Saturday, March 27, 2010

Part 3 [Untitled]

When the soldier had walked a ways, bearing the satchel on his shoulder an the burden of the hot sun on his back, he stopped for a while to rest under a wide-spread oak tree. The shade and cool green grass soothed him quickly. Renaund sunk his fingers into the dark moist earth closer to the tree's roots. It was good, fine dirt. Untapped life that just lay beside the road waiting to give birth.

He felt an ache in his gut that surpassed his growling stomach. Deep within this seasoned warrior was the desire to create. He wanted to see the earth give into the sweet love song of spring and produce tiny blossoms and shafts of green in loose rich soil, with all the abandonment of Proserpina's seduction.

But he had far yet to go on his journey. His destination lay miles to the West of him and even now the thought of it made his limbs sore and his spirit flicker at the coming trials. He was on this long road with no friend to walk beside him, or servant to share the load. Renaund's awareness of his forlorn situation deepened as he pondered the deities that brought solace to so many.

His thoughts did not often stray down this path. It was one he had explored briefly as a younger man, but he had found the cost too great and the only treasure gained was more rules to abide by and more duties to be observed. Renaund considered himself a man recently freed from both and saw no point being owned by a new master so soon. Though, the journey ahead of him whispered eerie tales of wandering nights and lonely roads. He understood the temptation to believe in some higher being who would cover you with the light of protection, to have someone helping, a person to be there beside you as you stride into the unknown. Instead of making the trek alone.

Shoving aside the dark thoughts that pervaded his mind, Renaund stood up. He glanced above him at the gnarled curling branches of the oak. Stretching his arms high, the soldier grasped a low hanging limb. Lifting his feet he hung there for a few seconds, swinging like a school boy from the great tree.

Laughing quietly to himself, the tall muscular man dropped to his feet. His dark hair fell in his eyes and as he brushed it back, he spotted something moving towards him. Turning quickly he saw what appeared to be an old man leading a lame mare.

Renaund relaxed a bit and approached the fellow traveler.

"Good morrow, sir. I see your horse is lame."

The white haired man stopped and chuckled a bit as he patted the mare's neck.

"Yes. She tends to out do herself quickly these days, but we get on, don't we Mave?"

The brown horse shifted her stance and gave a soft nicker. Renaund looked her over, observing the mud-caked flank and lifted hoof. The condition of the mare's coat matched that of her owner's. They both looked like they had been traveling for some days now, if not weeks. There were a few bags slung over the horse's back but none of them seemed more than half full. He doubted very much that this old man had more than two coins to rub together.

The solitariness of this stranger's situation, touched Renaund. He felt compassion for his plight and wished he had the means to help the old man and his gentle mare continue their trip. Clearing his throat, Renaund offered to examine the injured mare and the aged traveler agreed with a wink of his twinkling blue eyes. So the soldier stepped forward and began to carefully examine the horse while its owner rested in the shade of the oak.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Part 2 [Untitled]

Her eyes opened just enough to glare angrily at the gap in the curtain, where morning sunshine was allowed to stream inside. Yanking the tapestry towards her, the young girl swore at a whistling mockingbird and flipped over. She pounded the pillow with her fist and settled in to wait for the darkness to soothe her. Without these curtains around my bed, I might never get any peace. 

The lulling numbness of sleep had overpowered the girl for hours before the next interruption came. The sound was muffled at first and then grew louder as the curtains swished back on their rod and swung against the bedposts. 

"Get up, my little dove. Rise and great the fading day!"

The high-pitched warble that roused the sleeping girl from her sleep was insistent in its cheerfulness. Try as she might to remain in that dreamland of glittering trees and silver water, there was that persistent chirp in her ear repeating her name over and over, "Faileuba, Faileuba, Faileuba, Faileuba, Faileuba..." until she had no option but to turn over, open her eyes, and surrender to the waking world. 

"Enough Veneranda. I am awake."

Her little sister smiled brightly and scratched her nose. "Splendid, my darling. Now you must think seriously about sitting up!" Veneranda's blonde eyebrows raised themselves high to emphasize her point. 

With an exasperated sigh Faileuba flung the covers away from her body and stretched. Sitting up and snatching her robe off the end of the bed, she proceeded to scowl and mumble while Veneranda chattered away like a magpie. The older girl half-listened as she knotted the robe's sash, thrashed a brush through her hair - just enough to be presentable - and splashed some cold water onto her face. As she reached for a dry linen, her toes inched off the fur rug and hit chilly stone. Faileube swore right in the middle of Veneranda recounting how she had helped the cook shoo the baby chicks back into the pen. 

The young storyteller cleared her throat, visibly annoyed, and with all the grace that she had inherited through generations of good bloodlines, the petite blonde girl flipped her hair over her shoulder, tilted her chin to the ceiling and sent an icy glare across the room to her sister. Though Faileuba was older there was still an expected level of respect. She curtsied in deference and offered a small smile "I ask your forgiveness, Princess Veneranda. I misspoke and interrupted you. Please be so gracious as to continue."

Satisfied as quickly as she was offended, the little princess plopped down onto the bed and with a grin she continued her tale. Though Faileuba was grateful the situation with her sister had been resolved, she still needed to rectify her own discomfort. Sticking fastidiously to the rugs and carpets scattered across her room, she crossed to a large shrunk and swung open the double doors. 


Luckily for Faileube, her sister has finished her story by now, so the sudden oath did not upset her this time. Instead, it prompted her to hop off the bed and flit over to her sister. Her steps were light and her tiny pink toes seemed to dance across the floor. "What is it, my partridge. Have you lost something?"

Shaking her head, the older princess withdrew her pale arm from the closet's darkness. "I am afraid it is not so much what I have lost, as what I have ruined..." Her voice trailed off and she nodded sadly at what she held between thumb and forefinger - a pair of dirty, tattered slippers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Part 1 [Untitled]

As soon as the bird's little neck snapped, he wished he had not killed it. The plump quail would have been a filling breakfast before the man set out on the road again, which is why he had first set the trap and caught his prey. It had seemed to make sense at the time but when he had felt the spirit crushed out of it by his hand, a queasiness came and all desire for food left him. He laid the limp body on a nearby rock and turned away.

He was no stranger to death and certainly not cruelty. His sword had freed the souls of many men. There had been years in the past when he had taken more lives than pisses in a single day. Now, however, the blood of the battlefield was behind him where he had left it, and the thought of beginning this new journey with the taking of yet one more life -- no matter how practical and inconsequential -- was something he could not stomach.

So he moved on from the cluster of hedges that had been his shelter the previous night, and the soldier started on his way again. The road he followed was a good one. The best going this direction for half the kingdom. It was moderately smooth and worn. No stones or bricks were laid here, miles into the country, but a few days ago when the soldier had left the coast, his leather boots had padded on cobblestone for the first 3 miles out of town.

Now every step he made sent up puffs of dirt and his muscular legs where well dusted. He swung one arm casually at his side and his other securely held his satchel on his shoulder. The dark green bag tapped rhythmically against his hip and the man found himself humming a forgotten tune as he walked along the way. The morning sun was reaching over the trees and warming his back. Relishing the lightness of his new clothes and freedom his body felt by being loosed from its metal encasement, the soldier stretched his arms high and groaned with pleasure.

He had left his armor and encumbering war tools with his manservant. Godan had served him well and deserved whatever sum he could acquire for them. Shock was the main reaction that his slave expressed when he had been told what his master's plans really were. The assumption that they would return to the life they had previously abandoned was not singularly Godan's. The same shock had rippled across Tristan's features as well. His best friend had spewed a mouthful of ale into the fire and coughed until he had to be saved by a good clap on the back.

"Merciful Mother, Renaund, you can't be serious!" sputtered Tristan. He wiped a hand over his golden beard and then slammed it down onto the table. "By the gods, Renaund, this is ridiculous! I know you don't approve of the commanders latest orders and none of us are looking forward to a winter in the accursed west but you-- "

Renaund held up his hand, "My friend, do not expend your energy on me. My mind is decided. My way is set. I will no longer raise sword and shield beside you. Tomorrow I will set out." The grumbling was not extinguished with this declaration but any attempts to change Renaund's decision was abandoned. The two men had been side by side for many seasons now. They breakfasted together, rode beside one another, bled together, and feasted together. They knew when one could push the other and they also knew when persuasion was a futile effort, and so, even though Tristan hated that Renaund was forging a new path, he understood his friend well enough to know that this last evening together should be spent celebrating rather than arguing.

They had celebrated well that night. The ale had run like honey down their throats and tales and laughter came up just as easily. The two burly soldiers had roared like lions when Tristan recounted the story of the goose girl and the untimely appearance of her father, or when Renaund reenacted how Tristan had escaped him by running through a bull's pasture. The stories of their years together flowed out of them as the night darkened. There were battles and songs, maidens bedded, jokes and regrets. Renaund spoke of when he had met his younger friend, how the two of them had come to trust and even depend on eachother. Gradually their heads leaned together and their voices dropped lower as they passed deeper into the evening.

"I would not have made it here without you." Renaund murmured. The fire flickered in front of them, caressing their faces with waves of heat. They both stared at the dancing flames. Tristan took a long drink. His flaxen curls caught the light, making them shimmer as he shrugged. "You are not a man to be kept from his place in the world. I doubt very much that my absence from your life would have much of an impact."

The golden youth's words struck Renaund deeply. He was older than Tristan and knew that there were moments during their time together when he had felt very much like the man's father, but Renaund believed that their conquests on the field and time they had spent with one another had leveled that out long ago. To discover a new truth in their relationship so near to when they would part ways, made the soldier's heart wince. He leaned closer and placed a large hand on his friends arm. Putting his forehead against Tristan's, he looked hard into those light blue eyes, piercing them with his own hazel glare. "I am not the war god they purport me to be. I am no spirit. I am no legend. I am a man who has needed your help many times. I owe you my life a thousand times over. I am indebted to you for eternity." His grip tightened and his dark features intensified. "Swear to me here tonight. Swear to me on your holy scriptures."

"Swear what?" Tristan's voice was scarce a whisper but there was no weakness in that moment. The two soldiers faced each other. Their breath mingling. Foreheads pressed together. Their eyes locked. The night was dark around them and the fire's glow encompassed them, containing the two men in a halo of light and effectively blocking out all the world around them so that Tristan and Renaund were as the only two souls on earth. They stayed interlocked for hours into the night. Whispers passed between them bearing promises and bonds forged. They clasped hands and spilled wine over their covenant. Tristan prayed and shed some tears. Renaund's eyes were glistening too when the first rays of dawn found the soldiers.

The morning came too soon for the two friends and as the darkness faded so did their conversation. Quiet embraces and tight-lipped farewells concluded their years of company, but as Renaund had taken his first steps down the path, he had hesitated and turned once more, "I won't forget. I was promised. You gave your word to me."

Tristan saluted sharply and with a satisfied nod Renaund turned from his friend and began his journey.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Here We Go, Here we go, here we go again...

It happens every. fucking. time.

Why me? Why fucking me?

Unfortunately I know why. Because I give a damn. Because I actually care.

 I love you and therefore I AM THE ONE who gets to sit here crying as you run into her arms. I weep while you rejoice. I curse my mother's womb while you bless the day she was born.

She won't last. I can see the end now from where i sit, crying for your coming pain.

I have seen your future and it will not be kindly. You have shared your past and it has abused you cruelly. Your present was only bearable because of me and now you bestow your hard-earned peace onto her. What about me?

What about the hours i have spent by your side? What about the prayers i poured over you? What about how i held you in my arms and stroked your sobs away? Why do my sacrifices mean nothing to you? Why does her face mean everything?

Why am I not acceptable? Why am I not the one you desire? Have I offended you somehow? Been TOO generous with my love, too open with my affection?

Yes to sting and hide and withhold, to starve you on the smallest morsels of approval would have you groveling at my feet the way you desecrate yourself before her.

Have her and your pitiable finite love if that is what you desire.

Have it and be done with it.

And leave me be.