Merlin 2: 21 “Secrets of Darkness…”
While the wounded rest there is the night that circles the earth, darkness to the gods it is the masker of the mighty powers, which even giants call unlight, that the elves call the joy of sleep, and the dwarves call the dream horizon.
In the distant woods runs the river of reason into a macabre meadow, with a red storm that rains of the warring gods an early autumn storm slowly turning the leaves, fathoms beyond holds a solemn apple tree surrounded by saplings of the lawn, only two dozen acres from a dense wood that slowly reclaims the plains but at present is halted. To satisfy the needs of destined doe foraying from the forest to the regards and reckon of mead drinkers wandering quite nomadically as the skies rumble in the distance.
In the fields of Wolf’s Prairie as a barbarous storm gathers a collection of fresh fallen and fermented spoils by the dearth of necessity, startled by travelers’ presence, the same as urgency struck into memory, within the rustling of leaves and dead memories by a field in solitude, the loud reproofs of the leaves that cover a tangent path and their payload to the forest floor, one so thick and overgrown that even at its edge will not easily give to a field of fire, a dark old wood prepares to contend with a storm.
A cold overshadow slowly walks the terroir with introspection to blitz two drunken parsons newly at camp and nourishing themselves to the plentiful fruit with lassitude rhetoric as if come to visit the distant woods. Where the forests grow shadows they are the cause of premature death unsuspecting and delivered unto punishment amongst the rubric fruit, for well-nigh dusk and her embrace exterminates them both as trespassers, keeping them from duly damaging the future of waving grain in the devil’s orchard awaiting the rain of the shadow god beneath the cerulean sky.
The darkness in survey of a natural environment is a villainess unable to subside to an entire evolutionary myriad of foes that would succeed the two now vanquished. The lightning strikes to warn the darkness, the wildlife will revive their population too dark for fire and dew covered every morn, no matter how close the suns above the forest of the mist. Beneath the promontory apple tree the dead lay in eternal rest for three days, being consumed by the ravenous ground and the ravens, dwelling creatures of the shade beneath shadows of an ancient importance, a dignitary of deeply graves bestows a scathing caprice where the living will numb and vice and linger until the Valkyrie came to take the corpses to Asgard. As where light seeks to cover and connect darkness ere it fortuitously grows as monolith and seeks to fill the echoes of the mind, the wind of the cold world lets a gust to signal credence but sends neither fire nor ice to instill judgment.
Recondite the travelers ensconce their camp anent the lonely orchard tree, to sleep and converse, to wash and eat near the river. The tree ties and feeds the horses well for at their height they are not half tall as the fruit. While Troy throws apples in the air the phoenix catches them, the land of local shadows bids a lenient departure into the woods to investigate whilst the virtues of evening are a font of magic for its ability. They all rest untouched as Merlin holds hidden in his hands strands of tattoos that run beneath his skin across his body, effulgent by spell in the darkness, as all sleep they are signs and symbols in the eyes of the demigod shadow. Reflecting or absorbing the stars Merlin’s insignia glows bright into the sky through clothes that wrap the skin, and of the others their powers display discourses benevolent. The great darkness is of this forest seeking only to harm the stray vagabonds of Midgard, in curiosity as it nears to view them sleeping the sound of wind parts around the silence and void startles Merlin, but only shadow in darkness beneath a black diamond sky to be seen it moves passed the fire as the flame light washes through it to the grass dissipated.
All are buried in their dreams as Troy sleeps while his wounds heal, a cavernous abyss stands next to the phoenix in disbelief, in the eyes of Troy the traces of a shadow are nothing more and dismissed as such, but while restive the phoenix peers and watches him look at night and look away with a scoff, the phoenix turns its head aside to learn of come what will thou may and sees the demon in full darkness splendor. Affrighted exigency, bathing in hatred, the great phoenix opens its wings and roars with fiery display, the shadow figure falls into the grass like poured water and vanishes as such, each of the high fortune their legends purvey with them now awake. The added heat of turmoil causes the meadow to be dry and the fire to be soon without fuel in the biting cold of eventide, but with a spell cast in duality the last of the embers become diamond coal stones that are kept warm in the evening by the breathing phoenix.
Eventually again they sleep of wantonly dream for softer slumbering but as Troy sleeps on a lavish billow of falcon crest and shoulder warm and comfortable, the companions wont for the course, Anathema a fire mage warm but disfavoring the conditions and Nickolas though of mortal emotion has come to terms with his senses, able to sleep through death in the cold and reawaken a warm artesian, her mostly contemptuous flame adjoins to union and coppice. Merlin turns in the cool air alone, smitten by the stars he loses himself in stare of heaven, kept warm by the larger lines among the intricate inlaid pattern that covers his body, with arms crossed until a fade blurs consciousness. In the morn, unwitting he rolls his feet too close to the phoenix and his feet catch fire not soon after dawn as the others watch. Merlin gives high interest and full effort into a lifting spell the same as through his slumber, ruffling without a coherent word from laying on his back the wind is born of his very hand and lifts him through his robes upright as a sail, thrusting him aback and abetted and sultrily without fettered leathers to his feet.
They speak the morning of jest and Merlin calls for a large hunt, concordant Nickolas and Ana on separate horses slowly gait until they spot a doe and scare it into a flit, with a marker flare Troy shoots the animal from above and Nick finishes in mercy, it is nice meat while new leather boots are worked by fire and blade and talk of philosophy.
Troy: “Liberty is the value of responsibility.”
Ana: “Respect is the value of logic.”
Nick: “Humor is the value of intelligence.”
Troy: “Love is the value of freedom.”
Merlin: “Nothing like battling your own mind.”
The phoenix is distraught, with a rudimentary balking cadence it seems to mock them all with a simple alphabet collected to a belligerent rendition of two puppets arguing, disconcerted the phoenix begins to clumsily move surly from them into the fog, serving as the humor for a dreary day. They make for the forgotten forest to the river intent to travel the shore upstream, through the bleak woods the leaves are reds and yellows in fade and falling, and the path never and nonexistent through thick overgrowth dank and inconvenient. Dismality looms as the storm fills the world between the horizon and night is the new day, shadow becomes wind and the torches are lit to soon be delible, night stands before Merlin and lets he and they from her grip of blinding darkness. Their torches erstwhile without use now blind them and they struggle to adjust their eyes as the demon of the fall speaks.
Nott: “…when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you…”
Merlin: “We knew not your signs or our trespass.”
Nott: “If you do not kneel Ana, I cannot share my message.”
Ana: “Lady Shadow.”
Merlin: “Methinks I shall stand on ceremony.”
Ana secondly knelt after Nickolas, as thence Troy, his trusted phoenix taking to a cautiously slow retreat, all looking to the ground then to Nott, she stands before them fair in the leather garb of a trained rider, cloth and eyes of pure white.
Nott: “I dare a message in hopes the gods cannot see me through the storm over the darkness.”
Merlin: “What sight must you tell to us?”
Nott: “I see all at the edge of darkness, Etain has convinced Dagr to grant her with the great flame.”
Merlin: “But why share this news?”
Nott: “I did not mean to scare the phoenix, I merely wanted to see its beauty closely, but if it wishes to go as it does, it and rider may depart.”
Merlin: “Troy, take this knife and find the first river or clearing ahead of us.”
Troy: “Aye sir.”
Troy quickly mounts the phoenix and takes swiftly to flight, rushing through the branches and wet leaves, breaking and shaking them to the ground post haste.
Ana: “You waste your time with pleasure in danger?”
Nott: “Thor would not strike me, for I owe him too many favors…or him I.”
Nick: “You came to us when you could have left a note.”
Merlin: “Or the mead of poetry, Night.”
Nott: “She has made a coven with two sisters of your station, they seek to apportion Midgard, all the land is dangerous for you and yours, and you will need stronger and new powers Merlin. I cannot stay.”
Merlin: “Where are you going?”
Nott: “I move shadows for life to sleep, not die, it’s nay moving with I the same.”
Behind Nott the shadow tangible is a thick border to the scene, the sky thunders as she mounts a horse from the shadows so dark it cannot be seen named Hrimfaxi. Lightning flashes from the field far behind them but the thunder does not wait to shake the ground.
Nott: “If it’s all the same to you I’m expected elsewhere.”
Merlin: “A thousand thanks.”
Nott: “Apologies if you're vexed Merlin, your grace is well and seemly your foes in anger. The tables turn, farther need you be, and need you see.”
In the hallow footsteps a faint glittering of stars and Nott disappears before the sound of hooves, faster than can any in the light, unobstructed by obstacle, for the darkness is her first home. From the heavens comes a torrential rain of bitter wind and water from the mountains.