The Garden of Ogmios
Extract from Sword of Destiny
When Rhea opened her eyes it was to a silent blackness filled with pain. Her breath came in ragged gasps and she could see nothing. The pain was almost welcome. She did not think death would hurt this much. The lack of sight frightened her. She moved experimentally and groaned as a shaft of pain lanced her ankle.
“Ah, you are back, my dear. Wait a moment.” Merlin’s voice in the blackness was the most wonderful sound she had ever heard. There was a soft whoosh and a pale golden light bloomed in the mage’s hands, illuminating his face, the peat brown eyes full of concern. “My dear child, can you ever forgive me? You seem to be taking the worst of this fight once again…” As he spoke he set the dancing flame on the ground beside her and began to examine her injuries with infinite care.
“There is nothing to forgive, Merlin. I’m just glad you saved me.” The old man’s familiar chuckle did much to steady her.
“I didn’t. You will have to save your thanks for a friend of mine. This mountain is the home of one of the Elder Race, Ogmios. He opened a door for us and let us in. Nothing moves on this mountain without his knowledge.”
“He is allowed to intervene?”
“He is as old as the mountain itself. Indeed, you could say he is the mountain in a way. There are few left to command him. We are now in his domain and safe until you are able to move again.” His probing hands found the damaged ankle and he worked his healing magic, coaxing the swelling to manageable proportions and soothing the worst of the bruising. While he worked, Rhea looked around her. The soft light showed that she was lying at the bottom of a long slope covered with a thick carpet of bracken and heather which had served to break her fall. Yet they seemed to be in a cavern with no other entrance, than a dark, winding tunnel stretching away to their right.
“There, how does that feel?” Merlin sat back on his haunches as Rhea flexed her ankle cautiously
“Much better!” she replied with relief. “I should be able to walk on it now. Shall we go? The others must be worried about us.” She held out her hand and the old man helped her to stand. The ankle ached abominably when she put her weight on it, but it felt no worse than sprained and Rhea could only be thankful she had escaped so lightly.
The tunnel stretched away in shadow, Merlin’s light serving only to illuminate a few feet before them. Rhea felt her way along the walls, surprisingly smooth to the touch, as if polished by countless centuries of passage. The stone of the floor was worn into a deep furrow and sloped gently upwards, and, thought Rhea, into the heart of the mountain. After perhaps ten minutes the wall beneath her hands disappeared and the passage opened out into a vast and beautiful cavern. Merlin’s light danced on the glistening pillars and arches of the lofty hall, too faint to reach the roof, so that Rhea had no real idea of the dimensions of the space. She felt that it was immense and the echo of their footsteps seemed to come from a hundred directions at once.
“Welcome to the garden of Ogmios,” said Merlin, his words whispered by ghostly voices till they faded into silence. “Here, outside of time, he tends the roots of the mountain and grows his home from living rock. Look well, Heart of Earth, for you will not see its like again.” Rhea was spellbound by the beauty of the place and could well believe that this spectacular hall had been wrought by art and not mere chance. All the colours of a pigeon’s breast glowed on the graceful curves of the rock, catching and reflecting the golden witch-light.
Rhea had seen the show caves of Cheddar and the deep, silent caverns at Chislehurst, neither of which possessed the vibrancy and vigour of this place. Cheddar’s wedding cake loveliness was as nothing compared to the living filigree of stone through which she now walked.
In the centre of the cave, a large central space held a great slab of millstone grit, shaped like a couch with a raised pillar at one end. It reminded Rhea of the altar on the moor which she had touched that first day, save only that this was much larger and had not suffered the erosion of wind and rain.
“Ogmios’ couch,” Merlin explained. “Here he spends the centuries dreaming the shape of his garden and growing his crystals from seed.” He indicated that she should look to her right and she saw a small field of crystal and semi-precious stones laid out in a spiral pattern on the floor. There were huge clusters of amethyst and quartz, glittering pyrites and all the varied hues of agate. One large stone, polished by the dripping moisture from the stalactites above, looked like black glass, frozen around a snowstorm. Rhea was bewitched by its soft sheen and reached out a hand to touch the surface.
“What is this, Merlin? I’ve never seen it before.”
“The world calls it snowflake obsidian. You can see why.”
“It is lovely.”
“Ogmios would be pleased by your appreciation. He grew this as a memento of the first time he saw snow falling. It was at night, beneath a full moon at the dawn of life as we know it today. He thought it too beautiful to allow it to melt away forgotten so he caught the flakes in a stone the colour of midnight and preserved it for eternity.
“Geologists don’t have all the answers,” he chuckled. “They may understand the physical conditions required to produce these crystals, but they will never understand that they were first dreamed to encapsulate a moment of beauty which touched the soul of a grotesque giant whose very existence they would deny. Rose quartz was the light of the first dawn, amethyst the clouds of a summer sunset. Agates are all the colours of the autumn earth.”
“And diamond?” asked Rhea, holding out the ancient ring on her finger, which seemed to have woken to life in this place.
“Starlight in frost,” he smiled. Rhea nodded her understanding, humbled and grateful for the deeper understanding of the forces of the world that guided her. She had begun to see the life innate in her surroundings and with that privilege had come a renewal of wonder and respect. “Come, child, the others will be worried although Ogmios may have told them that you are safe.” His face lit with unholy glee,” In fact, if they have met my friend, they will probably be more concerned that they were before! This way!”
Merlin led Rhea through the scintillating garden of living rock towards a shadowy opening at the end of an avenue of slender columns ablaze with mica. Rhea turned before entering the tunnel to take one last look.
“I could never have imagined that so much beauty lay hidden in the earth beneath my feet. It feels right, though, somehow. I can feel the life in the stone. If I knew how to listen, I think I could hear them whispering all the secrets of the underworld.” She turned away. Another unforgettable memory adding one more reason for reverence of the earth upon which she walked.
A steep stairway grown from the rock to fit the stride of Ogmios wound upwards and inwards. Rhea found the going difficult, her ankle ached and the weight of the mountain above her was oppressive. They had been climbing steadily for perhaps two hundred feet when they hit a dead end.
“Sit down a moment, Rhea, and hold steady.” said the mage. “Ogmios!” There was a terrific crash above their heads and the roof split asunder, showering them with earth and debris. Rhea looked up into a cloudless sky and the eyes of a giant.
Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer, painter and award winning poet. She is also known as an esoteric teacher and is one of the Directors of The Silent Eye. Sue now lives in Buckinghamshire, having been stranded there due to an unfortunate incident with a pin, a map and a blindfold; a temporary glitch of twenty years duration. She has a lasting love-affair with the landscape of Albion; that hidden country of the heart that is the backdrop for many of her books, particularly those co-authored with Stuart France. She is currently owned by a small dog who also blogs.
You can connect with Sue, and buy her books, in the following places…
I’d just like to add that, as well as being an accomplished novelist and esoteric teacher, Sue writes wonderful poetry, some thoughtful and heartfelt, others light-hearted and humorous, accompanied by stunning photography which she snaps herself. She also has the ability to take the most mundane of daily events, and transform them into amusing and entertaining blog posts. Is there no end to this lady’s talents? I urge you to visit her blog, if you do not already follow her, and find out for yourself.
Thank you Sue, for joining me on The Friday Fiction today, I am delighted to showcase your wonderful writing here, and think I have just found a new addition to my (looooong) To Read List!