Entry 9.0 "The Sun-Shaped Moon"
Through the haunt of mist I row
By foreign stars and borrowed moon
Comes light enough to paint me small
Black beneath the pedestals
Who aloft can see me here?
A jester at the throne of kings
A silhouette of chandeliers
Moved by waters whispering
I’ve always been a slightly rebellious explorer, and I blame that on trees.
Long before my time, a tax credit was issued for every tree planted on private residential property. My neighbor hated taxes more than Christmas, snow, and kids, so when Old Man Silas was Young Man Silas, he planted nothing less than a forest in his yard. It’s hard to know if he could’ve envisioned the results of his excessive planting 70 years into the future, but for me, it made for excellent tree climbing.
Unregulated play was strictly frowned upon when I was a kid, so stealth in my afternoon explorations was a necessity. After leaving my gameplay sound and haptics on inside my Recreation Cube (so my absence would go unnoticed), I snuck away and began my reconnaissance. I studied Old Man Silas’ routine for at least a week before I dared to climb. Around mid-afternoon he would sit on his front porch to make sure the kids coming home from school didn’t carelessly traipse across his lawn. Then, judging from the glow through his blinds, he’d watch the holo for the rest of the evening and night before falling asleep on the couch.
After a week of secretly climbing each of his trees to the highest green branch, something unpredicted occurred. How could I have possibly foreseen the young couple out for an evening walk with their dog? How could I have calculated the odds of the dog being compelled to do his business directly in the middle of Old Man Silas’ yard? After his front door opened, the yelling began, and I started panic-climbing down the tree, leaving telltale shaking branches all the way down. That’s when the yelling stopped and all eyes were on me.
Though I was on a fairly low branch and about to jump down, Old Man Silas forbade me to move, “because if you land the wrong way and get hurt, your parents will sue.” I watched, petrified, as he called the cops. Two patrol cars, one fire engine, and one silver ladder later, I made my way down, arms and knees shaking.
I know I was yelled at by Old Man Silas, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what he said. But I do remember what the officer said who walked me home as I brushed stray tears from my eyes.
He called me brave.
It wasn’t long before Old Man Silas stopped sitting on the front porch in the afternoon. The glow of his holo through the blinds eventually diminished too. His prized lawn became unwieldy and grew high on the fence.
After climbing his trees as much as I dared for weeks after his passing, I couldn’t help but feel loss for reasons I couldn’t quite explain as a young boy. Looking back, it wasn’t that I missed the old man personally; he was truly awful. It was that I missed the thrill of evading a worthy adversary -- I missed feeling brave.
I would chase that feeling throughout my young adult life by small acts of rebellion, like the night I “borrowed” my grandfather’s long-outlawed gas motorcycle from his museum for a brief, but empowering joyride through the backroads of my hometown. There were rumors for a solid week, whispered by locals claiming to have heard a rogue combustion engine.
Though my penchant for exploring slightly beyond the lines didn’t come without consequences, the good far outweighed the bad. In fact, the good consequences were what helped grant me the bravery to conceptualize and helm our artistic exploration of the Throughworlds. The good consequences landed me here, alone in a rowboat, on a world unbeknownst to most of humanity; here I was, bathed by moonlight, immersed in gray mist, in the humbling seam of twin jeweled monoliths.
Was the rowboat my property? No. Was it acceptable to our hosts that I embark on an unguided tour of their private property? Probably not. But the boat was at the dock of the Kingspire where we were staying (compliments of Through Estates) and we were not given any formal restrictions on our comings and goings, so I quietly rowed off into the night in search of some time alone – or perhaps my own secret adventure. Two crownlike peaks high on the horizon made for the perfect destination.
Finally, after closing the distance between the shore behind me, with my objectives ahead, I couldn’t shake the same immerging feeling of climbing the trees in Old Man Silas’ yard. I knew at my core that I had wandered into a singularly remarkable place, uninvited.
After spending the past several cycles on Agricolia, I had become nearly used to the huge, ever-present planet, Hyblyss and its outlandish pallet of fuchsia, lilac and blood orange, but I had never seen it like I did that night. Bold as day, filling my entire field of vision, it hung in the night sky like an overripe fruit, late to be harvested. In addition, Agricolia’s largest moon was full beneath the massive planet and effectively transformed its light into a path of shimmering stars on the water in front of me.
As strange and beautiful as the background was, what stood high in my path managed to capture my immediate attention. Set unfathomably deep to the ocean floor, protruded two Kingspires nearly equal in height, separated by a straight vertical gap that seemed a bit too precise to be natural. What made them unique was not the fact that they stood alone in an alien ocean (though that added to their mystery). It was not their height (they were notably shorter than other examples I’d seen). It wasn’t even the unfamiliar style of architecture of the two identically mirrored, perfectly symmetrical, dual-peaked towers that crowned the top of each. What set these Kingspires apart to me was the massive, semicircular indentation that cut directly through the inner edge of each bookended structure to roughly form a circle – a sun to be more precise. Triangular “rays” were carved indiscernibly deep into, and through, the ancient mineral formations. At first glance the design seemed relatively simple, but as I drifted closer, inside layers of complex angles and grooves hinted at some kind of inexplicable functionality – like some kind of sun-shaped keyhole. I hesitantly asked myself, who had the key? Hero, or worthy adversary? My mind ventured further -- what would be the result of a swift turn of its arcane innards?
When the moon slowly fell to position itself perfectly inside the sun-shaped keyhole, I chose to believe I was witnessing something ancient and intentional, something primitive and powerful.
As I turned the boat to leave, a beam of light shone down from atop one of the structures.
The light cast a perfect circle around the boat and I squinted hard. For a moment, I felt like my 7-year-old self, caught red handed in Old Man Silas’ tree. All eyes were on me.
After several breaths, the harsh light vanished into the mist and I began the long row back to shore, slightly shaken, but exhilarated. This time I was not escorted back to my home by the authorities, but I could still hear the cop’s voice from somewhere deep in my subconscious.
He called me brave.