Selinis Melody

The question always seemed to be at the back of my mind whenever I came here. It reiterated itself multiple times in many forms as if challenging me. Mocking me.

Can you do it?

The wind would howl and rage, smashing against the side of the cliff screaming away at the core of my being. Lately, it seemed ot be filled with more desperation and I’ve noticed that it’s been whittling at my safety as if to alleviate my indecision.

Why do you keep returning?

It always felt like there was something wrong with the questions that were being reiterated. After all, I knew I had the answers, but they do me no good if it’s not the right question. There was something I was waiting for. Something I was missing.

Are you afraid?

It was hundreds of feet to the bottom, near which were certainly jagged rocks eagerly waiting to welcome whoever ventured down below. Even if I somehow managed to overshoot those, the waves were enough to feel like solid ground when going from this height. Impact would be present.

Yet, that didn’t scare me. In fact, it was rather enticing. What would it even feel like? Would the sensation be instantaneous? Would it even hurt?

Did you find it yet?

It always felt like the question was hidden somewhere in the words that mother left behind last I saw her. The answer that I was holding onto for so long couldn’t be spoken until I heard those words. But every time I reached for them she would return. It was as if she regretted her choice.

She had a garden that she had left behind. A beautiful garden with hundreds of flowers. Each one she had imbued with love and affection, devising meticulous methods to ensure they reached their potential. It was as though the sun would never set when she was there.

Or it should have been for what she put in. Yet what came out was dried out bushes screaming away as the sun burned them away. She gave so much yet all that came out of it was thorns and hatred. It became too much to bear so she ran here. As if to escape from her own desires.

‘It’s time to move on. There’s no point spending time on a task that you don’t know how to do.’

But… “No mother. I haven’t found the answer yet. There’s still no reason to live.”

Getting up I neared the edge of the cliff desperately fighting the fluttering sensation in my heart. Down below I saw what I already knew called to me. A warm embrace that was the last gift someone who had nothing else to give left behind. I grinned weakly and held out my arms as if to receive it.

“But I haven’t found a reason to die yet either.” And with that I gave her the withered remains of the only flower to ever grow in the garden she cultivated. The one she promised to never leave behind.

She was right of course. It was time to move on.

Chapter One: Metronome

Meadows, as far as the eyes could see, filled with golden reeds brushing softly in the wind reaching out for something far in the horizon.

Somewhere, far off to the side and just out of sight was the light of a star gently peeking over the hill, but never quite being so bold as to expose itself. Its timidity painted the sky a soft hue of pink mixed with a light crimson before fading into gold.

I’ve read about places like this in stories and always dreamt of visiting them. Not because of the tranquility of it all, but because oft-times such imagery was often associated with a precious memory. With memory came a sense of self; a sense of belonging.

“Arke,” I whispered to myself as a sort of reminder, but something about it just didn’t feel quite right.

It was a name; mine of course, but it never really seemed to fit. It was a precious gift to myself that I cherished with every fiber of my being and yet it was incomplete. It was missing something.

The whole world was missing something. Maybe that was why waking and sleeping felt so akin? Although there was always a way to tell the difference. After all, dreams never replicated pain. Pain breaks the illusion.

Pain is a tool used to wake up.

The first time I did it, it felt like a million needles being shot through my body and I loved the sensation. It allowed me to believe in my delusions if only for a moment longer and sometimes that’s all you need to get through the day.

I grabbed the bandages from the ground where I had tossed them the night before and examined the carefully engraved runes that covered their entire length. Desperation and self-pity were what led me to burning away a portion of my life for them but because of it I could do what needed to be done.

I wrapped them carefully around my legs – making a crossing pattern over my thighs and down until I reached my knees before wrapping it all up in another layer. After that I got another roll and wrapped the entirety of each leg. The order was important for it all to work.

“Arke!” my voice had an air of confidence to it now. “It is a suiting name as it is just like one of those grand ships that people look to an awe… except it has an e after it, but that’s probably just because I’m exceptional.”

I leapt off the pile of hay that I had been sleeping in and examined my surroundings with a pleasant grin. Since I didn’t get a chance to take it in the night before now was the perfect chance to commit something so wondrous to memory.

Looking down, the floor was pretty rough looking, so much so that I would even say it looked a bit gritty. It was nothing more than dirt covered with wood shavings with a few oddities thrown into the mix. In fact, it was so poorly maintained that I liked to think that it was left that way to make it easier to hide things.

It was a strange floor. Like, why is there so much stuff there?

I stood still staring at the floor with sincere disinterest as random thoughts seemed to flood my mind. Well maybe not so much random as ‘intriguing’. Speaking of ‘intriguing’ what does that word even mean? Like I get what it means in its practical application, but I think it would be nice to know its actual dictionary definition.

Speaking of dictionaries, I should probably add one of those to my survival pack. Not that I had one at the moment, mine seemed to have gone missing or left somewhere so I need to make a new one. What did I even have in my old survival pack? Spare clothes and supplies, I guess?

Really, what do people even fill those with?

Wait… what was I just doing?

“Focus, focus, focus,” I patted myself on the cheek a few times and then shook my head. If I had to say I was probably still a little bit tired so that might be why my mind wandered off again? Should I just rest now and get back to whatever I was doing here later?

“No? I probably can’t do that? I think?” I mean, really thinking about it, it was very likely probably morning time outside. So, I had to get my bearings and have a plan of action before someone finds me here? I think?

Either way I was wasting time with thinking, so I just needed to commit on something to do and just do it. Who cares about the possible ramifications of my decision? I needed to move.

Standing still for a few more moments I finally decided on getting a better bearing of my surroundings and then going to sleep. That way if anyone came, I would be ready and have some good routes to go.

“Let’s see… despite the floor being in absolute shambles the supports are really well made and are unnervingly smooth and intricate. They clearly kept a lot of attention to detail when making them and the same could be said about the shelving system.”

Looking down the row of shelves built into the sides of the building, there were hundreds upon thousands of different materials each one being slightly unique and different from the other. It was probably neatly organized at one point but now there was a lot of things in the general area that they should be either lying on the floor or half put away.

“Excuse me, I don’t mind you looking but while you’re here would you mind passing me one of those things?” a stranger said from right next to me while pointing towards something towards the end of the storage.

“Yeah sure, you want the lighter colored one near the top?” I replied heading down the storage, carefully weaving between items.

He thought for a moment before finally replying with carefully chosen words “It has a very river touched look to it but if you were to grip it you would notice a sort of coarse sensation. It’s about as tall as I am when standing, with the base being about as thick as my palm. Color-wise I would have to say it is reminiscent of the same hue of faded yellow from around sunrise.”

“Yeah that’s a great description and all but isn’t that just the same as the one on the ground next to you?”

“Tch, you stupid dolce, of course you wouldn’t understand. Most people don’t and its so infuriating and there is nothing I can ever do about it. Until today that is.”

“Huh?” what was this maniac going on about? That description he just gave me made absolutely no sense.

“Because I’m going to teach you the difference between all of the different pieces and how to acquire them. You are going to be my helper.”

Wowzers look at the ego on this guy. He comes strutting into his own warehouse and starts making demands to someone he has never met before. Could you believe the nerve of some people?

Still, far more perplexingly…

“Why would you want me to help you?”

Honestly, I have known me for my whole life and there was so many better people to ask for help than me. Going down this path led to nothing but regret.

“Isn’t it obvious? You broke into my storage room and were doing who knows what in here.”

He insinuated as if that was such a bad thing. In my opinion, I was just making sure that this thing saw constant use and its potential didn’t go to waste. Yes, he should be thanking me!

Still, there was more pressing matters at hand. Notably – making sure this uninformed individual didn’t make the mistake of dropping a brick on his own foot for no other reason. I had to find some way to save him from the horror that was me.

“The door was unlocked.” A brilliant lie devised by me on the spot and one that he totally wouldn’t be able to see through.

He stared at me for a few seconds, looked back towards the door and then held the broken lock in his hand.

“You serious?”

“Yes?” I thought about it for a few more moments and remembered that people listened more intently when spoken to with confidence, “Yes.”


He then decided to hold up the lock and wave it in my face, which was really annoying and frankly invading my personal bubble.

“Hey, do you thi-“


“Okay, rude. I was ta-“



This guy was really getting on my nerves, he was getting all up in my personal space and yelling at me. Frankly it was really mean and hurting my feelings. I did nothing to deserve this treatment and yet I was receiving it all the same.

“Alright good. Do you know what locks do?”

What did I look like? A freshly planted scallion? Is he one of those people that are so dissociated from society that he thinks everyone else has a sack of bricks for a brain?

Or maybe it was the other way? Oh no, that poor man might have never seen a lock before and doesn’t know about them…

Looks like it was up to me to educate him!

“Alright so I know that a ‘lock’ might seem like a piece of ordinary metal attached together to you, but it is in reality a complicated mechanism.”

“Wh- what are you going on about?”

Oh dear, he doesn’t even know what a mechanism is. I’m going to have to go really far back to help him out but that’s okay. I’ll teach him even if no one else is.

“Okay so a mechanism is-“


“Okay look there is no need to yell, I’m sorry that I didn’t get what you were asking for, but you should have been more specific. I was only trying to help you. And yes, I’m not stupid, I know what it means when a lock is broken. You need to get a new one.”

He took a deep breath and sort of clapped his hands together holding it close to his chin, as if doing some sort of prayer. I guess there are people out there who truly believe in the power of prayer and that is respectable, but prayer alone isn’t enough to fix things. I was about to say as much, but he finally spoke.

“Yes, that’s a fair point, but how was the lock broken in the first place.”

 “Well, you see, the thing is – I broke it.”

There was no point in me lying anymore as it was clear to see that he already knew what I did. Besides that, something about him made me feel like he wouldn’t be mad at me for doing something wrong. Just disappointed.

Shockingly, instead of his expression being consumed with a saddened sense of disappointment in his fellow man, he seemed intrigued.

“What tools did you use to break it? I don’t see any cuts or smashing so I’m assuming you used a more refined tool, possibly a lockpick. Furthermore, the runes I enhanced it seemed to do you no bother, so you had to have thought of a way to circumvent them without triggering their countermeasures so clearly you have experience with this kind of thing…”

Was he talking to me or was he sort of monologuing? What was going on right now? He seemed to be going a million miles per hour and was clearly excited by this newfound knowledge that his lock was broken. From what I could tell he was probably one of those people who liked to revise things multiple times and learn from his past mistakes.

How tedious.

Yet at the same time, there was something exhilarating about failing at a task a few times and reiterating it with ideas that possibly fixed the problem. He was most likely an enthusiast about his craft and was just seeking a way to fix this problem. Although, I don’t know if he would be able to follow along with how I did it.

“I used applied logic.”

“You used what-now?”

“Here, let me see it.” Somewhat unsure he handed over the broken lock in my outstretched hand, “Alright. As we both can see this is a broken lock, but doesn’t that make you curious about how it works? The holding mechanism seems to be okay and so does the clasp you move down; the only issue seems to be the pin that holds the clasp down.”

“Right…” He said nodding his head not quite sure where I was going with this.

“So how does the pin work? What does the system look like as a whole?”

As soon as I said this an ethereal projection of the inner mechanism of the lock appeared before us. It was then that I realized just how many working parts existed within this contraption. When I was breaking in last night, I was only paying attention to the single weak point completely disrespecting the handiwork of the person who made the lock.

“A-Amazing… Who made this?”

“You want to know who made this convoluted yet intricate modern masterpiece with hundreds of working mechanisms, each one delicately lined up with the other so that it can only operate under a certain jurisdiction?

“You want to know who made this convoluted yet intricate modern masterpiece with hundreds of working mechanisms, each one delicately lined up with the other so that it can only operate under a certain jurisdiction?”

Oh no.

“Well, since you asked so eagerly and even went so far out of your way to allow us to better appreciate this phenomenal artistry it seems I have no choice but to tell you.”

He brushed his hair back as he said that. Like he full on cupped his hand behind his head and pushed his hair back nonchalantly as if to add more flair to his words. People seriously do that? I thought it was only a dumb writing mechanic people use in books!

“You see, the person behind this, is none other than…”

He’s dramatic pausing now! Who does that!? Why is this even a thing! I can literally feel my face warming up and turning reddish because I’m feeling embarrassed FOR him.

And I’m the only person here!

“Me, Geslean Tungol, master of – no, GRAND master of the forge. Creator of wonders! Legend incarnate!”

Despite all what he was doing before, I have to admit that was a solid pose he rocked at the end and that bow was perfectly timed. I could feel myself applauding.

“Wonderful. Truly and absolutely wonderful.”

He righted himself and looked me straight in the eyes, “I really am, aren’t I? Still, you have pulled off something rather interesting with your little display. I don’t know how you did it, even though your explanation makes sense. So, what do you say? Are you willing to be my protégé?”

“I don’t know… that seems like a lot of commitment on my end… tell you what, if you let me be more like a housecat, I’m game for it.”

I really wanted to have the confidence to say that I would follow through with him through all ordeals and put the effort into learning the skills but that all seemed so tedious. He probably would be able to accomplish a lot more without having to keep watch of me, but I could probably still help out here and there. This really was the best option for the two of us.

He looked thoughtful for a moment, “By housecat do you mean someone that shows up every now and then but can disappear whenever they want to? Essentially all the privileges of a family member without actually being part of the family?”

“Y-yes!” he understood! Thank goodness, this was going to make things a lot easi-

“Then no. I will not allow you to get away with doing that. No one should have to suffer under making a half-commitment. Either fully decide or just disappear. You are useless if you can’t decide whether to enter or leave.”

Well that’s an easy choice, “Alrighty then, I’ll just leave.”


Now that I got that taken care of it was ti- did he just say no? Can he even do that?

“I’m sorry… what?”

“I said no.”

Okay, let me think about this for a second. He gave me two options – either stay and work hard or just disappear and leave. There wasn’t any secret third option and the way he pitched the question made it seem like that I had the choice to decide what I wanted to do. So, I went with the second option and now he’s saying no?

“Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I think there is something wrong with your logic. You gave me two options so I can choose what to do right?”

“You like following the principles of logic, right?”

There was something about the way he pitched the question that gave me pause. It was like when a cat corners a mouse and is just playing with it before going in for the kill. Still, I was curious about where this road led.

“Yeah, it just makes the wor-“

“So, let me pitch you this question – let’s say that you are in a house and the door behind you is locked so you can’t go backwards. The only other thing in the room is two doors, so logically you have two options to go forward right?”

He’s clearly leading somewhere with this and it correlates to his reaction to my response to his earlier proposal. Earlier he was insinuating that one of the responses was unacceptable and therefore it was-. I got it. If there were two doors there is three possibilities – you either have two choices, one choice or zero choices dependent on whether or not the doors were locked.

But if that was the case why even prevent two options in such a way? It just leads to misleading results, so do I make a baseline assumption that the keys have been provided to both doors? Or do I just assume that the doors are naturally unlocked? I needed to know this information!

“Look I know how truly amazing it must be to bask in my greatness but I kind of need to do other things. I can’t just stand around and wait for you to answer. I mean… I’ve already given you at least two minutes…”


That’s strange, did two minutes really pass? It really didn’t feel like it but if I reconstruct the logic, I was going with I was standing in a room with a locked door behind me and in front of me two doors… I’ll just leave them as door frames right now and-

“Whoa there!” Geslean leapt back as I began to modify the world around me to project my thinking. He seemed to be saying something, but I had tuned him out. I needed to focus.

So, we have two blank door frames each leading to a different path with an unknown destination. Before I could worry about that there was a more important matter to address; what was the design of this room? I couldn’t think on a blank white space, it was screaming at me and I didn’t like it.

Let’s see Geslean is, or at the very least considered himself a master craftsman. So, the walls would probably be hand stripped wood with an intricate design of some sort in it. Geometric or anything particular that he was interested by?

Whether or not you understand what it is that he was thinking didn’t matter. Do you truly need to ever understand everything?

Self-doubts always spoke the loudest when you were close to achievements. It was how you knew you were going in the right direction. The trick was negotiating with it and getting as much out of it as it was trying to get out of you.

You broke a lock and now you have to suffer the consequences. Don’t you understand? There is consequences to your actions.

And there it was. The answer. He poured his heart and soul into this project and as such it would tell me more about him then he ever would. The surface of the lock was smooth and plain but the inside it was an intricate beast that sung songs of a thousand worlds.

Rhythm? Is that what he sought? Rhythm and symmetry in everything that he did and a pace that complemented itself?

The walls began to ripple and from afar it looked smooth and pure but that was the trick to it. It was made of hundreds of individual designs all acting on their own yet still contributing to the same cohesive whole. It was a symphony of dedication, albeit an incomplete one.

Somehow, I knew there would be parts that would be untouched out of fear of ruining the overall piece. Yet there were slight mars on the surface that indicated they weren’t quite abandoned yet, it just wasn’t their time to be filled in.

As it all came together, I looked forward at the doors and it all made sense.

“WHAT DID YOU DO!?” Geslean was enraged. They always were at first thinking I had destroyed the constructs they worked so hard for in that area. Could they not understand that it was nothing permanent? That it was only a projection of logic?

I turned to him letting it all fade away and return to the infinitive variables that was normalcy and sending the variables that I had created back to the null. I understood what it was that he was looking for. There was never two options. Both doors opened to the same conclusion.

“Hey… Geslean,” I walked back to where I was resting the night before and picked up the knife that I always brought with me throughout my travels, “There was only ever one way that question was going right?”

Geslean understood what the knife meant and in response brought out a modified forge hammer, “So this is the path that I have to walk to get there?”

There was no need for me to say anything else, we both knew what the other wanted and what it took to get there. The logic was established.


Adding. Subtracting. Folding. Opening.

They were all simple concepts that make up everyday life in some form and define our average experience. It should be expected at some level, but at this scale? In this way?

Blinking my eyes again as if that would change what I was seeing, but it was all just the same. Nothing about this made any sense.

Massive structures were constantly being built in front of me as if being folded in from nothingness and when they were halfway completed, they just blinked out of existence. The foliage too was constantly growing in arbitrary and impossible ways.

It was as if this world looked like what it felt to be covered in mud.

In the midst of it all I saw a figure carrying a broadsword staring straight back me as if they were waiting for me to catch up. The longer I held their gaze, the more I wanted to rush to them, yet at the same time the impossibility of moving became more apparent.

This world was going to consume me. How did I even get here?

Too much was going on for me to make sense of the world and the more I tried the more I lost myself. My thoughts became more and more convoluted, all adding to an impossibly complex equation and trapping me deeper and deeper in this null state. A whispered word escaped from my lips and would likely be the last thing I leave to this world.


As if to mock me the world seemed to be lifted up from the furthest points I could see and began to close in on me. They were undoubtedly going to meet in the center and crush me. If this is the moment my entire life has been leading to, so be it.

"So what did you see?"

Vision returned to my eyes and my surroundings began to make sense again. I was in a forest grove surrounded by thorns and in front of me was an ancient pedestal holding up a lone rustic book calling me forward. Every impulse in my body screamed to look through its pages but deep down something didn't make sense.

That pause was all I needed to save myself from the loop I had been living in for who knows how long. All my memories surged back to me as if called forth from the void.

"Hey Cleo," I began while staring at the enigma on the pedestal. I was terrified to take my eyes off it, fearing that it might pull me back to whatever that place was again. "How long ago did you bring me here?"

"Is that really important to you?" Cleo pouted while looking down at me from the roof of a mausoleum that had most certainly not existed just moments prior. "How is that knowledge even of interest to you?"

"Cleo..." something was still off about all this. I was certain of it and the only one who could confirm my suspicions was them. "Just answer the question. Please."

The world around me distorted into a pure slate of white and where Cleo had been just moments before now stood a figure that looked like what a migraine felt like. They had no mouth or facial features, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the were smiling, as if I passed some sort of test. "Did you enjoy it?"

Confrontation was not an option, the only thing I ever bothered pouring my life into was the passion of creation. Combat was all but unknown to me. The only way to get through this alive was to negotiate.

Take a deep breath Geslean, if it wanted to this thing probably could have already killed you. There's something that it wants. Whatever you do, just make sure you get more out of this then whatever it is that you have to give.

"It was interesting, but what was it all?" I wanted to think that I said this in a calm and collected manner, but it was hard to tell. My heart was racing standing so close to something that emanated not death, but much rather nothingness.

It leaned in close enough that I could almost feel it and whispered, "Why don't you ask me in person? We'll be meeting soon enough after all."

Chapter 2: Limbo

There was an odd and somewhat reluctant quietude that seemed to consume the world at this hour. The birds stopped singing, the animals stopped running about and even the rivers seemed to stop flowing.

It was as though the world was too terrified even a single word as if in awe of an unknown force.

Overhead, the sun beat down relentlessly at the residents of the world. I would much rather be where I was most comfortable – lost in the labyrinth that was my workshop. Surrounded by countless rows and aisles of supplies accumulated through shrewd negotiations with the craftiest travelers. The materials that I had there were worth more to me than all the riches beneath the earth.

Yes, silence was truly a blessing but in nature it was one of the most dangerous tells. When in safety, silence dictates safety and concentration. Out here in the world however, silence was something far more sinister.

After all, silence in nature only ever preceded a storm.

“We’re here.”

It was surreal, behind me I could hear all the voices of the world singing together in the casual organized chaos that should be omnipresent but ahead there was nothing. It was as if an invisible barrier warned all things away. It was as though I was peering into the eye of the storm.

Cleo turned towards me and grinned, “Hey teacher, you’re sure you don’t want to turn back now?”

The sentence was lighthearted and Cleos expression was jovial but when I looked into their eyes, I saw a glimmer of fear, uncertainty. In that instant I understood what they needed from me and the role I needed to play.

“Turning back would be the most logical sense of action when observing the unknown, but that is only to a certain extent. You should pause and turn back to give some distance or to get some help, but never to run away. Fret not student mine for not only is your teacher wise, but they are strong of body and heart as well.”

“So since I already turned back once and got some help, I have to go forward now?”

“Only if you want to.”

“Can I hold your hand?”

No matter how much time passed some things would always stay the same. “But of course.”

Cleo took a deep breath, grabbed my left-hand and with quaking legs stood next to me. "Together?"

With a deep breath I squeezed Cleos hand and nodded my head before moving forward, "Together."

As soon as our boots touched the ground in front of us sound seemed to cut out and the world felt inverted. Every twitch, thought and movement I made was amplified hundred-folds reminding me what it was like to dive deep below the waters with my family all those summers ago. It was foreign, strange, and forbidden but deep down it felt somewhat familiar.

Dreams. I think I had been here once before in my dreams and could faintly recall some element of danger laying deep within.

What. What. What was it? What had I seen?

I felt myself pulled forward and something wrap around me like a blanket caressing my back and trying to help me get up as if to say everything was okay. Cleo.

They pulled me into their embrace and helped me up so that together we could take a step back.

"Are you okay Geslean?"

Cleo had been here before, but that was a given seeing as they had brought me here in the first place. I just figured that they had never actually went close to it because of how terrified they seemed to be of entering it. So how come they were so calm now?

Wait no, I was missing something. That wasn't it. Cleo wasn't afraid of this place, they were practically running ahead of me to get here. The only time I saw doubt in her eyes was just before we entered the forest, when they asked me if I wanted to move forward.

"Cleo is Cleo?"

Cleo grinned and helped me up, "Mhm! Cleo is Cleo!"

I looked ahead and then back at Cleo.

"I think this is our fourth time trying? Maybe more? Fourth time since I remembered trying but while we are here it's hard to say for certain. We have the exact number in our logbooks back home but we can't see those yet."

Fragments were starting to come back to me but the more I remembered the more frustrated I became. It was like getting one move in chess and if you don't kill the king in that move the game is reset by the overseer. "We make any progress?"


Cleo always had a hard time understanding this part which was understandable, it took me two or three to understand the whole scope of it. I grabbed Cleos right hand and looked at the marking on the back of it. "Third cycle?"

"Didn't you say that it moved back two before leaping forward one though?"

Now it was my turn to be confused, nothing about that made any sense. Back two and forward one? What could that- oh.

"Overlying cycles with fragmented pieces randomly returned at seemingly haphazard intervals, do you know which rotation this is?"

"You told me to tell you 'weak' if you asked that."

Weak, strong, gravity and electromagnetic forces. So if it was weak did that mean it was the first cycle? Also why did I come up with such an arbitrary way to denote this piece of information? I always did things for a reason so what was the logic behind this choice?

"Okay so we have the marking on the back of your hand to denote... something. It would probably help to see my notes but there's no way to get there until the end of the cycle and by then it wouldn't really make a difference. Then we also have the reference point of 'weak' but once again I don't remember what that means. Then there's the constant traversal through that forest which initiates each cycle..."