27 July 2012

Merlin 2:32 “Snake in the Grass”

Merlin 2:32 “Snake in the Grass”

Merlin stands looking down the street sloping toward the abbey, the rays of the sunfall are shining a sea of shadows beneath the distant waves, a river of glass from an ocean of blood, the city on fire with the people running water to the burning walls, not of severity but serenity by vocation and dignity.

Stranger: “By Jove blooming sod nigh taxed tickers.”
Nick: “What?”
Merlin: “He said we almost bought the farm.

The stranger laughs as Merlin approaches him.

Merlin: “Dim dithered tad or tarry?”
Stranger: “Dim tramp dallied steaming rate, mint a glass ball his mitten, not for nicked he bets askew.”
Ana: “What’s he saying, Merlin?”
Merlin: “Mad with power our villain went ballistic.”
Stranger: “She’s?”
Merlin: “Art maven.”
Stranger: “Him’s?”
Merlin: “A rogue, tale?”
Stranger: “Rate, bonce like a mole, anent raze boracic I lifted mooncalf’s pockets.”
Merlin: “Spying in destruction he something…”
Ophiuchus: “Peeking through the wrath he stole from the foolish dead.”

They stand coming apart with sighs of disdain and uncertainty.

Merlin: “A cutpurse, cheers, you can ask him if he saw anything with the elders.”
Ophiuchus: “Clock awry anent councilors?”
Stranger: “Erst minstrels pinched abbey coffers, else naught else, no, scrubbers bested stipend a scrap solstice fete sooner champs and broads.”
Ophiuchus: “Minstrels robbed the church, and then he reckons peasants won sponsor at tourney before the festival, instead of the winners.”

Merlin is pacing, Nickolas is looking, Ana is waiting and Ophiuchus is thinking.

Ophiuchus: “Ne facades?”
Stranger: “Ne, gaffer, whelps whilst anon.”
Ophiuchus: (to Merlin) “Anything else to ask?”
Merlin: “No.”
Ophiuchus: “Thief?”
Stranger: “Aye?”
Ophiuchus: “Make thee hence.”

The thief walks when Ophiuchus’s eyes shine yellow momentarily as he holds his knife, sheathed once the stranger leaves.

Ophiuchus: “What will you do?”
Merlin: “I’ll be in bacchanals, tomorrow I might travel to the fete.”

Watching Nickolas visit Ana, Ophiuchus and Merlin stand over the withered body of the Draugur.

Ophiuchus: “I’m leaving at dawn, only to task tools and some of the damage, from the beach if you need a guide.”
Merlin: “If your things are in order, thy will be done.”

Ophiuchus shakes Merlin’s hand while watching Nickolas or staring at the corpse in the damaged city, making eye contact when parting, Troy watched the handshake very far from the battered belfry in the street. The preparation after rest and respite at inn makes quickly of getting horses in the morn and meandering to the vast lake. A discourse of introductions leads them to graces on a path from the water to the forest.

Merlin: “The boozers seemed rather upset about the picks.”
Ophiuchus: “As they should be…”
Ana: “Pay to play and the strong will go.”
Ophiuchus: “Better the needy disregard morality than demand equality.”
Nick: “A song of throngs on the eve of revolution?”
Ophiuchus: “Unless the thunder strikes, a man won't cross himself.”

Ana with her eyes squinting turns to Merlin whose face already has signs of concern and angst.

Ana: “The Alsatians often said that ‘truth is the voice of liberty’.”

Merlin moves to ride alongside Ophiuchus and interject his vocation.

Merlin: “What stands for anything,” drinks from wine bottle, passes it to Ophiuchus, “against those who control great wealth, is independence.”
Nick: (to Ophiuchus) “Are we of the same mind?”
Ophiuchus: “Enterprise is indoctrination, and hypocrisy.”
Merlin: “…Was the vote contested?”
Ophiuchus: “If the chosen do not go they insult the treaty, risking conflict, and besides the winners still go to the tourney as reservists.”
Merlin: “The plot sickens.”
Ophiuchus: “Socially necessary.”

Nick rides on his horse shortly ahead of Ana, his shoulder is alongside her horse’s shoulder, and they turn to each other sharing a look of distrust.

Nickolas: “Chaotic words mocking the use of political demand.”
Ophiuchus: “A battle hymn?”
Merlin: “…hordes of the confused, twisting lessons of time, turned on themselves.”

In the distance Troy is asleep against Alerion, in the moonlight the plumage looks nearly like dusty ivory, the evening convenes and Ana lights a torch with her hands and mind. When they approach the snake peaks, the phoenix notices the snake quickly hiding in Ophiuchus’s shirt, a balk of confusion. Troy is asked to scout behind them then ahead, they perceive the phoenix to be acting funny as it departs, and Ophiuchus watches the bird depart with curiosity showing the action of secret intent.

Ophiuchus: “It is a mighty thing to see, what debt keeps the rider in your employ?”
Merlin: “I helped him escape once of else I do not know...”
Nickolas: “What’s your plan for the tourney?”
Ophiuchus: “Infiltrate, destroy, rebuild.”
Ana: “They’ll be expecting that.”
Ophiuchus: “What wilt thou become?”
Nickolas: “A fine judge of character.”
Merlin: “Berserk reactionary message.”
Ana: “We should pose as servants disgruntled by burden.”
Ophiuchus: “How will that end the power?”

Merlin hides his emotion confused, as Ophiuchus looks on him he turns to the skies attempting to seem vacant and thinking, then again in quiet to disconcertion lest show aversion, would that it be his instinct or experience, he has spent wiles with entrepreneurs using boycott, not transgression, to end abuse of power, anxious fret consumes implication that he might not have such leverage with the stranger in this midst. A fog falls upon the countryside in the darkness of hallowed night, tethered farther silent set ethereal, as their dialogue resumes.

Nickolas: “Justice must prevail.”
Merlin: “Each for all and all for each.”
Ophiuchus: “When folk hunger, shall rags become riches.”
Ana: “One folk, one realm, one king.”
Nickolas: “Separatists will fight to the last conscript.”
Ophiuchus: “But taking wealth makes every man a king.”
Merlin: “All or nothing.”
Ophiuchus: “What I feel is mine.”

Again they share a brief awkward pause, the distant fog is thick and rolling, as they notice even the horses slow, Nickolas whistles.

Ana: “Into the night, not the fog.”
Nickolas: “Would it dampen your ire?”
Ophiuchus: “Look for a break.”  (His horse restless)
Merlin: “In a new light, a phoenix doesn’t seem so odd, does it?”
Nickolas: “By supernatural siege.” (His horse neighs)
Merlin: “My god in Valhalla.”
Nickolas: “Your sign that we should be going?”
Ophiuchus: “Would you fight it, or brave it.”
Ana: “I agree with Nick.”
Merlin: “In a crush, yet without resentment…” (Turning his horse in place)
Ophiuchus: “We go ahead?”

Throwing his leg Merlin dismounts and walks ahead of his horse, the others following as the fog grows, Ana with her torch behind the others.

Ophiuchus: “Soldiers and farmers would wait. What does that make you?”
Merlin: “The sum of secrets.”

Ana’s torch burns bright enough to necessitate dimming as the bright light merely serves to radiate in the fog and without effective purpose, it dims and the moonlight subsists the light of confusion.

Nickolas: “This fog is close enough to fair the blind, Merlin.”
Merlin: “Never a sheep sleeps in the fog.”
Nickolas: “Is it wolves?”
Merlin: “Fair armor puts you on guard.”
Nickolas: “I don’t fret.”
Ana: “Merlin, what exists?”

In new labor Merlin looks into the fog for new danger, his eyes weakly glow, he sees not Lynn, witch of fog, walking toward them.

Merlin: “No danger, no vice.”
Ophiuchus: “Capitulation?”
Merlin: “We can’t damn well withdraw at the moment.”
Nickolas: “Try to stay on the road.”
Merlin: “That’s the plan.”

Ophiuchus unsheathes his knife and cuffs it, every time Nick or Ana ride close to him he moves distant, his paranoia grows girded to attack, and Lynn directly ahead of them stands in the road that to her is clear as day, the great distance of clarity for her is masked by the fog.

At the distance of a stone’s throw from her, the fog is thick and damp between her and the riders, murky to the torch despite Ana’s magical affinity. Lynn puts her hand on the horse’s chest Ophiuchus rides and pets its face to stop and calm its fears. As the others continue slowly, talking to each other blind beyond their arms, she puts her hand on the wrist of Ophiuchus and he sighs and sheaths his blade. They grab each other’s wrist and pull her quickly to saddle behind him, over his shoulder she points, holding with her other arm wrapped tightly around his gut. He leans to urge the horse forward, after a few steps she slaps the horse charging it into a fast gait through the cover of a darkening world off road into the pasture.

14 July 2012

Merlin 2:31 "Gargoyle"

Merlin 2:31 "Gargoyle"

Outside the city of Teice walks Ophiuchus carrying a bag of snakes, he stops where the grass begins to recede from trending step as he sees the smoke rising afore him, people flit to tread the soles of their feet from ominous terror, would that a fire break the nearby sea would be the ferry of pails to be, and certainly not flee lest looters will the riot act. Abated this is sinister replete, anent the remnant chaos launches blackness, without slackness into the air, the wyvern from its haunches for its way and daren’t tare.

Lastly slight like errant night tantivyingly across the sky, the serpent bearer slightly adjusts his course from direct toward the city edge, now at erst parsing paces along the walls to witness the anarchy personally. Through narrow alleys while soldiers rally to make bold against the tyrant Draugur starting fires beneath the wires that city folk use for drying laundered clothes. He sneaks upon the doppelganger in time to see him throw an explosive bottle at a wagon and a wall, staggering and exhausted with wide brace of step but look upon his face of blissful rage, until noticing Ophiuchus standing in the street. He tries to bow pain staked like a drunkard as he addresses him.

Draugur: “Your majesty.”
Ophiuchus: “What are you doing!?” (Vigilantly watching the surroundings)
Draugur: “This city was on the list for renovation master, I was merely.”
Ophiuchus: “By whose orders!?”

As the Draugur begins to speak a squad of soldiers in near lockstep comes running down the street for them, he hears their feet and turns his head, Ophiuchus runs into an alley to disappear, the shape shifter whips his head toward the soldiery and carries his foot also, to begin a promenade in cavalcade of battle.

Meanwhile, in the fields far from the superstructure of government, morals, laws and religion, Merlin and his allies watch the black thing in the sky leave the city apace over the horizon not toward them, but leaving the scene begins to turn-about them, slowly steering in their direction the monster flies to them directly at their side, to turn from sailing on the wind, inviolate passion causes Troy and his phoenix to catch the sky current with caper to hear the wings stretch and press anent the wind and turn from weighty pursuit.

Haughty demon horse-faced lizard, rapping on delight of windswept torture plagued by naught but hate, enmity by webbed wings of bats and tails of rats and peregrine talons combats the escape of prey, ebbing to the plight of malaise and malcontent. It narrows distance to Alerion with contagious levels of fear, Troy looks back again and sees the sweetless hell-bent creature with terrible wide wings, it begins to glide overcast but does not clasp with wretched jaw and growling with pleasure in deceitful rapture, its rear claws kick downward to be burnt by the glowing bird as Troy jumps forward in saddle to avoid the claws like iron spears, the phoenix barks of anxiety and cuts starkly to the ground then circles underneath, Troy holding desperately in circling, in now the wyvern to chase. The cumbersome lizard begins to turn as Alerion latches talons into the mold-green serpent, a raspy howl and wings attempt to spiral, vial fangs snap in defense redesigned to fly and fight affinitive to escape, it grabs the phoenix from below and in throes uses wingspan to tumble midair and return in flighty reptilian hunt. Swaying from the greater course of capture Troy leans with the turning and forth again within the lee of chase, for hatred the wyvern flies with reckless abandon, hooks for climbing at every joint and eyes without dilatation, over the sand of the dry creek Eitur.

The wyvern repeatedly throws its wings downward gusting throws of air aft, it snarls looking like the spawn of a frog and a bat, and lifts its head to breathe of adrenaline, with a magical breath it exhales a stream of fire, the incineration engulfs only the air causing the phoenix to glimmer, insofar granting Troy relief he draws a snugly stowed arrow and his bow over his shoulder and turns to face the beast of predation, still bathing in immolation he draws and releases the into the wyvern’s eye causing the fire to stop and the foe to fluster. Losing ground the wyvern barks and howls and screams and commits to chase, the phoenix aptly glides roundabout and latches talons to the creature then releases twice in succession and in reaching for a third locks with the wyvern in a death spiral toward the city at a great lake’s edge.

In the lair of the church Lynn tarries, the witch of the ethereal fog brews a cauldron of acrid blood as Ophiuchus enters with his bag of snakes.

Lynn: “Where have you been?”
Ophiuchus: “The Draugur you mentioned is here destroying the city and I can taste the magician in the wind.”
Lynn: “Fie!”
Ophiuchus: “Should I kill them?”
Lynn: “No! Erichthonios died trying …his name is Merlin and he is no ordinary fen dweller, if and likely when he defeats Draugur, watch and learn and follow.”

The impending fall of the beasts has a view of smoke from chimneys and the cathedral, into a slanted roof of a hall throes collide, first the swamp serpentine and still locked then Alerion which snaps Troy from saddle by momentum, vaulting him to the next hot clay tile roof, he slides in agility on his feet and shoulders over descending roves of plateauing awnings to a ledge three flights above the street, marked by the balconies of apartments filled or flit by awestruck spectators. The phoenix battles arduous doom by clasp of beak and havoc wreak against the talons prone, conflict wrought made wry into the sky in stammering across the buildings proper, and lift they do by fervor of past to not be the last in conflagration.

The strength of claws versus armored maws of phoenix, the battle ground of brittle homes being struck and strewn defenseless, they seem to bounce across the top, pulling and pinned, latched and winged, never for the loss of strength resolve, taking turns in escape Alerion flies and is grabbed and given bite that bruises without break, then kicked alight as the maladroit beast tries escape only to be pummeled by the phoenix’s talons to the buildings, and a bite at the back forces the phoenix lifts in retreat while tearing intentionally the wyvern’s wing, in flight again pursuit resumes but by planned demise, gliding and slowing the phoenix midair bows its head to look behind itself and see the dark reptile follow, it spirals and puts its talons into the chest of the wyvern and crashes through the clerestory.

The collapse of stone and shards of glass tumble heavily toward Lynn and Ophiuchus, the witch looks to see the falling marble and turns to smoke as the walls collapse, the snake handler dives for a stone doorway faster than he can run and survives calamity of indifference requite pride. In the aftermath phoenix and wyvern battle in the stone nest where defining superiority in close quarter makes pleasure of death and fate, Alerion’s procurement of victory comes as it begins attempt to wrest the heart of the battered monster’s chest in standoffish showdown. The phoenix red and metallic emblematic reflective hue blue at plume edges fearsome in anger against the rabid beast of broken wings and languor breath of flame quotidian to the fiery bird the knell sounds.

Outdoors in the city street with fires close to his feet Draugur stands among the bodies of the slain, laughing at the church in ruin and the fell of the wyvern who growling howls in death followed by two resounding squawks of the phoenix, Merlin begins slowly waking toward him with trepidation, as Ana seeks to help trapped victims from terror and flame, Nickolas steadily jogs toward the villain. Draugur cradles the glass orb with a trapped stormy ocean inside of it and turns lifting one foot sluggishly steadfast to stand and face him. In momentum Nickolas dragging a broadsword pivots and swings tethered blade striking into the Draugur arm beholding the crystal ball, slicing the skin the flash of the blade halts upon villainous bone, with the other arm the villain clubs Nickolas a hundred paces over the air and through a wall.

Draugur: “We’ve come to share this destiny.”
Merlin: “You speak in confusing tones.”
Draugur: “Don't like the quod I say? You'd really hate the stuff I keep to myself.”
Merlin: “In that beating piece of shit you call a heart?”
Draugur: “Fie! Freedom and choice has failed these people, ending the errand of markets, exposing the truth of wealth, I will control it, join me dark wizard.”
Merlin: (pacing) “The truth isn't that enterprise has failed these folk, heretofore it hasn't yet been tried.”

Ophiuchus is in the room where Nickolas is impaled thru the ribs; he laughs content and draws his knife to eat a piece of him, in ardor anguish Nickolas speaks.

Nick: “Help me off this rod!”
Ophiuchus: “You’re finished.”
Nick: “I’m not, get me on that table.”
Ophiuchus: “What a good idea. I’ll be giving you surgery.”

In pain Nickolas is torn from the bar and rubble and placed on the table in the room atop the clutter, closing his eyes he rests and falls to sleep and moments later wakes with a shout and begins to stand.

Ophiuchus: “Are you well?”
Nickolas: “I will gladly kill the man who thinks I can’t kill for satisfaction, if you would point me to him.”

Ophiuchus points and watches from the shadows with a sinister mischievous smile of treason, as Nickolas takes a sword from the room and leaves. Merlin’s fingers flicker with electricity, as Nick sneaks toward Draugur.

Merlin: “You reek of death.”
Draugur: “I can smell your fear…”
Merlin: “I can save your soul.”
Draugur: “Spare me your pity. I am loth to discuss religion.”
Nickolas: “Let’s talk politics.”

Nickolas stabs at Draugur’s neck but he leans to dodge as the blade barely slices his throat, attack defense, in feint deception, Nickolas blades the forearm unfavored nearly too swift to block, le danse macabre, Draugur grabs Nick’s lapel and uses the glass sphere by flooding Nickolas with electricity, pausing and punishing him while looking to Merlin. Nick clears his thoughts and swings his blade at the arm of the magical weapon, Draugur withdraws the torture and his tactical grasp, and Nickolas spins full-circle at his foe, to the body blow then to the hand hits the orb. A peal of thunder sounds as Draugur grasps his hands to his eye, he tries to use the stormy magic against Nickolas again but the lightning unwieldy shocks them both, corollary hither verily pain becomes the monster.

Coup de grace Nickolas turns from Draugur only to swivel his sword over his hand in prestidigitation and stab backwards the monster in his stomach. Draugur begins to keel as Nick turns to face him, he keeps his left hand on the hilt as he faces the monster, and with his right hand he forcibly bends back the foe’s thumb with additional lament of pang as the fractured ball falls to the ground without light or magic. Nickolas looks Draugur in his eyes and forces the blade deeper into his gut finally letting him drop distended.

Merlin lifts the orb and examines the rift within it, staring over the body fraught with scars, despite the face elasticity resumes and taught become shrinking scars as the Draugur’s features become ophidian and nondescript, morphing into an androgynous soldier.

Merlin: “It might not have worked anyway.”

Holding the orb it glows with light, its fractured sharp edges glow and mend in his hand, darker are the realms within the mysterious circular echoing point of manna that begins to hum a high bright note, given to fault it crushes in his grasp brittle ashes windswept.

Troy rises from behind the parapet of a building roof with an arrow drawn and ready, Ana stands disheveled down the lane in fire with her hands sweating among the distorted view heat vapors create, Nickolas walks to her and she to him, to and fro befriend Troy and thus stands Merlin over the enemy. A vacant eye and dismal future withheld, the Draugur lowly moves duly to indisposition and determination, sluggish slowly becomes dying as Merlin watches it lying, in silence lest beside them both at all.

Troy: “What is he doing?”
Ana: “Interrogation.”
Nick: “He should be tortured for info on grounds of conspiracy.”
Ana: “Perilous vicissitude delusion, plebian of praetorian.”
Troy: “All based on lies.”
Ana: Troy: “Aye.”

Merlin watches waiting for what he might glean remembering this experience from times ere. In the church the phoenix peaks skittishly over the damaged wall twice, from where they stand the bird’s shoulder be towards them while it raises its wings upward as it produces sound and light, the pose that bears upon many coat-of-arms immemorial, a squawk that tho an octave above irritating is short spent, outlasted by the rite of passage.

Alerion is yellowish, bright among the broken walls, and half an arm’s length taller than Troy’s last encounter, Ophiuchus cautiously moves closer to Merlin with Troy running passed. The Draugur dies without a word told. Merlin walks showing upset toward the house of holy. When Merlin et al leaves, he moves to the body in the street.

Ophiuchus: “You have failed me.”
Draugur: “My liege.”
Ophiuchus: “Are you finished?”
Draugur: “Master, take me with you…”

Ophiuchus pulls open the stomach wound and a small snake crawls from the blackening blood to his hand, it crawls through his fingers around his wrist into his sleeve, around his throat and under his collar.


02 July 2012

Merlin 2:30 Bound by the Moon

Merlin 2:30 “Bound by the Moon”

With sunset behind them the blue sky remits to dark space filled with diamonds and a full moon, Troy upon phoenix Alerion fly for the lunar satellite, a ball of fire with wings darts from the bright orb far into the sky with a clarion meditation not his own, a sound ringing between the shared consciousness of both rider and creature soothing on a single course and disharmonious any other. Ana’s horse walks with Nickolas riding on the left and Merlin riding on the right, without conversation Ana struggles with boredom and exhaustion as Nickolas leans forward utmost and looks to Merlin staring elided at the dark horizon and the glittering sky. It is difficult to discern the difference between magical properties and the reflections of stars.

Nick: “Merlin, whither are we going?”
Merlin: “It is rare the shadows of trees are cause by fire and the moon.”
Nick: “Is he with grace?”
Ana: “Is it raining Merlin?”
Merlin: “It isn’t raining on the moon.”
Ana: “He is good for now…come along.”

Ana rides ahead of them both in asking Nickolas to join her readily, of darkly vex, by swiftly hex, of tarry carry after.

Nick: “Check for wounds.”
Ana: “You’re hurt?”
Nick: “Check you love…”
Ana: “I’m well, it’s you fret I.”
Nick: “Pray tell.”
Ana: “You men will tear Midgard asunder.”
Nick: “You would rather a woman ran the world…?”

Nick twists and takes a glance at Merlin whose eyes are solid and unwieldy to ascertain.

Ana: “If a woman ran the world, men would clean and cook well.”
Nick: “If a woman ran the world, there’d be more wars and fewer problems.”
Ana: “Do you remember the first time you died?”
Nick: “I do.”
Ana: “Do tell.”

Nick: “Well, I had left home a year before because of a drought, the town had many boys and too few girls and I was pleased to go, I was left to search for myself. At the time Solmani had not been burned and was inviting to travelers, I took to drinking and working with the butchers and tanners, and soon into shepherding and hunting, spending days with abundant sport training the squires howsoever sharing the countryside approach to accurate strength for their hasty disposition. Fringe supporters separated with each repetitive year of mild winter and pallid summer of sparse rain, and ran they went into the highlands, until their massing numbers were enough to pillage and plunder with the insane bards, in my squalor of experience I ran. The city was subjugated by principality and no longer republican, I was not pleased.”

Ana: “How you died, not how you killed.”

Nick: “Because of such they were one in the same, I sought to raid the city twice provocative, and luring with the help of others we killed in the forest of the mind unfamiliar with which we killed, but pious death hungered for us, we were hunted from a city outnumbering the ranks of the dead and deserters, four score nights after it had begun in the night four riders set upon the last of us with bolt throwers and spears and I was shot in the heart then drug to a road nearby a farm and left for dead in the great blue yonder. I was coughing blood and bleeding thoughts not unlike the disguise of dying men to hide from death, in my heart was foremost a great pain and discomfiture, and soon I was dead and staring at the stars of dawn, but I did not die as you know. I tried to crawl to what could be safety but my limbs would not move as my bones became thick and my muscles became stiff, satiated by the sun burning in my eyes, until a farmer and his son made unto me, I watched them jump from their wagon and pick my pockets, I watched them return to their cart then return to me with shovels, and I watched the ground slide tother way whilst they drug me to the dry meadow and dig me a grave, soon quite unto my death, which life had cursed my reckoning. I don’t remember the texture of the soil being tossed on me but I remember it brought a cool betwixt the sun and my procession, a rain came and made mud in my eye, and soon dried in the passing time as steadily I was separated with tactility of my limbs, where my anger was utopian light eventually I was left to my thoughts and swallowed by the mouth of hell, and then, in the breath of darkness, I awoke, free to move I dug myself up from the tepid earth. First my hand fingers outstretched burst into the air, the packed soil disastrous suffocated me and again I pulled my likeness from the depth. Gasping in the sweltering daylight of high noon I lay on my back and looked to see an eagle watching me.”

Ana: “You were not certain you had died.”

Nick: “No, in fact I had even thought it was a poison survived by me, but my clothes assuaged my confusion, and I took to hunting and torturing them over the next few days, composed of disbelief I was especially cruel because I assumed they’d buried me alive, I was victorious and did not know wholly until my second death a few years later.”

Ana: “Why did you interfere in the first place?”
Nick: “I was a boy familiar with council known to towns and villages, and history is nothing without revenge, now I am accustomed to both council and queen.”
Merlin: “Monster.”
Nickolas: “I am right with no choice.”
Ana: “History has a unique way of giving the sacrifice that people without introspection endlessly demand of others.”

The crystals in Merlin’s eyes slowly melt against the breaking daylight.

Merlin: “No, liberals, look..., a monster flying across the horizon.”

Merlin points ahead of them to the light blue wall rising from the end of the earth, a tiny plume of smoke and a flying creature so distant that it looks like a moth.