Gemini 9. A ruby growing in a laboratory.
The scientist has found ways to compress time, but the crystals he grows are unaware of this. They think they’ve spent thousands of years in the laboratory, for what is time to beings who breathe light? The ruby grows bigger and pinker and is faintly aware of the ground which it is not in, and the missing darkness, awarenesses rather curious, oddly pleasant, and nourishing to the vividness of its color. (Rubies are unable to worry – certainly the universe is a vast place and stranger things have happened there).
A man travels through a dreary land under a louring sky.
The House of Usher is an actual place in Aab, and is situated in a province called Dunan. The land of Dunan is physically rather small, though travelers here experience the land as vast. It is filled with dark trees, ruins, sluggish streams, dark grottoes, and valleys never free of shadows. For clouds are always here, the sky is forever gray, and the hidden sun like a faint, white pearl.
When asked why anyone would ever journey there, Serapis said, “For the purpose of finding such places within the self, for Dunan evokes that which is within, forgotten places where we have lost something. And so everyone who goes there searches.”
“Do they ever find what they seek?” asked a student. “Yes,” answered Serapis, “once they’ve left the place. And then Dunan fades from their memory – until, of course, they once again begin to feel that something is missing, and then will return to search yet further.”