“Fire.” I barely breathed, my mouth agape and heart fluttering as a bird’s. “Feed it, and the flames thrive. But give it drink, and it will die.” As I whispered my voice went high and cracked at the end, as I tried to fight away my fears to keep the tears from flowing.
The Magician remained unmoving, stoic in feel and energy. The vines that held me were persistent; never once did they let up their grasp, and the wisteria that had fasten itself as my choker, with its beautiful blue blossom agog in my left eye, seemed to speak to me in tantalizing, hushed flower tongue, daring me to make a move. Her blue lips voiceless saying, ‘Should you fight, your effort be blight. Should you cry, you may die…’
But my eyes were fixed on the Dark Magician, his face of blacken’d swirling oil so void of light. It was as if a god had ousted his eyes and features, filled the cavity with darkness—so like a mask, absent of any life; an abyss that you could sink into, and not expect to reach bottom. And as he gazed at me, over me, and through me, I felt the same hollowness, the same unknowing emptiness and yet fullness. My senses were all a’scramble and yet sensations inadmissible. I could not trust anything around me, not even myself. His powers were too great; I was at the mercy of an Ultimate Illusionist.
His left foot he stomped in an almost tap-dancing romp as the plants receded in such haste I toppled to the floor with a yelp. I quickly disentangled myself and clamoring to my knees I gasped and touched my throat, relieved to have the wisteria vine gone. The Magician had once again turned statuesque, but I saw his dark face ripple as though cold, thick water.
“Correct.” I heard him chime, “That is your answer.”
I sat there, dumbfounded, no longer afraid once again. My feelings were all over the map, I could not place him, and therefore I could not place my position.
What was I doing here again?
I got to my feet, not sure if I should speak. As I straightened up he popped his heels. Then, with much dramatic flair he outstretched his right arm and from out his palm a twisted wooden cane shot out, a whooshing sound emitting, and twirling it but twice ’round his hand before planting it onto the ground with a thunk and leaning on it muesli, he then spoke, his voice like that of fine wine.
“Fire. Is the answer. To what you seek.” he then tilted his head downward; if he had eyebrows I feel I would have seen them raised, “To what you desire. To what you dream. It is. The end of your journey. The prize to which you have captured. Now before you. Fire.”
My eyes had become without lids, as I gazed at him, this Dark Magician. Why had he called me here? Countless nights filled without sleep, nights filled with screaming and terrors and wonders. His form clouding me in my mind, haunting me and now before me. Here, in the wake of all my struggle and pain, I suddenly knew nothing. How long had I been in this place? The Cathedral and her buttresses seemed so long ago, so far away. What came before then? I had overcome his obstacles. I had tripped through his unrealities and played all his games. Hadn’t I? And to what end, more games? I didn’t know what he meant, I came because he had called me. But now I wondered, why did I come here. Had he called me at all?
“Go home little girl,” his voice was hard but fatherly, “I gave you what you came for, fed it to you from a platter of gold. But you know naught what to do with it.” The Magician turned his back to me, “Go home.”
And before I knew what was happening, I watched him fade away into the background like a ghost, and with him he took all the woodbine and bindweed, every last bit of plant life and blooms, and then he took all the light. Once again I sat alone in darkness, a numbing silence rising through my bones and dissipating into the now-night. And when several moments passed and I could bare it no longer, I released an anguished cry and let my hands fill with my tears.