Outlines. I remember seeing outlines. I remember feeling the shape of things to come, take form. The silhouettes of possible futures, fleeting and insubstantial, swaying this way and that, like shadows of a restless flame, throwing improbable shadows on my amorphous consciousness. I remember being alone. But I had still not learnt loneliness. I did not know that there could be more. I remember feeling utterly free, unbounded in every direction; ecstatic infinity stretching out without end. I could taste it. I could reach around and be it. I was all.

After an amount of time whose measure would have no meaning, things started changing. Titanic wills labored in unseen lands; inscrutable hammers chipped away at disorder till the outlines started to get less hazy. With it came light, darkness, air and land. Water and mountains and seas and oceans. I danced, for there was land to dance on. I swam, for there was water to swim in. And I soared, for there was now a sky. For a time, the shapes were volatile. The mountains moved and rivers roamed the land. But that stopped. I wandered the unchanging lands and the unending oceans for many Moons.

One day it happened. I felt a quickening in my heart. The first blade of grass was seen and in days it carpeted the land. Thin saplings exploded into giant trees and then forests. The silence of the land was broken by the shrill cry of insects and chirping of birds. All at once, in my world, there were animals. Then the people arrived. The little folk of Noh’makh, the Demon-men of Litt, The Beautiful Faces of the south, and the Neverpeople came first. They changed things. They changed me. No longer was I unbounded. I had legs that could carry me only so far. I imitated first one people and then another. When I was with the Little Folk, I was a Noh’man too. When I was in Litt, I became a Demon-man. In their company I learnt love. In their absence, I learnt yearning. They didn’t live for ever. They died and made more of themselves. And just like the individuals, the entire people died too. First the Beautiful Faces disappeared. In their place came The fire-people. The Demon-men were replaced by the Karonats. The little people fought the Fire-people and died and I never found the Neverpeople but once. With the passage of time came more people, ever newer people with fresh knowledge and more cunning. And with every novelty I was forged anew.

I am Orpal now. As I was a Demon-man once. I remember flying across the vast mountains and unfathomable oceans. I remember infinity.


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