There were roses in the garden again. They kept coming back, and he didn’t know why. He never cared for them, he never watered them, he hadn’t even planted them. They were just always growing, choking out the life of the more delicate plants in their beds of moist soil.

He picked one of the red flowers, severing the stem at the base of the bud with his fingernail. Careful not to prick himself with any of the thorns. This one was a beautiful dark red, almost black at the center. In the past his flowers had been ruined by insects, or disease, but there was none of that here. Not in this garden.

Here every bud was perfect, every leaf green, every stem reaching for the sun as it filtered through the stained glass dome. Casting a thousand sharp shards of multi colored light down upon the occupants of the garden. There were only two of them. Himself, and the little Ellydan, or was it the little Ellydan, and himself.

Not that it mattered as the little Ellydan came up to look at the rose he plucked. She was wreathed in her flames, this time looking like a ballgown with a long trail. Sometimes she just wore a bonfire, other times intricate lacework. Never any pattern to the when and why of it, not that he could distinguish. She got up on one of the marble benches so she could look over his hand, at his yellow rose. Such an odd color for a rose, he wondered why.

“That’s a pretty one, are you going to keep it? Or give it to someone pretty?” The Ellydan asked, little flames escaping from her mouth as she spoke. Sending blue sparks dancing up his sleeves.

“I don’t know Pwca, do you want it?” He asked, her burning eyes seemed filled with desire.

“Now now, you know I can’t take any of your roses, no matter how pretty they might be. Find someone else deserving of their beauty.” Pwca said even as she looked at the purple bud.

“Ah yes how careless of me, you can’t have anything. But why can’t you?” Sometimes this Ellydan made no sense.

“Because I already burned all my roses, anything more will be fuel for the fire.” Pwca spoke sounding patent, like she had said this before. “Come on, lets for find someone to give that rose too.” She said as she took his other hand and lead him through the grand archway leading out of the garden.

As they left he observed the multifaceted light play over his skin, how grand it was how beautiful. Whoever had designed the celling must have been a true artist, or maybe just an average one. Possibly just a well trained designer, it was possible ceilings like that weren’t hard to make. Sometimes things looked hard, but just required a trick some knowledge. At some point an artist must have been involved.

Outside he was buffeted by a light wind, and a harsher light. There was no glass to protect him from it’s rays here. Pwca didn’t seem to notice the wind, even though she was wreathed only in blue flames, dim in the outdoor light. The blue flame formed a complex lattice covering her.

As far as the eye could see were fields of saffron. They had been called fields of gold, but he didn’t know why, they weren’t golden. They were more purple, like some of the roses back in the garden. Not like the one he had picked, he had chosen a white one, tipped with red.

The Ellydan took his hand, and turned him around so he could see what was behind him. It was the castle, something in the back of his head told him it was his castle. However that didn’t feel right, a thing of such grand majesty couldn’t belong to him. It started off with a base of white marble, but became a rosy quartz as it got higher. Then it turned all to glass and crystal forming massive spires, and arches hundreds of feet high. Each facet seemingly a different color.

“It’s pretty today isn’t it.” The Ellydan said.

“Of course it is, it’s always pretty, castles don’t just change.” He instructed, this little Ellydan was such a silly thing.

“You’re right castles don’t change.” Pwca said sounding sad. “But sometimes they look prettier than others. Come on, lets head in, it’s cold out here in nothing but my flames.”

She took him in, and dragged him through the great granite archway they had just come through. He humored her by allowing her to, it would just lead back to the garden, but apparently Pwca knew what she was doing. Since the archway lead to a grand hall with pillars made of crystal, and a massive throne of cold iron at one end.

The throne felt wrong, even this far away it burned. That didn’t seem to matter to the ferryman who sat on the steps leading up to it. She was wreathed in her own fire, much like the Ellydan. They ferryman’s fire was different, it was black as pitch, he couldn’t see through it like Pwca’s bonfire, and it covered her completely. It wasn’t fire either, but something else, something that screamed.

He could see the faces in the pitch-black fire, some were young, some were old, some were female, some were male, some just were. They all screamed, their faces locked in eternal horror, unending fires ripping them apart. He had never seen the same face twice, so maybe the ferryman only burned them once.

“Charon, I brought a rose for you.” He said offering out the pink flower that was tipped with a dark red.

The ferryman looked up, not that he could see her face, but she was looking. “Oh, am I Charon today? That’s good, I like being Charon.” She got up, probably the way a normal person got up, but he couldn’t see her so it looked like the flames just got taller.

The terrified faces got closer as the ferryman approached, to kiss him on the cheek, and accept his rose.

There were roses in the garden again. They kept coming back, and he didn’t know why. He never cared for them, he never watered them, he hadn’t even planted them. They were just always growing, choking out the life of the more delicate plants in their beds of moist soil.

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33



  1. Monday’s chapter is schedualed, and I should be home by tues, sorry for the false alarm (I just like quoting that song), there shouldn’t be any chapter delays this week.

  2. I’m not sure if you have any idea how cryptic this chapter is, or how long it took me to figure out exactly who the characters in question are. Obviously, I’m not going to say, since I think you didn’t want people reading it the first time to get it.

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