The Prince of Lilies

  • Baron

    "Today we shall commemorate the dance of the Prince of Lilies, who breathes into the vine. He who dances on the grapes, whispers into the ear, and he who shall join us tonight. Lilyprince, son of the trees and lord of that which the dappled light kisses in the woods, reveal yourself to us!"

    A young man, a volunteer from the town, steps into the circle of participants. He dons an intricate mask with thin, brazen vines and shining jewel grapes. It is the dead of night, yet the moonlight shines through the trees overhead, a dappled spotlight on the ceremony. The vineyard's grapes have grown and been sheared, but the Lilyprince has yet to be thanked.

    "It is I who is Prince of Lilies. It is I who breathes into the vine. It is I who dances on the grapes and whispers into the ear. I have joined you tonight, on this harvest night. It is I who has secured this great bounty of grapes. What say you, my recipients?"

    And on command, a chorus of man and woman erupt in response.

    "We thank you, lord of the grapes. Lord of the wood and of the dappled light. We are forever thankful for your plentiful bounty."

    With that, five young calves are brought to basins within the circle. The calves prance forward without fear before their throats are cut in five deft motions. The spilling blood fills the basins, and the priest then takes a cup and fills it with the blood. He then offers it to the man in the Lilyprince mask, who fully consumes it.

    "Your sacrifice is worthy. Now, we shall administer the rites so that the dance may begin."

    The Lilyprince volunteer then took his hand into the collected blood, letting it sit before pulling it out.

    "You may drink from the sacrifice"

    The participants then pull out smaller cups of their own and take turns collecting their fill from the basin. Normally only a sip is taken as a ceremonial act, but much to the surprise of the participants, it is indeed wine and not blood. In the collective shock of those involved, the dead sacrificed calves rise and skip over to the Prince of Lilies. None is more astonished than the priest. In his long life of conducting the harvest ritual, nothing so glaringly supernatural has happened before.

    "The dance is no place for shock and fear. Drink the wine and be merry, friends! There is a long night of revelry ahead, so don your masks now."

    Still caught in the shock of the seeming miracles witnessed, all the participants decide to follow the instructions. All but one old priest.

    "Mischievous spirit! You would dare disturb the sacred harvest ceremony? You have gone too far this time, and you will pay for what you've done here!"

    Conflicted, the participants look to each other in confusion and look to the priest and the Lilyprince. The Prince then smiles and leaps over to the priest, playfully poking his beard with his finger. Before everyone's eyes, the hairs of his beard are replaced with verdant grapevine hanging from his chin. Before the priest can process his new vine beard, the Prince of Lilies lunges into him, kissing him deeply and passionately. The priest can no longer feel the age in his joints, nor the doubt in his heart. He dons his bestial mask and puts on a leafed crown.

    "Let us begin the dance!"