sorry for the delay but I don't know if anyone actually wants to read this
Chapter the Second“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"Memories in Amber
The world dimmed, darkening and fading. The voice came from a distance of many leagues and barely registered in Blasa’s brains, only as much as the vaguest wind blown whisper. Lines of distinction between objects began to ebb out of existence. All things were flowing into one another in a complete and utter softness of being. Don’t go to sleep.
“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”
No she couldn’t stay awake. The world darkened and she was lost to sleep.
She was awaked later by a sharp elbow from Harold, as was the norm for this situation. One of her siblings normally woke her when the sermon was coming to an end and the people were starting to rise. She had gotten caught sleeping during church by her father once before and he had beaten her for what seemed like an eternity and had forced her to fast for two days to make up for her disgrace to their Lord. Her father was a man of un impeachable faith and brutal discipline to the rules and regulations of Christ. And he expected the same of his family. She always tried not to go to sleep during church but she just couldn’t help how the pastors dulling voice undermined her energy and drained her of her will to stay awake. She would much rather do anything then sit their listening to a man ramble on and on about nothing for hours on end. Well, at least she thought it was nothing, all the worlds flowed together after a while and she couldn’t really piece together what he was saying, it was all just the chanting of so many witches to her ears, unclear and garbled.
However, hard she tried, though, she was never able to stay awake and so her siblings had gotten into the habit of hitting her when it was over so that she would wake up before she got caught. She was safe from her father while the sermon was still being spoken. He would become so enraptured with the words of the priest that he wouldn’t notice if all the cattle of the village were to wander into the church. Though, that would certainly make things more interesting for her. She often wondered what he hearded in that priest’s voice that she did not. Did he hear the beating of the world’s heart, soft and palpitating, it blood rushing through all the cells of life, and through him? Did he hear the splashing of life-holding water in the way those arcane words bounced and rolled against the floor and wall of the church building? In the way the hymns screamed across the sky?
She didn’t know and whatever it was she didn’t feel it. Was she missing out on something? Was their some level of her existence that she was not in tune with? Did her father dwell in some rich world of spirit and essence which she could never reach or was he merely so tired of a back breaking life of working in the field that he need something that pumped living ardor into him? Was it so much like that other liquid he would, on occasion, imbibe? Like alcohol? Did it make him drunk with the though of life and push all pains into some far off realm because of the sugary taste of an endless forgetfulness?
She thought briefly of this as she stood up from the pew, her back and buttocks hurting from sitting for so long on such an uncomfortable seat. The people began to file out of the church neat and orderly. It seemed rather strange watching these people walk in such rhythm and discipline, as though they were suddenly of one being, one mind, mere appendages of some other force. She knew that in a few hours the normal chaos of the village would reassert itself and they would return to being their own individual selves but for now they were not, they were something else. She saw Adalia, one of her best friends and one of the flitiest people she had ever met, standing rigid and morose behind her father and mother. It was queer to see that face of hers, normally filled with dreamy thoughts of which girl and which boy would look so sweet together, so morose and determined. Had she been invaded by some other being? Was she no longer herself but someone else entirely? It was odd but Blasa put the thought out of mind, she had seen that look on her many times before at many other Sundays in church but for some reason she never go t used to it and it always left her with a surreal feeling in her body. The people continued to walk out with disturbing uniformity. Eventually, it was Blasa’s turn to follow her brother out of the church and she did so with even, measured steps, before stepping into the bright light of the sun which shown through the door with near-red fire.
The sun was just now lifting itself up off the horizon, as though it had been sitting their watching the church, waiting patiently for the service to end so that it could rise up from the brink, afraid to show its full blazing mien before the priest’s words had faded from the still and dying air. Air that was still chill from the long night and only now, after the service over, being filled with the light of the sun and the heat of the day. She normally loved mornings, but these mornings were the great exception. Normally, she was the first to rise in the morning, but on church days it was her father. It didn’t even seem that her father slept the night before, he had been choked up with excitement and joy that his favorite day of the year was coming that he would forget that the human body require rest. She hated these mornings, for some reason the normal winds of hope were drowned out by the specter of future sin and dulling presents toil. Maybe she actually could hear the priest but only on the subconscious level, his words entering her brain as she dozed, that might explain the difference.
The Sunday sun continued to rise for sometime, and it was still heading toward crescendo when she finished her work for the day. According to the Bible the Sabbath was a day of rest but since everyday required, it was merely a day of less work than usual. Having finished her work she snuck out of the village and went to the forest. This wasn’t unusual for her, in fact she did it every Sunday only this Sunday she had a new reason for sneaking away. Far different from the normal purpose of just going out to stare into the depths of the forest and dream and wish and think of how great it would be to be out there, further into the darkness of the woods with only her own little light to show the way over roots that trip and thorns that scratch. Now, she went to meat someone, someone from that dark forest, from that labyrinthine thicket of things that tear and grab and hold one back if one is too weak to step through them. He was beautiful for all of that, an angel to the Christian was he to she. A thing to aspire to, a goal to obtain, a softness to which one should open one’s self. She entered the shade of forest, its normal dappled nature for to day a straight, ubiquitous gray for clouds had moved in over the day and were justnow beginning to cover the sun.
She found his camp empty of life. He was not there. Where is he? She wondered but then, thinking more clearly, she remembered that day before he had only a single loaf of bread to eat so he was probably out procuring more food for himself. That probably meant he was at the town, which was several miles away. She hoped he would not take to long and looked around the camp. On the stone he had been sitting on she found a piece of paper held down by a small jar filled with black liquid. A brown-spotted feather lay beside the two and its tipped was stained black at the base. On the paper there were various marks, intentionally placed there it seemed since they were intricate and precise, however she could not tell what they were or why they were there. Had the boy left it for her to see? Was it supposed to have some meaning for her? What was a marked piece of paper supposed to tell her? She didn’t understand it but decided that she should wait her for a while and see if he would come back.
After waiting for a few minutes she began to look around his little sanctuary like she had done yesterday. It was much the same, the pile of logs a tad shorter perhaps; he had been up late. She took the time to look into his little lean-to and noticed some square-form shadow in the back. Reaching in she pulled out a large…book. She had seen the priest reading out of one whenever he spoke in church and so that meant this was one of those. Did this mean the boy was a priest? He didn’t seem like the type, ridge and formal and full of platitudes. It also seemed doubtful that he could keep himself speaking for that long uninterrupted. She grinned at the thought of that monotone and taciturn young man standing in front of her village reading verbose language from to the people, his voice sounding dulled and strained as he strained to keep his tongue moving. Opening the book, she saw the same sort of marks that had been on the paper. That mean that these were words, and that there was a message on the piece of paper. However, she couldn’t understand the message, she didn’t know what any of the marks meant and what she should be looking for or even where to start reading from.
A cold wind blew harsh from the north and she noticed that the feather the boy had left on the rock was blowing away. Getting up she reached to grab it from the air. The first time she grasped at it, it slipped through her fingers so she tried again, and again missed. She kept grasping at it but constantly missed, the feather perpetually out of her reach. It floated in front of her, close an tantalizing but then as soon as she thought she had it ascended away from her and her hand was left holding only air. She felt like she had been chasing it for almost a minute when a lithe hand easily caught it in the air. The motion was no snatch, no quick hurried motion but a slow easy grasp that was without effort of difficulty. That hand held the feather by the base and she suddenly realized that it had been used to make the marks on the paper. The black liquid was the medium and the feather the tool to place it on the page and this hand held the feather so easily and lazily that she knew instantly whose hand it was. It had to be someone who could right. She followed the arm down to the cloak shrouded face of the boy, the two golden points of light in his eyes looking toward the feather he now held.
“Oh! Hello there! Where were you?” She said smiling, happy to see him. She rather had liked talking to him yesterday even if he hardly said a word. Preferring a distant though some how comforting silence. He had listened which as far as she was concerned was all she needed, or at least the presumption that he was listening.
He pushed his hood back to reveal his face and on it was a strange look. He didn’t quite understand what she was talking about, “It said”
“What?…Oh the paper”
Now, she thought him strange and adjusted her features accordingly, “Why would you think that I could read? Hardly anyone knows how to read. In fact the only person who can read that I know of is the pastor. What could I do with writing”
His face returned to its normal, almost ambivalent look but the tone of his voice was filled with curiosity and disbelief, “No one can read?”
“Well, no. Why would we? There are no books save that one the pastor reads from and its not like that book is any good. Its incredible boring if you were to ask me. And what does that book do for us? It doesn’t help crops grow or cows give birth. Why should I bother to learn to read it?” She didn’t understand why but the boy seemed bothered by her answer, though what specific part of it she did not know. His brows sank a bit into a trouble expression , but then immediately returned to their normal state.
“ I can teach you to read” he said.
He would teach her to read? Was that even possible? She was hesitant but couldn’t see a very good reason why not to at least give it a try, at the very least it would mean he would be speaking more. But she had one question, “Why do you want to teach me? What purpose could you have in offering something like that?”
The boy merely shrugged, “It seems like fitting tribute to her if I pass on to you what she passed to me” As he said these words a deep sadness seemed to string itself through every word, the air stilled itself a bite her flesh with gnawing cold. The cloud cover overhead broke for a second and a stray beam of light moved across the forest floor passing over her and towards him. However, he was standing the shade of a tree and remained in darkness.
“Who’s ‘she’?” she asked but did not receive a reply.
He walked with her back to the camp and reaching into his lean-to pulled out a large book and turned to the first page, which large print up top then a few smaller lines and a lot of empty spaces. “I’ll teach you German. First the Alphabet.” He began to write on the page using the feather and the black liquid from the jar, it was a series of those markings, none of them repeating. After he had finished he looked up at her, “These are called letters and…”
She sat there listening and learning. She eventually, despite her earlier doubts became increasingly interested in the language, particularly when he began to read from the book and pointing out what the different words meant and showing her how to enunciate the various letters. The book was about the Saracen Empires and though it was very harsh on the places, calling them, “dens of barbarians, pagans, Satanists, and heretics of every stripe”, she found herself wanting to visit the place to see what it was like. She didn’t care how bad it was, it was new and it was out there, it filled her feet with wanderlust and she wanted to read more about it. However, when she tried reading it took her a long time to piece together what the characters were trying to say and sometimes she didn’t know what the different words meant. Such as “eleemosynary”. She asked the boy what that word meant and he replied that it meant “pertaining to charity” and then she asked what “pertaining” meant and he replied “Having to do with”. She didn’t understand why they had to use such big words to say such simple things.
Time seemed to pass so quickly that day and before long the sun had neared its grave. She sighed and said she would be going home and he nodded, leaning back to grab a log from the pile much like he had the day before. However, this time Blasa stayed a moment longer to ask him a question and watched as he, with a single strike of flint and steel, ignite the log, without kindling. “How’d you do that?” her voice hung wide and open with disbelief.
“Hn?” his eyes panned up to her face questioningly and it became apparent to her that she would need to be more specific, though how he could not realize what she was talking about escaped her.
“How’d you manage to get the fire to catch so quickly on that log? Is it soaked in pitch or something like that and I don’t know it?” She had looked at the wood in the pile several times before and, though she would admit those times had been hardly more than a casual glance, she had not noticed anything on the logs that would cause them to be so flammable. However, it might be possible that he knew of some liquid that, when spread over some object would cause it to become flammable while not being visible to the human eye. Probably if he knew something like that he had to have learned while traveling to some far off place. The very thought made her excited.
“Oh…well… its something I do.”
She sighed out loud, not bothering to hide it since it was partly for comedic effect in the first place and only second of all to show her disappointment with his answer. Though it was an answer that she should have expected from him, straightforward but not answering the question. It was a direct confrontation of what she was asking and at the same time a blatant dodge, though she doubt that he did it purely to dodge her question but in reality actually thought in terms that, he felt, needed no explanation. “No… not like that… what I mean is… what is it that you just did?”
Here he merely shrugged, “There are those who run fast, and those who swim well…”
It amazed her how ambivalent he could be to something like this but with the sun just about to hit the horizon she knew she had to get home quickly so she decided to ignore it for now and tell him what she had stayed to tell him anyway, “Anyway, you need a name. Next weak, in church, I’m going to listen for a good name to call you alright?” She didn’t want to give him a normal name, a name that one of the people in town already had because she didn’t feel it suited him. He was from far off and was definitely…unique; giving him a standard name would be unthinkable. Before she fell asleep, she normally heard a few strange and unusual names and figured that they aught to be good for him. She just needed to listen and pay attention for the proper one. That meant staying awake. Looking across the now darkness-etched, forest she resolved herself to it.
The weak passed with an easy grace. There was much work to be done in preparing for the coming winter and Blasa could not escape her role in it. However, she still found time to escape out into the forest and see the boy. Often times he would not be there when she arrived but would arrive later, carrying with him bread or food of some kind. He always offered her some with a silent gesture of his hand and sometimes, when she was particularly hungry, she would take some. After the food had been dispensed with she would sometimes ask the boy questions about himself or talk about something that might be bothering her at the time and it became increasingly apparent that there was something broken about him, in relation, specifically, to his mother. Whenever she asked him about her he would not answer and when Blasa spoke of her own mother he would become despondent. He also had a certain…fallen, aspect to him. She couldn’t place it but she began to gain a feeling from his bearing that he had been something greater, some star ascendant that had collapsed before it scarcely had the chance to rise. It was a sadly beautiful. Perhaps it was because of all his knowledge, as he later revealed that not only could he read German but many other languages as well, or maybe it was the fact he had a sword with him, currently stored carefully away in the lean-to, but she always sense an aura of nobility. A high-born grandeur that had become tainted with the sweat and dust of years of travel but now, beginning to overcome such surface scars, was beginning, once more to blaze through like a morning star.
After she had spoken to him the boy normally pulled out one of his books and began to teach her more about how to read. For the most part he would sit beside her, and watch as she read the words, correcting her when mistaken, and giving her bluntly-spoken advice. However, while his right hand was extended, pointing towards a word she was having difficulty pronouncing, she noticed that his left arm was hanging limp against his thigh and, combing her memory, she realized that she had never actually seen his left arm. He always held his bread in his right hand, he wrote with his right hand, and, not being distracted at the time by the fact he started a fire so instantly and not noticing it, he also used his flint and steel with one hand, setting the steel chunk on the rack and the scratching the flint against it. She pointed toward the arm, “What happened to your arm?”
He looked at where she was pointing, as though not knowing what she was talking about when, it seemed to her, he should instantly know when something as drastic as what could potentially be a broken arm was being spoken of. “Oh. It is dead.” His tone had a cool, even apathy to it that surprised her.
“What do you mean ‘It’s dead’?” she inquired, feeling it rather bizarre that he could be so placid towards it.
He looked toward her with those firefly eyes of his, “My arm was burnt. It stopped moving.”
“Why? What happened exactly?”
“Its not important. Now try saying this word again…” he changed the subject and she decided to let him do so.
Other then this event, the week went by without interest and she again found herself in the church that Sunday staring at the priest and using every bit of focus she had in her frame to listen for a good name. Her mind sent out soft, supple hands to comb through the words of the pastor and for the first time in her life she felt active and awake during one of his sermons. His voice began to move with plodding caution over a series of passages, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Luzifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
As soon as she heard these words his name became known to her. It was not the deciding on of a name as she had thought it would be but rather it was as if she had realized, for the first time, the name he had already possessed, as though his immutable essence, with its name in tow, had reached across the waves of collective consciousness and forced its identity into her mind, and for the first time she knew him. Until now he had been an enigma but now he was merely enigmatic. Not a puzzle but puzzling. It took all her discipline not to rise from her seat at that instant and run head long into the woods shouting, “I know you! I figured out the riddle you have given in not telling me your name! I can see you!” But she resisted this temptation and remained stead fast in her seat and remained awake for the rest of the sermon, jittery with excitement. For now she knew his name. And it was Luzifer.
She arrived at the camp after finishing her chores but he wasn’t there as usual. The day was cold and overcast and the wind bit and gnashed at her flesh right through the fool dress she was wearing. It was a grey dress and seemed to profoundly match the hue of the day. She wished sometimes that the colors of her cloths were bright, in the greens of fresh grass or the red of a new born sun, still covered with its soft, warm amniotic fluid. These dull grays did not suit her in her mind and she had seen women dress in bright, almost glimmering, clothes at the town when she had gone there and longed to wear them. It seemed so wrong to her that she were a color so associated with a bleak, toneless, day like this one but lacking any way to afford the dies she knew she would have to tolerate it.
The temperature began to drop and she slipped into the soon-to-be Luzifer’s lean-to, pulling out a large bastard sword. It was slipped into an unassuming sheath but the gold hilt cross-guards and pommel made her realize it was probably of great value though these were now covered with dust and mud. She had noticed the weapon a couple of times before but the boy had always down played its significance but registering it only with a curt grunt or nod and she had never bothered to get a closer look at it. Now, as she stared as she stared at its dust covered gold, decided she wanted to take a look at the blade. Slipping it slightly out of its sheath, she marveled at itself gleam. While the placed in plain sheath and having dust-covered (albeit golden) cross guards might have made one think it would have a very dull looking blade it was actually quite exquisite. It glimmered in the light, freshly polished and she could see in its silver-etched surface her own face, glowing back to her as the glimmer of the blade made her features seem white-waxed. It seemed strange that the blade would have such a shine when there was no sun out to shine on it but it seemed to radiate an inner light. How much like the master was the servant!
Sheathing the blade once more she slipped herself into confines of the boy’s shelter. As she lay there in his lean to, its interior spacious, designed for someone larger than herself, she felt a girlish thought fill her brain and she let it absorb her. She let it take over her blushing imagination as she thought about how it would feel, many miles away, far from here. It would be warm, almost certainly, possibly with a faint humidity. Soft too… very soft and yet, firm. She rolled over to lay on her back as she thought of it, her facing turning red as she stared at the rolling-cloud sea above her. She could see her breath rising in front of her, it looked like steam, oh steam.
“Hn…” the grunt broke hard and slashing into her revelry and brought her back to a different, colder reality. Looking over to him, she smiled slipping out of the lean to.
“Good to see Luzifer!”
His hood was up and she couldn’t see his face but she heard a slight chuckle come from the darkness inside it, it was a melancholy sound, as though some great omniscient perspective made the irony seem funny but closes to the source of that irony made it painful at the same time. “Is that the name you have chosen?” he asked.
She shook her head, “No, I did not choose it. I knew it. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was your name and I was only just remembering. Luzifer, the morning star.”
The hood of his cloak slipped back revealing a face bent around a strange, sad smirk. “Work.” He muttered slipping a book out of his cloak in addition to the normal amount of food, today it was two loaves of bread.
“Where’d you get that? For that matter where do you get any of your food?” she asked staring at the new book. Well, new was hardly the word for it since it was actually rather aged and worn looking, its binding beaten and dust-marred.
He merely shrugged and did not respond.
Once more she stayed until sunset and then stood up to leave, walking into the sun which seemed to hang immovable on the horizon. To all things must the sun set, but for them it seemed to hang in the air for a year, through winter, spring, and summer that hanging sun watched them as they lived their lives. When winter came and Blasa’s food was being rationed to make sure it lasted until spring he would give her some of his own and she always accepted it with as much grace as she could muster. They continued to read and soon Blasa became quite skilled at reading, able to read verbally most any word she came across and her vocabulary had increased tenfold as well. Luzifer would let her take one of his books how with her and she would often read by moonlight if the moon was full enough or would slip it out to read while she was sewing or some other small mindless activity during the day. But they did not only read. Occasionally, especially when spring had left the place with warmth and had touched even the cold Luzifer with youthful energy, they would play, those last flinging joys of adolescence, those dying flares of childhood, though Luzifer seemed to be acting more in the frame of an adult playing with a child several years younger, he nevertheless enjoyed himself. A smile, however, never crossed those features of his. He would, on occasion if Blasa bothered him enough and he was in the mood to acquiesce, slip his sword out of the lean-to and its sheath and would show her some of the tricks that he had learned about sword fighting. She asked him where he had learned but he never told her anywhere specific. She had begun to wonder more and more about what he was hiding. There was something and he wanted desperately to put it behind him and never have to remember it again. Sensing this wish, she decided not to ask on the subject. It was not her place to judge his past.
What Luzifer did not know though was that, at night, Blasa had begun to practice with a knife hoping that Luzifer, when he left would take her with him so that she could see as he did all the lands outside, so she could gaze across the moon-drenched nights of far off sands and seas. Sands and Seas… she had read about them, they sounded so beautiful, billows of soft grain moving in waves that slowly crawled across the landscape and wavering lakes that stretched out ward as far as the eye could see and beyond.
And so the sun hung, soft and judging, above their horizon but of course, the sun must set on all things. Much like that morning star, that brightest of luminescent gems that god sewed onto the sky, can only rise but so high and be seen but so long, in the morning ere dawn can come and in the night just as the sun has die, so to can it be with humans. If the bond between two people shines too bright it is liable to tear and break in its own fire, unable to control the power that tears through it.