The City of Magic - Chapter 19
way with him, away with him!” the crowd cried.
“What mockery! Shall we not even have a trial?” Sin cried.
“Away with the enemy, away with him! This is our verdict!” the crowd cried.
Sin signaled and a loud cymbal clanged. The crowd paused.
“The verdict shall follow the trial!” she declared. “Our Archenemy shall be rightly denounced, and the judgment sealed by our seven governesses. It’s our turn now, and of the power of darkness. May Shadows prevail and may Magic and Sorcery obscure Reality; may the minds of men fail, and may Feelings and Fantasy enhance sweet Vanity! Let’s hurry on while the mouse is hooked to the trap! Let darkness prevail forever!”
The crowd chanted: “Hail Skotos! Hail Hamartia!”
A dark eagle flew and perched on a pole overlooking the stage.
The cymbal clanged again and a voice cried out, “The Court of Her Highness Hamartia summons before the jury the first witness, the Lady Luxuria, for hearing!”
“Our Sweet Governess Luxuria!” a number of people cried out and sighed. A few young men fainted down as Luxuria stepped forward and the lights spot lit on her.
“You can now testify!” said Hamartia.
Luxuria smiled, bowed, and began:
“By the power of Your Highness, your servant rules over the hearts of the young and old. My scepter prevails over their secret places, and nothing is left untouched, nothing unturned. By me are men made fearless to work or to war. By me is their innermost being kindled to worship and adore. My charm of Sensuality is the antidote to Suffering. I could exterminate Suffering forever; except it were for this Stranger. For, he called himself by the name of Light and roved our streets attempting to stir up insurrection against me and my Council. He called upon my people to shun me and spurn my scepter. He called me a deceiver and called on my people watch against me and to turn to his narrow way. Of course, he hasn’t prevailed; for, the people, most of them, could see the emptiness of his appeals. And those of them that went after him for a while soon gave up and returned back to me. Yet, he doesn’t give up his denunciation of me and my rulership. And by doing that he has spurned your authority, Your Highness, and so deserves extermination forever. For why should one who stands opposed to our Kingdom be allowed to go on in his opposition when we have the opportunity to stop him?”
“Do you have anything to say, Stranger?” Sin mockingly asked.
Stranger remained silent.
“Governess Luxuria finds nothing in Stranger that promises hope of subjection. He is a total opposite. Next!”
The cymbal clanged and the voice cried out, “The Court of Her Highness Hamartia summons before the jury the second witness, the Lady Ira, for hearing!”
The crowd sat was silent. Doubtlessly, there was much fear of the fury of this Governess. Ira stepped forward as the spotlight shifted to her.
“You may testify now!” Hamartia said.
Ira looked at the blazing sky with her fiery eyes, then turned to Stranger and cried making wide gestures: “May the flames of Inferno burn with hotter infuriation! May fiery hail descend with utmost indignation! Let every fire that could ever be kindled bundle in now to make the sharpest flame to tear down his body and wipe out his name!” She paused and panted. “Why should I even accuse Stranger? Is he worthy of an accusation? Is he any threat to me? Yet for the sake of this trial, that our Majesty’s will might be accomplished, I testify against him! Why doesn’t someone give him a mask too? We know his other names very well. Hasn’t he masqueraded through our territory calling himself Meek and Gentle? But, I say he is Weak and Brittle. See how despicable he looks with his head sunk on his chest. He is the same one. He is our Archenemy, He is Stranger!”
“Yes he is, yes he is!” the crowd began to shout. Ira smiled and returned to her seat.
“Next!” Sin called.
The cymbal clanged and the voice cried out, “The Court of Her Highness Hamartia summons before the jury the third witness, the Lady Avaritia, for hearing!”
Lady Avaritia stepped forward in her golden apparel. She looked despisingly at Stranger and commenced at Hamartia’s behest,
“He came to my district in the garb of a merchant, a businessman. He said he was searching for the Pearl of Great Price.” She laughed. “He said he was willing to pay anything for it. Well, of course, this raised a big concern in our markets and the demand curve did suffer as merchants shifted to treasure hunting. Mad they all became. It could have drowned us all if I hadn’t intercepted and aroused our citizens to focus on things of immediate interest, on things that can be touched and transformed into gold and silver now. Because even if there was something called the Pearl of Great Price, it certainly wasn’t worth selling all one’s possession and buying it in. For, that would jam the wheels of our economy and bring the market to a standstill. And, then what would one do with such Pearl? Trade it for anything else? What else could one trade it for? The very idea of such a thing is a threat. Hadn’t we commissioned Robbery and Inflation to arrest him? But, he somehow disappeared into nowhere – into now here [She smirked]. It’s wonderful to watch him in chains. Citizens of Avaritia, look now at the misery of this merchant who came to our Province calling himself Generous! What does he have that he could even claim to buy anything of us? We find nothing of any value in him. Generous, won’t you like to strike a bargain and save yourself? See, he cannot bargain for his own face, how could he have deceived you about the Pearl of Great Price! Away with him!”
“Away with him! Away with him!” cried the crowd.
“Okay, next!” roared Hamartia.
The cymbal clanged and the voice cried out, “The Court of Her Highness Hamartia summons before the jury the fourth witness, the Lady Gula, for hearing!”
A large and stout lady stepped forward. It seemed that the spotlight was too insufficient for her.
“What do you have to say against this man?” Hamartia asked.
“Not very much,” she replied. “I only wish this trial will soon be over; for we have a real good banquet after this.” Her lips seemed to almost drip with saliva. “This fellow here looks quite tasteless and a worm in the fantasies of daintiness. It is better we soon finish off with him and return to the delicacies of our new Black Berry Beer and Chilled Chilly Cheer. Okay, as for this man here; he had almost disrupted one of our banquets; for he stood in the Square and began calling to people saying, “Ho, come to me you who are hungry and thirsty and I will give you the Bread of Life and the Water of Life so that you will never hunger or thirst anymore!” Many of them went to him; and when they asked him where the Bread of Life and the Water of Life was, he said, “I am the Bread of Life and my Blood is drink indeed!” [She laughed]. So, they all turned away from him. But he still called saying, “Do not labor for Gula’s table! Turn away from her!” So, our officers ran after him. But, he disappeared. I don’t think he is good for anything. Is he even a strong enemy? Let him starve!” She turned away and returned.
“Next!” Hamartia called.
The cymbal clanged and the voice cried out, “The Court of Her Highness Hamartia summons before the jury the fifth witness, the Lady Invidia, for hearing!”
Invidia stepped forward and began immediately, “Your Highness, Stranger might not be strong, but he is dangerous. Every option against your sovereignty is a danger – not to you, Your Majesty, but to the people of this City. He presents an alternative and calls it the only true one. He calls himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life and promises that he’ll deliver people from the power of this City of Magic and take them all to his illusory city. Our people aren’t gullible; and he isn’t convincing enough with his talks; but, he is persistent and resistant. He says that the realities of this City of Magic are no match to the realities of his own city. He even tried to demonstrate it by making a fig tree wither by just saying a word; and some people joined the rebellion and are spreading the persuasion that his talks cannot be empty because his words have power that Magic can’t prevent…”
“This is enough!” Sarx roared “Let’s invoke Thanatos and see if his powers can really cross the one who surrounds this City and is heir to all that is!”
“Our Prince shall be invoked” interrupted Hamartia, “but not before we’ve heard from everyone. You can continue on, Invidia!”
“Our forces were after some intruders whom we caught and imprisoned. But, when they went to get them for the trial; behold, it was Stranger. We weren’t sure what had happened; but, we are very much sure that the enemy had walked himself into the hole; and, we must strike the iron while it is hot.”
“What has happened to the others is a matter of secondary concern; perhaps, he got himself in when he got them out. Whatever, Magic has given him into our hands and the destiny of the others will be sealed with him.” Sin looked straight at me now and it felt as if her eyes burnt into my soul. She continued as if singing to a sarcastic tune, “Magic has drawn one in, Magic has drawn in another; both had to perish one way or the other.” She turned her eyes at Stranger and then called, “Next!”
Invidia receded. The cymbal clanged and the voice cried out, “The Court of Her Highness Hamartia summons before the jury the sixth witness, the Lady Acedia, for hearing!”
Lady Acedia walked clumsily forward and stared irritatedly at Stranger. “Not very much that I would like to say here: words are precious, so I’ll keep them few. I’m not sure how great a threat he is; because, the rumors have only been that he is quite nonsensical and absurd in his statements. It is said that he calls out to people promising them rest, and then says that they should be yoked together with him and plough the field. That makes no sense either to me or to my people. I suggest that he’s crazy and that we just banish him away…. But, in case, he might return again with more thorny absurdities; it would be even better to just blot him out!”
She was quick to retreat. Sin smiled. “Next!” she called.
The cymbal clanged and the voice cried out, “The Court of Her Highness Hamartia summons before the jury the final witness, the Lady Superbia, for hearing!”
The crowd cheered with a heavy applause that lingered on for quite a while. Superbia stepped forward. Some people in the crowd began to grow hysterical. Some women and men fainted. The cymbal clanged again, and then there was pin drop silence. Superbia spoke,
“We want our citizens to be pillars and building blocks of this City. They can only be that when they know who they are and are confident about themselves. My throne lies in this Central Province and I protect the heart of this City. Our Province has been appointed to host the Royal Palace of Queen Hamartia and King Sarx. [There was a hoot of applause from the crowd.] Those who rise against our City are rightly punished here and thrown into the Dungeon of Sarx or transported to the Land of Thanatos. We know of the great revolt that Religare once initiated. Now, he and his friends are in chains to serve as we desire. There are a few more loitering somewhere around; all of whom continue to derive strength and vision from some mysterious influence that Stranger wields over their hearts. This has been proven by a number of investigations that our scholars have made. Some of the rebels have awaken and returned; now totally astonished that they were at all taken by the deception of what he calls the Way. He teaches that the Wheat must fall to the ground before it can be fruitful and calls the people to follow the Path of Sacrifice, another of his names. Some of our people asked “What about Superbia?” He said “Deny her or she’ll destroy you!” [She put her hand on the hilt of her sword] May Your Majesty only give me permission and I’ll prove whether denial and destruction don’t go together.”
At the moment, Sarx and Sin and all the officials stood up. The eyes of Sin blazed with fire. “We’ve heard it all!” she cried. “Yes, we’ve heard it, we’ve heard it!” the crowd resonated. Sin motioned and the great bronze bell clanged. The crowd shushed. “What shall we do to Stranger?” Sin roared. “Away with him, away with him,” the crowd shouted, “Tie him to the pole, bring him down!” they all clamored. I shuddered. The great bronze bell clanged again effecting an immediate silence. “Listen to our verdict then,” she said, “Stranger, you have been weighed and measured in the Balances of Sarx and the counts of our Governesses are heavier against you. We pronounce you guilty of violating the Rules of this City, guilty of conspiracy against this City, and guilty of instigating a rebellion against the Principalities. You have declared war against the state and justly deserve punishment. I, Hamartia, the Empress of the Seven Provinces, will now by myself deliver you into the hands of Thanatos.” So saying, she moved forward and extended her hands. A bow and arrow were brought and Sarx placed them in Hamartia’s hands. A bowl was brought before her. “That’s the Venom of Thanatos!” someone muttered. Sin dipped the tip of the arrow in it, fit the arrow in her bow, and lifted it up. The seven governesses stood on either side of Sin, four on the right side, and three on the left, beside Sarx. The guards tied Stranger to a pole and quickly abandoned. A great part of the crowd seated behind him evacuated their seats. The crowd stood up. “What’s happening?” Inno asked as we stood up too. “Close your eyes, Inno!” Sophia said almost choking. My heart thumped faster and I felt the tears begin to fog my sight. The crowd waited with baited breath. Stranger looked straight into Hamartia’s eyes. A tall dark shadow appeared on the left side of Stranger. The crowd whispered, “Thanatos!” and shushed each other.
Just then a lightning figure erupted at the right hand of Stranger. It was equally as tall as Thanatos. “Do you really want to do this?” the voice questioned Hamartia, “Will Sin strike Love? Aren’t he and I one?” I recognized the voice. It was the voice of Law. I also noticed that he held a book. It was the red book that he had given me, which I had lost. My heart pounded faster. “What’s happening? Who’s this?” the crowd cried out. Law exploded like a cracker and then dissolved into the body of Stranger. “The Code of the Universe!” Sophia exclaimed. I saw astonishment in her eyes. I turned at the Court. There was hatred in the eyes of Sin. She pulled the string. “Into your hands, Thanatos,” she exclaimed and let go off the arrow. I cried, “No!” and jumped out running towards the center. But, I knew it would be too late. The flying arrow struck Stranger in his heart. The world halted, and then there was a quake. Then there was a bright light that exploded from the body of Stranger. And, as his body began to rip apart, beginning from there I saw that the Court began to fall apart into several pieces. The City of Magic began to tear away like an old, withering, scenery poster crumbling down all over giving way to the light that oozed out from the Stranger’s body. The light shot to tremendous brilliance and then struck my body like the softest lance piercing through me in an out. This takes time to write but all this happened within a wink of the eye. In an instant I sensed all my garments ripped apart as the bright light enveloped me all over; the rags vanished like fuming powder beaten into thin air. The light was so strong that I couldn’t even see myself anymore. Then there was a light boom (such as the one that occurs without any sound) and I covered my eyes.
“It is finished!” a voice thundered all over the place.
~ the end ~