Xanadu

Xanadu

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Deep in the jungle on the outskirts of civilization, a man is lost, confused, and scared. He’s been wandering for hours, if not days at this point, and he’s long past panicking. Somehow, he got separated from his tourist group on the edge of the forest, and he stupidly wandered further and further in, completely away from anything he can recognize. Not that he could recognize much in the first place; he’s a stranger in a strange land, now stuck in an even stranger land. He’s on the verge of collapse when he sees a shadowy figure up ahead.

“Hey!” he screams. The figure ignores him. “HELLO!!” He begins to run towards the figure, dodging strange fauna, desperately wishing for something to drink, and some food for his growling stomach.

The figure keeps slipping ahead of him, until suddenly he is at the gates of a glorious, amazing castle. He stops in his tracks, shaking his head in disbelief. A castle! What good fortune! And then everything goes black.


He awakens in the largest bed he has ever been in, covered in silk and velvet blankets. The whole room is ornate and gaudy; everything that can be made of gold or coated in sparkle has been made of gold or coated in sparkle (or both in not a few cases). The air is thick with enticing aromas: incense, spices, and fresh flowers, and he finally notices that he’s not alone. There’s a woman walking over to him now with a big tray of saffron rice and a teapot; she pours him a steaming mug of crisp white tea, which he takes gratefully. There’s women lounging in the middle of the room on luxurious pillows, reading to one another in a tongue he doesn’t understand. Every woman is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, and he’s not quite sure how he got so lucky. It doesn’t matter how he got here; he never plans on leaving.


He begins eating the rice, tasting the saffron, happy to fill his exhausted body with tasty food. The tea is strangely delicious; he cannot stop drinking it. The woman smiles at him and pours him another cup, and then another. He tries to talk to her; she answers in that language he can’t understand. “Where am I?” he asks, and her smile just broadens. “Can I please stay? I would happily marry any of these women, even if I can’t talk to any of you.” The smile doesn’t leave her face, as she suddenly answers in perfect English, “No man can live in Xanadu.” And everything goes black again.


A hard slap on the face wakes him up yet again. He’s face-up in the dirt of the forest, shaking on the ground. The tour guide has been slapping him to rouse him from his jungle mud slumber. “Where am I?!” he asks. “Where is Xanadu?!”

The tour guide stops abruptly. “Xanadu doesn’t exist, sir. I think you partook too heavily in the local delights. We need to get you back to town, immediately.”

Two other people from the group help the guide lift the man off the ground, as they begin to stumble out of the jungle. Is that true? Did he have too much to drink? Did he merely dream of that magnificent palace? He looks at his fingertips, which are stained with saffron, and decides he needs another drink.


Scent notes: fragrant white tea, grated ginger, saffron, a field of lavender swaying in a cool breeze, carrot seed oil, damp pine needles.