Five Reapers: Death Metal

They say, in the land with the five reapers, that quicksilver is the symbol of death.

It is liquid, and one cannot escape a liquid. What would stop a rolling stone, it simply flows around; what the air would not have the weight to move, it overwhelms. Quicksilver is captivating. Like water, it beads up, it flows, down and around; it comes apart but returns to itself without a sign that it had ever broken. Its luster draws the eye, like silver, like gold, and yet it is unlike any metal. Quicksilver hides its secrets. That which falls into water sinks, but can be seen; but what sinks in quicksilver one cannot see, and the surface soon closes over it. So too is death. So flexible, and yet so inexorable: in the end, the assassin will come, the lady will lose her patience, the adventurer will propose a greater challenge, the bureaucrat will point to his book, the child will become bored. So captivating: how many of the living does it not at some point preoccupy, with fear, with curiosity, sometimes even with desire? And in the end, that which dies is covered, hidden, lost to us.

So by quicksilver, you will know Death when it comes to call, regardless of which of the five it may be. By the silver that sits like blood on his hands may you know the assassin, should you see him before you die. The lady may you know by the droplets of quicksilver that cling to her dark hair, as if she had walked through a light rain, and the hint of silver on her lips. The adventurer you will know by the silver of his eyes, those eyes that see always a larger world. For the bureaucrat the silver is ink; it rests on the title of his book and in the pages. And the child you will know by the silver on her nails. In their worlds beyond, even the water is quicksilver; the dead drink it, swim in it, splash it over their hair. One cannot see the bottoms of the streams, and the ocean itself, where the sun shines, is an endless expanse of light.

It is by quicksilver that the border between death and life is both drawn and broken. Held by the living, with nothing between to intercede for them, it saps away their life. Those dead who swim in the lakes and the rivers, who submerge themselves in that ocean that casts back the light of their silent sun—they say that that is how they appear in dreams, and that too long in that shining liquid, and they find themselves facing rebirth. Some even say that a doll to which quicksilver has been applied in certain places can be used to contact the dead themselves.


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