Flay began to untie his boots. Behind him his swept cave yawned, a million prawn-coloured motes swaying against the darkness at the entrance. He noticed, as he worked his heel free of the leather, that the crag was biting its way into the sun and had all but reached it’s centre. He leant his bony head backwards against the stone, and his face became lit and the stubble of his first beard shone, its every hair a thread of copper wire, as he followed the course of the crag’s crest in its seemingly upward and arrow-headed journey, its black barbs eating outwards as it climbed.

Inexorable as was its course, there was, that summer evening, more destiny in the progress of another moving form, so infinitesmal in the capacious mountain dusk, than in the vast sun’s ample spellbound cycle.

Through her, in microcosm, the wide earth sobbed. The starglobe sank in her; the colours faded. The death-dew rose and the wild birds in her breast climbed to her throat and gathered songless, hovering, all tumult, wing to wing, so ardent for those climes where all things end.

To Flay, it was as though the silence of his solitude had been broken, the senses invading each other’s provinces, for on seeing the movement of something the size of the letter ‘i’, that moved in silhouette agains the gigantic yellow plate, he had the sensation of waking from a dream which took hold of him. Distant as it was, he could tell it for a human form. That it was Keda it was not in his power to realize. He knew himself for witness. He could not stop himself. he knelt forward on his knees, while the moments melted, one into the next. He grew more rigid. The tiny, infinitely remote figure was moving across the sun towards the crag’s black edge. Impotently, he watched, his jaw thrust forwards and a cold sweat broke across his bony brow, for he knew himself to be in the presence of Sorrow - and an interloper upon something more personal and secret than he had the right to watch. And yet impersonal. For in the figurette was the personification of all pain, taking, through sliding time, its final paces.

She moved slowly, for the climb had tired her and it had not been long since she had borne the child of clay, like alabaster, the earthless daughter who had startled all. It was as though Keda was detached from the world, exalted and magnificently alone in the rose-red haze of the upper air. At the edge of the naked drop to the shades below she came to a standstill, and, after a little while, turned her head to Gormenghast and the Dwellings, afloat in the warm haze. The were unreal. They were so far, so remote. No longer of her, they were over. Yet she turned her head for the child’s sake.

Her head, turning was dimensionless. A thong about her neck supported the proud carvings of her lovers. They hung across her breasts. At the edge of age, there was a perilous beauty in her face as of the crag’s edge that she stood upon. The last of footholds; such a little space. The colour fading on the the seven-foot strip. It lay behind her like a carpet of dark roses. The roses were stones. There was one fern growing. It was beside her feet. How tall?…A thousand feet? The she must have her head among far stars. How far all was! Too far for Flay to see her head had turned - a speck of life against that falling sun.

Upon his knees he knew that he was witness.

About her and below lay the world. All things were ebbing. A moon that climbed suddenly above the eastern skyline, chilling the rose, waned through her as it waxed, and she was ready.

She moved her hair from her eyes and cheekbones. It hung deep and still as the shadow in a well, it hung down her straight back like midnight. Her brown hands pressed the carvings inwards to her breast, and as a smile began to grow, the eyebrows raised a little, she stepped outwards into the dim atmosphere, and falling was most fabulously lit by the moon and the sun.

Mervyn Peake Titus Groan October 1, 2008
Posted on October 1, 2008