This Week’s Prompt: 51. Enchanted garden where moon casts shadow of object or ghost invisible to the human eye.
The Research:In The Garden I Saw A Shade
Let me tell you a story.
Once there was a mountain. The mountain was a wall of milky marble at the top of the world. It was said by wise men and sages that the core of this mountain was ice, giving it it’s hue, and that layers and layers of snow kept it so. The stones striking out of it, the dirt and dust forming a coating several feet thick, were the products of the great winds that whipped along it’s sides. These winds brought with them every storm of the world, that they might come to the summit of the world and there deposit themselves and die. So the top of this mountain was obscured from mortal sight.
It was said then and I say it now, there was a garden atop that most desolate place. How? Well, through the mountain of ice and stone ran a singluar capillary of warm water, a bubbling spring. And the winds, dreadful as they were, brought seeds from the world over. And the rains watered them as the storms sank dying, walls of clouds falling away. And such was the garden, that it was known the world over by those invisible things. Gods, demons, and magicians of the most subtle art came to the garden, blessing it with their own additions. They brought animals to hunt and run, they brought sweet companions to entertain, they brought houses and thrones, to enjoy the top of the world.
It was said further that only one tree of worth was not planted by the gods. Priests and sages said that once, an acorn was taken on the wind. Now an acorn is a sturdy seed, and when planted gives birth to an insatiable and marvelous tree. And it must have been doubly so for this seed was whisked on the winds, through the feircest of storms. Lighting laced it, and refined it in the way that fire forges steel and purifies water. To an untrained eye, the seed was shrinking, growing thin and barely there at all. But to those with proper sight, it was a terror, glowing with vitality. It was something like a divine, waiting to be born.
And so it landed on the ground, and by it’s own will dug down.And they say, pilgrims and mystics, that a tree did grow. And from this tree a fruit, every ten thousand years, will sp ring. A fruit that holds that infinite vitality, which is invisible to the untrain eye, but casts a shadow in the full moon.
Three such pilgrims, the story goes, had made their way to the great mountain at the top of the world. The three had all grown old and foolish in their wisdom, as all do when they think themselves wise. They had traveled far from their warm homes among shifting sands, far from their monasteries and temples and scholarly halls. They knew much.
The first one, we’ll call him Ib, was the one with the notion to scale the impossible mountain, and see the garden of the gods. Ib had long desired, as a lost priest and slowly blind scholar, to see the gods before all was lost to him. It was presumed by learned men like Ib that the fruit of the tree born of thunder would given him that much, at least, if not more. Ib walked bent over with a crooked staff that at the top split in half, forming a Y shape. It was said by his companions that only things within the branches were visible to old Ib.
Nel was the second one. Nel was no fallen pilgrim. She wore a birght robe of scarlet, and a silver staff helped him up the mountain. Nel was a pilgrim who had supped all the wine of the world, and was glorious in her own time, having broken kingdoms and temples with swords and axes. She scaled the mountain after scouring the location from priests and fleeing wisemen and loyal sorcerers, who predicted to the last that atop the mountain was a power. That to surmount the world’s head would grant the conquering queen unlimtied power.
The third was a nameless one. They were neither beggar nor queen, but someone from the mass between. What was promised to the third traveler is not well remembered, and there is no small amount of disputation and disagreement on the matter. It was something of great worth to them, and to no other, yet their common nature obscures what could be of such worth. It is said, sometimes, that it was merely to taste the wonder, regradless of it’s properities, that impelled this pilgrim forward.
So the three walked up the mountain, to the top that was shrouded in whirling winds and perpetual clouds. The hike above was perilous, and lined with shrines that other, less successful voyagers had left. Frozen bodies were left, that the winds might carry them one day up to the top. The oldest were buried into the sides of the mountain or had fallen around the edge of the bottom of the great mountain. Few of the most ancient priests were no longer recognizable as men and women…of course it was possible that they were never human to begin with and were of some older and nobler sects. Their bodies were past over without much remark.
At long last, the top came fully into veiw. And there was but a single gate, which was dimly visible beneath the thick and storm burdened fog, crackling with the dying streaks of lighting. There, at the great gate, was one of those things that are gods and demons, but niether. It stood as tall as a giant, they say, with a great sword that struck the four corners simeltaneously. The sword was cracked and broken into seven shards, but still stood in the guardians hand. For the gaurdian would not permit something as simple as age to end its weapon.
The guardian’s head was like a great golden bulls with a mask of an iron eagle. It had a robe of darkness about it, that blurred the line between it and the walls of clouds around it. With a single gleaming eye it gazed down upon the pilgrims, waiting for them to speak. For some come to the guardian for sage wisidom and leave, they say. For none have overpowered the guardian.
And old Ib approached, bowed and humble. He knelt as best he could, and muttered before the one eyed guardian the prayers for entry as known in a hundred temples. He rendered himself meek before the holy, that it might embrace him.
And so the guardian with ease thrust him down the great mountain, to join his brother beggars and saints.
Nel stepped forward, hand upon her staff and a scarlet rob flying in the wind. Like a fire she stood, staring at the guardian defiant. It’s eye alighted on her, as she waited unmoved and unbowed. And the guardian moved aside that she might pass.
The third one gave no pause and merely walked passed the guardian, who could not make out the third figures form or nature. Nothing was so subtle that the guardian of the garden could not see it. But rather, there was too much in the third one that they were a multitude as they walked for the guardian to rend judgement. And the third one did not care for the guardian in any matter.
The garden within I have already spoken of, and yet it was more beutifiul then words could commune. A dim silver light, shone down, as if all of heaven was the moon. As Nel strode through the garden, she searched for the great and rarified tree of legend. She found many strange tees, with fruit like meat or limbs that had fire for sap. But no sight of the strange tree.
Nor, to Nel’s confusion, of any of the gods or spirits that frequented the garden. None, that was, until she saw dimmly on the walls a multitude of shadows of hunters riding beasts. And heard a sound all to familiar to her warrior ears, of a bowstring drawn and arrows flying. And so the queen fled the hunters in the garden. For the gods have no use for beggars, and the lords of the earth are their hunting game.
The Third One walked in ignorance, and found that legendary fruit as the gods chased the red deer. They supped on thunder and lighting, sitting beneath the tree, now a thing like it. And they faded from sight, a thing boundless like thunder and immovable like wind, descending down onto the realm of mortals on the occasion to delight in earthquakes and fires.
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