Paula’s Prompts: A Tale of Omphalos

On August 18, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a current dilemma, a new job, and an old song.

This made me think of Danyel and Tayel; their dilemma they faced in choosing to work for Gryluxx. Thus this freebie Tale of Omphalos was born…

“Passion is red

Yellow is sly

Blue lies in the deep

Brown is always dry.”

It was an old song. He and his twin sang, hummed, and muttered many versions of it. Right now Danyel couldn’t get out of his head. Especially with Tayel murmuring it under his breath. 

“I’m not sure about the new job either,” he said, spinning around to face a face exactly like his own from the shaggy golden waves falling around it to the stubborn pout. Only Tayel’s violet-blue eyes glittered more brightly. Literally. “Only we can’t let our impression of Gryluxx ruin it for us.”

“He has a dusty soul behind his toothy smile, creeping up on anyone fool enough to roll around, looking for treasures in his dirt.” Tayel crossed his arms, silver triangles vibrating in his eyes, bright enough to spit sparks. “Secrets are seldom offered by those who claim them.”

“Meaning he doesn’t know anything useful. He’s just pretending he has secrets to share.” Danyel heaved a sigh. “Why would anyone think we needed to seek him out? I’m wondering the same thing.”

Tayel’s eyes narrowed. He’d guessed Danyel wasn’t telling him everything. Only he wouldn’t ask. Tayel never asked. He hated questions. Once you ask a question, it must be answered, even if you try not to. 

Danyel, on the other hand, was always asking questions. He would have asked Tayel what he was hiding. Not that Tayel would have told him. 

“Gryluxx lacks the crimson intensity of passion or the depths of deepening blue.” Tayel fixed one of those unearthly eyes upon him. Why Tayel had them and Danyel didn’t was another one of the questions he had. Only Danyel wasn’t sure if anyone would answer it. “He takes advantage of the nurturing vitality of green. He’s puffed himself up with the yellow feathers of cleverness, but even that sinks into his inner murk.”

For the twins, different character traits had color. Red was the color of heroes, passion, and anger. Yellow was the color of cunning or cleverness. Tayel’s own favorite was blue. A blue person had depths of feeling and emotion no one else could understand. 

Danyel prefered green. It was the color of love, life, and rebirth. Tayel was quick to point out it was also the color of jealousy. 

 “At least Gryluxx is not part of your hungry darkness or pitiless light,” Danyel pointed out deciding to play his brother’s game. “He’s not trying to devour everyone else’s color or reject it.” 

“To do either would require paying attention to other people’s color. He’s too wrapped up in his own world, his own ambition.” Tayel wrinkled his nose. “Everyone becomes a muddy hue, closer to his own as they get closer to him.”

“This way we can all be part of his mud.” Only it wasn’t that simple. Not when it came to people. 

Lately Danyel had been wondering about the colors he and Tayel played with, the character types which went with him. Just how accurate were they? The twins were only just starting to meet other people besides Map, Leiwell, and each other. Everyone else had been just part of a story. 

All this changed when Omphalos began to rise around their formerly lonely cottage, a thriving village of like-minded souls. Or so their new neighbors claimed to be. 

“Self-doubt is a poison. Don’t let it in!” Tayel hissed with surprising directness. “Allow it to bubble and the raven will spot it.”

“You see Gryluxx as a raven.” This made sense. Given his beady black and acquisitive personality. Danyel could see him pecking at seeds, shining objects, or other people. 

“You can hear him caw.” Tayel lifted his chin, gave it a sharp jerk in the direction of the tailor’s front door. 

The cottage was no bigger than any other, but its door was painted black. An ostentatious golden knocker in the form of a gargoyle scowled at visitors. 

Danyel lifted a small hand and knocked. 

The door opened. The smiling round face of Meggie gazed at him with bright eyes through the crack. “Oh, you’ve come back. I, um, wasn’t sure you would.”

“I wasn’t either,” Danyel admitted, finding himself smiling. If only he and Tayel were working for Meggie. Perhaps he should be more uneasy about Gryluxx’s wife, but she seemed so relaxed and sleepy. She made him feel relaxed too.

“You’re welcome, um, to come in.” The door swung open, revealing a table with a pile of what might have been swaths of silk lying upon it, shelves with thread, scissors, various rolls of velvet, wool, what might have been fur, and the scales from some beast.

Danyel felt his twin shiver at the sight of the latter, only to quiver himself. Just what living creatures died in order for Gryluxx to make clothes?

“We, um, have people bring us materials.” Meggie took a bite of the custard tart in her hand, dribbling crumbs all over the floor. She glanced into a corner and said, “Yes, that’s right.”

Tayel let out a hissing sound which perhaps only Danyel could hear. His twin stared with overly bright eyes into the same corner Meggie had addressed. “Right is relative to the creature in question.”

Meggie flinched a bit at the corner before shaking her head. “No, ah, he has a point. Something may well have died to provide the fur and feathers. Maybe more than one something.”

“Who are you talking to?” Danyel glanced from Meggie to his twin. The latter was shaking his head, warning him with his eyes to shut up. 

“Oh, just my dead aunts. They’re very difficult to please, being dead and unable to rest.” Meggie tapped a finger against her head, getting crumbs in her hair. “Guess that would make anyone difficult to please.”

“Talking to ghosts again, you addle-brained cow?” The sharp, nasally voice of the tailor filled the room. “Don’t pay her any attention, you wide-eyed brats. There’s nothing in the corner but Megan’s imaginary friends. They’re only as real as you think there are.”

“And the tower on the hill is a just a pile of rocks?” Danyel couldn’t help himself. Gryluxx’s dismissal of what his wife saw was too much like Map’s denial of anything lingering around the tower back when it was a ruin. 

It had just been wishful thinking on her part.

“Of course not!” Gryluxx did his best to glide into the room in his black robes tied with a golden cord, his nose held high. “The tower is the Temple of Seraphix! Where fools gather to worship a demon as a god!”

“What?” Danyel asked in astonishment, looking around. 

No seemed surprised other than him. Meggie blinked at him. “Well, of course it’s Seraphix’s temple. Didn’t you know?”

Tayel looked away, allowing his golden waves to sway, hiding whatever might be on his face.

Of course. His twin had known what was going on. Again. All the while keeping Danyel in the dark. Again. 

“Um, don’t let this silly bird scare you with his talk of demons.” Meggie blinked her sleepy eyes at her husband. “Of course Seraphix is a god. I’ve worshipped Them for years.”

“You have?” Danyel turned, his heart picking up speed. 

He remember a night of torches, running, screaming out curses, naming her monster. For Danyel hadn’t been himself at the time. He’d been someone else, a priestess at a temple. A priestess whose sisters at the temple turned against her. 

Someone who’d once been Map. 

“You weren’t a priestess or a Sister of Seraphix, were you?” It was a blind guess, plucked from a few words vaguely remembered from a dream.

“Huh, maybe I was.” Meggie scratched her head again, glanced in the corner. “Don’t shout. There’s lots of things I can’t remember.”

“Including what’s real and not,” Gryluxx sneered, stroking the silver coin around his neck with ringed fingers. “Seraphix is no god. There are no gods. They got weak and were overthrown. It’s a spiritual landscape of opportunity now, my chicks. You can seize a part of that for yourself.”

“Just what did you want us to do?” Danyel asked, lifting his head. Best to find out exactly what the tailor wanted of them.

“First off, sort through this silk.” Gryluxx gestured to the piles. “Fold them neatly, according to color. I’m overwhelmed here with everything our lord asks for.” He eyed the boys with sharp black eyes. “Some of what he asks for is for you.”

“For us?” Danyel squeaked, but he looked down at his light green vest over his white tunic. 

“Yes, I was the one who sewed that. Without you here for measurements, I might add.” The tailor puffed out his chest with some pride. “Our fine lord has instructed me to make two more for you. Blue and green again, only this time they’re to be silk.”

Danyel glanced down at his vest. “It is beautifully made.”

“Of course it is. Don’t act so surprised.” Gryluxx scowled at him. “You’ve been very spoiled, both of you. Do you know how many souls have been run off their feet, clothing and caring for you on our lord’s orders?”

“No,” Danyel said with complete honesty. “Leiwell and Map brought us things. They only said they came from our lord.”

“Sheltered as well as spoiled.” Gryluxx made a harrumping sound. “If you two wish to survive in this wicked world, you’d better learn more about it!”

“That’s why we’re here.” Danyel lifted his chin with some pride and walked over to the piles of silk. 

Tayel let out a low angry sigh. His twin didn’t want to be here. He didn’t trust Gryluxx. Everything he’d said about the man had been the truth. 

At the same time he could leave his twin alone to learn about this wicked world alone. 

Tayel walked over to join Danyel in sorting. 

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