June 18, 2012
Deep in a cave, past unnamed horrors and undiscovered monsters, there is a little vial named Felixia. She glows with such strength in all the darkness that it seems terribly ironic that the darkness itself, with all of its mystery and horror, could not have amounted to the evil in her shallow being. The undiscovered monsters do not move to touch it, the unnamed horrors will not go near – they know something wiser than men care to learn. The contents of little Felixia swirl around inside and create vaporous patterns that sometimes look like faces, the tormented expressions on them a disturbing contrast to the pretty little silver light that Felixia shines out into the cave. She waits quietly for men to find her, for them to hear of her legend and try for her love and affection. She knows she is everything they think they could ever want, pretty and corked up for them to grab.
There are soft and quaint tales of good things, hard and epic tales of mighty heroes, and crooked and gory tales of Evil. The world seems to be spun of sayings. Little Felixia herself was first born of a story, of an innocent little saying that harbored in it the hope all people have.

The Painted Ones told of a place in the middle of the world, home to a spring that gave eternal life to those who drank from its sparkling depths. They spoke of it as a terrible curse, but that part of the rumor didn’t stick as well. Grown men and women shook their heads against the story, but deep inside they believed it in a small and important way. They, like their eager children who begged for stories like these every night, hoped desperately for something bigger than themselves, something eternal. An explorer who never seemed to shake this desperate hope heard its tale many years ago. Thinking himself brave and worthy, he set out to find the eternal spring. With him went the hearts and minds of countless people, all of them loudly denying he could ever find it. Still, they found themselves checking for news on the party, looking outside for a sign of the great Ponce de Leon and his party. Fortune did not find him worthy enough, however, and his mission failed. He died, eyes glittering, with the conviction the blessed water existed, but without evidence. With him died the hope of those who had been careless enough to let it grow, and once again they turned away from their windows and settled for the hopeful looks of their children instead, knowing it was only a matter of years before the glitter in their eyes died, too. It is said that, even to this day, no one has been able to find this water thus far, though many have tried since.
This saying, like far too many sayings, is not true.
The spring was found once, when this world and another was still one thing and there were really only two or three dimensions to speak of. It was a time many years before and very different from this one, by a young blue-eyed wizard, who heard of it from a warrior travelling through the area. The young wizard was very gifted, the best his current master, the Master Wizard of the whole country, had ever seen. His friends described him as witty and talented, his one too many ladies calling him charming before they knew they were as unique to him as the dirt he walked on. He had lean cut features, with sharp sky blue eyes and a taut but handsome smile. When he heard tell of the legendary fountain, however, the lean features became almost cruel, the taut smile thin and strange, the innocent sky blue eyes the dark and livid color of a stormy sea. To live forever, the young wizard mused, would be the ultimate destiny.
No, he thought, perhaps not quite ultimate. Grand, certainly, but the whole thing was not yet complete. Forever, the young wizard thought, was well and good, but it had to be worth living for. He thought about this many days as he trained under his master, and it haunted him before and long after he was asleep, and alarmed him right away in the morning. Several parties had already gone out to look for the fountain, and he feared they would find it before he did. His thin body grew skeletal, skin stretched tight over hard bones. The young wizard was so preoccupied with thoughts of the spring that he stopped eating and sleeping properly, doing so only when his master absolutely demanded it. One day the young wizard dropped a potion, his body too worn to hold anything for too long after restless nights. The glass hit the floor and shattered into thousands of pieces, spilling a potion the wizard had been working on for many days now. He cursed his bad luck soundly, profanity colouring every wall it could find. And then the young wizard stopped, because he had realized the answer. Luck. That was all he needed.

“To live forever as the luckiest man in the world,” he said softly to the sad purple liquid that now lay haphazardly all over the floor , “now that, that would be the ultimate destiny.”
The young wizard gathered all of the things he would need. His thin form could be seen hurrying to and fro secluded taverns and suspicious shops in town. There was muted talk that the boy had been asking strange questions about the Eternal Spring. They said he looked like some sort of wraith with his dark and glittering eyes and manic grin that snapped his skin tight over his high cheekbones. Days turned into weeks, but finally the young wizard obtained the information he was searching for. He got together his closest friends and his master after that, promising them all a sip from the spring. His Master was unwilling to go at first, but curiosity, even back then, had a unique way of endearing people to it. His friends, unsure of what to think but going along with it just in case, followed him deep into a forest, many miles away from home. They walked for days and for nights, cursing as they missed trails and had to go back, cheering as they made progress. When they chanced upon it, they were surprised.
There was no gilded fountain springing forth ethereally from the ground. No, it looked quite the same as any other spring. The only reason they knew it was the Fountain of Youth they had heard about, in fact, was because the wizard detected powerful magical energy around it, which was confirmed by the surprised and awe struck Master Wizard. Most of the wizard’s friends were very disappointed – they had expected terrible monsters to be guarding the spring, and for it to call for valiant effort. Shrugging, they knelt to the ground. As they did, the young wizard smiled his now ghastly smile at them all.
“Die, you fools!” he whispered in the ghost of what had once been a strong voice. A strange blue light erupted from his hands and, a moment later, his friends and former Master lay dead on the ground, their listless eyes still retaining some surprise. The wizard collected a vial’s worth of the spring, and performed a complicated spell. He then corked it, intent to save the drinking of it until that night, right before he killed the King. He wanted all of the people he would rule to witness his greatest accomplishment.
“Felixia!” he cooed to the little vial, “you will give me eternity!”
It was not little Felixia that gave him eternity, but Death himself. The young wizard stumbled as a fiery green light hit him, and he turned to meet the furious and failing light in the eyes of the Master Wizard. He lifted a hand and performed a final curse, and the once mighty Master Wizard, now just an old body, crumpled to the ground one last time.
It is said that the bodies were found by a young boy that had been raised by the forest. He was a wild thing, people told each other, with hair like a bird’s nest and the disturbingly wise eyes of a savage. He found it late at night, after stumbling upon the corpse of one of the wizard’s friends. He was drawn to a silvery glow some distance away. Walking towards it, he found little Felixia nestled among blood and Death, still being clasped tightly by the now decaying hands of the apprentice wizard. The boy noticed that the wizard’s other hand was buried into the ground, and he read strange letters on the ground that said FELIXIA. The wizard, the little boy thought, must have used his last strength to scratch the letters into the ground. The boy felt strange, holding Felixia. He observed the vial. In the silvery liquid, he saw a face that was gaunt, with skin stretched tight over bone and a manic grin. The boy became scared and dropped the vial quickly. It did not break. Not even when the boy tried smashing it with rocks, or throwing it against things. No, the little vial seemed to always be just out of the way of the boy’s otherwise accurate hits. It was unnaturally lucky, the little boy realized. He grew afraid of Felixia’s power and, as the legend goes, he hid it far away, in a deep and dark cave filled with unnamed horrors and undiscovered monsters, who stayed away from him. They seemed to know a terrible secret about the vial, one the boy did not care to learn.

As the story continues, the boy grew into a man, who was one day captured by other men of the same anatomy except for half a heart. They cursed him for not dressing or speaking as they did. He begged for his life, and they kept him to educate and civilize him into the heartless savages they were. When he could speak like them he told them of a seemingly lucky little silver vial deep in a cave. When they asked him what it was, they say his eyes glittered in the light.

“Felixia.” He said slowly, remembering the letters scratched into the ground. He had never forgotten that day.

Word, as words do, spread very quickly. The legend of Felixia grew to be a tale even more revered than that of its old parent, and the Spring of Eternal Youth was forgotten in favor of Forever Luck. The path to Felixia seemed fraught with danger, and the men died one by one as they tried to reach her. The once wild man got the closest, but alas, right before he reached the vial a venomous snake bit him and he died, his once good heart tainted. Many more men tried after that, but always the path to Felixia seemed cursed. Unlucky, men whispered to their friends at night when they spoke of Felixia. In order to attain eternal luck, they said, you had to brave past nearly a lifetime of bad luck. It couldn’t be done.
Not without the Right man, at any rate. The Right Man had firm grey eyes that spoke of hidden sorrow. Though he was young, he had endured many hardships. He wished to attain fame, a destiny greater than anyone else’s. To live forever, he mused, would be the ultimate destiny.

His journey was a long and sorrowful one. His group members all died horrible deaths, one by one, some by strange, skeletal creatures that skulked inside the cave, others by carelessness. The warrior himself fought for many hours against giant things he couldn’t see but could hear, sometimes feel, clicking and shifting through the dark, the only real vision that aided him was that of their white teeth and stingers flashing through the air to reach him past armor and skin. It seemed like eternity until, worn and panting, he finally reached Felixia.

By the silver light of the vial the warrior saw a bony hand stretched toward the vial - a man who would reach forever for his hope. In contrast to the stark white bones the warrior saw a powerful and twisting body. An angry hiss cut through the dark, and the long form reared up suddenly. The snake had gleaming yellow eyes, and a black forked tongue that whipped through the air. The warrior saw its cruel expression before it was gone in a flash. He swung his sword as wickedly curved fangs slashed into the air next to his head. There was a thud, then silence.
The warrior sat down on the rock and picked up the vial, staring at it for a long time. He understood that the vaporous faces were those that had died for Felixia. Felixia was showing him how special she was, by telling him how many men had fought for her, knowing the price they might pay. The warrior was seized by pride that he, among all others, had been the Right Man. He had won. He sat heavily down on a rock, looking at his great prize, happiness washing over him. He had achieved this, he knew, through endurance, his skill with a sword, his sharp observation. He closed his eyes. Fame and his ultimate destiny were now in view. He had done all of it, all on his own – with seemingly the worst luck possible. The warrior stopped, his grey eyes very wide. His expression changed to a frown suddenly. He looked down at the vial.
He saw his own clear, unclouded grey eyes in the reflection of the glass that held the cloudy and silvery liquid. The face of a gaunt man stared back at him. The warrior thought he saw those eyes glitter. The expression was manic and a little vacant. It was devoid of everything but greed, which the warrior had once mistaken for happiness. He sighed, and set Felixia down carefully on the rock she had once been on. Then he turned around, and left the cave. The monsters left him alone.
He lived a hard life after that, and was finally killed in a battle with a younger man who, they say, just got in a lucky hit, for only luck could have escaped the great warrior’s sharp observations. No one knows if this is true, but they do know that the mighty warrior died with his head held high. There is a statue honoring him for his nobility, skill, and endurance.
Mostly, however, the statue honors him for his bravery. He was far braver than most of them knew. Many miles away, years after the fierce and mighty warrior, Felixia waits, tempting men to come and find her as she had done many years before the grey-eyes man who once dreamed of fame. They don’t all know, she knows, what the unknown horrors and undiscovered monsters know. No, that knowledge is something far wiser than most men care to learn.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

j.Jaishri.a This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm
You're definitely right about the level of explaining - this is an older piece of mine and I wanted to see how others judged it. I'm glad that it managed to capture your imagination! I will think about writing some sort of sequel to it. In the meantime, you've made my day! Thank you!
4qui133 said...
Jul. 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm
this is very, very good! I love the intrigue and the story-passed-down-through generations atmosphere! If you were to write a sequal, or any kind of follow up, you could create a very strong central protagonist who does finaly rw\each and drink the bottel, and then take it anywhere--maybe make him a lech or something; it's all up to your imagination! The only thing to watch would be the level of explianing you do. Beautiful writing!
j.Jaishri.a This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 3, 2012 at 10:51 am
You're definitely right about the level of explaining - this is an older piece of mine and I wanted to see how others judged it. I'm glad that it managed to capture your imagination! I will think about writing some sort of sequel to it. In the meantime, you've made my day! Thank you!
strangeandbitterfriends155 replied...
Jul. 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm
Often the older peices are the better ones...no, i won't make cynical social comentary there.  I am so glad it made you happy!
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