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Rose de Rescht

Rose de Rescht was something of a mystery among the other Rose Knights. Said to have come from a land more mythical than real, a land that had once born the legendary name of Persia, the name she bore herself was Dutch, and the language she spoke was that of remote Chemeketa. Known as the Fuchsia Knight, the color she wore was an impossibly deep pink, so dark it was almost purple, a shade decadent and exotic, especially among the Armies of the Moon.
Rose de Rescht herself never provided any details of her background, enjoying the mystery with which she surrounded herself and the attention it drew. She was a knight, but she should have been a princess, the way she demanded the impossible from her admirers. For some reason, her admirers only seemed to love her the more for it. Poems were written in her name and roses in every shade of pink and crimson filled her modest knight's apartments in Point-of-Sleep.
Rose enjoyed the poems and flowers, enjoyed the fame of her name, even when it was rarely for chivalric or knightly reasons; she knew that the games she played furthered her true goal, to be one of the most famous knights ever to serve in the Armies of the Moon.
But as the fame of Rose de Rescht grew with the passing years, so did her fear. The sort of fame Rose enjoyed relied on beauty, and beauty declines with age. When the Fuchsia Knight discovered the first strands of gray in her glossy red hair, she began to worry. Henna and the arts of the beautician would aid her for a while, but not forever.
Rose de Rescht fought on the side of imagination but possessed little herself. The Moon was said to have powers undreamed of in their mundane world, and while she did not quite believe it, she thought it worth a try--before she turned old and gray and the admiration she lived for was no longer hers to command. And so she sought out an old woman, rumored to have spoken with the Moon herself.
Rose believed more in henna than the mythic powers of the Moon, but she would try anything once, and so she made her way through twisty alleys and dark side streets to the dwelling of the witch.
"The powers of the Moon are everywhere," a woman much younger than expected told her. "You need only open your mind to illusion."
"But how do I do that?"
The witch sighed. "I see there is nothing for it but to use a little magic dust."
"Yes, please."
"Close your eyes and repeat three times, 'I want to see the Moon.'"
Rose did as instructed. When she opened her eyes again, she was in an echoing hall, warm and white, full of reedy, silver-skinned beings. She could scarcely believe the vision before her. "It worked!"
"Of course it worked." A woman stepped forward out of the shadows, hair black as night and skin glowing like a pearl in the white hall. "I receive few enough visitors these days. What is it you seek?"
This must be the Moon--and she had skin as smooth as any child's. "I seek to retain my beauty for the rest of my life."
The Moon laughed out loud. "You who do not believe in illusion and imagination ask me this?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Everything, my dear Rose."
"But I have served you well in your army. Fifteen years!"
"You have served yourself well," the Moon said. "Not much of anyone serves me well in these times." At the words, she transformed before Rose's shocked eyes into an old hag, her clothes black as night and her hair silver.
But Rose was nothing if not stubborn. "Is there nothing I can do?"
"You already have the magic you believe in," the old woman said. "Go back to your beautician and your henna, and men will write poems to your beauty for many years to come, I promise."
Then the Moon and the hall and the strange, slight creatures faded away. Rose found herself back in the witch's dwelling.
"Was that real?" Rose asked.
"The Moon is as real as your dreams and your nightmares," the witch said.
"I don't dream."
"Somehow, I am not surprised."
Rose had the distinct impression that she had just been insulted. "Is that a crime?"
"Of course not, my dear. So, how did it go?"
The beautiful knight shrugged. "No luck. She said I already had the magic I needed. Some magic!"
I am sorry to say that the Fuchsia Knight took the Moon at her word (never a wise thing to do), and returned to her henna and her beautician. But they stood her in good stead for many, many years, as the Moon had promised. Even when she began to lose her beauty, the memory of it lingered on, serving her almost as well as her beautician. When she died, she was still referred to as a handsome woman.
And so it was that the knight who never believed in illusion proved herself a master of it until her dying day.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

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