Fathomless loss, oh young maiden of the Sun,
Covers your once auburn complexion.
Bone white yet, a glowing reflection
Stirs amid the teary lake that has finally won.
O’ Helen, Ophelia; Athena’s Wisdom falters
At these diverging paths reached. Hold
Out your hands and drink the question
Untold. It’ll serve the bold for no gold.
A soulful debt sold neither to kings nor altars.
You’ll set off towards uncharted waters
’til the olive branches become your halters.
To find us both here at the same end.
The ladder’s rungs give way and bend.
Can you even see? Perhaps the wanderlust lingers
Within your eyes like a sickness. Stay and defend;
Orders taken to the heart but in your hands splinters
Fester. Where could we ever find escape? Please, lend
Me a glance of empathy in all this. Coldest of all Winters.
Visibility close to zero. Blasts of cold nip my fingers
Raw and frozen. Chained by icy hearts and integers.
Two friends grasping at a primordial fire
In an attempt to better mankind. To tend
And to witness unless we give into our ire.
When this fateful storm finds its solemn end
We’ll drift away to somewhere we can mend.
Desolation. The scenery, a snowy tundra, begins blurring into an expansive desert. I begin to feel the change in temperature. I look around for any landmarks or signs of life. Nothing. The barren land is just that. Barren. I attempt taking a step forward but nothing. I try harder. A staggering headache stifles me.
Something burrows out of the sand. An old elf wearing sand covered rags climbs up with metal trinkets. He waves for me to come help him. Before I could even react I start rushing over towards the hole. Two patchwork bags rest at the bottom. I grab them and hurry to the elf.
“The ancient tower still holds many secrets. But I couldn’t get further. Its ancient guards are too much for anyone. I found these while they chased some other robbers. Those old constructs keep modifying themselves. Technology we can’t even imagine. At least with the scraps I grabbed we can trade for some rations. By the way, did you see any military caravans passing by?” He asks as if we knew each other.
“No. Only wind and more sand.” I answer without a thought. The experience gets weirder and weirder. Neither can I move nor can I speak. Something else controls me. Is this a memory? Or something else?
“I see. In that case we better go to the fence to trade in the scraps. These lands have become a lot more hostile than in decades past. I remember when I first came here. The military never came here, the Unbounded didn’t exist, and the other exiles weren’t so animalistic. It’s a scary place. And the tower had far less security measures.”
“I still have never seen the tower. Is it really that bad?”
“Let’s just say I hope you never do. Most people can’t survive even a few seconds down there. They, the guardians, run on some infinite source of energy from centuries past. And they continue the orders they were given. Excavate, learn, evolve, protect. They repeat those words endlessly. I wonder why such machines exist at all. Why is the tower so important?”
“Maybe the humans back discovered a way to tap into the world tree?”
“Well, if they did that explains why their civilization fell. That tree, although called holy by the rest of the elves, only brings the end. I was exiled for trying to burn the tree down. And why were you?”
“I saw something that the others were afraid of while I was a Priestess of Time.”
“huh? Something bad enough to make you join up with a terrorist like me? Interesting. I won’t ask you anymore until you’re ready.”
A breath of cold extinguishes my feet. The ashes the wind carries meet a silky layer of snow. I stand here between a gentle touch and a bitter gnawing, a borderline. My prideful words harden in my throat; a sign appears asking me where to. I clamp my teeth together as I step into the unknown icy realm.
The forest door of branches and vines wilts away revealing two intertwined trees. I walk around them. How? Is it a passage or something more? I touch the trees but I fall backwards. Stinging sorrow and ever consuming love overflows from them. I kneel down and try again. This time I focus on the emotions to bring the truth to the surface.
Frost cracks from the branches releasing two flurries. These flurries materialize into two elven children holding hands. The hands frostbitten and frozen together. They skip around in joy. Little laughs echo throughout the barren tundra. I look at them like they’re a happy photo beneath a broken frame. My heart aches at the sight creating a deep hole. A chasm, an innumerable amount of time between then and now.
I follow them with Daefyr wading in my shadow. Every step takes me closer into the despair that befell these two. I shiver from the cold but I couldn’t conjure up any fire. I hold myself with my own arms trying to stay warm. Freezing gusts of air and snow slice at me. No matter what I do the cold pierces me. I’m at its mercy.
The farther we go the thicker the snowfall gets. My eyes cannot see more than a few feet in front of me. Suddenly the elves stop dancing. I press my feet into the snow to gain enough traction to stop as well. They turn towards me then point forward and fade away with the wind. I slowly step forward until my toes reach the end of land. A steep cliff lays before me.
I sit down with my legs dangling over. My hands grip the ledge and trace the grooves of stone. Everything feels right except for two small holes. I begin shaking. What happened here? Those children died. But. . .why are they happy? Daefyr rubs his wet, cold nose against my chest. He pushes me into the snow. See the truth, young master.
In the distant a scream scrapes through the shivering cold. A voice more like rusty metal creaking in the wind. I squint to see further but only the scream becomes clearer. A cry for help that time now distorts. The pain is a singularity of emotion that nothing escapes from especially time. Suffering. I reach my hand out.
“How. . .no, why?” suddenly a thin tendril of ice flies pass me. Energy reverberates in the ice until it resonates a deafening tone. I cover my ears and roll away from it. The ice explodes into a cloud of shards.
“No. Nobody did. But that time is gone.”
“Because you choose to. You can move on now.”
“Only the living have that gift.”
“No. All things exist in cycles. That includes you. You’re lost. You don’t know where to go. Let me guide you.” I reach out my hand. The ghost grabs my hand but the bitterness and pain starts freezing my hand. I grit my teeth. When the ghost notices it tries to let go. I grab tighter.
The smoke spreads around like a thick fog. I watch the light haze over and listen to the trees creak. An ancient energy surges through every rock, tree, blade of grass, and creature in the forest. The branches reach downward opening a path lit by spheres of light. I look down the path and see visages in the smoke. They call and beckon as brambles chase away these wandering visitors.
I close my eyes. One, two, three; the way opens up before me. Take it. Before I even move Daefyr paws at my leg. A warmth overflows my core. Cool flames begin coming out from the back of my limbs. The flames appear on Daefyr as well. My feet tingle with anticipation and adrenaline. I make a quick dash but my speed trips me. I scrape my knees on the thorny brambles. Seeing me fail terribly Daefyr drags me to the base of a tree.
The scent of dew and honey fills my nose. I try to resist to no avail. The intense fragrance lulls me into a trance. I see shades of multiple bright colors join with the smoke. In my addled state I follow the colors. They merge and divide quite randomly. My mind keeps telling me to ignore them yet I can’t resist.
A sense of madness stirs within me. I fear it and still I embrace it too. The colors seep into my saturated heart. Crimson red drips into sky blue. My hands shake between sorrow and rage. Forever hiding the truth of my own weakness. I lean my back against a tree and close my eyes.
“I must stay on my path. That sweet and vibrant existence isn’t mine. I’d be too weak to protect it. Daefyr and I might be forbidden from our home but we can’t take yours, dear elves. Being honest. Our struggles create who we are and to trade them away seems wrong. Or to repress them. I’ll be off now.” I pat my thighs and stand back up.
My footsteps burn away ill brambles freeing the wanderers. the spheres of light rise towards the dew encrusted canopy. But I follow wherever these feet fall. I look around some. The Autumn leaves gingerly float down, wildlife frolics around in a blissful communion with nature, and I care for this Grand Garden.
I reach up into a spruce tree. A conifer branch‘s needles scratch at my hand. I carefully break off the end of a branch. The strong smell it secretes tinges the air. Using a blade of grass I tie the end and place the bundle on a flat rock. I look at the burning Sun then focus on the bundle. Thoughts of warmth and greed pollute my empty mind.
From the immaterial a form emerges. A burning sensation spreads through the individual cells in my arm. I wince from the pain. My cells start feeling as if the moisture starts boiling. I gasp for air. The feeling calms down a little and I begin focusing on the bundle again. The spruce needles move back and forth as if by the wind.
A spark sets the bundle ablaze. The smell of spruce fills the air even heavier now. I clear my throat and begin chanting a few words:
“The way is lost. We pay the cost of nature’s host for a toast. By the very circles and forlorn passages we come bearing the words of men. Must we be lost or can be found? The way remains lost. We ask the ghost of the forest to guide us. Hear us.”
A form materializes from the smoke. It beckons to me like a beautiful woman. My legs move without my consent and the smoke touches my cheek. I loosen my muscles up, the thick air shimmers around me, Daefyr watches from a few yards away, and daylight cascades through the treetops. The spirit dances for a few minutes.
“I hear thee. The lost. Seekers of the West caught between elven sorrow and human wrath. Will you cure the wound or infect it? The blood in you tastes sweet yet sour like berries. To prove yourself as not poison walk through these forlorn passages. Where brambles doth recede for soft feet to tread.” her mystic words choke the air and burn in my chest.
The light; concrete or abstract
Somehow we find ways to subtract,
Extract the heart beating inside.
Held down by a chosen destiny like the path had been set long ago.
And now when I’m looking in the eyes
Of others there’s a pestilence growing inside.
I’m just asking where does the heart reside
Now? Cast the die and take a ride
Through the bountiful gardens of decadents.
The day when it rains I wonder if it’s like a cadence or is it like an emptiness.
Are we living inside a trance?
Move by move we dance
Along to the melancholy tune.
I’m asking for a different kind of light coming from inside.
I ain’t looking for an ecclesiastical view, much less an optimistic one, just something to tell me that you feel. It feels like I’m surrounded by hollow men.
Abominations without a heart
But plenty of matches to start
A fire upon the fields of Eden.
What is this that we’ re feeding?
Ego, self pride, self-worth; neuroses plaguing the conscience and warping the outlook on life. Like a fish we took the hook for a little bait. So tell me where is the light now?
Did we snuff it out?
With a puff the candle went out.
The hardest bark and thinnest blade of grass;
Reality and dreams – caught on the shoals
Of a sea where the known and unknown
Wage war. A pendulum swinging back and fro.
Caught in the tides to which we never let go
And we become slaves to. We who own
The world actually own nothing. Fools,
Proving themselves with wealth and brass.
A darkness grows from this discrepancy.
These deeds corrupt the primal forces
Born ages before humanity. Destruction.
Is this a law of motion or simply karma?
The Dragacian people were not ready.
Fanatical beasts pour out at a steady,
Unnerving rate. Again, they were not ready.
Hatred it seeps into our hearts filling it black,
The day comes when the dawn will no longer break,
we forget who we are and who they are. A war begins.
We could walk away. Why don’t we? We could.
The differences between us never justify.
To take is to steal for we weren’t given this earth.
Question what you were told. They lied.
The world allows us to be here.
If we betray the kindness how can we say it’s unfair?
Let’s walk away. The march forward we can’t share.