A short tale today … Really it is a bit of fluff with nothing really in it … or is there? I suppose that’s for the one that beholds it to decide …
The room was, to be blunt, ostentatious: marble floors, golden walls, art that cost—one could be quite sure—more than any of those in the room would make in a lifetime. Standing at the head of a small group of students was a bespectacled man with a ream of papers in his right hand and waving his left about him as he spoke.
“Behold the Queen of the Succubi!”
The group turned to look in the direction that his hand waved in and, as the man droned on about the myths and legends that were associated with the painting, not to mention assorted minutia about the artist, the date of the art, and so on, the group regarded the painting. It was a stylized image of the Queen herself, all fire and brimstone, looking regal and holding her pitchfork in one hand, with a come hither look in her eyes. The odd thing was that the eyes in the painting seemed to sparkle a captivating green. As if they were seeing each and every person who looked at her. But that couldn’t be real … only a trick of the light, yes?
Theo found himself wondering.
He was not all that great a student, though some of his teachers had told him that he had promise. The thing was that they never really told him what that was. They would nod and just say ‘You’ll know it when it happens.” He really hadn’t focused on one particular subject, though he knew that he needed to. But it was all of the things that were out there to discover that interested him. Magic alone was fine, but then what about science? Focus on the physical, but what about the spiritual? He wanted to indulge all of this curiosity, but the rules where that he needed to choose one focus and remain with it.
He didn’t like those rules.
At this moment, the rest of the world around him fell out of focus, and he concentrated on the painting instead. He wondered if she was truly what she appeared to be. He wondered what her voice might be like. He wondered if, perhaps …
“They really do go well over the top sometimes, don’t they?”
Turning around to look behind him, Theo found a tall woman with raven hair smiling at him and stammered: “I … suppose they do.”
He turned back to look at the painting and then looked back at the woman in shock when he realized something. Her eyes … her smile … was that a pair of red horns and tail? He looked at her for a long moment before managing in a squeak: “You? You’re …”
She waved a hand idly in the air: “Yes, I am Tera. The artist who did that was a bit too fire and brimstone, really. I don’t care for the entire look, to be honest.”
Theo didn’t know what to think, or do. She was a Queen, so, according to the rules that had been drummed into him all his life, he should have bowed, or prostrated himself in front of her, or something. The problem was that he was so shocked at her appearance out of thin air that all of what he had been taught left him wanting. Not to mention that she looked so … casual. She wasn’t dressed all regally, and, somehow, he felt that this was better. The long red jacket suited her well.
That hand she had been waving idly now waved in front of his eyes as she said with amusement: “Are you going to ask for proof that I am … me?”
He shook his head: “Don’t think I need to. You appeared out of nowhere, your painting doesn’t do you justice, and the horns and tail are a dead giveaway, aren’t they?”
She laughed and wagged a finger at him: “Quite true. Possibly my one quirk is that I don’t hide them.”
Theo looked around and noticed that the room was completely empty save for the two of them. He wondered why the group would have left him here alone, and then realized that, if she wanted to see him and only him, that wouldn’t have been much of an effort for her to manage.
Her tail moved from right to left behind her as she crossed her arms over her chest: “That is an open question. Care to be more specific?”
“Why are you appearing to me here and now? Legends say that you …”
She tilted her head to the left: “Legends are not truth. Setting that aside, I am here because you interest me, Theodore.”
“Um. My name’s Theo.”
She shrugged: “Allow a Queen one of her quirks will you?”
He couldn’t honestly refuse that request: “Yes, Ma’am.”
“Tera is fine.”
He nodded; if that’s what she asked, he couldn’t refuse that request, either: “Why do I interest you, Tera?”
“You want to know everything.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“Well, so do I.”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
She shifted her hips and gave him a look, one that he didn’t expect: bemused. “The imagination of humanity is vast and powerful. It has resulted in things that otherwise would never have been.”
“Yeah, I can see that.”
She looked at her painting: “You create legends and myths to explain what you cannot understand, at least until you understand it. Then, when you have your facts, or what you believe to be the facts, the myths become set in stone and never-changing.”
“So, you’re saying that the fire and brimstone stuff is wrong?”
“Well … I have not harmed you or taken your soul or worse, have I? What would stop me from doing so if that is what I really wanted?”
Theo thought about this a moment: “You choose not to?”
She snapped her fingers, the sound echoing in the room around them: “Exactly! Choice: and that is the most powerful thing humanity has.”
“It’s not much of a power.”
“It is the most powerful thing in the universe.”
He nodded, not really believing her for the moment: “So, the legends about you are not true?”
She tapped a finger against her lips: “Some of them are. Some are not. Would it not be interesting to find out which was which?”
“It might be.”
She waved her right hand at the painting: “All legends start with a grain of truth. All truths start from one point, one belief, one purpose.”
“Where’s the truth in that painting, then?”
“He got my eyes right.”
Theo turned to look at the painting again and found that, yes, the artist did get Tera’s eyes very right. That little sparkle of mischief and amusement was plain to see when you were looking for it. He turned back to look at her and found that she wasn’t there any longer.
He also found that the room was filled once more, and the leader of their group was finishing up his speech with a flourish about the painting: “It is said that she appears to a very few and when she does they are never the same again!”
He then waved the group to follow him as he continued the tour. As they began to move on, Theo stole one more look at the painting, seeing it in a new light and realizing that he had a focus now. It wasn’t Tera; it was the question of myths and legends and what was real and what wasn’t. That search for answers would take a lifetime, and he looked forward to every moment of it.
“I’d like to meet her. See if she’s all that they claim she is. And how she is in bed.”
Theo looked at his classmate who had spoken. He wanted to say that she was more, better, than what the legends said. He wanted to slap him across the face for being an ass, but someone tapped him on the shoulder and he turned to see who it was.
“Time to move on gentlemen, you do not wish to be left behind, do you?”
He found himself looking at a woman—a woman with raven hair and two little flashes of red among her curled locks. His classmate leered at her and she pointed him towards the rapidly departing group.
“In your dreams … Get going.”
“Oh I hope so.” The classmate practically salivated.
After he ran off and they were alone, she looked at Theo and winked through her horn rimmed glasses before walking with him towards the group.
“You said you don’t hide your horns or tail.”
“It is amazing what you can divert attention from with the right clothing and attitude.”
“And you are?”
The innocent look she had belied her answer: “A visiting professor in the sexual arts, of course. It’s my first day, and I’m off campus chaperoning some students.”
Theo couldn’t help the smile: “So, how long are you staying?”
“I have all of the time in the world.”
Theo smiled broadly at that. He looked forward to what they would behold together … She did, as well.