Mon Conte

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I took a painfully deep breath of the evening air. The sweetness of it was tantalizing, so pure that I nearly forgot the terrible prophecy which doomed me. Yet for now I stood, swaying gently in the soft wind which tugged at my hair. Of course my friends would try to free me. But there was no escaping a prophecy, and for this reason my nymph attendants had wept for days, their tears golden mirrors in the setting sun of my life.
I tensed, suddenly alert.
“He comes…” hissed my best friend, Lestia.
“Of course,” I glanced over my loving “family”, the bright, watery eyes of the nymphs expressing their fear. I could not make them suffer in my name. “You have cared for me and raised me as Oracle and Protector of the arts of mankind. You have raised me as an immortal through the Golden and the Dark Ages, yet now you will outlive me. Pray, please, parlay for the sake of the Hope in Pandora’s Jar, let goodbye suffice.”
“No! We will not let that Leonardo scum capture our mistress! In our ways as nymphs, we shall go with you!” sobbed Lestia, lieutenant of my helpers. “His stupidity can only be compensated for by his power, and he will misuse this power in false revenge for his honor. We, as vessels of the Golden Age, will not allow this sacrilege on you, the one ironically doomed to destroy our beloved mankind through this manner! The nymphs will fight for you, our mistress, the Protector!”
“Arrrgh!”
Suddenly, with a throaty yell of anguish, Leonardo daVinci forcefully broke into my realm, catapulting my helpers through the air. They landed, unmoving. Tears streaming down my face, I bolted towards the gaping maw in my haven, the darkness reflecting my coming doom. Two sets of hands roughly jerked me back, though only in time to dissolve with me as my ancient body touched the mortal land.
I now sit, watching, waiting, and mourning over the dying essence of my fragmented soul. I am entombed in a painting, forever displaying my uncertainty that cost Leonardo daVinci his honor, and me, immortality. I did not want to pose for Leonardo the Magician’s painting, so he left the court of Francis I, of France, ridiculed and taunted. In the same unscrupulous manner as I now realize is common among men, he devised a plan to embarrass and doom me. Of course, the ignorant and powerful mortal did not realize that my life-force was tied to the survival of the mortals themselves, and when my being was destroyed, the art and craftsmanship that forever defined man as a higher being, would be slowly demolished on a tangent. My remaining essence would slowly dissolve, as I watched the few, foolish mortals that strived to prevent subliminal destruction. It was with these sober thoughts that I suddenly realized I was being spoken to, spoken to in an ancient language that my dried tongue had nearly forgotten amidst cracked and drying paint. It was the language of the nymphs of the Golden Age.
“Mistress,” she croaked, obviously distraught, “I am Lestia, remember? I have heard from those filthy paintings of mortals that the Habilete Tuteurs is looking for you. Mistress, I do not wish to disappoint, but I grabbed you and came here with you and my second lieutenant, who has now died.” Lestia whispered, her arid yet silky voice growing faint, “But I am dying too, for the same reason as you, my lady. I know I am weak in dying before you, but tell me, for my dying wish, did I serve thee well?” … and her voice faded.

“No, Lestia! You cannot leave me here in this mortal world, despairing of what I could have done! Such a fate is not to be deserved by any criminal, no matter how treacherous!” I lamented. With a heaving sob which could have shaken the whole of the Louvre, I opened my glazed lids. There, standing in front of me, were two mortal ladies, elegantly dressed in the fabric of years long lost, and a young lord of the same fair age as the ladies.
“Dear Oracle and Protector of the arts of mankind,” they said softly, “we have come to release you from your Promethean torment. We are from the ancient Habilete Tuteurs organization, which your attendants founded in your honor in years long past. It is through this organization that we found you, and decreed that your soul must be released for the preservation of men. Your pure self shall inspire each and every individual to act… and save the arts of humanity. Even now, your presence is flickering, slowly dying from Leonardo’s curse. You must be released before you, as those loathsome Americans say, “crash and burn”. To be released, you must, quite literally, burn as a last sacrifice for mankind’s dignity. Without your essence, we will cease to exist as higher beings.” the young lord gently whispered.
“Yes, brave ones, I understand.” I replied, “You will, however, uphold my ancient rites of immortality, and preserve the ways for which I foolishly sacrificed myself, long ago?” I questioned, earnestly. I had lost so many attendants, followers, and friends because of a single, petty mistake. The very integrity and existence of mankind had been directly imperiled, because of me. “Good luck, fair humans, you have saved me, yet you have accepted the challenge which will save or destroy mankind. Proceed.”
I slowly burned, a final, true smile on my face as my soul drifted from me and into both the good and evil hearts of men. With a final sigh, a remnant of a sweet night many centuries ago was released from my long-parched lips. My story was freed into the new world of men, where a gentle, tugging breeze brought it silently to the human throne. Here it is hidden, waiting silently for a good soul to find it, make my secrets known, and perhaps glimpse a tantalizing image of old: a beautiful realm, with nymph attendants helping a young woman, all smiling with the ways long gone…

I am the Mona Lisa…





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