Sunday, February 24, 2013

THE IMPERIAL CITY.. a venue for the strange & miraculous 2/24/13

We were there. We were in the Pantheon and our guide was a former emperor. Votive flames illuminated the many idols spaced 'round the perimeter and priestesses sang hymns to the gods. Devotees followed a path, stopping at each station to say the right prayer to the proper deity. 

And we were children, each dressed in child's clothes, fine, light woolen tunics, embroidered along the hems with tiny birds and leaves and honey bees. The emperor Marcus Aurelius wore senatorial garb, the traditional toga, edged with the identifying deep purple border. Beneath that was a loose, tee shirt-like garment going down to the knees. Lesser citizens wore plain togas lacking any sign of rank or station. Two 'slaves' came up behind. But I cannot vouch for their humanity. Each might have been just a magical construct, designed to lend credence to our presence, for few well born Romans braved the streets without them. 

Our apparent pater familia said - Rome was a special place, poised at a time when magic was real and science but its little sister. Few questioned the truth of it all... for it was just the way of things. Grandmothers saw dead souls in their dreams. Generals blessed weapons with appropriate offerings and travelers fed creatures out beyond the campfire's glow.

We left that place, passing out through the massive bronze doors. And the first thing I noticed was the stifling heat. Another age would call it ninety seven degrees. Some would say thirty eight.  Romans of the day termed it 'a fast sizzle' for the length of time it took an egg to fry atop the roadway.  Our mysterious attendants stopped at a stall and purchased long, loose bunches of fragrant herbs, used to beat the air around us, so that we might smell sweetness instead of urine and filth. The juvenile Baylah scrunched her nose. Tomas just ignored the heat, as befitting an Andalusian aristocrat.  Annie stared silently. Then she asked the emperor for a 'kleenex' so that she might wipe her brow. But he just chucked. And Sarah stayed dry, even in this human form. For human we were, or appeared to be. 

Nine heartbeats later a little boy raced passed and his mother came soon after. The emperor merely gestured toward the child and we saw his face. We saw the vulpine countenance .... his short, fine-tipped muzzle.... the black edged, pointy ears.

Edith said - Please, Sir, what is that? (they have such fine manners in The Pines)... Marcus The Good said - That is a boy, normal in every way, save for the spell woven 'round him. Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Magic has a certain presence on the tongue, like sweet, fresh blood such as wood nymphs often have, or cherries brought all the way from Persia.....

We passed a man plucking sprites from the air. He'd quickly pinch a bit of ether beyond his face and from out of nowhere capture a tiny being, like a small, angry dragonfly born to a human mother. Such beauty. Such delicate perfection. And those around him paid dearly, for these things brought luck. Two hundred sesturces. That was the price. From the look of his fine, Galician sandals, business was good. Some paid extra for the cunning, little cages, complete with miniature, upholstered sleeping platforms and tiny mirrors made of polished metal. 

Sarah quietly asked - Forgive me, Sire, but why can he not just conjure the gold?

He smiled and said - Perhaps he has his limits, or perhaps he doubts too much. 

Then he led us into a better grade caupona (street cafe) and sat us down to a cool, fresh lunch of satisfying cheeses and fat, juicy grapes. 

And the magic allowing us to eat mortal food was the best kind of magic of all....

Wonders can be real... Remember that.....

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