chaos. Sorren has experienced this chaos.

The Twenty-eighth Leaf

A bell was struck three times in the night. The townspeople did not gather to quietly whisper and guess at the significance, for what had became known to me through Iona was now known to all. Three strikes: one for the Queen, one for the King, and one for . . .? Perhaps the third was for all of us, for we are all now less the richer.


Curator’s note: in a different handwriting

And then she was gone

From whence I first gazed

her smiling eyes

and realized

that love can lead us through

a darkened maze

And then she was gone

With pressure from her lips

still stinging sweet

so sweet

that none could come betwixt us,

we were one

And then she was gone

Like the life I knew with her

Like the life I longed to hold

Like the tears I hold inside

to save myself

but for not merely pride

No, not merely what I hide from you

but what now speaks to me

that, which I cannot bear to hear

And then she was gone

And with her, I.

No Sorren, though you write these words in your private diary you know that they are not true. You know in your heart the meaning of the third strike. The bell tolls not for you. The bells tolls not for the people. This can mean only one thing, and you know this to be true. The bell tolls for a child, and the anguish is for the child.

I read these word of anguish and I can only think of the anguish I experienced when I was given to the Church, for my mother was not dead and I pleaded to be able to stay with her. The tears in her eyes will never dry in my memory, nor the kiss she left me with . . .I was given a new life, for my mother could not keep me. My name is Melanthros . . .my name is Melanthros . . .my name is Melanthros.
— M

The death of the Queen here has come as a shock to Sorren. The behavior of the King in view of this makes perfect sense. M is not surprised. But Sorren either pretends, or is actually shocked, and even tries to discover an alternative explanation. Sorren has shown himself to be both wise and cognizant in these leaves, so I suspect that he is not really shocked at all, he knows the truth, it is more likely that he is heartbroken . . .disillusioned, and the pretended ignorance of the truth is in fact his own way of dealing with his inner pain.

Not so with M. This attempted glazing over of the truth by Sorren has upset this man and drawn out very powerful memories that are clearly difficult for him to acknowledge. He ends his note with a powerful declaration of his true name. He repeats it three times, just as the bells tolled at the death of the Queen. A death that has gone unmarked is to deny the pain that is far too often, formalized and ritualized, and buried alongside the dearly departed.

The reaction of Sorren is sad and poignant. Death should never be formalized to the point of being arranged like theatre. Sadly, what I see happening now as I get older and more sensitive to the inexorable pull of the grave and the slow disintegration of the human spirit, is a ghastly fascination with death, perpetuated in the films and books of those that deal with the macabre, for death is art in this context. Call me strange, but I do not want to be entertained by such grisly and contrived acts of murder and mayhem as part of my daily intake of media. I hate it. Death is never funny, and death should never be presented for consumption. Death is profound, and it should not be trivialized with false memories, false commendations, and false emotions.

The Twenty-ninth Leaf

Yesterday the Queen was brought to the Abbey for her final resting. The past few days included ceremony and visitations and were meant to provide some comfort for the people. The King was strong and his mere presence was a comfort to me, for I too am moved by endings. But what happened that night, just last night, I could never have imagined, and for that I am thankful.

The day's events were completed, the sun starting to fall and I desired no more than to find a fire and to think of nothing. But then the King approached and told me that I was required, and that I should follow him.

It was just he and I, trudging through the woods, and with the darkness coming fast I was quickly lost. While I now understand the reason for my presence, in that moment I was in great fear, as I had been in my dream as I was called to the wolve's lair. The King was carrying a small satchel and my thoughts could not escape the wonder of its contents.

And then we came to a clearing, a place which was still very dark but for a small opening in the trees overhead which allowed a thread of moonlight to enter. The King turned to me and for the first time since we had left, he spoke to me,

"Sorren, thank you for accompanying me. I know that you have no understanding of why I have asked you here, but I must do something and I need another, a friend, to witness. The Queen .... is now gone from me. I can never recover her, and so I must begin anew. My love for her cannot be replaced and my love was for her alone. And so, just as she has been lowered into the ground, so too my heart's labour."

And then he reached into his satchel and removed a small book. He crouched low and placed the book into a hole which I had not seen before. And then he lay completely on the ground, his arms outstretched and he kissed the earth, covering the book with the dirt from the hole. He lay there for several moments before rising. I could not look into his eyes. And before we headed back to the castle, once again in complete silence, he took my shoulders and made me to raise my face to his eyes. My eyes were wet but again it gave me a great comfort just to be near him. He said,

"Thank you Sorren. It is only you, and your book, which will know this."


I was not on the island when Queen Kathryn was buried, for my duties in England were not yet finished. There is growing unrest and I was entrusted to seek out its causes and manifestations as it related to the authority vested in Rome. In one village a church was razed and its ikons destroyed, and in another village a priest was driven away by men with torches, and escaped with little more than his life. Reports have come in outlining a growing and progressively demonstrative element within the Church that has raised calls of alarm throughout the body. Discontent rises. The people question the right of the Church to administer indulgences, the authority of the Pope is questioned . . .even the divinity of Christ is questioned. This heresy must be stamped out. But with each new heretic found, countless heretics escape to spread the raging firestorm. The people wait for a leader, a new leader that can unite them. I fear the outcome. When I read the words of John Wyclif and Jan Hus, I fear for my Church, even as I fear for myself. These men would have laymen and peasants read the bible for themselves. What then? Are the people to interpret the word of God in their own, limited, parochial language? This fire shall become a conflagration if ignored. It’s quiet, as another leaf falls from the tree . . .things are falling down all around me.

The last part of this leaf has me concerned. I should like to know the contents of the book buried with such ceremony, for I should learn much about the life of the King which is shrouded in mystery. No ceremony should be practiced from without the body of Christ. The King’s suffering is an indulgence better left to the Church.
— M

I find the reaction of the King to the death of his young wife to be normal, if just a little bit eccentric. But this is a King, and the grief of a King should be proportionally stronger and more expressive than the grief of a bricklayer, or a stonemason, or a fisherman. These days are different, but during the Middle Ages under the system of feudalism, the rank of a man was his most dear possession, and the respect that comes with rank is a protocol that is refined and carefully protected. The rank of a King puts him above all other men, therefor his grief can be thought to be more profound than that of all men.

We all of us belong to a similar hierarchy in these days though we do not understand it by using such terms. We talk about equality, but there is no form of natural equality, it is a system which is put in place by those that see themselves as a higher, more refined class, which is no different than the ditch digger or the stonemason. Sorren is able to transcend this marginal cast, and he has become an important friend to the King, who has honored this man with a secret that bind them together like brothers. This would be the equivalent of a CEO of a large company going out for a bite of lunch with a custodian for his company . . .possible, but come on, think about it. And when the King tells Sorren that only themselves, and Sorren’s book shall ever bear witness to what just happened, he is putting much trust in his servant, but I do not think there is an equivalence in todays world because the heart of a man is a hard thing to change. In the days of Sorren, money did not buy your way into a higher class; in our day, money defines our class.

And the book which the King has buried? The importance of this book would be proportional to the significance of the person who buried it. In other words, this is an important book and Sorren knows it.

The Thirtieth leaf

Where to begin ….? He told me that there were things about the King and the Queen that I did not know. He said that I must tell him everything I knew about the King, so that he could be reassured that the King's actions could be understood. Why was he acting so strangely? I had always thought the Bishop to be a very gentle and kind man. But his manner of questioning made me very uncomfortable. I told him everything. Almost everything. But I would not betray the visit to the woods, in the night - that seemed so long ago - and the King's moment of grief. The Bishop could tell that I was incomplete. He promised that I would be contacted again. And then he told me, "I want your story", and when he said this my heart froze and I knew that preparations must be made.


This garden of King Sigmus is no ordinary garden. It is infused with some form of magic that is dangerous, and repulsive to the Lord. The careful and systematic installation of known plants that are selected for their special, innate qualities, some of which are important to witchcraft and sorcery, is clearly demonstrated, for rumors penetrate into every crack and fissure of the Church. And so this Bishop Jacob is investigating the same thing . . .or so I surmise from his careful questioning of Sorren. What else is it that the Bishop could be concerned about? It is also certain that the Bishop knows something important about the King that he is unwilling to reveal to the servant. I can think of no political expediency to which the King could be subject to for political gain, and the island is at peace, so I am forced to speculate once again.

Could a theological crisis be brewing on this peaceful island to which the Church is unaware? A Bishop questioning a servant is one thing, but a Bishop questioning the private servant to the King is something else altogether. I also speculate that Sorren may be inventing intrigue here where there is none, for would the Bishop truly ask the servant to hear his story? I have no reason to believe this, but I must consider every possibility. After the things I have witnessed on the continent over the last year however, I am prepared to accept anything, and the Church must remain diligent in all such matters lest it be infiltrated by legions diabolic. I am beginning to like this man, but I cannot allow my personal feelings to weaken my focus.
— M

Frankly, I do not blame Sorren for seemingly being paranoid here, for I too, share his distrust in authority. In the hands of a Bishop, the servant is no more than a struggling bird within the vice-like grip of a predator. Then, as now, the overarching power of authority can cause absolute terror of one to which the powers choose to examine. The Law can be arbitrary and vicious, but in the time of Sorren, the Church was the Law. Sorren is being manipulated, and he knows it, but I sense his apprehension as he tries to hide the full truth from the Bishop. I like this, and I would hope that I could have the strength to withstand such questioning by a superior that could destroy me so easily.

Sorren has already decided that preparations must be made. His intention is to resist the pressure being applied by the Bishop. He says preparations, but what could that mean? Perhaps he is using his mind to invent an alternate explanation. The colloquial term for that is lying. Sorren is concocting a lie in his head. He is doing something dangerous here, because a Bishop is not something to be played with, and the Bishop has tools too horrible to imagine.

The Thirty-First Leaf

After replacing a few shoes today I went into the woods to seek a peace. The meeting with the Bishop from the other day has left me in a horrible way. I have no idea what to do. The King has been acting strangely, yes I can see it too. But I know his grief is real, it moves between us, into my own heart. But in the woods, silence is a strong herb. In the woods I can see ... music. And that which I can hear is as a story. And finally my peace, for in that sacred place of strong medicine I see myself, and I am of the story.

- Sorren

The empathy that this servant feels toward his King is touching, but strange. He claims to actually feel his pain. This may be sympathetic magic at work. I pray that I am mistaken. More distressing to me is his assertion that the woods are a sacred place. There is nothing sacred about the woods . . .on the contrary, the woods are frequently said to hide the pagan gods and pagan spirits, and the use of the word sacred betrays the servant’s true feelings. The woods are alive with serpents and demons and all manner of hellish phantasms. Sorren best stay away from these places if he be wise.
— M

No, I do not believe that Sorren is being melodramatic. I take him at his word that the pain of the King goes through him as well; this is a symptom of a form of love that is all too common today, even to the point of being better termed, an illness. Sorren, in my estimation, is a man of honor, and honor to him is more important than the temporary pain he may feel. What most interests me is the reason why this should be so. One has only to remember that it was the King who taught Sorren how to read, and his mind was unlocked with this new power of liberation. Sorren is grateful, and so he should be.

But his retreat into the woods is curious. Many writers have written about enchanted forests, and forests that have an awareness, this is nothing new. But in Sorren’s time, phenomenon such as this was not even questioned so certain was its belief, and the terror of the forest was the terror of the unknown. The forest is a place of uncertainty, of unexplainable forces, and of danger, for the forest is old and retains traces of memory from primal, antediluvian times like an endless reverberation, and even as it is systematically destroyed, the presence, the oneness, remains unchanged. But the forest is also beautiful and tranquil. There is a consciousness, a soul that can sometimes be heard, and sometimes be felt. I have experienced this beauty, this uneasiness in the forest on my hiking journeys. Yes, it is peaceful, but it can quickly turn frightening, and the feeling of being watched, closed in, can be overwhelming. I have experienced this as well, so when Sorren talks about the fear of the forest, I know exactly what he is talking about, and it is not simply the fear of being lost.

Things live and grow within the forest that are better not known, for there are some things that should never be known and are best to remain hidden. And sometimes the sound of the forest is best heard as a warning. Even in these modern times of cell-phones and GPS satellite technology, dozens of persons are lost inside of the forests of the Earth every year and are never seen again, disappeared without a trace or corpse. At one time, during the Middle Ages, the forests covered most of the continent and were wild, unexplored, and home to every kind of danger that could be imagined. Folklore is filled with stories of these unexplored, vast tracts of wilderness that are like an ocean, because the imagination needs a place to work, and so these spaces were filled with all the fears of the subconscious mind. The forest was a threshold behind which another world of weird, supernaturalism existed.

But I believe that the sound of the forest is heard within our own mind, it is fearless and it is relentless, and the sound is different for all persons, because the sound, the music, is constructed within our mind, detached and separated from reality. And like an instrument that is tuned to an unfamiliar key, the forest gives up its song slowly, gradually, as one penetrates and brushes against its mechanism. That is why this feeling of uneasiness grows and only becomes manifest the deeper one wanders inside. A walk through the woods can be wonderful and tranquil, but to become lost is a harrowing experience. This is what Sorren is talking about.

The Thirty-Second Leaf

I boil over. And now I feel a great freedom, for I can see the end. The Bishop placed me in an impossible situation. Again, I was called to his study. More questions! Leave me in peace, I cried. But this man of God would only take from me. And what of his God, would he, does he have no care for this servant? But then he came to me and held me in his arms, this man I thought I knew. In his eyes was a wildness and I knew that though I escape his grasp I could never escape the God who made this man. I told him of the King's grief. I told him of the King's pain. And of the book. And when I mentioned the book his eyes grew even larger and he pleaded, "Show me, show me!" and in my terror I ran from his study into the woods, into the night and I heard the darkness as a terrible music. And so I know what I must do, as the song so tells.

- Sorren

And what of his God? Is the God of the Bishop not also the God of the servant? Has this King taught him nothing? This servant must have a severe secret to keep to be so frightened of a man of God. Similarly, I find it curious that the Bishop should be so relentless toward such an insignificant man. What could he know that could possibly be so important? It must be important however, and now Sorren has made a critical decision. I feel that he is hiding something vital about the King and some book, and that he will soon reveal his plans inside these leaves. I fear to speculate about this book.
— M

Sorren is terrified of this man, the Bishop. I would imagine that the level of fear is proportional to his desire to maintain his secret. The King has trusted Sorren with something important, and this has bound the servant to his word. But now in this leaf it is revealed that the Bishop has pressured Sorren into betraying his word. And that he has so betrayed his mentor and his King has torn this man apart with guilt. Sorren is a man of honor, and we see this in his actions and his words, but now he has dishonored himself, and he cannot clear his mind but must imagine instead that the forest, the darkness, is speaking to him. He fears the sound like it is the very call of doom. The song, as he calls it, is directing him to do something, and Sorren is content because he sees his path directly before him, and he is bound to this path. How strange the mind of man, that we can perform a contrary action if we can only convince our self that it was unavoidable, preordained.

This notion of pre-destiny has always been an important subject of philosophical discussion. Our free will is what is at stake, but if we truly have free will, then nothing is preordained. Free will implies that a choice is made, but we cannot be made to believe something that we do not believe. The notion is absurd, and that is why we do not walk in front of a speeding car because we do not believe we are in danger. And further, if we are compelled to believe something that we are instructed by the Church to believe, we cannot will our self to believe it, for this would demonstrate that our free will is an illusion. Sorren does not see this subtle point however, for the philosophical vocabulary did not yet exist in his time. Epicureanism had not yet reached these shores.

The Thirty-Third Leaf

I spent that night in the woods, because I could not risk going back to the castle. My fear of the woods was very strong, but I must avoid the Bishop. I searched for the largest tree I could find, and beneath it's tower I nestled. I tried to sleep but my mind was filled with every terror I could imagine. How many hours I lay there, shivering and worrying, are lost to me now. I am only aware of those moments of anxiety because of what came next.

I remain hidden there, beneath the massive tree, exactly what I had sought to do, when a group of figures entered my field of vision. There was very little light in the woods but my sight had become somewhat adjusted and so I was able to vaguely make out moving shapes. I knew them not to be animals because their movements were more purposeful. They appeared to be searching for something and when I realized this I was awoken like never before as I feared being discovered. It was then, in that awoke way, that I was able to fully see them. These were not the others as I had been expecting. They were .... different. I cannot say they were terrible, that they were hideous or wild. I have not the language to share the song that these nameless shapes sang to me. I was so close to the other world, somehow I could feel what they feel, and I was overcome with visions of what they must see, all moving so slowly, so silently, and strangely in time with my own heartbeat. How is it that I could be moved by that which terrified me? And how could I have stood up from my hiding place, moving into the shapeless group and begin to sing with their song? How could I have done that? There are no answers for me here. My sense of homelessness is complete as there is no refuge for me. Not in the night because of my dreams, not in the daytime because of the Bishop, and not in the woods where I grew because of something I can never name. I am a ghost in my own time.

- Sorren

The terrors of this man have driven him to the demonic realm where the curtain is thin and easily penetrated. This realm is not open to one anointed by the word of God. He does not even realize what he has done. This is the danger of despair, black lightning. Sorren has summoned these evil manifestations, and he will never have peace until he reaches out for the grace of Christ. This is the reason that the Lord calls us to be steadfast in prayer, for the thoughts in our mind reverberate into the world, even as the freezing coldness of winter chills us to the bone, and the world is made more dangerous when the body of Christ is fragmented. The wild places will not shield us from the eyes of the Lord, but we must instead seek solace in fellowship.
— M

This book is beginning to affect me in ways I had not anticipated. I find myself daydreaming about this when I should be concentrating on something else; I find myself pacing the room inside my studio long into the night when I know that I have only a few hours before dawn; I find myself directing day to day conversations to include these bizarre and obscure pages until my wife can barely tolerate my flights of fancy, and still I am unsatisfied. This book is beginning to torment me, but I seek out the torment and only speculate further about the words about a ghost. A ghost! While I turn into a ghost in my own life.

I can’t help my fascination with this book, and I did not seek it out. It was given to me, and there must be a reason. I refuse to live in a world without reason. The true irony is that our present world is a world built entirely upon the foundations of reason, and yet I refuse to acknowledge it. I’m sick of it!

Reason can become a sickness, a sickness of society, and this is precisely what I have systematically come to loath about our present world. There are literally, experts to handle every thought and every decision that happens in our life, and our life comes down to an agreement to follow the advice of the experts, because the experts have been programmed and certified with the syllabus of information that itself has been invented and codified by experts that came before them. I’m tired of it. Is this free will? I think not, for why would one go against the advice of an expert that knows what is best for us at every moment of our short life? And if we should choose to defy these proclamations given to us, there is an expert to make note of our defiance and offer us advice about how to come back to the fold, as if we were nothing but frightened sheep, wandering too close to the precipice. There were no experts telling Sorren what to do, and to watch him struggle with these issues is fascinating to me. It is also refreshing and poignant.

Sorren is going through something powerful, something that is beginning to consume him. These spirits that have become manifest to him are an indication of his condition. I am no expert, so I will not call him delusional. Sorren is alive! His passion is beginning to evoke supernatural expressions into his world, but he fears this. I can only imagine what it would be like for him if he accepted this without fear. We should all be so lucky.

The Thirty-Fourth Leaf



flint steel






a song

in my heart or


just an Angel's Kiss

grace from Finn

- Sorren

Oh, Sorren my friend, what are you up to now? All these objects are objects that a man would bring on a journey, a long journey. His choice of words however is peculiar. He uses the Gaelic form for water instead of the word water. Why would he do this? Is he still so frightened that he must obfuscate even his own private diary? Patyns is a shoe made of wood with leather straps. Is he traveling to a forbidding landscape so treacherous? Denarius is an ancient Roman silver coin, worth approximately ten asses. Is he going by way of donkey? But the most obscure and interesting word he uses is Tilismaat. This word refers to a collection of Urdu Poetry written in the Persian Script. This is a simple servant? This is what a simple servant does with his spare time? How is it that such a simple servant has any spare time at all? And he asks for grace, not from the Lord, but from his pagan god, Finn MacCool. Your wizard will not protect you where you are going.
— M

This leaf appears to be just a short list of words. This is not poetry. This is not poetic . . .far from it. Seems like just a few random words, with a short salutation to Finn McCool at the end. What could be the purpose of such a leaf? It hardly seems like it would be worth the time and effort to prepare his quill-pen if all he wanted to do was to list a few items without explanation. What else could this be? I looked up these words for myself because I did not trust the interpretation from M.

The word tilismaat has a different meaning from the one M described. The word, as far as I can tell, is associated with the word for magic, and enchantment. In fact, this word is the word for talisman, amulet. So it would appear that Sorren is involved in the black arts after all. I wonder if M knew this? But, I must not be too quick to judgment. Perhaps I am wrong. It would not be the first time . . .nor the last.

It would not bother me to learn that Sorren was interested in magic of this kind, the kind associated with talismans and amulets. I take into consideration the historical time in which Sorren lived. Everyone, in one way or another, was touched by a brush with magic, or sorcery to use the word the Church often used, because most people believed it and were therefore highly conditioned to see its manifestations in ordinary occurrences. These people were not evil. This was a time before the Renaissance, and long before the proponents of scientific determinism lived. There was no reason to doubt the folklore passed down dealing with demons and wizards and supernaturalism, and so these stories were accepted and codified into the culture and into the unique parochial folklore.

But now, in our modern world, we have to criticize and make fun of these people, calling them stupid, ignorant, backward, and unlearned. This is because we are so much smarter, and so much better than those ignorant peasants. We study them from inside book-lined halls of learning, and we scoff. Ironically, the more we learn about the fundamental components of our universe, the more we are forced to admit our own ignorance of reality, right down to the quantum level, the Planck length, where the fundamental uncertainty is built into the very fabric of space.

How do I know this? I do not know this by any rigorous mathematical reasoning because I am not a mathematician. Instead, I act just exactly the way Sorren, and people who lived in those times did . . .I learned it from someone who did know theses mathematical conditions and then thankfully translated, and then wrote down in books. The point is: very few people alive in this time could follow the rigorous mathematical machinations that support a scientific theory, but they believe them anyway. Why? They believe them just because they were told to believe . . .just exactly like in the time of Sorren. We are now, and have always been, manipulated by a very small cross section of society, and we count ourselves lucky to be alive to see it. What is the difference between our sophisticated ignorance, and the less sophisticated ignorance of Sorren? This explanation does not explain this leaf, but I am sympathetic toward Sorren. He is planning something, and he wants to keep his mind open for faint murmuring from the gods.

The Thirty-Fifth Leaf

The wall of kings

my world is fading before the wall of kings

but my bloom has found an ageless partner

in the wall of kings

How strange that I shan't see them again. These frames that whisper to me, and to which I whisper back. But the last frame, the empty one, makes no sound. And if I could conjure, what sound would I have it make? A song, or soft lullaby? Maybe the young girl humming to herself - this young lass with not a care in the world. I would listen to her song again, and this time I would allow the memory of my first love to enchant me once again. How strange it is that love never leaves.

I asked Iona to meet me here for I wish a favor from her, I need a witness. She has agreed although she suspects not of what I am asking. I shall miss this girl.

- Sorren

Is the Wall of Kings so important to you that you should lament not seeing it again? And yet, you see yourself forever framed and admired in perpetual adoration. These Kings that line this wall are not your peers, Sorren. You are a simple servant, to use your own words. Perhaps instead, you should try to imagine yourself looking down from the wall of servants, for that is what you are. The Wall of Kings is reserved for great men who perform great deeds, but you are preparing to flee from your post and your King, who has treated you fairly, even by your own admission. And further, it appears to be your intention to corrupt the King’s other faithful servant. Is this how a man of honor conducts himself, Sorren?
— M

It seems likely to me that the Wall of Kings would have been a powerful thing to behold, solemn, reverential, thick with the scent of narcissus from distant Elysian fields. A man like Sorren would have been drawn to this peaceful and noble place due to his great love for his King. I do not think that Sorren had visions of himself being placed upon this wall, no, I think that M is misreading Sorren’s words. When Sorren speaks about the last frame, he is not imagining himself there. No, he is waxing philosophical. He knows that Sigmus will hang there, and he only imagines what words the King would have for him upon his death. Similarly, we are all bound for the Wall of Kings, even though we would not use such an antiquated metaphor. The Wall of Kings represents a legacy, a representative perspective from which we shall be judged by our peers. The Lord will judge us in heaven; our decedents shall judge us as we hang quietly upon the Wall of Kings, and our actions, our will, our every movement in deed and in thought shall be judged. This is how the world of men remembers and comes to know itself. I hope that in some small way I should live to deserve the honor of hanging upon the venerable, the glorious Wall of Kings, for I shall be judged by my peers.

The Thirty-Sixth Leaf


And so I left her a paper flower, not a real flower as such would wither and die. But the paper flower will live forever, like a song. And all these things of this world are like the Queen and the rose. But our songs, our poems and our true love are like the imitation. If you think of us, we will be there. And we will be pure, with no fault. Accept this gift, my Queen, for your love made the man that I respect above all others. And though I have betrayed him in this world, my heart never followed this path. No, my heart is like the winter tree.

- Sorren

Sorren is a sentimental servant. That is obvious. The Queen must have been a very special person for him to feel such an attachment, so much love. I wonder if Sorren still has a mother, or if she has died. When I think of my mother I become numb. I was just a lad when I was brought to the monastery of which I belong. My mother was beautiful to me then, and that is how I wish to remember her. After a few years, I knew that she would never come back for me. That is when I learned the truth about her. A young friar, not much older than myself, came to me after Mass one morning and told me the truth. My mother was a prostitute, and she had given me to the Church to protect me. The anger at hearing those words went through me like lightening, and I beat the young friar mercilessly. I had to be restrained by several monks that watched from a small distance, and I was punished severely for my violent outrage. I have since come to accept the truth that I was unable to live with, and my tears have mostly run dry. But even after all these years that have passed, I still love her, and I harbor no angry sentiments against her. How I miss her though. And if Sorren were here in front of me this very moment, perhaps I would beat him mercilessly, or hold him closely for the memories that he has forced me to relive again, I’m still uncertain.
— M

This thought of Sorren, this simple, brief wisp of a thought to me is utterly profound. Here he posits that the imitation of reality is better than the reality to which it represents. I almost hear an echo, though not specifically articulated, of Plato’s theory of forms. Plato thought that the concept, the theory of a circle, was perfect, but that a perfect circle in theory could never be produced. The theory existed only in the mind, and it was inside the mind that the most perfect form of reality existed, and reality existed only as an approximation of the pure form of reality that was archetypal. Yes, this is abstract, and some would say ridiculous, but it does highlight the power of the mind to understand perfection though perfection could never be understood through experience. Perhaps Sorren did not even understand the profound concept about which he espoused, which we now classify as epistemology and write important papers about. Sorren was just a dreamer, and in his dreams he was able to penetrate some of the secrets of the human mind.

Sorren also mentions another world, as if he no longer belonged to the world in which he lived. He lamented to the Queen that he had betrayed the King in this world even though his heart never followed this path. What a strange thing for him to say. Does he live within the abstract world of his mind as does the paper flower that he fashioned for the Queen?

My theory is simple: Sorren has a very high regard for honor, and for his word. He was forced to break his word beneath the intense examination of the Bishop. He cannot forgive himself. Now he is making preparations, but for what, and to what end? It is unfortunate for him that he did not live in these times that I live in today, for lying and cheating and misrepresenting the truth is simply a course of action, and a manner of doing business. People today do not even expect to hear the truth, so their doubt, and their cynicism is factored into every interaction and correspondence. That is the easy way, and that is the way of the world.

The Thirty-Seventh Leaf


Kynthia cries. She sits by the window and her tears fall hard. Argus cannot console her. I had no idea the effect my leaving would have on this child. Argus too is moved, especially when he learns of my plans. I sat next to the girl, to ease her sorrow, but my hands were trained for killing, not comfort. I told her to think of all the happiness that awaits her, the joys, the friends, her family. And that when she cannot see those things that she must look as far as she can - look there, beyond the dark hills, and you will see a light. And it matters not if we ever find that light, but that we should simply know it is there, waiting for us. Kynthia cries, as do I.

- Sorren

He openly states that he is leaving. This idea is no longer an abstraction. But who is Argus? And who is this girl to which he refers? It is curious to me that he is unable to console this small child, for he says that his hands were made for killing. But I know that there is tenderness in his heart, he has spread it across these leaves in abundance, and he has opened his soul to be revealed. I no longer fear this servant, this man, for I know that his heart is pure, even in the absence of Christ. This is something I cannot abide though I will not denounce this man to the Church. Surely he would be made to understand the error of his ways, but I cannot become the instrument of that fate. Fate is inexorable . . .I fear fate even though it be written before I was born. I pray that he does not say where he is going, for I do not wish to follow him, and may the Lord forgive me.
— M

Of course Sorren has friends outside of the Castle and outside the scope of his responsibilities to the King, I’m glad that he does. And why shouldn’t he? I like this. Sorren has a life outside of his station, and it is important to him. Kynthia cries when she learns he is leaving. That says much about his character, and we should all be lucky to be so loved. She must be a very fragile and delicate girl, but this is a heartwarming sentiment in my opinion, for it shows vulnerability and the need for compassion.

But this opinion is lost in the world in which I live. My world is loud and brash and cynical, and to express such tender feelings is a sign of weakness. In my world we are taught to be independent. We are expected to be independent and strong. Tenderness is weakness, and our weaknesses are to be either brought up and discussed in special meetings with support groups and sponsors, or it is to be borne with steadfast temperance, somewhere in the privacy of our own room, away from other people that don’t especially want to hear about our personal problems. Only between true friends can we let down our guard, but even friendship in this world is perverted. These days we have networking friends, which are friends that help to motivate you and accomplish goals; in return for this friendship, you similarly help your friend accomplish his or her goals. True friends need nothing from you, nor do they take anything from you, and a true friend does not betray you.

Sorren leaves her with an expression of hope. A light beyond the dark hills is a great metaphor, and I am only taking a guess here on what it means. I believe that he is referring to his understanding on God. This is a pantheistic expression, and I love the way it is purposely vague, just like the understanding of the divinity of nature itself, for in Sorren’s mind, nature is part of God, nature is God. God is all things, the forest, the creatures, the sky, the sea . . .

The Thirty-Eighth Leaf


In preparation, I must aquaint myself with the night. Not from the safety of the castle, but in the house of the watchers, the others and the wolves. I stand before the great sea, surrounded by ... nothing. Here, not even the dark hills can torment man. The steady drumming of the waves is a blessing, for I feel this same drumming in my own heart. Is the sea alive, as one large organ? Or is it rather a multitude of organs, speaking, or singing in tyme, like the brothers? I flee from all I know. What would the harper have to say about that? I can no longer simply survive within the bounds of these pages and it may be that my book has done this to me: the dreams, the visions. The music of the waves fill the night but now I faintly hear another, a slapping, or flapping, as of wings. And these wings are of another multitude, a brotherhood of despair, and their song ripples over the waves, like a sea of crows.

- Sorren

The torments of this man have driven him to despair. He talks of watchers, he talks of others, and wolves. These others no doubt are legions from hell, and yet he seeks them out. I was beginning to feel compassion for this man because I believed that his heart, although misguided, was pure. But now . . . I am uncertain. He speaks about the sea as if it were an entity unto itself and not created through the word of God. The music he hears in the waves is not the voice of God, nor the sound of wings the gathering of angels. What he hears is the sound of death, driven forth with a sea of crows.
— M

This leaf captured my attention immediately for its immediacy, and for its darkness. There is something very mysterious in his words, and his tone has certainly lost its poetic edge and become impatient. He will make his move soon I think. His plan to acquaint himself with the night and the others, and most especially the watchers, is truly unexpected. This is a man, a very superstitious man, even by his own admission, going out into the night to consort with ghosts, and with fallen angels. Unless he is using the term to symbolize the danger of the forest. The watchers are mentioned briefly in Genesis chapter 6, but these are not the kind of entities Sorren would be searching for. The watchers are also mentioned with much more disquieting detail in the book of Enoch, but I find it hard to believe that Sorren would have ever seen this book, for it is apocryphal and not easy to be found in his day. What then could he have been referring to? Creatures of the forest is my best guess, the owl, the fox, the wood-sprite, elementals.

His image of the sea is anthropomorphic, yet beautiful. Sorren has already spoken of this before, for it is an aspect of pantheism. To me, it sounds like the thought of Jung. Personally, I love to kick these ideas around while I am walking in the woods, or smoking a good cigar with a single malt, but these thoughts are not satisfying to me, and I search for something deeper, something more profound.

He talks about the harper again. I have lost track of the number of times he has mentioned the harper. This harper, this troubadour, has spun a web of magic around this man, and he curiously wonders what the harper would think about his thoughts and actions. This is very odd, at least to me. One possibility is that Sorren is really thinking about himself, and when he imagines the harper, he is actually trying to imagine himself doing something worthy of being considered by the harper, and that perhaps the harper would want to write a song about him. Could Sorren be so hungry for recognition, and is it even possible?

Step into my world and prepare to be horrified. People are absolutely obsessed with self aggrandizement to the point of sickness. People set up cameras inside their homes and life-stream themselves eating, and sleeping, and washing their dishes, and showering, because people out in social media-land need to see what they are doing, so fascinating they are in their own mind. How sad can some people be? But it gets worse. These people obsess over how many likes they get on social media, and they become depressed when the number doesn’t match their own opinion of themselves, so they abuse themselves, up to and including suicide, which they then live-stream. People commit crimes and live-stream them on the Internet, for they are so obsessed with recognition that they are not even smart enough to realize that they will be caught and prosecuted. Someone once said that there was not enough love in the world, but I disagree. There is plenty of love in the world, but it has been redirected back unto ourselves, and like a mirror, reflects only are own selfish obsession. So, by comparison, Sorren seems quite normal in his interest for the harper. Sorren, you are making a mistake.

The Thirty-Ninth Leaf


I did my chores today with a new zeal. I slid the knife through the belly of the pig, I hung him next to the leg of lamb, I tended to the horses, and cleared the brush. All seemed different to me today, as it should. Later, I went to the garden maze to relax. Will this garden ever be completed? The King designed this for one who is no longer here and so it seems to me as though this garden is orphaned, a tool with no purpose. I sat in the center of the maze, alone except for the birds who shared my retreat. It all started for me here. Were it not for the King the present would not be here, as it is now, as it should be. And now I huddle near the candle and scribble my thoughts until my hand wearies and my eyes fall from tiredness. This is my life, as it should be, at least until tomorrow, when I start to go.

- Sorren

Sorren shows a rare contentment in this leaf. No doubt it is because his plans are ready and he merely waits until it is time to carry them out, so now he enjoys a few lasting luxuries to take away with him, including an afternoon in the garden writing in his diary. I know he is an honorable man. He is ostensibly fleeing the island because of a perceived dishonor he has committed against his King, a man he esteems above all others. However, does he not see the irony? Does it slip by him unawares that he would abandon his King when he is one of his most esteemed servant’s? Sorren is fleeing the island because of a perceived dishonor while the real dishonor goes completely undetected.

His troubles began with the confession to the Bishop about the burying of a book by King Sigmus, beneath the cover of darkness, after the death of Queen Kathryn. Why should the King decide to bury a particular book? Would it not have been safer and more prudent to have simply burned the book? Perhaps he is afraid to burn the book. And what kind of book is too dangerous to burn, and that instead it must be buried? A book of the occult perhaps. All the talk of the King’s special garden makes me wonder what kind of occult witchery he could have woven into it. I think that the King has taught the servant how to read for more than one reason.
— M

I like this. Sorren is happy in his duties and sentimental, even before he has left. I think there is no question though that the reason he is happy is because his plans are now driving him forward and he has accepted his fate. The human spirit is resilient and the human spirit is strong; we can endure pain, and we can stare down death with calmness if we understand that there is no alternative left for us, no choice. Or faith allows us to do this.

Sorren’s mention of the garden interests me greatly. he wonders if it will ever be completed, and then he says the garden is orphaned after the death of the Queen. What he says next is what truly makes me wonder. He calls the garden a tool with no purpose. Is this a poor turn of phrase, or is it possible that the servant has revealed something unintentionally? Why does he use the word tool? How can this garden be seen as a tool? Tools are designed with precise purpose: to do work. Sorren implies that the King has designed this garden for a purpose, and not arbitrarily. I can think of no purpose of building a garden except to keep something special, like a bird in a gilded cage, or a criminal monster from reentering the world. Perhaps, like the whippoorwill, the King decided to build his garden to capture the soul of his beloved wife, as a testament to her beauty. I’m not exactly sure, but Sorren also uses the word gift. This garden was intended as a gift for his wife, and it is here that he hoped to capture the magic between them. Perhaps he thought he could keep the spirit alive forever, like the rejuvenation of a perennial flower.

If this is true I like it, for that is not the world I live in. Magic in the modern world is meant to hurt and to maim and to hex people. The magic of today is done with malice. The magic of today is indeed a tool, a tool for selfish needs. Even modern-day witches go on television and brag about putting hexes on politicians they disagree with. To me this is malevolent and evil, and I can see why magic has been looked at with fear and hatred. Magic is all around us. Look into your heart and you will find it.

The Fortieth Leaf


Morning finds me excited. Today there will be no chores. In a few moments I will descend the narrow, circular staircase of the tower, pass through the castle and head into the day to meet Iona at the selected spot. And then I will begin anew. Iona will look on as I place this book into the hole I created yesterday. And then, like the King, I will lay on the ground, kissing the earth that has given me all, and cover the book with the ancient soil, the remnant of all history from this, my enchanted home. The King wanted to unite an object of his love with his one, true love. I suppose that I am doing the same, except that my true love is not a person, but rather a place. Yes, I know that I am simply invoking a memory, an artificial reflection of the King’s grief. But my grief is great also. To leave this place causes me a pain I find unendurable. But I cannot stay. If I am able, I will thank Iona for her witness and then hold this girl in my arms. And she will be my lasting memory of a life I once lived, a girl I once loved, and a King I once served. And then I begin again. And to the man I owe everything, I offer all that I can give, this poem.

I have not the words to say

how deep my thankfulness

I have not the melody

to praise you for your deeds

I have not the peace of mind

to see you as you are,

You are my King

I have not the strength to give

the lift you gave to me

I have not the harmony

to live now by the sea

But what I have, is here, is now

to offer up a prayer

God, bless this King

- Sorren

I am torn between conflicting obligations, and my heart is heavy as I read this final leaf from Sorren, the simple servant. I was directed to find this man, and to find this book. I have done that, and I have fulfilled my obligation to the Church. Brought to the attention of the Church that magic was being performed on this island in the Irish Sea, I was dispatched and instructed to discover its source, ultimately to eradicate it. I have found no sorcery here, and I have not found the devil. I have found an aching spirit, and I have found a poetry of emotions. Lord forgive me, but I have been moved by these simple words, for the words of our time are harsh and seething with vehemence. Whomever shall read these words I leave behind, know that I have buried the Book of Sorren in my mind, beneath the soil of tolerance amidst a torrent of upheaval. I know not what I shall do, for my road takes me back across the water, back to the Church. But I shall take the long road . . .a very long road.
— Melanthros

This last leaf of Sorren has affected me greatly.  Strange as it may sound, I feel a slight depression at the conclusion of his journey, a journey I may say that I have also made as I have examined his inner thoughts.  I knew that he was planning on leaving the island, but now that he has, I feel as though I have lost a friend, one whom I will never see again.  His depth of thinking was profound, and I experience no equivalent in my life today.  Perhaps it is my own fault, but is it also my fault that my world has changed?  I have watched this change come about for many years now, I have warned my friends and family, and all else who will listen to me, but in the end progress is inevitable . . .except for the fact that what we have today is not progress, it is death, a slow death of the spirit.  

I have spent many days pondering these thoughts of Sorren, sometimes bleeding into my very dreams, and these musings have made me restless and melancholy and have caused friction with my family.  They do not understand why I should agonize over such philosophical questions that can never be answered, they think it is a waste of time to ponder such questions.  They are wrong, and they will never understand me. 

In the leaf, Sorren talks about the power of place.  He understands this power, it is a part of his soul, and to leave it behind is torment, but he does what he must.  Attachment to a place can be ancestral, as a true Scotsman will always feel at home in his cherished highlands; it may be traditional, as is the home advantage at a beloved ball park; and it can also be spiritual, as is the love of nature and the wild places.  To me, there is also a power in thought and the kindred spirit of one that loves the very same things as we.  My place is inside the world of the mind, it is where I feel comfortable, and it is where I live. 

Last night I drove to my brother Dan's house.  It is a very long drive, but I was awake and alert the entire trip.  He was very surprised to see me.  After we were settled down on comfortable chairs in his Findhorn Studio with a glass of fine single malt whisky, I told him the reason for my visit. Reaching into my travel bag, I removed my beloved Book of Sorren. He looked shocked.  I held it for a moment longer, and then I handed it to him.  He looked at me with a question on his lips. 

"I'm finished with it," I said.    

He looked at me with surprise, and then he shook his head.  "You finished curating the entire book?" 

"No, no, no," I replied.  "I do not want to finish it.  I want you to finish it." 

"You told me that you would never let this book out of your hands," he replied as he drained his glass. 

"Yes, I did say that, but that was a long time ago, Dan.  Much has changed." 

He poured another dram of Glendronach before asking, "What has changed?" 

I became excited.  "This book is not about Sorren," I said after sipping the smooth whisky with satisfaction.  "Yes, this book was started by Sorren.  And now, as you know, he has left the island.  But there is much more to this book, Dan.  I have skimmed through it, careful not to become entranced again by the strange presence of the book, and I can tell you that the writing is different, it is written in a different hand.  There may turn out to have been many hands to have written in this book, but I did not look too closely." 

"Are you afraid of this book?" he asked suddenly.  "And why give up now?" my brother said with bitterness. 

"I am not giving up," I replied as I drained my glass.  "I intend to discover what happened to Sorren, and Melanthros.  I intend to do research." 

"That could take years," Dan replied impatiently.  "And you may never discover anything." 

"You're wrong about that," I said.  "I already have." 

"You're kidding?" he said with rising interest, and I could see a slight smile. 

"No, "I answered.  "And that is why I need your help.  I want you to continue curating this book, and I will try to learn as much as I can.  I have made some discoveries," I said cryptically, although I was not trying to conceal anything.  "What I have discovered however, is only fragments, disassociated pieces of text, references to other work by other authors, some of them from the Isle of Man.  This book may be very significant, Dan.  We have to continue." 

He asked, "Where did you find this?" 

"The Internet," I responded with satisfaction.  "Did you know, Dan, that almost everything that has ever been written, has either been lost forever, or it has been backed up, saved?  Much of the body of work from previous centuries has been copied onto microfilm and microfiche . . .it's all there, stored in University computers and libraries, waiting to be examined.  I have found a few links, and from there I am beginning to uncover fragments. I will chase this thread and see where it takes me, and I will continue to write music. Perhaps later I will want to curate these leaves again, but for now, I just want to be done with it so that I can sleep.” 

The next day I drove home and resumed my quiet, middle-class life, and my wife sighed, for the book was finally out of the house.  That is when I realized: this is the reason I was given this book.

I now leave this book in the capable hands of my bandmate, my brother, and my friend, Dan. I will monitor his handling of these notes, and I will follow his thought carefully, looking for signs . . .

— K