Resplendent were the Lords and Ladies, wrapped in rich woolens and swishing silks. Music meandered merrily, damsels danced deliriously, the hearty aroma of roasting meats and fowls and a scent of cinnamon covered all. Warm wine spiced with nutmeg loosened gales of laughter, which tumbled through the castle and spilled out the windows to warm the soft darkness like cheerful candles chasing away the gloom of night.
It was a feast like none other, a feast to celebrate the child king whose coming was long delayed and long desired. The stars of heaven rejoiced, gamboling across the velvet vault of indigo sky, a joyous gyre, a paean of praise.
Suddenly, the declaration of doom itself, a thunderous clap and a flash of feral fire impaled the night, the bright butterfly of jubilee pinned lifeless to the cold stone floor.
The fearful screechings of night creatures was in his voice, and the smoldering and sizzling of cauldrons of brimstone.
“It is a fearful thing, to have a feast and not your Lord of Darkness to receive.
A child king, of Him you sing, and think you free, but now you see, you are deceived.
The moat that girds this place, has you now in my embrace
And will not let you go,
To him who tries to venture out
Comes illness upon illness and woe upon woe
Dare not my dire doom to doubt”
Lamentations rose to fill the space sucked dry by the Dark Lord’s haughty departure. Some brave knights immediately formed a company and boldly charged out of the castle. Their piteous cries as valor evaporated in the icy clutches of watery doom chilled the castle’s denizens.
Years slipped away, leaves falling from the tree, now becoming brittle with the hopelessness of age. Early was the industry of defiance, the imaginations of hope, but strategy and scheme toppled with wearying succession into the fetid, violent moat that clasped the castle in its unbreakable grasp. Despair and decay seeped into the very bones of the fortress.
Alone immune from the enveloping despair, the child king grew to manhood, the golden glow of promise rested on him, brighter than any crown. There was peace in his presence and joy in his eyes. He looked across the turbid, roiling waters, and the bees brought the nectar from distant flowers, and brightly plumed birds brought plums in their beaks. High flying hawks provided from their prey, and the castle was fed, enough if not well.
There was music in his teaching, and wisdom in his singing, and many grew to love him, while others found peril in the hopes he raised, and conspired to throw him into the moat, the better for all to see and accept the futility of opposing the Dark Lord.
On a day in spring, where the light shone fiercely bright with unbearable and heartbreaking sunshine, the young King threw open the doors to the outside castle wall and began to sing of his father’s kingdom, which knew not the dark ensorcelled grasping of watery death, but was a place of untrammeled freedom and adventure. Enraged and terrified, the castle keeper and his guards seized the young King and hurled him into the evil water.
A thunderous clap, a flash of feral light, and then, a scent of cinnamon, as the once roiling waters began to flow, peaceful and pellucid, where now stood a wondrous stone bridge, wide enough for a company of knights to ride across, reaching from castle gate to distant meadows.
Slowly, timidly, the castle’s denizens felt their way across the span, gaining confidence and vigor with each stride. Finally they began to run and leap and shout for joy on feeling the far earth beneath their feet and breathing air beyond the castle keep.
And now on nights when the stars of heaven gambol across the velvet vault of indigo sky, a joyous gyre, a paean of praise, many stroll upon that wondrous bridge and swear they find wisdom in the singing of the waters lapping against its pillars, and hear music in the memory of the Child King’s teaching in their ears, and breathe the scent of cinnamon that fills the festive air.
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