Drained

Once there was a crofter who rode a cart to the nearby village. Every morning he would pass a sage – a lazy, unworldly man the like of which he thought little. Morning after morning the creaking cart and its load would go pass, and nary a word they would exchange.

Then one day the crofter started to struggle to sleep every night. The tiniest of irritations would keep him awake; the light of the moon, a creaking barn door, the bleak howls of fox, footsteps outside. No matter how long he lay in bed he slept little, and in a few months, his entire body started to feel the strain. Some days were so tiring he could hardly rise out of bed, but lay drenched in sweat and frustration.

The sage was surprised to see the crofter again, after a week in his absence. Feeling like he had nothing to lose, the crofter spoke asking: ‘Sage, I am troubled. Nights I cannot sleep, and days I am barely awake. I do not understand.’

The Sage rubbed his chin and gestured to a pouch at his belt. ‘There are herbs and powders for that. Have you tried them?’

‘Yes, all of them.’ replied the Crofter. ‘They help, a little, but I have seen what happens to the yeoman when they start living on the stuff. It is a recipe for disaster. And those who turn to wizardry are even more hopeless. Their life-span rapidly declines, and they trade a few years on top for bleak years without souls.’

‘Ah, then you do have some understanding.’

‘Perhaps. But that will not help me sleep at night.’

‘Then tell me’ said the Sage, getting into his element. ‘Why can you not sleep?’

‘I am anxious and miserable.’ replied the Crofter. ‘There, I admit it!’

‘And why are you anxious?’

‘My life has been a hard one, and my soul much tormented. It is how I have come out.’

‘And the misery?’

‘I cannot say. I just, am.’

‘Oh come now’ laughed the sage. ‘No one is miserable without good reason! Have a think.’

‘I suppose I am miserable because…it feels like we are losing.’

‘Who is losing what?’

‘The good people of the world are losing, to the bad people.’

‘Ah that! Yes, it does seem to be the way of things at this time. But why does that make you miserable?’

‘I believe that this does not have to be the case, and all around me are miserable people who say otherwise. So I ride this cart everyday, to silence the voice the miserable people have placed there.’

‘You believe it does not have to be the case. Then your misery springs from the very core of your heart, that what you believe in and desire is not being achieved.’

‘I guess it seems a lot clearer now.’

‘Would you rather you did not feel sadness? Would you rather your soul was silent and let the world slide by as it does, deeper and deeper into degeneracy?’

‘Come to think of it, no I would not.’

‘So your misery which leads to agitation and thus tiredness, is it something you can get rid of without fundamentally changing the core of your being?’

‘No?’

‘Well, yes. A little, try some of these herbs and powders.’

‘But-‘

‘The world will not change overnight, and you still have to live in it. But remember ye this – the more it is in your head that your misery, and all its concurrent malaises, are caused by your very own inner-dreams for betterment; the more you realize that your desires for better are being compared to the world and perpetually let down, the less that misery is your enemy, and the more it is a reason to strive to change things and avoid complacency. And rather than wallow in it, as I have never seen you do, you will just have to find a way to express what you truly desire to see in the world, and make it so, as much as it can be so.’

‘Truly sage, I thought you lazy as an old ox! But you speak much wisdom.’

‘I am lazy as many old oxen, stout yeoman. But I do not begrudge myself for it – I would sooner be so than serve stagnant, degenerate lords.’

‘And yet you have no misery to you?’

‘Not now, no. But often. Even when I do, I do not let it destroy my health. I am a sage after all!’

And the crofter went along his way, drained and tired still, but a little bit more hopeful that world could be turned from evil. But it was a long way uphill, and this was little solace in the midst of Winter.

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Dark Mage

To those who darkness amplify

This suffering do not glorify

Tis a font of anger, hate and fight

To call upon and set things right!

None could choose to be this way

But can choose to use it everyday

To reach out to others suffering

And speak the spells of  all-healing!

Wooooooooo

Task of the brave

To mend what was broken
To heal what was wounded
To find what was lost
To restore what was ruined
To raise what was fallen
To love what was neglected
To fill what was empty
To seed what was barren
This is your task, hortzosh.

But to find why these tragedies
Came to pass in the first place;
To stop evil from triumphing again
*This* is the task of the wizards.

The wizards…

A madman or a visionary…

Now I am a note of chaos

In the symphony of order

A madman and an idealist.

In less than a decade

I will be a visionary

And a hero of mankind.

They know this

The corpses who hold on to power

Yet til the bitter end

They will waste the lives of their vassals

And tear the land apart.

Power knows not past, present, future

It is timeless, like the depths of the mind

Irrational, lost, desperate, screaming at the void

Like a child, for more, more, greater hoard

For fame, and followers, golden things, nations at its clawed feet.

Power knows no reverence for life

And has no love for the beauty of the galaxy.

But the tyrant always falls

For ‘mad-folk’ like me are always born,

And the people always triumph,

The only question is when.

 

They hate me, for I am change-bringer

I am truth-wielder, I am death-howl,

I am game-ender, I am a note of chaos

In the symphony of order.

Gylfanon and the Black Drake

On the eve of Lammas, Gylfanon crossed the Gnarred Plains and first reached Mawrend’s cavern, gazing down at the entrance. Smelling the sick scent of sulphur and burning bones, he turned his steed and sheathed Nightcleaver, bringing his cavalry bodyguards with him.

On the eve of Imbolc, Gylfanon again reach Mawrend’s cavern. This time he dismounted, handing the reins to his page, drew his broad black sword and ventured down the first corridor. Something inside his skull urged him to turn, to turn back with haste. He followed that impulse.

Half a year passed and again on the eve of Lammas, Gylfanon reached Mawrend’s cavern. With little fear he dismounted and made his way along the first, natural cavern corridor. Skulls and bones and scorched armours lay all about, at the portal to the deeps of the reptile’s lair. Gylfanon pondered sending in scouts, but decided not to risk it. Mounting his steed, sheathing Nightcleaver, he returned to Castle Gylfax.

On the eve of Imbolc, Gylfanon returned to Mawrend’s cavern. Fearless he strode into its maw and along the first corridor. Tentatively he made his way through the portal, and there slumbered the great drake Mawrend. The beast slept, but the Black Prince thought better than to try his luck, trusting in his twisting gut. Ordering his impetuous knights to stand down, they left grumbling.

On the eve of Beltain, Gylfanon returned to Mawrend’s cavern. Never had his men seen him so confident as he dared the cavernous entrance, bestrode the dark corridors, ducked through the portal entrance and drew Nightcleaver, brandishing the terrible blade and roaring in defiance. Mawrend, woken from a deep dream, instantly bowed his neck in service.

All of the bones lying about the Reptile’s lair, they belonged to the ones who did not listen to their fear. They were the ones who understood not how to battle the unknown. Gylfanon was wiser, the alpha and the omega. He won a powerful reptilian ally and a lifelong friend from his understanding.

Enchantment

Without enchantment, we are lost in the world. Without myth, guideless. Without spirit, we are dead inside. Without art, we are silent.

The world-as-it-is: not suitable for our primed imaginations. Stillness is just a reprieve, sleep a chance to dream. The vigour of endless Western minds; ceaseless, like the snout of an anteater. The world is layered with our mark.

Then let us do the best that we can do with our candor and sheer energy. Let us enchant nature and live there, among the wood sprites and the sacred trees. Let us catch that mana, let us fly these concrete prisons.

Profit is a road leading nowhere. But the deep wood and the bramble grove is an infinite, winding adventure…

Hospitality (A dialogue between Irekus and Gylfanon)

Gylfanon grimaced as the fire started to smoke. Rummaging through a crumbling sack, he found only a few onions and rock-hard bread.

‘My hospitality is poor. Forgive me old friend.’

Irekus smiled, learning his birchwood staff against the uneven wall. ‘Think little of it. This hardy stone keeps out the wind, and bread fills my stomach as well as meat.’

‘I think you humour me. Ah I am ashamed here, to share my room with the wretched. To serve poor fare to esteemed guests, to have not even a room for holding court.’

‘I thought you despised pomp and grandiosity?’

‘Aye I do – in other people!’

‘Ha, perhaps it threatens you. Modest Gylfanon, not so’ said the old wizard, with a knowing smile.

‘No mentor, modest Gylfanon is not. Not at heart. I ought to be, but cannot. My heart still yearns for place, and the power to come. Maybe that is why I feel so deeply troubled here, though there be not troll nor raider in sight.’

‘It is natural. That was the rhythm you used to live by. Your conscious mind is now, but your body is trailing behind.’

‘These mercenaries I surround myself with, they know not the glory I led House Gylfanis. They know nothing of the Battle of Darkfel, nor my rallying cry at the river sern. The respect I did command, the triumphs laid upon me. To them, I am a mere paymaster, without history.’

‘Oh friend.’

‘Nor do they know of my atrocities, the beast inside me.’

‘Time will forgive those.’

‘I cannot forget them.’

‘Gylfanon, this is a passing phase. A mere road upon a greater destiny. This path may lead you away from that you long for, but it cuts through the silent land. You will not be ronin for-ever.’

‘Yet it feels like an eternity. This prison, these desperate faces. I cannot take it much longer! I once kissed the necks of star-lit nymphs in the Sacred Glades. Now I lie beside snoring old men.’

‘By the looks of things, you have done well by these people. Even at your worst, I heard tell of your finding a lost  clan of Gylfans. Grateful townsfolk told me how your took and held SIlmootil and Corsk with a small band of men. You restored the chapter of the Serpent Brother knights, and took many bandit claws off the roads, bringing safety to many.’

‘Then why does it feel like I am weak, powerless and constantly insulted? That every day is the same, with no promise or future. How easily I can be separated from the love of my friends and allies.’

‘Mayhap you forget that you stand not alone. This Winter has been harsh on many. All share a common destiny.’

‘To Hades with such notions!’

‘Pray, my black prince, push not against Fate; for it has brought you to this. Your loyal knights have grown scarce, yet much have you achieved and learned about yourself. You cannot always rely on providence to give you great deeds. Often times, you must seek among the mud and the roots for sustenance.’

‘But why me! I was happy. After a hard life, I found something. We were growing, expanding.’

‘It seems old friend that you long for a still world, where one cannot be found. Does not the sea weather the greatest cliff? Does not the Great Moon circle the world, growing and shrinking? Does not the dragon awaken from its slumber-spell of centuries?  All things change, my friend. They grow, wither and die – but it is never certain in which order.’

‘Then we are a doomed race. For we will live in misery and think it eternal, or be excited into joy, only to lose it. For what? Why bother living for anything if Fate will come and take it all away from us.’

The old wizard stroked his wispy beard, pondered, then continued; ‘Why but for these things mean something in the moment they occur. And who is to say that your deeds will come to naught, or whether history will maintain you for a thousand years. And who is to say that when Gylfanon or Irekus perishes, another will not take up our souls.’

‘Rebirth…’

‘Aye. When you consider that nothing is ever wholly destroyed, it seems logical. Infinite, yet not eternal.’

Gylfanon nodded. ‘So that is why you accept my meagre hospitality now? This is all one big metaphor for you is it not old man!’

Irekus grinned, wickedly; ‘I know that you do all you can to keep me warm and fed. That is enough. When reborn, with your castles restored and your land at your feet and your maiden eager and your foes routed, your hospitality will be greater, and yet no greater, than it is now.’

Gylfanon smiled at this, his heavy, weary face unused to the gesture. It was the last and most splendid act of hospitality that night.

To the depths

To the depths I went

Always brand in fist

To find what made these paths

I thought I freely trod

 

What illusions waited there

To upturn the ship of tranquillity

What machine within worked

To hide the shadows

What lies came in dreams

To veil the truth

 

And the soul’s guardian, to protect me

Stayed loyal to false master

When it should to my ambition alone cleave

And my song venerate

 

An ocean lays at my heart

It is still or stormy

Of its own wild freedom

But now I can sail it

For I am bound

To the friends of true depth

Who understand what I truly am

 

The illusions in me, games of the mind

Shocked for years, shaken in fear

Of harsh words, of the street, of night

The evidence now piles against it

I have earned my honours

In the heart of the woods

And was always of bliss

And was always of bliss

Gentleness is I, peace is I

Merriness is I, truthseeker am I

A dialogue with anxiety

I WILL PROTECT YOU

No you fool, you will not. What you are doing is debilitating. There is nothing to protect me from. I am strong enough to face the world, I have enough support. The past feelings were wrong.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

The feelings of worthlessness which led us here. They were implanted there without good reason. They are the inheritance of tyrants. We are worthy, and this is proven by our deeds.

I DO ONLY WHAT I KNOW

What you know is wrong. It is false. When you were young, the feelings of pain were stronger, but this does not make them true. Truth is determined by what actually is now, not in words and feelings of folly from the path.

I UNDERSTAND

For now you may. But return not tomorrow to hold me back! I know what I am capable of anxiety, and I know the risks.

The Dark Crusade of Vengeful Truth (Wyrmheart Saga)

‘It is not the sufferings of winter that cause us to quail in this world

It is the evil of warped good, and the secret slaves of the false god.’

As the shadow of the South creeps ever closer to the realms of men, Winter grows more furious. The forests at the Edge of the World begin to gnarl and die, giving way to flood and landslide. The rivers grow sick with grief, and mountains are torn asunder for the stones and minerals within. Wealthy factors in the cities increase the price of wheat and corn, as Lords tighten their belts and raise their taxes. The ‘Dorian Alliance is tested to its limits as delegations stop visiting the Grand Councils and Calls to Summons, becoming more suspicious of their neighbours. Priests and monks of the Old Faith still attend solstices and celebrations, but pilgrims and fanatics come in lesser number. Corruption in the Temples is rife.

This is an age of cynicism. Trumpets of doom are blown. Brother grows suspicious of brother, peasant collectives begin to fragment and turn against their own interests.

Avagoth raids intensify on the borders, the steeds of many warlords reaching as far as the Inner Cities. With diminishing armies and plummeting morale, the Alliance brings in ever more desperate measures – Orcish mercenaries to quell the anger of their own people. It is a short-term solution bound to spread resentment. People start to question where their civilization is going and whether there truly is an eternal, celestial order to things. Those few who profit from the increasing struggle are the only ones with any power, their miserable souls slowly evolving into demonic aspect, their fangs feeding on millions of poor and desperate.

Only Gylfanon, the Dark Prince of Gylfanys, goes on the attack. Looking to expand his Kingdom, he forges links with the Lorcanians of the sacred wood. He avoids the worst of Avagoth raids by promising his barbarian “friends” power and land in his new domain. Turning warlord against warlord, Gylfanon’s knowledge of Avagothic clan politics spares him much grief. In his own lands he makes it illegal to raise the price of grain, and threatens the wealthy factors and their private guards with his furious league. Many flee to neighbouring lands, and Gylfanon’s council take their wealth and estates, distributing much of it to the needy. Yet more volunteers step forward to take up spear and shield for their prince, yet more weeping maidens stitch great banners of valour to be carried into battle.

At first he only aimed to frighten his neighbours into compliance, but quickly Gylfanon gained in confidence. High-Priest Furion secretly joined him, and advised he begin the Dark Crusade of Vengeful Truth, to turn the armies of evil away by any means possible – even turning the weapons of evil against itself! In a moment of revelation, Gylfanon realized how much his own inner-darkness and suffering was a source of strength. Caused by the evils and inequalities of men, it is rage enough to overturn his oppressors. Deep inside that nihilistic tendency lay the fearlessness to face death.

As news spreads and champions gather beneath the black and red Gylfan banners, the five brothers of the Turcans respect the brazen might of bold Gylfanon and his wise council. The Scyldlings send him gifts from the Northern Ice, mighty frostblades, and a pair of armoured mammoth to serve as his battle-steeds. Many creatures emerge from the deeps, drawn to his pulsing soul, understanding the speech of his beastmasters. And much are his loyal volunteers, among them Thugul and Au Ko, and even a few companies of the hardy Dalf Byorn tired of the decline around them.

On the attack, Gylfanon gains momentum, and the Dark Prince is seen as a hero of Hy-Selasia, even by his enemies. But those enemies are great; The six warped, mind-controlling giants who rule over the still, ancient domains of Ivis. And the King-in-the-Crystal, the single most powerful man of all. He commands no army, yet his believers are many, and they have many armies. Their hearts gripped by tightening despair and irreverence for nature, they know only anxious obeisance to their cruel King.

It is almost time to put ideals to the test. It is almost time for battle.

Gylfanon hands his diamond broadsword to his lieutenant, the silent and bold Halbard. Delving to the depths of the ancient armoury of the Nagothi, he seeks a greater treasure. A dark creature of Elvish aspect waits there, hidden beneath a robe of samite, and he holds in his naked hands a long, serrated sword. Clutching Nightcleaver to his chest, Gylfanon prepares for the ultimate battle, not against the true, inevitable darkness, but against the warped light which casts an even greater shadow.