Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Narcissist

"I pray thee, do not listen to him, your majesty," pleaded Hedrig. "Send him away, for he bodes ill, and no good can come of his wares."

But Queen Eloria turned a deaf ear to her loyal slave. She beckoned the merchant Orioso to step forth, and he did, unrolling a thick well-worn blanket on the palace floor and revealing its trove of gold-gleaming trinkets and many-colored baubles. Queen Eloria strained not to gasp or lean forward from her throne: such riches she had not seen in all her young life.

Orioso bent to pick up a shiny object, and cradling it in both hands as he bowed, he proffered it to the queen. Hedrig hissed at the merchant, but the queen silenced her.

"What is it?" Queen Eloria asked.

"This, your glorious majesty," answered Orioso, "is a treasure forged by the master craftsman Asterio with purest gold from the mines of Hestus and finest silver from the lands of Sertis. It is said to reveal the innermost soul of whomever peers into its frame. Your majesty, may I present to you...the mirror."