**Anamnesis is a serialized novelette, released scene by scene (or verse, as I’m calling them), of which there are nine. I’m publishing the first verse while the final chapter is still unwritten. Hopefully this will spur me to get the thing done.
Anamnesis is a fantasy story about gnosis, nature, and the weird and sublime powers of the world. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I’ve enjoyed the strange wonder of writing it.**
Chapter 1: as in names
Verse 1: inane mass
Yahde is born in the clasped hands of the stone titan.
She lies curled within her enclosure for a very long time. Her amethyst eyes flit around beneath closed eyelids, her brow gently furrowed. In this state, she grows and develops, pupating. Her chrysalis is a three-sided pyramid of salt crystal that has formed improbably beneath the endless dripping from above.
The vast cavern of the stone titan’s cupped palms is pierced at the apex, behind the middle knuckle of his right hand, so that light shines through. The mysterious cause of this injury is lost to time. Erosion and the occasional muddy storm spilling through the aperture above throw out a layer of loose soil among the hills and valleys of the titan’s left palm creases. A strange and diverse assemblage of flora and fauna emerge within the mist that hangs ever in the air.
Fields of salt tetrahedra form in a jagged ring beneath the opening. Yahde grows within the largest of these, among dozens of smaller ones nearby, and the many thousands spreading off to either side. Encircled within is the Forest, a towering profusion of trees, twining fibrous vines, and vast fungal growths. Yowling and shrieking can be heard within at all hours.
Outside the ring there are scattered patches of the same kinds of vegetation, but beyond the reach of direct light, fungal shrublands dominate the landscape. The pyramids become a source of sustenance for the large-eyed and many-limbed creatures that roam the outer confines of the giant’s hands. After dark, they crawl from their dens and extend their tongues or proboscises to lick and suck before moving on to their food and water sources.
This is the ideal time for predators, fixed and mobile, to feed. Some emerge from the Forest at dusk and slink among the deepest shadows of the pyramids. Others descend from the hovering mist with gossamer wings and glistening droplets of venom, graceful in their mercilessness. But the craftiest predator is the Forest itself.
When the mobile predators return to their packs or colonies, the Forest works in tandem to deprive them of their meals. Showers of neurotoxic fungal spores seek to incapacitate while sap-coated fibers unfurl from bulbs growing along the spindly branches of the trees. Creatures caught in these eventually come unstuck unharmed, but before this happens, vines contract around them and pry away their kills with precision. The interconnected organisms of the Forest absorb and distribute the nutrients equitably among the network. Things continue in this way for many, many seasons.
When at last Yahde comes to herself, her thoughts echo within the salt and resonate through the stone of her father.
I am awake. And yet I dream.
The predators pause mid-step and the Forest stills.
Then in a thunderous rush, all the salt-eating creatures in the titan’s palm converge on Yahde’s pyramid. The digestive juices from hundreds of creatures lapping up the salt slowly draw her out, inspiring her to take her first breath. Her eyelids rip away the crust glueing them shut. She takes in the world for the first time, her sensorium alight with wonder.
The tide of animals and insects recedes slowly, until the predators shake themselves from the strange calm that has overtaken them. As the hunters pounce, the diverse herd of salt-eaters disperses in a frenzy.
Ignoring this, Yahde cranes her neck to look up at the vast hole in her father’s hand. Salt and mineral formations coat most of the inner surface of the wound, but Yahde can see hints of bone and the dark tunnels of long-emptied veins behind the cascading deposits. What does the blood of a stone titan look like? Is it liquid?
As she wonders these things, it comes to her to wonder about her own wondering. How is it that she knows what blood is? How is it that she knows anything?
Her gaze falls to the Forest. Something hypnotic draws her towards its dense vegetation, but this frightens her. She turns away, and instead begins to explore the fungal shrublands. She continues to question her knowledge of herself, even as she plucks ripe mycofruits from the waist-high fungal shrubs and bites into their meaty flesh.
Where does knowledge come from?
One answer springs to her mind: Learning.
She dismisses this. These things she did not learn. (How does she even know what learning is, considering she has never learned anything?) Finding no further answers, she considers instead what she does know, about herself, about the world.
Because of her parentage, Yahde has the Form of Stone. But due to her size and ability to move around at this scale, she has the Way of Action. She realizes she didn’t know these things—at least not until the instant she thought them. She had inferred them from some other background information that won’t quite rise to the surface. But the logic is there: stone titan father means Form of Stone; size and willfulness mean Way of Action.
A six-legged furry insectoid creature approaches her with curiosity. Its body is about the size of her head, but its legs lift it to the height of her knees. She doesn’t know what this thing is called, but does know it won’t hurt her.
She kneels to interact with it, and it shies away. A moment later, though, it approaches again, and Yahde can see it is looking at the piece of mycofruit she has left. She smiles and holds it out. The creature hesitates, but grabs the food with its mandibles and then skitters away.
An itch appears on her scalp, and she scratches it instinctively. The crusted salt in her hair crumbles away. Some of it falls into her mouth and she tastes its bright flavor complementing the rich mycofruit. She knows the salt comes from the ocean, which must be very close. She knows that salt does not naturally form in pyramids under dripping saltwater. She knows that her kind are often born in strange and wondrous ways. She does not know what she means when she thinks “my kind.”
Thinking is getting her nowhere, so she chooses to explore instead. If the answers aren’t in her head, they will be out there, somewhere.