Ancient and Magical

Prompt: Ancient


I’ve decided to journal my experience with the mask in this leather-bound notebook, since I fear I have been inaccurate in my remembrances because of long hours in the private company of the exquisite Callexis.

Since she was delivered to me, I’ve heard nothing from Isaac, the master of dark trading, or the French messenger whose name I did not learn. I truly did not expect to correspond with Isaac or his minion after our transaction was finalized, yet they remain the only people on the earth who share my knowledge of Callexis and her mysterious power.

She of the useless magic, disappears when placed on one’s visage. She, of gold and jade and copper, ancient and beautiful, is weighty in my hands, and basks in the spotlight when sat within her special case in the library, but on my face she is gone. I feel the loops that secure her, but she is not there when I look at the mirror.

Callexis has shown me no other magic, though I spend an average of two hours per day staring at her so she may reveal her secrets, and much of the day wearing her, except when dining, bathing, or sleeping. She is comfortable and comforting, but so are my cashmere gloves. They do not disappear. They are not ancient and magical. They do not frustrate, confound, and confuse.

I have learned, with the help of my valet, that she does not merely become invisible, but disappears, both to me and to others. Having shallowly cut myself whilst shaving, I asked Othello to fetch some cotton wool, and upon returning he dabbed my face and took the blood. There was no mask to be seen or felt, despite the fact that I had placed her on my face but moments before.

That is all I have learned. Sometimes I pull my chair nearer, and stare into her hollow eyes, examine the sly, slight smile, and beg her in my thoughts to speak, somehow, to me. Sometimes when I take her off my face and place her on the marble stand, I think I hear a sort of laughter, as laughter carried to you from a great distance, on a breeze of the kind that nudges silk curtains.

Sometimes when I wear her, I feel no weight but a heaviness in my cheeks, a drawing down of the flesh near my lips, a pain in my arms, or a dizziness so intense I must sit, even when in town. My friend and neighbour, Edwin Duke, has asked me on more than one occasion if I am well when I’ve worn the mask to discuss matters of municipal interest (as we are both involved in county business). I wear her to experiment, to learn, yet she troubles me and withholds her secrets.

Today I wore her and sat before the mirror. An hour passed and I thought I saw my smile become her smile, mysterious and inscrutable. I thought I saw myself age, my face droop like a tiger’s skin, my eyes dark and heavy-lidded.

For the first time, I felt afraid of her, my beautiful, my exquisite Callexis.