Rug again like our old days in my Sacred Garden, but I also hoped in all of hopes that Andrew wasn't sneakily trying to manipulate me into performing music again. Of all the things I still have to learn about myself, one thing I knew for sure was that I was nowhere near ready to make music again on any level. Gratefully, Andrew made no mention of making music at all, just played his lovely serenade as I stretched and greeted the sun and trees.
I greeted Dee-Dee the gorgeous and intelligent Turtle too, as the corner of my eye caught her popping her head out of her shell. And she smiled, then I stroked her head gently and placed her upon my shoulder. I thanked Andrew for the lovely serenade and suggested we take a short stroll into the beloved Xanadu Forest, and recalled vocally that Andrew had never tried the wonderful Ptolemy-ce Cream that Ptolemy the gentle Boxer had been selling for quite some measure of time now, from just outside the Record Emporium.
Andrew seemed to like my suggestion very much. And so it would be. And it was only dozens of steps later that we were at Achilles' Last Stand, checking in with Madeleine the albino Peacock (Peahen), my beautiful gatekeeper. Madeleine seemed happy when we found her...she was tapping away on her laptop, munching away on kale chips, and sipping on a glass of orange juice. I signed off on the garden gate activity logs, and Madeleine talked Andrew into posing for a couple pictures with her that she would share on her now quite famous Fairy Forum. Andrew quietly walked off and sat down cross-legged in front of Edwin the Bee's lotus flower, and the two of them conversed softly so that I couldn't hear what they were saying. I told Madeleine that Andrew and I were going for a stroll in the Xanadu Forest and to get some Ptolemy-ce Cream. And that we might pick through some record albums too. She asked if I might be willing to pick up the new U2 album for her, and I told her, of course, that I would be most happy to. And so it would be. It was a gentle and peaceful moment of clarity for me, for whatever lovely reason. And I was most grateful for it.
Before Andrew and I left my Sacred Garden for our stroll, we tracked down Cousin Eddie and Casey the Cardinal, who were enjoying each other's company very much, and very much as Andrew and I were enjoying ours. It felt as though the two corvids were also cognizant of the special presence of this moment, which was feeling ever more like the old days in my Sacred Garden--from the era when I used to call it 'OUR" Sacred Garden. When Casey wore his utility belt, carried his Hello Kitty walkie-talkie, and patrolled the garden either in his remote control patrol jeep or his remote control patrol copter. Yes, dear reader, Casey the Cardinal, Andrew's companion from Olympus, was once in charge of Sacred Garden security at a time when it was actually needed. But I digress.
Ptolemy the gentle Boxer, and T-Yay the record Retriever were quite happy to see Andrew and I, of course, as Andrew and I were happy to see them. But, it seemed, and with good reason, the two canines were even a bit happier to see Andrew than they were me. I was actually happy to see that. It's amazing what a difference the simple presence of such a special being makes in one's surroundings, even if they speak very little. Perhaps that's what makes them so special?
The Ptolemy-Ce Cream flavor of the day was Butternut Sherbet Crunch, and we all enjoyed a scoop or two of it immensely upon waffle cones. Eventually we made our way inside the Record Emporium, and Andrew wasted no time at all flipping through records upon the warm mahogany shelves. He found a copy of an old T. Rex album he enjoyed "too much--once, in another time" as he said. T-Yay and Andrew discussed T. Rex at length, while Dee-Dee the gorgeous and intelligent Turtle located the new U2 record for Madeleine. I held up my waffle cone so that Dee-Dee could enjoy a few licks of it. She seemed to enjoy it. And then she spotted the Duran Duran section and asked if she might pick out a record too. I told her that she could, of course, and she chose an EP of theirs with rare mixes. This made Dee-Dee, the gorgeous and intelligent Turtle, very happy! Which made ME very happy!
I picked out a Van Halen record for my soulmate, Cousin Eddie the Raven, even though it was an album with Sammy Hagar on it. I knew, of course, Cousin Eddie was not a fan of the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen on the whole, but T-Yay pointed out there was at least one song on this album Cousin Eddie would like very much. And I've learned to trust T-Yay's judgment when it comes to music, as he's quite quite savvy in such things. There's a reason he runs the Record Emporium, you know! For my part, I decided to pick out Styx's second album. It would be an interesting one for sure, my heart was sure.
After we left the Record Emporium and said our farewells to Ptolemy the gentle Boxer and T-Yay the record Retriever, Andrew and I decided to part ways. My heart was feeling a need to visit dear Caesar Emeritus, the Baloo-eyed Akita and master and caretaker of the Library Tree near the center of our beloved Xanadu Forest. Andrew decided he was going to Prince Rodrick's Fun Fun Zone to play some video games while dear Caesar Emeritus and I caught up with one another. I asked Dee-Dee, the gorgeous and intelligent turtle whether she would like to join dear Caesar and I in the Library Tree, or whether she would enjoy playing video games with Andrew at the Fun Fun Zone. Dee-Dee had never played arcade games before, she said, so she decided to go with Andrew. And so I stroked Dee-Dee's head gently, and placed her upon Andrew's shoulder. Andrew gathered all of our record selections and said he and Dee-Dee would drop the records off with Madeleine on their way to Prince Rodrick's. And I soon found myself, happily, inside the Library Tree.
Dear Caesar, as always, was very gracious, kind, and happy to see me. He congratulated me on the hard work I had been doing of late with the Xanaduvian language homework packets he had been providing me with. We discussed at length how I was entering a new phase of understanding of the ancient Xanaduvian language. Namely how there were different eras of it, and how I was beginning to be able to tell the difference. And how certain eras of the ancient Xanaduvian language were even impacted by languages from other planets and dimensions. I was still very hesitant and unsure of myself on many of the pages, dear Caesar Emeritus decided, but he was very proud of my effort overall. And he was careful to point out that I really was making genuine progress.
Eventually, dear Caesar asked if he might join me upon the Love Seat (a large, heart-shaped couch in the center of the Library Tree) for a good story session. He had been missing my stories, he confided, and decided he would like to know more about Styvendrake--and the Gliridescetan River Wolves as a whole, if I were willing. "But of course, my dear Ceasar Emeritus! I would be honored to!" I exclaimed, and patted my hand a few times upon the Love Seat. Dear Caesar wasted no time at all in joining me for some happy happy belly rubs, then I lie back, and the Balloo-eyed Akita, lie down next to me, resting his massive head upon my belly...so that I could scratch his head and ears while sharing a tale with him. And we went on...
"So you'll recall, of course, the day and moon greetings you and I spent with the good King Midas LeBottom, in his cottage atop Dew Mound. The mysterious stories we shared...but that also there were some things he said I could share if I wanted to, but that I didn't have to. Because, see, some of these tales must be kept very secret in many cases. Even in the safety of our blessed Xanadu Forest, there are things that could awaken dangerous and dark spirits, and bring evil to our lands."
At that point, I was suddenly reminded that the GARCOM was on inside the Library Tree, and so I spoke more loudly in the direction of the intercom, "Madeleine?!! Are you there?!!"
"Yes, Mr. Kev, I've been listening in," my beautiful gatekeeper replied, via the GARCOM. And she added, "You have me so intrigued, Kev. May I listen in too, or do I need to turn off the intercom?" Dear Caesar and I discussed it at length and decided it was okay for Madeleine to listen in, so long as no one else was with her in listening distance from Achilles' Last Stand. Madeleine was using her headphones, she said, and assured us she was alone, aside from Edwin the Bee, who of course already knows ALL things. And she agreed that should anyone come near her, even though she was using headphones, she would mute the GARCOM until they left the area. So we all agreed this was satisfactory. And so the tale (and head and ear scratching) went on...
"And you'll recall, of course, in former times--long before you arrived in our blessed Xanadu Forest--I lived in my Sacred Garden with Raven, Twillerbee, Cousin Eddie, Styvendrake (the River Wolf, and his wife Duchess), Butterfly, Weasel, Mongoose, Magpie, Casey the Cardinal (head of garden security), Oread the Mountain Lion, and Freddy the Frog ever standing as a sentinel upon the dock of his Pond of Fanciness. And Edwin the Bee, of course! And Andrew would come and go, but always there was lots of his things left behind upon my Persian Rug, which is where we used to record songs together, and rehearse for shows at the Sacred Pub. And we had a Royal Bed--with a canopy--and the boys (Weasel & Mongoose) had hammocks beneath the tree house, and the girls (Butterfly & Magpie) had a giant bird's nest upon the ground--and a table and chairs for tea parties. It was a happy and magical time of beauty for all of us, you would correctly imagine.
But even in the safety of our Sacred Garden, we all still had much to learn, and we weren't yet immune from darkness. And so a time came when I had to leave on a lengthy journey...to destroy the darkness that still hid within me, that was finding its way into the others as well. I was made to know that when and IF I finally returned to our Sacred Garden, it was likely some or all of them would be gone. The eve of the moon greeting that I was to leave, Styvendrake went alone with me to a secret place in the Xanadu Forest near my sister the River (though I didn't know then, of course, the River was my sister--this knowledge was something that came as the result of my most dreaded journey away from my happy place). Styvendrake, the Gliridescetan River Wolf shared much sacred knowledge of the ages with me as we built a campfire out of Gale's Dude Ranch CD's...don't ask, please! Those CD's aren't pertinent to the story--nor to anything at all--which is why we burned them lol.
Anyway, at a point during Styvendrake and I's secret meeting, the River Wolf began removing items from a burlap sack--things I would need on my dreaded journey away from our Sacred Garden. He performed a sacred ritual on me...which is to say he bit down on my forearm--hard enough to break the skin and muscle, but not enough to crush the bone--a ritual I was told was called a Mercy Bite, or a Mercy Wound...a magical mark upon me that would never completely heal. And also, the Mercy Wound would glow different colors at different times, for different reasons. Ultimately, the wound was not only intended to keep my focus on my journey (as opposed to my Sacred Garden and loved ones I would miss immensely), but also to protect me from wicked spirits in dark places my journey would eventually take me. See, the Mercy Wound is a mark recognized throughout the universes that alerts others that you have been in the presence of River Wolves--and lived! And this is no small thing! To good spirits, the mark makes you their immediate friend and they are more eager to help you. To the wicked spirits, it makes them fear you--for they know you have been adopted--and therefore are protected by the River Wolves. In a word, Styvendrake gave me the spirit of a River Wolf that special moon greeting before the fire. It was akin to him making me his and Duchess' son. Very much like that.
Now there are many parts of my journey I could tell you, but I'm going to leave them out for now, for the sake of brevity. You have a habit of falling asleep during my stories, you know, dear Ceasar lol!
With that, dear Ceasar Emeritus lifted up his massive head and exclaimed, "Oh, dear Kev, I'm not falling asleep for this one for sure! This is most riveting! Do go on, please." I smiled and gave dear Caesar a few more head and ear scratches, and continued...
"So eventually I made my way to a place very far north in Flatlandia...to a secret passage at the base of Mt. Nol. You might remember when good King Midas LeBottom guided you and I through those lands, he led us very quickly past that area...that was no accident. For the good King knows of this secret passage, and the evil that lie beneath the mountain. If you recall the stain glass stairs that Donovan sang of in his song, inside that secret passage beneath Mt. Nol is where they are. Those were the very steps I had to take on my journey...a long, long journey--all the way down, and down yet more, until you finally reach a place not far from the core of Interterrestria. But now I must tell you that I didn't go alone. This is something I've never told anyone before--not even good King Midas LeBottom. Edwin the Bee knows, of course, even though I haven't told Him--because He knows everything.
See, as my journey took me near the dark, secret passage, I met a woman--a humanoid creature, much like myself--except a woman, of course. We were happy to have found one another, we smiled, laughed, and shared stories. Eventually I ended up telling her of my Sacred Garden and the loved ones I missed tremendously...and the dreaded journey I ended up having to take in order to destroy the darkness still hidden within me. The woman's heart was broken when I told her my tale, and she vowed to complete my journey with me. I explained to her that it was impossible for her to continue further with me, despite her kind and loving gesture--for it was a dangerous place, filled with wicked spirits, and she would be consumed with irreversible darkness and madness for sure. But this mysterious and beautiful woman was absolutely insistent, and even more stubborn that myself, if you can believe that! You see, I was protected because of my Mercy Wound Styvendrake had given me, and a cloak of River Wolf fur as well. And even with those powerful items, there was still no guarantee I would be able to complete my journey. And the beautiful woman had no protection at all from the wicked spirits that would surely enter her mind, drive her to madness, and eventually possess her very soul. She remained unwavering, and she told me she believed she would be safe so long as I was protected and she were holding my hand. I was her protection, she stated. She told me her heart spoke to her as much. And she promised to never let go of my hand at any point inside the dark caverns. She wasn't even concerned when I explained about the narrowness of the stain glass stairs--for the stairway wasn't even wide enough for us to walk side by side. We would have to journey down, you see, staggered, with her in front of me (for I did not trust her safety without being able to see her, and I had to watch our steps carefully. After warning her once more about the evil spirits within, I finally caved, and agreed to let her join me. I restated that under no circumstances should she let go of my hand, and we both agreed to tie our hands together fairly tightly--for safety. And, she agreed, when I told her I would be watching her carefully all the way down...and if she showed even the slightest sign of madness from the wicked spirits, we were turning around, and I would be completing the journey alone. The beautiful and mysterious woman reminded me again that I was her protection, she had no doubt. And so we finally descended.
And yes, dear Caesar, we made it all the way down to the bottom with little trouble. The spirits were there yes, we could both feel them. And we were not afraid. For we could also feel their immense fear of my Mercy Wound, and the cloak of River Wolf fur I wore. The wicked spirits were angry and hissing the whole way as we descended, but they were unable to penetrate our hearts or minds, or harm us at all in any way. And what I didn't tell the mysterious, beautiful companion--because I didn't know myself--was that we were to die. Literally. But, that if all went as I prayed, we would be reborn as new beings of the Light--the Light of the ancient Xanaduvian Dragon Lords.
See, there was a large lake before us when we finally reached the bottom of the stained glass staircase...only it wasn't a lake of water--it was a lake of Dragon's blood! In fact, it was the blood of the wicked dragon himself (whom we cannot name--not even in the safety of our beloved Xanadu Forest), the former Captain, who had turned against the Dragon Lord Dayne (Yes, the father of Cristobal the Animal King), and began a rebellion which led to the Dragon Wars. And, you might recall, dear Ceasar, that good King Midas LeBottom is the one who had slain the wicked Dragon we cannot name.
Now, next to the shore of the Dragon's blood lake, there was a small chest. The mysterious beautiful woman instinctively opened the chest, and inside it were two silver chalices. It was that moment we both understood we were to drink from the lake. The woman and I spoke no words, for also our hearts knew that any words at all from us could awaken the wicked Dragon that had been slain, and now lie somewhere near us beneath the mountain...somewhere in the darkness beyond our vision. And so we removed the silver chalices gently--and silently--and dipped them into the lake and filled them only half-way. And then we held our chalices high--as a silent toast--but also to carry our prayers for rebirth higher and higher until they might reach the One, and that the One might have mercy upon us. And our bodies became light, and our eyes became heavy...and we smiled knowingly at one another once more, and lie down next to one another upon the cold and damp rocks. And we fell into slumber. And finally died. Hand in hand. We felt each other's final heartbeats as life left us--and it was a beautiful and comforting thing to feel. No pain or fear at all. Only Love.
And, of course, you know we woke again, since I am here to tell you this story, dear Caesar, if you are still awake, lol!
Dear Caesar lifted his massive head immediately, and exclaimed, "Of course I'm awake, dear Kev! How could one sleep during THAT story?! Simply and truly lovely, Mr. Kev. But now I cannot help but ask, whatever became of that mysterious beautiful woman? Did you two part ways? Did you ever see her again?"
And so I concluded my tale for dear Caesar Emeritus, and gave him more head and ear scratches...
Well, of course, we had no idea how long we lie dead beneath Mt. Nol, next to the lake of Dragon's blood. It might have been just moments, or it might have been ages. But born again we were, and it was a happy and seemingly effortless climb back up the stained glass stairway. The wicked spirits paid us no mind at all...they felt completely defeated--they had not even the strength to hiss angrily at us as we ascended. The beautiful mysterious woman, and my companion in death, and I, untied our hands, hugged one another, and parted ways shortly after we left the foothills of Mt. Sol. Never to see one another again, we believed. But Fate is a funny thing, and we would eventually find one another again--albeit in a much different form and circumstance. You, my dear Caesar, know this beautiful woman too! But you and I now know her as Madeleine, the albino Peacock (Peahen), my beautiful gatekeeper! How's that for the end of a fabulous tale, my lovely Emeritus?!
Dear Caesar Emeritus was so elated to have heard this tale for him, that I do believe he nearly purred as I scratched his massive head and ears once again. "Truly lovely, Kev. Dear Kev. Thank you."
Before dear Caesar and I fell asleep upon the Love Seat, I showed him the magical looking ring upon the middle finger of my right hand. "See, this, my dear Emeritus?" I asked. And I answered, "I saved a bit of the Dragon's blood lake so that I would never forget the time I died and was reborn. We used to have a jewelry maker here in the beloved Xanadu Forest named Bannu, a lovely Bird of Paradise from Ulibam...I had him make the Dragon's blood into a gem--the one upon this ring. Madeleine has no memory of these events, because she did not take any of the Dragon's blood with her. So she only knows of herself as an albino Peacock (Peahen). Until now, of course, lol!!!"
Madeleine wasted no time at all in replying from the GARCOM intercom, "So so lovely, Mr. Kev. Thank you for letting me hear. Fate is indeed a funny and beautiful thing! You two have a most lovely nap! I love you!"
"I love you too, beautiful gatekeeper, and thank you for listening," I semi-shouted in the direction of the
GARCOM. Then dear Caesar Emeritus and I fell into the loveliest of lovely slumbers upon the Love Seat in the midst of the Library Tree, in the midst of our beloved and blessed Xanadu Forest.
Life is beautiful beautiful
So gratefully grateful.
Thank you, dear lovelies, for joining me on this journey.
I love you.