Sunday, March 14, 2010

Queen of the Magpies

This is a dream I had years ago, back in undergrad.  It was in vivid color, so real... and I can still remember every detail, like it just happened.


I was sent back in time by my boss, a jewelry maker, to look at jewelry of the 70's for inspiration and ideas.    Mostly, I was attracted to beaded work and there was some beautiful stuff happening then.  I found myself walking on a busy street and went into a little hippie jewelry type shop, with things like big beaded headbands, beaded curtains, hair clips with beaded flowers... that sort of thing.  It was wild.  My eye drank in all the color, not to mention the people shopping around me.  As I walked around a center island with buckets of beaded bracelets and things, just dangling my hand in them and feeling everything I could, I was stopped by a woman whispering words in my ear.

"I have something for you to see.  You shouldn't miss this."  She had very big hazel eyes and black hair, just past her shoulders and a little wild.  I didn't know her, and had no idea who she was.  "It's not far, just outside a ways."

So I followed her.  We ended up walking on a path of flat slate stones through a field.  We were walking towards one of the largest and most beautiful trees I had ever seen.  There were steps carved into the tree, and the center was hollow, with a round doorway.  The two halves of the door stood open.  She stopped at the foot of the tree, smiled sort of enigmatically at me, and waved me on.  I mounted the steps slowly, marveling at them.  What an amazing thing this was!  I felt privileged, hushed and awed- the air was heavy and quiet.

When I entered the hole, my eyes adjusted; there were windows also carved in, letting in small amounts of light.  My joy turned to horror.  The smell was terrible.  A chicken coop?  I did not understand.  Everything inside was beautifully carved, and on either side of the door were two long hollowed out benches lined with straw.  And yet... there were chickens in it, it was filthy and stank.  Suddenly I noticed there weren't just chickens; there were some small, feeble black chicks being pushed out and pushed around.  What were they?  What was this?  My feeling of horror grew, and suddenly was beginning to mix with another emotion- anger.

"How could they..."
This was interrupted by a low, deep laugh.  I spun around to see who it was.  Standing in shadow, half hidden, was a man with greying dark hair, and a greying goatee.  His moustache was curious, thick and full and coming to points at either end.  I did not like his laugh, it was cold and unfriendly; though I was still angry, I felt a sense of caution and even fear.  I was still so confused!  There was an intense feeling of anger and I could not place why I would feel anything at all about a chicken coop.

"You are too late."
What?  What is this lunatic talking about?  The sense of confusion grew, and I turned back again to look at one of the struggling chicks.  I felt like a veil was being ripped from my mind.  As if a strange haze of some kind had lingered there for... well, for years.
"Father."  I said, because I started feeling memories I did not know I kept, flowing through my mind.

"You!"  I turned again to the man, who had started his laugh when I spoke, and this time it was even worse.  But before I could speak another word, the woman with the green eyes came back in the door, only now she was wearing a sleek outfit of black.  I felt a sudden stab of recognition.

"I..." but she did not let me speak; suddenly she went down on one knee and presented me with the most wicked looking sword I had ever seen.  It was shaped like the crescent moon just after she is new.  The hilt was black, and the blade was not that bright metal you often see in swords, but a curious dark grey, and gleaming.  The hilt and the first 1/3 of the blade were crusted with jewels, opalescent, but not necessarily white- they were as an opal would be were it black, with deep and bright colors captured within.  The blade started out thick in its width but narrowed along the crescent to a razor sharp tip.  And she was presenting it to me.  The feelings I had since I walked up the steps intensified, and I reached down to take the sword hilt in my hands.  As I took it, the woman glanced briefly up at me, a flash of hazel with amusement; quick as it came, it was gone.  But I knew.

I took the sword.  It knew my hand, and I it.  Memory came surging back.  I turned a pirouette with the blade held level in front of me, wicked curve out; as I spun I saw the man's smug face turning suddenly grave and fearful.  When I stopped twirling, I had only a moment to recognize what had also occurred- as I spun, my clothing changed to lithe, supple black leather armour, black but with all the colors of the rainbow muted in it- just like an oil slick on tarmac.  It was absolutely amazing, perfect; the sight of it jarred me all the way out of the veil I had on me all those years.

I looked up at the man now.
"You have defiled this place, this sacred place.  This is our rookery!  You have turned it into a chicken coop!   I know that you have killed my father... and that makes me Queen of the Magpies! This is WAR!"  I rushed at him with a loud banshee scream, and he fled.  I let him go, knowing the work had just begun.

I turned then to look at the woman, recognizing her now. She was my handmaiden, my right hand in battle.  I had not known her when I came in here, but I remembered everything now.