Sunday 10 April 2011
Lost Words - Parts 11 & 12
When consciousness came again
Acute pain was all he was aware of -
He noticed nothing else.
But gradually he learned that he lived -
He had another chance to change things.
The bard banished the burns
To the back of his brain,
While there was breath in his body
He would battle the beast.
He opened his eyes cautiously
And cast them round the cave.
Ana lay by the lava,
Her breathing still broken,
And by her body was the beast.
The menacing monster
Caressed her still living corpse,
Running a claw across her carcass -
Bright blood flowed at his touch.
Her lifeless lips formed a silent scream,
A quiet cry of agony.
Inside the soul of the smith
A raging river of emotion
Burst its banks:
Relentless rage rose up -
Compassion coursed through him -
Dark despair welled up within -
His lonely love grew louder -
Baleful bitterness -
Sincere sorrow -
Tremendous terror -
Devout determination -
The wordsmith rose from the rocks,
The air around him electric -
His light was his fire, his furnace,
His darkness was his anvil, his hammer,
The words were his sword:
“Sigh no more, sweet sorrow,
The long night soon will end,
Like days before, we will tomorrow
In living sunshine spend.”
Wafting on the wind.
The dragon rose up in wrath,
His black wings beat the air in a frenzied fury,
But the smith did not stop:
“As the sun destroys the gloom,
The light will break the clouds,
The night is done, the darkness doomed,
Light bursts through our shrouds.”
The serpent sucked in air sharply,
His red rage spat forth fire,
“The fire of night, burning bright,
Thaws beneath our searing sight,
The false sun, dims and dies,
Exposed to our opened eyes.”
His words wound about the flames,
The furious fire dissolved,
Dispersing like dust on the wind.
Frustrated and furious
Clanun raised his claws to cut Varan down,
The drake’s talons towered over him.
“And the tempest’s darkening clouds
Raise up their ugly head
But the voice is growing loud -
The lifeless is not dead.
“The barb is sharp and fierce
And desperate grows the hour
But the opened palm is pierced
With greater power.”
A whirlpool of words
Stronger than swords
Span round the smith -
Strange sorcery of untold strength,
That flowed from far within
But surged and soared outwards,
Clasped Clanun’s claws -
The fearsome face clenched,
Taut muscles tightened,
Straining against the sorcery.
The wordsmith wove his words tighter
And began to sing them softly,
But in a climbing crescendo -
A hurtling hurricane,
Soared round the smith -
The song made it surge
Raising it higher:
“Sing a strange symphony,
A movement of magic;
A fast pulsing harmony,
A slow beating quiet,
“Dance through the dark,
Spin to the dawn,
In a contrast so stark
We’ll whirl to the morn,
“The vortex of moonlight
The storm of the sound,
Fracture the midnight
Spread light all around,
And the nightmare will tire,
The darkness drains,
“The secret spells
Invoke the storm
The fog that fell
Dissolves in dawn,
Of broken bones,
Varan of the Verse
Moved with the magic
Louder than thunder
Softer than a sliding tear.
At his will the wind whirled,
At his words lightning leaped,
From his fingers flew fire
Straining to smash the smith,
The drake fought the magic for a moment,
But the wizard-wind wore him down -
Before the force of the flames
The mighty monster plummeted,
He fell with a crash of thunder.
The dragon lay dead
And moved no more.
The magic melted away,
Words scattered on the wind.
Varan was left breathless,
Did his love still live?
A trembling breath brushed her lips.
Ana opened her eyes.
She whispered weakly,
“I knew you would not fail,”
A small smile formed on her lips,
Varan could not help but smile back.
Very softly, they kissed forever.
Varan came back to the city,
Holding Ana by the hand;
Though still weak, her wounds were healed,
And her eyes were alive once more.
He carried the head of Clanun on his back,
Huge and hideous, shining and shimmering,
Strangely sleek and seductive,
It lay lifeless on his back -
The jaws of Clanun were closed forever.
The people stopped their work to watch the warrior
As she walked with the slayer of serpents.
At first they were simply stunned,
But then they started smiling,
Then they clapped and cheered.
Soon the whole city surged through the streets
Singing songs of celebration,
Dancing and beating drums.
Merry music, with its own magic,
Filled the air, flowing freely -
Like water washing the world of its weariness.
Varan strode the streets victoriously,
Utterly exhausted but with a smile on his lips.
The First Councillor, dressed in fine furs,
Was already waiting when they arrived.
When he caught sight of Clanun’s head,
A smile like the rising sun
Lit up his face, he laughed loudly;
Colour flowed back to his features,
Life filled his face.
The Speaker proclaimed a celebration,
A day of dancing and dining,
Of singing and celebrating,
A time to hear the tale told -
And the preparations for the party began.
Varan and Ana, too drowsy to dance,
Sat by the side to watch the celebration,
Pleased to be the cause of such pleasure.
The food was fabulous
The drink - deliciously divine.
Music, with a mesmerising pulse,
Rang out its rhythm
And the dancers whirled with delight.
Though Varan felt an ache in his arm,
A serene smile lingered on his lips;
He was entranced by the night’s air,
The myriad melodies,
The dynamic dances.
It was a feast, a festival,
Of strong sounds and lilting light.
When the players paused their performance
And a sudden silence fell,
Ana asked the wizard
If he would weave his words once more,
To sing the song that slew the serpent.
Varan tried to recall his words,
The rhymes, the rhythms,
The meanings, the metaphors,
But like dreams they fled from his fingers.
He had not found his lost words
And that ate at his enjoyment,
Niggling in the mire of his mind.
But then the Speaker signalled for silence,
A hush fell over the hordes,
And he forgot his forlorn fears.
The Speaker turned to the smith,
And asked him to speak his story.
Varan rose reluctantly to his feet
And told his tale:
He spoke of the wild wolves
Both dark and deadly,
Of his fear and his flight,
And then the fierce fire he had called forth.
How he had swum the sulphurous lake
Down through the dark,
Battling for breath,
As he followed the lizard to its lair.
The audience were enraptured,
Spellbound by the story,
They watched their hero with wonder,
Gasped at his courage
And smiled at his successes.
Then Ana took up the tale,
And told of her torture and torment,
The hours of agony and anguish,
Of waiting, and wondering.
The smith spoke of the flaring fires
That ran in a red river.
He described the dragon,
Its malevolent majesty.
Varan told of his defeat and near death,
How he had almost fallen.
Ana described the spell of the smith,
How the wizard wove the words
That destroyed the dragon
And saved her life.
Out of breath and burnt out,
Nearly falling from fatigue,
They finished their story -
The audience exploded into applause.
Many now watched Varan with wonder,
At the man who had conjured magic;
They called him conqueror, champion, hero.
He didn’t feel like a hero,
He had felt too much fear,
Too much sorrow and suffering.
He was weary, and wanted only to sleep.
Ana yawned, her eyes half-closed,
Almost overcome with exhaustion.
The Speaker, seeing their fatigue
Smiled a small, soft smile,
And suggested they get some rest -
Neither offered any argument.
Soon they were snug and secure,
Bundled warmly in soft beds.
Before he fell asleep, barely awake,
Varan listened to the magical music
Still wafting on the winter wind.