theodor_gylden: (breakdown)
"When you wake up - and you're about to wake up - throw the candle away. Let your scars heal. Forget all this stuff. For good. Right?

"Now then. I invoke the Spires, for the price. I invoke the Sea, for the cleansing. I invoke the God who Dreams, for the light..."
theodor_gylden: (not an adventurer a scholar dammit)
Seeking Mr Eaten's Name.

"Why? In God's name, why? What can you possibly hope to gain? Stop now. Before it's too late.''

It is unclear whether Mr Eaten is or was a Master. What is clear is that the Masters share disdain for him. Mr Veils has called him 'the shadow of a sliver of regret'. Mr Spices has said 'a deceitful remnant, no more' and refers to a regrettable 'fall.' Mr Hearts has asked its customers to stop selling skin to him, for he has not 'the least idea what to do with it.' Disputes among the Masters are common, but there is a sense in which the others regard him as less than a Master, and unfit to do business with.

(Is Mr Eaten 'him' or 'it'? Though the Masters terms themselves Messrs, human sex does not apply to them, and therefore, custom selects the pronoun 'it.' On further study, however, I have found the Masters are liberal in referring to one another by either 'him' or 'it' -- so this has not proved as enlightening a course as I had hoped.)

The title Eaten, too, is unlike Apples or Iron. It does not indicate a what, we might say, as a noun form. It is -- Henrik has noted -- a perfect passive participle. 'Essus, consumptus.' It is something that has happened. What does it signify, that it should be passive, rather than active? That it should be past, rather than present or future? Merriwether has observed that the old parliament is described as having been 'eaten' -- the same perfect passive participle. Is there a significance to that?

But like the Masters, Mr Eaten is -- or was -- involved in a trade. Though I am uncertain as to whether he practices it any longer, he would once offer favors to players of the game Knife-and-Candle in exchange for his name tattooed on their skin. He had a manner of speaking that could not be perceived by anyone except the person he spoke to. And, so the story goes, he first approached Knife-and-Candle players speaking no word other than 'yes.' Attached is one player's recounting of an exchange; here are others. 

Consider Mr Eaten's claim that the cost could be 'indefinitely deferred,' and another saying associated with him: 'an accounting is not to be postponed indefinitely.' 

(Elsewhere I must compile my notes on the surface location of the four fallen cities preceding London, but this detail could be telling: the Masters share an antipathy towards Egypt, but when asked his opinion, Mr Eaten said, 'I think the place is charming; the weather, delightful; the Pharaoh's daughters, most hospitable.' At the well in Big King Square, a voice told me of a tall man's daughters, a city of granite, the drowning. Was the city Egyptian, and was it one of the four? Was the tall man a Pharaoh? And why was it that the voice only became clear to me in hunger? I cannot say.)

So the search for Mr Eaten's name began, I believe, in Knife-and-Candle. But there is another way to begin it. It requires a keen hunger, one that has been termed 'unaccountable.' (Is it at all related to the saying? For how can long can such an accounting be postponed -- ?) I know of three ways to acquire it.

The first is in the common and recurring dreams of kings, queens, bishops and battlefields; the dreams, Londoners call them, of chess. In a dream one may be a spy in an enemy camp and, stopping by the fire to partake in the soldiers' stew, become too distracted to attend discussions of strategy. The hunger will stay upon waking.

The second method, I have heard, involves Mrs Plenty's Rubbery Lumps, but I am wholly unfamiliar with it.

And the last is how the hunger found me, and requires a counterfeit head of St John the Baptist. The head has a use in Knife-and-Candle: it whispers the secrets of the dead. After setting it upon my bedside  table, I dreamt that the head sat upon my shoulders, and spoke of treachery committed in water and a betrayal remembered only by a few.

That is remarkable to me because I had long been dreaming of death by water -- first, on a ship during a storm, then wrecked landscapes where water did not belong. Then a voyage in a dirigible high above a flood. And in those dreams anything that had a voice, or that could make the sign some other way, would bid me NORTH. The last of these dreams -- a dream of the surface -- is the dream that spurs the search. In mine I left home and left the message: WILL GO NORTH WHEN I FIND THE NAME

But what is in the North? What must I arrange there? Why will I need Mr Eaten's name? And why -- again -- did it only become clear to me through hunger? Ms Leslie Hardwicke has suggested to me that NORTH is sent into our dreams of water as a message, and there may yet be something to that suggestion --

Nevertheless, I have made little progress on discovering the name in waking life. One incident, at the corner coffeehouse, has led me to believe that if the name is written down it is written the Correspondence. This language -- if it is indeed a language -- is a subject to which I must devote further study ...

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Theodor

September 2015

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