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Various Stories- The Dante Alighieri Saga and Autumn

 
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10/8/2015 19:45:46   
Master Merlin
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One day, as the rising orbéd daystar traced its celestial path above Florence as it had unswervingly for ages past, I spent a considerable amount of time striving with lofty ideals in mental turmoil until finally, with much gnashing of the teeth and philosophical inquiry, I brought it upon myself to walk down the street.

Who should I spy but my darling Beatrice? She tread down the avenue with the grace of a member of that celestial class that is responsible for the ordering of the heavens, the division of light and darkness, and the distilling of the soul-fire that burns the poet's mind and inspires the noble sensations of the organ that deals with poetical thinking.

Upon seeing her lovey magnificence, I swooned on a convenient stone wall. Beside me, the figure of Love appeared in his white robes and silver hair, ornamented, as I could see even in my present confudled state, with a quite fashionable mercury tiara.

"Get up and stop sniveling like a turkey in front of a wolf." Quoth he in a melodious and resonate voice.

I rose, and after some time of looking through my pocket edition of "A Hundred Useful Vulgate Expressions of the Peasant Class" I still could not discern what the phrases "sniveling" or "turkey" meant. He watched me with growing impatience as I immaculately smoothed the pages bound in red velvet.

"O unlooked for messenger of High Heaven", I ejaculated. "I cannot quite understand your speech, no doubt too refined and glorious for my uncouth ears. Mind ye restating it in common Latin terms?"

Beatrice watched this scene unfold with a growing concern, and a worried smile that could not quite disguise her fear for my sanity. With a start I realized that she could not see this divine messenger, and that he must only have appeared to me. I tried to amend the situation with my usual grand discourse.

"O divine lady, I humbly beseech your pardon. For it has come to me of late the revelation that I have been smote by the senses of emotion, those wild, tempestuous impulses that arise in the organ that directs the circulation of the blood, and have quite left rational thinking behind."

Beatrice frowned. As my dearest friend, she constantly fretted over my health, and wondered if perhaps my alchemical experiments were causing some of my present confusion.

At that moment, however, before she could reply the earth yawned forward in tremors and yellow plumes of sulfurous fire erupted from the ground. She was falling into an abyss that had suddenly opened before her feet, a slowly widening hole that threatened to engulf all of Florence. She rolled down the slope with the grace of a pristine doll, holding back her cries of pain in a quite dignified and refined way, I noticed. As she struck the bottom eloquently she was struck on the head by a bull headed Demon and snatched away unconscious as a sleeping swan.

I watched this happen with calm detachment. No doubt this was an omen from God. I prepared to go back to my quarters and examine the situation methodically.

In a flash, three men tread down the street. The oldest, a man in a brown coat, shouted furiously "Dante! There you are! Have you been summoning Demons again?"

A look of shock came unto my countenance.




My lord, I am quite despondent from these unjust charges that you so impulsively spring upon me."

"Unjust? You summoned a Succubus only last week!"

"The Devil hath power to assume a benevolent shape." I calmly replied, although flecks of crimson appeared on my cheek like blooming roses (or plague marks, if you prefer).

"She had horns on her head."

I furrowed my brow, but quickly regained control of the situation. "Let this be a lesson to you, men, that even the most noble may be tempted by the wiles of the Dark One."

The chief, whose name was Gulimo Vizzini, sighed. "Can you fix this situation or not?"

I looked at the chasm spread out in front of me, revealing a hellish, nightmare scene that would make Hieronymus Bosch take a step back in fright. Black, charred earth rolled on for miles at the foot of an ebony volcanic mountain, where crimson lava poured like a fountain and bloated, yellow toad like shapes with wings circled around the peak, their emerald eyes bulging. Seven rivers of magma flowed, and in each of the seven divided quadrants horrible deeds were being performed by Succubi and Incubi, Imp and Ifrit, as they feasted on the flesh of sinners and hedonistically mated in Stygnian orgies that I would like to say made the modest men advert their eyes in horror, but am distraught to announce only made them goggle open mouthed like hungry pigs.

At length, when a cloud of smoke billowed from the mountain and obscured the temptations of the flesh, I replied. "I shall try to be back in one hour."

Then I girded up my loins, walked to the side of the pit, and dramatically threw myself down the slope with a war cry that soon turned into a scream of pain as I rolled down obsidian rock after obsidian rock that tore my crimson robe asunder and pricked the skin beneath it.

The figure of Love sighed and followed me, having sprouted a pair of angel wings.

***

"He could have taken the stairs..." commented one of Gulimo's companions, pointing at the stone steps of granite that led directly into the abyss.

The chief put a sympathetic hand around his shoulder.

"You haven't met Dante. Trust me, we should be lucky that he didn't use one of his rocket parachute inventions and burn the city down."

Looking down at the cave of horrors, he shuddered.

"Let us just be glad that it is not one of us..."

Autumn

One afternoon as the setting sun dyed the stone terraces golden and turned the cherry trees in the garden into sheafs of fire, a little boy ventured out with a spade in his hands.

"I shall dig towards the center of the earth!" he thought, and promptly set about in attempting to do so.

After a few hours in this arduous task, he paused to examine his handwork, a hole of about a half a meter deep.

"This is harder than I expected" thought the boy and sat down on a bench in exhaustion. His mother was calling him inside for dinner, and appetizing smells from inside the house drove all thoughts of terran conquest far away.

"I can always come back next time." he reasoned, and rushed in doors, leaving his dirty spade behind.

He never came back to that spot by the cherry trees, but thoughts of searching, and above all creating never quite left his mind. He spent most of his life in several odd jobs, scuba diving instructor one day, teacher the next, and amassed all sorts of inventions and gizmos in his shed that never quite got a chance to be used for anything, but were extremely fun to make.

Then, one day, the truck hit him. Light engulfed him, searing, burning light, and then all was black. But things seldom end, merely change, and suddenly the world turned to shades of gold and green...

***

...shades of gold and green...

"Karash!" Karash, are you even listening to me! Hello!?"

A voice rang out through the garden, temporarily disturbing the young brown haired boy from his mystified trance, gazing into a piece of broken glass salvaged from a stained glass window and watching as the world magnified and shifted in a wondrous array.

"Why do you play with that moldy looking thing anyway?" said the voice, who belonged to an angel named Lucifer, with long golden hair, piercing azure eyes, and massive wings like silver sails stretched out behind him.

The boy, whose full name was Karashel, frowned.

"Better than what you do, Luce. Wander around in the Outer Aethers, and sometimes even beyond. Which is strictly forbidden, according to the Edicts."

A look of dismay came upon Lucifer's features. For a moment it was replaced by a look of venomous hatred, but it passed so quickly that Karashel doubted that he had even seen it and it had not been a mere trick of light or his dulled senses from staring into the glass for too long.

"How do you know about that?" he replied.

"I followed you." said Karash nonchalantly. "In any case, I hardly think looking into a piece of glass is a worthless hobby. You know how many tiny creatures live in the grass? Thousands. Each with their own little lives and doings. Makes you wonder..."

"Whatever." replied Lucifer dismissively. "Just don't expect me to stare into the ground for hours at a time. I have more important things to attend to." And upon saying this he unfolded his wings and flourished them like daggers, much to Karash's amusemeat. "Vain as always..."

Despite their frequent quarrelings like this, Karash and Lucifer were best friends. And as such, it crushed the boy, now grown to be a man thousands of years later, to learn of his terrible betrayal. Still, he fought on the side of Heaven, and did not let his feelings get in the way of defending what he knew was right, even when the blood of his fellow Angels stained his hands and he could hear their dying screams in his sleep in the middle of the night.

But it was all worth it, for God would forgive him for his sins. Wouldn't he?

***

Some time later, Karash walked through the streets of Omnia Excelsis, the second greatest city in Heaven, before God's concealed metropolis in New Eden itself, in a daze.

Around him, birds chirped and streams of water cascaded from a fountain in the center square, but he paid them no heed. He was furious. As he paced irritably, his eyes kept drifting to his own shadow. It seemed a hidden, wondrous thing, so different from all this blinding, overbearing light.

It was all because of the letter he had received, penned in long, sweeping arcs that were somehow cruel in their extravagance.

"To the Angel named Karashel
Of the Sylph Class, Order of Raphael
By his Esteemed Majesty Metatron
Voice of God
The following Edict:

You are to stop your buildings and tinkerings immediately, and destroy the artifacts that you have so wantonly created in our Kingdom. It is foretold that if you continue on this path there will be ruin, and for your own safety this must be done. If you wish to respond, a guard will escort you to the Spire.

God's blessings be on you."

He let the paper drift on the ground and then tore it apart in passionate fury. For years he had been making the statues, sculptures, artworks, and tools in his workshop, culminating in the construction of a massive astroscope that could pierce the veil of Heaven and look into the Void, and now Metatron wished for all that work to be in vain? He could not destroy his work. He would not.

He instead walked back to his study, unlocked the door to the workshop, and stepped inside. The collected masterworks of years greeted him like old friends, a bust of a warrior here, a kaleidoscopic dash of color on canvas there, all loved, all beautiful. On a mahogany table a magnetized bit of lodestone hummed and directed the sweep of a needle in a compass. He walked past them to his Magnum Opus, a steel and electrum behemoth in the form of a long tube heavy on one side and small on the other. Built of materials secretly pillaged from junkyards in the Outer Aether for centuries. The Astroscope.

Looking through its glass lens, he saw first fog, and then as it cleared, an array of wondrous red and green stars in a sky of milky black. Streams of golden interstellar dust flowed around them, enveloping them like a mother's embrace.

He stared enraptured for what felt like eons, and then disengaged. He tried to muster his courage and stepped outside to summon the guards.

"Bring me to the Spire. I have an urgent message I wish to bring to Metatron."

"As you wish, my Lord."

He did not tell them of the poison dart hid in his fair white linen sleeve, the sharpened shaft that would be called an "arrow" by the race of Adam and Eve later. He only thought of his beloved artworks, and thought of how fiercly he was willing to protect them. To the death, if need be.

As they approached the Spire, a massive tower of Adamantium that stretched to the very clouds themselves, the guards drew out a white strip of cloth.

"Custom dictates that those must be blindfolded walking up the steps to his Majesty."

Karash nodded.

Some time later, walking through a gate and ascending countless steps in pitch blackness, for what seemed to be an eternity, the seconds dragging dully by, he finally stopped. The blindfold was removed, and he found himself in front of a golden gate, with a stylized sunbeam on each door and two golden lion knockers.

The guards tapped them twice. The doors swung open as if propelled by an invisible hand.

"Come in. Do come in." said a silky, almost effeminate male voice from the far end of the room, which was rectangular, built of shimmering marble, and had a red carpet on the floor and a single window of clear glass on the left wall.

An elderly, blue robed man in a golden throne was reading a book, an object expressly forbidden by the Heavenly Edicts, though no Angel except Lucifer and his friends (Karshel included) had ever desired to own one.

He stared at them as they entered in, his white-in-white eyes flashing. Karash bowed humbly.

"Your Majesty." he said in a humble, beseeching voice. "I beg of you to reconsider your latest ruling. I have been construcing my treasures for millennia, and I believe that I can use them for good purposes, not evil, as my former comrade Lucifer did in forging the first sword. Many Angels have built tools- functional tools, for plowing and seeding, aqueducts to provide water and scythes for food, to be true, yet mine are no less needed for the nourishment of the mind- and none have been punished for it like me. Why then, do you insist on this?"

Tears were in his eyes. Metatron calmly closed his book, set it down on a desk with slowness brought on by immense age, rose, and started pacing.

"You work with magnets, do you not?" he said at length.

Karash gaped at the strange question. "Yes. But-"

"Then you know that likes repel and opposites attract. If you are repelled by your own kind, then perhaps you might like to seek sanctuary elsewhere."

Metatron looked at him directly with his weird white eyes, devoid of emotion, and at that moment Karash knew that he would never have what he wished. Before the guards could react, he lifted his sleeve and hurled the dart at the Angel.

The dart soared towards him, and then froze in the air. Metatron looked at it like one would look at an amusing gnat. Karsh started trembling uncontrollably.

"Karashel of the Seraphim, you are hereby cast out of Paradise. Do not try to resist on your way out; it will only make it worse."

The arrow burst into fire, then fell on the ground in ashes.

"Please-" muttered Karash. "I only wanted to make-"

Then the nerves on his wings erupted in agony, and his feathers started shedding until all that was left was a leathery frame that was becoming immolated in flame as he spoke. He broke off his plea and started screaming.

Metatron levitated his staff from the far end of the room and pointed at Karash, whose wings were now completely gone. The pain from the wound torn open in their passing did not cease.

"In the name of the LORD, he who rules over all, BEGONE!"

And then Karash felt a hurling force smash into him and hurl him into the window. The fragile glass shattered on his impact, and he was falling, down, down, through an abyss that seemed to have no end. At length his eyes blurred, and he fell into unconsciousness.

***

In the Kingdom of Jordan, a brown haired man with two symmetrical scars on his back paused from his work. He was digging a hole, this time to be filled with blocks of stone in the construction of a new Temple of Healing.

For his long, almost immortal life he had took on many names and guises, one of his favorites being a masked God named Osiris, but in each of them he had tried to educate humans in the way of science and progress, teaching them how to till the fields, how to prevent disease. They looked at him as a savior, with the eyes of ignorant, eager lambs, bright and willing to learn. He felt it was his duty to educate them. He had once been human, after all, and knew how they craved invention.

A blue robed man with wings watched him from a hill far away. A slight smile came upon his withered, ancient lips.

"Go in peace, my friend. I believe one day you will find what you seek after all."

Then the sun sank low on the horizon, setting in darkness to one day rise again.

< Message edited by Master Merlin -- 10/8/2015 20:00:34 >
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 1
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