Flickering flames

Shadow lay in the steaming hot water soaking the warmth of the bath, staring at the flickering flames of the bedchamber's fireplace.
Two young lads had dragged a cast iron tub into his room and filled it with hot water for what seemed like an eternity.

Both boys kept their mouths shut while performing their menial task but kept giving the giant furtive worried looks not daring to upset the new guest. He was getting hungry and would have to go look for something to eat once he had washed the grime from weeks of travel from his muscular scarred body.

His eyes kept being drawn from the fire and burning logs, to the dark stone fireplace and mantle in the room, that were carved depicting strange and wondrous grotesque creatures, intertwined and and mingled in a seamless pattern.
Ay first your eyes could not make sense of it but soon little details emerged here and there. Pillars formed of children growing out of stalks of flowers, with architraves and cornices of branches of myrtle and doorways of reeds and other things, all seeming impossible and contrary to reason. Sprays of foliage, birds, masks and figures extremely licentious and absurd done by the ancient mason hands, without any logic, so that a weight is attached to a thin thread which could not support it, a horse given legs made of leaves, a man with crane's legs, and countless other impossible absurdities.

He pulled his gaze away, feeling that if he kept staring at it at it's details he would loose his mind in the little tiny impossible details of the carvings. He looked around the room. It was richly decorated. A large woven tapestry hanged from the ceiling opposite the bed, and rich thick velvety curtains hanged across the large bay window that looked across overcast grounds of the manor.

He had a sense however that this was not the true nature of the room or even of the building. He could not verbalise his feelings but it felt almost like that all the opulence one could see was nothing more than just a fa├žade. A brushing of sorts to hide the true nature of these dwellings. At times he felt almost like an illusion. An illusion that held sway over everyone expect in those little glimpses you caught in the corner of your eye that showed a terrible decaying house, rotting away. But he had not been able to focus on those yet. He would need to meditate further. His senses had been all awry since he embarked on this journey following the Call.

Night was coming. It was the part of the day beloved of ghosts and demons, who could do harm to anyone coming across them according to the teachings of his people. Then, as now, they spoke of the contrast between light (good) and dark (bad). Beings and people who were abroad in the dark, who might even consider the darkness their natural environment, were not usually out to do good. But Shadow had always loved the night. That was when the true nature of things and people was revealed. During the day everyone wore masks. Masks that are no more than broader ideas at work, mainly what is owed between people as a society for their mutual illusions.

Night was coming and with it usually came the real fear for many that you could go to sleep and not wake up in the morning. Shadow enjoyed the night. He thrived during the witching hours.

The water was getting cold. The fire needed more fuel. And Shadow needed to hunt.

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