Untethered

Back then, the pit as warm red embers glow

But soon the fire and clawed, webbed wings will grow

The chains will melt that bind me far below

And soon for you, he’ll make the hot wind blow

 

See how against the moonlit sky he soars

Forgetting steely bars and oaken doors

The ship is no escape, set down your oars

There’s thunder, flame and lightning in his roars

 

See now the fire raining from the sky

So hot it cooks the skin and blinds the eye

And in the slaughter’s wake there is no why

Perhaps the flame will spare you if you cry

 

Untethered are we, fire in the cloud

As flying low we skim across the crowd

Our hearts within us passionate and proud

Our battle cries are ringing long and loud

 

When the alarum bells toll, run and hide

The armies intertwine and fight with pride

But warfare ever was a prickly bride

And vanquished now, we wash out on the tide

 

What sealed our fate remains a mystery

And now we are a different form of free

It struck us odd because we couldn’t see

That love is best to fight your enemy

Cara-Cell

 

As autumn dies,

the bitter night wind

seeps into the stone walls

of what has become my

new home.

Hope of leaving

abandoned me.

She peers into the defeat

replete within my gaze,

and smiles

with

pleased and mocking scorn.

Dressed in midnight,

she comes,

a cream-skinned shadow

in silvered fog,

and tells me her name

is

Cara,

as if I cared,

as if defeat had somehow

changed to affection.

A Murder follows her,

and obeys her every gesture.

Her lacquered black nails point,

and soft eyes are

plucked like jewels from bone settings,

the screams

drowned by the eldritch music

of their raucous cries.

Why do you stay? she whispers in my mind.

Do you not see there are no stones to bar your path?

No chains, no locks, no guards to block your way?

Blind,

I stumble past

the warring scents

of lavender and carrion,

to roam

the shrouded night.

Exhausted,

helpless,

and alone,

by dawn

I find myself

returning

once again,

to where she freed me.

And barefoot, shivering,

crying ice-laced tears,

I walk the frigid riverbed

back to my

Cara-cell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Roads

This is a WIP currently being written in serial form at the link below.

Please check it out, and feel free to comment.

Be honest, but kind.

If you troll me, I will send zombie vampires to hunt you. In a novel, of course….

We all know there’s no such thing as zombie vam– (OW! Get back down there, you stinking–!)

 

http://channillo.com/series/night-roads/

Weapons of the Heart

Always

at the heart of it

is a weapon

 

A kingdom’s fate

A love’s revival

A warrior’s life

A prophecy fulfilled

 

 

Always

at the heart of it

is a weapon

 

Discarded

Forgotten

Dulled

Unblooded

Uncared for

 

But a weapon

all the same

 

Waiting patiently

for a hand

to lift it

up into the light

 

to transfer its

Power

 

anew

 

Go on…

 

pick it up

and

feel its

heartbeat

pulse

in harmony

with

your own

Soyala and the Troubadour

The banquet lasted through the night, and Teirtu was exhausted, having played every tune he knew from his extensive repertoire, as well as with his wealthy host’s own musicians, his children, and finally the host himself,

None of them were particularly talented, but they weren’t awful, so he flattered them anyway, as sincere as he could without making his real thoughts obvious, though he suspected they already knew.

The weight of the purse he received for his night’s labor told him he’d been obsequious enough to please the man.

Some distance from the mansion now, he found himself walking down a smooth and pleasant path, and heard his stomach rumble. He decided to stop and eat some of the food the pretty kitchen girl had set aside for his journey.

In parting she also gave him a deep and tasty kiss, and rubbed the heel of her hand on the front of his pants to give him something to distract him from the fact that it was a cold morning.

Intrigued by her forwardness, he silently vowed to return, knowing deep inside he probably never actually would; kitchen girls were notorious, and he could bring to mind a few, but what good would it do him now.

A pleasant scene of dappled sunlight shining through the high summer leaves got his attention, and there seemed to be an opening that one could pass through.

He ambled through, calm, assessing his surroundings, delighted to see there was a slow moving river with flat rocks on the shore that was bperfect for laying out his small repast.

 A good place to rest and eat.

Leaving his small wineskin alone, his mouth still fuzzy with its taste from last night, he decided he no longer wanted it at all.

Pouring the wine in the river, he rinsed and filled it with the clean running water.

As the skin filled and he tipped it to rinse the residue of the wine out, he saw, just outside the copse of trees, the figure of a young woman in a green, elegant gown not suited for the forest.

Her honey-gold hair spread across her shoulders and spilled down her back in waves that jounced slightly with her steps.

She was smiling at him, and he waved at her, and beckoned her to sit with him.

Her walk was as stately as her dress, but there was something in her eyes that evoked curiosity as well as dread; they were preternaturally bright, just short of glowing.

“Welcome, young bard.”

“Madam.” His eyes slowly roamed her form under the gown.

She noticed, but didn’t take offense, or blush, or give any indication she was uncomfortable with his rudeness; if anything, she seemed amused.

“Are you a long way from home?” he asked.

She smiled. It was a beautiful smile. “This is my home.”

“You live in the woods.”

“We live in each other; there’s an understanding that’s too deep to go into now, and I seem to have interested you, but interrupted your meal.

“I will go.”

“No, oh no, please, don’t.” He scrambled to get in front of her. “I’d like some company.”

“And your own is not up to the task?” she teased.

He chuckled. “I spend enough time alone that I don’t need anymore at the moment.

“Please join me.”

He offered his hand to help her up, and she made herself comfortable beside him, and he noticed that she really did seem quite at home in her bearing; there was no fear of him emanating from her at all.

He considered her enigmatic comment a moment.

“So you live here.”

“I do.”

“How is that possible?”

She didn’t answer him right away, but was looking at the lute he carried.

She reached toward him. “May I?”

“What…? Oh. Oh, yes, by all means.” He unpacked it and handed it to her.

“It’s a fine lute, much used.” With nimble fingers, she plucked a pleasant chord.

“…and much cared for, and loved.”

He shifted, just watching her, noticing how she played, and how beautifully she hummed along.

She stopped, smiling at him. “Eat, troubadour. I will play for you.”

He ate.

As she played, she hummed a perfect harmony, clean and sweet, and he stopped eating and closed his eyes.

His heart seemed to keep time.

Soft wind blew tendrils of her hair across the contours of her smooth face, lifted now to the westering light.

A memory of hi mother’s face, smiling down at him as he sat on her knee, singing as he played…

“That song,” he whispered. “From my childhood. How could you know?”

He looked, but she was no longer beside him.

She’d taken his wineskin and was drinking from it, but not putting her mouth to it.

She finished, and laughing, wiped her lips on the bell of her sleeve.

“Singing is thirsty work. I am Soyala.”

She handed the wineskin to him, and as he drank, he found that it was soemthing fruit flavored, with a hint of honey.

He didn’t know if it was wine, as such but it was heady.

“What are you?” He stoppered the skin.

“I am what you want me to be, my young troubadour.”

The reply opened up for him a world of crude possibilities he could say, but her bearing would not brook such insults, and they died stillborn on his tongue. She had an ineffable quality that intrigued him, even though it slightly annoyed him.

He ventured a smile. “How about my patron?”

She laughed, not at him, but clearly amused by the remark.

“Anything but that, good sir. The rifts between friends when such things are undertaken are the stuff of legend.”

He laughed as well. “I would have to agree. Soyala, you sing and play beautifully.”

“Thank you.”

He took another pull of the exotic elixir, looked out at the river flecked with sparks of sunlight.

“You have questions,” she said.

He nodded. “Many.”

“I could answer, but you have not understood even the simplest of them.”

“That you and the woods live in each other.”

She smiled approvingly. “Your memory’s good.”

“It would have to be to do what I do. That was the simplest? You don’t just mean that you live here, and are familiar with your surroundings, you mean they’re somehow a part of you.”

“Yes.”

“I won’t pretend I understand, and I’ll probe no deeper for today, but I’d like to return sometime to talk with you.”

“You are welcome here. Tell me your name.”

“Teirtu.”

She laughed, and he smiled, knowing why.

“That is what you are called, but not your name.”

“You have the right of it.”

“Does it pertain to you, or your profession?”

“All stories are essentially lies, Soyala.”

“In their essence perhaps, but at their core, there is always a seed of truth.

“You intrigue me, Teirtu; your name is a riddle.”

“Do you like riddles?” He handed her back the wineskin.

“I do.” She drank and gave it back.

He smiled again. “We’ve essentially kissed.”

“But at the core, we haven’t.”

He laughed. “We could make it true.”

She tilted her head, her eyes amused.

“You’ve had your meal, and song, and wine; there is no need for you to linger.”

“The trio’s not complete.”

“Trio?”

“Wine, song…woman.”

“Ah. That trio. A bard’s love is plural.”

“I’m not interested in plural.”

She walked up close to him.

“I’ll not kiss you, Teirtu. You’ll need a reason to return, and if I give you what you desire, you may not.”

“What if I promised?”

“The promises of men are breath, nothing more, and the promise of a troubadour…”

“Less so. Yes, we do have a bad reputation, and not undeserved.”

He stepped away.

“I’ll walk with you to the road.”

“I’d like that, Soyala.”

She reached for his hand.

********************

“I will write a song for you.”

“I will hear it when you sing.”

“Kiss me, Soyala.”

She touched his cheek, and leaned in, and he closed his eyes, but the kiss never landed.

When he opened his eyes, she was gone.

He chuckled and shook his head.

“You are a riddle of your own, Soyala.

“I will return to solve it.”

 

 

Shadow Priestess

Come you from the shadows, priestess?

Do you now take my confession that

thoughts of you

make me restless?

 

 

Come you in the starlight, priestess?

Are you corporeal, that I might

hold you and fulfill

my longing?

Or ethereal, that I might

dream forever

in vain?

 

Come you now at eventide, priestess?

Do you now reveal your true form

to the unworthy wretch

who worships you alone

in the empty temple

at night?

 

Come you now at midnight, priestess?

Will you mock and laugh

and point in scathing

amusement

at the burden of love

I bear you?

 

Come you now to dance, priestess?

Doffing dark robes,

pretending you’re alone

while dancing

to the rhythm

of my heart?

 

Come you now to sacrifice, priestess?

Lighting tallow candles,

singing eldritch songs,

your slender, sacred fingers

on slender, profane knives

to split me, and read your future?

 

Or come you now as bride, priestess?

To honor me with your

presence in my life,

binding us together

forever in

shadows?

Melchora’s Spells

Melchora’s spells

enrapture me

capture me

sap me of strength

and will

to defy the

tidal pull

of her lunar love

 

Melchora’s spells

bind me

blind me

and find me helpless

at the base of her heart

 

Melchora’s spells

lift me

gift me

and seal the rift

between my need

and her mind

 

Melchora’s spells

smell of lilac and lavender

and honey and ginger

as I breathe deeply and

my soul turns

to ashes and smoke

 

Melchora’s spells

are vital

and gentle

and my reason’s reality

is contained between her hands

 

And I want to look away,

And I want to walk away,

And I want to be away

from her,

But that too, is part of

Melchora’s spells….

 

 

 

Apocrypha

Lost in the mist, she came to my rescue.

Follow me.

It was the voice of a being

far above angels, and deep as the grave.

To where?

I followed, not knowing, but willing.

To love. To life.

The mist thickened around us.

But I’m lost. Do we go to my destination?

She turned to look at me with silver eyes.

We go, my love, to where you need to be.

I followed, not blindly, but knowingly.

I wish to leave. I’m frightened.

The mist hid her from view.

Follow, and I will comfort you.

I followed blindly.

Give me your hand.

I took her hand, and she led me…

 

Do you love me?

I followed.

How can I?

She stopped.

You simply decide.

She kissed me.

I’m lost.

 

Light Upon Me Here

Light upon me here,

and give me kisses

and wishes,

and the essence

of dreams of longing

long unfulfilled

 

Give me the plunder of legends

you’ve carved in runes on ancient trunks,

and whispered

’round eventide’s eldritch fires

 

Show me the paths through trees

older than the tongues of men,

and the dusky hiding places of the

demi-goddesses.

 

And in the niche

of night’s knowledge,

In the enchantment of the

encampment you inhabit,

Let me be no Stranger,

nor Harbinger,

but Lover,

and light upon me

Here

 

 

Leiko and the White Wolf (5)

5)

 

As it often happens when in a strange place for the first time, Leiko couldn’t sleep, and got up to skulk about the monastery to explore whatever piqued her curiosity, which was just about everything.

The dark halls with single torches intrigued her most, but she knew the monastery was likely labyrinthine, and didn’t want to risk getting lost.

She decided to see if Akira was up; perhaps he could make some sort of sleeping tea for her, if he wasn’t too angry at her behavior during dinner.

A bit peeved to find that she cared what he thought of her, she figured it was best to go apologize; he’d been kind to her, all things considered, and she hadn’t, as he’d promised, come to harm.

There was no threat here, at least not from the Brothers, but she could also sense an undercurrent of contained power, controlled, but almost throbbing like a heart, inside the walls, under the ground, a vibrancy running like a warm current tickling the fine hairs on her arms.

It was a sense of gathering power, and it gave her an excited, anticipatory fright.

If that was what they were going to teach her to harness and wield, she dreaded the learning of it, and never desired anything more.

Some of the doors were open, and she looked in to see the men packing large satchels. When they saw her, they hurriedly looked away, almost shamefaced.

She stood in the doorway of one, and the monk came over to close the door, but she wouldn’t leave.

“Leiko, I need privacy.”

“Are you leaving? Did Hakurou send you all on a journey? A mission?”

She saw his face change at the words ‘journey’ and ‘mission,’ and something clicked into place.

“You’re leaving.”

“Please…” he pushed the door at her again, not hard, but firmly, and she had no choice but to back away or let it hit her bare toes.

The lock clicked, and she heard him shuffle away.

They’re leaving because of me.

Disturbed, she went in earnest to find Akira, and ask what problems she’d be facing with them now that she was living here.

 

****************

“Come in, Ko.”

She went in, saw Akira standing by the small window, looking out at the yellow moonlight on the green grass, giving it a bluish cast.

“You knew it was me?”

He chuckled, but didn’t turn to her.

“No powers needed there; the brothers aren’t prone to knocking, and they’re a ham fisted lot if they do.”

“You called me ‘Ko.’ Hakurou changed my name. You call him master, but you defy him by using my old name.”

He turned to her then, looking at her intently; her observations were keen for one so young. Tigress by the tail…

“Between you and me, you will always be ‘Ko.’ That is the name I found you under, and the name in which you branded your father’s cheek with your spittle.”

She reddened at the memory, and looked away.

Good.

“It is also the first cord of our bonding, and I will only call you ‘Leiko’ when Hakurou is around.

“Are we agreed?”

She nodded, not wanting to speak yet, fearing her voice would squeak.

“You are not asleep; tomorrow, Hakurou’s going to start your training in the path of the Rei.”

She sat on the edge of his bed. “Some of the men are leaving because of me. I saw them.”

Akira inwardly cursed them for cowards.

“There is nothing to be done for it, Ko. Those that remain…”

“Those that remain…?”

He shook his head. “What is it you want?”

“Besides returning to Iwai? I’d like a sleeping tea, if you have any.”

“I do. I will even join you. Any later, and we will both see the sun before we topple.”

 

*****************

 

Hakurou’s voice was low thunder.

“I am grieved…so grieved I can no longer call you Brothers.

“You are craven, useless dogs.”

“You said to consider carefully, Hakurou. We all have—“
“No spines!” Hakurou’s fist slammed the large table they were sitting around, and they all jumped, blinking at the sudden fury of the motion and his expression.

Another monk spoke. “Maybe you shouldn’t issue edicts you don’t mean then, Hakurou.”

Hakurou sat down, the blood slowly leaving his face as his hand worried at his beard.

“You’re right. If you didn’t leave now, you’d prove a weakness in the fighting, and run, or die. Either way, you’d have the witches victorious, and this is not the time for people like you. I would say ‘men’, but that doesn’t fit you.”

The monk who first spoke stood. “I’ve had enough. You said we could leave. We’ve done our part, and served our gods; we want to go on serving them. We don’t want to die.”

Hakurou gave a bitter laugh.

“And if the witches win, pup, do you think they’ll leave you be?”

That gave them pause, and some of them remained sitting.

“He’s turned you? With that simplistic question, he changed your mind?”

One of sitting monks sighed. “He’s right, Brother Milal, there is no place to run they won’t find us.”

“But there’s a chance they won’t; there’s a chance we’ll survive, and as long as it’s there, I have to try. I have to take that chance.”

“Best be leaving then,” Hakurou said. “The sun is up soon, and Leiko’s first session will start at first light.”

They stood, and filed out in silence, giving the old wolf at least that much respect, dropping their pendants and rings in a reliquary beside the main doors.

 

***************

Leiko and Akira saw them leaving, and before Akira could react, she was off, running toward them.

“Wait! Please! Please wait!

The monk who spoke to Hakurou first stopped the rest of them, watching her wild eyed approach.

Seeing he was the leader, she went up to him.

“If you leave, sir, you weaken the monastery. You weaken us all.”

“I have no part in this war. It will be a bloodbath, and none of it theirs. You seem like an intelligent child, for a peasant’s daughter. Demand Akira return you to your homeland.

“Dosojin Monastery will be destroyed in the battle to come.”

“Are you a seer, now?” Akira interjected.

Milal looked at him as if he’d just bled on a hymnal.

“No, I’m a realist.”

“If you believe your god is real, ‘realist,’ then why don’t you stay and ask for victory? Your brothers need you.” Leiko said. “And I need you.”

He looked at her, incredulous: her rudeness knew no boundaries.

“He is not a god of warriors, you fool girl, he is a god of the temple. He watches over us in peace and in life, if we should so pray.”

She looked at him a long moment. He was bristling, but dared say nothing in front of Akira. He was shifting his feet under her gaze, and not making eye contact, but summoning backbone to stand straight and say:

“If there’s nothing else, child, we must go.”

She stepped aside, and as they filed past, the leader stood glaring at her, and she calmly bore it until it was his time to step forward on the path of stones.

As he passed her, she murmured so only the three of them heard her:

“Pray hard then, Milal.

As Akira began to close the door, she the fear in Milal’s eyes, but his pride wouldn’t let him capitulate.

He swallowed, and turned away from them, and walked out.

As the lock clicked, a roll of thunder resounded in the far distance.