Let me take you through sands of crystal,
and down that silver river.
And I shall show you,
we are all beings of His creation.
The artist has long seen the Flow, but he has never seen something like this.
The Flow, the source of all creations as he knows it, has long been guiding him through his artistic path. He knows when to let the Flow move from his mind to the tip of his brush, from the void looming with white mists to the very reality he resides. He knows how to redirect it, how to use its pushing force to make his creations real, or even surreal. And he thought that it was the only beautiful thing in the world.
He might have made a bad decision when he decided to enter that place, to hear the priest’s preaching and learn about that alien belief. A Church of clockwork and metal, so he had heard. He only intended to use that as a possible way to let out the Flow, to open his eyes to and to start something different. After all, he had always liked steampunk pieces, and the things this Church offered seemed no different.
But now, the artist stands in the river, and everything is different. The white mists are still there, but are now mixed with hot, surging steam. The riverbed he stands on, once of emptiness and void, is now made of cogwork and metal. Shining and beautiful, from beneath, unlike anything he has ever seen.
He blinks, and feels as if his senses have cheated him, but as he opens his eyes again, the scene shifts and he sees something even more unbelievable.
He is still standing in the Flow, but he also now sees outside of it. He witnesses a majestic clockwork machine, all gears grind and fall perfectly into lockstep. He sees the Flow too, no longer floating in the void as he long knew, but streaming through tunnels in the gigantic machinery, twisting and turning as the machine moves. And his eyes can hardly capture its movement. The hot steam are rising from its surface, as its brass structures boil the river. Cogs hum from beneath.
For a moment there, he is shocked and lost, dazzled by the scene he had witnessed. But another moment, as he blinks again, he's back at the river, with the Flow rushing endlessly down his knee. The mental riverbed, however, is still there, but shines even more, and shakes slightly. He bends down to reach for the water.
But there is no water.
In the mental riverbed crafted by the grand machine, a river of mercury flows endlessly through hot burning steam.
The artist begins his creation with the new scene he saw lingering in his mind and appearing in his dreams. He throws out the brushes and paint, and gathers cogs and pipes and wires. He feels a clock ticking inside.
He works as he always works, but not with paper and pencil, but with brass, iron and silver. He pieces together the parts in an artistic fashion, one gear fitting perfectly into another as the Flow whispers and the Machine hums. He has never learnt how to construct clockwork, but he works as if he was born with the skill.
As his hand runs against the shining surface, he sees once again the silver river, now rushing and surging and falling through the carved lines in brass machine. He speaks soft words with his work, and wishes that the grand machine would hear, and one day talk to him.
Yet he fails.
In an attempt to mimic a god, he has only created monsters. The humming machines never fit quite right. The clockwork doesn’t tick or it sings the songs wrong; the structure collapses or only moves clumsily. He aims to capture the beauty of the clockwork in his dreams like masters of Renaissance had painted saints and gods, only to find his own shallow skills stand in his path.
The artist stops creating. He puts aside his tools and materials, and locks himself in the room alone, with his mind wandering the vast silver river. He wanders there for days, until the uneven edges of the riverbed penetrate his skin, until the humming sound echoes in his ear, until the mercury that flows in the river runs down his veins.
And then he sees.
The artist takes a deep breath, and dives into the silver river. The riverbed is no longer there, and the river feels like an ocean. The Machine hums as if an orchestra.
It should hurt as the metal pieces pierce through his skin into his flesh, but he feels none of it. The Flow pushes him as he picks up the gears almost mechanically, and puts them inside of him.
It is his one piece, his final piece. His blood has tainted the floor, yet he sees only the mercury flow; his flesh has been cut open and scattered in pieces, yet he sees only the clockwork movement.
As he puts in the final one gear, there’s a small clicking sound, and he knows this is the moment. He stands straight, and feels the clockwork move smoothly inside, as if it were natural. The Flow rushes even faster, the Machine sings even louder, and he feels that he is singing with Him.
“It is done.” The artist lets out a final breath. “I am art of His creation.”