Hope

Photo by Todd McKinley

Though darkness walks upon this land, breaking it asunder.

And mountains tremble beneath snowy peaks, whispering of their folly.

The free folk flee before a host, domineering and proud.

And countries quake beneath a load of slavery and compliance.

Hope is not lost, as the sun blots out, from fiery death and destruction.

For a day will come, when the elements will rise, freed from their prisons tethered.

And light will walk upon the ground, combined with powers of each.

For the Elemental will grow, from wind and water, tempered by earth and fire.

-M.E. InkOwl

Parmara, Shield of the Sea

 

Photo by Todd McKinley

 

Between sea and land,

Upon white teeth of a winding shore.

There lays a city of ruin and growth,

Continually beings swallowed by the sea, and rising from fields of green.

It is where Chimerans reside.

Creatures of myth and strangeness beyond imagining.

Continuously caught between an Empire and it’s rebellions,

Parmara continues to shine, a hardy jewel among tumbling stone.

Shield of the Sea, it means.

For once the crumbling towers and city walls were young and strong.

On one side the sea raged, desperate to destroy the foundation of stone.

Yet as wars clashed from all sides, the city remained, forever between the sea and land.

For hundreds of years, thousands of people come and gone,

Parmarian towers still stand, shielding the land from its eternal nemesis.

Forever caught between.

-M.E. InkOwl

 

 

The North

Oh to the North I am called,

Upon a voice full of ice and snow.

Between the mountains Atrox I am drawn to begin.

Foot upon foot, step upon wintery step.

Where creatures of ice and starvation thrive, and the green world shrinks from view.

Home.

I am called home, upon a voice of ice and snow.

To the North.

Beings that dwell within caves of heat and labyrinths so deep they find the very roots of the earth.

Tall men with eyes of white commune with spirits of light.

Upon voices of ice and snow.

They beckon me to go,

North.

Home.

I will be one burdened with a secret dripping of lies,

Whispered to by ghosts of old.

A secret that will bring down the world, and raise the very mountains to the ground.

Some call me Truth-sayer, some liar.

But I have touched the light of eternity.

Infinity has swallowed my eyes, blurring my vision and bestowing Their own.

My tongue is set upon Their breath, a burning sheet of ice.

And now I see and speak as the gods do

Here in the North.

Where I am called.

For I am a Seer.

-M.E. InkOwl

The Lament of Argeatum

It is said that cities of old were once the size of a cluster of farms.

Their people were one with the earth and growing things thereupon.

Within the nourishing arms of Solumra did the first peoples of the world gain succor.

And for a time the world knew peace and prosperity.

But then the crown of Solumra slipped from her fingers, spilling precious jewels upon mortal grounds.

A mistake, a blessing, but no one will acknowledge that it was a curse.

That of Solumra and Her unsatiable greed.

Now the green farms are gone, the forests laid bare.

And between petrified trees of Lacer and the Grumul peaks lay vast walls.

Walls set to divide.

Walls placed to remind.

Walls to inspire fear.

For the Empire has conquered even here.

-M.E. InkOwl

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