You who have dreamed of the holy land, come forth and face the dreamer’s ascent. But bear with you this warning: to seek the axle of our world is to court not only death but damnation. For the great Unmaker has long held designs over the power that it cannot use, and the great Architect has withdrawn in sorrow from what was once its proudest creation.

Seek out the place whence gentle showers once came, now dried into a desolation marked only by the tears of a land that has forgotten itself. At its heart lies a blighted spring where dark waters pool, wept from dead eyes the cosmos over. Breathe not the miasma of the desolace, or its dust shall devour your days. Do not drink deep of the dark pool, no matter your thirst, lest the darkness drink in turn from you.

Beneath the waters lies a dark catchment, which seals in the air of the old world. Do not let the echoes of the former paradise beguile you, for those days are irrevocably past and their merest suggestion may suffocate you with ephemeral ecstasy. Dark labyrinths twist beneath the thick rind of the earth there, sketches abandoned by the Architect when it recused itself in sorrow from the act of creation. You must pierce this dark stillness, a sword into dusk.

Many have called the penultimate chamber the everneed way, stretching as it does for league upon league with neither comfort nor succor. Through some abandoned design of the Architect or some machination of the Unmaker, the terrors unleashed upon the world at paradise’s end gather thickly there: hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue, and every other sort of desperate want. No supplies will slake the everneed, and to succumb to the welcome mists of slumber within is to have your soul torn from your body.

At the furthest reach of the everneed lays the morass of Nature’s Tomb, the repose of all that which the Architect has allowed to perish or the Unmaker has managed to destroy. Its bounty of flora and fauna are deceptive, for theirs is a mockery of life and to consume that which has died is to join it in the Tomb. The centralmost reach of the Tomb holds the Judas Cradle, repository of all the Architect has struggled to suppress and the Unmaker has struggled to encourage in humankind.

Somewhere in that puzzle of weakness and deceit lies the final door, behind which lies the holy land and eternal succor, and the power to shift the cosmos about its axis once and only once. None have made it so far, but there are whispers that the Unmaker itself stalks the Judas Cradle, gnashing its teeth over its inability to comprehend, and thereby undo, the Architect’s final and most devious riddle.

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The truest way to measure years
Is not in hours but in tears
We weep for others when part we must
For friends, for family, for those we trust
With joy-stained faces eye to eye
With bitter dregs when saying goodbye
No one’s lived who hasn’t wept
For the memories, the souls, the covenants we’ve kept

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In spring 1979, as spectacular color photographs of Jupiter were flooding the papers and television, a parishioner approached Reverend Carver after a service.

“Reverend,” he said, “What is role of the Lord in a world where Voyager is taking pictures of the heavens? What meaning do our little prayers and sermons have when we see everything that we’ve ever done, and everything we’ve ever known the Lord to have done, as a little blue dot against the dark?”

Reverend Carver paused to consider that. “It sounds to me,” he said,” like you’re asking why we’re searching for answers in here when it seems like they’re out there.”

“That’s the very thing,” the parishioner said.

The reverend thought long and hard on the question as he wrote the next week’s sermon, wrestling with the question as he balanced a copy of Time Magazine and the KJV on either knee.

“Someone asked me last week what role the Lord could have in a world with Voyager space probes,” Carver said to his flock one week later. “I’m not a scientist, and for all my preaching I don’t know everything about the Lord. But I can say this: Voyager represents mankind’s search for meaning in the inconceivable, as does the thing that brings us together today to let the inconceivable find meaning for us.”

Carver left the confort of his rostrum, which was not normal at all for the Reverend, he continued: We find answers, out there as in here, but we will never find them all. We will never understand everything; it is ultimately unknowable, and deep down perhaps we all know that. But in striving to know our universe, as in striving to know our God, we express the same yearning.”

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