Thea and Veol
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The small town sat happily on an ancient hill just above the wine dark ocean. A Greek island: it smiles at passing sailors. More often than not - stopping – to witness the wonders of this beautiful paradise city. Magic and myth waits around every corner, searching for an open ear and an intrigued mind to invade and entertain, like a warm whiskey mist. Just to fill every element of your imagination with purpose and hope. This single city island sits – singing – like a beautiful, perfect siren – beckoning passers by onto the idyllic grassy rock.
Within this town is a lost dream. She waits atop a tower, looking out from her only window on the world. The streets beat below her secluded hide away, and she looks on and on living in the moment, every so often breaking her watch to hunt, in the meagre pallor of the moon’s reflective light, for a bite to eat. The nature of the darkness that fills the night mirrors that of her life. Silent, always watching; and as old and as beautiful as the beginning of all things.
She should no longer exist. A goddess of an ancient time – but now all she can do is watch, in her cell of blind, evil reality. A story of a forgotten time, now nothing more than a beautiful rhyme, sung by small children who play and live for every second. She does not live as the rest of us, considering consequences; she belongs to the order of nature – creating consequences, yet not thinking about them, even for a second.
This island is a prison, built to keep forgotten memories and lost stories deeply buried in the catacombs of eternity. Thousands and thousands of men have travelled to this island to free the Beauty from the tower. For she is not the only thing, which lurks in the darkness and hunts where no man with any care should trespass.
As the sun finally dips itself into the dark abyss of the ocean, she resumes her watch for a wishful adventurer to free her from this eternal prison. The moon’s light now takes possession of the sky; it twists and turns its shadows, helping her search for liberty. And one – hundred – million white eyes watch her in her quest. Each one once held a purpose, each one once told a story. Now each one watches.
As if on an air of silent origins, a ship smoothes the sea’s rough complexion and comes to rest its deck of dead wood upon the living island. The night sky suddenly twists, and then tears as she stands erect, eyes wide-open, mouth agape, as she now looks amazed at her seating sill. Something struck her mind, a forgotten power of a lost time. Like a great lion having heard a gunshot in the distance she stopped, alert, curiously puzzling about the nature of this forgotten feeling.
And so our hero enters this idyllic scene. Where reality shakes hands with impossibility, and time no longer has a home. His body is covered from head to knee in the finest fleeces. Brassy locks trail over his shoulders. One of his hands clutched the hilt of a fine weapon, as if he were preparing for an ambush. But no such event occurs. He walks with purpose across the wooden planks of the dock as if he was promenading to an invisible audience. Not a sound echoed in the distance, nor bird nor rat scurried away, there was only silence, brisk beckoning silence. And silence is never a good sign: it’s purely unnatural.
Crisp brown leaves sit below the maiden’s window in the brightly gloomy plaza. Not a gust of wind breathed enough to shift them, nor a being disturbed their happy tranquillity. Until those days that is. Those days when a stranger comes to visit that mysterious land, entertained with the human stone sculptures which sit like little islands in the sea of dead leaves. They stand in poses, horrifically realistic poses that litter the streets of the town like scarecrows. These strangers all come, in search of gold and love and adventure and Oh – what a foolish game that mortal doth engage in. This hunt for happiness… but happiness had forsaken this place long ago, along with the last red rose, which wilted millennia ago. The hills now cradle only black roses. And the trees, which once produced the most delicious and complex fruit, now only exist in order to carpet the ground, with their leaves, on the way to the castle atop the hill.
Suddenly a brick was hurled into the pool of cool silence sending ripples through the island and a rush of power and mystery filled the dock. A wind rushed through the sailor’s being, like a massive wave, it eroded his confident exterior to reveal his fear, so that the unknown ran around him stirring up a whirling blizzard of irrational fear. Veol, the beauty, smiled.
As quickly as it had appeared the wind ended with an unnatural abruptness. Our hero, our saviour, an ambassador for western humanity, slowly stood from his crouched fear and wearily made his way into the cold silence of the streets. Eventually, after some inspection of a near by “Sex Shop”, he arrived at a quaint ale house named, ‘The Spartan’s Retreat’.
A huge mahogany door stood beckoning at the entrance to the pub. As his hand pushed the handle the door swung open to reveal a quiet secluded bar, surrounded by low tables made of oak. Few people sat around these tables, chattering quietly amongst themselves, not stirring as the traveller entered, hand still on his weapon. At the bar stood a marble statue of a warrior in military attire. His shield bore the emblem of the Spartan army’s of ancient Greece. It stood proudly above a pile of human remains and a plaque which read:
“Through Hate and Love are the wars and fate of a human decided.”
The gold words glowed with a brilliant flame in the light emitted from the candles which lit the tavern. No sooner had he finished reading the candle’s light grew more powerful and lit the room with an unnaturally bright light. A man appeared in the bar and stood as if he had been watching the traveller for some time.
He towered a huge six-foot-seven. His muscles bulged making them clearly visible below his torn grey sweat top. And he smiled pleasantly at the new arrival.
‘Welcome traveller. My name is Thea I own this tavern. How may I entertain you this evening?’
‘My name is Hamϋn’ the traveller replied, almost cautiously and forgetting about his manners which he relied on so frequently in the west, almost as a means of survival.
‘I am afraid I do not know what currency is used here?’ The traveller still feeling his way through the conversation like a blind man in a dark room, not quite sure about where to go, but not necessarily wanting to know the details of the place he inhabits, just searching for a way out. In the kindest possible way.
‘Your money is of no worth here!’ announced Thea, almost laughing, still grinning like a proud lion.
‘Have an ale, on the house my good man!’ Still his broad smile lit the room, echoed off the walls and filled the whole place with the feeling that Thea was actually part of this place, this island. Now Hamϋn began to smile.
With one single movement Thea threw the drink onto the bar, his huge paw being covered with dark water in the process. The candle light which once surrounded the room with the blinding buzz and beautiful smell of fire now dimmed, to a low deeply concentrating gloom. As the lights dimmed, Thea’s brilliant smile melted into a loose, fluid face of concentration and purpose. His happy booming voice lowered to a slow, yet still intriguing, growling whisper.
‘You are here to seek and save the Beauty from the tower?’ His confused question puzzled Hamϋn for a moment, but, drawing a long breath of ale and considering his reply eventually spoke.
‘I had heard of a Beauty in a tower, guarded by beasts. It is my intention to rescue her as a trophy from my voyage.’ A more sinister colder smile drifted across Thea’s face for a second.
‘Some of what has been told is true. There Veol sits, alone, in a castle, defended. Waiting for a hero… such as yourself.’
Once again, in a natural progression it seemed now, the room erupted with light and Thea’s face forgot the grin it had performed but a second before. ‘You will require a place to stay. You will stop here, I will have no argument.’ Before Hamϋn could accept this generous offer he was hurled forward by Thea’s massive hands into a small hallway. Thea leads the traveller; with some pleasure it seems, through the hallway, deeper into his home. The walls are all quilted with blue wallpaper and lined with white lilies, which hang with their heads bowed, from the ceiling.
Thea leads him into a room. Every wall around the room is blood red and at the window sits a vase of red roses. A great four-poster bed stands massively in the corner of the room. A white veil is draped over the top, which conveniently conceals the black wooden posts that cradle the mattress, like a mother cradling her unborn baby. The bed itself is draped with a velvet crimson throw and many sheepskins. The cold hard floor is also layered with thousands of animal pelts – it’s no wonder there are so few animals wondering stray on this island. On one wall is a mirror, which looks to have been dropped by one of the more vane titans during their great battles with the Gods. It reflects ever moment of the rooms existence. The room smiled pleasantly at it’s new occupant, and invited him to relax. Relax, on skins of dead animals and quilts of blood-red silk. One last smile whispered from Thea’s face as he left the room, and closed Hamϋn inside, into the silence.
Hamϋn extinguished the candles that had surrounded the room, and allowed the cool darkness to seep silently in through the closed window. Although it had been night for quite some time the town could not be fully enveloped until those last few lights had been removed. Now the town relaxed. Breathed in the silence. Allowed the darkness to take it.
The travellers dreams scurry from time to time, place to place, taking him on voyages that a ship cannot. He stands in front of the tower, which stands at the top of the hill. It’s talons reach out and pull him inside. The castle beats with light; flames fill every spare inch of the room. An elegant entrance hall, surrounded by marble columns and in the middle stands a beautiful – tall statue of Aphrodite, her eyes a pearly white, her body glistening with gold and her perfect hands clutching a gold box, encrusted with sapphires, rubies and diamonds. A skull and a heart are carved on the latch of the box in white marble, as a warning of its contents. Suddenly, for no reason nor supposed purpose, he is standing in a room. In front of him is a woman so beautiful she looks as if she should belong to the richest man in the world, but she only smiles for him: the traveller. She walks toward him, her mouth smiling and enticing, her perfect reflection rebounded by hundreds of mirrors. The room, the wardrobe, even the bed is made from a repetitive surface their vile black reflective surfaces bounce every moment back into existence: all except the window on the world, which continues to run with time.
Cool birdsong floated through the open window. A smooth breeze slowed the day’s assent into the room. The vase of roses glistened with a natural smile and the day slowly opened out to reveal a warm soft sun stretching across the sky. The red roses lay there and their influence filled the room with a fatigued satisfaction; what a perfect day.
A soft ‘tap-tap’ echoed from the door. Thea emerged from the small oak frame; he seemed smaller in the day, perhaps humbled by the arrival of Apollo’s chariot on the waking of the day.
‘Good morning young sir’ Hamϋn smiled warmly at his early visitor who then produced a tray of assorted food. ‘You slept well I trust?’
‘Oh yes. Best nights sleep in a long time, thank you.’ It was not a complete lie, he had spent three weeks sleeping with rats. Hamϋn took the breakfast of fried bread, sausages and chocolate, devouring it immediately. Shortly after this Thea left Hamϋn to his own thoughts and the morning sun.
When the traveller left his room, he discovered his host cleaning beer glasses behind the bar. Hamϋn’s face glowed with naïve impatience at the adventure that awaited him, like a soldier leaving for war. He thought about the path which lay ahead of him, considering what he would face: how he would win the Beauty.
‘Maybe it is destiny?’ Thea spoke as if he had read what Hamϋn was thinking.
‘Destiny?’ mused the traveller. ‘Maybe’ He continued smiling as he exited the tavern in order to resume his path toward the castle prison.
Every stone sparkles, every flower nods its head calmly as he strides up the winding path toward the castle’s courtyard. Looking for a way into the building he stands, rooted to the spot, slowly swaying with the wind like a sapling in a evening breeze. With a thought from somewhere in the back of his mind, he twists on his heel to see a pile of leaves which have leaned themselves against a rotting cream wall. There he sees it. The giant bulk of the wooden door. His eyes looked upward toward the blue sky and all that was visible was the castle which perched itself on the hill of the island. Its talons gripped the ground with a scouring ferocity one would expect from a bird of prey. The dark grey stone that covered the castles face looked menacingly down on it’s victim like a hawk which has spotted it’s prey.
As Hamϋn approached the door it threw itself open. He stepped inside, every nervous step bounced through the room with a painful boom. The sky cracked open and ripped in two with pain, like the curtain a the synagogue when Christ was crucified and betrayed by those he loved.
The epic entrance hall crouches in the presence of this fresh mortal, it inspects him with a jeweller’s eye, quivering with excitement. A beautiful gold statue of the Goddess Aphrodite stands smiling pleasurably, greeting the man. Her hands politely cupping a box which is almost certainly filled with the hopes and dreams of adventurers. It’s jewelled material casing mirrors it’s inner value, the value of a heart’s desire. A skull and a heart are burned into the lock and now the skull grins knowingly at Hamϋn’s face. His mouth in a stupid expression of surprise, although he must have expected the room to welcome him as it does. Fire jumped from just a few candles and hundreds suddenly flickered into existence. Their light sprang from wall to wall, hugging the blue pillars and sucking the colour out of them. The man’s eyes were soon drawn toward a door that had been painted completely red in a haste, or so it seems. Hamϋn headed for the door his run stuttering as his haste quickened and the feelings of paranoia slipped in and out of his thoughts.
The door slid open before he reached it and revealed it’s cold cave-like interior. The cold darkness whistled around him, the wind blew from all directions slapping his face, gnawing at his nerves – every dreadful moment sickened him. The fire grew low and the wind subsided leaving darkness in its wake. Now every cold inch of the room was quilted with a thick tangible darkness. It moved.
‘Who goes there?’ Hamϋn ordered, remembering his protocol for such situations. He drew his weapon and at that instant fourteen green sparkles shone in the darkness.
The torch suddenly boomed into action, remembering its purpose in time. But now Hamϋn longed for the darkness and the unknown, for even his imagination had not created such a monster. A great seven-headed wolf grinned its sharp teeth at him. It’s black matted fur twisted around its body, wound around its flesh causing it to belittle the room. The wolf’s heads snaked upward and it’s legs heaved its body from the bitter ground.
‘Mortals may not trespass here,
Foolish are they their flesh shall seer.
But you have entered and there’s no escape,
So your soul my masters shall take.
Throw it to eternity,
In that river it will always be.
Set in stone you will be,
A monument to humanity.’
A rage grew in the traveller, the room seemed to shrink, his muscles pulled into him and with one shot from his weapon he slays the wolf. He continued with a barrage of blows until it lay like a pool of dark fur on the floor of the cold darkness. His legs carried him over its corpse, and led him through the tunnel that waited behind the room. The tunnel filled with dark silence.
The silence took him. It soaked into his body like water into the ocean. Natural, pure, beautiful - nothingness. Then, out of the nothingness, out of the cold and rhythmic stream of silence floated a few notes of a majestic song, as if on an invisible breeze they drifted into his soul. His eyes opened. Light, warm and loving light spread through the world with every note. The wind’s song filled his every movement with a purpose and reason out of reach for any normal human. Pure blissful song. The sound slipped and swam through the night-like air, entertaining his senses, filling every solitary wall with an impenetrable light which smiled and welcomed the visitor into it’s abode.
But our hero could not be saved from the blindness of inevitability. Each moment had in some way lead to this, clues to the end of his story, which every man is too blind to see. From the moment the Fates set out his plan, a great plan - on a forgotten and lost tapestry, all lead to this. This. This - Sadness at the inevitable, perpetual end to life.
Hamϋn looked blindly at the beauty who stood before him. His eyes scanning and rescanning the essence of her perfection – searching for a single characteristic which made her human. But none existed. Not even the mirrors, which shrouded each wall from time and merely showed a sinister repetitively of the scene, not even they managed to remind Hamϋn that perfection is the incarnation of hope. Hope: the last of the evils to emerge from the depths of that box which drowned the human world with the need for destruction and material possessions.
She spoke ‘I am Veol’ So perfect - so beautiful. ‘I believe that you have come to save me?’ Well it is the first sight of Love.
‘Yes’ Yes? Is that all this man can say when he meets a beauty? Well that’s not a good start to an end.
‘I mean – Yes, come milady, we shall ride the waves back to the west and you shall be my Queen.’ That’s it, tell her how you feel! Each empty word he speaks always mocking himself.
‘No that will not do’ Veol said, her eyes smiling, her face began to fade, her eyes, her nose, her being, until only her hair and a beautiful smile remained etched in reality. The mortal, poor wretch, stands still, as do they all, unable to move as Veol’s hair stands to attention, one thousand snakes twisting in to the air and there he stands, confused, terrified. Like a statue.
The room begins to fade away, melting into the streets; only the bright fiery mirrors remain. But instead of reflecting the moment, they are filled with a different second of the traveller’s continuous journey. An island – a statue – a dream – a fiery red rose. Time had finally settles itself in Hamϋn, and with a flash of peaceful light, he joins the dead leaves which float on top of the rivers of the silent town. And a new face is added to those that litter the streets, its fine stone and the golden hair flickering in the sun’s light as dips itself into the ocean at the beginning of each and every night without fail. So it would seem that all men who enter a dream are governed by Love and Hate and death, and for those who control these elements they will live ever after the last man fades into a memory.
Remember my friend, despite all you are, all we are, the universe will tick on, long past our departure.