Thursday, October 11, 2007

A note on the previous story

Your faithful writer does not play the role of Walter in the parable.

Much to his shame, and discomfiture he plays the demon.

A Parable of Demonic Possession

... and the smoke solidified and became flesh. Standing near the magic lamp was a demon in the form of a man whose face was innocent of guile.

"Oh," he cried. "I am much relieved to be released from my cell. Thank you for your unselfish deed, good stranger. In return for this, shall I give you a gift." And he proferred to Walter the smallest of boxes.

Walter took it in his hand and looked upon it. It was black as a moonless midnight and upon the lid were jewels which shone with their own internal light and formed the light into magical runes. As Walter lifted the lid of the tiny box angelic music burst forth. Upon the underside of the lid a magnificent stone displayed an image of she whom Walter loved, and within the lower part were more jewels arrayed in ranks which bore yet more of the magical marks.

"Nay sir," said Walter, "I have neither the skills nor the magic to use this sorcerous contrivance."

"You need neither," smiled the demon. "For it is the simplest of devices, and it is already attuned to you. It is yours and yours alone. It is your servant and will do your bidding and no others. It is my gift to you. It will let you whisper into the ears of distant friends, and let them tell you their deepest secrets. Within it you may store all the words and music of your life. Images of those close to your heart may be captured therein. It will guide you through your day. All the knowledge that you keep on scraps of parchment can be kept inside and found by a mere touch upon these glowing runes."

And Walter was persuaded. He emptied the contents of his pockets, into the box, and the man showed him the incantations that would make the box work. Truly it seemed a blessing for it foretold storms, and announced the arrival of minstrels, but most seductive of all was listening to the whispers of his friends as they spoke from distant hills and towns.

For weeks, Walter continued in his days, trudging behind the plow, with one hand upon the grip and the other pressing the whispering box to his ear. The furrows plowed were not as straight as they had been.

"That is easily fixed," said the demon when Walter returned. "For a single ducat, I shall give you another box which you may attach to the plow so that you may listen while guiding it with both hands upon the grips."

And Walter returned again and again to the demon, for now he wished to watch the minstrels perform without making the long journey to town, or to hear immediately of a fire in a distant neighbor's corncrib.

Then one day a messenger appeared at the door of Walter's cottage with a scroll that required the payment of ten ducats.

"What is this tax?" he asked the demon.

"It is for compensation of the service provided to you," said the man with the guileless face. "Hordes of sprites and demons have been harnessed to do your bidding, their very lives have been bound to the runes of your box. But they must eat and drink and rest else they will not be able to do what you will. This tax is to provide for them."

Walter thought for a moment, "... and what if I do not pay?" he asked.

"Then all must be undone ... and it is no trivial matter. For such an effort you must pay 240 ducats, for these servants have been bound to you for two years, and the undoing of these spells is a hardship."

This box, then, was not so much of a gift."

"Of course it was," cried the demon indignantly. "It is a beautiful box and it is yours alone to command."

Walter walked sadly away, his purse lighter by ten ducats.

Some days later. He stood by a well, drawing up a bucket of water with one hand and listening to the whispering box, when it slipped from his grasp and fell into the water. Instantly the glowing gems went dark.

"Water breaks the spells of the box." said the Demon. "I will have to make you a new one."

His eyes now opened to the machinations, Walter asked the cost.

"A mere 200 ducats."

"If the spells are broken, then the servants are free to go and I need no longer feed them?" Walter wondered hopefully.

"Nay, they are still your servants e'en though you can no longer make them do your bidding, and you must continue to pay for them until the time of their binding is complete."

And Walter threw the little box into a deep hole and covered it with earth and rocks so that others might not be entrapped by the demon.

He went home and sat by the fire and waited for the messengers to come for his possessions.