∴ An Eightfold Force∴
The door falls closed behind you, not with the sepulchral thud you might expect from such a portal, but with barely a whisper. It is as if the empty, unfinished cathedral sucks the sound from everything – the door, your footsteps, the words you might have uttered before the sheer vastness of the space took them away.
From here, the unadorned altar could be miles away, all perspective lost in the face of the forest of arches in between. Moon-pale and massive, they reach their arms into the sky, drawing your eyes unerringly with them, into a canopy of vaults and voussoirs. Lost in the woods you stand, stunned by the miracle of the place, disquieted by its terrible greatness.
As you fail to take it in, your fingers play anxiously at the hilt of your sheathed sword, keen for something solid in this dreamlike space. You count in your head: the eight edges of the blackened pommel. The eight facets of the straight, stern guard. The eight corners of the mottled green grip. It is a habit you picked up on your pilgrimage, adrift in the unknown. It grounds you somehow – the repetition, perhaps – your litany of eight.
Emboldened, you step into the emptiness, still counting silently. And as you walk, you notice: eight sides to the fluted columns. Eight eight-faceted ribs forming a star on the ceiling. Eight eight-petalled rosettes in the round window’s tracery.
One, two, three, four. The numbers mark the rhythm of your steps; describe the world you walk though; bind you to it somehow. Five, six, seven, eight. They fall from your lips with barely an echo, a prayer in themselves, your scattered breadcrumb trail in this strange, stone forest.