The Keratin Rift
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The Keratin Rift


After Journey's End

This place is not a place of honor.
No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here.
Nothing of value is here.

Anymore.


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Stone pages of a petrified story.

The Keratin Rift is the point above the zenith. It is the time after time, the space without space. Our parents' past, and our children's future. It is the convergent point where all bifurcating strands of reality collide and fly into dreams. It is more than just the end — it is the frontier beyond.

Expect to see the skeletal remains of the props behind the curtain after the sun slips below the horizon and the theater is all but emptied. The sky is bleak, dreary, drab, and the fields are full of bones. Through the spindly spider branches of the blackened forests, if you listen closely, you may hear the still-echoing rounds of applause.

The people who have made it here encounter the monoliths in one way or another. They stand silent, unmoving, as stone pages of a petrified story. But they are not so much pages now as they are headstones. Lines are etched onto their eternal visages, readable no matter the language you speak. For the story they tell is one that we all know, deep down in our still-beating hearts.

The story is one of triumph. A triumph that cast its fulgent light amongst the seas of keratin caricatures when they were still background characters… but there is no triumph here anymore. There is no honor. No highly esteemed deed. Nothing of value is here; nothing of value is left. But upon observing the feats between the cracks in the rock, one can imagine what the Keratin Rift was like when there was still an author breathing life through their words into the fabric of this plane. One can imagine how that very same fabric began to fizzle and decay and rot after the final word. One can imagine when the life became stale and stolid, when the trees and the grass and the people began to choke without their purpose, petrified by finality.

Eight monoliths in total have been discovered thus far. The eight of them sequentially tell the story segments, and are found throughout several regions of the Keratin Rift. Below, we will list each region along with its respective headstone in chronological order.


Creation

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Withered origin.

All paths lead from creation. If you have the misfortune of encountering this place, this melancholy ashen landscape is what will greet you as you open your eyes. Upon further inspection, the blackened trees carry vestiges of the teeming ebullience of day-to-day pleasantries: a daintily-cut patch of tablecloth hanging from a low, thorny branch, the threadbare hem of a silken cloak laid to rest upon a sleeping willow's remains, or the wheezing cries of a long-lost top hat wedged into a crook of a tree whose owner never came back to reclaim it.

This region used to be a town. The hero's home town, a proverbial fountain of youth. For it was from this point onward and outward the black ink sprayed color into this now monochromatic, abandoned world. Surrounding lost wanderers in a vast expanse of rocky grey dirt pockmarked with hollow snags is a solemn reminder of what once was.

In an unspecified location in the region of creation, a dry stone fountain can be found. The water that rippled across this elderly container used to be the center of the essence of life itself. The houses and stores and gardens that surrounded it and the people that drew water from its depths are all gone now. This despairing dry fountain is all that remains of the town.

A monolith has been discovered standing sentinel over the remains of the fountain. It has since been determined to be the first of the set, and its header, "Creation," gives the region its moniker.

Creation


Everything must have a beginning. Light and darkness have their origins, as do we. This stone here marks the birth of our hero, and the path they took henceforth — to light or darkness.


Beckoning

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Innocent curiosity, morbid curiosity.

Humans are driven by desire. By urges. By curiosity. Whilst travelling throughout these forsaken lands, one may encounter the land of beckoning. It becomes quite an experience to see old familiar places that were exotic and alien to those of the past, and to tread on mundane lands that were once a distant speck over an undiscovered horizon. Foreboding cliffs become soft and dull, like exhausted charcoal after a day of sketches and paintings. They melt away into the horizon like dandelion seeds in spring winds, spreading their wings to unfamiliar lands to start the cycle over one more time.

The acoustic properties of the charcoal spikes allow for the ripples of discovery to be caught in cyclical motions, howling through the rift like spectral spirits. These undulating footsteps are the last vestiges of the awe that was held that day; nothing else remains. As travelers embark on their weary journey over and under the darkened, decrepit spikes, a new era of rediscovery begins anew. Whether this curiosity be innocent or morbid is up to you. — for discovery is not always an exuberant occasion.

This is the beckoning. What lies beyond the keratin gates and sentinel spikes is for your eyes only. From this point onwards, you write your own story in the absence. You make your path, your journey.

To survive in the Keratin Rift, one needs motion. One needs movement — a personal paintbrush to imbue color into this static world, this still life. Each step resists entropy and paralysis. Each wanderer possesses a miniscule modicum of luminance to revitalize this fading world. The sea of skeletons awaits. The houses made of teeth and femurs. The skulls idling by the benches. One more hero.

Beckoning


It is from this day forth that the hero forges their own path forwards and chooses to answer the call to adventure. The beckoning, clarion call to make something more, to do something more. It lies innate in all of us.


Threshold

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Echoes of a folk tune inside a hollow archway of bone.

Change is imminent. Nothing stays in one place forever, and so we must cross the threshold. Regardless of where the road takes us, the gate is always present. While traversing the Keratin Rift, it is inevitable that the Bone Gate appears before you, presenting itself in the region of the threshold. It will never appear immediately, but eventually, it will come. And when you pass through it, for you shall, you will hear the susurrating ruminations that oscillate between the sides of its hollowed interior. Ruminations of those who passed before you - the history of progress.

The gate is proverbial — it represents progress. Eternal change, forth and back. We enter the gate into a new era to lay down our soles and sandals for our posterity. An endless pedagogy. From the fruits of our labor come the seeds of a new dawn… or a new dusk. So enter this world of change, for that is what this plane is deprived of now. Over the twisted roots and gnarled figures of bleached skeletal remains is discovery hiding just beneath the end of the rainbow. Idyllic utopias of blissful halcyons, or melancholy, morbid dystopias, it is all waiting for you. Change always waits — for the right moment.

Threshold


There is no turning back now. The knowledge that our hero gains can never be forgotten. The moment the hero passes the threshold, they begin to change. Corporeal coincides with philosophical. It is time to introduce another color to our eyes.


Strife

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Soil-embedded tears used to feed this wilting wood.

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They did not realize that they could have been heroes. And thus, they heaved their final breaths within the forest of strife.

It all starts with a question.

None have escaped the Keratin Rift without first encountering the forest of strife. Those who have not, or refuse to enter its domain, remain trapped to this day, alone and afraid. It is within this boundary that people are forged, hammered into like hot, molten metal, and shaped anew.

It is here the earth begins to quake. It is here where the connections between realities are weakest. It is here where logic begins to fail as the cracks in the feasibility of everything one has seen their entire life begin to shine through. The forest of strife is lonely. In the internal world, there is only one mind. The question is asked to one mind only.

During one's stay in the forest of strife, one may encounter several of the skeletal buildings and structures that lay littered about the landscape. Those side characters, like actors backstage, have slowly drifted away from memory as the hero moved on with their journey and left this reality for good. Upon the books close, without the movement that filled them with life, they began to steadily waste away until their bones were arranged into a surrogate town of insignificance.

Their bones call out to you with stories untold. Are you content with being a side character, a wasted-away name in a sundry document? It all starts with a question.

Strife


Internal or external, strife takes many forms. This is the lowest point for our hero, but also the most formative. This is the fulcrum of the seesaw. A single step decides the balance.


Reflection

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An unreachable sky, determined to be held.

Wanderers have stated that the region of reflection comes to them via a parting in the clouds. When the sky splits, and radiant beams of sunlight begin to drift down, they recall color from the brink of amnesia.

If you have the fortune of encountering this awe-inspiring sight, you may leave the forest of strife behind you for now. Ahead of you lies a flat expanse of white marble tiles, coated in a thin layer of crystal-clear water. The answer to the question may be unreachable — for none of us have truly found our answers. But what we have found in the region of reflection is a longstanding tree rising above the shallow waters to greet the impossible above it. Despite its failure to scratch the sky, it stands tall regardless. For in this tumultuous world, this tree takes its tribulations in stride and reflects.

We are almost at the end of our journey, fellow adventurer. The summit is in sight. For we have made the revelation together. We were wrong in the beginning. We were wrong to believe that this plane was doomed — it was an erroneous assumption to think that because the author closed the book after the stone hero's triumph, this world would never see the power of story again. We told you that the story of the Keratin Rift was finished, and that each stone monolith was obsolete and abandoned. But now we both realize, as color begins to drift into the pages once more. We are the authors, and these words here are our ink. Can you imagine it spilling forth from your eyes and mind and hands, flooding into the essence of everything around you? Because it is.

Reflection


The seesaw tips. Out from the belly of the whale comes a new person. Whatever failures may lie behind the hero are shadows in the rising sun. Onwards, hero. Onwards.


Atonement

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Does it matter if the sunrise is imaginary?

In the region of atonement, there is no sound, save for the cascade of miniscule droplets cascading from your worn shoes. The sky, ground, and horizon are all painted in the same forgotten grey, but in the distance, behind weary clouds, a splash of color in the form of sunrise begins to change that fact. The world fizzles ones again, shifting and smoothening out like a crumpled treasure map upon a mahogany table. The region of atonement is filled with an invisible fire that fumigates the blistering static of uncertainty. It explodes through our veins with incendiary motivation. Impetus. Purpose. Perseverance. Resilience.

Of course, there will always be more strife ahead. More thresholds, more beckonings, more journeys, more milestones. But there is a time for relief, and it starts now. Shed the dirt from your internal wings, and fly forth to meet the iridescent sun. When you wake up, you shall still be in the Backrooms, just like all of us, but filled with an immense sense of triumph and life. You are alive. Regardless of the amount of times death has brushed the hairs on your skin, that fact remains. Behind you, you shall leave a stardust trail of brilliant hue to light the way for the next hero in line. The next author to pick up your pen and write their own hero's journey.

Atonement


With newfound vigor, the hero sprouts their wings. They have passed the final barrier, the rite of passage. From this point onwards, the exit is clear.


Triumph

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Ephemeral sandcastles on tranquil shores.

Behold the sun at its apex in all its beauty. Feel the warmth radiating through your body as it shakes the cold from your figure. Edges away the frost of your fingertips. You have made it through the Keratin Rift. Close your eyes.

Feel the pulsation inside your capillaries. Feet planted on the slick ground. From your toes, to your shins, you knees and your thighs, up into your abdomen and through your chest, into your throat and out of your mouth, feel the warmth. Take the time to be present in this moment. Cherish it, remember it, hold it dear. Store it high upon the shelves of all your other triumphs. Your journey in the Keratin Rift is soon coming to a close. Now feel the liveliness in your body. This is simply one of many summits, but the view is just as breathtaking as any other. Can you see the mountains in the distance? Head towards them. Feel the spring in your step as you ache to climb them. Feel the power in your soul and the steady, glorious thrum of your heart. It is time you realized. There is no such thing as a side character. You are not a side character. You came into this article expecting to read it. You wrote it. You are the hero, and this was your journey.

Triumph


After a great sigh of relief, the hero takes their time to look back on how far they have come. They take the time to evaluate their past beliefs and how they have changed during their journey. The triumph celebrates change.


Finality

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We are all sandcastles. Let us drift away to keratin.

And now the curtain closes.

Like a sandcastle on a distant shore, our memory will fade in time. The journey that you have underwent here, and the color you have bestowed upon this still world, it is only temporary. It is time you leave this place behind, and its color along with it. The moment you take your eyes and mind off this page, the moment you lay down your pen and close the cover of the book for one last time, that is when your color starts to fade. That is when the trees begin to wither and turn into petrified keratin. Like a sandcastle, your triumph will be but a memory after you move on to new summits. But what you will bring with you is your newfound self. The experience of building a sandcastle, even if it is only for the moment.

And as the sun sets, and as you follow its celestial journey towards the mountainous horizon… and the exit underneath the final stone monolith, along will come someone new to paint this world in their own unique colors. Along will come someone to sing a song in words that only they understand. Along will come another hero — not a side character, a hero — to build a sandcastle, and to tell the story of the Keratin Rift once more.

Finality


As this story concludes, the hero leaves behind their experiences as the color begins to slowly fade. Everything must have an end.


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