If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.

"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chapter VII.7

The Princess

Dream—The Princess
It’s all a little unclear, the background I mean, at first— like picking up a book and opening to the middle of it.

There is a cat-like creature that is also a shape-shifter.  It has escaped, is on the loose, and I have to catch it.  The shape-shifter feels vaguely feline and feminine. 

I am not part of the government or ruling elite but working for it, contracting maybe.  However, I have the authority, complete freedom, to whatever I need/want to pursue this creature.

The city that I am in is right out of Blade Runner or something by William Gibson.

A shipment has come in, a bunch of boxes.  I don’t know what they are or what is in them, but I do know that they are damned important— a little bit of Ronin.

I am contacted by government employees, seems there is a person, some guy, saying that he is a Customs Inspector and must open the boxes in the shipment to inspect them.  The government employees don’t want to, but the Customs Agent is terribly insistent and has all the correct badges/paperwork.  Somehow, I know that this is the creature that I am trying to catch and that it has shifted its shape to look like a Customs Agent.  I am arguing with it, saying that there is no way in hell that it is opening any of the boxes.  It is playing the role to the hilt, trying to convince me, even though it suspects that I know the truth.  In any case, it is the creature that I am after and I grab it, handcuffing it.  It doesn’t put up a fight at all.

The scene shifts, I have the mind of a Jedi, no really.  I am learning—I mean really basic here—how to control knives and swords with my mind, practicing, sending them flying all around.  I am not that good and am probably, at this point, a bigger danger to myself than anyone else,

The scene shifts and I am standing in a huge crowd of people in an area that looks like where Wolfgang Puck’s is on the 16th Street Mall in Denver.  The place is spiritually significant and a ceremony is about to be conducted in an attempt to right a wrong that was done long ago by malevolent magic.

The area is not a graveyard per se, but there are two tombs located here separated from each other at opposite ends of what looks like a cross tipped on its side.  The tombs have been long sealed, for centuries, by some evil magic— each entombing the spirit of one of two lovers, first among all lovers (Tristan and Isolde maybe); separated, their spirits are unable to commingle in the afterlife.

Tristan’s tomb is on the left, at what would be the long end, bottom of the cross and Isolde’s is to the right at what would be the top (“…I am the left eye, you’re the right, would it not be madness to fight we come 1...”).  The place is packed with surrounding onlookers and there is much stone and marble decorating the tombs and surrounding edifices— very serious and dignified looking.  I am standing down with the crowd, mostly commoners, where the arm would be, between the two tombs.  There are two tiers: the ground level where I am at and another level about eight-ten feet higher, where the tombs are located.

The High Priestess of the land, who is also the Royal Princess, has assembled a large number of disciples and acolytes (female and male) having found a way to break the spell that holds the spirits of these two lovers apart— somehow, it is implied, it will be good for the land.  She is standing up in front of Isolde’s tomb, with her ladies-in-waiting, looking down at the disciples, in white, who are below, lined up in several rows in  the long leg of the cross looking back up at her.  Interspersed among them are a number of drums, Kyoto-type, big booming drums.

The general idea, and don’t ask me how I know this, is that the disciples/acolytes, led by the High Priestess/Princess, will create a standing wave of sound between the two tombs with their chanting, drumming, and stamping of feet, which will continue to grow in amplification and intensity until, with the appropriate magic at the right time, both tombs are broken open.

So, the disciples, led by the High Priestess/Princess (who is exceedingly beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate) begin their chanting, drumming, and stamping— starting and stopping as directed.  The noise and din builds and builds, with alternating moments of silence, to a tremendous crescendo at which point the disciples all fall quiet and there is complete silence.  Even the crowd is deathly silent.  Nothing happens and one of the female disciples begins to cry out in abject dismay that they have failed.  The High Priestess/Princess immediately shushes her and moments later the doors to both tombs explode open (outward— not what you would expect from an explosive force created by a standing wave between two fixed points) and the two spirits (visible like ghosts and partially disembodied) emerge from the tombs to embrace above the disciples and crowd, from which there is much joy and cheering.

Although I can’t see it, I can hear a marriage ceremony (Christian— that’s funny) taking place for the two spirits somewhere up out of sight across from where I am standing— can hear them both saying their I do’s.

Somehow, through no fault of my own, I find myself standing up on the upper level in front of Isolde’s tomb in close proximity to the High Priestess/Princess, who is being queried and answering various questions from her female disciples below.  At some point, in response to a question I don’t now remember, I open my mouth and manage to say something both wise and insightful, favorably earning recognition and praise from the Princess.  Don’t ask me, I don’t know how or what. 

I remain in close proximity to the Princess through the rest of her questions and answers until she finishes and takes her leave, walking with her entourage into Isolde’s tomb.  At this point, I am still hanging around and suddenly realize that I have no good reason to do so and quite possibly look pathetic as all I do is remain as close to the Princess as I possibly can.  She looks back at me as she is walking into the tomb and catches my eye.  With that glance, she knows what I am thinking and is amused; she also knows that I am wild-crazy in love with her, smiles at me and then turns a corner and is gone.

The scene shift again and now I and a buddy, who feels like Ivan, have been tasked to find a certain young prince or noble who is somewhere in the city and tell him that the entire royal court is preparing to make a journey to the Desert/Wasteland.  Neither of us knows who this prince/noble is or even where he can be found.  We have been given two Clydesdales/Chargers to ride.  We are not knights but there is the feeling that we will be soon, are about the two juniorest of whatever it is that we are.

The Clydesdales have come with only bridals/reigns, no saddles.  I leap onto the back of the larger of the two who stands there quietly; he is about 7-8 feet tall at his back.  I know horses are measured in hands, well, this one would have been a damn lot of them, big ones.  I also, somehow, am holding the reigns of the other horse, which is considerably smaller than the one I am on, and is leaping about something fierce, like a tail-walking sailfish.

Ivan is standing there, just watching me struggle with this horse, trying to get it to come to a standstill, and I’m getting mad.  Finally, through sheer force, I manage to jerk the damn reigns hard enough that the charger comes to a halt.  I am screaming in frustration for my fucking buddy to quit screwing around like a coward and jump on the damn horse while it’s not moving.  He finally does and we take off in opposite directions within the city to try to find this unknown person and deliver the message.  It is night, the middle of the night, late, past midnight.

I’m tearing through the city, which again, is something right out of Blade Runner, though it feels like Chicago for some reason.  The city is alive, in spite of the hour and everywhere you can see preparations for this journey to the Desert/Wasteland.  Most notably, Caterpillar front-end loaders, giant ones, are driving everywhere with cargo nets full of gear slung from their buckets; kids just lined up around street blocks, waiting to get on buses.  I am left with the impression that they were kidnapped, abandoned, or orphans and are going to be reunited with their families, though I have no idea how they wound up in the city, these lost children.  I am reminded of another dream, where a bunch of kids, lost, orphans, made up the entire crew of a renegade Kilo SS that captured me in the Suez Canal.

Sometime in the night, as we’re racing through the city in vain, my horse starts talking to me.

Typically in myths, the mode of transportation is a shaggy little pony— not much to look at— but possessing the most amazing capabilities and wisdom.  The charger I have been given is the best and highest ranking warhorse in the whole kingdom.  He has no equal anywhere.  He is a horse fit for a king.  He is older than me, wiser, smarter.  He knows things, has forgotten more than I know, a vast repository of wisdom.

The first thing that he says is that the reason he has even deigned to speak to me in the first place, he actually having more stature/rank than me, is that I have been very judicious, reserved and appropriate in the use of my spurs.  He has recognized something in me, some potential or unseen quality, something special and has decided to take me under his wing, his protection.  He gives me advice, though I don’t remember the specifics.  In this very short time, we develop a bond that will never be broken and I love him like a best friend or a big brother, like I’ve known him my whole life.  He is looking out for me, protecting me, guiding me.  His skills, knowledge, wisdom— all greater than my own— make up for my shortcomings, my inexperience; we are a good team.  He canters gently beneath me so as not to wake me as I doze.

We have been riding all night and the sun is starting to come up, though it is still that pre-dawn twilight time.  We have traveled to the outskirts of the city without finding this prince/noble.  I look back and see the skyscrapers of downtown way back in the distance, the mirrored glass catching and reflecting the first light.

We are in a bad part of town— a warehouse/shipping/industrial district, bad-lands.  Out of nowhere appears this giant, and I mean giant, troll/ogre which wastes no time in commencing to attack us.  It quickly becomes obvious that I am not match for the troll/ogre— it is too big, too strong and I am too new and do not have the skill level that I would need to compensate for its size and strength.  However, I don’t lack the courage.

During the course of the fight, I am knocked off the back of my charger and am fighting on foot.  It becomes apparent that this will be a fight to the death, mine actually, because there is nowhere to retreat to.  I am doing the best that I can, but it just won’t be enough.  I am knocked on my back, seriously injured, bleeding from multiple wounds, yet still fighting as best I can.  

The troll/ogre advances on me, raises up to deliver the killing blow— there is nothing I can do.  He starts to swing down, my head will be crushed.  At the last second though, the Clydesdale charges in from the left, placing himself between the troll/ogre and me, interceding.  The blow drops him immediately, killing him.  He has saved my life with his own.  I don’t even have time to feel sad, though I will later, just horrible.

The troll/ogre advances over the lifeless body of my new, and now dead, best friend.  On my back, I try to push away, create some distance, legs not working right, only strong enough to valiantly if worthlessly hold my sword up with my right arm to the troll/ogre in one last gesture of defiance.  Come get me you bastard.

I am not afraid and my last thoughts are of regret, sorrow…that I never got a chance to say goodbye to the Princess and will never see her again.  God she was beautiful, in a way that defies words, and has almost nothing to do with looks.  I can see her in my mind, at the tombs as she walked off, giving me one last look over her shoulder.  Damn.

And suddenly, as if my thoughts of her triggered her awareness of me and the danger that I am in, the Princess appears out of thin air, between the troll/ogre and me.  She is working magic, sends the troll/ogre flying back thirty feet or more, dead, with a powerful blast.  She is lethal.

Her ladies-in-waiting are there also, each a skilled and competent warrior of the highest order— expertly following her orders, binding my wounds, and collecting up me and my gear.  The Princess has other, urgent business to deal with and leaves me in their excellent care.  I pass out.

I wake up and a woman is rebinding one of my wounds on my arm with herbs and new bandages.  I manage to ask where I am at as I don’t know and am disoriented.  She tells me that I am in the Princess’s chambers— in her bed actually, and under her care.  I am about as happy as I can be, considering that my horse/buddy is dead and that I almost died.

An indeterminate amount of time passes— not too long really— and I am alone in her chambers and despairing of anything to do, bored, so I figure I’ll practice my Jedi skills, flying swords and knives around with my mind.

As it happens, I have just started when the Princess walks in.  In a most caring and appropriate manner which does not belittle me—as she, though about my age, is wiser, more worldly, experienced and more lethal than I am— tells me to stop, to conserve my strength, to rest, and heal or else I will be in no condition to be her personal bodyguard on the trip to the Desert/Wasteland.

Given her charm, beauty, and the fact that I am wildly, madly, in love with her it is not that hard to comply with her request.  Further, she says that prior to our departure, I will be officially knighted— the implication being that we cannot officially be together until I am, though she is spooning with me at night already.

The scene shifts and I am in some kind of government office.  I have a piece of blank white paper and am here to make official notice of the death of my horse/friend.  It essentially needs to be notarized but there is no one here to do it  so I stamp the paper— with purple ink— with about half a dozen different stamps saying things like “official” and whatever.  I then, in very poor penmanship, write, “On this date, Joker died valiantly defending my life and the crown while on official business in the bad-lands.”  I sign it.  My heart is heavy; I had hoped beyond hope that the Princess, somehow, might be able to bring him back.

I actually woke up from this dream and replayed it, making sure that I remembered it.  I felt so loved; even recounting it here on paper, I feel special, chosen, loved, and watched over—that my life has been reaffirmed and is special.

I’m going to have to come back to this one and go through it play-by-play.
Today was Gwen’s race.  I also finished Tristan and have a great deal of writing to do on that.  In spite of my fears, I found it most uplifting and inspiring—it has breathed new life into this tired soul.

Couple of times this evening, have just felt giddy, like a high-school kid about to ask a girl out for the first time—don’t know why.

In the Margins:
-Fortune (from cookie): “There is no greater pleasure than seeing your loved one prosper.”

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