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A story I wrote a little under a year ago and then forgot about. It does need some tidying up, but it is a little bit of fun. An unusual love triangle forms in the ruins of an ancient temple.
To an air-devil like me, the ancient temple was a playground plucked straight from my wildest fantasies. I had never been in such a marvellous place since I was last cast out of the City of Hel. Lifeless stone statues would watch me without seeing as I cavorted across their unfeeling granite skin, or raced past them to knock the pigeons from their perches. The feeling I had as I blew through the tumbled-down corridors, as I gusted up wind-smoothed walls, whistled through holes in the ancient stone-work, and breezed through the massive overgrown chambers - It was as good as being back home.
That is, the temple was almost as good as being back home. The place was just like home except for the ghostly being that I occasionally blew into, beyond my ability to perceive but still irksome. It was some ghostly wall, or a being that could generate such an effect. But, while I could not perceive it, it seemed unable to stop me, only to create a two-dimensional barrier. It seemed to resent me, becoming tangible when I blew an ancient tile from the wall, or wore old mortar into nothing with my rushed passing. On the whole, it ignored me and I ignored it, two intangible beings alone in the ruins of the ancient temple.
During one of my ravages, I ‘stumbled’ onto a peculiar mortal – the first I had ever seen in the ruins. It was, I assumed, a male as it had a long white beard. The mortal muttered to itself, its breath fetid with disease and unwholesome gases. The dishevelled human gazed at the silver orb of the moon hanging in the night while he gnashed his teeth and frothed at the mouth. I could sense something strange about him, something other-worldly. The air around him rippled with the movement of invisible beings, eddies of a fracas that had slowly torn apart the man’s mind. He was infested, infected, possessed by a multitude of spirits that sought to control the corporeal form.
In short, the man was cursed. If I had had a mouth, I would have smiled – he would be fun to play with. My first game was to blow up the dust and lichen that lay heavy on the floor, creating a tornado of dirt and grime. I blocked his view of the face of the Moon. I watched him howl and scream and tear at his skin with his dirt-encrusted fingers. I saw him beg and moan and plead for the Moon to come back. I felt the infestation of spirits cry out, racing to draw as much of his life-force as they could to sustain them. I giggled.
And then I hit the familiar invisible barrier of the ghost-wall. As I stopped, the grime and the dirt and the plants that I had gathered up all dropped, showering the mortal in a muck-storm that made him heave and cough and splutter and curse. I giggled some more.
And the games continued every night. I would find the infested mortal, and play tricks on him, my pranks sending him into his insane rages of self-harm until the ghost would manifest as an impenetratable wall and end my games.
Then, one night, it was different. I found the mortal, as ever, gazing at the sky. However, where the Mortal would normally be gibbering and scratching, cursing and moaning, it was still – awe-struck even. I looked up at the moon to see what had brought on such a significant change... and then I saw HER.
In the temple stood (or lay) several statues of a beautiful goddess, radiant with child, hair that hung below her knees or which billowed like so many flags behind her, never once getting in her face. Her eyes were much bigger than any humans. The same figure was descending from the moon itself, on a stair of moonlight. The mortal man gazed up, stupefied: the infestation of daemons cowering from the figure that came down from the heavens.
And then I noticed something strange about how the moonlight and the temple were arranged. The goddess, or enchantress, or figure, or whatever it was, was walking towards where the highest arch would have once stood, which led to a narrow stair that wound around the tallest tower to the ground. The stair was long since ruined, few stones remaining that high, still less since my arrival.
“She comes to me, at last...” gasped the broken voice of the mortal. “All she needs is for me to repair the winding stair, and then she will be able to come down to earth once more, and she will rid me of these daemons, and I will be free.” He was in tears now, shed with happiness. And that’s when I knew I could not let the mortal escape – who else would I play with if not for him?
The mortal man began walking up to the tumbled ruins of the tower and whispering to various rocks and stones. Slowly, they would rise into the air and resume their positions from antiquity, when the temple was whole whether other stones supported them or not! He was rebuilding the temple to let this moon-wench reach the ground using his voice, I realised.
And that is when a plan came into my mind, so devilish and mean that I felt pride overtake me. I snuck right up to the man as he whispered to the rocks, and as his words passed from his lips to the stone, I stole them. Each time he spoke, I stole his words. His whispers became louder, his voiced commands became screams, his screams became pleas, and all the while the moon-woman looked on.
It was the longest game I had played with the man, and the best. The stair was not finished when the sun began to peek from the horizon. The sunlight hit the moon-light stair and the intangible steps began to dissolve – the stronger light erasing all trace of them. The moon-woman was still high in the air...
And when the sun fully arrived she plunged the last distance from the stair that was no longer there to the rock-strewn floor. When she hit the hard stones scattered at the base of the tower, she proved to be as mortal as she looked – blood was splashed across the old stonework showing the weathered delves in a crimson-relief.
The man was at her side instantly, begging forgiveness, crying, weeping. The woman was still alive, but I could see she would not last very long. In fact, all she managed was to touch him once on the face before she expired.
Each night I play with the mortal, who wails and gnashes his teeth as much as before, but I never feel the eddies of the movement of the infestation of daemons – he is driven by devils of a different nature.
|THICKER THAN WATER part one||
Live by the sword - die by the sword
|The Uglisest Princesses||Witness: A Last Chance|