Closer Than You Think

In the deep dark of a castle I knew not to exist, this strange descendant, this Solomon Grimm, led me barefoot through a series of mysterious passageways. I was somewhere in the byways making up the underbelly of somewhere in between our world and the next. Could I tell you where I was going? No, of course not. Did Solomon explain it? I’ll let you guess (no).

To just find out about this place, to find out anything about this Solomon, I had to wait. It irked me. But at least he did offer me a cup of coffee. It happened to be my favorite roast too, something dark and oak-e and nutty and smoky. I sipped and followed behind this barefoot man. His robe swayed with his steps in an oddly familiar motion.

In the dimly lit byway I caught a glimpse of something on the back of Solomon’s robe. That insignia on the medallion which started my journey, the one I found with that page, was printed near its bottom. As Solomon took me ever deeper into the heart of not only this castle, but the whole mountainous Cloudlandia, thoughts of this man’s role in the Flickering brewed. That’s all I could think about. I paid little attention to the way that we went, the levers pulled to reveal underground waterfall-blocking bridges, floating light orbs of any color which seemed to whisper beautiful songs in my ear, and anything else that might have been there and should have demanded my attention.

I couldn’t handle it. The rising steam forged a writhing tension in me. It writhed and writhed until the tension grew taut, strung in me like a harp. Just like on that first day, when all this began. I dropped my mug (of course) and snatched his robe in my hand. “What is this?” I snarled.

He turned and I looked more closely at him. I drew back, eyes wide and mouth ajar. What I saw was not some far removed being within my own bloodline, or some maniacal old sage of a man. What I saw was me, bearded and wrinkled me. How didn’t I notice it before?

“What is this?” I repeated slowly (I hate repeating myself unless it is for emphasis). (The emphasis was needed). “Who are you?”

“The resemblance is uncanny. That’s what people always told me. Said I walked like you, spoke similarly, even my raw thoughts seemed to process in the same ways from what those closer to you could tell.” He spoke with an eerie tone, removed yet nostalgic. And creepy. “They said the same of him.”

“Him?”

A smile flashed on his face, then it faded. “You read it. The page.”

“No. I mean yes. I don’t understand, that can’t be.”

“Mikolai is closer than you think.”

Here? Now?

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