Excerpts from the memoirs of Dali Fiddlon, transcribed by Dafyd Sancaid — 1843
I put out my own eyes with a knife at the age of thirteen. I had to. You see, I had the honour of being chosen, and only the best from the flock get picked.
The blade was blessed by the Father before it was given to me. Much ceremony was made about the event; the Change is a revered occasion. It happens only once every eighty or so years. Or at least, it should only happen that often, if all goes according to plan.
I wasn’t the only one, although I was the only one to lose his eyesight. Bidar and Dafyd also lost things; Bidar his hearing and Dafyd the ability to speak. A hot spike was pushed through Bidar’s ear canal until his eardrum was punctured and cauterised. Dafyd excised his own tongue with a heated blade, the metal sealing the flesh as it passed through. We had each practiced our own self-mutilations repeatedly prior to the Change (with dummy tools, of course), in order to ensure that the process would not be fatal. Accidental suicide would damn our eternal souls, as well as being a waste of our potential.
Before the Change, we were often told the tale of Araf the fool. We all knew his story, of course. That didn’t stop the Father from ensuring it was not forgotten. Araf had inadvertently pushed the spike too far into his ear and fatally penetrated his brain. He died right there on his knees before the flock, blood trickling from the orifice as the Father looked on in grim silence. May God have mercy on Araf’s soul. I can’t imagine the shame that his parents felt, as they watched their son ebb away on those stony steps; from the honour of being chosen to the disgrace of sin.
“Dali,” said Bidar, the day before the Change. “What if I do the same as poor old Araf?”
“Then you’ll have done Dafyd and I a favour. I’d rather not share my watch with a stookie.”
Fortunately, Bidar did no such thing. Neither did Dafyd, and — of course — neither did I. Some may consider my words harsh, but it’s true. It’s an honour to be chosen, due to the gravity of our charge. The Three must rely on each other, not just to protect our trinity, but to protect those whom [redacted] would seek to destroy.
Some call us the Senseless Monks, which always brings a smile to my face. Others call us the Repellers, which is a bit less poetic and a bit more to-the-point. Both names are correct, in their own way.
After the ceremonial spoiling of our bodies, Dafyd, Bidar and I were sent to Castell Boddi Craig — a unique fortress that sits at the northernmost point of the land. Below, jagged black rocks jut upwards from the ocean, like the rotten teeth of Cythraul himself (or so I’ve been told by Bidar). The waves that break atop the serrated shoreline are tough and relentless, and at no point during the changing seasons do the tumultuous seas yield. The isolated castle is particularly distinctive because of the lighthouse that thrusts upwards into the air, high above the stony turrets.
Castell Boddi Craig was built atop a gaping hole that exists in the impenetrable rock of the cliff. I’ve heard that prior to the castle’s construction, it gazed up into our world like an unblinking eye. It has been said that the hole drops into nothingness and can never be filled. Whether that is true or not, I still don’t know; I doubt if anyone has ever tried. But what I know is true, without a shadow of a doubt, is that something evil dwells within.
I know not from whence [redacted] came, neither do the other two. Before the First Father blessed the land and built the thick stone walls as a means of containment, [redacted] brought unchecked wickedness to our island. Husbands strangled wives, thumbs digging into flesh, windpipes crushed; mothers cast infants from the cliffs, wailing bundles dropping into the surf if they were lucky and spilling onto the rocks if they weren’t; children burned down homes whilst families slept, flame engulfing timber, the aroma of crisping flesh wafting into the night; captains wrecked ships upon the shore, the fortunate sailors dying upon impact, the less so drowning under wave or taken by the behemoths of the deep. Thank God for the spiritual revolution at the turn of the last century. How much more wanton destruction would [redacted] have caused if we’d not seen the light and cast off the shackles of our former wicked ways? I shudder to think.
With the castle in place and the earth cleansed by the touch of God, [redacted] receded further into the fissure, where the light never reaches and the dampness never dries. And — praise God — [redacted]’s powers diminished.
But [redacted] is far from defeated. It is a constant struggle, an eternal battle between good and evil. [Redacted] tries to claw the way back up from the depths. That’s where we come in. You see, our mutilations serve a purpose. Where some might see disability, there is in fact protection. Our disfigurements prevent evil thoughts from completely taking hold. Unspoiled men cannot dwell within the castle’s walls. We learned that one the hard way.
So, we keep the soil on Boddi Craig holy, to maintain the protection and to repel [redacted]’s advances. [Redacted] never sleeps, and so never do the Three. There is always a minimum of one to keep watch, even if that one is blind.
And we keep the lighthouse lit. At all times. Since my Three have been here, not a single ship has spilled its guts across the stony knifepoints at the base of the cliffs, nor has an act against God been committed upon the edge of the precipice. I take great pride in that, as do Bidar and Dafyd.
I sometimes try to imagine what the lighthouse looks like when it’s in operation, beacon flaring. It’s one of my few regrets in life — that I did not get to witness the saviour of Boddi Craig in all its glory prior to undertaking my duties as one of the Three. Does it look like the very Sun itself, burning in the night? Does it look like celestial fire from the Heavens, soothing all who see its glow? Alas, I will never know. Not until I shuffle off this mortal coil once my duty here at Boddi Craig is complete.
4th March 2020
Written for the March 2020 #BlogBattle