Skydale, Colorado. After 1996, it became known as the Blessed City. I weep for its suffering people that it might be given such a spiteful, ironic name. Even now, half a decade later, they clutch solemnity like a security blanket. Why so many glorious things need a tragedy to start them on their way, I do not know, and I have searched long for the answer. However, this world is yet filled with mercy. There is beauty to this tale, as well as tragedy. I am witness to Skydale’s beautiful children. Were they to be the flowers borne of ashes, I would be the rain.
But I digress.
There is always somewhere to begin. I, however, detest beginnings as a sniper detests his rifle. I loathe their necessity, the new weight of new tasks piled onto one’s already worn shoulders. I do not believe in “beginnings”. The mere concept of more than one beginning contradicts itself. However, this bothersome firework of life on Earth is not so accommodating as to assuage my dislike of beginnings, or any other supposed cornerstone of reality for that matter. No, I am not so lucky. Beginnings, like ends, time, and death, are stapled to our backs during our stay in this world, so I have made my shark-smiling truce with all of them for the time being.
Yes, this tale shall have a time, this tale shall have its purpose, this tale shall have its places, and this tale shall have its players, but first this tale must have a teller. You may call me Poet, not from any fractured-mirror need of mine to hide myself from you, but because this is the name I now attribute to myself, and have for many years. You may envision me in any fashion that you like. However, if you do not envision me as a graying Russian with a full beard and soft blue eyes, well, then you have envisioned wrong. My birth and youth are no enigma, I had parents and a homeland, as these are the prerequisites for human life. I have omitted such things. This is no secrecy, merely brevity. There are other aspects to me, and to my time spent wearing flesh, that beg greater attention.
Our Creator saw fit to carry me into this world with certain…talents. I am aware that we drink and breathe a world that is no longer surprised or even impressed with such endowments. In a way, I am almost pleased at such societal progress, even if it is only due to learned inhibition. Yes, I was born with gifts. Actually, it is truly only one gift. It is one that has proven itself a prism of use and merit, reaching across the entire spectrum in its service to me, and all of my travels, be they physical, astral, or temporal, quietly agree that this gift is unique to me. I can speak to Elementals.
Every tale must have a beginning. Let this be, then, a makeshift bone splint of exposition, as my further writings would be nigh unintelligible without my explaining to you some of what I have learned of these beings. Elementals are the conscious, living essences of every facet of this little Realm. Now, it is well within my knowledge that many of you do not believe in them, but were I any less concerned with your disbelief, it would be due to my lapsing into a deep coma. Those who’s minds have yet to be welded airtight by the acetaline of “doubting all but the excruciatingly apparent” may even now be imagining a humanoid figure composed of weathered earth and stone, or a spiraling pillar of water with two ever-burning lights that mock the look of eyes. I thank you for your offering me a trusting hand. However, such images are only sligh!tly accurate. Elementals are, in fact, more of an energy than anything else, unbound and protean, walking a heart monitor’s line between individual entities and sprawling omnipresence. While I shall die holding the flag that proclaims their sentience, they exist on such a different Plane than we do that we timebound beings share perhaps a silken thread of unity with their thoughts, feelings, and purpose. While we exist lashed to the sole task of returning to our Creator as pure as we arrived, they exist for the single, everlasting act of sowing and nurturing their particular shard of Reality, whatever it may be.
Elementals are not so limited by Hollywood’s claustrophobic subway of interpretation. True, there are Fire, Earth, and Water Elementals, and they are sometimes seen as living tornadoes with a gaping maw or a shambling golem, but there are more complications. The beings that physically walk the planet, composed of fire or ice, are merely Elementals reaching their arms into this tiny rainpuddle of Reality, and taking temporary form therein. Such things do happen, but they cannot come close to embracing the entire situation. There are many other elements in the assemblage of our world. Some are simple, like electricity, darkness, and metal. Others become more complex, far-reaching, and intangible, both physically, and sometimes even philosophically. Such things as Death, Peace, Hate, Thought, Order, Chaos, Fear, Truth, Courage and Cowardice, each have heralds in the race of Elementals. I have spent deca!des trying to find species and phylum to Elementals, but, in my limited bones, I have stumbled to only the vaguest approximation of accuracy to their true nature and division.
Elementals are, due to painful lack of a better caste system, split into three divisions, or tiers. In the first tier of Elementals reside the most basic and commonly known Elementals, those that are bound to substances and simple affects. I have sub-categorized these Elementals as Fragmentals, as they seem to represent the smallest units of our world. I have personally communicated with Fragmentals of Flesh, Water, Wood, Silver, Heat, Force, Sound, and a host of others. The second tier serves as an embarrassed pen for Elementals more complicated than Fragmentals. These Elementals exist more in concepts and advanced affects. They are not substances per se, nor are they sometimes even entirely understandable to science. Such second-tier Elementals include Fear, Thought, Courage, Pain, Order, Loyalty, Sight, and Health. I have named these beings Integrals, as they truly are the composite of many factor!s, and are far more advanced (thought not necessarily more powerful) than their simpler brothers. Finally, the third and final tier is the throne of only the most infinitely complex Elementals which govern and nurture truly the most essential and impossible to understand. I can only refer to them as Primals. Among their forces are Death, Life, Truth, Unity, Space, and Time. They are not God by any interpretation, but they are the watchful guardians of some of His greatest binding stitches that patch us to this place. Their machinations reach beyond the limits of the human mind, both into the depths of what we would brand as madness, and as well into the nebulous light of an alien brilliance. I do not claim to have even gotten the attention of more than 3 even after decades of Orphean attempts.
My unique communication with Elementals could only barely be considered “speech”, but I deem it speech because it is the closest form of communication that can compare to my interactions with them. Making contact with them is often very easy, a process to which I liken then use of a cellular phone, in that I can feel myself reaching up and out, the fingertips of my mind tickling the conscious currents that flow through the planet. As I previously said, Elementals are not exactly free-floating, individual entities, though I have isolated individual ones before. I have come to see it like a wave of birds, sometimes thin and wide, other times clustering about points of interest (especially if their particular element is heavily concentrated there). However, just like a single bird could be pulled from the flock, so too can a single Elemental be isolated and communicated with.
Elementals have little understanding of our flat, duct-taped concepts of morality. They do not know anger, love, fear, or destruction. Not even Hate Integrals feel hate, they merely spread and feed it. Elementals exist only to further their piece of Reality, so a Poison Fragmental is engaging in neither good nor evil when it flourishes and nurtures the chemical warfare of contract terrorism, nor, for that matter, is a Life Primal any better for pulling a gunshot victim back from the event horizon of death. With these matters in mind, Elementals offer basically no resistance in my dealings with them, as long as the requests are made to the correct entity. Instructing a Water Fragmental to cease a flood would be something akin to telling a German to spontaneously understand Chinese. However, instructing a massive Force Fragmental (or perhaps a number of them) to repel the water from innocent people wou!ld be readily accepted.
I apologize for the necessity of that information. Please understand, I am aware that my Nietszchan machine gun of explanation is not only too brief, but also a porous rock of inconsistencies. For instance, there are not only Air Fragmentals, but also Oxygen Fragmentals, even though air is composed of Oxygen and Hydrogen. Perhaps the subdivisions are an endless spiral, perhaps they have a method. I have yet to learn either possibilities as even likely, let alone true. Therefore, it seems that there is always some new ulcer in the line of reasoning I have offered you, but I am solaced by the reminder that it is the same plight known to Plato in his dissertation of the Forms. There is a Form of a Form of a Form dividing into infinity. My approximation of three general tiers is the best I or the few others I have encountered could rivet together. After all, I am, like most of you reading this, beset by !the frailty of blood and bones.
My ability to speak to Elementals offers me an ever changing arsenal from which to draw. I can hurl myself great distances, even fly, with the aid of Force Fragmentals. I need barely whisper to the silence around me, and I witness the fire, ice, and lightning of a heeded call to battle. The hollow-hearted shatter and burn, sliced down by the searing bolts of superheated energy lent to me by Light Fragmentals. I watch both my wounds and those of others seal shut, the grace of Health Integrals. Even then, those wounds cannot be created unless my assailants oust the opalescent safeguards of Integrals of Sanctuary. Sight and Thought Integrals cast open the windows of those around me, and I peruse the rough drafts of their minds. Only those with the tempered fortifications of one experienced in the higher arts of the Mind can keep secrets from me.
But as you see, these are only the first two tiers of Elementals. I can feel the question burning like a rainstorm in Chernobyl. What dealings have I known with the greatest of all Elementals? To answer this question, I come to you draped in humility. Only once did I ever truly contact a Primal. Even then, in my shining moment that Emerson would have used to proclaim my worth, I was only merely the recipient of good fortune. Some would call it good fortune.
1996 had been a dry Colorado summer, the kind that stiffs and sharpens gold-brown grass until it bites at bare feet. Crop fields, long since dead of thirst, became the graveyards of a battlefield, long, empty stretches of barren land lined with neatly formed sticks set in rows. The wind carried more dust than water. I had not monasteried myself from the people of this world. At the time, I had been living happily in a town small enough that last names were only necessary for one James to be distinguished from another, and social security numbers were only found in ink on paper. I had no reason to alarm anyone with my unnatural gift, and as such, took a subtle hand in the peacekeeping of my home and those who shared my little quiltpatch of earth. That particular summer, I came to fear that the drought would bring danger to those who subsisted on the rain. Mother Nature merely needed some encouragement!..
I made my way past fence and barn, meandering the beaten dirt roads which served as the warnings that civilization was back the way you’d came. The ground beneath me began its gentle heaving as flat, dead pasture rose, turning into hills. Why nobody chose to build houses in such a beautiful place, I am yet unaware. I could not complain too loudly, however, as its lack of populace made it the perfect place to speak to a Water Fragmental, or perhaps a Storm Integral. Full of the hope known only to those who have just finished a long walk, I chose a hill. It had perhaps the best view of the oak and birch forests in which none dared smoke any longer, fearing the sea of flames it could have quickly become. On this hill I sat, legs folded, looking out at the sky, that I might find traces of consciousness. Minutes passed. The shaking, barely contained excitement of floating in a sea filled with watchfu!l eyes crept into my skin. I could feel my chest lifting, trying in vain to pull me from the ground. The murmurs of life resounded in the corners of my senses, as if something was being roused from slumber. Gentle fingertips traced lines along the ridges of my ears. I had been heard.
Deafening gravity burst into chaotic life around me. I’m sure I cried out, I must have, as I was effortlessly forced flat to the dirt. My concern for the tiny town of thirsty people was torn from my chest by sociopathic forceps. Pain and suffering filled my body. Not my own. This was not the pain felt in searing acid. I felt as if every unpaid karmic debt was injected into my bloodstream. Every killing, every hurting, every lie. My life was one of many gleaming, beautiful grains inside a screaming tar pit of agony. In my wracked state, they could do nothing to solace me. I could taste the need for reprisal. One thousand miles away from me, I could sense the red, swelling half-moons made by my fingernails cutting into my own palms.
Images and purpose laced my muscles. The knowledge of countless epochs were chiseled into my mind, keeping pace with the maddening tempo of my pulse. Gene therapy, nuerocyber-augmentation, radiofallout treatment, psi-ballistics, machinae arcanum, molecular surgery, particle transmission, Ley Line spectrometry, more information than one even hears about in a lifetime. My brain was alive outside of my control. Blueprints crawled over my vision like alien vines, only to be swept up in the swirling helix of a DNA chain. Rail weapons etched with runes assembled themselves before my eyes, caseless steel slugs soaked in holy water. Beastiaries, ancient and terrifying, were uploaded into my consciousness, inexplicably understandable Latin and Sumerian texts framing the depictions of hideous monstrosities. I found myself cowering on the 6-lane highway of my own mind, desperate to survive the unchecked traffi!c. Between the throbbing knowledge being driven into my mind as if by a mad acupuncturist, were people. I watched them suffer and die. In the dark corners of their homes, I was forced to watch them cut down. I watched them burn as armies invaded their villages. I screamed for it to stop. I begged out loud, some barely lucid part of me knowing I was only calling out to the hills around me.
A knife of clarity burst into the storm inside my head. It was torturous in its rescue, like one hundred syringes administering their medicine all at once. I felt the purpose of this pain. I felt it pushing me, like a pair of hands behind a child afraid to leave their house. Through the hurricane of visions kicking down the rotted-wood doors in my mind, came the still, calm sight of a city surrounded on all sides by endless ashes. The ashes of buildings. The ashes of people. Vigor filled my veins, replacing my blood. I could feel what was happening to me. I was being readied. This city, untarnished, untouched, teemed with people stained with tears. They raised their hands to me, pleading. I felt the weight centered between my shoulders, raising my head. The howling tempest of knowledge began to spill down my shoulders, a cascade of light. I could now endure it. A floodgate shattered in my soul. I was! open. The knowledge came faster. I reveled in it.
I was being enlightened. I was being prepared for a task far greater than any into which I had ever waded. I strained past warp-physics theorems, through the forgotten language of the Archfiends, reaching down to the people with their outstretched, begging hands. I grasped one. I grasped them all. The ocean lay before me. My feet were barely wet.
My eyes burst open to the sight of pitch darkness and a starlit sky. My clothes were shredded and torn, as was the earth around me, as if a great machine had churned and split the ground where I lay. I was innocent of any wounds. I realized I was weeping.
Seek the city. Assemble the remnants. Raise the army.
I had contacted a Justice Primal.
My task was set before me like a star chart, dots on a clear blue nothing, glowing, yearning to be connected. In an opiate rush of awe and terror, I staggered to my feet, calling out meekly to Force Fragmentals, which lifted me like a broken puppet, and began carrying me home. I cared not if I was seen. I knew I would not be returning to this place. There was too much to be done. During my entire flight home, I pondered through the haze of revelation, as to whether or not I had summoned the Justice Primal, or it had summoned me.
Long before my feet touched the ground, I had drawn my conclusion.
This has been my cast on your fractured leg of ignorance. Not the ignorance of stupidity, but the ignorance of unknowing, of never hearing of a man named Poet, or perhaps even of a city named Skydale. Forgive me that I could not tell you more, but I have promised you the purpose, places, and players of this tale, and I intend to make good on that promise. God willing, you shall be able to walk through this tale as I continue. I pray you walk carefully, and treat that broken leg with care.
Before I write on, make no mistake, I am a man like all the others that have spun and died here. It is true that I have been born with gifts, but my time on this planet has lead me to better understand that even this sets me no higher than any others who have preceeded or shall follow me. We are wrought equal in this race for Golden Apples, despite the oft distracting stature of the more technologically advanced or preternaturally fortunate. I have encountered all manner of them, the more powerfully bestowed, both the vanguards of our safety and those who would undo it. Their voices are merely louder, nothing more. Tragically, we have become witness to days where there is much noise over which one must raise their voice.
Yes, this tale shall have its places. The basement and foundation of this story finds itself in Skydale, Colorado. Skydale, the Blessed City.