fires raged over the land. And in
these fires the Evil Ones and all the
things made by the Evil Ones were burned.
And the fire which is called the Dawn of
the Great Rebirth, was the Script Fire
where all the scripts of the Evil Ones
were burned, and with them all the words
of the Evil Ones. Great mountains of flame
stood in the squares of the Cities for
three months. Then came the Great Rebirth.
The words of the Evil Ones . . .
The words of the Unmentionable Times . . .
What are the words which we have lost?
May the Council have mercy upon us!
We had no wish to write such a question,
and we knew not what we were doing till
we had written it. We shall not ask
this question and we shall not think it.
We shall not call death upon our head.
And yet . . . And yet . . .
There is some word, one single word
which is not in the language of men,
but which had been. And this is the
Unspeakable Word, which no men may speak
nor hear. But sometimes, and it is rare,
sometimes, somewhere, one among men find
that word. They find it upon scraps of old
manuscripts or cut into the fragments of
ancient stones. But when they speak it
they are put to death. There is no crime
punished by death in this world, save this
one crime of speaking the Unspeakable Word.
We have seen one of such men burned
alive in the square of the City. And it was
a sight which has stayed with us through
the years, and it haunts us, and follows us,
and it gives us no rest. We were a child
then, ten years old. And we stood in the
great square with all the children and all the
men of the City, sent to behold the burning.
They brought the Transgressor out into
the square and they led them to the pyre.
They had torn out the tongue of the
Transgressor, so that they could speak no
longer. The Transgressor were young and tall.
They had hair of gold and eyes blue as morning.
They walked to the pyre, and their step did
not falter. And of all the faces
on that square, of all the faces which
shrieked and screamed and spat curses upon
them, theirs was the calmest and the happiest face.
As the chains were wound over their
body at the stake, and a flame set to the
pyre, the Transgressor looked upon the
City. There was a thin thread of blood
running from the corner of their mouth,
but their lips were smiling. And a monstrous
thought came to us then, which has
never left us. We had heard of Saints.
There are the Saints of Labor, and the
Saints of the Councils, and the Saints of the
Great Rebirth. But we had never seen a
Saint nor what the likeness of a Saint
should be. And we thought then, standing
in the square, that the likeness of a Saint
was the face we saw before us in the flames,
the face of the Transgressor of the
As the flames rose, a thing happened
which no eyes saw but ours, else we would
not be living today. Perhaps it had only
seemed to us. But it seemed to us that the
eyes of the Transgressor had chosen us
from the crowd and were looking straight
upon us. There was no pain in their eyes
and no knowledge of the agony of their
body. There was only joy in them, and
pride, a pride holier than is fit for human
pride to be. And it seemed as if these eyes
were trying to tell us something through
the flames, to send into our eyes some word
without sound. And it seemed as if these
eyes were begging us to gather that word
and not to let it go from us and from the
earth. But the flames rose and we could not
guess the word. . . .
What–even if we have to burn for it
like the Saint of the Pyre–what is the
We, Equality 7-2521, have discovered a
new power of nature. And we have discovered
it alone, and we alone are to know it.
It is said. Now let us be lashed for it,
if we must. The Council of Scholars has
said that we all know the things which exist
and therefore the things which are not
known by all do not exist. But we think
that the Council of Scholars is blind.
The secrets of this earth are not for all men
to see, but only for those who will seek them.
We know, for we have found a secret unknown
to all our brothers.
We know not what this power is nor
whence it comes. But we know its nature,
we have watched it and worked with it.
We saw it first two years ago. One night,
we were cutting open the body of a dead
frog when we saw its leg jerking. It was
dead, yet it moved. Some power unknown
to men was making it move. We could not
understand it. Then, after many tests,
we found the answer. The frog had been
hanging on a wire of copper; and it had
been the metal of our knife which had sent
the strange power to the copper through the
brine of the frog’s body. We put a piece of
copper and a piece of zinc into a jar of
brine, we touched a wire to them, and
there, under our fingers, was a miracle
which had never occurred before, a new
miracle and a new power.
This discovery haunted us. We followed
it in preference to all our studies.
We worked with it, we tested it in more ways
than we can describe, and each step was as
another miracle unveiling before us.
We came to know that we had found the
greatest power on earth. For it defies all
the laws known to men. It makes the needle
move and turn on the compass which we
stole from the Home of the Scholars;
but we had been taught, when still a child,
that the loadstone points to the north and that
this is a law which nothing can change;
yet our new power defies all laws.
We found that it causes lightning, and never
have men known what causes lightning.
In thunderstorms, we raised a tall rod of
iron by the side of our hole, and we
watched it from below. We have seen the
lightning strike it again and again.
And now we know that metal draws the power
of the sky, and that metal can be made to
give it forth.
We have built strange things with this
discovery of ours. We used for it the
copper wires which we found here under the
ground. We have walked the length of our
tunnel, with a candle lighting the way.
We could go no farther than half a mile, for
earth and rock had fallen at both ends.
But we gathered all the things we found
and we brought them to our work place.
We found strange boxes with bars of metal
inside, with many cords and strands and
coils of metal. We found wires that led
to strange little globes of glass on the walls;
they contained threads of metal thinner
than a spider’s web.
These things help us in our work. We do
not understand them, but we think that
the men of the Unmentionable Times had
known our power of the sky, and these
things had some relation to it. We do not
know, but we shall learn. We cannot stop
now, even though it frightens us that we
are alone in our knowledge.
No single one can possess greater
wisdom than the many Scholars who are
elected by all men for their wisdom.
Yet we can. We do. We have fought against
saying it, but now it is said. We do not care.
We forget all men, all laws and all things
save our metals and our wires. So much
is still to be learned! So long a road
lies before us, and what care we if we
must travel it alone!
Many days passed before we could speak
to the Golden One again. But then came
the day when the sky turned white, as if
the sun had burst and spread its flame in
the air, and the fields lay still without
breath, and the dust of the road was white
in the glow. So the women of the field
were weary, and they tarried over their
work, and they were far from the road
when we came. But the Golden One stood
alone at the hedge, waiting. We stopped
and we saw that their eyes, so hard and