The tail lashed furiously, contradicting the cheerfulness of its smile.
Cacao and coconut husk dusted on shining black fur, illuminated by electric green mandarin and raw amber.
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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, mandrake root, patchouli, cacao, labdanum, agarwood, lavender, neroli, and black moss.
Flame-flower, Day-torch, Mauna Loa,
I saw a daring bee, today, pause, and soar,
Into your flaming heart;
Then did I hear crisp, crinkled laughter
As the furies after tore him apart?
A bird, next, small and humming,
Looked into your startled depths and fled…
Surely, some dread sight, and dafter
Than human eyes as mine can see,
Set the stricken air waves drumming
In his flight.
Day-torch, Flame-flower, cool-hot Beauty,
I cannot see, I cannot hear your flutey;
Voice lure your loving swain,
But I know one other to whom you are in beauty
Born in vain:
Hair like the setting sun,
Her eyes a rising star,
Motions gracious as reeds by Babylon, bar
All your competing;
Hands like, how like, brown lilies sweet,
Cloth of gold were fair enough to touch her feet.
Ah, how the sense reels at my repeating,
As once in her fire-lit heart I felt the furies
Hair like the setting sun, eyes a rising star, and a heart fire-lit: golden amber, warm nutmeg, cardamom pod, tolu balsam, sweet patchouli, vanilla absolute, wildflower honey, lovage root, and cacao.
The yellowed country records containing her testimony and that of her accusers were so damnably suggestive of things beyond human experience – and the descriptions of the darting little furry object which served as her familiar were so painfully realistic despite their incredible details.
That object – no larger than a good-sized rat and quaintly called by the townspeople “Brown Jenkin – seemed to have been the fruit of a remarkable case of sympathetic herd-delusion, for in 1692 no less than eleven persons had testified to glimpsing it. There were recent rumours, too, with a baffling and disconcerting amount of agreement. Witnesses said it had long hair and the shape of a rat, but that its sharp-toothed, bearded face was evilly human while its paws were like tiny human hands. It took messages betwixt old Keziah and the devil, and was nursed on the witch’s blood, which it sucked like a vampire. Its voice was a kind of loathsome titter, and it could speak all languages. Of all the bizarre monstrosities in Gilman’s dreams, nothing filled him with greater panic and nausea than this blasphemous and diminutive hybrid, whose image flitted across his vision in a form a thousandfold more hateful than anything his waking mind had deduced from the ancient records and the modern whispers.
A small, furry, sharp-toothed scent that will nuzzle you curiously in the black hours before dawn: dusty white sandalwood and orris root, dry coconut husk, creeping musk, and the residue of ceremonial incense.
Green tea, rose wine, scarlet musk, dried jasmine petals, ume blossom, cherrywood, rice powder, coconut husk, and white amber.