Season of Mists
|The Sandman Library||
Walk any path in Destiny's garden, and you will be forced to choose, not once but many times. The paths fork and divide with each step you take through Destiny's garden, you make a choice; and every choice determines future paths.
However, at the end of a lifetime of walking you might look back, and see only one path stretching out behind you; or look ahead, and see only darkness. Sometimes you dream about the paths of destiny, and speculate to no purpose. Dream about the paths you took and the paths you didn't take.
The paths diverge and branch and reconnect, some say not even Destiny himself truly knows where any way will take you, where each twist and turn will lead. But even if Destiny could tell you, he will not. Destiny holds his secrets.
The Garden of Destiny. You would know it if you saw it. After all, you will wander it until you die. Or beyond. For the paths are long, and even in death there is not ending to them.
Never a possession, always the possessor, with skin as pale as smoke, and eyes tawny and sharp as yellow wine: Desire is is everything you have ever wanted. Whoever you are. Whatever you are.
Despair is queen of her own bleak home. It is said that scattered through Despair's domain are a multitude of tiny windows, hanging in the void. Each window looks out onto a different scene, being, in our world, a mirror. Sometimes you will look into a mirror and feel the eyes of Despair upon you, feel her hook catch and snag on your heart.
Despair says little, and is patient.
Destiny smells of dust and the libraries of night.
He leaves no footprints.
He casts no shadow.
... Delirium was once Delight. And although that was long ago now, even today her eyes are badly matched: one eye is a vivid emerald green, spattered with silver flecks that move; her other eye is vein blue.
Who knows what Deirium sees, through her mismatched eyes?
Of all the Endless, save perhaps Destiny, he is most conscious of his responsibilities, the most meticulous in their execution. Dream casts a human shadow, when it occurs to him to do so.
And there is Death.
MORPHEUS: Since the beginning. He was the Creator's finest creation: the angel Samael, called Lucifer. It means "the bringer of light." Of all the angels he was the wisest, the most beautiful, the most powerful. Saving only his Creator, he is, perhaps, the most powerful being there is.
MATTHEW: More powerful than you?
MORPHEUS: Oh yes. By far.
HOB GADLING: Chateau Lafitte 1828? I didn't think there was a bottle of that stuff left on earth
MORPHEUS: I doubt there is. But a few bottles remain, in dreams.
HOB GADLING: If this is really you, then you're particularly early. What's the occasion? Is it your birthday?
MORPHEUS: You must be born to have a birthday.
HOB GADLING: "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the Devil his due."
LUCIFER: Still. "Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven." Eh, little brother-killer?
CAIN: Suh-certainly, Lord Lucifer. Whatever you say, Lord Lucifer.
LUCIFER: We didn't say it. Milton said it. And he was blind.
MORPHEUS: We do what we must, Lucien. Sometimes we can choose the path we follow. Sometimes our choices are made for us. And sometimes we have no choice at all.
LUCIFER: Hello, Dream. Take off that silly helmet and we'll talk.
MORPHEUS: I will not be tricked by you, Lucifer Morningstar.
LUCIFER: Why, sweet Morpheus... Are you scared of me?
LUCIFER: I've quit.
LUCIFER: I'm tired, Morpheus. So tired. You knew me, Dream. You knew me when I was an angel. What was I like?
MORPHEUS: You were very proud, Samael. But you were also very beautiful, and wise -- and passionate.
LUCIFER: Was I? Yes... yes, I was. I cared about so many things. I cared so deeply, back then, in the cold at the beginning of things. In the Silver City. I suppose that was why everything began to go wrong. You know... I still wonder how much of it was planned. How much of it He knew in advance.
I thought I was rebellng. I thought I was defying his rule. No... I was merely fulfilling another tiny segment of his great and powerful plan. If I had not rebelled, another would have, in my stead. Raguel, perhaps. Or Sandalphon.
We fell, my comrades in arms and I. We fell so far... so long... And after an eternity of falling, we came to rest in this place. And I knew then that there was no way that I would ever return to paradise.
LUCIFER: Ten billion years spent providing a place for dead mortals to torture themselves. And like all masochists they called the shots -- "Burn me" "Freeze me" "Eat me" "Hurt me"... And we did.
And then there were the demonkind, imagine being their lord and master. A handful of them were once angels, who fell with me at the dawn. Other strayed here from elsewhere over the aeons, making this place a home. And soon I found myself their lord and master. A million of them, or more, squabbling and warring and carring on...
I watched their strange little fashions. The centuries they spent wearing the bodies of animals... The ridiculous vogue for rhyme to denote status -- demons who spoke exclusively in villanelles, haiku or triolets... And above all, the fashion in intrugue.
In the beginning I enjoyed it. I was -- I am -- more powerful than any of them. I could have destroyed any of them -- perhaps even all of them -- without much effort. So I manipulated them; set them one against the other; let them faction and divide and plot. But... but I grew weary, Dream Lord. Mightily weary. I ceased to care.
LUCIFER: Why do they blame me for all their little failings? They use my name as if I spent my entire days sitting on their shoulders, forcing them to commits acts they would otherwise find repulsive. "The devil made me do it." I have never made one of them do anything. Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their lives for them.
And then they die, and they come here (having transgressed against what they believed to be right), and expect us to fulfill their desire for pain and retribution. I don't make them come here. They talk of me going like a fishwife come market day, never stopping to ask themselves why. I need no souls. And how can anyone own a soul? No. They belong to themselves.... They just hate to have to face up to it.
LUCIFER: Innocence, once lost, can never be regained.
LUCIFER: Oh -- Morpheus? I swore once that I would destroy you, did I not?
MORPHEUS: Yes. You did.
LUCIFER: Well, we are now outside the bounds of hell... This is for you, Dream Lord. Take it.
MORPHEUS: The key to Hell?
LUCIFER: Exactly. It's yours now. Perhaps it will destroy you, and perhaps it won't. But I doubt it will make your life any easier. It's all yours, now, Morpheus. You're the sole monarch of a locked and empty hell. Perhaps I ought to have given it to you with my best wishes. I could have told you that I hoped it would bring your happiness. But somehow... somehow I doubt it will.
MORPHEUS: I feel cold.
Even when empty, thought Charles Rowland. you're never along in a school. It belongs to all those dead people. All the other kids. The ones who sat at your desk, or slept in your bed, or ran down the corridor a hundred years ago. They never go away. Even when you're alone -- you're not alone.
EDWIN PAINE: It's part of growing up, I suppose... You always have to leave something behind you.
EDWIN PAINE: How long do you think we've got? Until she catches up with us again?
CHARLES ROWLAND: I dunno. But we might as well make the most of it. Just take it as it comes.
EDWIN PAINE: Death, you mean? Or life?
CHARLES ROWLAND: Either. Both. Anyway, I think we've learned all we're going to at school. Now: Let's see what Life's got to offer us.
REMIEL: There must be a place for demons; a place for the damned. Hell is Heaven's reflection. It is Heaven's shadow. They define each other. Reward and punishment; hope and despair. There must a a Hell for without Hell, Heaven has no meaning. And thus Hell must be.
MAN: You young fellers, you haven't a bloody clue... I used to come down here with the wife, and the twins. Darren got himself killed in Vietnam. Sean and me both got a bit the worse for wear when we heard the news. He crashed the car, but only I crawled away. And, when I got out of hospital, me and the wife carried on walking down here. Then she got a lump in her breast. Anyway... now it's just me.
And I still come down here to watch the sun set. Y'know, most every night it's a bloody beat. And every night it's different. And I think, well, I've had a shit of a life, all things considered. It was fair. Everyone I've ever loved is dead, and my leg hurts all the bloody time...
But I think, any god that can do sunsets like that, a different one every night... 'strewth, well, you're got to respect the old bastard, haven't you?
LUCIFER: All right. I admit it. He's got a point. The sunsets are bloody marvelous, you old bastard. Satisfied?
October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale.
Having admitted that, he would also avow that happe endings were never difficult to find: "It is simply a matter," he explained to April, "of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the gradd is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content."
from The Man Who Was October by G. K. Chesterton / Library of Dreams.