The Forty-First Leaf

The means by which I came upon this book are extraordinary to me. More than a year has passed since I lost my most excellent and faithful servant, Sorren. In truth, I had given up hope of ever learning his whereabouts, for he disappeared without a word, without a trace. I tried to understand what could have been going through his mind, and I wondered if it could have been something I said to him that caused him to leave. But in the end, I could think of nothing, so I continued on without him. A King should never be concerned about the servants that care for his needs, it is unseemly. But I am not this way, and I feel compassion for those around me and those within my care, for the responsibility of a King is primarily the protection and patronage of his people.

Two days have passed now since I was visited by one of the Black Monks from the Benedictine Order. We spoke briefly about the state of the Church and about the rising discontent within the Continent, and his words were both enlightening as well as frightening. Then he told me the reason for his visit. He had been carrying with him a book, a book of thoughts and poetry. He told me that it was written by my servant, Sorren. He further told me that he was commissioned by his Order, to seek out the root cause of the burgeoning firestorm that was beginning to ignite. He speculated that occult magic was being used, and that is what brought him to this island. When it was learned that my servant knew how to read, and even how to write, he became the subject of investigation. This happened sometime after Sorren had left the island, so he was never questioned directly.

The Black Monk, whose name is Melanthros, then said that initially he was determined to find Sorren guilty, for his pantheism was so abhorrent to him, but that after reading the book carefully, he could no longer support his supposition, because the words of Sorren were profoundly beautiful. Then he took out of the folds of his habit, the book of which he spoke. He held the book delicately, and seemed to caress it. At last, he handed it to me and said.

“I cannot condemn this man for these words. May the Lord forgive this simple servant, and may the Lord forgive me for being moved to compassion by his simple words.”

I have read the book of Sorren, and I too am moved to pity. I now understand why he is gone, and his honor is restored. Today I dispatched two of my best men to the Continent to look for Sorren. I instructed them to ask him to come home. And someday, if my prodigal son should ever return to my door, I shall snap the neck of a chicken in his honor, and we shall feast. This book I shall continue to fill with my own thoughts, and someday if Sorren should ever return, I will give it back to him.

— Sigmus

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Seeing the written word, on the page, has given me a greater appreciation for why my brother was so taken with this task.  I will readily admit to being more than a little skeptical of the authenticity of this document.  Was it a legitimate treasure, or more likely a fanciful work of fiction?  But as I now possess this book and can see with my own eyes the wondrous age of the pages, the numerous attempts at repair and perhaps most importantly the different handwriting of those who wrote within its binding, I am now not so sure of my initial misgivings.  How likely would it be for several different authors to conspire to develop this narrative, within the same physical book?  These pages are so incredibly fragile and there is a unique aroma which compels me to think once again of the highlands, the lochs and the desolate, beautiful landscape.  These handwritings are voices from a very different past.  It would be much easier for me to list the few things that we today share in common with that time than to list the uncountable number of things which utterly separate us, from this book, from these voices, from their story.  The King has sent his men to find this man once again.  It seems as though none of us can escape the simple servant.


- D