Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Epic Tale - 17. The Threshold

When the answer came, it was not, as I expected, some aged caretaker or hired domestic servant. It was a girl. A very pretty girl, in fact. A little younger than me, with black curls that framed her face just so. She looked me up and down, and I felt a rush of old, familiar anxiety - something I'd thought I had lost.

"Spare me," the voice said, and at once a bitter coldness pushed my feeling aside. I looked the girl in the eyes.

"Whose house is this?" I demanded. "I have traveled long and far, and I would speak to the master."

In her face, I saw a flicker of .. something. Was it anger? Curiosity? Excitement? Not that it mattered. I was hard as stone. Indifferent.

"This is Master Rohn's house," she said. "My name is Miru Rohn. May I ask where you come from?"

"You may call me Samael," I said, "and I come from -"

I stopped. My throat constricted. I could not get the words to escape my lips. Something was binding me, restraining my will by controlling my body.

"From where?" the girl asked. I strained with all my might, railing against the invisible barrier that kept me silently staring. In my mind I was screaming. Riverbed, Riverbend! I come from Riverbend! Yet the words remained locked away behind my eyes.

"Rage if you must," the voice whispered, "but in this much I can control you. Your strength would be better spent elsewhere."

"It does not matter where I come from," I said slowly. "I have left it behind me for good. Now I am here to ask for hospitality."

"Let me take you to my father." There was that spark again - the creeping edge of a smile. "He will know what to do."

Monday, February 9, 2009

An Epic Tale - 16. The Estate

"This is what I will do," I said to no one. "I will walk out of this forest and go to the first habitation I can find. If they grant me hospitality, I will accept it, repay the favor as best I can, and be on my way. If they should refuse me, I will kill them all."

I had spent the night huddled in a ball on the forest floor. To my surprise, I had awoken refreshed, as though all of my pain and trauma had been washed away. It was good to be alive, and I was. It was good to be strong, and I was.

The world around me was still completely silent, yet somehow it no longer bothered me. I was freed by my aloneness. What future the forest once held, was no locked inside me. Mine to do with as I wished.

When at last I left the corpse of the woods behind, I was sad to see it go. In a sense, the forest had given birth to me. I was its child as much as my human mother's. I wondered what she would say if I saw her again.

I did not let myself think about that for long.

The first house I came to was an estate at the top of a hill. I could hardly have picked a more grandiose location to start my work. I felt certain what I would find there - an aging absentee landlord, trusting his fortune to a dishonest caretaker, who would, of course, refuse me hospitality unless he saw a profit in me.

It was a long trudge up the hill to the master's house. Snow lay softly on the ground, but I imagined that in the summer months the land would be covered with the sweat of laborers, breaking their backs for the master's gain. My footsteps crunched as I walked.

It occurred to me to wonder why I no longer felt the cold. Perhaps it had something to do with my newfound powers, but perhaps not. I had heard that people who froze to death often lost the ability to tell. Should I hope that this was one more side effect of Lucifer's hold on me? I did not welcome that much connection with the way I felt.

At last I knocked upon the door. I ran through the plan one more time in my head.

Either they invite me in, and I repay them, or they rebuff me and I kill them, I thought. It's best this way. I will teach them a lesson.

I waited for someone to open the door.