Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chapter Thirty

Nothingness and darkness, a window reflecting an empty world.

It senses someone’s approach – a weak, wounded heartbeat – but there is no need to prepare.

Let it come. Let it come.

Shuffling, dragging steps.

Ragged, wet breaths.

A long pause.

And finally, a tentative, fearful scratch at the window.

“Mirror, mirror,” comes a hesitant, muffled voice, “let me see.” It takes a moment to construct the proper finale to the summoning. “When will someone come help me?”

It’s a pitiful, clumsy rhyme, spoken without conviction. But the words were said, and the words are power, and the demon must answer the call.

A mask-like visage melts up from the emptiness of the mirror. With empty eyes, it takes in the unfamiliar surroundings. It matters little, all that is of consequence are the summoner and the question.

The demon in the mirror gazes upon its caller, and its black mouth curls into the smallest of smiles. An animal. How amusing. It must have taken great courage for the beast to even approach.

And a wounded wolf – no longer very big, no longer very bad - cowers before the Mirror. His blood-caked fur bristles at the powerful, terrible magic. Like all animals, he fears the unnatural power of the Mirror.

The demon looks down on the Wolf and considers the question to be one wisely posed. The creature is dying, slowly but surely, and will certainly perish unless it is helped.

Mildly curious, still amused, the demon looks backward to the days before. It sees a pig’s hammer fall, again and again, on the Wolf. A desperate strike against mouth and rib and paw. A meal hard-won. A life hard-lost. Revenge had its price.

Out of duty, out of slavery, it looks forward to the days beyond. And then, rewarding such a graceless question with a graceless answer, the demon murmurs its prophecy in a dark, hollow voice:

“Two will come ere the full moon fall. One stands short, one stands tall. One is a beauty, one is plain. They’ll be the ones to end your pain.”

It takes a moment to savor the dismay in the Wolf’s yellow eyes, and then fades away into the darkness.

The voice of the Wolf echoes after the demon, lost in the murk of eternity. “That’s not an answer!” he howls. “That sounds like they’re gonna kill me! They’re supposed to save me!”

But the spell has been satisfied, the question has been answered, and the Mirror only shows a desperate, broken Wolf, trapped in an empty world.