Ebony and Ice

Fermín Moreno González

Once upon a time a haughty Shahir princess challenged whimsically her trusty devoted lover on asking him a riddle which the selfsame fennec God had whispered to her during her solitary worship beyond the Mystery´s Gate.

"Wherein lie both ebony and ice?" the tall grey-eyed princess asked.

Her lover´s name is not remembered. A thick wall of oblivion was cast into since, although his sad journey still remains.

He was not a knowledgeable man and neither the age-old litanies nor the arcane cult the princess was keen on said naught to him. He couldn´t see through the book-lore. He could only go by his sweetheart´s shining pupils. So he moved away in quest of an answer.

He rode along the Valley of the Damned mumbling the question, as if afraid of forgetting it. Loneliness was his companion among the dead warriors´ olde-worlde undecayed bones. He had to hand over his well-beloved stallion to its hovering spirits to get away with it in the ends of the valley. The skulls did not answered him.

Then he faced the grim Sacrifice´s Cliff which teemed with fearful inhuman dwellers full of charnel longing for whatsoever they find. He could scarcely avoid them while climbing up. He was never going to know the answer hither.

On the other side of the abrupt mountain there lay Minartee, the pagan´s city, its golden carved spires and marble veined domes rising lofty in the chilly morn´s overclouded sky. He lurked behind the mossy crags beside the North path coming from the Last Sea until he managed to rob a lonely pilgrim heading for the unwholesome city. He put on the man´s coarse wool clothes and so he entered Minartee´s stony enclosure without being noticed. Once into the city he headed toward the heretic´s temple. It was said their impious priests eager exchanged their advice in return for some blood. So he did it, passing himself off as a pilgrim. No answer was handed over to him.

Presently he left Minartee due North, across the marshy lands. If both toads and fauns actually croaked the answer smirkingly, he did not understand it. The Last Sea reached, he talked a water wrinkled seamen´s group into going on board in a lustrum journey all around the known lands coast. He met and asked many people. None of them could tell him.

Eventually he went back home, saddened and old-looking, his eyes forever lost in the distance, still searching for an answer. He went to the palace, and entered the princess´ chamber without being announced. She was sitting in her royal throne. As remembrance came to her on seeing him she just smiled briefly and stared at him. Then he knew it.

Both ebony and ice were lying there, throbbing upon an ivory throne.

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