Secrets Upon A Stair

She stood upon her secret stair, willing the voices echoing quietly to move on.

Surely I’ll be found out, and be cast from this place forever! She thought, desperately looking for an escape.

But then the mumbling voices grew clear and she froze.

“And when it is completed, the sign shall be given from the highest tower,” growled a voice. It was harsh like a winter’s night and it chilled Sybil to her heart.

“As it must,” lisped an all too familiar voice.

“You serve your Mastre well,” the Sister Superior spoke, “even for a Sicari.”

Sybill all but fell down the stairs in shock. The Sister Superior’s voice held a note of respect for her dark companion. Sybil cocked one pointed ear to the side, her dark hair spilling down the front of her dress.

Respect? The Sisterhood despised the Sicari, she thought, placing her feet carefully as she descended the stairwell, moving toward the glowing embrasure.

Everyone knows that these two despise one another, almost as much as siblings. Sybil’s mind wandered to the propaganda and pamphlets that seemed to run rampant through the city each day. It was a bitter rivalry fought from both sides as each sect vied for the Imperial family’s attention.

My imperial family, she thought, feeling a pang of longing as she reflected upon the separation. Memories hung before her in the chilled air, willing to be reviewed, but she pushed the thoughts away. The conversation beyond had continued, shifting to one side as the pair continued to walk upon a cobblestone path.

Sybil descended a few steps more, intrigued and terrified by this unprecedented exchange. Standing tiptoe on a stair she was given a covered view of the courtyard beyond. Torches burned along stone walls outlining the trees and shrubs of a covenant garden. Two forms walked side by side, one robed in moon silk, the other wrapped in a garment of raven black.

They would bring their most despised rival into their inner sanctum? Sybil breathed out her shock. This was the Superior’s own garden, tended by her hand for over a hundred years.

What are they playing at? she thought, pressing herself against the cool stone wall. At that moment Sybil’s foot slipped and she all but lost her purchase on the wall. A few small stones skipped down the stairs, echoing into the night. She clung to the wall for dear life, kicking her feet for a second before her slippers regain purchase on the rough stone. The tower was an old one, having been the companion to many a weathering rock and stone. Viens of cracked obsidian traced their way through roughly carved blocks giving the walls a chaotic structure.

Please don’t hear me, please don’t hear, she begged as her fingers slipped over the stone. Sybil felt her garment catch and fray and the front of her slippers tear as she regained her purchase and pushed her head up over the curved lip.

Both figures had stopped short and were facing one another, their words pouring in through Sybil’s embrasure. Neither had heard the young elf or her panicked scrabbles.

“It will be done, Daughter of the Moon,” hissed the Sicari as he bowed his head and shoulders low, “your cause is a most honorable one.”

The Sister seemed to stiffen for a moment, her gaze going beyond the robed figure.

“It must be done, Sicari. But I doubt this city . . . and these people. . .will call it honorable.” she said, with what Sybil thought was regret.

“Yes, I taste it in the air, Superior. Many will turn, and in their folly greet a death most horrible,” snarled the Sicari. Mercy abandoned his words as they left hidden lips. And Sybil instinctively knew the creature was excited at the prospect of death, of innocent death.

But what are they to do? Why are they meeting like this? She thought, pushing her self into the embrasure, willing both forms to stay where they were.

“As Sister Laureece would say, ‘the wound must be cleaned, and bone set from the inside before it can properly heal,’ and we will do this Ceptor,” the Superior said, reaching a cowled hand to touch the Sicari on his shoulder, “by the blood of the Emporer we will set the bones of this Empire, Her Empire.”

“Your bidding comes from the Burning Goddess herself, Superior,” hissed Ceptor as he again bowed his head, “We do as you and She would command.”

Sybil felt rather than heard her heart pounding in her ears at these words, but she forced herself to listen.

“Rise, Sicari,” commanded the Superior, “the Emperor must die, and upon the light of the full moon. You have a fortnight.”

“Upon the rising of our Blood Moon, the Usurper will die,” promised Cetpor, his voice shaking with suppressed energies.

The Superior waved a hand across their path saying, “Now go, there is work to be done.”

And as quick as a forming stormcloud the Sicari was gone, melting into the darkness.

Sybil watched as the Superior surveyed the garden scape around her, silent as a grave. And then she began to laugh. It was high simpering tones at first, and then the laughter came as if torn from her throat and mouth. The horrible noise filled the garden, bouncing from wall to wall until Sybil’s hidden tower stairs vibrated.

The young elf lowered herself down onto the stairs, placing hands over her ears.

“No,” she whispered, rocking back against the stones,”no.”

She looked up through a vast crack in the tower wall and saw a sliver of stars where the moon should have been.

Sybil sat shaking, torn between rage and fear, the Sister Superior’s words echoing in her mind even as she listened to her laughter. Sybil could do nothing, her airway squeezed off by this terrible secret.

“Father,” she croaked, knowing there was nothing she could do.

-M.E. InkOwl

Connections

Photo by Todd McKinley

Breath deep the air of this world.

Your body moves with and through each element.

Earth beneath your feet.

Fire within your blood.

Air hissing from your chest.

Water upon your flesh.

All surrounded by the dark,

And your mind illuminated by the light.

Each speaks from the spirit of our world, Iama.

And in those words are power.

Balance, movement, wield, and control.

There you will find your center, within the Mother Iama.

And in return she gifts you with the Elementum.

-M. E. InkOwl

The Forest Hidden

 

Photo by Todd McKinley

 

Across the Empire, and beyond cold iron mountains lies a forest so beautiful and still.

Separated by gates of infinity and earth bone, the Forest Hidden spreads deep.

Filled with a wonder of people long thought to be dead,

But in secret have they been building, hidden from foul eye and ear.

For a time will come when Imperial walls will tremble.

The end is near, fate’s hand has been tipped and now the game is started.

The Elemental walks beneath our sun and stars, pulling upon the fabric of the world.

And we will step forth, united as one,

The hidden forest of Occulta.

-M.E. Ink

Temptation of the Sea

Cousins we are, separated by the sea.

I, beneath the surface clear, you above in skies so dear.

My hair laid tangled with weeds of the sea, I placed shells of ivory with great care.

You combed your tresses that lifted in the wind, breathing freedom so sweet.

How I wish we could go back, to that evening by the sea.

Our people were one, as so many long before us.

Yet we the immortals fell prey,

To wicked lies and treachery so dear that the waters remind us of our loss.

You had held me close, as a lover’s embrace begging me to not go.

And I stood, so proud and assured,

Not believing my own folly.

And with light in hand, I parted ways,

My sister, our people eternally divided.

And now we stare from beneath two sides of the same pool,

A child of the forest, and a daughter of the sea,

Forever looking for the other.

-M.E. InkOwl

The Whispering Wood

 

Photo by Todd McKinley

“Do you hear it?” Madra whispered in my ear. We stood by the edge of a chilled lake. I knew my breath was fogging in the frozen air, but the usual lines of silver and gray vibrated around in my head. My broken eyes could not see, but the rest of my body compensated. Stones slid underfoot as I heard the woman’s voice move away from me. I followed.

“You’ve come to the Whispering Wood, boy. Have you heard of it?” she said, her voice lingering in the air as if held by the coming winter.

“I haven’t Madras,” I said, willing her to cut to the chase. My companions waited for me on the other side, doubtless worried about me.

And how could they not be? I thought, holding back a smile, Me, a blind fool, volunteered to walk into a haunted wood with naught but my pack and stick.

I pushed the conversation forward with a question.

“Why is it called the whispering wood, Madras?” I tried to control my voice, masking anxiety with feigned interest.

“Ah, an excellent question. One that I cannot begin to answer here and now.” She spoke, her voice moving further away. I could hear her feet moving against wet stones.

“What must I do to find that answer?” I said, fear pricking at my skin along with the cold.

There was a pregnant pause, and I could tell she had her eyes upon me.

And then she was there as if someone had picked her up and thrown her body at my feet.

I could feel her cold breath on my skin as she whispered, “you must ask the right questions.”

Silence had filled the clearing. Where birdsong and dripping water had been a constant in the world, now silence reigned.

A person’s breath shouldn’t be cold, I thought, feeling the silence upon my living flesh. My pulse hammered in arms and temple. The thump of my heart was as the sound of tumbling stones.

“Madras,” I asked, feeling her touch my chest, “are you alive?”

A hiss escaped her lips, and for a moment the lines of my vision, or what was left of it shifted, capturing the outline of a woman clad in naught but a blowing white and silver shift.

“Come, Jorn of the North, and I will show you,” she said, pausing for a moment, “everything.”

I took up my staff and followed.

-M.E. InkOwl

A Winding Road

I walk as one born again, beneath eves of green.

A road long traveled stretches before me, winding into the unseen.

Behind me is my home, a familiar and welcome sight.

But I walk as one transposed. The familiar sight is wrong and slightly offsetting.

My mind says, “stay, you are comfortable here.”

But my heart beats strong, “go, you must go.”

I find the path with eager feet, willing the world to show its wonders.

A green shoot am I, young and tender to the touch.

I must venture forth, from the known to divine my purpose and gain my sight.

Gods grant us mortals the gift of flight, that I may begin.

Lay upon me creation’s light.

-M.E. Inkowl

 

 

Escape

I stand on a precipice, held bound my books of learning carved from stone. 
I find myself looking down, at the floating clouds of my dreams. Below, surrounded by a raging sea, jagged rocks wait to smash me into an oblivion of failure. But at my side a breeze of hope, a lightness of heart.
With naught but myself to hang responsibility upon, I leap out into the void. And you jump beside me, tasting hope upon the wind.
 “Let us make wings as we plummet,” you cry out as our bodies move between earth and sky.
Wings of imagination unfurl in the wind. Stronger than any steel made by man, or stone broken by nature, these iridescent pinions take flight.
For we are creative beings.
-M.E. InkOwl

Mountains of Darkwell

The wind whistled between reeds as I stepped from the car. Inside my kids lay fast asleep tucked away in warm blankets.

Beyond me stretch a dirt road and causeway, surrounded by half frozen cattails and long grass. Frozen ponds lay to either side of the road, products of a harsh winter.

And to the East of where I stood, a long chain of mountains stretched to the horizon.

My mountains, I thought, following familiar peaks and valleys. Purple and golden earth thrust up into the setting sky.

Mountains of Darkwell, my thoughts whispered back to me. Closing my eyes I drank in the winter, tasting snow and ice upon the breeze.

Something changed in the ground beneath my feet, and I slowly opened my eyes.

“What is it Darabus?” a deep growl sounded by my side. I looked upon mountains familiar and yet strange. Turning my head I jumped in shock to find a gigantic silver bear panting at my side. A cloud of vapor poured from his open jaws and nose.

“Darabus?” the bear growled, raising eyes of deepest brown to my own. Upon his back lay a harness of woven leather, holding large packs filled with our supplies.

My eyes flicked down to my own attire, fur-lined coat, and gloves held together with bone crafted buttons. My feet were protected by worn moccasins. About my shoulder and across my chest hung a great wooden bow.

The car’s gone, my mind registered as in place of my modern Toyota a large stone sat. Beyond the stone, where water should have laid, a vast forest of evergreens stretched the mountains beyond. And above that . . .

Again the bear shifted its weight, it’s breath harrumphing through its long graceful snout.

Unbidden the beast’s name came to me: Osiris

“What is it? Darabus?” Osiris said again, sniffing the air with unease.

“The walls,” I said, lifting an arm and pointing to the darkening horizon. On top of the mountains, carved deep within their brow, stood a solid wall of obsidian stone. It gleamed in dying rays of the sun as twilight settled all around.

Stretching along ridges and spanning the instance between peaks, the wall stood, seamless and impregnable. Great embattlements hung over its parapet, bristling with stone spikes and turrets.

As the sky deepened with night pinpricks of light flares to life as countless soldiers began the night’s watch.

“Yes,” growled Osiris, “we have come to our journey’s end, to every road’s end. The Empire of Darkwell.”

-M.E. InkOwl

Terra Lucidum

Photo by Todd McKinley

Follow the winding shore, to the edge where naught but water laps.

Throw yourself to the four winds as they converge upon your small form.

Separate heaven and earth from life and death as you wind your way round columns of clouds.

And when you’ve reached to the stars and blackness, turn back and look upon this world.

There, floating about the sea will you find a people free,

From tyranny and hate that no longer enslaves them to stone and jewel.

This is Terra Lucidum, let her banner fly as high as the gulls. From the waters to the stars rule mortal mankind.

Lest we forget, take upon your back the clouds, the sky, the storm and the squall.

Till sea claims your form when you fall.

There you will find Terra Lucidum.

-M.E. InkOwl

A Growing Storm

Can you feel it? Disturbing the very air we breathe.

It presses upon my mind as a blanket of wet leaves that never seem to stop falling.

A storm is coming.

Whether it comes, I know not save it brings death and destruction.

But all about are the signs of peace and content, not a cloud in the sky.

A storm is coming.

Yet the disquiet calls upon our minds with unease, even as we deny the possibility.

This world has reached far beyond follies end and has touched a swarm of bees.

A storm is coming.

Are you ready, have the signs come true?

For Earth will move and fire will consume, and this world we have worked to exist will end.

Doubt not the goodness of our silent gods, that have laid dormant for a thousand years.

A storm is coming.

-M.E. InkOwl