If, when my bones are found crumbling to dust in this lightless hollow beneath the earth, someone should happen to come across the pages of this unhappy history lying scattered among my blasted and bleached remains; if, I say, someone should take the trouble to read what I have written here, his first inclination may be to ask how a wretch in my position could possibly have produced such a record under such conditions. The Morrigu, of course, has not been so accommodating as to provide me with pen and paper.
The explanation is simple. Ingenuity answers every need; and need, in turn, spurs the needy to invention. Nothing comes from nothing; everything arises out of opposition, conflict, and hunger. This, as Boehme writes, is the universal principle behind the Primal Essence. This is the creative role of the Astringent in the unfolding of the fabric of the cosmos.
To state it plainly: I have contrived to make ink by depriving myself of water. Every other day I mix half my ration of the precious fluid with a drop of my own blood and some of the soot that still lies beneath the blackened hearthstone of an ancient fireplace in the corner of my cell. My paper, too, is compounded of water and fibers from various sources—my own rotting garments, bits of straw picked up off the floor, and shreds of my ragged bedding. Pens I have managed to whittle out of splints of wood chipped from the bedstead. My knife is made from an iron bracket that once held the bed-frame to its legs. This rude tool I have painstakingly whetted and sharpened against the stones of my prison wall.
With a similar implement of my own design I have at last initiated the slow, almost imperceptible process of chipping away at the walls themselves. The reader who chances to stumble upon this sad account of my life underground may well laugh at the naiveté of my plans for escape. If so, I can only respond that he does not know what it is like to lie where I am lying now. The human soul cannot live without hope. Idle hands soon wither and die. At any rate, time is of no concern to him who no longer senses its passage. And so I have no reason not to continue as I have begun—dig, dig, digging the pasty mortar out of the dime-thin spaces between the slimy stones …