Prelude: Iosephus ex Criamon

A tall, thin man sat at the edge of a cliff. It was a steep, high cliff, very rugged, and very wet, too, at the base where the sea beat against it. The man was dangling his feet over the edge. He was enjoying it greatly. It gave him pleasure to think of himself as dangling his feet over the End of Wales.

"For," he thought, "I am sitting where Wales ends, and the Great Sea begins. And also, I am about to leave Wales, having lived here for most of my life. Wales is Ending for me now."

His preparations were complete. Weeks before, he had sent his books and papers ahead of him, with Daffyd and Catrin, and their family - sailing out in their little boat, over the Great Sea to Normandy. Yesterday he had paid his farewell visit to Guinevra, his Parens, on the Summer Islet, where he had once served his apprenticeship. Today he had completed the last of the Leaving Ceremonies in the cave that had been his home.

All that remained now was to wait for the Wind.

There was a great Wind coming, he knew - he felt it in the Tide of the Inspiratio. Already yesterday the waves had begun to roll in higher and stronger against the shore. All last night, as he slept in his cave, the sound of them had grown, crashing and rumbling. Now they were breaking against the Rocks with such force that the whole Air, even as high as the cliff-top, was damp with spray. These were all Signs - Signs that the Wind was coming.

When it came, he would fling himself from the cliff and join it. He, too, would become the Wind. Together, he and the Wind would blow far from his home in Wales - far across the Great Sea, and then across much of Normandy, too - to Mount Beauvray.

Tonight the Wind would tumble him all the way to Bibracte.

As Iosephus floats and moves with the wind he’s stretched and pulled in different directions, but never pulled apart. He’s suddenly struck by a curious thought: what would it be like to be pulled apart?
The morbid question pushes him deep into his subconscious and a vision overtakes him. On top of a tall plateau he sees a manor house and several outbuildings that appear to be quite well made, as if no money has been spared in their construction, both for utility and beauty. He smiles to himself for this must be Mont Beuvray, where he is headed.

As he floats, with the Wind and within his vision he begins to notice some things that seem amiss. There are sheep milling about, a few appear to be lying on the ground. Upon closer inspection a few appear to be torn apart. Next to one of the rended sheep is a human arm, tossed and bent awkwardly at the elbow. Looking about Iosephus notes that carts are overturned and then sees several people looking toward the manor. Looking back at the manor it appears that it has been severely damaged and where one would expect to find a door, instead is a hole, roughly man shaped but over 12 feet tall.

And then he sees, two giants, 12 feet or more in height, and between them they catch someone running towards them, and then rend the person, down the center and toss the pieces aside and move onto the next. One is a giantess, about 12 feet tall, while the giant is about a foot taller, both are dressed in animal skins, and clubs that are about 6 feet long are lying on the ground. After the person has been ripped apart, they pick up their clubs. People continue running toward them, and each giant swings and people go flying in the air backwards.

Suddenly, coming into view is a man with deep hair the color of reddish brown, deep brown eyes wearing a scowl of menace beneath his beard. He is wielding a great two handed sword with remarkable skill. Anyone who runs towards him is cut in half, and then the people running turn and run back to the giants who dispatch them, and the cycle repeats until no one is left.

Iosephus’ vision leaves him, and is it does, he finds himself back in human form and on land, the Mont he saw in his vision is before him, waiting for him to climb to the summit.

Iosephus stands at the foot of Mont Beauvray, wondering.

He's no stranger to having visions - in fact, he has them all the time - but this one was unusually vivid. More to the point, this one was unusually violent - which is quite disturbing, given the frequency with which his visions seem to come true, one way or another.

Iosephus abhors violence. He hopes that the violence he just witnessed was allegorical - the Sign of something else. He fears it was not.

Fear, however, is not something that lodges for long in the heart of a true follower of Criamon. Slowly, Iosephus lets his Fear dissipate. "What shall be, must be," he thinks. "The Spharios is ever a place of strife. Let it come if it must. Until such times as I comprehend this vision, there is nothing I can do." His customary cheerfulness returns.

Cheerfulness and excitement, in fact - even elation. For here he is at last, at the foot of the Mountain, about to climb up to his new home, in the ruins of the ancient city of Bibracte! And he's about to be part of forming a new community, too - a community of living people, when all he has had for so long has been solitude and ghosts.

He wonders idly whether the other magi have arrived yet. They are to be his first true living-companions since he left the covenant of his apprenticeship, three decades ago. He feels that he will no doubt find himself liking them, come what may.

He wonders, too, whether Daffyd, Catrin, Wen, and Deykin have arrived yet. They should have, by now - they took a small boat from Wales nearly a month ago, accompanied by one of Guinevra's grogs - a good guide and a fine sailor. It should have taken them only a day or two at most to make landfall in Normandy, and begin the journey overland. And Guinevra said that she would have an eye kept on them as they travelled.

"Well," Iosephus thinks, "now is the time for the last step of my journey - climbing this mountain. It would be a simple enough matter to blow up there as Wind; but the Aptness lies in arriving as a Man."

Happily, he begins walking.