Drawing on paper in ink gel pen, acrylic and wax crayon. When you look in the mirror, you can see your own reflection the way others cannot. “I am who I say that I am!”-says Ariel. He’s perfectly right!
Drawing on paper in ink gel pen, acrylic and wax crayon. When you look in the mirror, you can see your own reflection the way others cannot. “I am who I say that I am!”-says Ariel. He’s perfectly right!
She was already changing. She felt both liberated and troubled. She moved with more ease, she laughed more often and people around her started to notice and enjoy the changes. Deep inside, she felt the skin of her soul becoming softer and more sensitive, easily reacting to the heartbeats of that other person living connected to her inner world. She was falling for someone she hasn’t seen yet, someone with whom she has not talked yet…Still, she knew a lot about that person’s intimacy of the soul.
“ Girl, you’re losing your f*cking mind !” – she sighed inwardly, then left the bathroom with a smirk. “So what?!” -she thought. “Let it come, whatever will be. I’ll handle it then.”-she concluded and set herself in motion. The day belonged to reality and reality was claiming her full attention. Her confident, composed self was real but it was only the tip of the iceberg. So many such elusive chunks are flowing in the huge river of life….Facing life requires a hardened protective shell and one would be shocked to look around and see the others the way they are behind the mask. Their naked truth….
We are walking galaxies of swirling emotions and shadows, we are what others see and we are also what only we know. Kai was no exception. She was living in a city, had a job, there were expectation towards her and she was doing her best to get things done right. The meadows of dew and stars belonged to the world of dreams and fantasy and reality was not invited there. But now, someone has found a way to open her inner door. The shadow of another soul was walking her inner pathways, searching her inner lands, touching her inner features, leaving its own fingerprints on the soft inner walls….If this was not madness, then it must have been love. Aren’t these two things sometimes the same?
Love was not unknown to Kai but this feeling moving inside her, ruffling the surface of her inner ocean was like no other before…This one was undressing her from inside, peeling off her protective shell, calling with its enchanting touch the wildly free and untamed being her core kept hidden for so long. The day spent in walking the order of reality proved to be annoyingly long. Wild Girl was knocking on the inner door, hoping to break free and Kai bit her lips not to scream. Where was the night when she needed it?!
Finally, the curtain of the sky filled with stars and she banged the door in the face of reality. Clutching her hands on the cup of hot chocolate, she stood on the windowsill, sipping in the refreshing air of the night.
“Do I want this ? Did I ask for it and I can’t remember? What else can’t I remember? “
I kept feverishly search my mind for answers but there were none. This is not MY dream-I kept telling myself. But who am I? More and more I feel like a cracking cocoon, another me pushing from inside, asking to be released, asking for its right, no!my right to live. Oh! Who are you, why did you stir my world into disarray?! Why do you need me? Where are you? “
Kai shook her head and went to the bathroom to wash her face. Maybe the cold water will help her calm the inner turmoil. She let the water cool and splashed a good amount on her face, on her neck and chest. Huh! That was icy! With à deep sigh, she ran her wet hands through her hair and looked in the mirror. The answer was there, looking at her with dark brown eyes.
-Good evening, Kai- heshe said and the deep purr of the voice rang in Kai’s mind. Come! Our time is shorter than I hoped.
Kai stared in disbelief. “This is not happening!”-she thought. “I am crazy, I know but this is more than that!” The one she was looking at was taller than her and had spiky black hair and a creole complexion. The features of the face were ambiguous, holding an equally strong femininity and masculinity. The ambivalence of the voice was well reflected in the features of the face and even in the personal aura radiating through the mirror.
-You’re not crazier than I am-chuckled the voice in Kai’s head. In fact, we have a lot in common. That’s why we got up tangled in this dream. Don’t be afraid! You’re not losing my mind. Now give me a hand! There are things I want to share with you…
Heshe held out a hand…through the mirror. Kai stared in the dark brown eyes, searching for the light so close to her heart. It was shimmering in the depths of those eyes…She grabbed the hand and they both vanished in the silver waters of the mirror.
She woke up crying, emotionally drained by the dream. She couldn’t understand. How can anyone do such thing to its child? Why? Why would you use your child as a battleground in a fight with your spouse? It’s senseless and cruel!
She got off the bed and pushed herself into the daily schedule, leaving the impressions of the night to sink deeper and to clear inside her mind. By the time she was sipping her coffee, she felt less vulnerable and she returned to her previous thoughts.
Maybe the parents themselves were a bit lost, not knowing how to react to the fact that they had a very special child. The world they were living was not prepared either and thus, answers or help in understanding how to deal with, were scarce if none at all. This was an important issue in the fragilisation of their connection. While their child needed love, acceptance and protection, both mother and father were desperately trying to “fix” reality according to their own vision. The result….
The girl shook her head in disbelief. The result was nothing less of a disaster. Peeling off the elements of fantasy, the final moments of the dream were speaking volumes about it. Somewhere in this world, a shattered soul was reaching out for help…
“So be it!”-though the girl and stood up to leave for work. She locked the door when she heard the little bell ringing….
The sound was unmistakable; it was little Jordie’s belt bell. I’ve recognized it instantly. Was I truly awake or my dream was continuing? Could it be that the one dreaming it, found a way into my reality, warping it and changing it? The simple thought of such happening made me question my sanity.
So I’ve shrugged off the thought, took a few deep breaths and I walked out the door. No more bells ringing….
She woke up at the same hour, in the middle of the night, with a heavy heart. “What’s next?”-she thought, remembering the other night and the painful question in the eyes of the shattered teenager.
The room was dark and silent and her throat was sore of unexpected thirst. Half asleep, she dragged herself to the bathroom and let the cold water flow for a while. She poured a glass of water and gulped it up. Her eyes met the reflection in the mirror and she froze. At first, she saw herself, sleepy and ruffled but then, there was something new in that image. Something or….someone? Someone was with her in the mirror. Someone was inside her own image, someone whose image was overlapping hers. It was difficult to detect the changes but they eyes were darker, the look inside them, piercing , veiled only by the sheen of sleep in the girl’s eyes.
Then, the feeling became stronger. The more she looked inside those eyes, the stronger the feeling of entwining with someone else became inside her. She instinctively put a hand on her chest; something was moving inside, digging deep in the intimacy of her soul. Something was trying to nest inside her, to find a safe haven. Someone was moving with her, in her. She was herself and someone else as well.
Words appeared on the translucent screen of the mirror, written by an invisible hand: “ Do you remember me ?….”
What should I say? I stared in the eyes of the one(s) in the mirror.
-Help me to remember!-I said. Lead my way through this quest. I want to remember….
The mirror wobbled and I’ve found myself on a white surface, stretching endlessly in all directions into a dense, milky mist. I stood there, waiting….The silence of the place was almost tangible, the mist was slowly undulating in the distance. I closed my eyes and opening wide my arms, I tried to touch….something with my fingertips. In the mirror of my mind, I touched the one nested inside my soul. Its touch was warm and soft. Our fingers, our palms, our hands touched at both ends of the Infinity…Then “+” and ”-” collided in an embrace. I opened my eyes to gaze into the face of the one holding me.
-I’m glad you’re not running anymore!- he said with a playful smile. A youthful face with dark brown eyes, wearing a top hat and a black and red cape. A Magician. He took me by the hand and we stepped inside the forest. The pathway under our feet was covered by azure-blue grass, the leaves of the canopy were shimmering with a golden-yellow glow and a bluish mist was filling the in betweens of the tree trunks. I was mesmerized.
“ If this is a dream, then I don’t want to wake up anymore!”- I thought.
This time the scenery was one of a solid family house, with flowerbeds in the front yard and a playground guarded by a magnificent cherry tree in the back. In deep contrast with the serenity of the place, the noises coming from inside were disturbing. The high pitched voice of the woman and the low baritone of the man were fighting furiously over something. After a few steps made in the direction of the house, the girl could see them well, standing in the room, facing each other. A silent and frightened child was standing between them, covering his ears with his hands.
-She’s my daughter, I want her to wear this ribbon in her hair! -shouted the mother. I want her to look pretty!
She dragged the child closer to her and she was about the tie the ribbon around the soft, hazelnut strands when the father intervened.
-She’s not more of a girl than he is a boy! Leave him alone! Come, Jordie, let’s go out. Here, I have a nice beret for you! I know these are your favorite colors!
He took the child by the hand and put the blue and green striped beret on his head. The mother watched him, shaking her head in disbelief.
-She’s my daughter….
-And he is my son- said dryly the father.
The child said nothing. He stood there, frozen in the wind of parental ambition, in the clash of wishes and wants, alone and scared. His tears were falling inwardly, in a world where he was safe and where he used to hide each time the tempest erupted around him. In that world, sounds were soft and people were friendly and no one pushed or dragged him, no one shouted at him for reasons he couldn’t comprehend. And while his parents continued to sneer and hiss at each-other, the child grew into the rebellious, wild teenager that was taking harder and harder the fights around him.
In the incessant rumble of angry voices, the scenery changed like a fragment of an old movie on celluloid melting under the hot touch of passing Time. The room was that of a teenager, with posters, music, a guitar…other things scattered in a very personal chaotic order. The inhabitant of the room was standing in front of a tall mirror, dark brown eyes fixing their dark brown reflection in a mix of anger and despair.
As much as I could see by now, it became clear that whoever that person in the mirror was, it wasn’t an average one. The changes in the outside, with their everyday challenges were matched by the complexity and elusiveness of its inner world. And the conflicts inside the house were just getting worse. The Jordie I’ve met was almost imperceptible inside the young person grabbing the frame of the mirror and with him, gone were the carefree laughters and joys of the age of innocence. A sense of loss engulfed me as I was standing outside the room and I wished I could find a soothing word for the troubled young before me.
A wave of angry shouts surged from somewhere and I saw the one in the mirror cringing in pain.
-Stop!! Stop it!!-shouted to the quarreling adults. Stop arguing over me! Leave me out of this! I am who I say that I am!!!
With an angry movement of the fist it hit its own the reflection, shattering the mirror. The powerful blow brought Time to a halt, resulting in an awkward, slow motion dance of the glittering shards of glass…To my deep astonishment, each splinter of mirror was carrying à different face. There were faces of men, women, children of various ages and features, dancing in the light, reflecting bits and pieces of a soul that has been broken gradually in time….These were the faces of the ones inhabiting that hidden inner world and now, they were released into the daylight and scattered into a world that wasn’t their home.
Just as quick, the motion reversed and the surface of the mirror wobbled, then quieted down, unharmed. The youth staggered, holding its pained fist. The mirror was intact. But it was empty. The pieces of the shattered child were gone. Heshe turned to me and I could read the question in the deep brown eyes:
-Do you remember me?
I woke up crying.
Here we are
Two candles lit up in the night
Holding the corners of the Universe
With our hands of shimmering lights….
Arching towards each other
Bridging the nightmare-filled abyss
Of infinite dark matter
Adding one thin ray of soul after another
Stretching, longing, stretching, rushing….
Star builds upon star
As the pathway is gathering shape
In the soft sound of the sands
Slipping through the hour-glass
One star ignites uniting infinity.
Once upon a time there was a kingdom ruled by a young king named Johann. He was a lovely young man, with a warm and compassionate heart and gentle character. He looked after his people and kept the kingdom in peace and prosperity. Everybody loved him. The only problem was that he wasn’t showing any interest in getting married and the years were passing by, much to the worry of his family and the Court. Whenever they asked him to make a choice, he just dismissed the request with a smile and found something else to keep him busy. But questioned almost on a daily basis, the young king gave in to the loving pressure of his close ones and decided to let the Court to find him a Queen. Soon enough the artful portraits of princesses from all over the world started to pour in.
When he caught the first glimpse of the portrait of Princess Helga, King Johann was captured by her radiant smile and her fresh beauty. There was no doubt in his mind that he has found the Queen of his heart and of his kingdom. After this magic revelation, a beautiful wedding ceremony brought them together under the stars and the benevolent smile of the gods. The Sun and the Moon weaved a bridge gold and silver light and King Johann took Queen Helga to the Castle of Hope. The smile of the young queen filled the soul of the king with blazing joy. Everything looked perfect and under the spell of happiness even the shyness of the king was fading a bit. The marriage was blessed and proved to be fruitful so in due time messengers were sent all around the kingdom to spread the good news. When time has come, the King summoned to the castle the best doctors to help into the world the child that was to come.
It was a long night, with thin sheets of clouds sailing the dark skies, dimming the light of stars and hiding the bright face of the Moon. Despite the best efforts, the pains of the young Queen seemed endless and fruitless. She was under a dark spell that she knew nothing about and neither were the people around her. It was unknown to everyone that Helga was carrying a seed of shadow ever since her birth and that her suffering released that darkness straight into her mind. She saw a tall woman cloaked in black watching her closely from a corner of the room. Her face was old and wrinkled and her eyes were deep hollows.
“Two children are fighting inside you, Helga. Give me one of them and I’ll save the life of the other and yours, of course.”
The Queen was horrified.
“No!” –she cried out, but her lips were sealed.
“Deny me and you’ll die and then I’ll take all of you in my world!”
A lightning cut through the night and a powerful thunder shook the castle. The Queen turned her face away and gathered her strength….but she knew that she was losing the battle. The old woman was standing now next to her bed and her insidious whispers were seeping inside the pained mind of Helga.
“ Give me one child, Helga and save the other!”
At that moment, the skies cleared and the Moon sent its rays through the windows. The newborn cried out and the old woman disappeared. In that split moment in time, the Moon captured the soul of the other infant and closed it into the soul of the newborn. This way, the little Prince was carrying inside him the soul of his lost sister and he was twice a heart and soul. But that was something only the Moon knew. For now, the kingdom rejoiced to the news of the birth of a Prince, heir to the lands and seas. They named him Brian, meaning “noble, strong”.
The little boy grew fast and he was an energetic, joyful child, always in quest for something new around the castle, climbing trees and rocks, running with the dogs and horses, playing with the children of ordinary people, giving sometimes the impression that he was more than a handful. He was the apple of the eyes of his parents and the marvel of the kingdom. But his mother was tormented by the fear of losing him just like she has lost the unborn one. She was afraid to tell anyone about what she had been through; nobody would’ve believed her. So she asked for help to an old witch that lived in the forest next to the Castle. The witch listened carefully and then she said:
-My Queen, take this mirror and hide it in your room. When the Blood Moon will occur, take a strand of hair from the little Prince and tie it around the mirror, say the spell and his soul will be locked inside. This way he will never leave you and no one would take him away from you.
Helga thanked the old woman and anxiously waited for the night of the Blood Moon. As soon as she pronounced the spell, the waters of the magic mirror wavered and a sizzling blue light swirled inside until the silver waves of glass encompassed them and the surface became still and cold again. The Queen hid it in her treasure chest and locked it with a gold key that she was wearing always on a chain around her neck. Time passed on and the royal child grew more and more beautiful and lovable. He was a little big man full of personality and wit, spreading light around him like a twinkling star. King Johan took him often on a ride around the castle, showing him the surroundings, teaching him about people, plants and animals, birds and butterflies. The child listened to the stories with eyes sparkling with excitement and soon as they arrived back to the castle, he ran up to his Mom to share with her all the joys of the day.
One day, the horse took the King and the Prince on a remote pathway, through the depth of the forest, under the cooling shade of the trees until it stopped in a clearing. Right in the middle of that clearing there was an old tower, forgotten by the passing times. It was a tall and slim building, with small, narrow windows scattered around its walls and with a big, wooden door. King Johann jumped from his horse and walked to the door, trying it. It was closed. Its lock must’ve been rusted by the passing of so many years so the king decided to leave it like that. He mounted back on the horse and holding Brian with a protecting hand, walked the horse around the tower. The little boy raised his head and saw a glimpse of light on the top of the pointed roof.
-Look, Dad! There is something up there!
The King looked in the direction pointed out by the little Prince but saw nothing.
-There’s nothing there, Brian. Maybe it was just the sun playing on one of the windows. Let’s go back! It’s turning late and your Mom will be worried.
The boy said nothing. As they turned towards the forest, he gave a quick peek to the tower and…here it was: the light was shimmering on the top of the tower, calling him to visit again.
The call of the secret tower remained unanswered for a while and the King forgot about it. Its memory lingered only in the fantasy of the young Prince who was waiting for a chance to escape alone into the forest. He was big enough to ride his horse and he took his chance one day when he went for a ride with some of his friends. Young boys and girls, they were competing, laughing and teasing each other. Taking advantage of the boisterous commotion, the young Prince skipped towards the hidden clearing and stopped only when he reached the silent tower. He raised his head and smiled: the glittering light was in place, just as he expected. He touched the heavy door and pushed it lightly; the door opened silently, inviting him to step in. He entered and the door shut behind him with a firm noise, locking him inside. It wasn’t a happy outcome but since he was already in, he decided to look around and leave the worries for a bit later. Brian took the circular row of stairs leading to the top of the tower. A pale light was piercing the shadows, escaping through the narrow windows. As he walked upwards, the monotonous climbing lulled the mind of the youth and he slowly lost the sense of Space and Time. It seemed like the stairs were stretching infinitely on both directions: up and down. He was stepping on like a sleep-walker while strange, veiling sounds were echoing around him. The walls around faded into a blur and the only feature before his eyes was the clear-cut image of a door resembling to the entrance of the tower.
Brian pushed aside the door and stepped out on the narrow balcony running around the top. A small lantern was shining on the floor. The warm, yellow light was dancing like a living creature, hypnotizing the puzzled youth.
“ I was expecting you, young Prince….”-whispered the light. “Listen to me carefully: you are in grave danger and I am your only help. “
Brian looked at the light and raised his eyebrow in disbelief.
-What danger? What are you talking about? And why has the door locked behind me?
The light wavered.
“So many questions, so little time….”-it whispered. “Prince, you will forget a lot of things in the years to come but you cannot forget me or you’ll be lost to the darkness that follows you. Look at me and remember!”
A sudden gush of wind put out the light of the lantern and darkness enveloped everything. Instinctively, the Prince closed his eyes and focused on the seed of light behind his eye-lids. His head turned and he fell into the abyss, the mad laughter of someone invisible following him into the depths. He woke up outside the tower; it was night and his horse was nowhere to be seen. When did time pass? He shook his head and searched for the light inside; it was only a faint glint but it was there, guiding him through the shadows that were clinging and sticking to his limbs. It was well after midnight when he finally reached the castle. It has been a narrow escape.
He knocked at the high door and the guard opened the small window to see who was there. The moment he saw the Prince, he rushed to open the gates and then he ran to the Castle shouting:
-He’s back! He’s back!! Your Majesty, the Prince is back!!!
The lights exploded around the courtyard and people came out running from everywhere. King Johann almost flew down the stairs, ready to embrace his son.
-Where were you?!-he cried out as he held him in his arms. You were missing for five days! Five days! We thought that some beast caught and killed you…Come! Come quickly! Your Mother has locked herself in her room since you went missing and wouldn’t want to come out. Go to her! Run, my child, run!
Brian hurried upstairs to the halls of the Queen, his mind turning like a carousel. Five days….When did those days pass by? What happened inside that strange tower? Oh…he knocked on his mother’s door, shouting:
-Mother! Mother I’m back! Open the door, please!
But she already knew. The noise of joy has already reached the highs of the castle and then, there was something inside her head, whispering….
“ He’s back but not for long…Oh, poor little Queen….you sacrificed one child but the one you saved is not worth your pain….he’s ungrateful and silly….wandering in dangerous places….adventurous and careless…Your little scheme with the mirror…Oh, hahahaaaa….Such a futile attempt….” The voice of the dark snake of doubts poured its poison inside the fragile mind and soul of the Queen and the Shadow opened its wings above her. She sighed and opened the door, letting the Prince in.
-Mother! I….I’m sorry…I lost track in the forest and ….I don’t know what happened to me.
“He’s lying!”-hissed the Snake of Doubt. “ He did it on purpose. He left his friends behind and sneaked off in search for adventure! Look at yourself: you almost died of worries….”
Tears built up in the Queen’s eyes and anger replaced the fear and pain.
-You’re a careless young man, Brian! It never crossed your mind what pain you might cause to us if anything happens to you! Oh, why did I choose you?! What was I thinking?!
The young man turned pale.
-What are you talking about, Mother?
-I am talking about your sister I sacrificed to save your miserable life! I gave her up to the old woman in exchange of your life! Ever since you were born I was thinking about my other baby while I was trying to keep you close to me!!! You…You…!
Helga picked up a mirror that was lying on her table and trashed it to the floor. The glass broke with a sharp sound and a bright blue light spread around and then vanished in the thin air. The moment the mirror broke, Brian felt a pain cutting through his mind and he felt like falling into pieces. Time sped up then all of a sudden it slowed down, slipping of the grip of his mind. Everything seemed pointless and all he could remember was the cold expression on his Mother’s face and the seed of light that was shining somewhere deep inside him….somewhere….somewhere…where?
At first, no one noticed the change in the Prince or in the Queen’s behavior. The King and the Court were happy that Brian was back, safe and sound. But the young man was becoming more and more confused. The shadows surrounding him were all of them born out of the shards of the mirror and were carrying a piece of his broken soul. They were coming and going in and out him, disconnected and chaotic. He couldn’t remember them but people around him were fully aware about the changes and differences between these faces and facets of the Prince. A dark shadow spread over the Court and the smiles and laughter left the premises. The King was devastated; he was unable to make his child whole again. And to make things worse, the Queen herself became more and more ill, silent and recluse in her own quarters.
Up in the skies, the Moon was watching the unfolding of the events and decided to put an end the reign of darkness. The night it reached full circle, the King of the Night knocked on the window of the unhappy King.
-Don’t lose your hopes, my King-said the celestial deity. Your son will become whole again. But for that, he has to pursue his journey and find each part of his shattered soul and piece them together. He has already found the light within to guide him. All he has to do is to start his journey. I will watch his path and let you know about his whereabouts.
King Johann sighed and hope returned in his soul. He fell asleep while in his own room, the Prince was delving inside himself, searching for the grain of light and ask for her help. Before he could realize what was happening, he found himself on the top of the tower, with the light shimmering on his left shoulder.
“I’m here. This is my house: the Lighthouse. But I also live inside you. Your core is my home to. Don’t be afraid; I will be with you always. Look there before you: what do you see?”
-I see a boat on a shore….-whispered the youth.
“Then that’s the place where we start our journey. Now rest and sleep, my lovely Prince. The quest has just begun!”
Dawn was barely breaking through the misty breath of the night when King Johann led his son trough the gates of the Castle of Hope. They silently embraced. No words were needed; they both knew what was about. Brian hopped on his horse and the journey of finding himself begun. The dark bird of Shadow was following him but deep inside, protected by the diamond walls of his core, the warm, yellow light was burning and leading the way. Days and night passed until he reached the faraway shore where the sail was waiting. Strangely, it seemed that the captain and the crew knew that the Prince was coming so as Brian came aboard, the vessel lifted the anchor and cut its way into the horizon. The sea opened her arms of green-blue waters and diligently pushed the sail towards mysterious lands.
As the contours of his home land were slowly fading behind, the Prince relaxed and opened towards the captain and the crew. His outgoing personality eased the communication and soon, he was sitting on the deck atop of a barrel and listening with interest to the fantastic stories told by the sailors. They were simple but friendly people, living a hard life to earn some money for their families at home. It was easy to forget about the pain and confusion that made him leave his home. Aboard the ship, rocked gently by the smooth motion of the sea Brian slept well for the first time after a long time. No more shadows, no more whispers, no more nightmares and heartbreaking memories. The only hard moment of the day was first time in the morning, while he was trying to shave his beard. There was a small mirror in the cabin but each time he looked into it, the mirror was empty….like he was invisible. After a while, he simply avoided to look in it; the only proof of his bodily existence, beside of the people around him was the shadow he was casting on the deck.
“Well, my friend-he thought-you’re my only image left. You are the shadow of a shadow…”
He sighed and shook his head. He was only at the beginning of his quest and he was not giving up on the hope to regain itself one day. The light inside was shining brightly.
During this time, strange things were happening at the Castle of Hope. King Johann left soon after the departure of his son. He was travelling to one of the neighboring kingdoms, answering to the invitation of the king of that country. Queen Helga remained at the castle; she wasn’t keen to meet anyone. In her moments of clarity, she was deeply upset about all that had happened to her and to her only child. But those moments were overshadowed by days and nights of anger and fury. It was on one of those nights when the voices in her head pushed her to the brink of insanity. She jumped from her bed and ran along the corridors of the castle, smashing each and every mirror that she could find.
-Where are you?!-she shouted. Where do you hide?! Come back immediately! I am your Mother!
When the last piece of silver glass fell to the ground, she lost her consciousness and she was carried back to her room and placed in bed. Doctors came and spent day and night trying to decipher the cause of her malady. But the hook of darkness was powerful on the poor woman and she kept falling in and out of her endless nightmares.
The ship of the Prince reached the harbor of the city of Betelgeuse and they stopped there for exchange of cargo and to pick up food and water. There were also some repairing to be done so the Captain and the Prince agreed to stay in the city for about a month. It was a rich and beautiful town, situated at the crossroad of some important commercial routes so it was crowded, colorful and divers. A whole new place for the inquisitive young man. He took a room in the house of a venerable lady and comfortably settled, he started to search and map the place. He was amazed by the huge diversity of people pouring in from all over the world. The city of Betelgeuse resembled very much to a miniature copy of the world he was living in.
The streets were narrow and paved with colorful stones; the houses were paint in white or blue or turquoise and flowers of various shapes, fragrance and beauty were hanging from walls and delicate balconies. Music, chatter, laughter and the shouts of vendors filled the air, ringing in the ears of the Prince that was coming from a more tranquil area. In the labyrinth of coiling streets and the swarm of people, colors, scents and sounds, he sometimes felt like taken by an invisible current towards an unknown place. The feeling became more poignant as he got deeper and deeper inside the city. He always found his way back to the rented room except once…He ended up in a quiet street, almost deserted…most to his surprise. It was like a place cut out from somewhere else and inserted here…for him. He looked around for people but saw none.
-Are you looking for something special, young Sire?
The voice was low and raspy; it was the voice of a tall, old woman, dressed in black. She was standing in the doorstep of one of the houses and was looking at him.
-Come-she said. I rarely get a visitor in my little shop these days. Let me show you around and give you a refreshing drink from my own garden.
She took him by the elbow and he hesitated for a moment; her touch was dry and cold, sending a shiver on his spine.
“Oh, come on-he thought. She’s a nice lady and you’re imagining things.”
The Prince followed his host inside the house. Apart from the main room where the shop was, there was the same narrow and dim-lit corridor that after a while led to a small terrace with a table and two chairs. The table-top was decorated by an intricate mosaic with floral and animal motifs entwined. The old woman placed a carafe and two glasses on the table; an amber colored liquid filled the carafe and some strange, probably indigenous spices and seeds were floating in it. She poured into the glasses and offered one to the Prince. But he was captured by the display of delicate glass balls hanging all over the place, held by nets of silk-thread. They were of many sizes and with differently colored mist swirling inside them. The young man walked around, looking at these strange objects. He could sense a subtle energy flow coming from each glass ball, like that something inside them was alive.
-What are these?-he asked, turning to the old woman.
-Oh, nothing special, just some magic dust inside ….I am making them to fill my lonely hours and decorate this space.
-They are….beautiful. I have never seen such things before.
-Oh, Sire, there are many wonderful things in this world I’m sure you haven’t heard about. My humble creations are nothing compared to them. Come, taste my refreshment. It’s getting hot outside.
Brian took the glass and tasted the drink; it was refreshing indeed, filling his mouth with a cooling sensation while the spices rose into his head like a calming veil of mist. Even the light around him seemed to change, the contour of things getting a faint rainbow glow. Strange …strange indeed….He shook his head to clear his mind and turned his attention back to the woman. There was something in her posture that looked familiar but he was unable to point out what. She was telling something but somehow the young man found himself unable to follow her or to capture the meaning of the words coming out of her mouth. His eyes, his mind were getting heavy….and he was very, very thirsty. He was about to take sip of the drink when he caught a glimpse of one of the glass balls glowing with a blue light, like calling him. He stood up with some effort and went straight to the ball and took it in his hands. It was warm and pulsating….How odd…but he was sooo thirsty….he needed to drink and that woman was shouting something….but….Holding the glass ball in his fist, he took his glass and….Bang! Something like an animal jumped on him and he staggered, dropped the drink and smashed the glass ball in his fist. He heard the scream of the old woman, saw the blue mist spreading then felt it going down his throat and everything went black before his eyes.
He regained his senses in a split of a moment and found himself in a crowded square of the city. The lonely street vanished, along with the old woman….the only proof of the happenings were the unusual feeling inside him and the dog that was sitting at his feet, watching him and wagging happily his tail. Brian bent and patted the dog then looked around, trying to figure out where he was. Luckily, it was near his lodging so he hurried there, with the dog following him. As they arrived at the house, the landlady met him at the door.
– What happened to you, gentle sire? You look pale.
-Uhm?…Oh, please…excuse me. Yes…You wouldn’t believe me…I’m not sure about it myself…
The landlady chuckled and let him in.
-This city might become confusing for newcomers. Sit down, I’ll make a tea and you can tell me what happened to you. By the way, I see that you got a friend. He doesn’t want to leave you alone.
Brian petted the head of the dog sitting at his feet.
-Yes, I think so. Can I keep him here?
-Sure. Our animal friends are protecting spirits; they are pure and selfless. While I bring the tea, you might find her a name; that will seal your connection forever.
She went to the kitchen and the young man sighed. He looked into the warm, brown eyes of the dog and smiled.
-I’ll call you Asha, little one. You like it?
A happily wagging tail was the answer and Asha put her head on Brian’s feet. The landlady returned with a silver tray and a sweet scented tea. She poured for her and her guest and listened to the recount of what happened to him. The more she heard, the more serious she turned. When he finished the story, the lady stood up and cleared the table. She returned with a round bowl of glass and a golden box; she placed them on the table and sat down.
-My dear guest-she said. This sounds way more serious than I expected. I thought about something that might help us solve the puzzle. My late Grand Mother was a well-known Fate-reader and I have learned some of her magic ways. I’ll place this bowl here, right in the middle and I will pour some special sand inside. Then, we’ll see what comes out of it.
She opened the golden box and took a fistful of white sand; she sprinkled it slowly inside the bowl, round and round. At each round she was doing, another color emerged inside the glass. When she finished, she invited the Prince to drop a hand of sand right I the middle. She took a deep-blue silk scarf, embroidered with diamond stars and covered the bowl. She whispered a few words and uncovered again the glass bowl. Things have changed inside: the sand turned to white mist. A small, bright-blue flower was inside that mist, her delicate petals scattered all around. She had only a few left and her core was pulsing with a pure, white light. High above the flower there was a dark shadow, hovering like a bird of prey. The landlady shuddered at the vision and shook her head. The mist faded away and all that was left inside was the white magic sand. There was a moment of deep silence before she decided to speak.
-I am not sure if I understood well what I saw, so I need your help.
-You have suffered a great pain recently and your soul has been shattered.
-There is a malevolent shadow following you closely, the one that created that mirage of the empty street. You have to be very careful. It is a very powerful shadow.
-Yes. I think you’re right. When that old woman touched my arm, it felt dry and cold like a dead hand. But I dismissed that initial feeling, considering that it was only my imagination.
-There is also a bright light inside you, one that cannot be reached by the shadow. You are a very special person and you hold inside something that can defeat the darkness. Let that light guide you. In the meantime, don’t walk around without your new friend. Even if it’s not always a force of darkness following you, a big town like this holds many more earthbound dangers.
Asha uttered a small bark of approval and the atmosphere relaxed. The Prince thanked the landlady and went upstairs to his room. He shared his meal with the doggie, made her a comfortable place on the armchair and he hopped in bed. He was exhausted.
The dream brought back painful memories. He was in a dark, damp room with no walls, ceiling or floor; shards of mirror were falling from above, slashing his skin, cutting deep the flesh, furiously trying to open the way towards his most intimate corner, the core of his soul. He curled up on the dark floor in fetal position, desperately trying to protect himself. He heard the screech of that old woman: “ I’ll catch you! I’ll catch you! Give me back what is mine!!!” He had no idea what she was talking about. Somewhere in that darkness, the veiling voice of his Mother was calling him…”Where are you? Where are you?”
He woke up brusquely, his face damp from tears. It was midnight and a creature of silver light was sitting on the rim of his bed. When he saw that Brian woke up, he tilted his head and talked. Brian heard the soft voice…inside his head.
“ Don’t be afraid; the Moon sent me. He is watching over you at night. He has sent Asha to protect you. Now let me explain you some of the things you witnessed yesterday. The shadow following you is not an ordinary one. This was born from a very different darkness then that of the night. This is a deadly one, born from a bottomless void and feeding on fear and anger.
In the appearance of the old lady, it has challenged your Mother when she was the most vulnerable and asked her one of her children, in exchange for the life of the other one. Your twin sister was sacrificed for you; but at the last moment, the Moon stole the soul of that little girl and placed it in you, merging the two of you. When your Mother broke the mirror, you survived because she knew nothing of the female soul and so it was only the male one that was shattered. One of those shards was captured by the Shadow and she locked it up in that glass ball you unwillingly broke. You have released a part of your soul and consequently, it has returned inside you. But I must warn you: the Shadow won’t allow you to rob it again of your soul, if it can get hold of even the tiniest piece. So, open your eyes and learn not only to watch, but to see. Rely on the light within. What might elude the eyes, can be spotted by the heart! Good luck, young Prince!”
Beginning with that day, wherever the Prince went, Asha followed him closely, guarding him day and night, even in his strangest moments. In the spicy silence of the warm days and nights that followed each other in this lively town, Brian faced for the first time what really happened to him in that tragic day at the Castle. Aside from the disturbing fact of not having a reflection in the mirrors, he has been unable to trace down his missing parts of the personality. Most of the time he felt….a real, tangible human being like any other bold and energetic young man of his age. The Moon was watching over his dreams but its power was increasing and decreasing as he went through its celestial stages.
In dim nights when the sky was home only to a thin silver crescent, the Shadow emerged from its deep, chilling hiding and shook his wings of horrors over the waters of dream, pushing the sail of the young man’s mind towards shores of pain and misery. That magic mirror of his soul crashed and blew to pieces in countless agonizing nights. After each such ordeal, he woke up trembling, with Asha licking his face until he was able to focus finally on the reality around him and calm down. His screams of terror and his heartbreaking crying remained unheard by the people of the house, doubling the burden of the suffering. But at the same time, of these nights and of scattered signs of the day, a pattern emerged. Just like the light breaks down through a drop of water, scattering in a colorful rainbow, the pure light of his soul was broken to pieces that held different colors and tones, each of it connected to a certain kind of memory. The chain of memory was equally broken through the same act and nothing seemed to fit in the line again. Imagine a string of pearls broken by an angry gesture, each tiny nacreous bead jumping, rolling in all directions. How would you know which of these beads was the first in line? Who came first, who followed? The string of Time cut, who could find the leading sequence? At this moment, all that the young Prince was having were bits and pieces, feelings and emotions and slowly piling proofs that his missing parts of soul were following him in the invisible ethereal space around him. Whenever an event, a sound, a color, a word brought up a memory that resonated with a certain color the communication opened and his missing part was taking over his body and mind. His whole life was taken over by these rushing rivers of blazing colors. From the deep rooted, boiling red, through the glowing orange into the light, bright yellow, descending into the crude green that matured into leaf-emerald, to the cooling intense blue and then the tragic purple. But no matter how chaotic the emerging and flowing of this river was, in the fragile sky of his inner sky there was a pure light, bright and eternal, protected by the diamond walls of his essence. This was the seed of the light that the broken river yearned to return to and become whole again.
But where to start from? How would you bring back the river to its source, when the riverbed has vanished and the river has become mist? How would you catch the beads of light, the tiny droplets of the river of soul and connect them again to a new and delicate thread? Maybe this is a road that shouldn’t be walked alone….because though the journey is entirely personal, each of us is a fragile construction of glass that gets stronger under the touch of love, a love that lights up the pathway through darkness.
The sun rose in magenta above the colorful town and the silence broke in lively noises. The Prince woke up with a new hope in his heart and he breathed in with ease and joy the spicy aroma of the morning air. He shared his meal with Asha and they left together to take a walk on the far side of the harbor. The busy port of the city stretched around the harbor but there was a small beach running at the feet of a wall of broken cliffs and some strangely shaped isles, adorned by bold little trees and climbing vegetation. The ever moving sea has carved small portals through the rocks of the shore and even through the basement of the largest isle. The water was shallow here, with large banks of soft sands running far under the translucent veil of waters. Asha ran in and out the water, splashing and barking happily and the young man laughed heartily at the playfulness of his faithful companion. He decided to get closer to the largest isle, lured by the unusual shape of the whole piece of rock and its portal where the waves were rushing in and out, back and forth in laces of white froth.
It was a narrow opening that led not only to the sea but also to the cave hidden inside the high island. What was surprising inside was not the high ceiling but the play of light on it and the deep underwater cavern mirroring the one carved inside the rock. Man and dog stopped cautiously at the rim of that green depth. The rays of light seeping in through tiny holes were bouncing on the surface of the water, reflecting on the ceiling in a gently rocking net of phosphorescent green. The young prince was mesmerized by the changing shapes of light, by the rhythm of their concerted move and the sudden frenzy that was created by each unexpected surge of water inside the cave. His eyes kept following the hypnotic movement, the balance that slowly rotated inside his mind to…. until he found himself back in the Castle of his childhood. He was a little boy, watching the play of light on the surface of the water in the fountain that was in the middle of the main yard. He was absorbed by the playful twinkling of the sunlight, by the jumping droplets of water and the continuous murmuring of the fountain. Caught in the world of childhood fantasies, he wasn’t aware that his mom was calling him. She saw him adrift in daydreaming, ignoring her and she got upset. Very upset. She rushed to him and with a swift movement of a hand pushed him…and he fell in the water, hurting himself. She just turned her back on him and left, murmuring something unintelligible but in a cold and angry tone. The brutal gesture left the little boy in shock; he coughed, choking on the water he swallowed as he fell in the fountain…it tasted a bit salty, as tears mixed in. Fear and sadness replaced the moment of careless joy….Did he do something bad? Why was Mommy mad at him? He must’ve been bad….his Mom loved him…did she? Later that day she had shown him so many affection…But the rift was already there, shadow pouring in through every new crack. Was he so bad, worthless that she ended up in hating him? The pain tore through his heart like a bolt of lightning and he staggered…his foot slipped on the sand and he fell into the deep, dark waters.
Time slowed almost to halt as the translucent green-blue layers of the sea opened to let him in…he was falling since an eternity…gently….softly….delving deeper and deeper in the heart of the acquiring sea…it…was…so…good…and….calm….to…let….go……Two arms embraced him and the loud barking of Asha brought him back to reality. He was laying on the shore, dizzied by the strong sunlight, the dog yelping and barking. Someone was gently tapping his back to help him spit out the sea water. He sat up and shook his head. His heart was a heavy lump in his chest, the freshly recalled pain still echoing inside it. He sighed and turned to the person next to him. It was a girl with dark eyes and amber skin and a mess of bronze colored hair. She was all wet and was watching him questioningly.
-My, my stranger. What were you doing in the Cave of Lost souls? You would’ve drowned there if it weren’t for your dog. We had to work a bit to get you out…
-I’m sorry, I knew nothing about this. How did you know I’m a stranger here?
She laughed and tilted her head teasingly.
-You look bright enough. Weren’t you surprised that no one was visiting this quiet little paradise?
-Hmmm…I must admit I never questioned that. But why is this place so deserted? I was drawn to it by its untouched beauty…
She smiled and nodded.
-It’s beautiful but deadly. That cave is a trap and even if you elude it, once you get through that portal, you end up in another world. Many people got lost here before we learned the secret of this place. Only a young and inquisitive stranger would come here once in a while. Now, if you feel strong enough, I would suggest we leave this place before it shows us more of its dark sides.
The Prince couldn’t agree more. It seemed that the Shadow was waiting to catch him at almost every corner. Once again he’s been lucky to escape its mortal grip. But how did it come? If this was such a dangerous place what was a young girl doing there, all alone? He threw a look sideways, trying to assess her. She chuckled.
-You’re wondering what I was doing here….
-How strange would it be if I’d tell you I was looking for you?
There was a moment of silence. They have already left the danger zone and entered a small street that was curving towards a tiny square, with a huge fig-tree in the middle. The day has turned to its second half and noises have quieted to a hum. Around this square there were small houses and bright-blue doors with low benches and sleeping cats. Elders were gathering in small groups, talking and laughing, sharing news or memories, giving a playful, understanding look to the two youth and the following dog. Asha approached each group sniffing and wagging tails, getting a pet from time to time, returning happy and bouncing to her master’s feet. The girl led the Prince to the shade of the old tree and they sat on the small bench below the leafy umbrella.
-I am…a Spirit of the Sea and I am a Wanderer. I know her secrets and I follow her movements. Yet, I cannot save everyone, though each lost soul saddens me deeply. But something called me this morning; a call that was resonating entirely differently. It called me from a depth that was intimately mine and I followed without doubts. You must have something special because of the way I caught your signal. Let me show you…May I?
She placed a palm on his chest, right above the heart and slowly, gentle warmth seeped inside him, coming from her. That warmth sank deeper and deeper, layer after layer until it reached the core of light. Embraced by the warmth, the diamond core glowed like an awakening star. The light ran through the path that bridged them and for a fraction of the moment enveloped them in a delicate aura. It happened so quickly that no one noticed except for the two of them and yes, Asha.
-Now you know-she said with a smile and stood up. No, please stay. You need a moment of rest. I have to go now but our connection remains. Meet me at the sea when your ship sails. Till then, try not to get in trouble again. You seem to have a vile shadow on your track.
Before he could protest, she vanished, leaving behind the warmth inside his heart. Oh, well…it seemed that in this town the things and people shared the habit of appearing and disappearing all of a sudden. The Prince bent over his dog and lovingly petted her.
-Come, Asha, we’d better go home as she said. I bet you’re hungry and so am I. The treat is on me and you deserve the best, little precious.
He stood up, bowed politely towards the people of the square and left with Asha bouncing before him. Days after this experience the captain of the ship came and announced him that they were about to leave. Prince Brian thanked his landlady for the lodging and the help she provided and promised to return after completing his journey. The ship was waiting in the port, sails in the wind. Soon, they were speeding ahead while the bright and colorful city faded into the distance. Where were they heading, the Prince didn’t know. He leaned against the banister and watched the turquoise waves crashing against the body of the ship. He wondered if the Wanderer girl was following him; she hadn’t even told him her name. His mind wandered back to the things that have happened to him and then slipped back in the distance of Time and Space.
There were so many things he couldn’t remember, others that he couldn’t face or understand. To the people of the Court at the castle of Hope he seemed a cheerful little boy, living a happy, carefree life, surrounded by the love of his Father and the doting of his Mother. Such an ideal life, such a happy family! There were even ones envying him and sneering at him occasionally.
“ Ah! Look at this spoiled brat! His Father is treating him like a star and that Mother if his, she’s always beside him, like she’s afraid that he might vanish!”
Oh, how frighteningly true these words were and how many shadows were hiding behind the sunny picture. Torn between the hatred and the fearful despair, the Queen was equally brutally hurting him sometimes, only to smother him later with her clinging motherly love. And the child was equally frightened of her, yet yearning for the warmly protective love of the mother. Her demons did inhabit not only her fragile mind but they left scars all over the little soul of the boy. Now that child had grown into a young man and after the tragic shattering, his childhood scars turned into deep ravines that were leading into frightening darkness. The Prince sighed and raised his eyes; the horizon was shrouded in an eerie glow. The army of clouds was building up the wall of a tempest. Oh….never a dull moment! The Prince knew that a new confrontation was following. Instinctively he touched his chest to feel his heart.
“I’m here…”-whispered the light inside.
“I’m here to…”
This time it was a murmur like the voice of the sea under the calm of the Moon. The Wanderer girl was with him. By noon the sky turned pearl-grey and the fine line dividing the waters of the sea and of the skies faded into a milky blur. Above this thin layer of vapor the ranks of storm clouds were gluing together a fortress that was hitting the high skies. Whatever was hiding behind that wall, it had no warm feelings towards the souls carried by the fragile vessel that was boldly cutting the waves of the sea. Despite the menacing display above, the sea remained calm, the rippling of her surface barely rising more than hours before. It was only the ocean of air that seemed to thicken with each minute while strange electricity was filling the gaps between every breath of air.
The invisible rivulets of high charged particles broke down the wall of clouds to a gigantic creature of mist, with spidery limbs and hungry fingers that shut off the sunlight almost entirely. All that was left from it was a pale circle of white light…it could’ve been the Moon if it wasn’t still day. The octopus of clouds spread its arms above the sailing ship and released from its belly a net of phosphorescent web of light that surrounded it like fishing net. People on the deck were nervously watching the unfolding of unusual events. The captain ordered everyone at post and he spoke to the Prince.
-Sire, I’ve never seen anything like this before but nothing good can come out of it. So I would suggest you return to your cabin for your safety.
Asha barked her approval to support the captain but Brian has something else in his mind.
-Thank you for your concern, sir but something tells me that this particular display was set in motion for me. So, I would like to stay, if you don’t mind. I will not interfere with the actions of the crew in case of danger.
The captain sighed.
-Very well, Sire. In this case, we proceed on following our route until the forces above decide otherwise.
Eerie silence fell over them and the sea calmed down to the stillness of a mirror. It was reflecting a dark sky, heavy with slowly but visibly swirling clouds and flashes of light playing hide and seek inside them. Then, a vortex opened inside the swirl and a ball of sizzling light descended from above, facing the Prince that was on the front deck of the sail. The young man was following intently that light as it stretched, coiled, changing until it took the shape of a tall woman. A familiar face. His mother, Queen Helga. Or at least her shadow embodiment. She took a few steps in the air, pointing an accusing finger to her son.
-Where do you think you’re going, young man?
Her voice was cold and edgy, just like in those moments when her dark side was emerging.
-I’m trying to find myself and piece it together-he answered calmly.
-Hahahaha….! That would never happen’cause I’ll crush every little piece of you before you can confront me or leave me again!
The laughter was chilling in its tones of madness. The Queen shook her head and came closer.
-I won’t admit any betrayal in my life! Never again! You ungrateful child! You know nothing yet! Hear! We were four girls but it was me who loved him the most of them all. I never crossed him, I never nagged him or did anything against his will and yet, he betrayed me! ME!
-Who are you talking about?-asked the young man.
-MY FATHER! I loved my father and he betrayed me! He said that he has never loved me and that I was not good enough! He broke my heart and he didn’t even care!
-Then why do you hate me? Why don’t you love me?-asked Brian in a small voice.
-Because you have ALL I had not and you…you don’t even deserve that. Your father loves you; but you are not better than me why should you have what was denied to me?!
-I’ve never asked to be born-whispered the young man, staring into the dark waters bellow.
-I…gave…you that chance! YOU belong to ME! You owe me your life and you cannot just run away from me! I will follow you everywhere! You can love only one person and that is: ME!
Brian felt bile rise in the throat and a grain of anger was building up in the back of his skull.
-What love?!-he shouted back. You have caged me, locked my soul into that mirror only to break it to pieces at your will. You have nothing! I am but a shadow of myself, torn and scattered, my pieces lost somewhere, somewhere at my grasp, yet constantly eluding me. THIS is what your love bred. Destruction.
-You!… You insolent! I’ll crush you!
Suddenly she grew taller, her eyes in flames and her whole body tense, like a tigress ready to jump. He could hear her growl of fury and his own anger reacted to that. Asha yelped at her feet but he was already changing. The pains, the fears, the constant shame, the numbing sense of worthlessness, all of this piled up negativity pushed to the surface of his mind, carrying him towards an epic confrontation with the shadows of his past. A strange cold was seeping through his veins and his body, gathering near his heart in a circle of ice. It was then that a delicate creature of light emerged in the space between him and his mother. Graceful and radiant, her soothing aura was slowly easing the tension he felt inside.
-Brian –she said with a gentle smile. Please, calm down. This is not you. Don’t let her or the Shadow turn you into a replica of their monstrosity. You’re the beholder of a light that they can neither understand, nor destroy. That is the true YOU.
-And who are you?-he whispered.
-Part of your broken soul. I am you and I am me at the same time. Your soul has many layers but that bright line sums them up. Right now, right here you have an option: accept me or let hurt turn you into her. But remember: I am part of you. You are no more a part of her. You can be whole and yourself again.
The entity of light was gradually fading as she was speaking. But even after her last sparkle died out, he could feel her presence lingering around him. So he took a deep breath and pushed that snake of fears in their dungeon, reached out and merged with his lost piece of soul. Bit by bit his limbs were losing that chilling coldness and the circle of ice squeezing his heart melted away. Before he lost consciousness he heard the screech of the crumbling shadow, threatening him and a familiar voice cutting that short.
-Move out of the way, Shadow or I’ll raise the sea and bring you down from the skies!
The Wanderer girl rose from the sea atop a wave and tore the net of lightning that was holding captive the ship. She splashed a bit of foam on the Prince, getting him back to his senses. The storm clouds vanished as the sun opened a window inside their canvas and a fresh breeze pushed the sail forward. Asha started to bark and jump happily and the young man stood up. He felt….better, stronger, much more the old self. He turned around searching for the Wanderer girl but she was nowhere to be seen. He bent over the banister, scrutinizing the sea but all he could see was a bunch of playful dolphins bouncing in the waves. The wind tickled his face teasingly and he had a distinct feeling that someone was chuckling behind him. The captain and the crew were on their usual rush around like nothing has happened.
“ Uhm, maybe it was only my imagination”-murmured the Prince but he knew it wasn’t true. It was just another episode of his personal journey.
The rest of the trip went on uneventfully so one day the ship stopped in a peaceful harbor and the captain said:
-Sire, my duties end here. My ship has other assignments but your journey will continue on this land. Please wait here and someone will come to lead your way from now on.
Prince Brian thanked the captain and the crew, took his personal belongings and his faithful friend, Asha and stepped on the land. He watched the ship departing until the while sails faded into the bright clouds underlining the horizon. He looked around and the place felt like home. The narrow stretch of sands and rocks continued in a grassy incline and a young, deep-green forest mounting the hill. The young man sat on a larger boulder, leaving Asha to run happily up and down the slope. The streak of air descending from the forest was fresh and cooling and carried the promises of light-woven pathways under the lush green canopy.
-It took you some time to get here-said a voice that had a familiar sound.
Brian turned in the direction of the voice, facing the girl that was sitting atop another boulder and who seemingly popped out of nothing. She was smiling playfully and had a kind, warm look in her eyes.
-Who are you?-he asked. Something was telling him he should remember her but then his memory was hazy and fragmented sometimes.
-I’ve changed my appearance according to the place but I’m the same Wanderer that followed you through the sea.
-Oh, that’s why you sounded familiar. But how comes that you’re different?
-I’m a Wandering Protective Spirit. My body is far away from here and it’s in a stasis that allows my core to travel and adjust to the requirements of the moment. The essence of me is what’s connected to the essence of you so I follow you more easily this way. Is there anything else you want to know? I think you’ve guessed by now that I’ll be your guide inland….
It was his turn to chuckle.
-Something tells me this will be some journey! Please lead the way, miss. I follow you. Come, Asha! By the way….do you have a name?
-I have many names but this time I’ll leave it to you to name me….
The forest was opening into a small, grassy plateau followed by another heavily forested hill. The narrow pathway that has led them through the woods was now crisscrossing the meadow of long-stemmed grass and red flowers. It seemed very odd that there was no other color just various shades and tones of red from the light magenta through the bright cherry- red to the deep, velvet burgundy. They stopped in the middle of this blazing field and the Wanderer girl picked one blazing red flower, smiled and went on, heading towards the new patch of trees.
The slope was almost imperceptible as the path was coiling around the high trees. The air was cool and fragrant, the sunlight filtering like a magic powder through the glossy leaves of the canopy. Invisible birds were calling each other, small, delicate bugs and butterflies were dancing gracefully in the light. Soon enough there was another opening, similar to the first one, just this time the flowers were orange colored. From the pale peachy ones to the deep, hot orange ones, small and silky, tall and convoluted, all of them were melting into a bright symphony of this warm, vivid color. Once again the Wanderer girl picked one single bright-orange flower and adding it to the red one, she followed her way uphill.
By now, Prince Brian was expecting another magic meadow to open in front of them and he was right. An ocean of yellow flowers was meeting them, like a gathering of small, various shaped little suns, with golden light melted into each petal. Citrus yellow was alternating with deeper tones of yellow only the lean towards the tones of amber and honey gold. The flower chosen this time was the purest bright yellow and it fit well with her red and orange companions. The next field that was of pale, light green was a strange one, with flowers Brian has never seen before. But the bouquet the Wanderer girl was holding was developing into a rainbow and by the time they left the purple field, she looked content with her bunch of colorful beauties. As the trio was travelling through the last patch of woods, the girl plaited a coronet of rainbow, using some grass to make it resistant. When they reached the top of the height, a steep slope opened below, leading to an emerald green meadow with a deep, blue lake in the middle of it. It was like a magic eye that mirrored the blue azure of the spotless skies above.
-Come-she said turning to the young man. Let’s go down there. The lake is waiting for us.
Asha was the first to move, jumping, rolling and barking joyfully. In a few moments she reached the bottom of that small valley and stood there, watching them as they descended laughing and running like children, until they got breathless.
-Oh, I haven’t laughed so well since my childhood-said the young man. Thank you for this moment of enjoyable foolishness…I think I needed it….so many things have happened lately.
The girl winked.
-We all need to ease the pressure of the shadows upon us and let the light strengthen our body and soul. Laughter with a touch of foolishness is the best medicine, my Prince. Let me show you around this place.
They camped next to the little blue lake, in the thick and fragrant grass. The expanse of clear water had a narrow bank of white sand, like a frame that made the blue even brighter. Looking inside the water, it seemed like it was opening into a sky of another world. It was crystal clear, yet infinitely deep. The rays of the sun were dancing inside it and occasionally some flashing sparks sped through, probably fish. Prince Brian touched the surface of the lake; it felt smooth and silky. A cool and calming sensation seeped through his fingertips, bringing back memories that were far, so far….He turned to the girl with a silent question in his eyes. She tilted her head, smiling softly.
-It’s a passageway…It’s a friendly portal to dimensions that are beyond everyday reach. The land we are travelling through is unseen for others than you and me. Your journey is unfolding both inside you and in the outside world. Our souls are mirroring a world that only our eyes see. It is the same world, seen through unique lenses so the reality has so many layers and facets, just like an infinitely shaped diamond. The bits and pieces of your soul are inside you but they have lost the connecting thread of light that held them together. It’s the reality that bore them that has echoes outside you. Each time you find such a print that speaks only to you, the thread rebuilds inside you and your missing fragment of soul completes the puzzle of your fragmented core. And then you remember yourself a bit more, until you become finally whole.
He listened to her quietly then asked:
-So those fields we came through held a significance relying to this place? I saw you picking one flower from each meadow…
-Yes. They represent the rainbow that is inside each drop of light. The coronet that I made will allow you pass through the magic portal of this lake. I will follow you closely since I am connected to your core-light and I carry its echo. Rest a bit, I’ll fix something to eat and then we will wait for the Moon to rise. It’s full Moon tonight and magic will be at full height.
The sun dissolved in a blaze of crimson and gold, leaving the skies to the stars and the Moon. The blue above deepened and darkened until the high dome of air became black velvet with twinkling diamond spots. The surface of the lake preserved a faint bluish glow, like some of the daylight had been captured inside the crystal layers. The night hours went on slowly, a nightingale kept her concerto on a branch hidden by the shadow. Then the Moon made its entrance, hopping above the rim of the valley and lighting up the surroundings in silver lines. Suddenly, the lake returned to its bright color, an azure gem inside the space that seemed to lose boundaries.
The Wanderer girl picked up the rainbow-coronet and placed it on Prince Brian’s head. She leaned above the dog and whispered something in Asha’s ears. Then she took the young man by the hand and they walked to the border of the lake.
-Walk in without fear, my Prince. It’s like the primordial water of a womb of magic. It heals and protects. Nonetheless, you might encounter or remember painful things that you were not conscientious about. They are part of your past, they have left imprints inside you and they are engraved in the building stones of your soul. Yet the bricks are not the building. You are a masterpiece that transcends the tangible pieces that build up your reality. When you feel like falling apart, think of the shrine of light you hold in the very depth of your core. You are that light…..Take back your life, your passageways and stepping stones and keep your essence alive…If you ever doubt yourself, the echo of your core will signal from inside me. Are you ready?
He nodded in approval and they stepped inside the acquiring blue.
It was warm and dark inside and he was floating in the water, stretching his limbs in a slow-motion ballet. His eyes were shut but he knew he was in a safe place. He turned a bit, made a small grimace and curled up again. Silence….warmth…..peace…Then pain! Shrieking, high sounds from an outside world he didn’t know….The small body convulsed in fear and his soul cracked imperceptibly under the strain…instinctively, he reached out and his fingers touched a soft, smooth surface and he calmed down….his sister…it was his sister with him. He wasn’t alone. Her hand touched his hand and he knew she was smiling at him. Despite the booming sound from outside, he fell asleep, suckling his thumb….
The light changed and he suddenly remembered the shouts and fighting that were part of his everyday life, though on the surface they were a happy family. Torn between the gentle care of his father and the sticking love-chilling hatred of his mother, the soul of the child was slowly deteriorating, the fine cracks webbing over his inner shell. If during the day it was easier sometimes to find a hiding place or a refuge from the family storms, the night came with surges of black waters and blood chilling nightmares. His tears dried out soon and he suffered in silence, waiting with eyes shut for the sunrise. The warmth of the first rays were soothingly chasing away the shadows and the little Prince always found the strength to laugh, run, discover or even dream with eyes wide open.
The light pouring from above was a warm yellow one and it instilled a peaceful, calming sensation to him. There were no clear contours of the place where he was, just a glowing blur surrounding the spot where he was sitting. He was kneeling on a huge water-lily leaf, floating on the surface of the azure waters. There was a tingling sensation on his chest and he touched it instinctively. When he removed his hand, there was a light and warm translucent globe in his palm. A web of thin cracks was covering the smooth surface and those lines were slowly enlarging while a bright white light was escaping from the inside. In the same time, a dark smoke appeared from nowhere, rushing towards the opening cracks, trying to replace the light and fill the hollow left behind. Light and darkness were mixing, entwining, chasing each other around that fragile globe and he knew that this was his broken soul, with the Shadow trying to fill it up and kill his inner light.
-No!-he shouted and he hid the globe inside his chest. Never!
The yellow light turned into soft green.
Emerald green light was undulating in the bottom of the sea, around the lazily undulating long stems of the algae forest. A school of butterfly-fish emerged from the dense of the forest, facing him. They halted for a second and then swam off with a graceful bow. He swirled in the water and looked down towards his feet; there were no feet but a powerful, glistening fish-tail. He was a merman, a magic creature of the sea and the sea was his protecting craddle. The landscape of the area was alternating in large expanses of sand with secretive creatures moving under, patches of dancing algae forests and rocky sides with intricate sea-gardens adorning each side. He swam through the whole area, enjoying the sense of comfort and safety and then pushed himself up with a powerful swirl.
Bluest blue exploded brightly above him as he was gasping for a breath of air. Under the dome of azure his physical boundaries disappeared and he became one with the color and the space encompassing it. The center-point of the place with no coordinates was a light-blue diamond that was slowly rotating and sparkling. He closed his imaginary eyes and delved into the blue diamond, right into that bright spot where the light was erupting in a continuous source. As he reached the core of the core, his whole entity retracted inside and the walls of crystal surrounded him like a cocoon.
Then the Universe turned purple and the battle begun. In the thick lavender haze that surrounded the blue diamond huge, dark gaps opened and tall, erect figures draped in purple capes emerged one by one, walking slowly. Each of them was holding a silver mirror towards the diamond but the smooth surface was not reflecting its light. There was no reflection, nothing inside those eerie pools of silver! Then all of a sudden, the draped persons raised the mirrors in front of their faces and some of them turned black, some were filled with white light. The procession of tall, slim figures was coming closer and closer and closer….and inside the mirrors there were faces, all kind of faces, dark or lighted ones, speaking to him, calling him, begging him to recognize them, to accept them, to take them inside to the blazing light. He tried to follow them and recognize them and yes, some of them were so familiar….The tens of voices were ringing in his ears, making him dizzy and the purple shapes were now leaning and rotating around him like in a carousel and he was unable to pick up the ones he felt close to him…Oh! The swirl of the buzzing faces was like a wasp attack, with tens of furious or desperate or crazy creatures pushing the boundaries of his spirit. He felt lost and pained and almost giving in to the pressure till he realized that behind that swarming purple nightmare there were real faces of all those who hurt and cracked and crushed his soul….and he swiftly regained his balance. And he faced them one by one and then the swirl came to a halt while a halo of light was forming around some of the draped shapes. Those embraced by the light were his lost pieces of soul and he pointed out each and one of them….and they passed through the protective walls of the diamond, reuniting with him. Yes, there were some smaller gaps and healing cracks…but he was becoming whole again, the same yet a new himself. Each part of him was an entity of his own, carrying a history and different identity but as they gathered and adjusted to fit side by side, the light of the core was growing in strength and with the last piece falling into place, the star ignited and blew away the shadows of the Past!
RED…of the life-giving blood inside the womb
ORANGE….of the little fish in the fountain where he almost drowned
YELLOW….of the Sunlight that casted away the darkness
GREEN…of the energies of his youth
BLUE….of his hope-filled inner world
PURPLE…of the pain and elation of rebirth and wholeness
PURE WHITE LIGHT…of the diamond and one star shining again, undisturbed, uninterrupted, free and everlasting, core of the Phoenix he proved to be….
He stepped out from the sea, reached the silky sands of the shore and smiled. The soft breeze enveloped him in its salty, spicy cloak of scents, seagulls cried in the skies and the sun rolled its light on the tip of the waves. The lighthouse was now proudly guarding the shore; it has regained its sense and the source of light, it wasn’t just a strange and crumbling tower anymore. The early mist was slowly dissolving into the blue above and the land inside opened before the young Prince.
“ Go, my Prince….-whispered the light. You are home now….You are whole now….Build up your new horizon and fill it with the magic inside….My time as your guiding spirit has come to an end but I’ll be always somewhere…in the wind ruffling your hair or in the raindrops rolling down your face….Go now, beautiful soul….Rise and shine….Goodbye!”
The whisper faded into the murmur of the sea and Prince Brian opened the gates of a new day in his life. The Kingdom of Reality was anew and pristine, the people of the Past were settling on the shelves of Memory and there were no obstacles for the Bird of Fire. All the highs, all the skies, all the star-paths were opening to his thirst for quest into magic.
As for the Wanderer-girl….well, she lives at the Lighthouse, lighting up candles on the shore….for that the Phoenix of the Prince would never lose sight of his eternal home.