The mahogany pagoda lay like in startling contrast amongst the white sands of a massive zen garden, lacquered to reflect light in ways most liquid, crafting it to those whom have journeyed to volcanoes, a memory of obsidian amongst ashes. It lay in the midst of what was intended to be a river path between the large stones around which the rake-lines eddisoned, the lines of its construct harsh amidst the fluid curves and unbroken rippling lines which such places were normally prized for. In this way, it mirrored many other pagodas, a sentinel of human construct amidst the everchanging nature of the organic world, but such contrast is ironic considering that a zen garden isnít much of a garden at all, but merely further constructs of humanity which seek to be analogous on some level to the simplicity with which a river may find its path.
Few found their way to this pagoda, for the sight of the building often struck some unsung fear within those that espied it from wherever they had been coming, the sharpness of its visage unnatural against the rolling stony hills of shale and loam that surrounded it and the garden it dwelt within. However, someone had to maintain and change the white sands that lay within the circular valley amongst the hillocks. Someone had to bring to the small shrine that laid within the northernmost corner of the pagoda the flowers and incense that surrounded the idol of the goddess seated atop the skeletons that served as her throne. The lilies had just bloomed that morning, their crimson petals flayed open from the stamen dripping nectar amongst the coals that still burnt mostly orange, the heavy perfume of the exotic oils and herbs burning a purple smoke that clotted amongst the rafters, sending tendrils to escape to the winds that passed through the pagodaís wall-less body.
One such wind sought to carry with it the lilac streaked curls that lay loosely about the shoulders of the woman who brought the offerings for the Goddess of the Mahogany Pagoda, bringing her keen gazed attention from the silent prayers that dare not be uttered upon her coral painted lips to the beginnings of the day at hand. Within her hands lay a fan and a rake, both composed of slats of bamboo bound in silk, tails of material streaming from their respective hafts to twine amongst Vanaís delicate fingers, the stark black offsetting the white of her simple robe much as the pagoda did the surrounding sands.
Soon, the shadows of midday would determine the patterns to be raked by her deft guidance, the solace of her duty self-inflicted and born of the need for such a meditation. Her sisters said that the Goddess of the Mahogany Pagoda had the power to fulfill the desires of her pious servants, but appeasing her was not easy, for already the Coquette had spent seven days as a hermit, tending to the garden amongst the hills and bringing offerings to the shrine each morn, each day telling the Goddess of twelve deaths she had dealt, each day praying to the Goddess to take from her the weight of the grandiose battles against forces she barely understood from her soul. And each day the river pattern that the pagoda lay within seemed to grow a bit wider, as if swelling from winter thaw.