“Magnificent,” announced the king’s assistant. “The detail, the colour, the emotion! It is simply wondrous.”
From the darkness nearby, Ellion Demerre, a scrawny, unkempt man with dark hair and dark clothes, approached the painting that had drawn the other man’s praise. It showed a woman of great beauty, naked on a backdrop of a midnight field. There wasn’t a brushstroke out of place.
“It is still not right,” sneered Demerre critically. “The symmetry is all wrong, the skin varies in shades, the hair has odd numbers of strands and freckles never match. It is infuriating.” Continue reading
The death happened on a sunny day down by the peaceful brook where families often picnicked in the warm days of summer. Who among the villagers would have guessed that a venomous snake lurked among the dark bushes that lined the silver stream? The girl Pinnoca, who was entering into the cusp between child and woman, certainly didn’t. As she picked the sweet smelling flowers of dazzling colours that grew beside the water, the snake had struck out and plunged its fangs into her rosy flesh. In her shock she had staggered back, lost her footing and plunged into the chill waters. The bite was not deep but the venom spread through her veins and froze her limbs. She drowned, her lips inches from the air that they so desperately sought.
The villagers grieved for a time, then moved onwards. The girl’s father, a widowed carpenter, was driven mad by the loss of his only child, his dead wife’s only legacy. He locked himself away in his workshop, living on the stale bread, potatoes and small wedges of cheese that an elderly women left on his doorstep each week. Friends and neighbours feared for his health, but no amount of knocking or calling out his name summoned him forth from the decaying house.
Night and day the steady sound of hammer and chisel reverberated through the house. The carpenter worked to ease his pain, his tools the vassals of all the emotion that could no longer flow from his body. Numb was his mind but skilled were his fingers. A single image was burned into his mind, all the more vivid in the troubled dreams that filled the scant scraps of sleep that he could not fight. Continue reading