Malenia, The Red Queen

Valkyrie fertile with decay
on the war-march from day to day
to stay the Rot at limb and head
while it writhed alike life to spread
its fungal roots beyond the skin
so then Without was as Within,
for war brings rot, as does such death
long denied by the shibboleth
of an Order conceited by
the power of a Golden lie.
O Red Queen, you were but a pawn
to a god and the crimson dawn
which dwelled within your pallid breast,
aswarm with each unwanted pest,
the bastard children of an age
unwelcome by Queen, Lord, or sage,
nor the mother from whom they bloomed
as from a corpse a time entombed.
O Red Queen, you were blind before
the fairy of the river bore
your changeling vision of a dream
of a swordsman blue in the seam
and flowing with the dancing blade
whereby the Rot could be forbade.

But what good was this fairy light
when blue wisps bleed themselves to fight
those that trespass along the flow
of the underworld and its glow?
A standstill was all the accord
your vampiric sword could afford,
nor could unalloyed gold buy aught
when its slash also fed the Rot.
Blind to Fate and its witless path,
blind to the blooming aftermath,
your pride full-fraught with self-defeat
and the fear to flee or retreat;
a fear of loss, a fear of shame,
losing all to retain your name:
“The blade of Miquella,” you say
though from him you were led astray.
Fate is a sky of fickle stars
held in place, and their pockmark scars
are not so deadly as the blood
spilled by a family aflood
with the great anger that shatters
all the lands, and runic matters.
Is that why you bore so much scorn
for a brother whose strength inborn
was as gigantic as his size
as he stayed the falling skies?
Or was it his hair that was red
like your hair, flowing, as if bled
from a fell wound not yet healed
from amidst an old, snowy field
whereat the curse of thrones arose
within the thorns and hammer blows?
He stayed the stars all alone,
though festering in blood and bone,
nor needed help, even when cursed:
he had wished to be like the First.
Now he devours those left behind
along the dunes, his blighted mind
riddled like Caelid’s countryside
while horrors grow from putrid pride.

Nothing stymies the spreading pox,
nothing uproots the bloody stalks,
nothing removes the fungal blooms,
nothing seals the spore-spewing plumes
nothing staunches the brimming pools,
nothing helps but Miquella’s tools.
And now your twin has gone afar,
awaiting the foretold Blood Star
while cocooned like a butterfly
soon to wake, a dream god whereby
nightmares may take shape at long last
in a bloody gold alloy cast.
Or so some may guess. But who knows?
Rykard is dead, yet he regrows.
The sky overhead…is it real?
Or is it false, the Greater Will
trapping this realm in a rock case
like a keepsake stowed in its place?
Is firmanent an onyx roof
and each star a stalactite tooth
of alabaster, or glintstone,
glimmering in the vast unknown?
No, it is an egg that once broke,
the One Great but a gilded yoke
of runic life now gone awry
as Tarnished wage war, kill and die.
What does it mean? It matters not.
This new age belongs to the Rot.
It will set things right once again:
Erdtree, Marika, gods and men.

The Unicorn Curse

O friend, have you yet to meet
the unicorns in their froth-maned flock?
Hooves of onyx, fierce and fleet
and their hides pale white like marble block.
Fear them, O friend, and their gaze,
their eyes like pure-polished porcelain
that flinch not from brightest rays
or from any malign course of sin.
They look like frolicking steeds
galloping across the Springtime plains
alike to many horse breeds,
but they will suffer no mount or reins.
Suffer! To suffer, indeed!
For they bridle a man’s life instead,
as they did me, and mislead,
like a mug of witch brew to the head.
Their aspect is not equine,
but headed like babes but a year old,
and their hearts are not divine,
but unfeeling, cruel, deathly cold.
But what favor they show oft
to virgins who dare to travel far
to touch such a mane…pure…soft…
following Virgo, from star to star!
But what of virgins oft said
to be honored among these pure things?
Come, if you dare; lay your head
in their laps and see how their touch brings
a curse such as no man wants,
such a curse of loveless wanderlust
until ones memory haunts
the lonely years, one’s youth gone to rust.

Mariana’s Song

Another eve passed alone
and I ponder my cold bed,
the night air chilling to the bone,
the hearth of day dark…now dead.

Single candle, you burn low
on the window sill nearby,
your flame is small, your wax aflow
as the teardrops from an eye.

Do I fret the solitude
and its all-too-silent hours?
Do I linger in this dark mood
of a wine that quickly sours?

I take turns about my room
and recall your lips to mine;
and in that mournful midnight gloom
I can see the full moon shine.

It shines afar—ghostly wan
with the daylight it borrows
from a fickle sun that has gone
to happier tomorrows.

Away! Away! Flee you far
from whence you oft wished not leave;
you were as constant as a star—
now dew athwart spider-weave.

My looking-glass shines no more,
nor can it with thin moonbeams,
nor my eyes, nor my smile, nor your
gilded glamor in my dreams.

When I shine, now, I am pale
with the distant light of you,
you are memory of a tale
I tell myself: I love you.

Your scent no longer remains
nor shadows from your light;
I cannot clean these linen stains
of wine, and blood, red on white.

The Brass Squire, The Birch Witch

Aegis, the shield-hand, ventured on a quest
alongside his compeers, the Gran Stone squires,
each besotten with dreams to thus attest
the worth of their training, their hearts—the liars.

Twere young men spurred by the heat of their lungs
to ride Northeast and challenge the Black Knight,
all the while flapping their overproud tongues
and profiting on all peasants in sight.

But Aegis, the chaste, aspired to be more
than the snide squires with which he rode Northward,
sworn to the heroic tenets of yore,
of shield and sacrifice; not only sword.

So when an old hag pleaded for their aid
and his brethren mocked her bark-skinned face
and then left her in the woods, Aegis stayed;
the Brass Squire would deign to witness her case.

“The demoness stole my youth,” she complained,
“That demoness Vanus, her artful wiles
being vanity to all, her heart paned
with the glass to tempt all to their own guiles.”

Aegis knew the crone was a wily liar,
yet she seemed pitiful beneath her hood,
aggrieved as elders are ere they expire,
so he agreed to do as a man should.

He braved the birch woods and their mysteries,
seeking the glade-laid heart of the forest
while the Birch Witch recalled the histories
that the trees whispered far from the Nor’west.

“When in times when old was young, and death cried
as a newborn dropped from the cosmic cleft,
the World-Unfurled was neither far nor wide,
but was as a small peaceful patch of weft.

And no beast was a hunter, nor beast prey,
and the day stretched on with sunlight profound
nor darkened at the closing of the day,
but all was pure innocent, round and round.

For there were no beasts nor hearts nor desires
as the Weft lay smooth in its little square,
but soon life arose, from which there transpires
the wolf and the sheep, the fox and the hare.

And then I came, from up high, as an owl
to hunt amidst the moonlight and the birch,
screeching to silence even the wolf’s howl
and to make pellets of pelts from my perch.”

The Birch Witch laughed, then, and Aegis wondered
if he was a fool, her motives clearer,
but then came a glint of light that sundered
shadow from shadow—it was a mirror.

The demoness was tall, slender, a snake
with fine arms and legs and claws and a head
that looked almost womanly in its make,
but crowned in black horns, her smirking lips red.

But most striking of all was the gilt pane
embedded in her bark-scaled belly, fat,
for that mirror drew Aegis, as a rein,
and he could not but be spellbound by that.

Dismounting from his horse, Aegis stepped forth
with his sword forgotten in the saddle,
meanwhile the witch watched him, the haggard dwarf
warning that he should not let his wits addle.

Vanus, the demoness, spoke thereafter:
“Gaze, gentle squire, and witness thy desire,
for it is what thou most wish.” Her laughter
resounded through the glade in a great gyre.

In the molten mirror the squire beheld
the fancies of an ideal come to be,
but it was the deceit with which she veiled
the truth of his unconfessed vanity.

Aegis saw himself ornate with festoons,
gloried by men and women, one and all,
and beyond, his tale told on golden runes:
a song in every court and mead hall.

But the demoness lied, he knew too well,
for she smirked as oft the cruel squires did
just before they took to some fancy fell
and did what horrors honor should forbid.

Wroth, then, with himself and the other squires,
the Brass Squire lifted shield against the glass
fending off reflections of his desires
and smashing his dreams with his turtled brass.

The demoness screamed, as did her slayer,
for her demonic blood surged to scald skin,
melting his young face, layer by layer,
until he swooned unto oblivion.

When he awoke later, it was to pain,
his face a cocoon of loose cloth wrappings
while the Birch Witch advised him to refrain.
She said, “You’re not the strongest of saplings.”

She tended him for a time, with great care,
applying honey and sap to his face,
but though stronger, he was no longer fair,
nor had she regained her youth in its place.

“We both of us lost,” she told him, weeping,
“but you lost most of all, my poor young man.”
Aegis said nought for a long time, keeping
his griefs to himself, if but for a span.

“I am free,” he said, “free from dreams now past,
and though it aches alike my face, I yet
seek to be as shield made in fire to last,
branded to remind me lest I forget.

I am free to do as duty demands,
free from the temptations that slough like skin
peeled by your tender, careful hands, such hands
that could have slain me in the chance given.”

Then the Birch Witch and the Brass Squire both smiled,
smiles pained by the scars of Time and of War,
seeing one another true, unbeguiled,
and journeyed forth into the lands of yore.