Raymond stood a little ways away from the Mirari Stone, as he had discovered a large slab of stone protruding upwards from beneath the peat. It had been mostly consumed by the bog, but it’s surface, much like the Mirari Stone, remained pristine and glass-like; although, unlike the Mirari Stone, it held an overcast colour, like worn granite.
This was not what piqued Raymond’s interest though, as jutting from the centre of the slab of stone was a dark and blackened spike, with a charcoal coloured body skewered atop of it. No defining features could be discerned, leaving only a contorted figure to capture its final moments of agony. Raymond reached out to touch its extended finger and it snapped with no resistance, crumbling into ash in his hand and then immediately whisked away by the wind. This was no ordinary fire, he thought to himself.
Surrounding the spike were a series of symbols and letters etched into the stone, shallow and imperceptible under the dull light. He ran his fingers along the crevices, feeling their ridges bump along his fingertip and suddenly, his perspective changed.
Raymond found himself lying flat on his back along the slab, looking up at the blackened sky. But he felt disassociated from this view as if it was not his to behold. More, it felt as if this was a reminiscent memory and that this body served only as a conduit for his experience.
He, or more accurately, they looked down and Raymond could see that he was in the body of a young man – sickly and raw-boned, his naked frame shivered in the coarse winds that tore through his skin. Stood at each end of the slab in which he lay were two cloaked figures pinning his hands and feet down, but it did not matter as he was too weak to struggle or flee.
To his right, a third cloaked figure appeared. It loomed over them, like a ghastly spectre. Raymond could feel a knot emerge in the boy’s throat. You’re scared, he thought, You’ve been standing on the precipice of death all this time, yet you’ve felt no fear. But this person, his mere presence frightens you to your core – why?”
The cloaked figure began running his fingers along the stone slab, and as he did so a series of runes and letters suddenly appeared, as if etched by an invisible chisel. Once completed, they emanated in an electric blue glow and Raymond felt the young man’s body thrash and struggle in a panicked fit, while the cloaked figures hummed a monophonic chant. It was not a language Raymond knew, but he listened with his hosts understanding and their words revealed themselves:
Μέλανη ἁφή το σῶμα να διανοίξει
A blackened touch to open the body,
Καθαίρεσε το νοῦ με φῶς και διαύγεια
Cleanse the mind with light and clarity,
Ρῦσαι το χρυσό πέπλο από τον εγκόσμιο ὀφθαλμό
Release the golden veil from the worldly eye,
Ως το αἷμα παν γενεί, το παν θα γενεί αἷμα
When blood becomes the all, the all becomes the blood.
There was the sound of stone grinding, then a hot searing pain coursed through his chest. Suddenly, Raymond found himself hoisted upwards into the air by the blackened spike that pierced their skin and bore through their insides. The man yelped and screeched, clawing at the spike to pull himself free, but the torrent of blood slicked the surface of the stone –leaving him without a grip. He was burning from the inside, like a thousand hot needles were burrowing into his skin and he began to convulse, twisting and thriving as his skin flaked and blackened. Then, stillness.
The man was still alive, but just barely. His breathing was rattled, his arms and legs were limp and Raymond felt as if something was being tugged away from his host. It was not death reeling in the threads of life, but instead, it was something deeper – something forbidden drawing him in. It was the Mirari Stone. It willed the host to join it, urging him with a thousand voices that entered his head, screaming and beckoning him; It triggered a deep and primal instinctual urge to run within Raymond. This is unnatural, he shouted, An offence to death – you must not go!
But, his words took no heed and the man took his last breath; and the Mirari Stone whimpered a soft blue glow, and the ritual was complete. Raymond watched as the cloaked figure quickly traced a symbol with his finger along the stone slab, which opened a small compartment. Then, from under its cloak, the figure pulled out a book, which it then placed within the small gap.
Raymond’s sight became his own, and he stood where he once was before touching the slab. He felt weak in his chest and he looked around to see that only seconds had passed, and the remnants of the ashen body still lay crucified before him. Raymond closed his eyes in respect and muttered a solemn “Sorry,” before mimicking the cloaked figure by tracing the same symbol with trembling hands on the stone slab.
A chunk of stone shot open with a loud c’thunk, revealing a small hidden gap; and within was the small leather book that Raymond had seen the cloaked figure place in his vision. It was bound in leather, knotted and limp. On its cover was strange symbols etched in gold; “Alchimia,” Raymond said, running his fingers along the book’s surface.
He eagerly flipped through its pages and was greeted with an array of drawings, sketches, Alchimic compounds, diagrams, and blueprints. But they were written in a text he did not understand and the words that he did were cryptic and filled with allegories or symbols that masked their true meaning. Although, one word caught his attention and he saw it repeated multiple times: Innisfree.
Before Raymond had a chance to contemplate its meaning, he was ruthlessly pulled out from his enthralment with the book with the noise of shattering glass. He quickly looked up to see a miner collapse to the floor.
“No!” He shouted, sprinting towards the Mirari Stone, “You must stop!” But, it was already too late – the Stone had broken.