The Tower of Peace // Shelter from the Storm

She ran through the rain, the cold water dripping down the sides of her face and into the flowery dress that now clung scandalously to her body. The sun hovered lazily at the edge of the horizon, darkness only moments away. It was not far now. The Tower. She could already see it in the distance, rising up to the faintly star-studded sky, perfectly camouflaged against its surroundings. Hidden away from everybody else. It was sanctuary, her refuge. And as she made her way through the dense jungle, eyes focused only on her destination, she nearly stumbled and fell into a deep puddle of disturbed water. A stab of pain in her right ankle accompanied her regaining her balance. This was no time to fall.

Not much further now..

He was waiting at the foot of the tower when she got there. ‘You’re all drenched,’ he said, smiling. She wanted to throw herself into his arms like the long lost friends that they were. Instead, she insipidly nodded, looking around to see what had changed since the last time she had visited him here. The garden had grown wild, and there were flowers everywhere, yet she could see that he thought they bloomed to spite him, and she did her best not to speak of them or even think of them.

The flowers rustled quietly in the wind, as if begging to be touched.

Instead, she reached out and touched him, once, gently, the skin above his collar warm against her icy fingers. (Though perhaps that was the rain’s fault) She would have kissed him then, too, but they were supposed to be adults, and she was supposed to be a certain way that existed between two narrow lines of acceptable behavior. She satisfied herself by studying his profile instead, and as he spoke to her of troubles and amusements, she ached to run her fingers through his midnight hair. He smiled at her indulgently as she concentrated on the pieces of him that she could still see, that were still open to her, and then he turned away, leaving her to make her own way up the tower. It would take him a while to put away his weapons, lead the horses back to their stables and then join her. So she climbed the endless spiraling staircase herself, fingers curled around the cold railing in the dark, ankle still throbbing with a dull pain that she tried her best to ignore, water still dripping down her body in tiny rivulets and large drops.

It was a long way down.

Standing at the top, she felt a rush of giddy feeling sweeping over her. Perhaps things were finally changing for the better. Perhaps, the war was finally done with them. Perhaps, tonight, they could begin rebuilding everything that the fire had destroyed. Perhaps he would even remember what he had once sworn to her, a long long time ago, before the first war had started. But, somewhere within, she already knew what he always had; that the damage was done.

There was no going back.

Still, she thought wistfully, as she heard the wooden door rattle, and rushed to the door to let him in, beaming from ear to ear even as he breathed deeply, in an attempt to catch his breath after the steep climb. His hair was disheveled and wild as he stripped away his sweat soaked shirt and changed into the torn colorless gray garb that he seemed to favor. His eyes were always tired, even before the war, but lately it felt like even his own smiles stopped before they could reach his eyes. Still, he was beautiful to her.

And she smiled as she touched him again.

War or no war, every single ounce of pain was worth being able to stand here, so close to him, worth being able to touch him, even if he distractedly moved her hand away, or quickly sat down to pour over his books and maps before she had even finished saying what she was saying. It wasn’t important, surely. Not as vital as this memory of a present yet to be transformed into the past. His eyes glowed tirelessly as he sat at his desk late into the night, and she watched him sitting there for hours, until sleep tugged at her eye-lids and dragged her to its realm. Even then, she only truly breathed easy when she felt him climb into bed with her, his presence all the reassurance that she had ever needed.

The nights were the hardest part of her exile.

But in the present, (or maybe it was already the past, she thought sadly), her hand sought his as the World continued its indiscriminate and cruelly pre-meditated murdering and looting by bombs and missiles and soldiers all around their fortified turret. And even though he drew away from her subconscious need to feel his skin against her own, they both sighed peacefully and leaned into one another.

Like the last two trees in a parched desert.

Advertisements

Waking Wendy – I

The storm colored sky stretched out into eternity, as two lone figures stood beneath it, the only sound above the waves of the distant ocean being that of the wind whipping the edges of their long coats against the rustling uncut grass.

“When will things change?” asked the girl in gray.

The boy shook his head, letting multicolored drops of rain fall about them, “When you wake up.”

Her wide eyed gaze sought out the distant horizon, full of only the unknown. “Are you sure?”, she asked, biting her lip.

“Yes”, he smiled, before leaning closer, “Wake up, Wendy..”

~~~

The building wasn’t that tall, but four floors is still high enough to kill. Especially when you add in the 2 feet of the railing and the ledge, said the slurring voice in her head, and she burst into a fit of giggles, her waif like form shaking in mirth on the railing on which she was precariously perched. The moon looked on disapprovingly, but she drank to his health until even he forgave her, smiling reluctantly at her antics. After all, there is no dark side in the moon, really. And she gave him something to watch.

Alas, the watchmen have seen everything. And the moon is the oldest of them all. He soon tired of her childish games. It was time for something harder. And with magical dawns and falling stars and lighted paths, he led her astray into the wild.

“What do you want from me?”, she cried out suddenly, tired of the changing ground beneath her feet.

“I need you to wake up”, shouted back the moon. “Can’t you see what’s happening around you??”

But she only cried out louder, and shut her eyes tighter. She knew what the Moon wanted to show her, and she did not wish to see.

“Wake up, Wendy”, he whispered, almost lovingly, before withdrawing, once more, into silence.

~~~

He then spent years cleverly shaping her path, leading her slowly towards the palace of a dragon. For, even though there is no dark side in the moon, really; Matter of fact, it’s all dark.

Luckily for her, it wasn’t a particularly old dragon, for those are as weary as they are wise. Of course, this particular one was a little weary and wise himself, but he could not help it; all dragons must be.

“Why have you come here?”, asked the Dragon in his menacing voice, towering over the girl who had long shed her gray robes for black. “I’ve always wanted to meet a Dragon” she said, reverentially. “But, how did you know where to find me?”, asked the Dragon, surprised. “I heard your voice across the ocean a hundred years ago”, said the girl, “and I’ve been looking for you ever since”. The dragon studied her incredulously before swooping down and pulling her on to himself. In ecstacy, she watched the sky change colors and the clouds float on besides them, as they flew over towns and castles, showing her the World she had almost stopped believing in. The moon looked on in jealousy, but the girl had eyes only for the dragon.

But the sky had touched her with its ink, long before she had had any choice in the matter. And now, she was forever haunted by the dark. “Why won’t this stop?”, she cried into the dragon’s chest, his wing locked protectively around her.

“You know what you have to do”, he whispered soothingly, wiping the tears falling from her eyes.

“Wake up, Wendy..”

~~

But she was finally happy, and it didn’t seem fair to have to wake up just when things were getting better. She adorned the dragon’s head with flowers, and forbade him from ever speaking of it again. Of course Dragons don’t listen, but she was clever enough to remember that whether good or evil, they are creatures of their word. So she offered an exchange. That was how he got the third part of her fragmented heart. And as they flew higher and higher into the sun, she began to burn. Until the dragon noticed the edges of her hair were on fire, that is.

He immediately plummeted to the ground, crashing into a group of trees in his hurry to get her down to Earth safely. She tumbled off his back into the grass beneath, laughing. “That was amazing!” She raised her arms up, towards the Dragon. “Let’s do that again.” But the Dragon was saddened by her burning cloak, even when he saw glimpses of the red dress she had on underneath her burnt and tattered armor.

They’re only clothes, love, she wanted to say.

But night was falling, and before they knew it, winter was here. The Dragon was often gone for hours hunting, or flying, or doing whatever it is that dragons do. She did not know. All she knew was that when he was gone, she was cold. And she hated bringing it up, because she knew it made him think of the sun. And when he got like that, she didn’t know what he was after. So, she left him alone, and during one particularly frosty spell, she slowly froze into a picturesque statue.

The Dragon didn’t return for months, so he never even found out. In fact, it was quite undragonlike of him to do so in the first place, but he needed the thrill of the hunt a little more than he may ever needed her. It was a simple calculation really.

At least that’s what the village children say. But what do they knew? They’re idiots. Especially the young boys who liked to make faces at her frozen statue as she stood next to a shrine, painfully aware of every passing lifetime. He’ll come back, she whispered to herself fervently, her thoughts icy cold inside her mind.

But he didn’t.. At least not in time. And one night, a few of the boys hopped over the little fence that surrounded her in order to get a better look at her. She managed to slip away from them, only to fall to the ground and shatter into a million pieces. The boys scattered back to their homes, even as she slowly melted in the rays of the rising sun.

The Sun, she remembered fondly, and then closed her eyes, sliding down into a passing river that was making its way towards the sea. The Sea where the Dragon went hunting… She sat up at once, all the pieces of her focusing themselves into who she needed to be.

“Why don’t you look for a wizard, dear? You look like you need one.” called out an old lady from a passing boat.

The girl began to laugh again, and her tattered robes fell off her shoulders, only to reveal a beautiful red gown that now hung loosely from her fragile form. “No ordinary wizard can help me, old mother”, she cried, even as the river tried to soothe her “Can’t you see? I’ve been cursed by a Dragon.” The old woman turned and  hastened the boat away. For everyone knows how ancient the magic of a dragon is. And no one wanted to involve themselves in this tale.

The Dragon found her floundering about in the Sea, surprised to see her oddly rearranged form swimming in the cold winter sea. She raised up her trembling arms, and the dragon lifted her into the air, gently gathering her broken pieces that fell back into the reluctant river. “He’s not going to hurt me, River” she said, so tired that she had begun to slur, “Well, not much. But I’m not that weak!” The Dragon looked at her flowing gown and growled softly at the scent of the village boys about her.

“Why didn’t you come back?”, she finally asked, her voice a trembling whisper. “I never left”, he replied, quietly. She didn’t believe him, but pieces of her began to, and after years and years of icy solitude, it was simply too much to take, and she burst into tears. “What do you want from me?”, she cried.

He growled at her again and transformed into a wizard before her very eyes. She took a wary step back even as he smiled at her, wolfishly.

“You know what you have to do, little girl”, said the Wizard-who-used-to-be-a-Dragon as he moved in closer towards her, somehow so much more menacing than he had ever been as a Dragon.

“What?”, she whispered, her breath warm against his cheek.

He kissed her for a moment, before pulling away and cursing out reluctantly, “Wake up, Wendy.”

Strange Dream

A little boy, about three years of age, runs awkwardly after a ball, laughing delightedly as a young couple – probably the parents – look on. A young girl, with dark tousled hair, stands on an iron gate that slowly swings open and shut. The house behind her is dark and ominous, but her eyes are darker still. A sudden fire takes on the field opposite. People are screaming and running, and everything is a sea of red, until there’s a familiar soothing voice calling for calm, even as a mad little girl, wearing a dragon helmet, hops away with the elves into the surrounding woods.

The crowd gives the crowned crones chance and chance again to redeem themselves. The crowd gets no second chance. And the Mother of the Earth drinks in the blood of a million of her children, and cries in silent anguish. Especially at the blood of the innocent. And it lines the snow, no matter how much snow falls. The Blood is Strong.

A little girl laughs, as she kneels in the dirt, surrounded by four little pups leaping as they try to reach at her face. A shadow falls on a village. It begins to rain. And, it never stops. Someone mentions that it’s raining blood, and I hold out my hand only to see that it’s true. But, it is not only blood that the rain stands for. Red is the color of Passion. Red is the color of Rage. Red is the color of Lust, of Betrayal, and yes, of Blood. But, it all begins and ends with Love.

It’s still raining when we meet the gray wolf. He sees only me. And the ice begins to melt, but it never stops raining. He begins to run, slowly at first, and it is easy to keep up. But, soon, we are racing across lands so vast that my head would spin, were I not so keen on keeping up. And the wolf stops, and I think, maybe I’m a wolf too.

But then I notice the dress I’m wearing, and it’s the wrong color. I never wear white. But, it’s snowing everywhere and there’s no other way not to be seen. The Wolf growls and suddenly we’re running again, only this time, it’s fear and panic, and thorns tear at my skin and dress alike, the wolf moving further and further away.

And, suddenly, I have fallen.

A fat king laughs at a jester’s joke, while in the woods the lions roar and the wolves howl and no man dares to go. The wind is cold, and the rain is even colder. It stings the flesh as it falls, and the King’s court titters and flees from the storm. Their pleasant tones and colorful garbs hiding terrible, vile secrets; secrets they trade amongst each other, even as they profess their loyalty to the realm. In the distance, the wolves begin to howl.

 Only Blood can pay the price of blood, he says, his eyes half-mad with the ghost of his child. The fire only burns higher and higher, as two infants shriek endlessly into the night.

“Confess!” shouts an ancient priest, and a raven caws noisily at the girl’s shoulder, even as she turns around to look me straight in the eye. When she doesn’t answer, soldiers come and drag her out the giant hall, but she never looks away. I want to tell her that it’s no use, and that I’m only dreaming, but she looks like me, and I think she already knows.

Suddenly, everything is burning. The horns are sounding. And, outside the walls of the tower, the city erupts in madness.  For an instant, it is a lifetime ago, and a fair-headed young child embraces her older brother warmly as he returns from a hunt. In the tower, the girl’s eyes are as fevered as the King’s. Her brother kisses her brow, and she finally falls asleep. Her brother begins to cry.

Only Blood can pay for Blood.

A lonely howl fills the night air.

But the infants have been silenced.

Until the skies themselves begin to rain fire.

~~~