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 . . .