All tagged a fool's journey

The candles that surrounded the bed were made from the oil of a sperm whale's shadow. I had heard that such things were possible to obtain, in places of immense darkness; hunts for giant squid took these creatures to abyssopelagic depths, where oceanic pressures rendered their shadows too heavy to return to the surface. Once abandoned, they sank until they were made solid, whales unto themselves before being dissolved by the sun upon ascending for air.

“The plan is to make you a god,” she told me, machete in hand. Her eyes blinked with vertical lids.

“A god, huh?” I twisted my hands together in their bindings, hoping they’d give way. “And what, might I ask, will I be the god of?”

“That all depends on what’s currently available.”

“The prism divides humanity into its seven wavelengths,” the angel told me. “Mind, body, shadow, voice, echo, identity, and ghost. Step through the glass, and you shall learn which of these you truly are.”

I thought about what it meant for body and ghost to separate, let alone all of these at once. “Won't that kill me?"

“I can’t answer that question for you,” it replied. “Death is a vague, human expression for things we have other words for. Once you’ve arrived on the other side, you’ll be able to decide for yourself whether or not you’re dead.”

“Someday, the dead will rise from the earth,” the gravedigger spoke. “Everyone who deals in corpses knows this to be true, whether or not they’ll admit it.”

“How can you be so certain?”

“We plant them like seeds for a reason, my friend."

“What I’ve done in life cannot be changed,” I told her, gazing into the fire. “The future is full of possibility, but the men I have killed know no such luxury- the stories of their lives are told and done.”

“You know nothing of fate, then, child.” The priestess rested her chin upon my shoulder, then wrapped her arms about my waist. “The future is immutable, and to one such as me, always visible. But the past? Ah, it is beyond me, for it is still being decided.”

The bone trader opened his cloak, revealing to me that there was nothing but a skeleton beneath. Not everything inside was human in nature; his left ribs were parentheses of ivory, and those on the right had been replaced in their entirety by a caribou’s antler. There were copper bones in his legs that had once belonged to machine men, and rosewood vertebrae interspersed throughout his spine.

“Everything that you see here is open to trade, two or more of yours for one of mine.”

“God doesn’t truly hate serpents, despite what happened in the garden.” The old magician thumbed through his Bible. “Not all of them, anyway. Serpents that lead virtuous lives are allowed to serve as the scabbards of angels after death. Those that lead lives of sin, however, are hammered by demons into swords.”

“I tend to think that I would rather be a sword than a scabbard,” I added.

“Then you’d make a terrible serpent.”

I once heard that every warm-blooded species has its own devil; just as there is a devil of humans, there is a devil of wolves, and a devil of owls. They only appear among their own kind, and thus elude zoological study, but the results of their cruel pacts can be found in the depths of our world’s wilderness.