Vol. 1, Branded Souls, Chapter 1: The Dragon (Pt. 2)

(Read pt. 1 here)

Hart tried to rouse from a hypnotic state. He felt it as a dream that he could not return from without a fight. With his eyes closed, He drifted around a field of death as the mighty dragon itself. Watching from a sky to ground perspective, he saw men as carrion or prey. He was unable to express his emotions and felt like a corked bottle under pressure- he saw colors and felt burning through his veins as the a volley of arrows tried to curb him.

The dragon is on the hunt!” cried the friar from his belfry. The blacksmith screamed, “Get to shelter!” The friar churned the bells again with a long rope. People had all but fled the fields, leaving farm equipment and sheaves of wheat. Hart had no appetite for the town’s folk- the contents within the castle is what he pined for. A delicate voice clung to his mortal fiber and cried, “Save me,” from some dark recess.

It drove him mad- he was unable to think clearly and he was acting from an involuntary aggression. He sprayed fire into the archer slots carved into the castle; people could be heard screaming inside. An explosion blinded him temporarily and drilled a percussive ringing into his brain.

He slammed himself into the bulwark and dug his claws into the stone while repeatedly smashing his weight into the impregnable defense. The clang of alarm was heard and all had fled into their homes or into the castle. The army had regrouped and began packing explosives for another searing shower. He took to his wings, damaged and bleeding, roaring in defiance as he retreated to the opposite mountains.

Harts thoughts drifted as he distanced himself from the fire and frenzy. His sharp vision as a beast of preternatural ability waned and grew blurry. Hart felt disembodied.

His thought moved upwards as the dragon disappeared into the hills and grey mountains. His perspective moved still upwards and away from the village it centered the castle in his direct vision, he saw the battlefield fading and the dragon departing. The scene was no more and the boiling in his veins slackened; upwards he went towards the infinite depths of the cosmos.

Some gravity of another, beckoned him to reenter a sharp precept but he resisted for a time by keeping his eyelids closed momentarily; reds and blacks that painted the inside drew a somber canvas. Hart considered his increased strangeness and morbidity as his conscious floated in meditation. A gnashing darkness and gore-filled destruction sickened his thoughts and tolled heavily on his, willfully simple nature.

He yawned aloud and stretched his arms aloft. He moved his shoulders in a rolling fashion, flexing and hunching his shoulders intermittently. “Damn that bench is a tough bastard.” After stretching out his rotator cuff and shaking the numbness out of his arms, he began the method again with his legs. Stiffening and pulling his legs in front then together, he raised his feet from the grass. His quadriceps bulged like knots of thick ropes. He then gently rolled his ankles in his hands then let out a gush of air from his mouth, “Whew, can’t handle much more of those kind of naps…” Hart blinked and rubbed his eyes he knew it wasn’t just the medium he slept on that made him sedate, “What a curious dream,” He contended in an attempt to dispel the hanging haze.

At the far end of the bench, a squirrel was busying itself by digging out a patch of turf around a tree. The black critter ceased it’s labor, sniffed the air then drew a brown acorn from his hoard and set about to lunch; it cracked open the acorn with skilled digits. The innards of the acorn became reduced to crumbs at its dexterity; the husk was all that remained. When it finished one, it decided that its hunger was great and began this exercise once more. Hart looked upwards. It was a bright day but westward, distant, brooding storm clouds were on the horizon.

A beautiful poplar with its white and orange blossoms shaded him. That familiar tranquil breeze that rustled its leaves also stirred an imperceptible and undefined heartache; it froze up any fire of sudden activity that he may have wanted to do on this fine day. He fell back into a lazy stupor at the sweet smell of the flowers on the wind. He was ensorcelled by a memory that clung more dear to him than his very life but it was a memory that he could barely recall, a memory that came to him in fragments, like a hurtful puzzle that was relentless with its entreaties and its infinite madness.

“I loved her…I loved something.”

He placed his hands on the back of his head and slipped into an exceedingly casual position on the bench. He recalled a faint wisp; a lost, similar spring afternoon; it came floating back to him on the wings of the scented wind.

A soft and warm breeze tangled her locks of blonde in a playful caress. Wavy strands of gold fell across her brow. He saw a longing gaze; a half covered, sparkling green eye-

He felt a pang in his chest. He troubled himself willingly and tried to ignore this natural thing that feels like loss and weighs like stones in a heart. He attempted to ignore the pain of emotion because he wanted more. He wanted to find her, this woman who had been haunting his daydreams, nightmares and waking days. He wanted to answer why a memory was lashing from the depths of his mind and raking old coals.

Hart searched. First he searched in his mind. He cast a line of inquisition into its depths: He drew a net like a fisherman but at each stroke in these swirling waters, he missed his target. “It had been so very long.” As he thought hard on the emotion and power she conjured within him, he sat up as a man suddenly struck on that head. The net seemed to grapple something and this powerful something flailed hard in his eager clutch; an image sprang forth from across the sands of time:

Here came an impish grin and a childish titter lifted like a chorus by rosy cheeks. He recognized her and another. It was a stranger, himself, as recognizable as any but a stranger. This stranger was swathed in a forgetful cloud, holding some goblet as he whispered into the young woman’s ear. She beamed so bright that it illuminated the memory around her like a candle held to a dusty photo album.

She had rouge on. “No.” he sighed to his recognition, a deep scarlet blush. She was seated, facing towards him but her gaze was now bashfully away, towards the ground. She absently plucked petals from flowers, smiling all the while. The stranger’s thoughts then whispered into Harts mind:

…Perpetual innocence, kindness and truth…” It picked up and trailed off into a murmur.  This is, he thought, is the way he’d known her. Her smile faded to an outstretched, delicate hand wrapped in the lace of white silk, offering to him a ring of purple and yellow flowers. He reached for the bouquet but it was snatched away by a foul gust, the wind kicked up and a strong piercing rain sprang from dark clouds. The young women stood as if a forced puppet and floated backwards into a dark fog that grew around her. Her eyes pleaded though her facial expression was mute. Her hand remained outstretched as if trying to hold on to something. He struggled to grasp her precious white hand but the force of the storm pressed on him so violently that he was rooted. She grew into the blackness then the scene was blackness itself; he had lost her once more.

(Continued here: pt. 3)

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Middle East FS

How Is It that Brave Men Go; A Hero’s Death

How is it that brave men go,
To rise above any laurels,
Concieved here,
Earthly or otherwise,
When the expression of mortal strife,
Has just seemed to pass,
And the breaths of golden,
Disntinguished life,
From such sudden a blow,

Noble heart,
Muscles as a bull,
Could fell one equally,
With redoubled strength,
As he grew into and past,
To be crushed,
Like Enceladus,
Among stoney supulchre,
What is Lochmaria,
To bury a titan,
Like you?

Aged 12 years,
Without out duty to behold,
Towards death as seemlessly,
As the smooth even steps,
Of the royalty he served-
A letter from Grimuad,
To his master,
Who waits,
Sickly and old,
Look now!
The reaper,
the ghost,
The son Braggelone,
Dead upon Africas burning shores,
A sudden campaign;
Did you push to suicide?
Death before itself even came,
Catastrophe has reaped its harvest,
Yet so prematurely,
And cruel.

Eternal cunning,
Careerist thou art,
Have ye’ gone to Spain,
As a jesuit,
Or a fugitive?
To lick yer’ wounds,
In yer’ dotage,
And shame,
To live and to be last,

Is it honor that condemns a soldier to die,
To have made ye’ trudge upon a road,
From the first conscription,
At Rochelle,
Or before with broken sword in hand,
Crying indignation,
Now escaped from parted lips,
And the Marshals baton clutched,
All your scruples,
Your morals,
Supreme Gascon wit!
Weeping from a wound to the chest,

Mastricht and Belle Isle.,
Be it a lake,
Or a bog-
To places insignificant,
One and one for all,
Holding great heros,
Their deeds but echos,
How is it,
Brave men who have gone?