Dreams of the Compass Rose

- One: Amarantea -

by Vera Nazarian

In the metallic blur of the horizon, below the cumulus cloud skies, lies Amarantea....

It is violet, lavender, or indigo, at dawn, noon, and dusk. It is where the soul flies in search of wonder, when sleep takes you by the eyelashes....

So it was told, in all the lands of the Compass Rose. It was also related, in the late cozy evenings by the marigold hearth, when children settled to absorb the ancestral wisdom of their elders, that Amarantea was a place between worlds, inaccessible.

One such child, sitting at her Grandmother's knee, asked insistently every night to hear the story, until Grandmother nearly went daft with repetition.

"Tell me of the beast that inhabits the island kingdom!" cried little Learra. "The one that has no name, and that can only be seen when it sleeps! Tell me of the king of Amarantea, who has wed a woman with no eyes! I want to hear the words of the greatest Truth that are inscribed upon the coffin of brass--the one that is within the anonymous sepulcher of the unknown one!"

"The beast that has no name does not want nosy little girls to know anything more about it," Grandmother said. "And neither does the king and his poor wife. As to the words of Truth on the brass coffin--why, I've recited them to you over a dozen times."

"One more time, please!"

"It says," Grandmother began to speak with the patience of an antique maple, "that whatever lies within this grave is the only source of evil. And it should not be disturbed by you or me, or anyone with the least bit of brains, for that matter. Nor should silly questions be pursued beyond a certain point."

"No, no!" insisted Learra. "I want to hear the real words, please, not your own, Grandmother!"

"Ah... What's an old woman to do, when her words are no longer considered real? Very well. It says: 'The soul is a flower, severed from its stem, bearing seed, planted at birth, reaped in death, but never discarded in the bottomless well.'"

"But that says nothing about evil. And what strange words! What does it all mean?"

"How should I know?" said the Grandmother, moving her embroidery needle through cotton fabric.

"Then how do you know the words at all?"

"Why--I was told them when I was your size, little one."

Learra touched a little hand to her Grandmother's sunken cheek, saying, "Then I must find out, before I am your size."

. . .

Story continued in DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE...

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