Moss - Black

  • 13 Hours

    “You have 13 hours in which to solve the Labyrinth… before your baby brother becomes one of us… forever.”

    A scent of profound foreboding: dusty black stone, dried rosehips, black moss, and creeping ivy.

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  • Elli’s Song

    “Most shows,” said Rukh after a time, “would end here, for what could they possibly present after a genuine unicorn? But Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival holds one more mystery yet – a demon more destructive than the dragon, more monstrous than the manticore, more hideous than the harpy, and certainly more universal than the unicorn.” He waved his hand toward the last wagon and the black hangings began to wriggle open, though there was no one pulling them. “Behold her!” Rukh cried. “Behold the last, the Very End! Behold Elli!” 

    Inside the cage, it was darker than the evening, and cold stirred behind the bars like a live thing. Something moved in the cold, and the unicorn saw Elli – an old, bony, ragged woman who crouched in the cage rocking and warming herself before a fire that was not there. She looked so frail that the weight of the darkness should have crushed her, and so helpless and alone that the watchers should have rushed forward in pity to free her. Instead, they began to back silently away, for all the world as though Elli were stalking them. But she was not even looking at them. She sat in the dark and creaked a song to herself in a voice that sounded like a saw going through a tree, and like a tree getting ready to fall.

    'What is plucked will grow again,
    What is slain lives on,
    What is stolen will remain –
    What is gone is gone.'

    “She doesn’t look like much, does she?” Rukh asked. “But no hero can stand before her, no god can wrestle her down, no magic can keep her out – or in, for she’s no prisoner of ours. Even while we exhibit her here, she is walking among you, touching and taking. For Elli is Old Age.”

    The cold of the cage reached out to the unicorn, and wherever it touched her she grew lame and feeble. She felt herself withering, loosening, felt her beauty leaving her with her breath. Ugliness swung from her mane, dragged down her head, stripped her tail, gaunted her body, ate up her coat, and ravaged her mind with remembrance of what she had once been. Somewhere nearby, the harpy made her low, eager sound, but the unicorn would gladly have huddled in the shadow of her bronze wings to hide from this last demon. Elli’s song sawed away at her heart.

    'What is sea-born dies on land,
    Soft is trod upon.
    What is given burns the hand –
    What is gone is gone.'

    The horrors of entropy, death, and decay: desiccated black mosses, vetiver, olibanum, patchouli, and ashes.

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  • Hagsgate

    “When those words were first spoken,” Drinn said, “Haggard had not been long in the country, and all of it was still soft and blooming – all but the town of Hagsgate. Hagsgate was then as this land has become: a scrabbly, bare place where men put great stones on the roofs of their huts to keep them from blowing away.” He grinned bitterly at the older men. “Crops to harvest, stock to tend! You grew cabbages and rutabagas and a few pale potatoes, and in all of Hagsgate there was but one weary cow. Strangers thought the town accursed, having offended some vindictive witch or other.”

    Molly felt the unicorn go by in the street, then turn and come back, restless as the torches on the walls, that bowed and wriggled. She wanted to run out to her, but instead she asked quietly, “And afterward, when that had come true?”

    Drinn answered, “From that moment, we have known nothing but bounty. Our grim earth has grown so kind that gardensand orchards spring up by themselves – we need neither to plant nor to tend them. Our flocks multiply; our craftsmen become more clever in their sleep; the air we breathe and the water we drink keep us from ever knowing illness. All sorrow parts to go around us – and this has come about while the rest of the realm, once so green, has shriveled to cinders under Haggard’s hand. For fifty years, none but he and we have prospered. It is as though all others had been cursed.”

    An accursed bounty: rich black soil and hay, cucumber, tomato, red lettuce, summer squash, black eggplant, arugula, grape vine, artichoke, and a tangle of herbs marred by an undercurrent of vetiver, patchouli, and black moss.

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  • Ligur

    “What’s this Crowley like?” said Ligur.

    Hastur spat. “He’s been up here too long,” he said. “Right from the Start. Gone native, if you ask me. Drives a car with a telephone in it.”

    Ligur pondered this. Like most demons, he had a very limited grasp of technology, and so he was just about to say something like, I bet it needs a lot of wire, when the Bentley rolled to a halt at the cemetery gate.

    Dry olibanum, black moss, soggy ti, khus, and opoponax.

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  • The Earth Mother

    The personification of nature itself: patchouli and clary sage with a host of dark mosses and lichens, wild grasses, warm acorns, dammar, burgundy pitch, pine needles, mandrake root, hay absolute, and sweet vetiver.

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  • The Midnight Carnival

    There were nine wagons, each draped in black, each drawn by a lean black horse, and each baring barred sides like teeth when the wind blew through the black hangings. The lead wagon was driven by a squat old woman, and it bore signs on its shrouded sides that said in big letters: MOMMY FORTUNA’S MIDNIGHT CARNIVAL. And below, in smaller print: Creatures of night, brought to light.

    Cruelty and confinement, small magics and penny illusions: galbanum, teak, myrrh, narcissus, patchouli, cacao, labdanum, agarwood, lavender, neroli, and black moss.

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  • The Sounding of Midnight Upon the Clock

    And the revel went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. And thus, too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before. And the rumor of this new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise –then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.

    Terror, horror, and disgust: a bowel-churning sweet clench of myrhh and green musk in a pool of suffocating black moss and a shock of white cognac.

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