Your words have worked your way to my heart,
Unlocking its inner desires,
Claiming them as your own.
You have left no room for any other.

I look in your eyes,
The world reflects back,
On fire with my desires.
Your voice is merely fuel,
To the kindling your memories provide.

My mind is awash with only with you
Driven mad with a desire,
To see another smile on your face,
And want for nothing else.

Your place is at my side,
Curled up in arms reach,
Or cuddled against my chest,
but never out of sight.

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Gerard’s Court

Once a year, Lord Gerard holds court for the nobles to pay their respects.  It is a lavish event with no expense spared.  This year was no different with each of his vassals showed up dressed in their finest their rank would allow.  The long stone hall where they all gathered echoed as they waited for his appearance later in the evening.  At one end of the hall a troupe performed acrobatics. On the other end numerous tables for dining sat elegantly laid out waiting for food.

In the middle a small quartet played setting the mood for the evening.  They played an upbeat tune filling the hall with energy, till Gerard was announced and entered the room from a doorway.  He gave a quick speech welcoming all to his house and other well-crafted pleasantries before he dismissed their attention.  Gerard crossed the room to the dining area where he was assisted into his seat.  A servant then wrung a bell to indicate the other lords may proceed to their respective places.

Each knew where to sit as seating flowed from Gerard by importance of title and size of holdings.  As each made their way to sit Lord Corvus saw someone who he thought should be absent this evening.  Lord Gabriel sat where he had sat last year, three chairs closer to Gerard than Corvus. Corvus could hear as he brushed off concerns for his absence the past serval weeks by saying he had been ill, but was now in better spirits.

The two men locked eyes, in Corvus’s there was confusion and anger.  Gabriel was hiding this if he felt the same.  Instead he smiled politely and said, “You look in good health. Tell Sartow his safety in this city cannot be guaranteed any longer.  There are those who hunt him in the name of justice.”

“Who do you refer to?”  Asked Corvus masking the wrenching he felt in his stomach.

“I must be mistaken,” Gabriel replied politely, before turning to Lord Ully so someone else at the table and asking on about his son.

The Grousing Porcine

The Grousing Porcine is a small tavern just west of Saj-graf.  It has been handed down for three generations now and each has had the privilege of expanding the building to accommodate more people.  It was two days after the tournaments that Einden was starting to hope the crowds would ebb soon.  They had more than broken in the new tables in that time, but he did not care as he had more than made back any damages he would find.

The stories going about how a Forest Walker by the name of Arkith defeated Sir Corvus in the final were the excitement.  Following it in popularity was how Lady Kala had to bow out after Arkith had a word with her.  Einden had missed the fighting, as he was not one for a regulated fight.  Yet in the past two days he could have recreated the whole situation as the town remembered it.

“Another round here for us,” Jaspert called over to Einden. “To the rest of you I have now told you the story of the Incursion of Port Gertrude.  And if you had not all been at the fight yesterday I would entertain you with that. Yet I now need a new story, so let me tell you of the old man in Anjin Col. He lived up in a cave in the mountains east, with few trusted contacts practicing in the forbidden art…”

Eiden did not have time to listen to stories, but Jaspert did seem to have some good ones and patrons kept buying him drinks.  Eiden was waiting for someone else to show up. Crevan was to show up and give him guidance for the future.  Crevan’s advice was not cheap, but the man was accurate.  He could read your future with a few questions and a short consultation of the heavens.  He would show you the path you were on and tell you when to change.  What Eiden wanted to know was if his fortune was tied to Saj-graf or if he should sell the place and move on from here.  Ertle had given him a nice offer that he could live on the rest of his life.

Kiwi, Snow Leopard, and Alpaca

Kiwi looked up from the water he had been drinking. Snow Leopard was now back and he could continue their conversation. “I do not think it all that bad here in this place. Back home the number of threats have never been worse.”

“I agree with the number of threats increasing,” Snow Leopard replied. “However I need more space to feel at home then what I have been provided with. Further, why could they not put themselves here and let me stay behind. They can survive in a single room with all their technology. I need the space, the thrill of the hunt.”

“Also a good point,” Kiwi responded. “Yet, my home is not as nice as it once was. They brought much with them to the islands. I fear that I would not be safe outside this place. And, I would like to see the sun without shade again, or go beyond a wall if the mood struck me. Yes it may mean uncertainty to my existence, but at least it would be excitement.”

“I would never choose such a cramped house.” growled Snow Leopard. “I want my mountains back. I want my forest, my childhood home, back under my feet. I want to feel real land and not the concrete and predictable landscape. Though I do not feel the pangs hunger encouraging me day to day, I struggle to find reason to get out from the corner I sleep in. I do not wish to entertain those that stare wide eyed at my existence. They say my brethren number less by the day, and yet they do not let us go down with a fight. Some day we will all be gone and I wish to have the smell of a known forest around me and the taste of a fresh kill in my teeth be my fleeting thoughts. I do not like the sound of a pipe leaking or the aroma of prey never to be caught.”

“Young cat,” it was the voice of Alpaca, “You need not waste your breath wishing for your former glory, your lost freedom, or happiness outside of here. You do not have children patting you each day, and should thank that fortune.”

“I would only bite the little hands,” Snow leopard retorted.

“Exactly why they do not. You do not fare any worse or better than those who were domesticated. We are kept and sheered for our hair. You will hear how we must be kept safe from the elements, but as those before us did, I assure you we are quite capable of handling the extremes of a wild life. I was a guard for sheep, yes sheep, before being sent here. Now I am to play nice and let them caress me or let them cut small locks of my hair.”

“But that means you too have felt the freedom of the wilds. You are not native to such enclosures.”

“You are correct and yet I am safe from you here. I miss my herd and the comfort of the group. Yet I am resigned to here being my resting spot. Kiwi is a good friend to have as he will listen, but I warn you to not pine for things outside your grasp. If you are trouble or you attack them, they will not hesitate putting you down.”

“Your words of wisdom are to endure and suffer?” snapped the cat. “I do not lie down, there is no pride in that. I cannot cower at their beck and call. I cannot sit so politely with their brood. They stare lie they hunt me, but I am already caught.”

“I cannot offer you any other advice than that. Come to terms with the life you will now live.”

“There is nothing to come to terms with,” Kiwi spoke up. “It is a harsh life hear or out there. But in the freedom beyond these walls, we both had some say in what would happen. We could each find a mate, asses the risks we wanted to take, eat what and when we felt like it. Now it is regimented, I do not get to taste the sweetest of grub anymore. Snow Leopard can only eat whichever rabbit they choose to feed him.”

“I agree much of our individuality is lost here.” Alpaca responded, “You still have choices to eat or not eat. You can be active when the crowd are around or not. You can lament what is not and how it should be. But what will you do when done with that? Outside your cage would you lament that the prey is not as easy to catch as yesterday?”

“You suggesting I memorize my cage, make routine of the walls and the comings and goings of the humans?” Snow Leopard curled in a corner. “This is not what mother prepared me for.” she mumbled as she started to doze off. “This is not what I want to achieve. This is not all I am capable of.”

Dreaming

Thunder rumbles in
Sleep still embraces your senses
It could take you in a moment
Luring you off with no defense.

Somewhere memories lurk
Days of yore
Hope for tomorrow
Subtle whims bleed forth

Ideas conjure plans
Excitement trickles down the spine
Limbs look to action
Illusions hold back movements

Awake
It all rushes away
Grasping at lost wisdom
Snagging nothing
Utopia replaced with paradise

 

She

And off she went into the night.  Her goal was the only thought.  But would she be in time?  Faster she rode, wishing she could go just a little bit faster.  Speed and time were the key players now, but speed and time are never good teammates.

Upon arrival in the clearing, she knew she was too late.  Everything was gone including a trail to follow.  Being an expert in tracking she did not give up the pursuit easily, looking for any sign even a slight trace in the ground.  But this was not to be her day and luck seemed to have turned its back on her.  The ground was frozen solid, not even an imprint of where she walked and now the snow started.

If experience was to serve correctly, and much to her anger it would, the snow was going to be heavy and long.  No longer was it an option to find her quarry.  Now she had to find lodging, out here in the wilds.  The closest town was over a day away and she now cursed herself for getting in the situation.

“Oh well, where now?”  The first words muttered by her since leaving the town.  The trees would keep back most of the snow, but sleeping out in the open would leave her vulnerable to other creature.  A wolf had been following her for the last hour and she knew it.  The wolf had mistaken her attempts to find anything resembling a trail as being lost or confused.  All it had to do was wait for her to become tired and then make its move.

The wolf was sure she would make easy prey.  After a failed attempt to steal food from those camping the night before, this made it four days without food and it would not become five.  His ill fated assault of the prior night left him slightly hurt, a small cut on the back.  A far better fate than if he had been caught, for those in the camp surely would have killed him.

Things had been much easier on the wolf a year ago when his human companion had still been alive.  Now that was a human any wolf would have liked.  Whatever his name was he was a true warden to the forest and kept out those that did not call it home.  Even he himself would enter more than a couple of feet if it could be helped.  It was a sad day when death came to collect him.  But now food was scarce, more so now that winter set in.  It was going to be a long winter, quiet and difficult.

She finally found a suitable place to rest, below an outcropping of rocks.  The place had obviously been a resting spot for others human and non.  For now it was hers.  Her horse took some comfort from the fire she built.  For the first time that day, luck smiled upon her. The pack of supplies she grabbed while leaving town would leave her in a comfortable situation for the next two or three days.  Now she could focus on her current adversary.  The wolf sat a ways off, watching her setup camp.  “Perhaps this won’t be as easy as I thought,” he thought to himself.  But then he saw her with what looked like food.  It wouldn’t be a fresh kill, as he preferred, but food was food.  She had to sleep some time and then that was when he would attack or at least sneak in and get something to eat.

At that moment she did something quite unexpected by the wolf.  A portion of cured meat landed in front of him.  It smelled ok…what was she up to?  He licked it…tastes salty but otherwise it was food.  He tore into it, ravished by hunger there was no way to appreciate the skill that had been put in to preserving the food.  And at that point he realized perhaps there doesn’t need to be an attack.  Though the hunger had been warded off, trust was not there, so instead of spending a night by a warm fire, he sat watching, wondering what she was up to.

Night passed without a sound, leaving behind a half foot of snow in its wake.  Both of them woke tucked nicely beneath the blanket, only upon waking did it become disturbed.  Both saw that the other was watching to see what came next.  The silence of the morning was broken by the horse standing up.  Like everyone there it was cold.  It looked quizzically at her.  As if to ask where’s the fire and what about the wolf.  Though these were not the questions the other two saw in it.  The horse had shaken them both back to reality and awareness of the snow falling, that  it was indeed cold and perhaps all three of them just wanted to make it through the storm.