Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Welcome to The Waxing Moon. Here is a preview chapter from my new fantasy book coming soon...
I watched as he sat hunched over his books for the final time. Most of his days were spent poring over the old, thick tomes. Reading, re-reading. Looking for what exactly, I was at first unsure, but he kept searching; hour after hour, day after day. Studying the secrets held within them, as he had done nearly every day that I had spent with him. He didn’t know it, but today was to be his last.
I had conflicting feelings for the man I was as close to as any. I was amazed at the knowledge he held. In awe at his outlook on life, always finding the tiniest glimmer of Sunlight in the gloomiest sky. But there was also something else; darker, insidious, becoming stronger the more I stayed here, watching, learning, waiting. A contrast at first difficult to reconcile, but no longer. It would have to be done today. I’d taken all that he would give willingly, and even a little more unwillingly. This afternoon is when it would be. Before he leaves for the ceremony and has any chance to discover my plans.
He closed his books and returned them carefully to the shelves from where they came: everything meticulously placed. He walked towards the stairs, his graceful gait not revealing his many years. I once tried to guess his age, but he was impenetrable.
“Numbers and sums won’t bring you any closer to the truth,” he’d said, as I fumbled for answers.
As he ascended the stairs almost effortlessly to the Watching Room, I thought back to the first time he took me up there, one morning, many Moons ago:
“You see my lad, there are two Magicks in this world: Sun Magick and Moon Magick. To fully know one is to know the other; but to misunderstand one is to misunderstand both. One is dependent on the other. They are intertwined, in balance with nature. If you are patient, you can learn. With your patience will come reward. If you want to know the true secrets of the Magicks, this is to understand fully the nature of, well, everything,” he’d lied. I didn’t know that he wasn’t being truthful at the time. I don’t think I knew it for a long time, but he wasn’t.
“And how long until I know it?” I replied. “How long till I get everything?” I was hungry. I wanted everything I could get.
“Patience comes first. Time has no hold over those who know, the initiated few. Time is but one dimension of life that can be manipulated by Magick. But come, enough for now.”
As he finished, his words lingered in my thoughts; drifting into images in my mind’s eye, exploding into vibrancy and clarity I had never experienced. Words transposing into colours infused with an effervescent energy that touched me deeply. I was standing on the balcony of the Watching Room, looking out for miles over his part of Areekya that he had carefully cultivated over the years. The panoramic view from the top was mesmerising. An awe-inspiring vista: the rolling hills, the green and yellow meadows and fields, the icy blue water of the lakes and fjords. This part of the world was beautiful, the colours vivid, all crafted by the Magicks. And the feeling was tranquil, powerful and addictive. The Watching Room balcony gave vantage points for the Sun and Moon rises, Sunsets, and wonderful nocturnal views of the magnificent, pulsating stars in their glorious constellations; all essential to gain the illuminated insight of the Magicks. The images that were dancing around my mind like nymphs prancing around a midsummer’s morning’s first ray of light were immediately erased with the sharp, shrill voice that ended my ecstasy.
“Come on, lad. Plenty of time for all that,” he cried out from halfway down the stairs. It snapped me out of my thoughts. I stood wondering what had just happened. The one pervading thought remaining was: I want more.
Many Moons and Suns had passed since that first time up on the balcony. Each Moon brought more knowledge, but moved me further from him. It didn’t take too long to discover what he had been hiding, what he had never told me at the beginning. It seemed that as I stumbled upon these secrets, he made them more opaque. The closer I got, the harder it seemed to find more. This was just my imagination, though. He had no idea of the long nights I spent reading as he slept. Once I found the Lunar Runes, the hidden became uncloaked and unveiled itself; slowly at first, carefully, selectively, as if it were being controlled by something, someone, guiding me to the truth. Then, when the mysteries of the Sacred Shapes revealed themselves, the secrets cascaded down upon me, quenching my long-held thirst; raining on me like the first torrential storm after a long, dry summer drought.
Now, I waited down below until I could hear him moving about in the Watching Room above before I took out my knife. I had covered it with the Lunar Runes, as I had learned to do. I had practised this many times. At night, lying awake, I had perfected it in my mind, and in the meadows, rehearsing my grip with imagined figures. As well as hands-on practice with the pigs in the forest. Soon, the final obstacle would be removed and the secrets would be mine alone. His meticulous nature and obsession with ritual would be his undoing. The day of every Full Moon was always the same, down to the minute. And what irony; his favourite day of the month would be his last. Moon Magick would be overcome on Moon Day, making way for what should always have been. The secret hidden away in old books like a skeleton lying in a grave, whispering to be found again. Only those that could hear chose not to. They wouldn’t dare to out of fear, and those who had the courage were unaware of its existence.
I could hear him coming back down the stairs. As his long, willowy frame descended and came into view, the affection that I once carried for him pulsated within me. For a brief moment, it stirred before I crushed it with the knowledge of the secrets he had hidden purposefully for all these years. It was pushed down and replaced by something else: excitement. The time was here. It was my time now, the time for a new Magick. No more hidden secrets, no more deceit and camouflage. The gatekeeper will be gone, and soon the dam will be breached. The secrets will flow like water flooding into an empty lake that had been selfishly kept parched.
“Let’s go then. All ready?” He sounded particularly cheerful, as he always did on Moon Day. He looked at me with the kindness that I remembered in the beginning. The feeling rose again within me. As I looked into his eyes, I remembered the love, the patience, the wisdom he had shown me. All wasted. I pushed it back down, ignoring the guilt, preferring to focus on the knife I had prepared. Waiting. Ready.
“Yes. All packed. I have everything we need in the bags in the hall. All set,” I replied. I had to go through with the pretence of preparing for the day. He was too smart and would’ve noticed if I didn’t.
“Well then, time to go. Cannot be late, not today, not on Moon Day. People will be waiting.” As he said this, he looked at me and there was excitement in his eyes, too.
Moon day, the day of the Full Moon. The most important day of the month, and today was the most important Moon Day of the year. Every month he went to the Midnight Forest, to the standing stones that had been there for generations, long before the forest, it is said. The stones were arranged in a five-pointed star: the Pentagon. This was one of the Sacred Shapes, the one all around us if you had been taught to see it. The pattern of the Sun Star in the sky. Every five years, the Sun Star, usually at its brightest at Sunrise and Sunset, traced out the Sacred Pentagon in the sky. And once a year, the Sun Star rose and set in synchronous harmony with the movements of the Full Moon: today. Finding out the power of the Sacred Shapes was the start of the end. The key that unlocked the secrets that were hidden. The secrets he kept hidden.
As he walked past me, towards the door to the stairs leading down to the hall, I grasped the hilt of my knife with my left hand. I followed him, gradually getting closer. He opened the door and started to walk down the twenty-two steps to the hall. I followed patiently. Waiting, fighting the guilt, while carefully raising my knife and preparing my other arm to grab him round the neck as I had practised many times before. As I reached out my right arm, the knife plunged in and out of the rib cage; I felt the warm liquid ooze from the gaping hole it had left. He turned his head to face mine. My eyes centred on his piercing gaze; the kindness gone, replaced by something else. For a moment it looked like pain, but quickly turning into something else altogether; the excitement I had seen before was back in his eyes. The corners of his lips upturned, breaking into a smile, even, the kindness usurped by a look of malice. Yes, malice, and something else. Something less obvious.
The cry sounded so unfamiliar, so unexpected, that it took a few moments to register that it was mine. The sharp pain proliferated to all parts of my body, making me scream in agony. I fell, still grasping the knife that wasn’t given a chance to find its mark. I felt my knife drop as my head hit the stairs, my body tumbling down. He was standing over me; one or two steps above, looking down, his eyes burning into mine. He still held the knife that he had thrust into my rib cage.
“To misunderstand one is to misunderstand both. You had enough hunger to misunderstand this, and not enough patience to fulfil your desires.” He walked down and grabbed my knife, holding it up to examine the lunar runes closely.
“Yes, good. This will do. It will suffice. To work with the Secret Magick is dangerous. You become exposed to its powers, and it is best done from afar. There’s too much risk for me to reveal myself to its power directly and this, at least, you could do. Many Moons I have waited and now we are here, Moon Day, the day these runes will be at their most potent.”
I kept my eyes fixed on him; the pain growing duller. A feeling of numbness replacing it. I was drifting. Drifting away.
“Yes, this will do nicely.” He stepped over my ever increasingly lifeless body and moved down the stairs towards the hall. He opened the door, picked up the bags and stepped outside. The light from the door seared into my eyes as he loaded the bags onto his cart. He turned, looked one last time, expressionless, and closed the door. The pain had now subsided altogether. I could feel my eyes closing, slowly closing, reaching out for sleep. Reaching out for death.