THE DAMAGED CITADEL

Once, after a vivid night’s sleep, a wealthy man awoke with a deep desire to build the castle of his dreams. Being apt at drawing, he quickly set about sketching the designs for the castle’s elevations and floor plans; charting its lofty dimensions and specifying the finest materials to express the majestic beauty of this citadel.

But as the man eagerly reviewed his drawings, his heart began to sink; the scale of the project didn’t align with the grandeur of what he had glimpsed during his slumber. The charcoal strokes that lay on the parchment before him did not arouse the awe that had inspired this project, and so, in a last desperate attempt to capture the glory he had witnessed, the man continued to mark and edit the pages. But with each move of his hand the dream waned and the lines that had been drawn prevailed.

Sadly, in acquiescence to the shortness of his life, the man hired a master builder to oversee the construction of the shadow he had sketched. All the while, clinging to the hope that walls would compensate for the failure of the lines.

But as he surveyed all that the builder had made, his heart sunk deeper still. In not being a builder, the wealthy man had failed to understand the realities of what could be built. As such, the builder, having to interpret the drawings as best he could, substituted magic with illusion, and renovated imagination with plausibility.

Although the people of the surrounding lands where in awe of what had been achieved, the wealthy man felt broken. The onlookers celebrated the magnificence of a palace, whilst the man beheld the prison of his hopes. The light didn’t flood the rooms as he had remembered. The towers didn’t reach the clouds as he had foreseen. And the ceilings, although decorative, seemed repressive; squeezing the dream from the man’s soul, leaving him craving for a mystery once known. Each night, bounded by the still-born nature of his vision, the man would mourn; longing for sleep to lead him where he had once briefly walked.

Death soon responded to the man’s cries, and the man gratefully abandoned his halls to the imagination of others.

Inspired by the wealthy man’s chateau, artists painted it. Their brush strokes setting it as a beacon of hope within desolate landscapes, and embellishing it in glorious crowning hues of red, orange and gold.

Bard’s wrote songs about the generosity of its legendary halls and high-vaulted ceilings; overlaying masonry with folklore and poetry.

Pilgrims came each year to gaze upon the citadel and view the world from the dizzy heights of its turrets, only then to go away telling emotionally laced memories of its opulence and majesty.

In their desire to have the castle for their selves, armies laid siege to it over and over again; each passing swarm tearing down its walls and erecting stronger battlements in their place.

Eventually, time and nature – coveting what remained of the shadow of the man’s dream – came along in their brooding presence and recast the fortress into their own likeness. What once stood tall was humbled; treasure became jetsam and salvage. Dreams became dust. Substance became shade.

Many years later, archaeologists unearthed the fortresses’ foundations and set out to resurrect the man’s dream. Using the portraits that had become priceless, the stories that had become myths, and guided by the rubble-scarred ground, stone was once again laid upon stone. And soon the Citadel arose, restored to a glory it had never possessed;

Broken as it had always been.

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