An Ancient Tome

I wrote a paper on JRR Tolkien for an independent study while in school in London thirty years ago. Time is beating the crap out of me, no doubt. So I wanted to travel to Oxford to have look at a few original sources kept in the University libraries.

One of my professors proudly supplied me with a pass. However, I did not realize there were limitations to the pass. Much to the horror of the librarians, I was drawn to a restricted section full of ancient tomes. Most were locked behind glass. That should have been a hint.

There was, among those moldy old books, one left unintended written in a script and language I could not decipher. On impulse, I picked it up thus earning my lifetime banishment from that library.

It was totally worth it, despite the possible apocalyptic horror it might have unleashed. Oopsie.

In the  moment I touched that book, I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. Possibly  brought on by the horror of the ruddy security guard sputtering at me. I prefer to believe that electrified pulse came from the book itself, the book wanting to impart its contents to someone, anyone.

All books are magic. I have no clue what was in the book I came across, be it spells of a lost power or possibly a transcription of some church records. I never could find out. My escort, the one that unceremoniously threw me out of the library into the rain, only lectured me on how rude Americans could be and would hear no excuses from me.

I only had my imagination to go by. I think the script was Gaelic of some kind. It possibly came from a monastary but I don’t even know how old the book might have been. I did not have enough time to examine the vellum. Might it have been crafted of human skin? There was a time… but such parchment would not hold ink for so long. Well, unless there was some evil enchantment at work. Definitely a possibility.

My imagination crafted that old restricted book into a grimoire, a spell book for the darkest of sorcerers. And so filled my nights with horrors for years after, some demon force chasing me across time and space.

Now, I seek a way to defeat the dark magic unleashed on me by that ancient tome, to tame or banish the demons that rose with its powers. Sadly, books of miracles, are so rare. Well, I never could find one equal to the demons that haunt me so I decided I would write one, an Idyll. I am running out of time. I can’t hold off those demons  much longer.

I do apologize if my jaunt into the restricted section of the library ultimately leads to a zombie apocalypse. Awkward.

An Ancient Tome

I wrote a paper on JRR Tolkien for an independent study while in school in London, this thirty years ago. Time is beating the crap out of me, no doubt. So I wanted to travel to Oxford to have look at a few original sources kept in the University libraries.  I am big on original sources.

One of my professors proudly supplied me with a pass. However, I did not realize there were limitations to the pass. Much to the horror of the librarians, I was drawn to a restricted section full of ancient tomes. Most were locked behind glass. That should have been a hint.

There was, among those moldy old books, one left unintended written in a script and language I could not decipher. On impulse, I picked it up thus earning my lifetime banishment from that library.

It was totally worth it, despite the possible apocalyptic horror it might have unleashed. Oopsie.

In the  moment I touched that book, I felt a surge of energy pulse through me. Possibly  brought on by the horror of the ruddy security guard sputtering at me, but I rather believe that electrified pulse came from the book itself, the book wanting to impart its contents to someone, anyone. Or possibly it unleashed the apocalypse, given current events.

All books are magic. I have no clue what was in the book I came across, be it spells of a lost power or possibly a transcription of some church records. I never could find out. My escort, the one that unceremoniously threw me out of the library into the rain, only lectured me on how rude Americans could be and would hear no excuses from me.

I only had my imagination to go by. I think the script was Gaelic of some kind. It possibly came from a monastary but I don’t even know how old the book might have been. I did not have enough time to examine the vellum. Might it have been crafted of human skin? There was a time… but such parchment would not hold ink for so long. Well, unless there was some evil enchantment at work. Definitely a possibility.

Yes, all books are magic and so, some are quite dangerous. Magic and truth in equal measure all in black and white. Most people avoid both of these more vehemently than they do root canal.

My imagination crafted that old restricted book into a grimoire, a spell book for the darkest of sorcerers. And so filled my nights with horrors for years after, some demon force chasing me across time and space.

Now, I seek a way to defeat the dark magic unleashed on me by that ancient tome, to tame or banish the demons that rose with its powers. Sadly, books of miracles, are so rare. Well, I never could find one equal to the demons that haunt me so I decided I would write one, an Idyll. I am running out of time. I can’t hold off those demons  much longer.

I do apologize if my jaunt into the restricted section of the library ultimately leads to a zombie apocalypse. Awkward.

The Bard of Bars – I

surface level of wine glasses

There’s a pub on the end of a dark lane in a big city not too far from the coast. The bard, looking more vagrant than minstrel, swept into the tavern from the cold. He had expected the customary applause but found indifference. He wore a coat sewn together of various patches that would have marked him as a rare and talented spinner of yarns in ages past. Here, he looked some indigent seeking shelter from the rising winter winds.

Buzzing incandescent lights glowed a sickly orange in the haze of the dark room amid the cacophony of music, conversation, and the clang of glasses and plates all competing with screens showing some contest, the sound muffled by the tavern’s patrons.

On the wall, between screens next to shelves of various spirits, an odd drawing flickered in the shadows, animals and man melded together into a single creature. The bard smiled. There had been a statue near a ghost town he once visited that looked very much like the drawing. Every place had a hint of the tale needed.

“Ale for a tale,” he said to the ruddy barkeep, a fat man who looked a bit too serious at the taps.

Asmodeus“Brrrr…” or something to that effect passed the barkeep’s lips. “This crowd wants music, entertainment, sex, and blood. We’re not tots here looking bedtime stories. I serve hard drink for hard people.”

“My tale will bring you long life. Please, indulge me. One pint for a fable of worth.”

“Cash. Show me cash and I’ll show you the ale,” the barkeep said, not a hint of kindness anywhere in the bitter old drink slinger.

A waitress wearing scarcely a thing whistled for the barkeep’s attention and rattled off a long order of drinks, thumbing toward a crowd in the corner. The barkeep leered at her, unsavory and with ill-intent. The bard shook his head. Perhaps, he would strike the right note tonight and be able to end his wanderings at last.

Lust

The instrument on his back came loose at his touch. The patrons saw an old flat-top guitar but it was so much more. The bard ran his fingers over a few choice notes and with a pop and a gasp, all the lights and screens went black, and a hush fell over the room. Candles appeared in a inaudible whirr and flickered gentle light on the tables, on top of the bar, and a soft glow gathered about the bard. He searched the crowd.

Ah, there was the stranger in his customary hooded long jacket, dark clothes, and bare feet. No one ever noticed that.  The stranger had followed him through heaven and hell and everywhere in between for time immemorial.   That one wanted his name back. The stranger claimed his name was in one of the bard’s tales, one he had once lived. Find that tale and the stranger would let his wanderings end at last.

It was not this story. He told the tale of Wild Girl Meg and the Cursed Statue. In this village, a man and women married by arrangement, but the man was infatuated with a wild girl that lived in the surrounding forest. His wife, jealous, knew of a magic statue, one made of man’s lust, outside the village and made the appropriate offerings and prayed to the demon in the statue to turn her husband’s attentions away from little Meg.  Not a fortnight later, the villagers all disappeared. Some said the feral girl was a witch. Others had darker ideas. Whatever the truth, the patrons of this bar listened to the story.

The bard waited for a breath after for the applause. Some brought him drinks but none met the bard’s eyes. He did not notice the waitress putting her tray aside or wrapping herself in a long coat. She tapped him on the shoulder.

“Can I come with you?” she asked, her voice scarce a whisper.

“Aye. Do join me.”

The bard felt half-good about his take. He had wanted an apprentice so that should he die before his quest was completed, there would be one to carry on.  He looked for the stranger, but he was gone. The bard had not told the right tale, the one that would give the stranger back his lost name. Perhaps, next time.

 

 

 

Angels and Demons – Hadraniel

HadranielThere is a terrific tale about Hadraniel. This angel is the gatekeeper to the 2nd gate of Heaven. Do not dare ask me who the key master is. That’s not the point. Anyhow, Hadraniel is charged by the Almighty God of the Hebrews to give the Talmud to Moses.

Hadraniel did not like Moses, not one bit, and did not wish to give that red-sea parting man this holy book. Poor Moses had to face this intimidating angel, one said to be tall enough to stand on the earth and bump the moon out of its orbit. Moses had to face this gargantuan divine being all by his little squishy mortal self. Favored by God does not help when faced with a giant angel, and Moses has been falling short of his expectations time and time again. Missions for God are inherently difficult. But face the angel Moses did.

GatesOfHeavenGod reprimands Hadraniel for being mean to Moses, and tells him he must make nice. The tall angel straightens up (shame about the moon – God had to replace it immediately) and becomes guide to Moses.

I am not convinced Hadraniel did such a good job. Moses never makes it into the promised land. And that is simply good story-telling. Flawed hero, rebellious guide, great quest, and the hero dies in the end. That is a story that stands the test of time and can be told in many ways by moving the pieces of the proverbial tale-telling chess board.

Angels and Demons – Moloch

MolochMoloch is a first class asshat. Yeah, so he was once a god, the grand pupa of monumental jerks and depravity. The ancient canaanites worshiped this child-sacrificing pile of dung. Archeological evidence from the early 1900s supports the foul practice of child-sacrifice in ancient Carthage. Yuck.

Getting people to slaughter children (or even adults) on an altar is a classic demon move. Pretend to be a god, subvert people into doing the most vile and hateful acts and claim those acts as divine. Moloch was champion.

Moloch is an obvious villain. While his motivations may remain shallow, power and corruption of creation, his methods are terrifying. How many religions tempted men into slaughtering one another over the ages? How many demons fooled people into destroying their own souls? This is where story lives.

MolochAltarHowever, I suspect Moloch is a real power and still hiding in plain sight. Even in this modern age, we are still sacrificing children and committing profane acts and calling them righteous. Moloch just doesn’t require an obvious altar and hides his name, usually in suits wearing politicians. I doubt Moloch cares how innocent souls are sacrificed to his appetite. His power grows.

The only question is how can Moloch and those profane creatures like him be destroyed without sacrificing the entirety of humanity to the effort?