THE QUESTING BEAST
Many thousands of years passed while Sudanenka and the prince sat discussing matters of the heart and matters of the brain; the substantiality of linguistics and the laws of aesthetics. But they agreed on nothing. In fact, it was as if nothing had been said. And all that time, above them, the sky became darker and darker... It grew from a single point, like a spider's web, and the clouds seemed to group in angry silence as if in some malevolent conspiracy; whispering, gloomy and persistent. Sudanenka's heart sank, and the prince also felt the heavy stream of foreboding in the air; it seemed to drift like melancholy ribbons through the soul. Then, suddenly, from the black vault above them, a flash of lightening struck upon the ground. Sudanenka sat fingering his ebony beads as a fearful rumbling erupted from a grassy mound on the opposite side of the road. The prince rose quickly and leapt behind the tree. The mound split in sunder and the earth was shaken, and clouds of black smoke appeared from the cleft, quickly followed by a dark and monstrous head. And the smoke lifted to reveal the head of some ancient and warrior-like dragon, with its blood-red eyes fixed on Sudanenka, who sat unmoved beneath the tree.
'Do you not agree that my ears are plain to see?' said the hideous dragon, showing row upon row of terribly sharp teeth.
'I cannot breathe a falsity,' uttered Sudanenka. 'I see your ears'.
'Therefore', continued the dragon, 'it is by logic that you see me'. And the beast rose from the mound, towering into the air beyond the black clouds. In an infinitesimal flash, the beast diminished in size and became that of a man, yet his head remained that of a dragon.
'Brother, long hast thou dwelt with hoof and horn, now sit ye down with hands and feet'. And Sudanenka beckoned towards the brute.
'Have you not the intelligence to know the dark Lord of the abyss when you see him?' hissed the monster through clenched teeth.
'And what is thy sorcery?' asked Sudanenka.
'Dispersion!' replied the beast.
'I have prayed for your acquaintance'.
'Your prayers do not interest me, for they are rags in which you hide your filthy existence'. The monster said fiercely.
'You must excuse my appearance. My work is never done!'
'Thy work is the Devil's work!' snapped the beast.
'And thy mouth his buttocks!' returned Sudanenka.
During this friendly and eloquent exchange, the prince remained unobserved, which was a curious thing in itself, for he had such a striking and unusual appearance, that ordinarily, one couldn't help but notice him, even when looking in all the wrong places.
'Tell me... who sends such a distinguished Lord as yourself, to seek such a humble man as myself?'
And the beast laughed such a mighty laugh that it rang and echoed throughout all eternity.
'My name hath been uttered by mightier lips than your God, holy man, for I come from the pit of darkness; from the blackness of the abyss, and Chaos and Madness are of me. We are many, and you are one'. And the beast crouched down low like a hunting tiger, stalking its prey, creeping towards Sudanenka. But the wise Sudanenka continued to finger his beads, and even closed his eyes on the beast.
'Do you not flee at destruction?' raged the beast, perplexed at Sudanenka's show of courage.
'I tremble before one God, yet fear of nought!'
'Then you are a fool!' laughed the beast. 'Let your God help you now, for you have wasted your pitiful existence in nothing. What sorcery dost thou yield?'
And the old man dropped his head and dropped his beads, and the beast's eyes became a frenzy of wanton destruction.
'I will break you where you sit, old fool, and take great pleasure in thy ruin'. And the beast became a nightmare of grunting blasphemy:
'Maahagarnii Xilkareton Tsalonai
Bakhoori Baxhara Khuuntereton
Heranuth Larasaral Sagahabad...'
'Thy words hold no fear for me, and thou shalt no more enter upon the sacred shade of this tree, than I am to enter within the gates of the palace. My God hath already weighed thy unspeakable soul'. Said Sudanenka, opening his eyes upon the beast, in the process of transforming itself into a vile and hideous torso, suspended on eight legs protruding from its stomach. It seemed an eternity, and Sudanenka, whose lips had been rippling over some sacred lines, suddenly stopped and exclaimed:
'You may come forth, brother prince'. And the prince stepped from behind the tree, forming the holy trinity and dispersing the evil dyad. And the beast shook to the core as Sudanenka continued:
'Thou art to me as the most beautiful and sweetest smelling rose in the Garden of Eros: Venus is no match for thee!' And the beast showed its foam-filled mouth, frothing and biting at the air with deadly incisors.
'Do not be afraid brother beast, nor ashamed' said Sudanenka, 'for if swine be thy bedfellow, thou must expect muck in thy delight of horror!' And the beast fell to the ground, unable to rise again as it squirmed in torment.
'Thou hath showered thy head with gold yet filth hath been thy heart and filth hath been thy ruin! Lift up thy head and hands, and raise thy heart, for thou art consumed by the power of the one true God, and thou art beautiful in thy destruction'. Sang Sudanenka as the beast crumbled, its screams and roars booming throughout the abyss as Sudanenka's ebony beads bounced in a never-ending chain along the road.
And the prince was mystified, saying 'what miracle hath occurred?'
'No miracle', answered Sudanenka, 'for my way is the way of the universe: one does nought, yet one can move all in nought!' And there was silence once again. And for a thousand years remained the prince at the side of Sudanenka, beneath the tree, a picture of perpetual amazement.