Our naked feet dance, carrying us round and round in a circle, our steps deliberate, their pattern pre-meditated, their motion meaningful.
The music we make is an echo of a time long gone by, the song the gods of olden days breathed into this world when it was naught but an infant, the lullaby a mother would sing when putting her child to sleep, the verses a shepherd would hum under his breath to ward his flock. Healing. Protective. It is unending. It dwells under the surface, deep within. One can still hear it when shutting off the noise and opening the senses to the unexplainable.
The peculiar nature of the human condition is that their hearts can break, heal, and break all over again. It makes me pause. I oft wonder at it but still, I find it all so very amusing. Humans weep, cracked asunder, and their tears become just another element that enters and erodes the edifices they erected, not unlike the wind or the rain. It is their frailty that defines them, it molds who they are and who they aspire to be, in their short lifespans. It spurs them on to do great things, each a small attempt at erasing insignificance. And then it conspires to turn them and forces them to tear all their accomplishments down. With time they feel they do not have, their hearts heal. Then, they repeat it once more.
They call me Blackheart, and they mean it as an insult. Blackheart in his black obsidian tower. Stoneheart, unfeeling. A heart black as sin. I embrace it, truly. I do not have a heart, at least not how humans define it.
The noon heat was at its suffocating best, the sun busily going about baking people’s scalps, when Talya’s father called a break from the labor. Everyone had been waiting for the whistle, signaling the pause. Men dropped their scythes. On cue, the women stashed the pitchforks and left the hay bales, then brought out baskets laden with food for the midday repast. The rhythmic hum of harvest was replaced by a tune. Its first lilting notes, sung by a maid, were soon picked up by a choir of men and women. Their voices carried the joy only work well-done could procure. The gaggle of children running merrily around, spurred by the joyous song, completed the tableau.
There were three of us, once upon a time, but only one that mattered. I, Medusa. The youngest of three sisters, the Gorgons. Mortally beautiful, so the tales tell. Or beautifully mortal, depending on who was looking. I got more than I ever bargained for, however, in exchange for my beauty. I caught a god’s eye. Crowned by a goddess, I was. The very one I served loyally and without question. A crown of living snakes was my reward. And eyes that could turn to stone.
I beg to differ. Never quite noticed the weight. Until it no longer sat on my brow, that is. Like a maimed man, I feel now, without it. Phantom pain is my sole companion, when we used to be one, before. Would anyone argue I miss the comfort of my crown, then? The cool touch of metal. The weight of wealth. Power, too. The piercing, dazzling realness of it only a hundred different cut jewels can bestow. Aye, crowns always suited me. Felt right at home, seated atop my hair of silver.
Reckon can’t do much worse than waking up in the morning with naught but two coppers in a pocket and a lute to yer name. The coin is good enough to buy a small apple, at best. Sure won’t buy respite from me stomach for too long.
They said he was tall, tall as a mountain. His eyes shone bright as burning coals, they whispered, and his horse’s hooves sent sparks flying whenever it struck the ground. They told stories, of the faceless knight and his black horse, and of how they were four once. Now only the one remained, roaming the land. No one knew what drove him, nor what his destination was. Yet all accounts agree on one thing – he never took off his helmet.
Tucked away amid snow-capped mountains a thousand thousand years old, hidden behind a wall of forest thick and impenetrable and green, there lay a lake, its waters crystal-clear. You could be standing on the tip of any of the seven and one towers rising to vertiginous heights above and you would still be able to see the mountain trout swimming at its bottom, so pristine it was. On starry nights, you’d need but gaze into the waters and the crown of heavens was right there, within reach. Indeed, you have never seen a lake like so, until you rested your gaze on it.
Decay has always been an obsessive fascination of mine. Like an old friend who, whenever I thought he’d run out of stories to tell, would surprise me with one I haven’t heard before. He’s always been there for me, for as long as I remember.