VII:2 – Eveningstars

Oh bright embers light the late summer night,
remind of a lost star our young memories belie,
what became of you oh herald of summer storms,
how now in your name the wrong month mourns,

for you will not shine first and last eveningstar,
your jewels strung too thin to light a sky so far,
your time is gone and only embers shower,
fleeting streaks of fire in twilight hours,

oh Jovan now takes your lofty wandering place,
cold distant father some years in evenings late,
we call your days autumn, at an Emperor’s word,
the true names of a season so rarely heard.

– Rhaea’s Reverie, 173 E.R.

Eveningstars

Jovan 11th, 1 S.R.

A gray haired, half blind hanan shook their head, and laid down a card as shutters rattled. The floorboards rumbled through a quaint but pleasant little hovel. Reverberating from a crack worse than the closest thunder, that seemed to roll on forever. “Can you eclipse The Sun, my guest?”

A man, himself gray haired and silver eyed, a bit weathered and ragged, but youthful of features shook his head. He lay down The Child from three in his hand. One face half masked, the other inverse held a fan over the same and yet opposite side. “You go first, dear Ryahanae.” He drew from the deck on his right.

Ryahanae’s pale eyes shimmered through a translucent lavender with a tilt of the head. “Dear? So you have warmed to me, Mr. Grey?” The Lovers were laid on the seer’s side before The Sun. Always so hard to tell which side was up. More rumbles shook the land, and a distant roar echoed down lanes of a city. Walls of stone like little canyons catching the sound.

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VII:1 – Signets & Vows

Where amber light should break,
there in the east doth rise the sun,
O’ rise in pride bright Morningstar,
so herald the great coming one,

in glorious day be lost above,
in the eve put old Rhan to bed,
O’ rest not tireless dancer,
chase this day to its end.

– The Sun Chaser, 132 E.R.

Signets & Vows

A young man with warm, dark skin, and black ringlets of hair to his shoulders knelt in a crypt lit by spell-fire torches. His hand held up to the snout of a long white skull, much larger than him. Great onyx horns curled like a rams, anointed the long dead dragon’s head.

“Do you feel that?” asked a tall man pacing behind him. A fine long coat of blue with gold buttons swayed with the clack of his stride. The light of his own spire-fire flickered above his palm. Sputtered at sharp precise turns before a skull still much larger than him.

The boy was silent. Closed his golden eyes tight, feeling for something, and was struck with the back of a hand across his head. He winced, and tried not to tremble.

Everyone in the family feared his uncle, except the King. The King, found the monstrous fruit of his loins charming. He could be at times, when he wasn’t hitting, cutting, or grinning over a dead man’s body. Sometimes even when he was.

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VII:Forward – An Unfixed Clock

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We do not always choose our moment.
We do not always author our fate.
Yet the chance to make it ours,
was always there to take.

⁃ ◇ ❖ ◇ ⁃

Light — learned mages tell us — is the measure of all time. Yet light, incomprehensible in speed, has one. Does not move in straight lines, no matter how it tries. Nothing is flat. Not the world, nor the space between suns. The arcs of planets but byproducts of a sky itself warped. Bunched around us like lumps in a cheap bed-sac, that all tumble helpless into. Everything is relative.

Life as such does not move in neat orderly little blocks. These do not fall, one after the other in an expected chain, no matter how intuition tells us so. Now, is an illusion of pasts seen out of order. Even without prophecy, or the powers of gifted, the world always proceeded as it pleased. Like the intermittent falter in a fizzling spell. All but predictable precursors of the main break. If, one learned to read the signs. There is an order to the world, but it cares little for our preconceptions. Emergent behavior in resonant harmony and discord. Like music.

One need not the best schooling of Mordove to understand the principle. Rumor travels near faster than anything. One may slumber in the wrong bed, and by the time the sun rises, the whole town knows. All the indiscretions that only two — or three — could name, are speculated upon and decided as fact.  Sight unseen, though some might have liked to.

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VI:44 – The Roots of Mother Tree

I am her root and stem,
her flower and her seed,
every bowed branch reaching,
every leaf, river carried to the sea,

I am the light reflected,
the Sun ‘bove Mother Tree,
lands great roots did part,
form vale’s dark and deep,

there stood the son of Suns,
little boughs proud and tall,
there bore an elder meekly,
carried hither too an’ fro,

in her song they swayed,
in great shadowed shelter stayed,
and at her darkest side was found,
silver leaves her beauteous gown.

A daughter not of Sun,
so sired by the moon,
oh mother’s grand daughter,
bright glorious Leaune.

– A Hymn of Thaea, the Apocrypha

The Roots of Mother Tree

Everything was falling. Down. Down, down. Twisting round, and settled in a crash so soft as a feather, that shook the world beneath. That rippled water in a dance that shattered moonlight.

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VI:42 – Honor Has Left Us

Beware the maw so slathering dark,
a hungering jaw that bites and barks,
the clacks of teeths to rattle bones,
no walls tall, defend defend thy homes,

so in the ground they burrowed deep,
yet stones themselves the monsters eat,
till the softer bits were laid plain again,
there devoured each and every one.

– The Spider and the Looking Glass, 425 E.R.

Honor Has Left Us

Jovan 7th, 1 S.R.

The distressed yelp of a small canine rivals the mewling of kittens, to impart a certain excess empathy. Short and sharp, it does a better job of instilling a panicked guilt, than fawning adoration. When this fails, something has gone quite wrong.

Katrisha was huffing as the others stared at her. “You betrayed her.” Her voice trembled. “You lead her into a trap, all of you.”

The tiny fox twitched, unable to handle the sensation of being yanked off the ground by her bones. Bound so tight that even frantic flailing reduced to twitches. Ripples under fur, as muscles pulled and shivered against what would not move. Her eyes darted around as though surrounded by dragons. No one else said anything.

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VI:41 – To Whence it Came

Where converges a wanderer’s path,
so returns to whence tracks cross,
to turn from the course so certain,
as to repeat then at a loss,

oh the wobbling top doth wind,
down slow in a final spiral,
so danced across a map,
hours, travelers there did while.

– The Spider and the Looking Glass, 425 E.R.

To Whence it Came

Jovan 6th, 1 S.R.

Katrisha sat in a courtyard, staring across a vast orbital simulation. The cloister cast in a ghastly ghastly pale blue by spell and moonlight. She’d had many onlookers, but most had lost interest in the strange sight after a minute or two. One had lingered.

Liora walked up, and sat on the bench next to her. “What ever are you doing?”

Katrisha gave her a look. “No secrets between us, I guess?”

“If you say so,” Liora obliged with reservation.

“I’m tired of secrets.” Katrisha drummed her fingers on her staff. “I’m trying to solve a puzzle with enough moving pieces to make even us, seem simple.”

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VI:40 – A Scratch at the Door

Oh you can’t go home again,
because you never truly left,
the roots planted so deep,
as a heart inside your chest.

You are how you began,
so much as how you grew,
and if you think this less,
look to the diamond’s truth.

– The Mouse, The Witch, and the Window, 421 E.R.

A Scratch at the Door

Jovan 3rd, 1 S.R.

♫ “O’ Laeune twas a ghostly watcher,
high ‘bove the rollin’ moor,
an’ two riders there were a ridin’,
come to the mountains’ door.” ♫

Katrisha ignored a bard in the square behind her, but not without a twinge of recognition to the song. She tried to keep her attention on the duel a young woman had arranged against two guardsmen, and a knight. Sadie, it seemed had less qualms about cheating in her fight.

The girl wasn’t even trying to win. Glancing to Leta as she showed off. No, it was far too familiar, to how she had looked to a princess some years before. Katrisha rubbed her eyes. She’d let that go. She tried to focus on the match.

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VI:39 – Bonds as Spoken

What steps a dance in parried thrusts,
twixt keen defenses all restraint lost,
thus entwined in surrendered grace,
relief was all there written on a face,

a soldiers’ wedding twas in the end,
there back to back we did defend,
an’ all was lost in our bitter defeat,
a war carried on, our part complete.

– A Soldiers’ Wedding, circa 150 E.R.

Bonds as Spoken

Rhaeus 42nd, 1 S.R.

“May I sit with you?”

Katrisha looked up from where she had set herself in a courtyard. A gray haired woman in red stood over her. She still only knew her in passing, however much they had come to share a complicated sort of charge.

“I suppose.” She let out a long breath, returning from somewhere, lost deep in thought, or all too far from it. It was fuzzy, where she had been, with her staff far away in her room she was not sure, but not there.

Raewyn sat beside her. A nervous composure allowed a certain youthfulness to win over age, if Katrisha was one to judge.

“Are you afraid I will be angry, that you did not, as you said, ‘follow my lead?’” Katrisha offered, when nothing else was forthcoming.

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VI:38 – Orders of Precedence

By common law she was his wife,
though if so said, he’d married thrice,
those women kept in a proud abode,
though each had grown a little old.

The eldest wed him in a dewy glade,
a youngest’s husband, to war had strayed,
she twixt the two, a pilgrim there stopped,
who found better work in aiding their lot.

Each lady two babes to the man had born,
but for one, who’s eldest’s father was gone,
five worked the fields, the rest in the home,
where it odd, I of all women, felt not alone.

– The Red Texts

Orders of Precedence

Katrisha walked past Mahla and Dahlia, sat side by side at a library table over a book. Dahlia was holding the veiled woman’s hand as she traced with the other carefully along a line she was reading. Katrisha recognized the words, stumbled through as they were. Stopped a moment, and glanced back.

“…in the wife of… your youth… find… purpose. Love her as thyself, as one…” Mahla hesitated. “…spirit, one soul, to guide the flesh to what is worthy.”

“You’ve your eyes closed again,” Dahlia rebuked with a gentle squeeze.

“It’s easier to remember,” Mahla protested with some desperation, and glanced back to the page.

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VI:37 – The Spiral

A spur so strung across a bough,
dangled down in search for hours,
an’ up a trunk was carried neatly,
thread so fine pulled beneath she,

an’ step by step ‘round she went,
with studious plucks hours spent,
there at last the work was done,
just in time for the eve had come,

an’ by the dawn the night had left,
bright jewels tucked in each cleft,
smiled sweet for a love above her,
a trap laid so plain, it was an offer.

– In Her Parlor, 322 E.R.

The Spiral

Areth looked perturbed to a Torta and her kits in the corner, as Ossua led Anik’ka away. There was one last glance by the Temyn to Kiannae as she passed.

“She wasn’t much too happy to see you.” He looked to Kiannae. “Far too happy, to see you. I still do not feel like I got a proper explanation for that near drop to a knee on sight. Passed off with coaching from ‘our’ interpreter, that her wounds ailed her.”

Kiannae glanced to her sister.

“Torta, as she said it, with sarcasm is my understanding. A sort of half y in the o, Etore once implied. ‘Agreement of good,’ perhaps not so much. Too cute by half? Well, the legends are what they are. If you know the story of Lynx, Wolf, Moon… and Yune, they claim the Torta got written out. The ones who actually tricked Lynx and Wolf into fighting each other, and not humanity. Done on behalf of their goddess.”

“Is so,” Ari agreed. “Is too cute.”

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