Sheltered within fierce phalanxes of lofty and forbidding mountain peaks that conceal and guard its entrance, a certain long and narrow valley nurtures a secret known to very few beings on this planet.
During the long winter, hidden beneath a duvet of snow, this valley seems devoid of life; but as the tilted Earth glides, spinning, ever further from the point in spacetime that momentarily concurred with that year’s solstice, enabling the sun to peep once again over the protective ridges, daily seeming to rise higher and smile more persistently into the deepest recesses, the blank whiteness is charmed away, revealing an enchanted world.
At the upper end of the valley, a stream of clear water breaks free from frozen imprisonment within a porous rock stratum in the mountain’s side.
As it leaps and falls and curls in concert with the haphazard rhythms of the valley’s slope, laughing over scree, skipping from rock to rock, bubbling through beds of gravel, and seeping generously into patches of parched and stony soil, fresh grass springs up to welcome the sun, while, here and there, wild plants struggle to show their delicate faces.
At a certain point in its course, between one of the many large piles of tumbled boulders and a ragged outpost of tough, inedible grass, a small colony of shif-labeb flowers makes its brief annual appearance.
It is said that those that drink the nectar of the shif-labeb flower receive a blessing—though some call it a curse—for the nectar endows those that imbibe it with the ability to understand all that is said in any language by any other being on this planet. Some reports allege that merely a single drop will suffice to release this ability.
By the lexicographical force of this humble plant, words are translated intracranially without the need for external device or equipment.
Mood, mode, register and tempo are all transformed with some degree of perfection—although it has been observed that as the essence of the flower attempts organically to reconcile discourse issuing from a place and time far distant from our own with today’s patterns of speech, the language it engenders can display many astonishing, yet intriguing, linguistic combinations clutched from a variety of sources.
Recent undocumented research has established that when a minimal amount is added to printing ink, the potency of shif-labeb creates a direct portal into the world captured by the print.
As in Mithridates' book.
The valley’s whereabouts are a secret known almost to none—certainly not to us, as facilitator and publishers. Some say it is located in Hyrcania; others believe it is hidden far above Akbaytal; a small minority asserts that the Zagros Mountains hold the clue, while a claim has been made that it lies somewhere in Erewhon.
However, none of these theories has been definitively proven, and we are on oath not to delve too deeply into these abstruse matters.
The ink used to print
My Glorious Journey told in real time by Mithridates the Magnificent
contains not more than 1% pure shif-labeb nectar, obtained through a
secret source unknown even to the publishers and to the facilitator.
Following toxicological investigation, shif-labeb
is understood to be 100% harmless.