The Blackthorn Tree (Delving Deeper into the Cathedral) – The Trinity Series

Walking down her nave reminded me of a swan’s throat, long and elegant but doused in gluttonous hunger. Looking up into the gothic wonder, she seemed to reach for heaven, her longing arches creaking in strain and her pigmented windows blacken by an unseen hand. The Cathedral was unlike any structure or rather anything I had ever seen, as her design was even strange and foreign to other churches built in her likeness. She had the dim, dampness of dusk, and the figures and faces that inhabited her innards were all things but holy. Skeleton shapes embalmed in her walls, ghoulish faces and hobgoblin type forms sprouted from her arcs and shadowed corners. I felt as if the very hands of the Moon had forged her into being, as she was a living entity, a creature, that breathed and moved and watched me through her pillared teeth.

I shivered and pulled my cloak hood over my head and enveloped myself in its folds, not in so much of an attempt to bring me warmth but comfort; I could not shake the feeling of eyes upon me everywhere.

As I delved deeper down her stretching gullet from out the dark I saw her pulpit emerge, and as I neared an astonished gasp let loose from my lips as through the dim light I saw the alter cracked, split in two, and from between the broken slabs a mighty Blackthorn stood, seemingly dead. Its bark had callused from thirst and its branches twisted in writhing creeps, like that of bone fingers crawling up into the beams and gothic arches.

A chill went down my spine as I stood beneath its reaching branches. In the dark it had the appearance of some coiling ghost, some Shadow Thing that would grow from out the bedroom corners and spread like wildfire across the walls. I felt a tightening around my heart as I longed to see a berry, a bloom, or even a newly birthed stem of life breaking through the tree’s bitter, blackened barbed shell. But it was rank of death. However, I also new it to be a falsehood, an invention of trickery, as I could feel its wood teaming with energy and power. The Blackthorn was a flume for magic, that spilled from it like a waterfall and was undoubtedly the Magician’s doing. It was a ward — a warning — to those who entered into his domain. A symbol of influences at work beyond my control. I stood before it, this elder god of earth, and then with such sudden grace the Blackthorn did begin to lift its roots, as though a sea-creature from out the deep, and in awe I looked down into its gut and saw an archway come to form by weavings of its undergrounds; the roots raised high, the darksome gateway beckoning, and silence spread as I heard a single drop of water fall. The Blackthorn’s call; thick of magic.

Taking a self-encouraging breath I stepped over the knotted roots that had taken claim of the pulpit, and cautiously ambled towards the viscous gloom, its presence heavy on my body like dense moisture and mist. Staring down into the endless dark, my eyes sought for a light but none existed, and in hesitation I took one final look back at the Cathedral door, the glow of the outside world now but a pinprick in a seeming obscure universe. Her nave stretching for miles, and the pews now took on the appearance of ribs in my mind.

My hand balled in a fist held tightly to my chest, I fell slowly into the darkness, and behind me came a howl as I heard the colossal doors of the gothic Cathedral hammer close, surely sealing me in night.

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