Citadel of Amber

Who dares say the name aloud? Who dares utter the name of the building that is behind everything? Eyes search for it in the deepest darkness; feet wander the wastelands, wells fill up with the blood of victims, voices call out and fall silent again, people are born and die… all because of the Citadel, and the unconscious craving to one day, eventually, behold it, perhaps only as a coincidental glimpse or in the drunkenness of mind. There is only one unstoppable desire in men’s heart – to set one’s eyes upon the Citadel and finally cease to exist through the power of this realization: that one has indeed seen it.

Its secrets are guarded by twenty-two gates, its truth whispered into the ear of an initiate, its lie hollered in large squares and marketplaces. The wise say the path to it is trying and difficult, lined with temptation and death. It leads deep into the woods of the unconscious where the warrior clashes with the mighty guardians; he enters palaces and cities of knowledge – traps only few can escape –; he walks across the Desert of Lost Sense where many perish, into the Mountains of Purity where some find contentment; he continues into the Sky of the Absolute where many dissolve, and on and on he goes, onto the surface of the Ocean of Dreams, over the Ancient Bridge to the Rusty Gate of the Abandoned House where No-one lives, the King of Wanderers, who alone knows the safe passage to the Destination itself.

It is indeed so. The Citadel hides the meaning and purpose of everything; it is home to Mystery that flees before us, taking shelter in its very walls. The path that runs towards it is immeasurably long though the Citadel itself is not far at all – it is right here among us, but lost. The tree trunks are the pillars supporting its vault, the grass its carpet, the Sun its eternal fire, the Moon its night guardian, the people its sparks, the beasts its priests, the stones its floor and walls of the Song Eternal frozen mid-chant. But things are not as they once were. Something terrible happened, the Citadel disappeared from its place, its meaning shrouded by an impenetrable veil, and the world began to walk different paths.