The Saint-Scholar Jehak Paul

The Saint-Scholar Jehak Paul

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The Saint-Scholar Jehak Paul (commonly referred to as simply "Scholar Paul") was an early explorer of thresholds in Europe, with his extensive documentation providing the foundation for the understanding of liminal phenomena and is often attributed as one of the founders of the contemporary "Vagrant" and "Archivist" school of thought, reflecting both his religious and scholarly influence respectively.

antonniopigafetta

A depiction of Jehak Paul.

Early Life

Jehak Paul was born in Turin in 1603, which was then the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, a component of the greater Savoyard State of Northern Italy. According to his own writings, Jehak Paul was born of a scandal between a Catholic nun and a local blacksmith, and so shortly after his birth in an effort to conceal his existence and hide the mark on the nunnery's history, he was entrusted to a Basilian monastery where he was raised.

Much to the chagrin of the monks whose care he was under, Jehak Paul described himself as a "young rogue" who would often escape the monastery and the teaching of his superiors in order to explore the local forest. It was in the woods, Paul wrote, that he felt "closest to God".

As he describes in his early journals, "…monasteries and temples are made by men and constructed of cut stone, yet the night sky and the forests beneath it were designed by Heaven alone. My education was given to me by the works of God, with the monks, to whom I was postulant, being the ones who drove me to pursue that divine thread that connects us, the Creation, to the Creator."

Jehak Paul found a talent in woodworking, with one of the older monks, Plotinus, teaching him to carve various Christian iconography from wood. Paul found that he was quite intuitive in that craft, and as he aged Paul writes how his chambers were "littered with projects over the years, finished and unfinished, and as one turned around, you would see my progress grow."

While brought up by the Basilian monks, Paul instead pursued the path of the pilgrim. Jehak elaborates in his journals.

Journal 6, Page 106

God had placed a seed in my breast, a plant whose stem pulled me out of that place. Day by day it dug deeper into my flesh- I could either tear it out, undo my passion and serve without substance, or I could pursue it. I spoke with Plotinus once I had become a young man. He believed that I should stay in the monastery, that God should be pursued in the mind and spirit, to build my faith into a firm foundation from which my soul would be secured.

I did not understand. I told him of the actions of Paul, my namesake, who brought the Word to wherever there were ears to hear, rather than to remain in Israel. I told him that God wants the Word shared, not entrapped in a monastery. I told him that I was not content to be entrapped here, either.

At first, he seemed gravely offended. But soon his scowl turned to a smile, and a smile to a rambunctious laugh, which I soon joined. How loud it was! The other monks must have thought we had gone mad! As he caught his breath and wiped a tear away, he spoke of his own story, how he felt the same as I did, and how much it meant to him to hear that I had such passion for the Word and its distribution among the laity. His grayed eyes grew bright as he spoke of his life, and his words turned somber as he described his pious time in the monastery. He set a hand on my shoulder and looked deep into my eyes with such precision I struggled to look at him in return.

He commanded me to pursue God- in all things- so that every act glorifies Him in Heaven. With this, he handed me sets of clothes, a staff, and woodworking tools, and I soon departed, with only a few other monks giving me their blessing in my travels.

I sought my mother, the nun, before I left Turin for other lands. I approached the nunnery, yet could not bring myself to come any closer. I did not know her name, her face, and she would not know me, never mind let me into that place. I steeled my mind and turned to the road ahead. I would find her in Heaven.

Writings

Jehak Paul is well known for his many documents and journals describing liminal phenomena centuries prior to any contemporary scholars, with his earliest records of "strange places" beginning with his description of the Cloaca Maxima of Rome, one of the earliest sewer systems, as being "impossibly large in certain sections, bearing waste that could not be traced to the city." His encounter with the Cloaca Maxima would light an inquisitive fire in Paul that "he had not felt before" as he searched through the esoteric areas of Europe and beyond. Many thresholds owe the foundation of their documentation to Jehak Paul's efforts. The concept of rating an area's difficulty in traversing and its potential for chaotic change, pioneered by Paul, is now two of the aspects of the Basset-Frazier Index synonymous with many entries to the Archives, and his journals describing his faith growing stronger with his expeditions are core to the tenets of the spiritualist Vagrants.

Due to the process of time and language, the entries have been heavily translated for readability, although certain aspects of Paul's style have been preserved.

Journal 18, Page 5

Entry 9: Blaník

Impedito: Bet1

Chaos: Alef2

I have begun to venture far to find these locations, even into the lands of Bohemia. The region was devastated by not only religious conflict but also the constant push by the Habsburgs into Czech territory, yet they are kind and welcoming people. The rapid Germanization of the region has watered down their culture, but there is still much to hear of folktales and strange phenomena in the region.

One such location was Blaník, a mountain near Launiowitz. It is a mountain under which Václav the Good supposedly lies, a righteous and noble Duke from centuries past. The scant few people of this town have been fervently praying for his return to save them from the invasion of the Germans and their persecution, and he has yet to answer.

A Hussite hidden in an alley spoke of a secret entrance to the Duke's chambers where his knights wait. He said it is inaccessible, but in a 'strange sense'. I of course had to investigate.

I took a guide to lead me there and offered him a fine wooden carving to sell in the markets, and upon my return, I would provide another. Once we arrived, the guide waited nearby as I searched for the entrance according to the specifications of the Hussite- a small tunnel covered by a ruined statue.

I set the stones aside and began to crawl within, the damp interior unfortunately reminiscent of that damned sewer, and eventually the tunnel opened up to a cylindrical room with a stairwell of stone centered around a pillar.

Ascending the stairway I initially was surprised at its length - eventually, I concluded that it was far too high to possibly fit within the mountain. I decided to mark the wall every 20 steps I took in order to track my progress.

Only to find that same mark again and again as I ascended. The stairway was a loop.

At this, I descended, only to find that, over the course of a few brief seconds, I was back at the entrance to the stairwell in the first place. I was fairly enraged by the amount of time I spent in the mountain, and I crawled out of the tunnel with a huff.

I sought out my guide, and to my further frustration, I found that he was long departed. Fortunately, I managed to find my way back to the town and from there I went to the marketplace to seek him out, and found him standing by a fruit stall. Upon seeing me, he was clearly quite shocked and turned to run, but I managed to grab him by the shoulders and I demanded to know why he left me behind.

Deathly pale, he told me that two weeks had passed since he saw me head to the tunnel, and he assumed I was dead and he returned to town. At this, my anger turned to confusion. I could not have spent more than an hour within that place. But it was true- the townsfolk I approached all told me the same date, yet it was not two weeks but 15 days since I marked the date last. At such a rate, a single day within that chamber would be close to a year outside.

After handing my guide the promised second carving, I took my leave. I do not think God wishes for men to enter that place, not yet.

Journal 22, Page 47

Entry 27: The 'Cloaca Maxima'

Impeditio: 5/5 (I have turned to Arabic numerals for my journals! Far more convenient. Will elaborate tomorrow.)

Chaos: 3/5

Perhaps the foulest thing I have encountered so far, as well as the first. I have decided to revisit the Cloaca Maxima - despite my foul memories of that place - as it was what inspired me to traverse the world in search of these strange places all those years ago, and in order to properly categorize it, since my writings prior were more akin to strange ramblings, lacking meaning.

It disgusts me, but there is surely a purpose behind it. What did God mean by this? Did the Romans intend to create this anomaly with their concrete, or was it accidental? Could this be exploited? How far can you traverse within?

I for one lack the willpower to progress any further. When I was younger I was more willing to wade through mass detritus in the name of exploration, but I fear for my health. In my most recent expedition, I caught an illness that drove me out of that place and nearly killed me - yet it faded a short time after my departure.

I loathe these sewers. I am beginning to think they feel the same way towards me.

During his time in Paris, he encountered Jeanne Beauséjour, the daughter of a local seamstress, who showed him a location in the outskirts of the city where certain trees hovered in place several meters from the ground, and how the local wildlife utilized these shaded areas beneath the trees as shelter from birds overhead. Jehak Paul writes how he was immediately smitten by her, and after a few short months, they were already married as Paul turned 38.

Journal 56, Page 2

Despite traveling in Bohemia and even the outskirts of the Caucasus, I have yet to travel to perhaps the more obvious location to find rumors - Paris, France.

A widowed seamstress' daughter tells me of a wood along the outer regions of the city that is most peculiar, and despite her attempts, none heed her stories.

Leading me by the hand, as even I struggle to keep up with her rabid enthusiasm, we make our way up Montmartre, and once at the top, around the Basilica, we head downward through a brief crevice that soon became a small, secluded area wedged between the butte and the other hills in the region.

I breathe in, and the air has a unique taste to it3 I have not felt since Launiowitz. It is refreshing and alien at the same time, the atmosphere almost addictive.

Suddenly Jeanne grips my hand once more with unexpected strength and brings me to one tree. Looking closely at the bottom, it was hovering perfectly in place above the ground. The roots lead down into the earth, but they were far from firm enough to support the great chestnut tree above us.

She turns to me. "Look," she says, "The mice and rats hide under these trees as hawks fly overhead. They seek shelter beneath." At this, she gestures to little rodents' nests between the tree and the ground. Her eyes glimmer with a fantastic curiosity and genuine excitement as she shows me this thing, these floating trees of hers.

By God. I came here seeking esoteric places but found something stranger still - love.

Death And Legacy

Close as he came, Jehak Paul could not record all of creation in his journals before his death at the hands of the rapid onset of leprosy in his early forties, shortly after his wife's pregnancy. While isolated, Paul wrote in his final journal in 1644, describing his time alone from the world.

Journal 84, Page 208

I have many regrets and many failures before my God. I can only pray that I served Him to the fullest extent of my capabilities. Dread over what I have done and the man I have become haunt me here, as I am trapped, alone with my memories, encaged in yet another monastery.

But then I see her, again.

My wife, Jeanne, comes to see me while I rot away in this stone chamber and the small hole through which we speak is enough to remind me of love. Her love. God's love.

I am overwhelmed by grace, that a creature such as I, a rogue and vagabond, can be granted a gift such as her. She tells me that the baby grows by the day. She has already given him a name- Plotinus. A lovely name. A blessed name.

I set my withered hand on the stone, ridden with disease and wet with tears as I press my eye against the hole. Across it, I see her standing there, radiant, kind, loving. I wanted to reach out to her, to tear apart the stones that divide us and hold her close, but I knew that was not our fates.

I tell her that all that I explored, all that I recorded, nothing compares to the experiences I have had with her. I cry out that I would burn all the papers, all the journals, if it meant I could touch her again. If I could see my son.

She smiles. She tells me that across all of Earth, across all worlds, she will never find another man like me, a strange and wonderful creation.

I weep, but it is tears of joy that streak down my face. She cries in kind, and sets one hand upon the stone, and another onto her chest where our child lies.

I will find them in Heaven.


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