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    AC Benus
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Demon Dream - 3. Following On

.

Some one hour later,

The trail growing dimmer

With each footfall they made,

And the shadows taking

The last hue from the plants,

Tarogo stopped to light

The wick in the lantern.

It was while he was stooped

The sound first came to him.

Nearly toppling over,

Thinking the meadow grass

Had somehow conjured song,

And was singing to him.

He jolted to his feet,

But Yukei raised his hand

To keep his servant hushed.

For deep from within the

Sea of switchgrass prairie,

The men could hear a chant

Rise as faint as if from

The crescent moon inching

Above the waves of green.

“Listen,” Yukei then said,

“We’ll let these strains of song

Be our guide and loadstone.

If the people are good

To wayward travelers,

They’ll offer us shelter.”

Room and board, Tarogo

Had no objections, but –

What irked him was Yukei’s

“If.” If they were good folks –

But then, what if they're not?

Lantern-less they started;

Stepped off the relative

Safety of the roadway,

And into the dark wilds.

By the time the moon had

Tracked a part of the sky,

The travelers’ progress

Made them appear as two

Dismembered heads floating

Atop the rustling grass.

Ever following on

To where the singing led.

Entering the clearing,

They stumbled on a shack,

Which, from its roof of thatch,

Seemed more straw than structure.

From the house, a clearing

Held the wild plain at bay

In all directions by

A dozen yards or so.

Otherwise the grass would

Consume the thatch of the

Little house carved from it.

In the quartered moonlight

Casting blue character

Of the haziest sort,

Contrasts of height and width;

Of ground and growth, diffused

A rounded appearance

To every opposite.

And all moaned in pleasure

When the night caressed them.

The singing was louder

And more mysterious

As its notes blended with

The natural world which

Couched it in such beauty.

Tarogo, uneasy

As the first to see this,

Got a shock when he turned

To Yukei behind him;

He’d sort of forgotten

Anyone else was there.

Instantly recovered

Once more, his eyes grew round

With fearful panic that

He had been rude to his

Own earthy provider.

He humbly begged pardon.

Coming ‘round to the front,

Yukei then boldly stepped

Into the clearing and

Cupped hands around his mouth.

Towards the shack’s front door

He shouted out calmly:

“Greetings unto this house.

May we meet the one who

Dwells within this abode?”

Within, the enchanted,

Siren voice drawing them

Barely lowered a hitch

As it sang its eerie

Tale of ancestral woe.

However, when the door

Slid on its frame a bit,

Letting flickering spill

On the colorless ground,

The song faded away.

In the modest doorway

Stood a frail old woman.

The two traveling men

Looked on with mouths agape

For the peasant appeared

Quite old indeed as she

Got down on creaky knees,

Assuming the perfect

Attitude of deep-bowed

Humility to them.

“Dear grandma,” Yukei said,

Stepping from the clearing

Into the door’s squared light.

“Such formality’s not

Warranted on a night

As lonely as this one.”

Helping her stand, he asked,

“Gran, where is thy husband?”

Now to Yukei’s glancing,

The deep-furrowed wrinkles

Of the old one’s face showed

Heroic endurance.

“Oh, master,” she began,

“Please forgive me, but he

Died a lifetime ago.”

Assisted to her feet,

The slightly winded lord

Bid Tarogo step close,

For he’d stayed by the grass.

“Dear, gray-headed lady,”

The master assured her,

“You have nothing to fear

From I or my servant.”

‘Or,’ Tarogo wondered

Silently to himself,

‘Had we better her fear…?’

But within an instant,

The thought was driven off.

Yukei started once more.

“We’ve travelers who’ve lost

The day and guiding warmth,

For thieving petty night

Would steal our fuel, but give

No direction in turn.

May we rest our worn bones

By the hearth that comforts

The ground you inhabit?”

She glanced slowly, shyly

From one man’s hopeful face

To a second less sure.

To Yukei she replied,

“My lord, those of heaven

May find it a sore task

To wrest some rest from earth,

But what little I have

Is at your disposal.”

Her timid utterance

Then stooped with her into

A truly humbled bow.

 

_

Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

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Chapter Comments

This is such a unique and captivating piece of work! Just a few things among many that I find intriguing here: the bitter but relatable servant, the master who attempts to be wise and zen-like, the vivid descriptions of both the beautiful and horrible. The style you chose gives it an air of a very old tale, which lends to the atmosphere. I’m excited for this one to continue!

 

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On 5/2/2021 at 4:47 PM, headtransplant said:

This is such a unique and captivating piece of work! Just a few things among many that I find intriguing here: the bitter but relatable servant, the master who attempts to be wise and zen-like, the vivid descriptions of both the beautiful and horrible. The style you chose gives it an air of a very old tale, which lends to the atmosphere. I’m excited for this one to continue!

 

Thanks for your wonderful comments, headtransplant. Your description of this work is excellent. "Beautiful and horrible."

Thanks again  

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I’m with Tatogo: I do not trust this siren in the grasslands. You continue to bring me visions under a wide sky, and a story which may breathe magic into every line. 

  • Love 1
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2 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

I’m with Tatogo: I do not trust this siren in the grasslands. You continue to bring me visions under a wide sky, and a story which may breathe magic into every line. 

Thank you, Parker, for a wonderful set of comments. I particularly like your mentioning a wide sky. Thanks again  

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