Archives for category: Dustless

To be strong in spirit, one should be like a RoMayZine.

This is a matter of absolute purity. You have a goal: you must attain it. Therefore you have a task. All people of spirit need a task. A task is like a container for the spirit, giving it form.

Say this task is very, very difficult. Imagine it is like an attack on an enemy force. You are alone: you are outnumbered. To attack means you must almost certainly die.

What should you do? A wise person, a practical person, a sensible person, they would retreat. They would recognise the nature of the task is too dangerous. It would result in their death, almost certainly. They would wonder, what could be achieved — to go towards death in this fashion?

So they give up the task, or go about it a different way.

This is a sign of weakness of spirit. A sign that the spirit is weak and diluted.

You must simply go straight on: go forward. You must show your spirit. Show you are unafraid. You will not hide your spirit by saying “Er…” or “Um…”, or “But if I…” or “Perhaps I can…” — no, not at all.

No: the goal is great. The task is great. It demands a great spirit. To show your spirit is the key matter here. To be brilliant and unambiguous. To express what it means to be a human being who has not allowed themselves to be broken by trivial concerns of life or death.

Consider this carefully.

It is an honour to be totally alone. To begin with nothing, and as nothing. To find the whole world against you, that is the most honourable of all.

A wise person, a practical person, a sensible person: what would they do? They would be wise, practical, sensible: they would say, But I can’t win. I can’t fight the whole world. I must make allies. I must, if necessary, kneel. I must compromise. I must do as the men and women of the world generally do, which is to break, very slowly, over the years, and call that “learning” or “growing” or “experience”. I am no fanatic. I love life. I will remain alive.

Good advice, you might think? No, no. Terrible advice! The advice of the deceivers, the weak, the self-serving. People who, as they advance, shed their spirit as they go, becoming more and more futile, less and less brilliant, taking on ever smaller and smaller tasks, so that the task of life itself becomes a game, a trite ritual, a hobby.

A RoMayZine, though, would never bend, never compromise. You must go straight on: you must make the world bow to you. You are stronger than the world. You have your task: to accomplish it, you must be seen — that is part of the task, perhaps its very essence. You must show yourself as brilliant, pure, you should walk with swagger, confident that the world will bow to you. If you go to your death in this way, then the world will bow to you, even if it believes it does not.

Weak and trivial spirits lead weak and trivial lives, and go to weak and trivial deaths. They empty the world of meaning, slowly.

The world is full of dust. Lies, deceit, betrayal, mendacity, fraud, arrogance, blather, laziness, viciousness, bullying, hypocrisy, wrath: dust. Weak and trivial spirits, what do they do, but carry bits of dust around all their lives, in pots or in bags or in the cupped palms of their hands, and shift it about. They pick up dust, move it across a room, put it down, and pick up more dust.

But a strong spirit is Dustless.

Worldly suffering and failure, the battle against insurmountable odds, damage, wounds, battering, ridicule, derision, indifference, ignorance, you must go into them, head on, head up, head strong.

By maintaining your purity in a muddled and devious world, you will make the world bow to your spirit, even as it kills you.

Is this terrible advice? No, no. This is good advice.

All you have to consider now is this: Who gives the advice? And by giving it, do they mean to make you bow?

The first thing he remembered was the clouds. The clouds, and Zysashin’s voice. His sister, Zysashin, laughing.

Did the clouds come out of Zysashin’s voice?

That was strange…

The first thing he remembered was the two of them, together on the moor, running under the brief summer sky, racing clouds across the heather.

How did they run?

They hurdled, or scrambled over, the low, soft, round grey boulders that studded the hillside. Zysoshin, Zysashin: twins. They ran hard, lifting each other up if one stumbled, trying to reach the thorn tree near the edge of the track before the cloud’s shadow fell over their heads, ending the game. The wizened black thorn was the winning post…



Sai, SolMin

And how did the game begin? In those short summers, when the days were long?

Well, they would wait by the stream until a cloud appeared over the brow of the hill, and then, trying not to giggle, sprint towards the thorn.

They raced together – only then was the race real. Sometimes Zysoshin would race alone, without Zysa, and sometimes even beat the cloud to the thorn – but it didn’t matter. He knew it didn’t count without Zysa. Even if she watched him race the cloud, Zysa sitting on the Bug Stone in the sunlight, and he said: ‘“Watch me, Zysa – Zysa: watch”, and they both laughed and yelped when the tip of the great white cloud first appeared over the top of the hill, like the tentacle of some fairytale sea creature, and Zyso set off, splashing through the wet grass and over the peaty, black earth, in a kind of ecstasy – even then, if he managed to reach out and touch the trunk of the thorn before the shadow fell upon him, he knew he had not won very much really, it was only him alone, it didn’t mean anything.

No, only when they raced hand in hand was the race true. And though they were both slender, of similar build, long-limbed and agile, and though Zysa was hardly slower than Zyso, when they ran together, they always lost the race against the cloud – unless it was a very fat, old summer cloud, lazy and ambling, which didn’t count anyway: but at least when they lost together, the losing was real. To run alone (and Sasa could beat the cloud on her own, too) was not really to run at all.

Their home and their world was a high place of clouds and of winds. It belonged to them…

Excerpt from The Sentinels, Volume 1 of Dustless

Please embark…

Dustless | Volume 1

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Following an attack by a strange marine organism, Lord Naro enters a profound state of delirium.

Several nurses who had been instructed to sit with me during the critical phase of my delirium found the experience too harrowing, and asked to be relieved of this duty. Patients in nearby rooms were taken to other, more distant rooms. Faced with these unprecedented symptoms, even Woya was troubled out of reason: he later confessed to me that his mind wandered towards the impure and barbarian notions of possession by evil spirits. Certainly, he had never witnessed such torment. Only Virsodanva Veka proved strong enough to undertake long sessions of vigilance beside my bed.

When the doctor recounted to me the convulsions that had shaken me then, I pitied myself, though (at the time, while speaking with him) I could not recall anything at all of those intolerable hours. Often, I cried out: almost always, I seemed to be in great fear. One peculiar effect of my disorder, which many found most troubling, was that sometimes when I shouted out it would not be in my usual voice but, as it seemed, in the voices of others.

Woya-tsa himself, for all his professional and inherent calm, admitted that he found himself questioning the nature of the world itself on encountering this unsettling phenomenon. He said his reason could not bridge the gulf that opened up between his knowledge and what he saw and heard as I lay there crying out. For not only was my normal voice distorted by terrors the nature of which he could not see, and not only was it bent by agonies the cause of which he could not ascertain, often my voice would change, grow deeper, and seem to be emitted from a hitherto unguessed region of my being. And it wasn’t merely that, in my delirium, I was impersonating other people, pretending to be a child or woman: uxo, it was worse, because there were moments when the voice that came out of my mouth appeared not to belong to me at all.

Only when I seemed to have recuperated fully – a matter of several weeks after first recovering consciousness – did Doctor Woya give me some account of what he and others had heard at my bedside. Sometimes, he said, my voice was so deep, and so contorted, it sounded inhuman, though it spoke our MidImperial tongue. Sometimes – more disconcerting still – it seemed I was communicating in my normal voice, but in no language the staff in the hospital had ever heard. And yet it was definitely a language, Woya believed: there was a fluency and an articulacy about the sounds that convinced him this was not the gibberish of a completely unravelled mind. At other times, my voice issued odd clicks and grunts and hisses and whispers, something subhuman, Woya said, reminding him of the language of insects. Any of these manifestations would have troubled all sensible witnesses, but there was yet a further variation in my distress, one which actually caused nurses to flee the room; and even Woya himself, on one occasion, said he found it unbearable, and had to leave me in the sole hands of the redoubtable Virsodanva Veka.

For not only did my voice sometimes sound like that of another man, or other men, it changed eerily and grew more strange still: it slipped from the tenor of the masculine altogether, and grew light and female.

While it was technically possible for a male voice-box to produce these different effects, the doctors agreed, not Yamgo of the Five Stars, nor Samisama, not the most brilliant actor of the Kunobun Ventriloquists’ Theatre could have commanded such an amazing range of voices. Male, female: they all sounded utterly real, as if they belonged to some individual. If you had turned your back, you would have thought a third person had entered the hospital room, and was speaking while I lay unconscious on the bed.

Woya said it was difficult to comprehend: when I was speaking as a female, there was no question that the words were coming from my mouth, but there was also no question that the voice was that of a woman, and not a man; and Woya could not put the two certainties together to form a rational whole. But most extraordinary and moving of all, he told me, were the moments when the timbre and intonation of my voice seemed to shed years, and I spoke not as a grown man, nor as a mature woman, but as a child.

This was too disturbing, Woya said. Most of the voices that spoke out of me were bearers of distress: some were angry and hostile, some were in pain, some fleeing pain; some were uttering bizarre orders; some were panicking, some grieving. Sometimes, at the height of the hallucinatory stage of my illness, different voices would chase one another out of my throat, and I would seem to be speaking in quick succession almost as if a line of beings queued inside me, wishing to communicate, and even squabbling among themselves. Then, abruptly, I would speak in my own voice, or in another voice, and utter something completely banal, a comment about the weather or the expression of a desire for a particular food for lunch, and it was precisely the ordinariness of these remarks which, juxtaposed against the chorus of other voices, highlighted the eeriness of my condition.

When the child, spoke, though, it always cried for help, and Woya found this nearly unbearable. He recounted how the child was a young boy – and to Woya, this boy was real, it seemed to me, even though the child spoke out of my mouth, and from some unaccountable region – and how the call for help was deeply affecting. Of course, there was no possibility of help being given, and so Woya felt both frightened, and concerned, and completely helpless. He said he definitely wanted to be able to give the child some reassurance, to soothe and calm it, because the fear in the child’s voice was palpable, and there is surely nothing quite as poignant as a child looking out for help. Woya-tsa felt torn and so disorientated that, as he told me, he began to worry not only about my sanity, but his own; indeed, he began to grow worried that, after his experiences by my bedside, the very notion of sanity itself was being thrown down before him, and he was entering a domain in which he was poorly equipped to survive.

Woya-tsa also told me that he had even tried to speak to the child, to call out to him. Woya-tsa attempted to learn the child’s name, but there seemed no real contact possible. Woya-tsa was unembarrassed and unashamed of his actions, even though some of his colleagues thought his behaviour eccentric: nevertheless, no other doctors called in to assist on the case remained unshaken by what they found. Most stated their opinion that what I was undergoing was a state of profound hallucination, and that the voices speaking out of me were fragments of memory or illusion, which had been chameleonised in my distress, taking on the properties of people and episodes I’d witnessed during my life. However, most also accepted that such a diagnosis was very limited, and that the case had a certain freakish fascination.

Woya-tsa described the child’s voice as not panicked, exactly, but possessing a kind of calm fear. The tone was plaintive, somehow rather distant, as if speaking out of another element, or through a distorting device. Not only was the child concerned for his own safety, but he also seemed very intent on passing on some information, or a warning.

Of all the voices that spoke out of me during those awful days, the child’s voice was, by common consent, the most alarming. “Help me,” he would say: “they are coming. They are coming. Please – help me. Why don’t you help me?”

Few of the doctors invited to give their opinion on my case believed I would ever recover. The general prognosis was that, even if something like consciousness returned to me, my wits would have been cast to the dusts, and I would never really be Lord Sokosozuin Naro again.

In this, I believe the doctors were right. And yet, finally, one evening I opened my one remaining eye, and looked out of it.

The day before, the jelly-like secretion had abruptly dried, and could be brushed off my face in a kind of powder.

The first words I said – although I don’t recall them myself – were: “They are coming. They are coming. They are coming.”


Woya | Family name of the physician responsible for Lord Naro

Virsodanva Veka | The name of the captain of Lord Naro’s bodyguard

Uxo | “No”

tsa | Honorific, given to doctors and other members of a certain class

Names in Dustless | Naro, is the family name | Sokosozuin = Soko-so-zuin, Soko, son of Zuin

From Comb | Volume 8 of Dustless

Be great first…


Life is a matter of moments. Sometimes, we do not feel them: they bond together in easy succession, and whole years can pass without our really sensing the fragility of our own composition, which is momentary. The common people say “life slips by”, and they are right in their idiom. We grow negligent of the basis of our own being, and our vigilance becomes diluted.

But what could be more vulnerable than a moment? What more nude and exposed, incapable of defending itself? A moment happens, and is gone. Their little towers are being endlessly invaded, and thrown down; and with them, our lives.

Only when an unusual moment occurs do we sense the profoundly momentary nature of our being. Then, the moment surges into prominence: what had seemed so stable and secure – our life – is instantly revealed to hang upon a moment. There is a moment in our heart; our thoughts are moments; and if we kiss, our kisses are stained with moments. Only at moments of excitation or violence, of rupture, or of extreme boredom, does the moment announce itself vividly inside us. And then our life is thrown open for the dust or vision to enter us. It only takes a moment to live; and only a moment to die.

From Comb | Volume 8 of Dustless

Be great first…


Now they entered a different kind of world. And the ride entered a new phase. For so long, they had struggled to complete their journey, and their world had shrunk, more or less, to the size of a journey. The places they passed through were just places they left behind. Akzasosan had once quoted a philosopher to Zy: The journey forgets its maker, that old Master had said. The journey forgets its maker. Yet, to Zy, it seemed for a long time the complete opposite: the makers forgot the journey. That was how it was, wasn’t it?

How many villages had they passed through or passed by now? A hundred? Yes, easily. How many of them lingered in his mind? Only a handful. Which was the most important one? Well, not any of those Zy had already seen – no. The most important village was the next one – the village Zy hadn’t seen. Why? Because that was the next step on the way.

Excerpt from Dustless, Volume 14 | The Governor of the
Desolate Cantons

I walked through the fields of rye,
down by the river where the willows and the clouds
move and are still in the flowing waters – move and are still.
I think you know the place I mean.
And there I first heard my lover’s voice
as he strolled through the daylight as if he owned it.
You know, the land is very flat on RezIsimgria,
and the fields are wide.
And there, by the river, I first heard my lover’s voice,
singing under the empty skies
which burn above the fields of rye.

Rye, rye – the fields of rye.

He saw me and he came over to me – to me! –
who have nothing, and am no one.
He smiled as he spoke to me, there by the river’s side
where the willows and the clouds and the watermint
gather the sunlight when it is day, and when it is night
gather the moonlight.
I think you know the place I mean.
And I, a foolish one, smiled back at him, and he took my smile
as if he owned it.
I lost my smile to him on that first day
as I walked with him under the empty skies
which burn above the fields of rye.

Rye, rye – the fields of rye.

On that first day I lost my smile,
when first I heard my lover speak
on the lonely path through the fields
in summer, when the rye was tall.
And I was frightened there may be no other days
when I would hear him speak or sing.
But he said, if I would kiss him there, upon his lips –
I think you know the place I mean –
then he would meet me another day,
there where the river moves and is still,
and we would kiss again beneath the empty skies
which burnish the fields of rye

Rye, rye – the fields of rye.

On that first day, I lost my smile,
and my first kiss, too, he took
as if he owned it.
It was late summer, and the rye was tall
and hid us like a golden wall where we lay down
among the old willows, on the field’s edge.
He said if I would give him my soul
there upon the hardened soil –
I think you know the place I mean –
then he would meet with me on other days
and he would be the empty skies
and I would be the fields of rye.

Rye, rye – the fields of rye

On that first day, I lost my smile;
I lost my kiss, and my soul, too.
I don’t regret it, none of this: smile, kiss and soul were his,
he owned them, I only gave them back to him.
And when he sang as he walked away,
leaving me beside the river, and the river changed,
though the river was still –
I think you know the place I mean –
I knew there would be no other days
when we would meet, and that my soul
was lost on a smile and on a kiss, forever,
because I was his.
Now I am alone, but not alone, and I
am left tearless among the fields of rye

Rye, rye – the fields of rye

And autumn came, he did not return.
He was a grey-eyed one, and they do not return.
And autumn came, and the scythes began to make a fall
of the golden walls of the fields of rye.
Still I walked there, where the river bends away,
like a sickle moon, westwards towards SanShoNar –
perhaps you know the place I mean? –
under the willows where the earth was burnt
to make ready for the cruel plough
under the empty, endless skies
where I lay down among the fields of rye.

Rye, rye – the fields of rye
I lie down among the rye

*     *     *     *     *

N  O  T  E  S

RezIsimgria | The LateAncient term (see Language) for the vast plains to the east and north of the Land of O (see Geography | and Maps). “Rez” = plains; “Isimgria” = without limit, or without end. In the modern tongue, the region of RezIsimgria is known as “the Endless Plains”

Re-post | Originally posted December 2013

What does it mean to be “OnDomin“?

The OnDomin were the people who first watched, who were first vigilant. While other people of the era attended only to their own immediate circumstances, which formed a kind of corridor along which they were driven, each to one corridor in a maze of similar corridors, the OnDomin looked up, looked out, looked beyond, looked within, looked from above, and saw.

The maze fell away. The walls melted. Their vision was intense. Their gaze was calm, patient, impersonal.

It can be said that they were the first to see the world at all. They looked beyond themselves, and they went a new way to the crowd: they were no longer simply driven along by the winds of other people’s voices, they were no longer lost in the forest of noise and opinion, but they rose: they looked from above. They looked down on the forest, in the light above the tops of the trees, and flew higher than the currents of the wind, so the distracting voices fell silent.

They were alone. They could hear. They could see. They had achieved purity.

The OnDomin vanished, and their vigilance ended. The life of their vision fell away. The world retreated, back into the noise of crowds, into the racket of war and money, the hiss of desire, the nag of habit, the addiction to the nearest point of escape from true thought. If a person doesn’t stand apart, and look carefully, what will they be? The beautiful world of the OnDomin can’t be seen by those fighting for their moment on the stage, jostling for the brightest place in the mirror.

A new gaze is required, a new people, capable of sacrifice and serious endeavour. To be OnDomin, to see the world again, for the first time, as an explorer might cross an empty desert or a sea, and find themselves, at last, after much struggle, arriving at a land without footsteps.

They will see plants and animals never seen before. Rivers, skies, mountains, plains. They will see the world as the OnDomin see it: that is, for the first time, as it is perfect, just at the very moment it comes into life, and the very moment it dies. They will see the whole, while others only see the parts. By seeing in a new way, they will build in a new way. They will begin, and not end.

Where are they, the OnDomin? Who among us will take these first steps, away from the centre, towards the edge of things, the limit of the old ideas? Turn their backs on decaying regimes, on corrupt dynasties, and relinquish stale power. Enter the more derelict parts of the city, see the poor struggling, penned in by the wealthy, their drugs tossed to them, their narcotics and spirits and toxins to stupefy and blinker, their bodies ground down by labour and by blight, by deprived sleep and by the repeated frustration of small, unrealised dreams. Perhaps it will be someone from among the poor who will rise, leave off the game of worn-out life, and walk away? Or it might be one of the wealthy, the indolent, fretful among their furnishings and perfumes and jewels, perhaps one of these people will sicken of the endless routine of sweetness, and decide upon a fresh venture, seek a new vision, above the silks and the ivory and the drowsy sound of delicious lutes? Or a person from the mercantile faction, perhaps they will lift their heads one day, and look for the first time, and listen, among the chatter of barter and the propositions, the accumulation of possessions and the calculations of loans, the persistent little snarl of profit, and find that they do not want to be here, that these things and this way of getting through have become drained of reality, and are no longer worth the waste of life?

Will anyone become OnDomin? Or will the world of the OnDomin remain undiscovered, lost, as the cities of great civilisations are overwhelmed, abandoned to jungle and the tides?

Where are they?

Where are you?

Who is the young one there?
A figure in silks hooded, veiled
beside her house?

I love the world in winter:
the land frozen, and the steadfast ice.
But who is the young one there,
shaking loose snowflakes from his parasol?

Of the two of us, who is the true lover? The one
who yearns for the white stillness
of pure winter?
Or the one who,
green and quickening,
is faithless with a growing change?

Who is the lover in the snow?

Re-post | Originally posted December 2013

[from Dustless | Volume 16 / The Lover in the Snow [i]

I am just a jahzig girl.
My village is called Alone.
Drummers drumming, flags unfurled
they came from the Forbidden Zone.
And he was a pretty soldier boy,
made for kisses and for joy,
and he said, Now come with me
to the Heart of Eternity –
the Heart of Eternity.

I followed them, the column long,
in summer on the dusty roads.
We walked in a trail of wheels and songs
carrying our loads.
For he was a pretty soldier boy
made for kisses and for joy,
and he said, Soon you will see
the Heart of Eternity –
the Heart of Eternity.

LuinShar, oh LuinShar
the city of a thousand towers
and of imperial powers
where moonlight on the Sacred Tower
burns down all our human hours
to the sudden moment of a falling star
gliding over LuinShar.

For weeks we marched over the plains,
at night upon the endless roads
he bound me up with such soft chains
I carried a precious load.
He was such a pretty soldier boy
made for kisses, made for joy,
and so we laid beneath a dusty tree
in the Heart of Eternity –
the Heart of Eternity.

I grew sad in LuinShar
for the world of orphans we made there.
But he would never make a father
or care about another’s care.
For he was a pretty soldier boy
made for kisses and for joy,
and left us under autumn trees
at the Heart of Eternity –
the Heart of Eternity.

LuinShar, oh LuinShar
the city of a thousand towers
and of imperial powers
where moonlight on the Sacred Tower
burns down all our human hours
to the sudden moment of a falling star
gliding over LuinShar.

*     *     *     *     *

N  O  T  E  S

jahzig |  Meaning, roughly, “peasant”

Forbidden Zone | Buffer zone, created to protect the Western from the Eastern Lands

Heart of Eternity / LuinShar | LuinShar is the great central capital city of the Empire of the Western Lands. (Luin means “city”, and Shar means “tower”: LuinShar is thus also known as “the City of Towers”. Another name for Shar is “the Heart of Eternity”.

RE-POST | Originally posted November 2013

From a seed of stone
mountains sprouted.
No one knew.
We were busy, and, anyway,
there was the sky.

Time passed, as it has
the habit of doing.
We passed away, others came.
Under their feet, very slowly,
the landscape was changing.
They didn’t notice:
they moved more quickly,
their moments were flushed
with vivid colours,
and these colours
caught their attention:
the rest
they demoted to background,
especially the grey
of rocks, even
the chrysalis hidden by dazzle
in the first winter snow.

We kicked pebbles, or put them
in glass vases, as ballast,
and to set off
the flowers we cut and placed in our rooms
for beauty, or perhaps,
more obscurely,
to remind us we were mortal.

As we changed, the sky changed,
we didn’t notice.
We had love, and grief, and our bodies
bleating in the dark
asking for milk or for a tender hand
to reach out, and be for us,
to soothe, to slip us
from our clothes,
to offset our pain.

And then, one day,
somehow there were mountains.
What could we do with them?
We lived with them, but
they weren’t very useful.
Did they remind us of flowers?
Of fathers we had lost,
of the dying of years,
of lovers?
Or of towns, out on the plains,
we had left, long ago,
places we’d only ever
meant to pass through?

Perhaps. Still, we couldn’t
rearrange the slopes, the peaks
and the divides,
wash them, keep them clean,
ask them to explain,
or take them with us:
but they altered the earth’s
relation to the sky,
and they lingered
changing the way
clouds behaved,
and in our rooms
in the warm, still
moonlight of summer
the dust motes
trembled, turned
to face the summits,
and, vibrating as we slept,
already far along
into their journey

to be mountains.