A Gothic Fool's Journey
“What are you looking at?” I ask the young woman who is peering up into the cloud-covered sky.
“Him.” She points to a tiny figure high above our heads.
I concentrate my attention to the roof of the stark grey cathedral of dark stone. Sure enough, there is a figure precariously balancing on one foot, and as my vision becomes keener, I see a young man dressed in fine cloth but of a silhouette that is more common rather than theatrical. His hands are out-stretched, and they remind me of a praying mantis waiting for some poor fly to come within reach. “Why is he up there?” I ask the young woman.
“That be the Fool to the Emperor. He occasionally goes out on the ledge and stands on one foot.”
“But will he not fall?”
She shrugs without emotion. “Probably. Some day. Maybe he will disappear before he hits the bottom.”
The meaning of her words are lost to me. “Why would he disappear?”
“He is the Fool. He usually finds a way out though it can be painful sometimes. He has a thankless job.”
Well, most jesters do. I study the perch the lad was balancing on. It is a narrow ledge which is carved to resemble that of a gargoyle. Gargoyles are usually very loyal and very protective. Maybe that gargoyle is a special guardian angel of a sort.
Then, unexpectedly, I hear a sneeze above my head.
He wobbles... and loses his balance. He is falling... screaming in terror...
And he disappears into nothingness when he is ten feet above the point of impact.
I rush over to the spot where I should have expected a splat of blood and brain matter, but there is nothing.
“See? He disappeared.”
“But where did he go?”
“He is on a journey to find the truth. You should go after him.”
As I stare around me, wondering how I could possibly track the Fool when I had no idea how he disappeared, I hear gravel crunching behind me. I whirl around to come face-to-face to a grim-faced gargoyle. “Uh... who are you?” I stammer.
“Why do you seek the Fool?”
“Because he whispered in my ear that he has information – information that would allow me to return to my world.”
“And how did you arrive here?” the stone elemental drawled.
“I was dream-walking... but instead of waking up in my own world, I found myself here.”
“Harrumph! Then you must not be a very experienced dream-walker, hmm???”
I glared at his obvious disdain. “I am very good at what I do.”
“Then you might best inquire of the Magician.” He then points to a crumbly abbey cropping up from the far horizon. “He might be able to help.”
I bob a quick bow – yes, I am ever polite despite his rudeness – and dash down the gravelled pathway. And before I am even ten yards away, I hear a very familiar... sneeze.
I skid to a halt and glance over my shoulder, however the gargoyle has already disappeared from sight. I shrug, then trek in the general direction the creature had indicated, knowing full well that I probably am walking into a chamber of horrors. But sometimes risks must be taken in order to succeed. And I need to return home and soon...