The trees… They used to walk you know. Across the land they roamed, over tall mountains, under deep canyons, beneath great lakes even. Drawn they were to the whims of a sun that could never sit still, forever rising, forever falling.
O’Mighty star, they implored. Won’t you be still and grant us reprieve? For we are weary of eternal march, trek, and quest. The sun who had heard their pleas grinned and acquiesced. Slowly it drifted to a halt, suspending motion and flight for as far as the eye could see. The trees, exasperated yet rejoiced, fell into an immense slumber, eager to rest and feed.
Eons had passed and the sun remained still; a drop in a bucket within one lifetime but a thousand generations in another. The trees had wedded themselves to the ground for their roots dug deep and their trunks grew tall. Asleep they all were when the destined day arrived and the sun imperceptibly moved. Little by little it accelerated, regaining the flight it once had ages yonder. And so the slumbering trees woke up to a frosty dew and a new witness. Day and night had been born.
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Avalon’s gardens held a unique attraction. Every fall, the old caretaker would hang lanterns filled to the brim with delicious seeds, grains, and nuts. Birds of all varieties would take a detour from their annual migration to visit Avalon and enjoy the respite. Such had been the case for generations that they eventually referred to the garden as paradise, the land of bounty, song, and rest.
One season however, the lanterns turned empty. The caretaker, in old age and poor health, was bed-ridden and had fallen into a deep coma. Sensing the time was near, the birds one by one perched on top the lanterns to mourn the caretaker’s passing. Some recounted the time they first met their loved ones within the garden cloisters. Others spoke of distant homes and their long journeys to the outer terrace. Those who had personally met the caretaker hummed a requiem into the night. Alas, when no more chirps could be uttered and further lamentations spent, the caretaker took a final breath, grinned, and then vanished.
From that day onward, the lanterns of Avalon would be everflowing.
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Entry to this week’s FFfAW! Image courtesy of TJ Paris.
Legends tell of a door in the sky that connects our world with the old divines. In the days when stars illuminated signs and the heavens conversed openly with the earth, mankind need only look up and listen for the sky-door remained open, never shut. In time, man mimicked the divines, learning to speak from the sound the wind and learning to write from alignments of the stars. The divines then issued a mandate; man was to rule so long as they heeded wisdom and continued to learn.
Eons would pass as mankind’s achievements grew great. Multiply it did to cross the seven seas and inhabit the seven continents. But conceit grew with its knowledge; preoccupied it forsook wisdom and turned towards itself. Its own voices drowned out the wind and its edifices blotched out the sky. All the while, the door in the sky silently closed as mystery and wonder fell to simulation and abstraction. Only the children were spared for they could still see and hear the faint outlines of ghosts and whispers of the divines. Lanterns they launched into the night; the door in the sky creaked.
Artemis’s geese shot South at break-neck speeds. They pierced through icy winds and aurora skies, like an arrow aimed at the heavens. Would they strike Scorpio, who hunted Orion amongst the stars? Or would they falter in their mission and lose their mark? Alas, even Artemis could not win against the Gods. One by one, her squadron fell in a blaze that lit up the night sky. Their sacrifice however was not in vain for it signaled the start of the great migration. Such was the natural order of things.
Dandelion and Rose found themselves on opposite ends of a seesaw atop a sharp precipice. They were attracted to each other but neither could see, hear, nor talk; only their sense of balance gave away the other’s presence. To maintain such a relationship, both had move in harmony. If Dandelion took a step forwards, then so would Rose. If Rose doubled backwards, then so must Dandelion. Otherwise, both would fall, injure each other, and think twice about getting back on the seesaw again.
When the two first met, neither dared to make sudden movements out of fear. This would quickly change as the cold nights drew them closer to share warmth and the windy days forced them further apart for some stability. Most days however were calm and so to ease their restlessness and learn more about one another, the two took turns leading. Rose would slide forwards a meter and Dandelion would follow suit by three-quarters to maintain weight parity. Walking soon turned into hopping and then evolved into various forms of kicks, spins, turns, pivots, crosses. Many times they fell off the seesaw but every time they got right back on again. Movement itself communicated their bond and deepened their trust in each other.
Two centuries had passed since Dandelion and Rose were last seen atop that fateful seesaw that once united them in movement. Legends tell of a violent squall that had swept through the mountain side. After the storm had cleared, the seesaw atop the sharp precipice had broken cleanly in half. Some say that a disagreement had end their relationship for good; their combined weights crashing down upon two ends would have severed the seesaw. Others claim that lightning struck the seesaw, splitting it in two from divine jealousy of mortal love. Whatever the case, the bodies of Dandelion and Rose were never found but their movements could sometimes be felt today whilst engaged in dance.
The master thief locked another door behind him, hoping to further the distance between himself, the competition, and the Minotaurs in pursuit. As he gasped for air, he could still feel the rumble of hoofs on stone reverberating through the floors and walls. “Thud, thud, thud…” The menacing sounds of harrowing screams and a certain death suffocated his lungs with dread. Such was the challenge to steal the famed Skeleton Key, the key of all keys that could open any lock in the wider world. A coveted prize worthy of one who called himself master thief indeed.
With no time to lose, the master thief advanced through the labyrinth of doors. One by one, his nimble hands picked the locks with the haste of a stenographer at an auction. The difference being that entry required a bid of one’s life with no clear insurance of a winner. Whoever said auctions were fair game never had to put their life on the line! But as the hours ticked away, progress slowed and the once murderous echoes of casualty had been replaced by a quietude of unease. The Minotaurs were listening for that next jingle. Fearing that the slightest snap of a broken pick would give a heading, the master thief could do nothing but remain still.
Morning returned with the sound of thrashing. The hunt resumed but the master thief now had second thoughts about the ordeal. Was the Skeleton Key just a legend? Would he run out of provisions before finding it? Would he find his way back to the exit? Perhaps cutting his losses would be the best course of action. As he weighed his options, the sound of doors snapping in two intensified and he choose the latter. Run and live to fight another day he thought. But just as his convictions were overturned, all the locks around him bolted shut and vanished. The sound of impending doom subsided like an apparition facing a strong wind. A realization then dawned on him. There was never a Skeleton Key to be found but always one in the making. How else could it open every lock in the world? Thus the master thief remained and trained his hands to become a master key.
The mirror cracked into a hundred pieces as the Countess tried to look herself in the eye. Behind her stood two young girls, both entranced from having caught a glimpse of her visage before the sound of glass shattering. Their eyes couldn’t help but fixate with envy on such beauty that turned brother against brother, husband against wife, King against Queen. As she turned to face them, the first girl began to quiver. Unable to break free of her gaze, envy turned into self-loathing as the girl’s eyes transformed from a lucid marble to a grey stone. The second girl who averted the gaze at the last moment turned envy into malice. Brandishing a dagger to stab the Countess, the blade transformed into a snake and betrayed the wielder. Afterwards, the Countess would never try to see her reflection again.