Higher and higher the bird carried me. The earth fell quickly away and the stars grew brighter around us. Wisps of flame from the bird’s tail and wings licked my arms and legs up and down but, to my amazement, I was not burned. We flew so high that the moon seemed to have grown larger and drawn nearer.
But for the quiet roar of the Firebird’s flight all was intense silence. The air was still, cold, and pure; so cold that no impurity or uncleanness could live there. I myself would not have survived without the Firebird’s heat to warm me.
I felt that I would choke, so thin, so fine, so pure was the air, when we began a sudden descent toward a range of jagged mountain peaks. No trace of roundness nor softness did I see in the shape of those mountains. They were hard-edged, sheer and sharp, their summits like razors, violet-blue and transparent at the tips.
Though the dawn was still far off, there was a sense of the sunrise about those mountains. As they drew nearer the stars faded and the sky paled around us. Shades of blue, purple, crimson, and gold suffused the air. The entire dome above my head was colored as the horizon at dawn or sunset, and yet there was no sun, nor any hint of it, for the light was evenly distributed from one end of the heavens to the other. I wondered about the source of the light, and soon came to the conclusion that the mountain peaks themselves must be luminescent. Indeed, I decided that they could best be described as mountains of frozen fire.
“This is the Land of the Horizon,” the Firebird said in a voice like the thunder of the rising sun. “This is a place on the Verge.”
“On the verge of what?” I thought to ask, but did not, for my heart’s wound had again become inflamed and was burning as never before. Unspeakable joy and excruciating pain were upon me, and I experienced them as one, just as I had in my reading of the little book. All I could say was, “Let’s stay here forever and ever!”
The Firebird set me down in a valley of those mountains, a valley like a bright blue bowl of glass, scooped out like a setting for a gigantic jewel high among the uppermost clefts and crags. To my great surprise, the place was filled with people. I cannot describe their faces except to say that they were open and eager. Their expression was one of pure anticipation and expectation.
One of them approached me and took me by the arm. I stood speechless in her presence. Her appearance was softly and quietly dazzling. Whether she wore a bright robe or gown, or whether it were an unclothed body of light upon which I looked I could not say. Here form was all of shimmering brightness and motion, though she seemed solid enough to the touch.
“I am glad to see you,” she said, and her voice was low and rich. “We have long watched your doings and have awaited your coming with joy.”
“Who are you?” I asked in astonishment.
“We are witnesses,” she said. “We are helpers of him whom you seek. We are watchers who dwell here at the uttermost edge and tip of this world, awaiting the approach of him who is to come.”
She pointed to a great throne, the appearance of which was like a great stone of sapphire. All around it were other people of her kind, busy, it seemed, with preparations.
“But who is he?” I asked.
“For us,” she replied, “his coming shall be as the rising of the dawn.”
* * * * * * * * * *