The time has come to talk about the Mael. Now that’s not a just a word that I have conjoured up since Bast also tells us of this place and we shall visit his quotes about it later on, but the Mael predates Bast as he freely admits, and so we needs must explore a bit earlier in time than his learned input. Felurian might hold a few more answers but she refuses to tell us much about such dark places and even if she was willing to reveal more, her insight might still not be conclusive enough since I believe that the Mael was a precursor to the whole of her Faen realm anyway. So we shall have to go back even further in our search to a time long before the fae could even been considered, to a time before even the moon had come to into being. Now all good stories should start at the beginning, and in this book that means the beginning of all things.
This nameless void described in the next quote is eventually going to need naming properly if we are ever going to get anywhere and so I will pit the first pin in the ground today and name this place as the Mael. The second pin will be found in the new world named by Aleph, and the fae realm will come along chronologically last of all to complete our universal triangle.
‘In the beginning the world was spun out of the nameless void by Aleph, who gave everything a name. Or, depending on the version of the tale, found the names all things already possessed.’
I think we can also assume that Aleph’s actions here must also have been responsible for the creation of the moon, too, since he would have had to name her as well before she could technically exist anywhere at all, but that’s another thought for later and for now let’s run with the quote’s second suggestion and assume that everything in the nameless void did already have a name, but that everything just needed to be found and told what that name actually was before it truly became itself.
This ancient naming action actually has a modern parallel with the moment when Kvothe gave Auri her new name since before he did that, she would surely have had to consider herself as being… nameless, and names are important. If Kvothe’s powers of naming things correctly are to be investigated further then we could suggest that instead of him naming these things all by himself he actually, like Aleph might also have done, just found the name that already lay hidden inside her, just awaiting his awakening, and that he simply coaxed that hidden name to the surface, a lot like he did with one sock the horse. My preferred choice of theory is then that all longnames in every realm of existence were at one time, before time perhaps, all in the same place, reduced down to their smallest possible pieces and then mixed up all together in the maelstrom that was know as the nameless void. This collection of everynames just needed some omnipotent being to come along and name them all correctly to create longnames, spinning them into the things they were always destined to be from out of all the things that they were not. Every act of creation is therefore going to be a putting the pieces back together problem, the repairing of something that didn’t yet know that it was even broken.
Describing what the nameless void might once have looked like might be comparable to the pages where we get to hear the various descriptions of how Taborlin’s cloak of no particular colour might appear since any answer that can be offered must be deemed valid until proven otherwise and since you cannot prove non-existence his means that we can all happily continue to use our own imaginations to conjour up our own independent images as to what constitutes this ‘whole cloth’ from which all worlds were apparently created. Just go with whatever suits you best. Most religious texts will have the creation of the universe being associated with some version of ‘and God created light’ sort of speech, an action which will, of course, have also created the first shadows at the same time for good measure. There must always be balance in all things you know, that’s one of the rules. And so we can assume that God saw the light, and that was good…but lesser reported but equally valid is the line where God also saw the shadow, and that was bad.
I personally like to imagine the nameless void as looking like a vast field of static with lots and lots and lots of little specks of black and white all surging around together in a chaotic maestrom of white noise (and of black noise, of course). If I were then asked how some supreme being might even begin to consider a plan to give such chaos some sort of order, well, I would suggest we could begin by taking all the little white bits and separating them away from all the little black bits until I had two piles of bits comprising all the bits that I wanted and all the bits which I didn’t. One pile could then go on to become the longnames used in Aleph’s newly spun world of mortal, and the other pile would remain left behind for balance.
The implication here is that Aleph made choices and refering to his choices as black and white are only a choice of small words which are you must admit a rather useless tool when it comes to getting your point across. You might prefer to think of the differences being those of left and right, up and down, in and out, light and shadow, positive and negative, named and un-named, shaped and unshaped, names and shapes! made and unmade, or maybe even just plain old good and evil, that one is always popular. Right and wrong might be a little closer to the truth sometimes but it doesn’t really matter because the real answer is probably going to incorporate all of these words and many, many more meaning that however you can imagine this image will always be insufficient.
But knowing the answer is less important than knowing that there is an answer and the important thing to take from this is that through his action Aleph has clearly created a divison within the nameless void itself where none had existed before… meaning that for the first time ever, one had now become two, a place of names and a place of not names. We differentiate them we are also told that one of these places now had a moon, whilst the other place did not.
So if all the names in mortal came out of this process then what was left behind in the nameless void was basically just a dumping ground for all the broken not-names, all the bits which were unneeded or maybe just unlucky, unwanted, or unwelcome by Aleph in his new world-building project. It is entirely possible that the name of the dar side of the moon resides here somewhere. Of course Aleph might have left nothing at all behind after his work was done and instead tied up every single loose end in the nameless void and made perfect order out of utter chaos, which would actually half the void and not double it, but if that were actually true then his world would never have known any wrong because it would always have been perfect, which it clearly was not. Now that argument can run and run but I’m betting on the outcome being like the duality I describe simply because of three universal laws that declare that nothing can ever be destroyed, that there must always be balance and that nature abhors a vacuum. This would also mean that the power inherent in the names of this new place of Aleph’s should really be held to be equal to that of the power that remained in the mael to perfectly counterbalance the universal nature of every name and effectively create a reciprocal realm to reflect Aleph’s creation, a broken realm to match his shiny new one. This is also the place where the Cthaeh must hail from, to provide a counterbalance to the powers of Aleph.
However, that’s also another story and the time has come to wind this wordy introduction up and so in order to make further repetative typing of the long and boring phrase ‘nameless void’ obsolete, it shall hereto be dispensed with and this ‘other’ place which is neither of mortal nor fae (since that realm hasn’t even been built yet!) needs must have it’s own special name for us to call it by. I have opted for one that uses similar letters to both mortal the fae, but perhaps a bit less…Felurian, and a little more masculine instead since it’s most famous inhabitant was also male. So lets name it the Mael then as a nod to that young mastershaper who once hailed from this broken land and who would one day leave that moonless place on his quest to conquor the mortal sky, a quest which would ultimately lead to the creation of our third realm.
SO! introduction over and we ready to begin. This is how I see our trio of creation events unfolding. All the names which Aleph ‘found’, he used to create his mortal realm, these names are still there as they have been ever since he named them. This wouold leave everything that went into building the similar creation project that Jax used to create the faen realm was different from those names which Aleph had already used and so can only have been made out of the left over un-names from that original split. That is why the rules are different between mortal and fae, they have no common ground. So we have Aleph who divided the Nameless Void into two realms. One of names and one of un-names, AKA the Mortal and the Mael. Then along came Jax who used the exact same creation equation with which he divided again the remaining un-names of mael into two more pieces, one of them would of course always remain as his old ‘broken’ home did and the other would become his newly ‘shaped’ home, AKA the Mael and The fae. We might assume that this sort of mathematics would now mark the mortal realm to be twice the size of either or the same size as both the mael and fae combined, but that argument gets all quantum before too long and you’re none of you really ready go down that path yet. Just accept that the creation of the fae made a total of three realms and not two as Felurian insists.
‘No. I have said. This was before. There was but one sky, one moon. One world.
Loath as I am to call her a liar, but she is demons-trably quite wrong about that statement. Perhaps she doesn’t really consider the mael as another seperate realm at all and that the mael and the fae share a sky? Perhaps that dark place simply wasn’t relevant to her story, or perhaps speaking of it was considered off limits, like talking about the Cthaeh is meant to be. But if Jax world had no moon or stars before his quest began then his birthplace was quite obviously in a different realm from Aleph’s world of man. And that was long before the faen third came to be.
Further evidence for the existance of extra realms might be gleaned from Pat’s book with the earliest time-frame setting, Old Holly, where we hear about a man who came to the tower, and who left with the lady, who returned alone and then at the end of the book, the lady says that she has to leave again but also that she will return again. Now if we assume, as I do, that this is a story about the dawn of creation itself then the tower in the tale will be symbolic of the whole world (which Aleph founded and upon which everything grew.) If that line of thinking is correct then anyone leaving the tower would necessarily travle to somewhere else entirely, and so it would follow that there is reason to thin that these ancient ‘name knowers’ like the lady could to depart from the world to a place which was therefore elsewhere, and this passing between has then long been an option.
For another angle about the possibilities of the Mael’s purpose in life we might also draw upon a single line from Skarpi which mentions Lanre going to search for Lyra in ‘the land of the dead’ which if it is an actul place to which a man could actually travel, and if the reports aren’t talking mistakenly about him visiting the faen realm here, then the land of the dead can only be another oblique reference to the Mael, unless that is a fourth place of course! This would also open up the likely suggestion that this might have been the exact same place where he gained his ‘knowledge best left alone, and gained it at a terrible price.’ This line of thought will clearly then mark the Cthaeh as also once being a creature of the Mael since he also existed before the fae, and that would tally with Bast’s account of his appearances in the Iax/Lanre timeline, but more on that later.
Not to be outdone, even Trapis tale has some mentions of another realm besides mortal.
‘Tehlu grabbed the demon and broke it in his hands,cursing it’s name and sending it back to the outer darkness that is the home of it’s kind.’
*interesting to note he uses the word ‘is’ here, and not ‘was’.
Of course Trapis might well be talking about the fae in this instance, and following that thought could be used as proof positive that the fae really are the demons in his tale. But if you, like I do, would rather think that the these demons he speaks of were something apart from the fae completely, then they needs must have then always had a seperate home of their own where these broken and name-cursed things could be safely banished to, a place which is neither of mortal nor of fae and so Qed that is going to be the Mael again. The Mael’s location is described then as being found in the outer darkness, a reference line which is nicely confirmed in the fourth act of Daeonica, when we hear of ‘and all the demons in the outer dark’
If it can be visited then I believe that this land of demonic darkness is the same one that can be found off the edge of the faen map, in a place that is both near to the fae but also out beyond the faen limits where the faen starlight cannot reach and where the moonlight has never ever shone. This mael is going to be the same place where Felurian took Kvothe shaed gathering, outside of the fae proper and into a place where dangerous, possibly demonic, things are known to exist and where all of the still un-named raw materials deemed necessary for shaping and/or unfolding into freshly named faerie things are to be found, a description which would tick all the boxes as being the true location of our mysterious mael.
The Dark Side
Hespe’s tale tells us that Jax came from a strange place without a moon, a broken land where his old broken house was found at the end of the broken road, a road which nobody ever came down. We can now also suggest with confidence that his homeland was the Mael and whilst it might bear some similarities to mortal it must be said that it is a different place entirely from the world which Aleph created. Possibly the Mael could be regarded as being the shadow of mortal, or maybe it’s reflection. Idk but Aleph’s world world was demonstrably different because it famously had a full moon shining in it’s sky every night, and the sky above Jax old house did not, which clearly marks his broken house as being in a secondary place, a different place, a twin realm perhaps.
We are told that even here in the Mael the days did indeed end and so did have a night to follow it, but even though Jax Maelnight sky had neither moon nor stars to illuminate it was still deemed as being a sky which is where Felurians earlier ‘two skies’ statement is shown to be already in error. These two realms may well have stayed ignorant of each other until the arrival of the tinker but it would be true to say that unlucky Jax maelnight sky could also have been always considered as a moonless night, one that must therefore be generally considered as very, very dark. Calling it a pure black sky is a description that will match up rather nicely with a location from Felurians own story where she gives us a clue as to where Iax was actually standing when he tried to steal the moon, revealing that the sky above his old broken house and that of his new unfolded house both had similarly dark skies.
‘This shaper of the dark and changing eye, stretched out his hand out against the pure black sky. He pulled the moon but could not make her stay, so now she moves ‘twixt mortal and the fae.
So was Jax then standing in the Mortal, or the Fae? Since he pulled instead of pushed we know that he was not standing in mortal at the time and since the faen sky was his ultimate destination for her then that should rule out his standing in the Mael, too. Obvious statement, yes, but a necessary detail for us to envisage a triangle of non/conjoined realms, and not just thinking of a pair of options. This third realm is of course the true Fae as we know it which both our ladies stories inform us was also the moonthiefs creation which suggests to me that in building the fae Jax must have used the same dividing trick that Aleph once did and used his hard won powers to unfold a second piece of ‘whole cloth’ from the original fabric of the Mael in order to create his third realm, The Fae will now be connected to, but also seperate from, both the mortal realm that Aleph made and from the outer dark where the demons are still said to live.
Travel between mortal and fae is well documented via the greystones path and further travel from the fae to the mael is possible by walking away from the light andinto the sahdows and so to complete this full faen triangle would require a third path along which to travel directly between mael and mortal. Fortunately for mortals, the direct path between mortal and demon has always been considered to be a broken road down which nobody ever goes making the progressions between the three worlds linnear and not circular. The fae, however, shares a border with them both placing it in the central position of the three with two neighbouring races instead of just one.
So what do we hear of the mael from Bast then? Well he tells us the language spoken by one of it’s creatures was recognised by him for it’s sound more than it’s words. It sounded like faen, but very old, archaic even which tells us that the modern fae language must have been derived from it, a fact which supports my theory of it’s pre-faen existence. Bast also distances all of his kind from the mael by declaring that
‘They are not ‘my kind’ the mael doesn’t even share a border with us, its as far away as anything can be in the fae.’
Which is rather interesting as it seems to admit that the mael and the fae both exist as seperate places, that they are both linked and yet they are also unconnected at the same time. The real difference between the Mael and the Fae will be ultimately be defined by the presence ot the moon, or the lack of her, in their respective skies since we also know that the moonlight has only ever shone upon just two realms and never upon all three.
During the time after the substance of fae had been unfolded but before the first stars were wrought and before Iax stole the moon, the Mael and the Fae would have been two like similar patches of the same outer darkness, two ends of the same ‘whole cloth’ from which everything is apparently sewn. From what we are shown, both of these places appear to be an endless expanse of trees with plenty of room for demons and fae alike, as long as you trod carefully. But when the shapers truly desired a place without either any men or demons, a place to call their very own where they could do whatever they desired, they chose to create a realm which was neither a part of the outer darkness nor a part of Aleph’s mortal world. I believe their plan must have involved taking a piece of the darkness from off the edge of the mael map and then used their shapeing powers to build the necessary boundary fences out of their own newly fangled starlight, thus creating a borderline of light and dark between them and their neighbours, a line which the Mael demons could not cross. They starlit their own private faen section, perhaps as a source of their power to keep it clearly defined and seperate from the utter darkness of the outside Mael and thus the dark realm was split in twain again and two now became three.
Now it does appear to me that starlight alone could have been enough for these early shapers to achieve an independence from their neighbours since any sort of light is ananthema to shadow and if the shapers had stopped there, then perhaps things would have worked out differently…
‘But one shaper was greater than the rest. For him the making of a star was not enough. he stretched his will across the world and pulled her from her home.’
You might be wondering where Im actually going with all this and why the Mael is important in the grand plan of these things. Well, I will answer that question with another one.
One of the most popular questions that Pat fans speculate on is ‘what is behind the doors of stone?’ and I can tell you that the answer to is… Iax. Skarpi tells us the enemy invader was placed there after the drossen tor and Felurian also puts him there after his moon theft. Both mortal and faen realms agree then that he is definitely no longer in their own realms any more. So for both of these answers to be considered correct will guarantee the existence of this third place, and that’s where the mael comes into the equation.
Of course the Doors of Stone is also a good description of the exact type of greystone arch which we know can connect the mortal and faen realms and so that connection should also be the leading theory on how to reach the mael, too. This gives us every reason to remember that doors are locked for a reason and the task of holding back the mael and all that it portends would be exactly the sort of thing I would want to build the strongest doors in creation to protect myself against. Of course if we are talking about the single door in the Archives, well that would only represent the door that blocks the mael to mortal road, this would likely also be the place where Jax first enterered the mortal world and began his easterly moon quest. But one is not two and doors of stone is plural so for the fae to also feel the need for their own door to shut the shaper of the dark and changing eye behind would require an identical door to do an identical job, and all the clues in the world will now point towards the Faen/Mael part of these doors of stone as being the one secretly located at the other end of the Old stone road, on the oldest part of the lackless family estates. A door which holds the flood indeed.