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She opened the desk drawer and pulled out the snow globe her father had given her. The crystal ball of the globe sparkled with star dust and played an angels' song, which brought a child's tear to her eye.
Inside the small musical box with the pink satin lining lie glinting earrings, star emeralds the color of her eyes. Gifted by the Iron Knight, they represented a symbol of love and fidelity, a sign of steadfast faith, and she emitted a heavy sigh of contentment as she placed them on her ears.
She took one long lasting look around the room. In one corner stood the harp in blossoms whose beautiful melody, song of griffwing, was lovely. In the other corner stood the nephrite fan, its feathers creating a rainbow of color in the room. Above the old chest was an elf's portrait, her dearest friend and owner of the potion shop in town. Her medicine cabinet contained many elf potions...potion of candor, potion of kind mage, vivacity potion, blood flow potion, bemusing potion and live potion. None of which proved very helpful while her beloved was away. Behind the portrait was a hole in wall that contained the night watch safe. The safe housed only perfect gems liked the black diamond, night amethyst and winter sapphire. Each had been expertly cut in the royal jeweler’s workshop.
There was her doll showcase which housed her beloved figurines collection, along with her doll of oblivion, cursed doll and voodoo doll. Anabel had two “normal” dolls, her Lydia doll which was the only thing remaining from her childhood and a Little Match Girl doll, who tugged at her heartstrings with those enormous eyes shedding a single tear. Then there was the sylvan chest that contained all her costume ball favorites...mask of pursuit, mask of virtue, mask of death, chimera's mask, mantle of evil ghost and sea devil complete with sea devil's tail. Her elf friend once went dressed as a crafty leprechaun (not a plain leprechaun, mind you, but a crafty one) with his jaunty leprechaun hat, lucky clover and magic pipe.
Just then she heard footsteps and the ringing silver sound of the iridescent chime on the Knight’s pocket watch that hung from a golden chain from his pocket. She sent it to him before his last journey as a reminder of the measure of time away and would hopefully create a gnawing pain to return to her. How handsome he must look in his knight’s regalia with his medal of strength and courage used to pin a large scarlet sash across his chest. The whims of fate worked against their love, creating the lure of adventure that fanned the flame of zeal for a knight’s honor that could not be sated by her alone. This time apart was proof of how she felt; the stamp of pain and heavy heart would always be an infusion of suffering whenever he would leave. But her silent scream of suffering would give way to small joy and the dawn of hope upon his return.
In spite of the opulence of her surroundings, her life had been nothing more than a labyrinth of doom from the day she peered into the mirror of fate. She saw a slumbering vampire condemned to a vicious cycle of blood thirst, victimizing and sleeping. All that changed the day the Iron Knight held her hand by the toppled carriage. Unconsciously, she began rubbing her vampire’s palm where her life and love lines inexplicably formed the faintest Letter W. He was a werewolf, second in line to the Werewolf Clan throne and he marked her that day. Their lives were forever bound and now he was back.
Once upon a time, the Knight had simply been a gentleman of fortune. His father always said he was born under the sign of war, a war fought behind a forest curtain between werewolves and elves. He was certainly no apologist of violence, but the law of wisdom judged for every sign of the predator, there had to be a sign of the fallen. Each death added to the blood of the earth and made hallow the ground on which they were felled. The beastly savagery of war never resulted in a mark of fairness, and the heritage of sorrow that followed was rarely worth it. The dangerous relations between the werewolves and elves continue to this very day.
The Iron Knight just returned from his latest trip, grabbed his key for all doors, unlocked the office door and lit a lantern so bright it resembled a lightning thrower. The mosaic panel, a glass painting really, threw a sparkling mist of light, like the color of magic, around the room. There was a music banner with a note sign on one wall, and a large, pathfinder’s compass on the other. The compass was believed to have been the property of an old gnome king and its compass rose’s four cardinal directions were illustrated with a heart of the north, stinger of the south, claws of the west and wing of the east. On the wall right across from his writing corner was a wall shield etched with his family’s armor & banners.
He always seemed rune bound on his journeys and the latest one was no exception. He opened his rune chest, and gingerly placed his latest acquisition, the rune of purity, among the runes already collected on his journeys….rune of cave spirit, rune of cruelty, rune of ignition, rune of law, rune stone, air rune, earth rune, fire rune, hunter’s rune, smashing rune, stinging rune and water rune. Completing the rune scroll was important to him, so he indulged in his fascination without understanding his obsession. Someday, he would set out to find the fabled rune altar where all the answers he sought could be found. Someday. In an old chest on his desk, he kept his stamps…plain, rare, unique and unusual, all very valuable. On the mantle above the old fireplace stood his hunting trophy, valuable trophy and battle trophy. All were trappings of his thirst for profit and adventure.
To one side, lay a checkmate board, with battle bishop, checkmate king, chess piece, king pawn and knight of night waiting to be played. Laid out in one dresser drawer were his belts and buckles; fire belt, hero belt, fine buckle, raptorial buckle and buckle of full moon. On a high shelf, lined like soldiers, headgear from past eras stood at attention…charon’s helmet, last hero’s helmet, militiaman’s helmet and even an ancient executioner’s cap.
After dressing, he was resplendent in his knight armor and his beautiful, black velvet hooded cloak with a large impeccable society symbol medallion emblazoned with his family crest, an armorial lion, crossed blades and armored bear centered on a golden plaque and surrounded by a wreath of justice, all finished in golden leaf. It was attached at his shoulder by a chained eagle.
Tonight a very different call of adventure echoed in his head and it took all the courage and tenacity he could muster to wander out for the day. The burning sun was a blinding disc of sun amber, forcing him to shield his eyes. He walked past the broken well, around the fire fountain, past the old chamberlain statue and city clock in the square and headed towards the book-lover’s shop. He relished the unshakeable stronghold his image had on the masses. He dawdled among the ancient manuscripts then moved on. A broken carriage lay next to the road sign leading up to the theater.
The theater district was the place to see and be seen, and his sign of tactics was to do exactly that. He sauntered up to the theater cloakroom to check his cloak, acutely aware his presence placed a heavy load of envy on every other man. It was then he first saw her. She represented feminine purity, born with refined proportions and prophetic eyes, the color of fern, which seemed to see things beyond his grasp. She bore a slight resemblance to the fairy sculpture in the blooming pond beyond the tree of life. His own rapacious eye could not get it’s fill of her. Then, just as suddenly as she appeared, she was gone.
He tried in vain to find her but, defeated, he retrieved his cloak from the cloak room and stomped out of the theater. The blast of darkness from the sphere of night obliterated the moon glow from the orb of moonlight which hung in the night sky. The soaring cold chilled his warm breath into an ice breath, making the world feel like a blizzard bowl, forcing him to pull his cloak tight. He couldn’t blink away the fog of the future, her quivering face was still looming right in front of him and the attentive stare of her eyes bored right into his parched soul. As he forged ahead, he heard the evening bells ringing from the belfry. He found himself following the dancing paper lanterns around the rock garden’s rock tree that had a deep gash in its bark in the shape of an ent’s mouth. In the tree face there was a large tree hole, maybe home to the elusive six-paws, and the root faces were gnarled and menacing.
As he rounded the corner with the broken mailbox, the tavern came into view. The rather ordinary wooden door of the tavern had a very large stranglehold knocker, replete with a roaring lion mounted on a bronze circle, which he ignored completely and just reached for the grasping handle.
With a glint of greed in his eyes, the Knight a beeline right for the gaming table, threw down a few golden coins and was dealt into the fatal deck. The playing cards being dealt didn’t seem to include the Queen of Hearts. The card of destiny did not show favorably for him this night and he was beaten with the ace of old leader. He moved to the next table, but the dancing dice held no promise either.
The innkeeper had just inserted a corkscrew in the first of many bottles of elvish wine ordered by the Knight when suddenly there was a piercing shriek and wild wail from outside the tavern. Everyone clamored to the door. A demon spite, likely born from the spawn of darkness, suffered an abrupt interrupted flight during his nightly foraging. The winged brute had a demon’s eye, dragon horn on the tip of its nose, a dragon’s tongue lolling about the mouth, fairy serpent-shaped ears and talons like cold fire clamps. Its wings of darkness created a mini dustbowl as it attacked a carriage, leaving a huge beast’s scratch on the roof. The driver, poor fellow, went to his eternal kingdom with that eye of darkness his last memory as he lost control and the carriage toppled over.
The Knight approached the carriage, reached for the handle, and those eyes swam up to him from the darkness inside. He was wrong, not the color of fern…much, much darker. Like the emerald tablet he found on his last far eastern trip and just as impenetrable. Her hair was the color of obsidian ink and, from the jostling in the carriage, had become loose and wild, resembling an obsidian whirlwind.
He helped Anabel and her ageless guardian from the tattered carriage. The guardian’s chest seemed to be heaving rapidly, so he ordered someone to bring a bottle from the tavern. He was still holding Anabel’s small, soft hand in his strong hands long after the need but his taut mind binds refused to let in any word of the living. Not a drop of time elapsed while he held her hand. Finally getting hold of his senses, he introduced himself and managed to bring the full force essence of his stature to bear. “Anabel”, her name was like the ringing of a soft melody temple flute. He assured the guardian he had only good intentions and his subdued mind was pacified under her kind eye of wisdom. He asked and was granted permission to call the following day.
The Knight, sporting the spirit of victory of a tireless racer reentered the tavern. A drunken skeleton of a man was leaning heavily against the brewing machine, which was embossed with a heavy seal of hops seal. The Knight ordered drinks all around then filled his heavy brass cup with velvet ale to the brim several times. With his impending drunkenness, the cup became too heavy so he traded it for an oak mug. The innkeeper’s monkey bandied about stealing any gold coins left unattended. But no amount of drink or merriment could assuage those eyes from haunting his every thought. After she disappeared out of sight, he found a flower from her hair on the ground. He gingerly fingered it now, enjoying the scent of roses and amber tear. He reached into his cape, brought out his pocket luck box made from obsidian splintered from a huge specimen and placed the flower there for safekeeping. He couldn’t believe his almighty luck and surely finding her was a symbol of requital for all he had been through. He felt a wind of change coming his way.
Anabel’s once heavy heart of time past gave way to the light-bringing sign that was the Knight. She had been a flower of suffering, crushed by the burden of obedience. Now, suddenly, the star of romance shown in the night sky and her dark, dreary world suddenly became a mosaic of life drenched in colors from a rainbow stone. Metaphorically, no longer was she a wailer in black wearing a widow’s shroud; but rather like Alice in Wonderland chasing the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole. No longer would there be any mourning of the soul or melody of despair; she was happy for the first time in her life.
Suddenly, The Knight couldn’t remember the last time he ate, so he wandered over to the bar counter with its own shining split filled with scrumptious unique dishes. He gorged himself on simple food, special food, unique food and rare food. The tavern even dabbled in some exclusive food, like spotted-winged parrot egg soufflé and grim eagle owl egg quiche. Once his thirst and hunger had been quenched, he went outside for a few puffs on his smoking device. He shook ash particles from his cloak and noticed wizard Transformer Magus had set up a tent nearby. Dressed for the part in necromancer’s clothes and holding a magic caster, Magus lured patrons with the promise of a word of the dead using his all-seeing eye. The Knight threw down a few imperial thalers and the wizard looked deeply into his wizard’s ball. He looked up at the Knight with a severe stare and claimed the Knight had fell victim to an ancient bloody hex. Magus said the Knight was suffering from the plague button curse and only an incarnation sign from a heaven descendant could break the curse. He would not find happiness or true everlasting love until then. The Knight’s blood volume boiled at this folly and with the brute force of a hell hound, he grabbed Magus and shook him until coins fell as if from a cash register.