The Cherryman: Overneath the Cold Cracked Hall26 August 2020
On the moon’s longest night, during the feast of Lune Harbour, cupped mead and slight comments danced courtly between Queen Sabbas IX and her duchesses and ladies.
Jesters, firebreathers, novel conjurers and their travel-worn familiars paid tribute.
Drunken commonfolk with crumpled invitations bawled their gratitude.
Flourishing, grovelling, performing, and staying silently prayerful in the presence of a new ruler.
Blinded by a promising light.
All failed to notice Sabbas’ spiced wine boiling and burbling over the lips of her silver goblet.
The air surrounding her Hightable on this cold night was gathering humidity as the jesters quipped and lunged between smoking red-fire torches.
Hot droplets dashed the ruler’s brow and the thousand rings on her left hand, inherited from the Eternal Zatlotic Line of rulers, began to steam, scorching her skin. The Hightable groaned and bolts dropped to the floor, the blue-stone crockery cracked as the ceiling above began to split. Coins curled in purses, jittering against belt buckles even as lace dresses, frilled blouses, and styles of all manners tore and hit the floor.
A silence hit the hall.
A bow had thrummed and an arrow freed.
Servants of moon’s long last night
Brought together, brought to plight.
Sabbas’ goblet lurched over the front of the Hightable as if pulled by a string. The clear pearls along its rim hit free and spreading across the floor.
Gaping mouths and raised eyebrows followed the goblet as it heaved itself upright in the hall’s centre, weighted by a magnetic, inescapable force.
Tears welling and silent screams escaping.
The bewitched object began to shake.
The force of a Miracle, the air above the goblet began to shimmer.
This Miracle, it was old. So old that the revellers’ voices had been taken from their throats and the rhythm from their hearts. In her ears Queen Sabbas IX heard only sounds of silence and deep, deep drones.
Drones of chaos and terror.
But the silence deepened.
Awe and fright.
The fearful queen stepped onto the Hightable.
Some say she proclaimed with her own voice, others with something old, deep from within her saintly heritage.
“The moon, in angst and in abandonment, has hunted the sun throughout our Endless Heavens for an age, and an age again. The sun did not want the moon’s love, yet the moon still hunts.
Our grounded plain is warmed and cooled, moistened and dried, and bent by the wilfulness of a lovesick fool. We have waited long enough for stability; for the flowers to bloom year-long. Thus, we pass from this last night, and into the eternal day to follow!”
A thunderous crack split solid silence.
Hot and spiked rays of moonlight crashed through the hall’s blue-tinted windows.
Between them, a limestone shard, reflecting the beaming rays, floated down toward the queen.
Sabbas picked the shard between her thumb and forefinger.
Shaking, but with eyes wide with purpose, she stepped down from the Hightable and strode to her goblet, still shaking with energy.
The air above it moved, almost tangible and viscous,
reaching to grasp the limestone glow.
Pulled into its cup from her trembling hand.
Pouring from within, new opals appeared on its rim.
Dusk in colour.
Pulsating and frisk.
The goblet whole again,
The moon imprisoned.
The sun alight.
of the Unending Age.