His Last Prestige

The crowd would expect him at any moment. Richard Daniel adjusted his cuff-links as he fancied himself in the mirror and his clean shaven face emitted an austere aura. He steeled himself for the coming performance. In the adjoining rooms similar preparations were being made as conjurers from foreign worlds and neighboring ones readied themselves similarly. The performance of his life he thought, strange, he had struggled a great deal of his youth only to be displayed like a parrot in front of an audience of a reputed hotel, forced to spout whatever insane babble his master’s desired, though in him were planted the seeds of greatness.

How many times had he plucked rabbits from his hat at the request of the observers to appease to them? Although time had long ago revealed the secrets of this act, the audience still much adored it. However this would sate little the palate of the patrons tonight he thought. He heard an ongoing cheer that resounded through the corridor that stirred in him excitement. For a moment he could not restrain himself and he approached a conical mirror that was all but lifeless, but at his approach, it stirred slightly with a spark. At his command it opened a rift, to show him the performance in motion. “Show me the current performance” he said. The smooth glass shone green with a tint of blue and then opened to a scene of a theater.

But what a theater!! It was of design alien to even the most skilled architect of any civilization in existence. It would put the chambers of Valhalla to shame as the banquet there was without peer, the halls of heaven would not even comprise a quarter of this large concert (not that I wish to incur the wrath of the gods, mind you), and along every aisle upon a golden leaf sat a maiden cloaked in a robe of silk, playing the sweetest music ever heard on harp, flute or pipe. Each row of seats was upon a flotilla of stars and they appeared to be a swarm of fireflies carrying the audience. What a sight! Ironically, this served to only hasten Hector, this being his singular life experience. Never had a mortal been chosen to present their craft in front of the tribune. What really worried him was that should he falter, they may be tempted to annihilate the rock he called home.

Each of the performers had been granted the gifts of “the weaving” which allowed them to perform feats of magnificence and creation that would allow them to amplify their magic on a cosmic scale. They were given power on the same level as their creators. However, should they be unpleasant or whimsical, they could be deprived of them just as easily, that is the power of the ethereal. As he continued his observation a golden spider descended from a single silk thread and rested itself upon his left shoulder though he noticed it he did not make any attempt to flick it from his shoulder, instead he rested easier now that his mentor was upon him. “Interesting I see that the contingent from Cronus is using a dimensional rift to mold a new kind of flower”. He observed with a cynical composure. “Perhaps, but it is always the typical that impresses the common. Conjuring is about appeasing to the audience with simple tricks that are within their grasp of belief, is it not Vivaldi?” The spider’s petite face contorted into what would at the most be a slight grin. “These rules applied to the mortal world to which you belonged once but now you are beyond the reaches of the sky and you should nigh limit yourself….your greatest inherent commodity is your own mortality, use that on the stage and you will garner their admiration.” Hector disliked this very much though it was the truth. Another performance saw a being set alight and dissolve into ashes that scattered around the dome and reformed onto the main tapestry as a portrait of him tap dancing. The audience marveled at his sense of satire and grandeur.

He pondered over his routine. Each of the contingents had been given a standard galactic week to etch out a performance. In human time this is forty eight hours. He did not feel any real danger from performing only a slight terror that he may fumble or falter. “Take no heed of the others. You are certain of your routine and that is paramount.” He began his normal ritual of breathing slowly and surely as he did before any performance, then he cupped his hands and drew water in them and cleansed his face for the seventh time. He drew a crimson rose from where there lay a repertoire of flowers stacked in a corner to the left of the mirror. He tipped his hat on, twirled his cane and was out of the door with the spider atop his hat. He heard another roar of applause arising from the amphitheater.

His boots shone with the light of the stars suspended in animation above the corridor, he found something strangely beautiful in them. While he strode towards the stage he drew from his pocket his watch and admired the time, though it was more from habit than from necessity. He approached a being at the end who seemed to display little interest in his presence. “Daniels, Hector” he said dryly. “Yes. A moment sir” it seemed to apparently work at a slate, checking and comparing the names of all performers as was her duty. Another audible applause of admiration echoed through the hall and Hector casually crossed his hands behind his back and waited. “Ah, yes sir, you shall be on in a while, I shall deliver you to the primary area now.” Her dreadlocks ignited and in a flash they were in a whole new area which was the entrance to one of the wings of the stage. “In a few minutes you shall be performing, may the celestials watch over you sir.” With another twirl of her dreadlocks she disappeared and he was alone but for the spider on his shoulder. “Hector my lad this is our moment, our moment of splendor, make me proud, my child.” He saw at last the current participant burst into flames and reform as a winged phoenix.  He traversed the room leaving many a child awestruck, but the adults nay entertained as they had seemingly reached the end of their wonder and they flame of their admiration was but dying. With a final lap, he ended and reformed into his true form of a representative of some sort of avian alien, once again which was an oblivious notion to hector. Then in a single bow he exited the stage in the adjacent wing and was gone. Richard then strode upon the floor, unconcerned of the audience’s renewed curiosity at this unknown genus of individual. He paused in the middle of the stage and his hands were now apparently empty, not even his staff was present in them.

He drew from his pocket, an extended handkerchief of many colors, stitched together by a skein which he cast above his head and drew from it a sword. He displayed it to the audience who were somewhat amused at this unusual encounter. This was amplified a moment later when he plunged the sword down his throat and he heard a gasp from somewhere in the audience. Yet it was not enough. He had talents now that would increase the mysticism of his tricks considerably and he was ardent to use them right now. It took him a wee while to initiate one of the patrons to be his volunteer whom he trouble conversing with. A volunteer he did find however, a princess of Ravens-bridge, with many a title to bear and then placed in a horizontal box, sawed and dispersed her as three separate parts. The king’s jaw dropped almost to the ground and many of the patrons recoiled at this butchery….until the princess’s head was revealed and she had an expression of joy upon her face. This aroused a bit of alarm in the sentinels eyes as they took to heart very seriously this slight delinquency. Of course he did return the radiant being to her viewing box. But it was still….not enough. The audience were now charmed and his beginnings had been modest and humble, but if he was to win, he must set standards beyond reach of the others.

“For my last act, I would request the sentinels the removal of my powers upon my command.” The audience was speechless. Had he gone mad?!! The audience held their hands and that of their loved ones lest he demand a volunteer once more. The guardian descended from his gold nest, his wing represented a symbol of authority and was found unwelcome in a place of enjoyment such as this. In the meantime the hushed whispers of the crowd were debating the source of this insanity -Solar fever? Cosmic dust poisoning, or was he bitten by a dream eater? They would know perhaps in a moment. While they debated he whispered something into the guard’s helmet. To everyone’s surprise, the guard actually smiled and ascended and levitated a few feet above the magician. Richard took one final breath before he continued. He removed his top hat and expanded it with his bare hands and then used the tip of his right foot to widen his arm’s handiwork. I can nay find a person in attendance that was not amused at this quirky action of him making his own hat big. Then he cast it against the backdrop of the stage and expanded it to full size, its size dwarfing the audience and the magician as he readied his prestige. Then he pointed his cane at it and it burst forth with a spark at first but was then a whirling vortex, a whirlpool of dying galactic bodies. The inside of the hat, had become a black hole, a harbinger of doom.

He gave a nod towards the spider, then towards the gold guardian. The guardian came beside him and hector revealed the tribunal’s seal on his right elbow which he removed with a snap of his fingers. As soon as he did this, the spider, who had quietly sat on his shoulder, began weaving a web of the most tensile strength which began to mummify the conjurer. “I hope that you understand what you are doing, the danger is further personified by the absence of your powers and the element of danger.”  The guard then made sure of the strength of the ropes to show the audience. He then drew chains from his own torso and bound the magician in them. The patrons could only guess that he would throw his life away after he made it impossible to escape, was death to be the spectacle some asked ? They waited and watched as he was strung up like the kings of old before burial. The spider asked a last time if he was certain. He simply said “Is my watch in my back pocket? I would hate to go beyond the set limit.” This was the last thing he said and all the people in attendance heard and could not help but laugh at this man’s dedication. Then the audience braced themselves for the moment of truth. The binds containing the hold on the hole were released and with it hell was unleashed as the vortex was unchained and attempted to swallow the theater whole and the audience with it, but it could not as the sentinels made sure that it was contained, after all they wielded the power of the celestial. The magician was suspended right at the face of the storm and dangled like a leaf in the wind, until the guardian swooped in and severed the thin thread that bound him. He was swallowed whole by the vortex and he fell through aimlessly. In a moment he was lost through the pitch black of the unending and twisting abyss. A minute passed, then three, then five and the audience thought him lost……. Until two threads of silken web were cast through and the magician, clearly dreary and weary from the ordeal, arose from the black pit. The screams that followed were deafening.

It is said that supernovas occurred in several corners of the galaxy, thought that is another story. He sighed and then took a bow as he exited the stage as others had done before him but with less grace, flowers of all kinds littered the floor behind him. He was satisfied. “Splendid show my boy! I would nay ask you how you escaped, but I know that you would nay tell me” “That is correct.” “They will tell stories of you for years to come” “Perhaps, but glory is nothing when compared to ambition” The roars from the crowd did not fall upon his deaf ears. He walked towards his room as happy as a child he opened the door and rested upon the chair with his face buried in his hands. He wept with joy as he let himself acknowledge the magnitude of what he had just done.Vivaldi sat silent still on his shoulder and comforted him.               img-thing

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