They were sitting on their favourite bench in the gardens of an old monastery. The place was as silent as it had been the first time they had found it on one of their occasional wanderings.
They had been visiting one of the most populated memory cores they had discovered up until that moment. That core in particular had adopted the shape of a pre-industrial crowded city. It was a place full of people and smells and noises. Beggars, priests, noblemen; the highest and the lowest mixed up, living in a perpetual state of chaos, a city inhabiting its citizens. Always in motion, ever on the brink of change, but not quite.
At first, they enjoyed it. They bathed on the pungent smells, they soared the screeching noises, they searched and found themselves in a toothless smile, a tired glance, a manic laugh; ever moving from one body to another, leaping from one soul to the next, until the presence of the city became too big and complete and their heartbeats too distant and faint and they had to run away.
They named that place Chaos, and swore to each other never to return.
The monastery had been hiding in a small mountain range next to Chaos. They had found it almost by chance, if such a thing existed in their world.
~You once asked me how I would define the world if I could only use one word, and that’s my answer. Truth. His thoughts echoed in her mind as clear and close as if they had been uttered.
To an external observer, they would have looked like a young couple sitting on a bench under an old pine tree, lost amidst the silence, not minding each other.
~That’s rather a vague answer, she sent back. Truth can mean everything or nothing at all.
They lost themselves in the silence of the monastery for a while.
It hadn’t been a conscious decision for them to use their mind-touch. As soon as they stepped into the gardens of the monastery they immediately understood why they had been drawn to that place.
The transition had been smoother than dawn. At that moment, they both had felt it, had been aware of it, but as they walked among the bushes and the trees, as they approached the old silent building, they forgot how to talk, how to speak, and they suddenly realised that words were forbidden in that sacred place.
It’s not that they couldn’t speak. That was their world after all, and they knew that they could choose to speak if they so wished, but they also knew that, as soon as they had crossed the unseen boundaries of the monastery, words had turned into meaningless blurbs of sound, careless and irrelevant, obscure references to meanings far beyond the surface of their thoughts.
~That’s precisely my point, he signalled, breaking the static of their mind-touch. Truth, or rather the absence of it, defines not only my world, but everyone’s.
She glanced at him sceptically, raising an eyebrow. She was used to this kind of categorical claims but still, his sometimes utter lack of humility never failed to surprise her… or amuse her.
~Enlighten me, she sent mockingly.
He moved, ever so slightly, and his distant expression turned into a more focused one. She watched him as he rearranged himself on the bench, turning his body towards hers, fractionally, almost imperceptibly, just like every time he was about to say something momentous (or something he had been rehearsing in his head, as she had learnt to notice).
~Take for instance the people at Chaos. They live their lives in constant motion, a perpetual process of change that never ends. Their lives are like the water-flow of a thousand rivers, only their rivers are birthless and purposeless, furious streams of raging waters preying upon one another. His thoughts flowed in an orderly row with the clarity and certainty he always tried to convey in his discourses. Each of his words was limited and constrained by its own distinct shape, instilling his speech with a rationality he sometimes lacked.
In the inner layers of her mind, she laughed secretly at that. After countless conversations, voiced and silent, he still felt the need to modulate the tone of his voice, to carefully choose every word, as if the wrong choice could destroy any possibility of communication.
Perhaps it could.
She turned her gaze towards the old monastery and, signalling the precise amount of eagerness, urged him to continue.