A Taste of Eternity

Part Eighteen of the Sonata in Red series.
Part One: A Song of Glory
Part Two: A Choir of Intrigue
Part Three: Etude in the Sun
Part Four: A Requiem in the Dark
Part Five: Hymns of Terror
Part Six: Refrain from the Past
Part Seven: Refrain from the Past (pt. 2)
Part Eight: A Fugue in Three Parts
Part Nine: Rondo Alla Contrattempo
Part Ten: Interlude
Part Eleven: A Fool’s Masquerade
Part Twelve: A Reprised Duet
Part Thirteen: Dancing with the Devil
Part Fourteen: Adagio under Lantern’s Glow
Part Fifteen: Into Destiny
Part Sixteen: A Perfect Storm
Part Seventeen: Paradiso e Inferno

Raktabīja pours tea for the Mara and me. It’s smell is different to the tea I am used to, not unpleasant but very strong. I raise the cup to my lips, using it to conceal my observing the four Mara seated across from me.
Furthest on the left is a man with the darkest skin of the four of them. Dressed in a finely tailored outfit of mostly black broken up with enough deep reds to prevent the attire from seeming monotone. His head is shaved smooth, giving him a refined appearance that at the same time conceals his age.
To his right the woman who had welcomed me, the only one of the four openly watching me as I drink. Her smile extends momentarily as I look at her, possibly she has noticed my eyes on her. She has cunning eyes, their intensity distracts me from everything everything else about her, my instincts tell me she is in charge here.
Next to her a man dressed in a simple well made outfit is seated. He is handsome but wears an air of humility that makes no brag of it. Two gold rings his only jewellery, one plain gold band on his left index and on his right ring finger a large ruby on simple gold base.
The final Mara is a young woman is gracefully seated. Her eyes and lips are painted in deep rich tones that enhance her natural beauty and she is dressed in light vibrant colours that stand out against her dark skin. Her hair cascades down her shoulders the styled waves seem completely natural. Her hands are intricately tattooed in a delicate pattern and elegant gold and silver jewellery adorns her from head to toe with, inlaid with numerous precious stones.
I lower my tea, returning it to the table. The four Mara doing the same. I expect one of them to speak, but instead they watch me silently. Growing uneasy by the silence I speak, “You have my gratitude for saving my life.”

The woman who had spoken inclines her head slightly. Her eyes narrow quizzically, but still doesn’t speak. Even Raktabīja watches me silently, five sets of eyes locked on me waiting for something. I look down at my tea, wondering if it was poisoned though I can’t imagine what purpose killing me would serve now.
The air turns cold in my lungs, with thoughts of poison and murder I spring to my feet. The damage from the waterfall is still too great and I collapse in a heap on the floor as soon as I’ve risen from my chair. The Mara continue to watch me impassively as the cold radiates outwards from my lungs, the blood freezing in my veins and my extremities turning numb. I struggle for the grey, for my blades but my fingers and mind are too clumsy to properly grip either.
My vision grows fuzzy and distant. The pressure from Raktabīja’s powerful grip as he lifts me from the floor and places me back in the chair feels like the caress of a phantom. As ice spreads through my muscles and lock my joints in place, I can see the Mara who had greeted me still staring at me with her intense cunning. I want to curse her, but my mouth cannot move.
Her voice echoes like crystal in a cave of ice, “Just like you predicted, Skandha.”

“Not quite,” one of the men replies, my eyes are frozen in place and I my hearing is strange so I can’t tell which of the two had spoken. The same voice continues, “He did survive, and is awake, but he has been affected. I’m not sure what that could mean.”

The sound of voices continues, but my hearing seems to drift out of sync with my mind and while I can hear sounds around me I cannot understand them. All of my senses experience the same disconnect. My mind is adrift in a sea of discordant sensations, the only constant amongst the chaos is the ever present deadly chill and all consuming darkness.
I wonder if this might be what dying feels like. I feel remarkably tranquil to my own surprise, no rage or sorrow, just a sense of contentment as I let go of the desire to control or perceive my surroundings. The storm that surrounds me slowly begins to form recognisable patterns. Memories form together in chains guided by some external maternal hand. Silver pin pricks of light form and penetrate the pandemonium. With the light comes warmth. The dark and cold that surround me are not banished by the light and head, but mingle with them. Creating pure comprehension that defies language.

“Wake up, Nightingale,” her voice shatters everything. I realise where I am, all the sights and sounds in sharp jarring focus all at once. Confusion overtakes me, I can feel the moment of comprehension and tranquillity slip beyond my fingertips. Fading like a lost dream. The loss is heart breaking. I hate her for taking it from me, I stare at her, wishing for her to die. She simply laughs continuing to speak, “You’re not an ordinary human are you?”

“I am a shadow,” I answer sharply, she had taken everything from me to ask a question she already knew the answer to.

“But you’re not simply a shadow, are you Nightingale?”

I simply stare hatefully, having no answer to give that could satisfy either of us.

“A shadow should have expired from the tea you drank,” she explains, her eyes tormenting me, boring painfully into my skull but not permitting me to look away, “What are you, Nightingale?”

“I told you, I’m a shadow,” the pain in my head continues to build, like a giant larvae is growing testing my skull for weak points to burst out from. Her eyes continue to pour her evil presence into me, I want to scream but I refuse to give her the satisfaction.
Suddenly the pressure breaks. She blinks releasing me from the chains of her gaze and turns to the lightly dressed man on her right, “Skandha?”

He replies in the voice I had heard before but couldn’t place, “I’m not sure, he seems to be telling the truth but we were not wrong. Somehow he both is and isn’t.”

I realise that the beautiful, jewelled woman has moved and is seated beside me. Up close she is even more beautiful than she had been across the table, I felt a desire for her that I hadn’t felt so deeply since my surgery. She places a soft palm on my cheek, her closeness makes my heart race as the smell of her fills my nostrils.
She searches me for something, then addressing me asks, “Do you have a sibling? A twin perhaps?”

Author: Zairron

I'm writing to build a habit, practice, and be creative.

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