The magic ring (Short story)
I dream of my mother’s mother, my favourite Grandma. She is dressed in a majestic Witch-Queen’s attire and wears a magic ring on her left little finger. Her eyes are loving and deep, and she holds a lotus when she visits with her subjects. She wears the horns of a mountain goat on her head when she plays harp for her close friends. She is the creator of all things beautiful and loved back by all her creatures.
It’s a cloudy morning. Grandma-Witch-Queen finishes spinning the golden wheel of joyful living in the Garden of Good and enters her Temple-Palace for siesta. I expect sweet silence and just one little chirp, but I hear Grandma’s sudden outcry. I run to the building and see her rushing out of her chambers to the Temple’s gallery.
"My magic Ring is missing. It is lost, gone, vanished. I want it back before the dawn of tomorrow," my Grandma-Queen shouts at three men who are standing below a crystal chandelier. "One of you has stolen my almighty Ring, Ring of the Great Goddess, ring of the rings. All my spirit force resides in that ring and you know it. I shall not endure such a blasphemous act. I will become the dance of death and will drown all the roses if the one who committed this crime does not put my Ring back in its inlaid box, tonight, before the sunrise. Shall I find the box empty by the dawn, I shall order the three of you thrown into the Sea of Timeless Void."
She places the small mother-of-pearl inlaid box on a pedestal and rushes out, lifting her long blue s***t with her frail fingers.
The three men look frozen and shocked. One of them is Grandpa, my Grandma’s last husband, dressed as a priest-king. Beside him is a taller man, my maternal Uncle. He is dressed as a soldier, in cuirasses and a metallic helmet under his arm. When I look at the third man, I see my Father, one of Grandma-Queen’s advisors, looking like a merchant, playing with a miniature abacus.
"I’m ready to retire to my chambers," Grandpa-Priest-King tells the other men, "so that the one who has stolen the Ring could put it back in its little box, without feeling embarrassed."
"Ah, no your Highness," my Father-Merchant intervenes with a cunning smile. "Nothing allows us to think that you aren’t the one who has seized of the Queen’s Ring."
The King gets mad, groans for a while, but stays where he is. No one is allowed to leave the Temple before the night is over.
"What’s your ambition in life? What’s the use of the magic Ring for you? Father-Merchant asks Uncle-Soldier.
"I dream of becoming the commander-in-chief of the army. A woman’s ring doesn’t help me accomplish that, " my Uncle-Soldier replies.
"I’m not really sure about that. You know you can purchase your future with a precious object like the Queen’s magic Ring," muses Father-Merchant.
"Maybe, maybe not. The Queen’s Ring is of great worth, but there’s no man in the land capable of affording it or daring to use it for any purpose," the Soldier explains. Then, both men look in each other’s eyes before staring at the King.
"Your Highness, you’re the only one who has an interest in having Grandma-Queen’s magic Ring." Father-Merchant determines, "It’s been for some time now that you’ve ambitions to acquire a higher position than your wife. And we know that the only way for you to carry it through is to seize of her source of power. Isn’t that so?"
"That is absurd! I shall never betray my beloved wife," the King proclaims, as the Merchant and the Soldier look at each other in disbelief.
"Therefore, I presume that the King wouldn’t mind if I search his royal pockets?" the Merchant asks with great respect.
"Of course, not! Go ahead, Merchant. Search me. Soldier, you may help him as well."
Minutes later, the King is looking at the two men with pride.
"No magic Ring on his Highness," the two men say together, looking down in shame.
"Now, it’s my turn to search both of you, you Merchant and you Soldier," the King asserts. The Merchant and the Soldier do not like what they have heard.
"You’re sweating, Soldier," the King notices.
"It’s because of my cuirass, your Highness."
"Your cuirass, eh"?
"Yes, your Highness."
"Maybe it’s because you’re nervous?"
"No, your Highness. Believe me. I’m telling the truth."
"So, let me search your pockets."
"No your Highness," The Soldier protests, "That’s against my soldier’s honour. I’d rather die than to be treated as a suspect, as a possible thief of Grandma-Queen’s magic Ring." He brings out a white handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his forehead. Suddenly, something falls from inside the handkerchief and rolls on the slippery marble floor. Three pairs of astonished eyes follow the round little object till it stops behind the lofty curtain.
"I’ll pick it up," the Soldier says in haste.
"No!" the King objects, "I shall fetch it." And he quickly walks towards the jaspery curtain, which reflects a mournful colour on the white marble floor.
"Thousands of pieces of gold for that," the Merchant whispers to the Soldier, as he grabs the Soldier’s hand and hold it tight in both hands.
The Soldier pulls his fist from the Merchant’s grip, opens it and looks into it. "Oh, My. How did you get that?" he says.
"Decide quickly. What shall we do? The King is coming back," the Merchant warns.
"All right. I’ll take it. And I shall pay you as soon as we’ll get out of here. My word of honour," the Soldier says as he thrust his hand into his pocket.
"That was a silver coin, Gentlemen," the King says as he comes back, looking disappointed. "Soldier, I’m sorry for having assumed that you had dropped the magic Ring. You obviously don’t have it in your possession."
"That’s all right, your Highness," the Soldier replies. He then approaches the king and begins shaking hands with him, then embracing him. "With this my King," the Soldier whispers in the King’s ears as he holds the man’s right hand tightly, "you shall be able to realise your ambitions. And in exchange, I expect you to make me the commander-in-chief of the army."
The King glances into his right fist, puts it in his pocket and stretches his left arm around the Soldier’s shoulder.
"And now," the King addresses the Soldier while looking into the Merchant eyes for his consent, "I want you to search the Merchant’s body for the magic Ring."
The Merchant opens his arms in agreement and faces the Soldier, as the King walks away to an obscure corner of the gallery. There, the King opens a huge inlaid chest and brings out a beautiful crystal jar among thousands of glistening jewels and colourful snakes. The King’s back is toward the two other men, his movements invisible to them. His hands search for something in his pocket. He brings his hand out and breaks a crystal jar, Grandma’s Jar of Life, with the diamond centre of her magic Ring. The sky of the world darkens with thunderclouds. The intense heat of life clashes with the cold air of death and foggy rain spatters the tall windows of the Temple-Palace. A drop of blood leaks from the broken brim of the jar and a lethal haze silently comes off the blood and sinks into the earth, the Mother-Medusa’s Land. The haze covers Medusa’s head and face, suffocates all the snakes, extinguishes the fire in her petrifying eyes. The King’s face whitens with fear and his eyes narrow with anxiety. He puts the jar back inside the inlaid chest and slides the Ring into his pocket. When he joins the Soldier and the Merchant, the King is told that the Ring can’t be found in the Merchant’s pockets either, and it’s almost the end of the night.
At the dawn, the three men hear the whining of a large group of women, all dressed in black, pouring into the gallery, following a small woman who cries, "Our Grandma-Witch-Queen ... Oh, Nation of Marmara ... she is dead." And the three men follow the women out of the gallery to the Grandma-Queen’s chambers where she’s lying in her bed, her eyes closed, lifeless.
Two days later, Grandpa-King is wearing Grandma-Queen’s attire as well as her magic Ring around his right little finger. Standing on the balcony of the great Temple-Palace of the city-state, he is speaking to a large crowd of women, children and men.
"Dear citizens of Marmara Land," the King roars, "Your Grandma-Witch-Queen gave me her magic Ring hours before her death. She appointed me as her successor and called her Ring "the Almighty Ring of the Great God."
Hundreds of women and children scream, offended, objecting to the King’s announcement. But the king doesn’t pay any attention to them, turning his head toward groups of men listening to him with delight.
"From now on, following Grandma’s wish," the King commands, "the magic Ring will pass from man to man, from father to son, from Grandpa-King to his sons and his grandsons. From now on, no woman, no sister of mine, no daughter of mine, and no daughter of my daughters will be allowed to wear this almighty Ring, the magic Ring of the Great God." The crowd of men cheer and the king continues, "Moreover, I’m appointing the Soldier to the position of the commander-in-chief of the army, replacing Mother-Medusa, and I’m appointing the Merchant as my top-advisor."
Suddenly my Mother-Medusa in my dream comes forth and screams, "People, beware! Her Highness the Grandma-Witch-Queen informed me of the loss of her magic Ring the night of her death. Therefore, Grandpa-King’s claims are false. Grandma-Queen has not given her Ring to this man; but this man has stolen it from her. The Ring should never be worn by a man; it beings bad luck to humanity. It shall bring wars, mass rapes and massacres, burning or stoning of women, famine, draughts, and corruption all over the earth. Sisters, don’t listen to this traitor. A king can never rule the land while there exists a future queen.
We have our late Grandma-Queen’s younger sister, Samantha, here on the balcony." Mother-Medusa then turns to her female soldiers and shouts, "Arrest this man, Amazons; he has stolen our late Queen’s magic Ring."
As soon as the Amazons rush to the balcony, a group of male soldiers attacks them. There’s a fierce one-to-one battle between Medusa and the Soldier, and between all the other rival soldiers. Medusa’s and all the Amazons’ heads are cut off by the Soldier and the group of male soldiers who have put themselves on the side of the New Rule, the new king, the rule of Grandpa-Priest-King.
Citizens of Marmara Land are hence forced to obey Grandpa-King and worship God the Father instead of Goddess the Mother. Citizens remember the story of the theft of the Queen’s magic Ring, but they are not sure who stole it. "It couldn’t have been the King," they tell themselves, believing in the old saying that "whoever steals the magic Ring and keeps it for more than a day, shall die a terrible death." In spite of that, the King,
the commander-in-chief and the top-advisor live for three thousand years -- until today.
My Grandma-Witch-Queen and my Mother-Medusa were killed three thousand years ago and, in my dream, I am nothing but a faceless, nameless woman, motherwifedaughter of all men. I’m flying over the land of Marmara, talking to myself, "They stole my Grandma’s magic Ring, the three of them, three thousands of them, three millions of them stole her Ring. What needs to be discovered is not so much which man stole my Grandma’s magic Ring, but how on earth did they all succeed in stealing it from her.
As I’m flying in the sky, I see my Grandma, the assassinated Great Witch-Queen of three thousand years ago, who is flying too, with a flock of geese over a polluted ocean that separates the two most prosperous and violent continents of the world, where she is known as Mother Goose. She’s looking for her lost magic Ring to this day.
"We need to take back my magic Ring to save the world," she tells me as she disappears into the clouds, a queue of geese behind her, honking across the sky.
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