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Old 08-25-2008, 10:11 AM   #15
TheReverend
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Not. Too. Shabby.

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Mike Shanahan
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“It’s said that life is a gift; that it’s too short… or it’s said life is a curse and that the road of life is long,” he said slowly, dragging out the last word. He dismissed either notion with a slight wave of his hand. “Of course these schools of thought are dependent on whatever fool philosopher, idealist, pessimist, poet, prophet, or other charlatan happens to be in favor.” He paused, slowly tapping his index finger against the heavy, oaken desk top, before releasing a long drawn out sigh. “Perhaps you can understand how you’ve become a personal source of vexation to me, Cagliostro?” Thoughtfully styled from trousers to tunic, matched by his neatly trimmed beard, and undercut by dull, brown and weary eyes, he slowly turned to level his gaze at the self-proposed “Master Alchemist”. “You see, Cagliostro, this world preserves a delicate balance of self-absorption. It’s this that grants us our,” he growled the word, “freedom. Sleight of hand on a massive scale… the poor tend crops, slave at the smith, die by the sword… for what? Sense of duty? Fear?” He paused, slowly uncorking a bottle of red wine, drawing the bottle to sharp nostrils which flared with his steady inhale. “No, Cagliostro,” he smiled, shaking his head slowly. “This ‘work ethic’… this ‘sense of duty’… it stems from inherit human weakness. Man can be pushed to slavery, so long as he is permitted scant hours of freedom and a sense of ‘culture’ at the day’s end, no matter the conditions that bureaucracy may place to rape his land and pride throughout the day.” The lips of the bottle ‘glugged’ as he poured himself a full glass, offering nothing to Cagliostro. “…And these ‘ruling elite’,” he mused with a smile. “These fools so blinded by their ‘divine right’ that they dare not glance outside their sycophant advisors’ opinions.” The smile that creased his face broadened ever so slightly, a rare flash streaking his boring eyes. He took a long drink. “Sleight of hand, indeed.” A groan of satisfaction escaped his lips as his tongue sought any refuse. “But, I digress. I’m wasting these insightful words on you, Cagliostro. A man who has witnessed, experienced, and taken full advantage of these secrets. You are my dilemma, Cagliostro. I despise your originality, inventiveness, and cruelty… yet, I respect it at the same time.” He slowly drew a chair from underneath the home laboratory desk, and sat, leveling his gaze at the “magician”. “So, tell me, what am I to do with you, Cagliostro?”
“What are you to do with me?” Count Alessandro di Cagliostro withdrew with a flinch, visibly stung. This man who had been such a strong mentor and staunch advocate not twenty years prior, now seemingly leveling threats. With a groan, accompanied by creaking wood, Cagliostro rose to his feet and shook his head. In twenty years, this man had faded into anonymity and it was he, Cagliostro, whose mystique had begun to surpass the human existence. It was Cagliostro who had become a legend throughout Europe, and not his mentor. Yet, it was also this man who had unnerved Cagliostro with his mere presence, no matter the duration of their relationship.
Then, softly, his cloudy, green eyes lost their edge in resignation. After all, time had left it’s stain on his body. He thoughtfully ran a single hand over worn, wrinkled skin to his balding pate. What few wisps of hair that remained were now devoid of youthful color. But this man before him… he had not aged a day.
The great work. The philosopher’s stone. Lead to gold and the bounty of eternal life. Cagliostro dismissed the notion immediately, as none knew the clandestine metaphorical origins of the philosopher’s stone better than he. He let his arm fall back to his side as he studied the stoic and brilliant man before him. “Years I have studied at your side, and for years we worked hand in hand.” He exhaled slowly, struggling to find the words under this man’s steady gaze. “And those years saw not even the slightest glimpse into your person, your reality, or your soul. You, who taught me the ways of Egyptian Freemasonry and built temples at my side throughout this continent. You, who refined my mental perception with philosophy, ritual and alchemy. You who instructed me in the arts of grand deception. And still,” he began, shaking his head, “you are no less a stranger to me than the first time I set my eyes upon you.” Cagliostro released a heavy sigh. “’Holy brother’, ‘sanctus germanus’, Saint Germain… who are you?” His eyes narrowed sharply. “Are you the last scion of Rakoczy and prince of Transylvania? Are you vampire? Angel or demon, perhaps?”
“What am I?” the Count of Saint Germain scoffed, casually setting the wine glass back to rest upon the table top. “What are you? The Count Cagliostro, raised by the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, master alchemist and magician, or poverty struck Giuseppe Balsamo, ignorant occultist and accomplished liar, imprisoned by his own shame?” The latter was highlighted with an evil grin.
Cagliostro pounced forward at the mocking figure, as gracefully as his aged body would allow, with a growl, but as he braced for impact, his body sailed uninhibited through the air where the Count of Saint Germain had stood a heartbeat before. Vanished. His body groaned in protest as he began pushing himself to his feet, and then his eyes split in amazement as he beheld the smiling figure standing casually in the back of the room. “How?” he breathed, paralyzed on his knees. “What are you, Comte?”
“Your parlor tricks and oblique understanding do not place you in a position to pass judgment on an immortal,” the Count of Saint Germain erupted. “What I am is none of your concern, Cagliostro. Rather what you are is my concern, and in such, has become your concern, as well.” He calmly walked past the prostrated Cagliostro to retrieve the wine glass.
Cagliostro swallowed hard. “Whatever it is you think I’ve done… whatever it is I have done to offend you or your affairs, I can assure you it was unintentional,” he pleaded, hands spread in a gesture of submission.

Last edited by TheReverend; 08-25-2008 at 10:37 AM..
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