Storms and Cottages

He woke up with a start upon hearing the heavy wooden door to the cottage swing open, drenched in sweat, and his hair all disheveled, yet instinctively reaching out for the sword. Before remembering that he had lent it to her.

It was hers in the first place, said a niggling voice at the back of his mind.

“It’s just me”, she whispered to him, the quietness of the cottage hidden away from the snowstorm outside suddenly too much to bear. Her eyes drifted to his slowly healing bruises and he looked away, scowling. He waited until she had knelt by the fire to stoke it before risking another glance at her. She appeared alright, he thought, as she placed the sword beside the door.

It was much too large for her anyway.

“Why are you smiling?”, she asked, curious. He blinked at her blankly for a second, before giving her a curt nod and gingerly laying himself down again, even as she turned to unpack the medicinal herbs and plants that she had been out collecting, wary yet hopeful that they would suffice.

“Did you run into any trouble?”, he asked, and her hands shook as she remembered the horrors of a nearby village she had stumbled upon, terrorized by a pack of vicious dogs, and their even crueler masters. They had followed her into the forest,barking and laughing as she had stumbled along with the village’s orphans. A year ago, they would have hunted her down and killed her, laughing as their beasts tore her apart. But the year had been a long one, and it had changed her.

Her voice was steady when she turned to answer him, “Just some hungry dogs. But I took care of it.”

The smile on her face was a new one.

One that hadn’t been there before. And he didn’t know what it meant.

Nevertheless, he nodded in a way she had begun to interpret as relieved, and in turn, she was glad that the darkening evening kept the blood spattered sword hidden from his sight. At least until she had had the time to polish it, and feel the sharp edge of its steel, light against her skin. Just once more, and then she would return it.

She was only its guardian. It was time to let go.

He watched her gaze drift to the sword by the door, eyes full of emotions he couldn’t begin to decode. He wondered if she had been living by this underground lake for the entire year that she had been missing. He thought of telling her how he had looked for her. How far and low he had searched. How desperately he had hoped and prayed.. How hollow everything in the world had suddenly seemed to be. How he had learnt what it meant to be drowning in despair, feeling insanity clambering on to the sides of his mind; the absence of her, a raw wound that never learned to heal.

But he was not the same.

And, neither was she.

By choosing exile, by choosing this, by leaving when the war broke out, she had made a choice. Abandoning him, but also saving him from having to make any sort of choice himself. They would have never trusted him as long as she was around. Her hair was too wild, and her skin wasn’t pale enough. She would never be one of them. He would have had to make a choice..

“I can mend your weapon, you know”, he said quietly, and watched as she whirled around to face him, body taut and disbelieving, eyes boring into his, searching him for any sign of deception, or doubt.

He showed none.

“You”, she whispered. “You can fix Estel?”

He nodded, then pushed himself off the bed, swaying as his feet hit the ground. She rushed forward, her small cold hands reaching around him, steadying him as he gritted his teeth and shook his head. The Winter had hit him hard. He would need some time to recover before going ahead with his plans.

He glanced down at her worried expression, before letting his eyes drift to where her pale hands rested against his bruised skin, causing her to blush and look away. He leaned forward and closed his eyes, taking in the scent of the forest from her hair and clothes, trying to figure out where exactly they were, and how he would get them out of there. His eyes snapped open and fixed themselves on hers as he smelt the blood on her clothes, not her own, and that on her scratched and swollen wrist, her own.

She looked back at him in a confused mixture of fear and raw, aching desire.

“I can fix Estel”, he said.

Spellbound: A Tale of Wind and Fire

Freedom is exhausting

sighed the flame to the warm winter breeze

Please, scoffed the wispy wind

Like you know what it’s like to be free!

Of course I do, said the incensed flame

Boy, you don’t have a clue

and in a puff of indignation

Once shimmered, then withdrew.

It’s not that I don’t trust you,

said the Wind after a long pause

It’s just that you’re my sister,

and you tend to love things with claws

So what if I do, snarled the flame

accidentally setting things on fire

I thought freedom was all about

doing whatever your heart desires!

Stop that, said the wind, alarmed,

puffing after scattered embers

Burn the whole place down if you like

but even the Earth remembers!

You say now that you like it here,

but don’t notice your voice is fading

and every vow there was ever to keep

you’ve already thought of betraying!

So, tell me that you need to stay

and I won’t force you to leave..

but don’t tell me it makes you glad

It’s too much for me to believe!

The flame sputtered, then began to fade

as the wind floated on gently down

I didn’t mean to make you sad

I’m just tired of watching you drown.

.

Don’t you see how deep I’ve fallen

quietly said the spirit of fire

and all I can do is burn and burn

to the end of my heart’s desire

There’s always a way, said the windy faye

if you’d just stop burning to see

The World is wide, and we are young

And you were born to burn free!

But then something dark and twisted

crawled slowly within the hill,

the fiery faye crouched to the ground

and bade the wind to be still

I need some time, fiercely hissed the flame

This is just something I must do

There are things that need to be sorted out

And secrets I cannot even tell you

Abandon your quest, sister dear

vehemently whispered the wiser wind

As the flame circled the darkness below

and then looked up one last time to grin

No! cried out the willful wind

as the night came between the friends

And the flame’s parting words

echoed like some lost sentence

The lies are lies, and the truth is truth

Sister, there is no choice to make

I willingly gave all that I did

and what’s left is mine to take

And the wind, she howled, in a voice so fine

that even the Earth did shake

for what’s born of fire cannot be undone

but even the strongest spell can break.

The Ninth Crime

In the painted red dawn
of the year most recently new,
I confess I lost sight
of the way that was you.
But, after years and months,
maybe it was the least I could do..
Even if you promised no lies,
your silence speaks no truth.

And, I watched and I waited
to earn my way back into your grace
Even as my words, fated,
dissolved into your lonely space.
And, I waited until all
the colors had turned out this way.
But, the color of blood
leads even the purest astray.

And, I never was angelic,
despite what you tell yourself at night
I waited through your darkest,
but turned away moments from your light.
The smallest crimson crime,
but I know I have no excuse
The smallest, most frightened lie
Is it all still for you?

I woke up in a place
I’ve never been to before
I ran away from the windows
only to stumble through your door.
And now I’m on the outside,
locked out forever in your cold
With the sympathizing moon, the wolves
and everywhere left to go..

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.

~~~

All the Words in the World

Sometimes, the brighter words desert me
and only the gray ones remain,
Yes, blood is the color of loyalty,
but, betrayal is it’s middle name.
Sometimes, the good times are forgotten
and I go back to reading the edges of your wall
Back to back, on different planets,
I slowly watched the last star fall.

You know, the war is over; you can keep
your precious snow-covered territory
And I will recall what it was like to sleep
in the ghost of a distant memory.
How naive of me, to think you weren’t the same
especially when it came to the cold.
And this is the exile I serve in your name
when I ran out of reasons not to fold.

But, of all the things that are gone from me
I miss most the warmth that fought despair
And in the edges of shadows that arise from the dark
My ghost might still admit to care.
But, I pity your new mortal form
And our synchronized fall from grace
and for all the words that were never said
and that look upon your face.

But, where I once drowned in sorrow
I now arise from ashes, in disdain
You made your choices in the brightest ink
and I watch them run in the falling rain.
And the words I was going to use,
to explain the depths I’ve seen
They walk away, in quiet disappointment;
echoing, you shall never know what we mean.

Red and White

Nine hundred red roses
lie out to dry in the shade
Nine thousand different memories
Burn, and then begin to fade.

Words meant something to me,
but that was lifetimes ago
Now, they’re all unique
& worthless; like flakes of snow.

Their rarity made them precious
because they would not sing for me
for all that I begged and pleaded
My thoughts have forever been free.

I always looked at letters and words
as thoughts you could only bleed
in the snow, and on edges of swords
and never more than you need.

But warm Winters came to my scattered head
where there was light, and softest sound
and I grieved for the words, silenced and dead
even as I thanked the Stars I’d been found.

But, even safety nets tear, and the best plans fail
There’s nothing we know that shall stay the same
I know, you promised the sun amidst this gale
but my own words were drowning in the rain.

Please understand why I could not stay
Not when you’d so easily watch them bleed.
Nine hundred roses dry in the shade
But, my words mean the entire world to me.

And now, the traitors sing for you, they always do
so, I guess I’m just stuck with the blues
My words are cliched and awkward, but true
and the fact is that it’s all because of you.

X-X-X-X

November

It has been so cold that even the birds have left town
I saw them on their way out, the ravens crying their ominous cries.

I never learn. Once, I decided I would leave too;
go away, maybe with the eagles who were the last to leave

but their slow gliding, amidst the screeching and chaos,
only reminded me of the coldness of your arrogance,

which I once found charming, like the perfume you bought me
for my 21st birthday, tasting like something you would cherish.

Except it was not really my birthday, and so many things
have happened since, and I’m really not a child anymore.

Anyway, the last of the Eagles left town yesterday,
while I, with my bags all packed, and my hood and my cloak

stood at the highest point of the valley, where you first kissed me,
and bid them adieu, even as the rain began to turn into snow.