The following three pages (actually two and the first half of a third) were rescued from a kerosene fire at a writer's colony near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. They were sold as part of a larger collection of alchemical texts, rabbinical meditations, and various translated materials. They were purchased by an unnamed bidder at open auction. The translation of this particular piece was done by Ephesus Tanktop.

He was the first to learn the words of command and the last to be found. Nights in prayer, kneeling, weeping and imploring the heavens for signs and wonders. How more vivid than the death of a sparrow is the faith of a child. Evidence of things not seen. Like all magics, the words of command operate correctly only when faith is surpassed by knowledge--justified true belief. Know the words and the words command. Hope, and this is all you have. His commands were simpler when the words were young. When he was a child he thought as a child. The appearance of suggestion. "I'd like for us to sit." Listeners quietly find comfortable seats. Horse lipped ottomans scented by tobacco and bourbon. Hand tooled DeCormier highbacks, shaking slightly under the burden of the sitters.

Reverence surrounded the words. Rich crimson mists of awe and misunderstanding. His status in the temple hinged on a basic, but ubiquitous, failure to appreciate the simple beauty of the words. Faith in the temples nominal deities led less to words of command than defeat and self hatred. He knew the words worked, regardless of prayer or incense. No faith was necessary to lift a glass on the table. One simply lifts it. The knowledge of the glass is enough. So with the words. To know the listener will obey ensures the power of the words. Faith and miracle as simultaneous and coincident. His was the first true reading of the texts. Bound in hide too fine for animal birth, the books exuded a vegetable calm and a warm hum. As the embodiment of belief, he could no longer worship at the altars. His was a cold blade of understanding. He could no more bow at the fonts than forget the words. "When I grew I put away childish things."

So began the temple's slow demise, in disease and neglect, its altars slowly overtaken by house-dust and ignorance. The phylacteries lay quietly, moth-eaten and crumbling, home now only to larval disbelief and cold fingers. The great texts, deciphered and consumed in a lion's banquet 6 days long, which leaves the beast starving and the guests swollen on meats and spices designed specifically to drive the lion mad with hunger and impotent rage culminating in a leophagic orgy whose sole participant is the king. The guests view this and chuckle quietly to themselves, pondering the ingredients of the desert glaze and debating the relative merits of leather and brass restraints, insofar as large predators are concerned.

His was not a desire to proselytize. All men would follow his most offhand direction. His voice was unction and his word prophecy. His final days in the sanctum he knelt, chewing the damp remnants of the prayer shawls, envelopes, oils, knots, beads and other accessories of faith. He swallowed the prayer helms with a moistening of virgin's tears, kept only for the casting out of spirits and evil winds. The acolytes robes were sewn into a contiguous hooded over garment--a cape without seam or edge, finite and boundless. He strode, his cloak peopled with countless hidden pockets, whose incenses were replaced by blades, needles, jewelry and string. By whore's order the eucharists were summarily demoted to peasant wine and flat bread.

The forebears of the faith were imprisoned in bronze and steel busts and cameos which stared from the aluettes, prayer nooks, and from each perspective available to a temple's periphery. His gods' faces were hammered into a single blade and annealed by the slow heat of the ancient texts which smoldered for months afterward, steaming the baptismal font, cracking the mortars of the main altar and coating the murals depicting the saints and their consumptions with a fatty, yellow-brown film that smelled of ozone and musk--the scent of animal panic.

Three days and three nights later he completed the piecemeal destruction of the relics. Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth were inevitable in the beasts of burden, the breeding stock of faith, and would have continued for days had his words not reached the believers in his passing. "Cease."

A new mantle.