Friday, October 23, 2009

The Timekeeper

He sat in his immense throne of shimmering black obsidian. The Timekeeper, a tall and gallant man, held perfect posture, and gripped the arms of his throne with his bone-white fingers. He was gazing nonchalantly past the billowing gossamer curtains, out into the grey snowy skies, out over his metropolitan empire. He held in his hand a letter he had read through no less than a hundred times. He gave it one last glance before tossing it to the floor in disgust. It was a warrant for his arrest, signed by the High Chancellor, and approved by the seven other Chancellors of the Society. The Timekeeper's reign over the city had come to its appointed close, yet the Timekeeper, like numerous others before him, had grown dependant of his power, and refused to step down and hand the city over to the apprentice in waiting. He sat in his throne, well aware that the High Chancellor was climbing the very steps of the Timekeeper's tower, with twenty of the city's most disciplined guards in tow.

The Timekeeper rose from his throne, and with elegant strides he walked across the room to his liquor cabinet. He poured an amber toxin into a crystal glass before raising the glass to his thin, dry lips and letting the warm potion slide down his gullet. He turned back to glance at the door; a magnificent darkwood mass, framed by a tall, golden archway.

Five hundred steps, the High Chancellor and his guards had climbed, yet five hundred more remained. There was not a drop of sweat on his brow, but rather, the furrowed lines of determination. The Timekeeper glanced at the door, the sole entrance and exit. He knew there was no escape.

The Timekeeper took another gulp of his beverage, savouring the smooth taste as it swelled and blossomed in his mouth.
“It shouldn't have to come to this” he said to himself, with bitterness deep set in his voice.
The drink in his hand was imported Clementine Whiskey, no ordinary alcohol, and it had already begun biting down on the Timekeeper's mind.
“The apprentice should have-” He left the sentence hanging, his eyes glazed over, as he became lost in a reminiscent trance. “The apprentice...”
He drank deeply, and memories from his past came gushing forth in brilliant clarity, yet these memories rolled before his mind for the last time.

He drank, he remembered with a burning, agonizing intensity, and moments later... he forgot. Where and who. How and what. Such was the tragic beauty of the Clementine grog.

“The apprentice should have been here a week ago, to relieve me of my duties. The apprentice should have been here with me, with the eight Chancellors of the Society, but he was not.” The Timekeeper spoke as if poisoned with a truth serum, not intending to say what he did, but compelled to regurgitate his thoughts and memories to the empty room. The apprentice wasn't in the tower, so the Timekeeper remained until such a time where the Council thought it suitable to terminate his contract.

The Timekeeper sucked in the remaining liquid from his glass and walked over to the fireplace. With a strike of flint against the stone wall of the fireplace, sparks flew onto the dry logs. He sprayed the whiskey from his mouth onto the little fires, providing them with enough juice to grow and flower and latch onto the logs.

“The council's guard found no trace of my successor. They couldn't find his bloody corpse and twisted limbs, his broken face and ripped jugular. Tumbled over Mariam's Ravine. I wash the red juice from my fingers and the stains from my clothes.” He threw his glass into the fireplace, giving in to a mischievous chuckle, breathing in the alcoholic fumes that emanated from the flames.

He drank some more, he lifted the bottle clumsily to his lips, not caring to wipe away the dribble down his chin, not caring that he sloshed the bottle and stained his robe.
“I tutored the apprentice. I taught him everything he knew, from everything I knew! Yet he failed to understand the power and responsibility as I did. He was irresponsible! He would have been incapable of lasting a week in my job, let alone a decade!” The Timekeeper spat in frustration before staggering across to his desk. He picked up some documents and ditched them aggressively into the fireplace. “Bastards!” He yelled, clutching his desk for support.

“They told me I should sit tight, and they'd come for me once they'd sorted this mess out. They assured me everything was in order. They lied to my fucking face. They knew I'd done something to the apprentice, they just needed to buy time to forage for evidence.” The Timekeeper laughed malevolently and grabbed the stoker from beside the fireplace. With aggression pumping through his muscles, the Timekeeper flailed the stoker dangerously along the wall, knocking down photographs, paintings and certificates. He flung the stoker across the room, where his pent up aggression bounced harmlessly off the wall.

“The Chancellors, they were like ravens. Vicious, vile creatures of prey. They lied, and I believed them. They hadn't figured out my murder just yet, but it was only a matter of time before they fabricated documents and had me carted away. I wasn't just going to hand down my legacy. Did they expect me to just hand over my life's work, the result of a lifetime of my own sweat and blood, to an amateur? Did they expect me to walk away?” He continued to drink himself into a stupor, further down the path of regret, of which he could never return.

The Timekeeper howled a mournful, melancholic cry of which only tortured and wounded beasts may sound. The Timekeeper was as ruthless and vicious a leader as they come, yet his devastation proved that even he, even the Timekeeper was not immortal, even the Timekeeper could suffer as we do, we men of flesh and blood.
“They hated me, they loathed me. If they could have, they would have killed me.” He grappled the table, and in one swift motion, he upturned it, sending the numerous foreign objects on it soaring through the air. The Timekeeper's ornate silver knife letter opener, reached its apex somewhere high above his head, and came down penetrating the stone floor with its sharpened tip remaining embedded in the ground. It joined the rest of the clutter on the floor.

Another swig, and the Timekeeper became wilder and more aggressive as he sunk further into inebriation. In the chaos and confusion, his memories came faster, a violent blur piercing his mind, cleaving it into millions and billions of fragments, pulling the synapses apart and bestowing upon the Timekeeper the mother of all migraines.

He stumbled to his knees, mumbling unintelligible curses. The High Chancellor and his Guards' echoed footsteps amplified exponentially, they were here. The footsteps were like hammers bludgeoning upon the Timekeeper's eardrums, causing him to writhe and recoil in agony. They came to claim him. They came to take his tortured body from the wreckage that was his office.

“No...” The Timekeeper whispered, his past flashing before his eyes, his mind destroying upon itself. His blood flooded his ears and mouth, it dribbled from his nostrils and tear ducts, his cheeks flushed with a violent shade of indigo.

The High Chancellor wrenched open the door to the Timekeeper's office.
“No!” The Timekeeper said, pinkish warm blood bubbled and spat from his mouth.
“Hello Timekeeper” The High Chancellor said, with a hint of malice intoned in his voice. “As you are undoubtedly aware, I've come to arrest you.”
“NO!” The Timekeeper reared up, roaring in anguish, for he knew that he would rot for an eternity in an unsanitary cell if the High Chancellor had his way today.

The Timekeeper mustered all his remaining energy, hauled himself from the floor and leapt through the gossamer curtains and off the edge of the balcony out of the tower, the wind rushed past his face. People on the street looked up in shock and horror, the High Chancellor ran to the balcony, and watched the old man's body tumble around in the wind.

He fell high and he fell hard, dead on impact. All the High Chancellor could see was the pile of rags of the Timekeeper's robes. He rushed to the stairs, running down them as fast as humanly possible. He barged open the doors of the tower, and leaned over the Timekeeper's body. The High Chancellor shifted the Timekeeper's robes, needing to look into his face, his eyes, but there was no face to be seen. Nor was there a body, either. The robes seemed void of any mass or life entirely. The High Chancellor lifted the robes into his arms, at which point he could feel something moving in the robes. He untangled the bundle, and was greeted with the slight whimper of a perfectly healthy baby child.

“Blessed be the Timekeeper” The High Chancellor uttered to himself in disbelief. He lifted the child in the robes above his head and spoke to the crowd of onlookers. “Friends, my dear friends, we have witnessed a miracle today. A new Timekeeper is born. Long live the Timekeeper!”

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