I had this short story which did not fit easily within The Sixth, who here it is. It’s already finished but i’ve split it into several parts, and i’ll post one each day till it’s done:
Gandalf and Lisa (Part 1 of 4)
“Oy, give us the smack man. Cook that shit later, i jus’ wanna hold it.”
“Carm down aright. Remember i lost me needle. So your place later eh? There now, have a taste kid.”
“Sweet as. Eh, Midas, ‘oose that crazy lookin’ hobo man? Jus’ starin’ and starin. Crazy fucken’ bum. Man i hope i don’t become like that.”
“Keep your voice down kid. That’s Gandalf. He’s nuts as can be. Jus’ stick with me and you won’t go over.” said that rascal Midas to his would-be squire. Nothing he touched turned to gold. With his alchemies Midas reduces his victims to pock-marked zombies. I stood at the entrance of their canyon and thought back to all the dessicated corpses i have stepped over, left behind by Midas and his needles. His undead have never attacked me. My light kept them at bay.
With that thought, i check my sword, my constant companion. When i embraced my destiny I gained the honor of wielding this blade composed of spirit fire. Luckily, i have rarely had to draw it.
I continue to stare at the two rapscallions, measuring them. I consider intervening on behalf of Midas’s nearly doomed squire. The palace grounds can wait. I lock eyes with Midas. He is dressed in rags, ever changing. Always being added to with the corpse clothes of his victims.Then the boy scratches his needle-marked arms and i realise, yet again, that it is too late for this one.
“Fuck off wizard-piss!” Calls the squire, at me.
“SHHHH! The guy’s mad. Could do us in for no reason. Let’s go get high eh?” says Midas. He has tasted my steel before. I stand my ground and gaze into his soul. After a moment he looks away, dragging his protesting victim further into the canyon shadows. To know the strength of a man’s soul, one need only look into his eyes. I continue on my way, to the palatial gardens. I keep to the evening shadows cast by the slow-moving giants, Epson, Mitsubishi, Aia. They occlude the waning sun. In the main by-ways the steel carriages careen towards their various destinies. Civilians mainly, though occasionally i catch the sigils of demon-taint; three pointed stars and the three letters of Beelzmeewub.
I walk past a growing glass giant, still unamed and in it’s embryonic stage, bamboo membranes climbing upwards and around. Another titan that will one day obscure the sky. Long after i pass the light may one day no longer reach the surface. It’s caretakers beat the titan into life under yellow helmets. Honest peasants, there liege lord is Hammersmith. I have no quarrel with them. I serve only the light.
Closer to the gardens now, I pass the inn of the star-crowned lady, where the good girl Eleena smiles and nods at me through the window. I gaze back at her, so young, so beautiful and return her smile with my eyes and a salute; two fingers pressed upon my forhead, the position of my inner eye. She acknolwedges me and then turns back to serve her rejuvenating ale. Later she may be kind enough to allow me to partake of some, free of charge. She has a generous soul.
I’m nearing the palace grounds now, and i can make out the magnificant spout of the central fountain, built to honor an ancient knight of my order. It was he who had the grounds open to all the citizens of this great city irregardless of their external appearence, of race or creed or wealth. A knight of the phoenix recognises only the inner fire. Yet as I approach my mood begins to descend, unfortunately, as i contemplate the fall of our order. Where once the knights stood high in the esteem of the city, now we are lordless and mostly lost. I am one of the few left, and i must keep to the canyons between giants, a secret guardian of the fire.
Then I spot a beast!
A dracan, smoke emanating from it’s exposed skull. The carrion feeding dracan’s mouth is stuffed with waste and detritus, feeding on the refuse of the peasents. I turn my blade so the hilt beats atop the dracan, silencing it’s smoke. A few peasents scatter, afraid of the creature and our energetic melee. The slow moving dracan is easily dispatched however, and my mood quite lifted by the fight. Onwards, to the palace grounds.
I enter via one of the tall iron gates, that seem to shimmer with the fading orange sunlight. No mere trick of the light, but evidence to one who has the inner eye, of the protective ward that encircles these grassy fields. Inside i find my usual spot, a worn bench inscribed with the soul of two bound in immortal love- Harold and Jesse, who died ten years ago. It is a good bench, and the old magic warms me. I gather my cloak around my fraying body, as the wind sends a cruel breeze to cut through to my chest. I am old, and well travelled, worn down like a branch carressed by cold winds. My bough shakes, but my oaken heart still is strong. I think i have yet some few tasks left before i pass. Such is the way of a guardian of the light. It is not yet time to lie upon this bench yet, for death has yet to come. Still, i can feel the shadows gathering, inside me, perhaps they will assault me here? Never here. I find the shadows incapable of penetrating the wards of the grounds- this is my sanctuary.
I draw strength from gazing at the little flames, the beautiful candles- children at play. The shadows fade in their presence. There a young boy chases his soul-companion, a noble mutt, in pursuit of some discus. Good training for the boy, perhaps this one shall one day be a knight. I nod in approval. Behind some distant tree lovers canoodle, and their bright eyes mingle with the autumn leaves that fall upon them, an approving baptismal if i ever saw one. In the next half hour many tiny clumps of play ebb and wane. There two brothers play fight each other- more training! In the distance a young woman chases two little ones, their laughter skipping all the way over the tiny lake, and under the meditative gazebo, and into my sipping ears. Then in the shadow of a tree, a particularly bright light catches me eye.
It is a little girl, dressed in a pink shirt and pink trousers and pink shoes. Her hair is hazel, her eyes deep pools of boundless brown curiosity. She gazes up at the branches, patiently. Presently, she outstretches her hand, and inside it must be some kind of sustenance, some kind of offering. A squirrel skitters down the tree, and she yelps delightfully, enclosing her hand as the food drifts to the ground, where the squirrel feasts. I can tell it is grateful. The girl steps forward again, bends down and tentatively strokes the head of the little creature. She has a good heart. I can tell. The shadows have completely retreated now, in so much that i find myself drifting off, to doze.
I move from the creaking embrace of Harold and Jesse, for i know if i sleep here it will be my last, and i make my way one bench down, not imbued by any souls, and thus safe for dreaming in. I curl up, grasping my blade between both hands, and with the moon highlighted in an azure sky, deepening to cobalt, i sleep, safely ensconced in the little flames of all the playing children.
I wake to the sound of panic. A high pitched voice, crying out forlornly.