Salome: the Seventh Queen: 10: The Mysterious Lake

Salome: the Seventh Queen: 10: The Mysterious Lake

by Aline deWinter

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“Oh, gatekeeper, open the gate! Open the gate so I may enter!” Salome cried.
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“Oh, no, Mistress!” cried Aaliyah. “Let us go back!”
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The Third gate opened, and the Gatekeeper, clad in robes of copper flame, reached forth and pulled off the Princess’s sparkling necklace.
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Salome cried out, for the necklace was fine and precious to her.
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“Oh Gatekeeper, why do you take my necklace?”
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“ Thus are the rules of the Mistress of the Abyss. Now you may enter.”
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Salome reeled. All the garden spun around her as she heard the voice of Aaliyah whisper, “…where they see no light…residing only in darkness…is it so?”
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“Shhh! Aaliyha! You tempt fate,” Etana whispered sharply.

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Darkness reached out and pulled them through the gate like a hand, bringing them onto a thread of white road. It wound through deep twilight over a low hill and then down to an oasis with a lake that opened up like a dull, watching eye. And on that lake, black swans floated, their sooty reflections like shadows cast upon the smooth surface of the water.
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The trees took notice of Salome and shivered, releasing flocks of black birds. Excited by the sight of so much water, for her desert home held nothing like this — not even the great gardens of the Herodium with all its wealth could supply such a wonder, Salome knelt down to plunge her hands into the lake.  It was as if she touched glass! The surface was solid, yet it was not ice, but rather a clear, hard, glass-like surface beneath which she saw large shapes moving slowly through the gloom.
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Salome turned to her serving maids who stood limp and apprehensive on the slope of the hill. The musicians watched her expectantly, waiting for her to direct them, as if they had lost all delight in playing on their own.
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“I shall dance upon this lake,” said the Princess, extending her delicate foot out to touch the water. “Yes, it will support me. I shall dance upon this lake,” she sighed.
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“Oh, no, Princess!” cried Aaliyah in alarm. “Surly you do not want to risk that! This is but an illusion. Surly you shall drown. No one can walk upon water, Princess, though she be the greatest dancer in the world.”
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“Yes, you must stop, Mistress Salome!  Perhaps we should turn back. Your wits are becoming confused,” cried Etana, “Stop!”
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“Do you doubt me?” said Salome. “I shall dance upon this lake. See how it bears me up so that I may walk over to those swans and dance among them. Music please! This will be a dance to defy the Gods of Death. Give me the head of Jokannaan. I want him to see how I dance upon the lake.”
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The music shrieked and wailed as if the whole of the world cried out in anguish while Salome took the glistening head from Aaliyah and turned with it toward the lake. She stepped upon it and it bore her up while , spinning, she gazed into the eyes of her beloved.
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“Dance with me Jokannaan. Dance with me on this lake of glass. See how our twin selves move below us; our reflected selves, our doubles are below us dancing in the mirror world of death, Jokannaan.  When the dance is over, you shall soon come back to life, and so shall I who have been as dead these many days.”
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Salome moved further onto the lake, sliding as she would across a shining floor. It was so smooth, her steps flew as if her heels bore wings. She watched her reflected shadow below, saw the vision of her self holding the severed head close to her heart, and in her delirium did not shrink away. Rather she grew ferocious in her dance so that the black swans scattered and dove at her before falling into a wide circle around her as if to hem her in.
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Slowly, as she danced, lost in the mirror world of her dark passion, Salome heard soft and distant voices rise up from under the lake, chanting in a slanting minor key.
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“Oh, they will drag me under; those voices overwhelm me like the sea, Jokannaan. Perhaps we shall fall into this mirror world forever, to dance with our feet upon the sky and our heads below the water….like these reflections here….unless I tear myself away and end this frenzy of love that holds me to you, for the blood that fell from you has entered into my heart, making us one, of one blood, cloven together like the sides of a healing wound. The sky grows deep and purple, Jokannaan, like the bruise that spread over my soul when I murdered you!”
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As if overcome by the song that grew louder and deeper with each passing moment, the musicians dropped their instruments and stood as stones on the silent hill. Aaliyah and Etana fell helpless on the ground. Soon, the only sound accompanying the Princess in her dancing was a terrible, echoing cry.

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To be continued…
photo: Mysterious Lake by Sara.K

Painting: Salome by Bussiere

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3 thoughts on “Salome: the Seventh Queen: 10: The Mysterious Lake

  1. That is unbelievable and really well thought out. Generally I don’t make a comment on the internet, However I felt like I should congratulate you on this one. Brilliant article

  2. Thank you! I need to finish part one of this story n here.There is a part 2. This was meant to be a short story and turned into a novella. I put both parts in a pdf when its ready.

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