Springheel stepped into a small white room. Four walls, all square. White. Empty.
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No, not entirely empty. There was a small picture on the far wall he couldn't quite make out. It looked like a nature scene.
A wooden table stood in the middle of the room. A single wooden chair was pulled up next to it, cocked at an angle, as if the previous occupant had just left for a cigarette or a glass of water. The desk was empty, save for a single rectangular envelope. The envelope, too, lay on the table as if casually thrown: A sign of humanity in this sterile chamber.
Springheel stepped inside, closing the door behind him. He walked over to the table and looked down at it. Ordinary table. He put a hand out to touch it. The wood was rough and worn, but very real. Hadn't he been floating in zerospace a moment ago?
He pulled up the chair and sat down. The envelope was tipped upside-down. He picked it up, turned it over. Written on the rich cream-colored paper was a single word, the one he had expected to find. After the door, it only made sense.
It read: Springheel.
The word was written in a curious flowing script that reminded him of old leather-bound books copied by candlelight. Whoever had addressed the letter had not bothered to lick the envelope and seal it.
He paused and considered the absurdity of the whole thing. He was sitting in a room just outside the multiverse, opening an envelope addressed to him by gods-knew-who, contemplating what it would be like to lick a strip of glue-paper while travelling. Would he taste it?
He bent down and touched his tongue to the edge of the envelope. The sour tang he knew from a thousand letters sent in another life was there.
Was this travelling? Everything was real...no, not the right word. Everything he had seen and done in the void was equally real, maybe more so. He needed a new word.
Two sheets of earth-tone paper were folded neatly inside the envelope. He shook them out and unfolded them.
He read, in the same baroque, elegant script:
Dia duit. You've come this far, so you probably have some idea how deep the water gets after this point. Let me assure you, you're right. If you're sitting in this room, reading this letter- and you are, or otherwise it would be a paradox, and the gods know we've got enough of those- you've remembered how to Travel. Truth is, you always knew. You just didn't know you knew. That shouldn't make sense, but it does, and you know it does. I suspect by now you've noticed how things can have always been a certain way only yesterday. Funny old world, isn't it?
This is a way station. A place of rest between one thing and another. We're working on several levels of reality here, but that's as good a definition as any. Time- and we'll get to time in a moment- doesn't apply here. You have always been here. You have never been here. There is no tomorrow and there was no yesterday. No door is locked. No room is empty.
There is meaning in all this chaos. There has always been, and I think you realize that now. Everything that has happened to you has a purpose, every person you have met has a purpose. There are no coincidences. I brought you here, and you brought yourself here, and the universe, the heavens, the gods themselves. All at once. That's impossible, of course, but it never stopped us before.
The gods do exist. Not in the spaces you know, but in the spaces between spaces. They are larger than thought, being what thought excludes. It's Koch's Snowflake all over again. Take a circle. Into that circle, draw an equilateral triangle. Now draw another, upside-down. You get a figure that looks like a six-pointed star. On each of the sides of the new figure you have created, draw smaller equilateral triangles, utilizing one the sides of the larger figure's points for one side of the smaller triangles. Now, do the same thing with the sides of those triangles. And so on. And so on. Eventually, you get a shape that looks like a snowflake, and whose perimeter is, in theory, infinite, but whose area never exceeds the boundaries of the circle. You have worlds within you, Springheel. But there are also worlds without.
The world you came from, the world to which you will eventually return, is dying. The world upon which you lay your head by the ocean and went Travelling is already dead. Neither of these is your world. Both are your worlds. The skein of ALL existence is open to you, my friend. No draught was ever as potent.
Things are happening now. Things that will shake the very foundations of the Multiverse, and change everything. You are witness to the movement. The Time of Legends is at hand.
And who am I?
Have you guessed yet?
If you ask yourself, you will find you already know.
I am you, Springheel.
The sheet of paper fell from his numb fingers. He picked it up again, found there was nothing more written on it, and set it aside.
The second sheet began with this sentence:
One measures a circle, starting anywhere.
You are a Magician, Springheel. A proper Magician, one who knows not only how to pull rabbits out of hats, but how to pull hats out of rabbits, and where the hat came from, and where the rabbit goes when it disappears, and why. You are me, and I am you, and we form a closed circle, here in this room, connected through this letter which I have written, and you have written, and I have read, and you have read, and no one can say which is real...and which is an illusion.
I know you can't remember. You get snatches, a feeling like those double mirrors that reflect down into Infinity, but not much more. There is a reason. You are me, but what I am, what you are, is always changing. You are not the Springheel who stood in a cathedral with a knife at his wrist. You are not the Springheel who spoke to Zem on distant shores.
This is the key. I can give you no more.
Cyril can help you. He was once your student, and he is your student still. He wants no part in what is to come, and his time in these matters is soon to draw to a close. As he leaves, another will enter. All things are related.
Zem has been dismissed. He is dead, and it is unseemly for the dead to interfere in the matters of the living.
Desdemona, Naomi, Crystal...she is a dream of herself, and she dreams still. If you go to her, she will hurt you, but you will find the answer to that question. For better or for worse.
Jade is different. You know her not, not even in dreams, and few ties bind her to your fate. She is a part of what is to come, and she must walk her own path. Your paths will cross, more than once.
You have passed the fifth door.
There is one you must seek, if you wish to find the sixth door. The Dragon alone knows the secret resting place of the Sun. She alone can show you the sixth door.
The seventh door is Jack.
And now our time here is ended.
I wish you good luck.
I love you.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.