by Zander Greene
He doesn’t feel the fire.
Only the faint pull of a memory of mud and rain. And the wonder that he is dry and clean.
He doesn’t feel the waves.
Only the boat, his boat, steady and sure beneath his back. And the smell of pitch.
On the shore someone is wailing. Someone is calling out a name he almost remembers.
It is gone.
Only the song his mother sang when wolves howled at night and the scent of copper hung heavy in the air.
Did he feed the pigs? Was the gate shut? Were his people safe? Is it…
Who was speaking?
And why am I still wearing my boots? We leave behind what we do not need. And is that me on the shore, alone, pierced with iron and soaked in blood? If it be, leave it behind and say to the fish ‘here is one on me!’
Only the sea. Only the sky. Only the breath between a birth and a death in blood and agony.. I waited for the sun in vain. Lying eye of God, where were you when crops died and children starved? Did another world catch your eye in the market? Are YOU a child?
Are you a child? And do I hear you weeping? I might do more harm than good. I was never soft or kind. But are you crying? Are you lonely too?
Lonely God child, do not fear the night. For I am with thee. I do not feel the fire or the waves. Only you in my arms. Quiet now…
And on the shore, the last light fades of a boat on the water. They stand.
Bitterly defiant in their unending Autumn.
Inspired by Echtra Fantasy Faire 2016
by Aznana Shieldmaiden
We arrive at the gates of the village at twilight.
The sky is gray. Drizzling rain greets us and the torches fail to provide warmth or light. We have journeyed from a far land, a warm land, a land of sun. We don’t feel welcome here.
A statue of a boy king stands cold and alone in the village square. Who was this child? Men commemorate those who are the best and worst among them. Was he the savior of his people or the cause of their miserable lives?
A group of us wander through the village. No laughter comes from the dwellings, no light shows from within. We find ourselves jumping at shadows and watching the hedgehogs lurking around the buildings. Hedgehogs have always been lucky. This place can’t be all bad if they scurry here.
Suddenly a large building looms into sight. There is light there, the Great Hall. Of course the people will be there. There is light and music and people who seem not at all frightening or different from ourselves.
A light comes from below and I follow it. My companions linger behind in the Hall. Tentatively, I make my way down deeper and deeper into the unknown. I can’t see where I’m going, but it is light and I am not afraid.
The shaft opens into a large cavern and I see the head of a dragon frozen within the wall. A nearby hedgehog nods toward the dragon’s head and seems to smile. I know the story now. The boy king defeated the creature of fire and though the village may be cold and gray, at its heart there burns joy and fellowship. This can be home.
Hope & Tales
by Ishara Longstaff
Torches flicker, as the hill rises … a once worshiped prince is talked about in the blacksmith’s forge: he plunged the land into gloom they say. Listening in is the blacksmith’s daughter, Uta, listening in to what she shouldn’t.
There was anger at the prince as the land fell into fighting, and gloom descended. They took it out on statue to the prince, broken to pieces.
Only hope will light the stones … but who will do this quest?
by Saffia Widdershins
Hardlost homeland, hurt-filled younglings
Weep in sky-rain, wandering lonely.
Where is the home fire? Where the hunter?
Lost in silence, sadly sought.
This we think of as we wander …
Where the wise ones, walk before.
All is silence, sadness beckons
To the strong lord locked in stone.