Olibanum

  • A Gigantic Clock of Ebony

    It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.

    The chiming of the clock: ebony wood and black pepper, narcissus blossom and tuberose, clanging with dull, heavy opoponax and thick olibanum.

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  • Channel Snow

    Television static made manifest, with a glimpse of perversions hidden beneath: benzoin, black pepper, white sandalwood, olibanum, ambergris accord, galbanum, and O3.

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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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  • Harlequin

    Inspired by the character EPPY THATCHER.
    A futuristic, gothic harlequin, addicted to a heinous hallucinogen with the street name “Grendel”, who leads chaotic attacks against the corrupt Catholic Church.

    Psychotomimetic: pink grapefruit, white honey, orange blossom, saffron, champagne grape, elemi, guaiac, blonde tobacco, and olibanum.

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  • I. The Magician

    They asked St. Germain's manservant if his master was truly a thousand years old, as it was rumored he had claimed.

    “How would I know?” the man replied. “I have only been in the master's employ for three hundred years.”

    Burmese rosewood, olibanum, benzoin, turmeric, currant leaf, and oude.

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  • Lajos

    A tribute to Lajos Pap, a spiritualist medium whose specialty was apporting snakes, lizards, rats, and frogs – live and dead – during séance.

    A pattering of night-creatures: indigo musk and patchouli croaking with oakmoss and a skittering of gleaming black olibanum.

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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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  • Mastermind

    Inspired by the character HUNTER ROSE.
    The first of the Grendel legacy, a stylish, best-selling author who leads a double life as a relentless assassin and all-powerful mob overlord.

    An elegant cologne of olibanum, opoponax, leather accord, black amber, bois de jasmine, cade wood, pale balsam, orange blossom, oudh, black plum, bourbon vanilla, and sandalwood.

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  • Matthew 25:34-36

    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

    I was hungry and you fed me,
    I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
    I was homeless and you gave me a room,
    I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
    I was sick and you stopped to visit,
    I was in prison and you came to me.’

    Olibanum, labdanum, spikenard, cade, cardamom pod, and olive blossom.

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  • Meskhenet, The Vulture Maiden

    The ringing of a gong seizes your attention, and you follow the sound to the next stage. It is empty, devoid of any backdrop, and the platform is dark. A haze blankets your vision, like heat radiating off of the desert floor. You hear the sound of hands clapping a steady rhythm, and within moments, the haze begins to coalesce into the forms of a troupe of ghostly women, clad in linen shifts. Their wraithlike hands pluck at the strings of translucent zithers and harps, shake spectral sistrums, and their pallid lips blow upon ethereal flutes. The music that they play is discordant, otherworldly, and seems to be at once a funeral dirge and a paean to life: a triumphant lamentation. As the sound swells, you hear the beating of wings in the distance, and a keen, a siren’s ululation, joins the haunting melody. As the song reaches its eerie crescendo, a beautiful winged woman alights on the stage, summoned by the phantom song. Her skin is dusky brown, and the vigor of her youthful body seems in conflict with the depth of grief reflected in her eyes. Her wings spread out behind her in morbid majesty, and she takes flight. Her dance is, itself, a visible act of mourning, and is almost sensual in its sorrow.

    Frankincense, hyssop, hibiscus, river reeds, orris root, palm frond, and olibanum.

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  • Seven Word Story: Gluttony

    The subject of our latest #BPAL7wordstory contest was Gluttony. The winning entry was submitted by Crystal Rose-Thompson:

    The Sirens Eagerly Beckoned the Approaching Ship

    Sea splash on murky labdanum and gleaming olibanum, veiled in lavender, diaphanous osmanthus, gilded saffron, and honey incense.

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  • Silenti

    The Silenti reject human society completely, and are, quite literally, the living dead. Either due to trauma, sociopathic psychological conditions they possessed while human, or through a desire to embrace this peculiar aesthetic, they adopt many of the stereotypes and trappings of the vampire-as-undead. Some act as monstrous killers, akin to the murderous ways of Interfectors, while others are more peaceable, but no less strange. Most of these vampires choose to live in crypts, haunting graveyards like proverbial ghouls. Many vampire death cults have sprung from the philosophies and writings of Silenti, including the House of Azrael, whose members venerate death itself as the supreme deity and oblivion as heaven.

    Grave beauty: Spanish moss, lilac, wisteria, myrrh, and olibanum.

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  • The Harlot’s House

    We caught the tread of dancing feet,
    We loitered down the moonlit street,
    And stopped beneath the harlot’s house.

    Inside, above the din and fray,
    We heard the loud musicians play
    The “Treues Liebes Herz” of Strauss.

    Like strange mechanical grotesques,
    Making fantastic arabesques,
    The shadows raced across the blind.

    We watched the ghostly dancers spin
    To sound of horn and violin,
    Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.

    Like wire-pulled automatons,
    Slim silhouetted skeletons
    Went sidling through the slow quadrille.

    The took each other by the hand,
    And danced a stately saraband;
    Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.

    Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
    A phantom lover to her breast,
    Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.

    Sometimes a horrible marionette
    Came out, and smoked its cigarette
    Upon the steps like a live thing.

    Then, turning to my love, I said,
    “The dead are dancing with the dead,
    The dust is whirling with the dust.”

    But she–she heard the violin,
    And left my side, and entered in:
    Love passed into the house of lust.

    Then suddenly the tune went false,
    The dancers wearied of the waltz,
    The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.

    And down the long and silent street,
    The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
    Crept like a frightened girl.

    The dead are dancing with the dead, the dust is whirling with the dust: angel’s trumpet, violet, white sandalwood, oude, copaiba balsam, angelica, white tea, olibanum, and oakmoss.

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  • Third Lash

    White fir, olibanum, thyme, and leather.

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  • Vital Fluid

    Modern philosophy has admitted a plenum or universal principle of fluid matter, which occupies all space; and that as all bodies moving in the world, abound with pores, this fluid matter introduces itself through the interstices and returns backwards and forwards, flowing through one body by the currents which issue therefrom to another, as in a magnet, which produces that phenomenon which we call Animal Magnetism. This fluid consists of fire, air and spirit, and like all other fluids tends to an equilibrium, therefore it is easy to conceive how the efforts which the bodies make towards each other produce animal electricity, which in fact is no more than the effect produced between two bodies, one of which has more motion than the other; a phenomenon serving to prove that the body which has most motion communicates it to the other, until the medium of motion becomes an equilibrium between the two bodies, and then this equality of motion produces animal electricity.

    —Wonders and mysteries of animal magnetism displayed; or the history, art, practice, and progress of that useful science, from its first rise in the city of Paris, to the present time. With several Curious Cases and new Anecdotes of the Principal Professors, 1791.

    The breath and tears and pulse of all life; the fluid that flows through all creation, permeating space and time and spirit: olibanum, red benzoin absolute, labdanum, betel leaf, galbanum, mastic, and angelica.

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  • Witch-Cursed Castle

    You whom Haggard holds in thrall,
    Share his feast and share his fall.
    You shall see your fortune flower
    Till the torrent takes the tower.
    Yet none but one of Hagsgate town
    May bring the castle swirling down.

    Beyond the town, darker than dark, King Haggard’s castle teetered like a lunatic on stilts, and beyond the castle the sea slid. Drinn stopped him as he raised his glass. “Not that toast, my friend. Will you drink to a woe fifty years old? It is that long since our sorrow fell, when King Haggard built his castle by the sea.”

    “When the witch built it, I think.” Schmendrick wagged a finger at him. “Credit where it’s due, after all.”

    “Ah, you know that story,” Drinn said. “Then you must also know that Haggard refused to pay the witch when her task was completed.”

    The magician nodded. “Aye,” and she cursed him for his greed – cursed the castle, rather. “But what had that to do with Hagsgate? The town had done the witch no wrong.”

    “No,” Drinn replied. “But neither had it done her any good. She could not unmake the castle – or would not, for she fancied herself an artistic sort and boasted that her work was years ahead of its time. Anyway, she came to the elders of Hagsgate and demanded that they force Haggard to pay what was due her. ‘Look at me and see yourselves,’ she rasped. ‘That’s the true test of a town, or of a king. A lord who cheats an ugly old witch will cheat his own folk by and by. Stop him while you can, before you grow used to him.’” Drinn sipped his wine and thoughtfully filled Schmendrick’s glass once more.

    “Haggard paid her no money,” he went on, “and Hagsgate, alas, paid her no heed. She was treated politely and referred to the proper authorities, whereupon she flew into a fury and screamed that in our eagerness to make no enemies at all, we had now made two.” He paused, covering his eyes with lids so thin that Molly was sure he could see through them, like a bird. With his eyes closed, he said, “It was then that she cursed Haggard’s castle, and cursed our town as well. Thus his greed brought ruin upon us all.”

    In the sighing silence, Molly Grue’s voice came down like a hammer on a horseshoe, as though she were again berating poor Captain Cully. “Haggard’s less at fault than you yourselves,” she mocked the folk of Hagsgate, “for he was only one thief, and you were many. You earned your trouble by your own avarice, not your king’s.”

    Drinn opened his eyes and gave her an angry look. “We earned nothing,” he protested. “It was our parents and grandparents whom the witch asked for help, and I’ll grant you that they were as much to blame as Haggard, in their way. We would have handled the matter quite differently.” And every middle-aged face in the room scowled at every older face.

    One of the old men spoke up in a voice that wheezed and miaowed. “You would have done just as we did. There were crops to harvest and stock to tend, as there still are. There was Haggard to live with, as there still is. We know very well how you would have behaved. You are our children.”

    Weed-strewn oak, opoponax, wet stone, creaking redwood, and desolate olibanum.

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