The Shade of the Magnolia Tree
Against the carmine coloured sand his robes seemed to fade. With a jump a bolt of pure crimson followed him like a shadow. His robes broke the unending horizon of the red twilight, A sight unknowable for its inhabitants. The sky and sand for once broken at its median, unknowable still, the second break in the firmament but this time instead of by crimson by the pale white and opalescent blue of a shade.
The shade had a youthful complexion riddled with thin blue lines of veins tracing through his almost iridescent skin, were as the man in crimson's face was riddled with whitened scars. The scars snaked across his complexion, as if but tiny snakes who colluded long ago to choke of life and felicitous existence.
"I've been expecting you" the shade said.
The snaking scars flatted into a stoic glare on the crimson man.
"you needn’t be surprised. Nothing, or should I say nobody can surprise me anymore." The crimson man smiled.
"one would expect no less from you"
"would you join me at my home for a cup of tea." the shade said.
The crimson man stopped startled not by what was said so much as the youthful innocence it was said in. "yes... yes of course"
The Cathedral built of sandstone deceives its former glory, as majestic frescos fade under the moonless sky. The roof had crumbled, though new shelter was found by the shade under the ashen magnolia that sprouted centuries ago from the cracked marble floor. The shade's house was built under a cage of mossy trees roots, it was unclear whether he had built the shelter under the root or whether the tree built it self over the home. "Would you like some tea" "Please." Beginning his story, his mind marred with remorse. The shade canted in the old language, which was neither embellished nor vernacular. Each note broke upon the walls, the tree, and the moonless sky as to wake upon something long forgotten.
Once a scholar, but still a fool, I drank the night away To such taverns a weary path, lucidly did I stray If you were to come to me upon the waking time Vivaciously upon a flask would I be resigned
The man of crimson shifts taking the weight off the vial in his robe.
Then a scholar, not a fool, I dreamt the night away To but hamlets a weary path, lucidly did I stray And upon the pulpit did I pray for pernicious kinds Perchance to find some reverence in their hell-purchased minds With the kettle now boiling on the fire the shade got up to serve the tea. The silver kettle was inlaid with rubies that in the firelight seemed to burn down the side of the kettle. The shade unheedingly reached into the fire and grasped the kettle from the metal handle. The man slipping the vial from the hidden pocket of his robe uncorking it under the table; as the shade left to draw more water from the well he taps the side of the vial on the edge of the shade's cup. He then disperses a mixture of dried magnolia petals and other dark green leaves into each cup. Would you call it blood for blood what I did that day
Turning now with the kettle the shade slowly fills each teacup.
Finding rapture in the gallows of the windswept bay
Sitting down he continues.
For as the judge of the mission would I be assigned
He stands with this. The man takes a sip of his tea.
Given credence to deliver justice for the divine
Kneeling now beside the man's chair, the shade's hand resting on his head. The man feels the knife coldly on his spine. The shade's lyricism becomes mordant and chastefull.
Would you call it blood for blood what I'll do this day Finding rapture in the hallows of this earthen bay as you’re not the first to come with a murderous mind Consciously from occlusive grasps have I resigned
The Shade's pupils contract, his grasp on the man's palatial head, ensnares itself around his auburn hair. The silver knife as If rising on its own accord stops before the man's spine when the man begins. "Subsistence or sedition? I chose neither." "What is it you speak of?" "Should I stand for only subsistence or sedition? Should I submit to the world? Should I forget of the wrongs placed against me and except a life of submission? Or should I fight the forces that wronged me? Wallowing in the pain it would bring me. Either way I have not choices except this one. "What is that? To cheat death." "Only in the same way death cheated me" Silence. "Regardless the mater is resolved." The shade placed the silver knife on the table, hand shaking upon it's hilt. "Was I not but a lamb to the slaughter before, what am I now, a prisoner" The man takes up the knife. Then collapses Broken now upon a bed of dried magnolia blossom the man's body goes limp, his face alone struggling in confusion. "Why can I not move " "The tea you drank. Through which you tried to poison me itself had hemlock in it. I do not trust strangers especially those not of this land. The hemlock shall take a few more minutes loosen your grip over this body" "But for what reason though had you stayed your blade" "As a final gift you will receive in this lifetime. one of a peaceful death. you see we are not dissimilar creatures, you and I, It's just sad that it had to end this way" The man's hand trembles in it's skeletal fixture until it covers his eyes. "so dare I ask what awaits me" "you will find it to be quite familiar" With his mobility hampered, he could not express grief, quiet now for but the slow shuttering of breaths. His focus falls upon the short-lived beauty of the magnolia that withers at his feet, he fades.
As a man his face maintained it's youthful beauty in slumber, only revealing it's age when awoken. As a Shade though his face free from the snaking scars maintains it's signs of youthfulness that should have been marred by time. It shows no sign now of the sardonic displeasure that the shade of the cathedral invoke in him, not but a lifetime ago.
"Where am I"
"Well you said it yourself, a land beyond life and death, even beyond good and evil"
"Am I dea-"
"I think you may find that to be an unnecessary question"
" what do you mean"
The shade now picking up the silver knife carves a line in his palm, the flesh forming over the gash as the knife runs though his hand.
" What you choice to do after your restraints unbind is entirely your choice though heed my warning the path from this land does not deliver one unto happiness"
"but surely I cannot stay here"
"I too imposed my own justice upon people in this life and the previous, some out of rage others by prejudice. I am not one to judge"
" and so what of purpose, there is nothing for me in this land"
" ay, but life unrestrained by purpose is life without conflict. Is that not what you have been seeking all along"
" yes, but..." the shades turn to the door in expectation and then there is a knock.