(A loose follow-up to The Devil Game. I liked it just as much, but it never got nearly as popular. Go figure.)
Come to me, children, and follow my way,
Into the world of Darkness and Magic.
With all my power, I’ll show you the way,
To all your dreams, hopes, and illusions.
– DHT, “Magic Melody”
With quiet reverence, you ease open the delicate wrought-iron gate and step into the moonlit night garden. The faint fragrance of roses pleases your senses, and a soft breeze lightly tousles your hair to and fro. A fountain stands immediately in front of you, its centerpiece a dreamlike, abstract bronze sculpture whose twists and turns form the vague and distorted shape of a woman. Water flows in melodious, burbling streams from the tips of what seem like the statue’s beckoning fingers. Otherwise, the place is deathly silent. A brick path circles the fountain and splits off in several directions into the tangles of semi-wild foliage that represent the garden proper. Moonlight shines through gaps between broad, tropical leaves, amongst which bloom flowers of bright blue, garnet red, velvety purple, and inky black. It is a beautiful place, and yet its surreal atmosphere is, on a subconscious level, vaguely disturbing. The atmosphere seems charged as if with faint electricity, and the whole place carries a distinct aura of waiting.
This doesn’t deter you, however. In fact, it is in large part what attracts you. The darkness, the mystery, the dreamlike atmosphere, even the shadowy undercurrent of fear and menace… these things just add to the excitement and magnificence of the garden, bewitching your senses and drawing you almost hypnotically further in along the brick path betwixt the trees, hedges, and vines. As you pass about the fountain, marveling at the clear, sparkling water, you hear the iron gate creak shut behind you of its own accord. A strangely pleasant shiver of apprehension courses down your spine as your heartbeat picks up speed. Some small, rational part of your mind wants to leave, to get out right now… but most of it still wants to go further in, to explore, regardless of what dangers might or might not be involved. For most of your largely ordinary life, you’ve wished for something… magical… to happen to you, and that’s exactly what this place is. Magical. Even if it seems to be a dark sort of magic, you can’t simply walk away and leave it behind. So, nerves abuzz, heart fluttering like a little songbird, you slowly venture down one fork of the brick path, underneath a shadowy canopy of lush foliage, deeper into the garden… (more…)