|Syrai stands before you, standing before the red-draped stage in the
Temple of Myths
Syrai says 'Please.. close yer eyes for a moment..'
You do as you are asked....
Suddenly you sense yourself moving through time..
You open your eyes, to find yourself in the same place.. yet the time seems different.
Indeed, tis an eve a many days past, and Themis is preparing for a performance.
A massive stage spans the width of this gigantic theater. Ruby red drapes hang down along either side of the stage. The beige floor is lit by bright lights hidden somewhere overhead. The sloped audience chamber is lined with elegant velvet-covered chairs.
Obvious Exits: South
Themis floats aloft at the edge of the stage.
A single spotlight shines brightly, casting his shadow on the curtain behind.
Themis says 'Some of ye may have heard or read portions of this story before
Themis says '...but none have heard its full telling for its end has nae been yet reached.
Themis says 'The end is nigh tho...
Themis says 'Tis the tale of a simple man's life.
The curtains open to show a tranquil scene of a haggard old man kneeling down before a small glowing girl-child.
They are surrounded by a green dell, waving grass under a sky so blue and cloudless that its brightness stings your eyes.
She says, 'Papa! Come with, I have found what you seek!'
Clutching the old man's frail hand the girl bounces off tugging him behind her towards a shining portal..
She bounces with excitement as she leads him to the portal.
Stepping through they find themselves in a surreal place. Before them stands a vast golden palace with hazy crystal doors. As they approach the doors rainbow lights flash with lightning and fire through the facets of the crystal, blinding the man. He shields his eyes and squints to see more clearly. There is a sign which reads:
Oracle of Truth
Courage is Required
Mirrors are the walls, floor and ceiling. At every turn he could see himself from many angles. The tired, worn face with grizzled beard, the sunken blue orbs, dusty, white tunic and hip boots, the tattered red cloak. Startled, he looks at himself and flinches, then returns his gaze to his beloved daughter, as she dances playfully around the room. She is the only joy left in his life, but a grand joy she is.
Toward the center of the room, a sphynx of gold, inlaid with dark blue lapis stones, rests with closed eyes. The pedestal of crystal pulsates with electrical arcs filling the air with a frightful buzzing and crackling sound. After a few stunned moments, staring at all around him, the haggard old man hears a divine voice rumble, 'Old man.... step forward!!!' 'Your hour of truth has come!'
In an instant all thoughts had vanished from his mind even thoughts of the daughter he so loves. Pain fills his heart again and his body feels as if it is on fire. Falling to his knees the man sees images of himself as a child, a youth and a mature man. Faces of those he knew and loved, friends and enemies, all appear at the same time in his mind. The sphynx begins to glow and the eyes slowly open....
Suddenly the man's mind is thrown into the images of his childhood. The pain of loss when his mother left him in. His youth. The bitterness of his father just before the man abandoned him in Devardec. Growing up on the streets of a then fledgling Tranos. Frolicking in the streets and forests and mountains around the city. The joys of youth and innocence... "Laugh old man' a voice said in his head. 'Laugh like a child!!! Laugh and respond with a child's eye and heart and all the universe will be open to you!'
But the man found that he could no longer laugh...
He was too old and worn to feel the joy of his youth.
The eyes of the Oracle begin to glow red hot....
The old man struggles to speak and finds he has no voice.
He coughs.....and a dry chuckle emerges from his throat.
In shame he looks away from the light....
'Old Man, look at your form in the mirrors of time!'
'Look and see what you have wrought!!!
Suddenly, all the images of himself fill the walls and the ceiling with a progression in time. The laughing face of a child, the running youth, the scholar, the athlete, the sorcerer, the lover, the leader of people...
In the flash of an instant or for days on end the images of his life flooding over him drive the ragged man to his knees with the weight of it all.
The choices he had made... some right, some wrong.
The great battles he had fought in... some won, some lost.
The ideals he had followed and dedicated his very life to in a manner in which so few have the opportunity.
Each image overlaps with the others at some point or another. He struggles to focus on one image at a time and finds he cannot do so....
But behind all of these images was one constant... This simple man's unbounded passion. It was this passion and love of things and people he treasured which had always driven him. The dawning of this realization upon him draws the man back to his feet, though his shoulders slump noticeably.
The Oracle of Truth speaks again:
'The eye of Truth is harsh, and often unforgiving......'
'Can you forgive yourself?'
'As you have so forgiven others?'
'Only in forgiveness will the gates of hope be opened!'
All the figures in the mirrors turn to stare with one common visage at the man. Suddenly, a glowing light envelopes him and fills him with an energy he has never felt before! Within the bathing light you see the frail man struggle with himself. Trying to live up to his own ideals.
Trying to grasp again the passion which once drove him to such glorious heights of achievement. Leaning upon the friends and loves of his life the man struggles to borrow a spark of their energy, hoping against hope the tiny sparks will re-ignite that inside himself which has been snuffed out.
The Divine voice rumbles at the sight of one simple man's struggle, 'Truth is courage in the face of fact'
'Do you have this courage, old man?'
'Do you have the courage to drink from the cup of truth without question or hesitation?'
'Only through Truth can you gain again that which you have so foolishly squandered.'
In an aged and croaking voice the haggard man says, 'Yes Oracle. I must know the truth, even if in the end I find I cannot live with the barest facts of what I have done.'
A golden goblet studded with gems appears on the floor before the man. Looking into the goblet, he does not see his own reflection, but the reflection of his many failures.
Those things he failed somehow to accomplish...
Those friends he failed to aid in their time of need...
Those who had devoted their very lives to his ideas...
So much left undone which should have been done...
The Oracle's voice fairly booms at him, 'Speak thy true name and drink from the cup old man.'
'Only then will you have hope of finding back your love and passion for Life!'
Bowing his head the man says,
'I have been known by hundreds of monikers in my many days.
'The Mute Mage'
His aged voice trails off to a whisper at this last...
'There are too many names to recall Oracle.'
The old man's hands hold the goblet so tightly his knuckles turn white, and slowly raises it to his lips. Suddenly his hands tremble, his lips quiver as the liquid reflects the image of the woman he loves.... his largest loss and most telling failure in his lonely life. Flinching, he raises the cup to drink, closing his eyes so as not to see her visage. The taste of his successes and failures is bitter, then sweet; the aroma is of honey, then of stench of old death, then of a fine wine.
The elixer courses through his veins.
A vision of his love appears before him...
The image mouths something, but only he seems to understand what she has said. He nods in recognition, sadly as if tasting his ultimate defeat. Dropping the empty goblet to the floor with a great clatter the haggard old man slowly struggles to his feet. As he looks around the room he appears at first to be a beaten man in search of a dagger with which to end his miserable existance. Then you hear a tiny giggle from the far corner. His daughter runs and throws her arms around him. As she dances him around the room, and he starts to laugh....The room reverberates with the duet of laughter, father and daughter. The small girl's eyes sparkle as they meet his. You somehow sense beyond a shadow of doubt that this simple man has found peace within himself. Though his heart has been broken and his body torn asunder so much that he could no longer in good conscience stand as embodiment of his ideals he had, with the aid of the girl-child and the kind woman who yet holds his heart in her hands, re-found his passion for life.
'Papa I love you! I am so happy you are with me again!' the small child exclaims, grabbing his hands in hers. The warmth from the child not only radiates into his hands, but into his whole being.
The Oracle falls silent, the arcs of electricity slowly cease as father and daughter watch in astonisment. The small flames flicker around the pedestal. Bending to pick up the gem-encrusted goblet, the daughter gazes in wonder at the unusual gold work and rare gems, then stuffs it into her pack to take home. She begins to tug at his hands, urging him to hurry so they can find a place of honour to put her new goblet.
The man shushes her saying, 'A moment dearheart. Papa's work is not quite done. There is yet one other thing...'
The lilting voice of Themis forms out of nowhere in your mind...
'My friends and family, hear me with gladness in yer heart. 'Tho my presence shall n'er again be felt in these fine lands be nae sorrowful. This realm hath given me much joy and fer at least a brief burning moment hath brought true love into me life.'
'Go ye instead with peace in yer heart and hope in yer soul.'
'Fer whether there is an embodiment of Myth and Legend in the Lands matters naught.'
'Ye are the true keepers of the stories, and so long as yet one of ye live and breathe, so shall a bit of me... Temple or nae.'
'Live life fully and be well my children.'
'And remember always this one thing a wise old man tole me ages ago.'
To thine own self be true.'
With that done, the suddenly not so haggard, but still simple man tousles the girl-child's tresses and smiles broadly. Hand in hand, father and daughter walk through the giant crystal doors, never looking back.
As they leave, mirrors everywhere begin to crumble, the force which held them together having left the land. As the tinkling of falling glass lessens, you hear the joyous sound of a simple man laughing for the first time in ages.
Laughing like a child....just as the Oracle had requested.
The curtains falls and the lights of the theater flicker back to life.
You feel a swirling of air as you whisk through space and time... returning to now, and what is left of the Temple.