Story: Phantasmirrora—“Bringer of Light”
Colors: Tyrian Purple #17 “chariot of the sun god”; Provence Lavender # 1, “shepherd”
Word Count: 1268
Summary: Eustace helps the sun rise.
Warning: Mentions of suicide, depression, and miscarriage.
Eustace placed the cauldron on his desk. Another dawn was set to begin in The Realms; he was part of the small cadre of individual magicians who participated in this daily ritual, bringing the sun up into the sky.
Thus began the preparation ritual: a standard black iron kettle was filled with blessed water from the central well. Then he dropped a few clutches of herbs into the water, bringing the ions forth as one half of the necessary combination for making a sunrise. The other component rested in a black velvet box; the sun quartz shimmered from within, flashing red then pink under the chandelier light. Eustace had to wait for the water to boil; the sun quartz could not be added to cold water. Speeding up the process by using a cooking spell wasn’t forbidden under the Mage’s Code. But he preferred the slowness of moments unfolding and accumulating together.
Eustace sat in the high-backed leather chair he used as command post. The remembered version of his real world study chair was the same in appearance: hunter green leather paired with mahogany. Yet it was different: there was no tear underneath the cushion and the left back foot wasn’t partially chewed by a Labrador Retriever. He couldn’t recreate the chair with those defects because it would only mock him. It would be torture to see a constant reminder of the world left behind.
Some people clung desperately to every memory they possessed. He saved a cherished few to place deep in his lingering soul while other remembrances were hidden away in memory orbs.
One memory rose up from the hidden collective of the chosen few kept deep in his unconscious: a true morning back in Reality under the sun in Nice, during high summer 1923. It was during this idyllic summer when their first and last child was conceived…
Eustace stared at the long-barren space once inhabited by an engraved silver wedding band. His perfect wife became a ghost entombed in flesh after she miscarried. She barely existed for seventeen months until she heeded the Abyss’ call and gave away her life on the first day of summer. He became a man with nothing left save for a profession that required digging through mud and sand and dirt in search of lost artifacts from worlds long erased from history. Running away into the past was a two-lane country road in the four years between Avalon’s departure and his leave-taking from Reality. Pursuing the lure of ancient civilizations balanced out his growing obsession with keeping her alive in spirit.
Eustace’s alchemy curiosity started at Oxford, was interrupted by life then began without interruption after death claimed his joy. His sole interest became the esoteric and forbidden knowledge of necromancy. He refused to consider the questionable ancient practice of raising dead bodies to invoke prophecy. Calling up their wandering spirits was Eustace’s sole means to commune with the elements and higher influences. It was through regular communications with the disembodied guides that his knowledge of magic increased.
As he pushed forward in the hidden arts, Eustace began another pursuit during his participation in life’s daily masque. His childhood fascination with the Minoans pushed Eustace into the final phase of his earthly life. He began excavating a potential site on the isle of Santorini, once a thriving Minoan port. Rumors from local folklore told of a huge cataclysmic volcanic eruption that concealed a city beneath layers of ash. Uncovering the lost city wasn’t a simple matter of discovery; this new quest also gave him a compelling reason to pull away from the dark corner he called “home” in both mind and spirit.
On July 29, 1929, the impossible happened…Eustace had spent most the day under the earth, digging in a network of caves in search of artifacts. Just before five in the evening, when the sun cast its rays from lower in the sky and somehow felt hotter than from its ascendancy, Eustace finally uncovered something in the muck. It looked simple, tiny, in near perfect condition. The object was circular, made from obsidian with a broken polished bronze front…on the back was a peculiar carving: a crone enclosed in an oval frame of intertwined vines and a snake. Eustace uncovered the strange mirror at a crossroads in the cave network; was it deliberately buried as part of a ritual?
Then, with only a single flash of light as warning, he materialized in the Ash Valley…and he was now the most permanent of permanent residents in Ysonesse.
A bell sounded from inside the cauldron. (Eustace created a sort of timer which alerted him whenever the water had reached boiling point and was ready to accept the sun quartz. It helped pull him back into focus when too far into reverie). He rose from the chair, came around to the cauldron, then reached out for the open jewel box. Within the deep black velvet lay the sun quartz.
Eustace took in a deep breath, ready for the first incantation:
I am the bringer of light.
I am the bearer of Apollo’s flame.
I carry the spark which brings light upon the land.
Then he placed his left hand over the quartz, charging it with some of his own life force. Once the quartz’s energy awakened, it hummed from within; the sound of its “voice” rang out like a clarion, which let anyone nearby know the quartz was ready for dawn.
He moved back to the cauldron with the quartz still between his palms. Now that it had been stimulated, the sun quartz was ready for placement in the cauldron. Another incantation was necessary for this next step, so he began to recite the next required bit:
Now this jewel shall become one with the blessed water brought to flame and smoke.
Heat and the glowing seed now come into union and stir the masquerade sun.
He opened both hands, released the quartz (now alight in dancing shades of rose and scarlet) into the boiling water. The water transformed into a deep orange tinged with red, then a magnificent light arose from the cauldron. The glow momentarily warmed his tepid flesh before it disappeared into the nether air.
Now for the penultimate utterance which carried the sun from cradle onto its ascent to its daytime throne:
And so you come into glory.
And so you rise from your slumber…
Eustace raised hands heavenward:
And now you climb into the solar chariot.
And now you rise from the shrouded earth.
And now you climb upon the mysterious roads.
His palms rested crosswise over the spot above his heart:
And now you begin to lay your brilliant cloak upon this darkling world.
Outside, along the vineyards and valleys that surrounded Tacheron, along the boulevards and avenues of the city, close to the border of Thanatarosa, artificial illumination fell in gentle rays upon every square acre of pure land. Slowly, slowly, night became day, until the mages returned the Masquerade Sun back to its mountain cradle.
The Masquerade Sun was ascendant. Eustace had played his role, however small, just like yesterday and tomorrow. He was merely one shepherd among many who brought the glorious creation of the original mages from rest to rest.
He gathered up his magical supplies, placed them upon the high shelf. The sun quartz went back into the jewel box, and the cauldron returned to its black marble stand (after he tossed the charged water outside on the roses). Once all his tools were back in their resting places, then Eustace could return to daily existence in the manor.