The earliest1 and most prominent references to the worlds beyond the Ordial Plane known to the Order are found in the epic Elerid Cycles, which are set in a realm known as “the Crest” and reference many adjacent realms. The Elerids were collected by Sarnavuan the Younger from orations of the then-ancient few surviving bards of the Choratians, and presented by Sarnavuan as literarily compelling but likely apocryphal, or at least so transformed by the passage of time as to no longer represent any historical fact. Nonetheless, these epics have inspired generations of commentary and works imagined to have taken place in the same setting.
Readers are likely to be familiar with the many stories of King Sholman of the Yeddites—by all studied accounts a historical figure—whose notorious wisdom came to him, the stories claim, from “The Oracle of Presupposition from beyond the Ordial Plane.” The Ordial is also cited as the source of chaotic parades in the dreams of Nerebo Petal in the various children’s morality tales centered around that figure, and also plays a central role as the border to both afterlife and promised land in the mythology of the recurrent cult known as the Calix Assembly, whose founder is widely believed to have been a charlatan. The Order is aware of dozens of other such examples.
The Ordial Plane is best described as a collective fantasy co-authored by many scribes across generations and cultures, all in layers built upon Sarnavuan’s recorded ur-myth. Instances of this fantasy are united by a mystery that has grounded a body of academic work examining its philosophical and sociological implications and possible historicity: on the one hand, the diverse works that make up this corpus are in many cases in tantalizing agreement on specific details2 despite coming from sources spanning such time and space as to preclude the possibility of collaboration, yet, on the other hand, many aspects of these works are completely contradictory.3
Barring a handful of examples of madmen and authors of dream fugue and fantasy, all known references to the Ordial Plane either acknowledge its reputation as a cryptic cross-cultural invention with only the remotest possibility of roots in reality, or present the Ordial as a distant shore, vaguely understood and deep in realms of myth and fable. Searching for the Ordial, or evidence of its existence, is a pursuit that has proved fruitless to innumerable alchemists and students of metaphysics across the ages.
The astute reader by this time has understood exactly why these notes have been prepared for the present text. The Twenty-Seven Laminae has landed in our hands with the shock of a thunderclap, breaking all known conventions of the genre and at the same time tying all its pieces together. This work presents a personal yet encyclopedic travelogue of the “nine facets” and “twenty-seven laminae” that in the author’s telling constitute an entire series of realms overlaid on ours and separated from us by the Ordial Plane, presented with no acknowledgment of the academic, cultural, poetic, or mythical reputation of the subject. It appears to be either an honest first-hand account of these matters, or a spectacular forgery—spectacular for the way in which every detail from preceding works, including apparently conflicting ones, has been worked into an elegant system of natural forces of philosophy.4 It is inconceivable to us that this solitary traveller could have had the breadth of knowledge and resources rivaling the Order’s5 from which to pull together these disparate threads, nor the ingenuity to weave them into a single narrative that resolves all their contradictions. This appears, in our best estimation, to be a genuine discovery rather than an invention.
Unfortunately this ground-breaking work only hinders the resolution of the Ordial mystery. If The Twenty-Seven Laminae is a contemporary work, how could its author have wound together thousands of years of far-flung fantasy? If it is instead an ancient work (complicating the matter of how it has arrived at the Order in such passable condition) that has informed multitudes of secondary and tertiary works over the ages, how did it attain such spread without ever being explicitly mentioned in any of these subsequent works? And if of course the Ordial Plane and the realms it wraps are real and are the source of disparate tales throughout history, how have generations of research produced only hearsay and reverie?
It is with great reluctance that we consider joining those tiresome supplicants by expanding our metaphysical investigations to include the search for the Ordial Plane, but it is with great honor that we present to the reader our translation of the following work.
Predated only by Gilgochi’s delirious meditations on “the Orideal Cleave”, and the treacherous jungle of colors he glimpsed there, in his work Mirrored Children.↩︎
The liturgy of the Calix Assembly details a convoluted plot in which a mythical forebear plays a heroic role in tricking a guild of architects into engineering and delivering a weapon to the doorstep of the forebear’s enemies without the architects’ understanding or agreement, while the Sabaean Ballad of Cerivalia (considered by the Sabaeans to be a bard’s fanciful invention) describes a trans-Ordial world of builders known as “the Furling” in which a strikingly similar story takes place. These two works, while roughly contemporaneous, are unlikely to have informed one another given that the Sabaeans reside deep in a harsh desert and had no contact with outside civilization until very recently.↩︎
The Elerids feature a visitor from “the Apparatus”, who describes his people as “a fearsomely industrious and organized society that live in the belly of a gargantuan creature that roams the Ordial under the power of their diligent toil”, while the Varitic drama The Seeker’s Mechanism, from a culture millennia hence with no known record of the Elerids or any of its derivatives, describes the plight of its protagonist stranded in an Ordial world, one with similar features such as the human-powered functioning of its mechanical organs and recurrent tremors that shake its inhabitants. However, the latter work portrays those inhabitants entirely differently: as consumed by ineptitude, confusion, and nightmare.↩︎
For instance, the matching stories of the Calix Assembly and the Sabaeans line up neatly with a historical anecdote in the UnfoldingArtists and engineers that have architected all of the most famous constructions in existence, original copies of which fill archipelagos that spread across the Glass Ocean, where the enormous automaton wind shifters interlock and glide across empty waters.Turn to chapter as presented in this work, while the contradictory visions of the Elerids and The Seeker’s Mechanism are perfectly resolved by the tragic history of the InstrumentThe labyrinthine interior of a colossal automaton, the outside of which never been seen. The Instrument is tended to by the Moilers, whose culture has lost its knowledge of the automaton's purpose and operation, and as a result have devolved into industrious paranoia and neurosis.Turn to chapter.↩︎
Lest an unaware reader think this hubris, the Order’s library holds works spanning many thousands of years and as many cultures, and is widely known to surpass any other such library by any measure.↩︎