Sunny days look grim
Meeting The Ancient of Days
Know something’s afoot.
The Elder Ancient of Days came upon the two
At the edge of the Swamplands
Where they were meeting private, in concert
About the strange times unfolding.
‘Nothing comes by accident’, the Antlered Man murmured
As he watched him approach.
‘Indeed not’, the Laughing Master added...
Though no humor found home in his voice
As he too, watched the Elder one approach.
‘Don’t rise for me’, the Elder Ancient of Days announced
‘I wish to sit with you both awhile.
For we have things to discuss...’
He looked from one to the other.
‘A puzzle has appeared,’ he continued
‘And each may own the pieces needed
To see the whole-of-it aright.’
And sighing in relief from his long walk
Without waiting for reply
He sat down next to them.
‘I see you have picked a nice grassy spot
For our old bones to thus settle on,’ he said, glancing quickly around.
‘And it will be a good eventide’, the Antlered Man said in reply
Looking too over at the open grassy fields
‘Perhaps the fireflies will deign to dance for us
Though a little early in the year as yet.’
‘And a fairy or two too’, the Laughing Master added, chuckling
‘That delight is always a comfort for my weary soul.’
‘Yes’, the Ancient of Days replied
‘It shows good, the Earth safely, peacefully abiding… here.
Balanced...’ he hesitated then added, slowly
‘Though, only for a little more time...’
‘Share our humble meal with us’, the Antlered Man interrupted
Passing out a small wooden bowl containing some fresh fruits
Tumbled in a nut and seed blend.
Bringing out his own bread loaf, the Ancient of Days added
‘And have some of this in partnership...
For we are well met.
After all, there is some time remaining.’
As the sun dropped lower on the horizon
The three, a little disappointed…
Could see the far fields misting away...
No dancing was to come
Only one tiny light made its presence noticed
As it flew up near them
Settling on an old large branch some feet away
That was weirdly sticking up out of the ground.
Paying it no mind
They decided to light a small fire
To ward off any coming night-chill…
As well as light the airspace between them.
‘Oh my’, said the Antlered Man
‘We do need some wood.’
‘I’ll get that stick’, the Laughing Master said rising…
Walking over to a large, dried limb
Sticking up out of the ground.
As he reached to grab it...
The firefly quickly rose in fleeing
Disappearing as if never there.
‘Oh my’ he said, as he pulled up the branch
Looking down at the larger hole that created...
And then over at the distant Swamplands.
Looking at the other two, he added
‘Quite a distance, don’t you think?’
The other two rose and came over.
In the dimming light they could no longer
Just still see the indentation where the stick had been mounted
But a quite larger hole.
‘A Listening Stick?’
The Antlered Man asked
‘Way out here?’
He looked back at the Swamp.
The Antlered Man dropped to his knees
And taking out his bone knife
Started digging deeper
Into the small hole that had appeared.
And as he dug, it seemed to be easily deepening.
He was only able to dig a small amount
When the hole suddenly expanded quickly downward
Disappearing from view.
That seemed to stop all movement, and looking down...
They could see an empty dark area below.
‘A cave... here?’, the Laughing Master asked.
‘No, more like a cavern’, replied the Antlered Man
Again looking at the Swamp outlined half a league away
‘Dug out this far...’
‘It is not just a Wizard listening post’
Said the Antlered Man looking at the two
‘It’s part of an underground system for spying, and capture.’
‘I thought they were all abandoned after the Elven War’
The Laughing Master mentioned.
‘They were’, the Ancient of Days answered
‘This magic hole is very old, see?
It just disintegrated when touched’.
And then he pointed down, continuing..
‘To now be as others, mostly empty
Though I am surprised too…
To see an underground network out this far’.
‘Never we mind’, said the Antlered Man
‘Those past times are long past
It’s a bright moon tonight
And we each know how to stay warm, eh?’
So smiling, they collected some more branches
Went back, and started a small warming fire
Settling down on the grass again, to eat…
Not missing the small firefly
That had seemingly disappeared
Back into the encroaching darkness.
‘Good stuff’, said the Laughing Master
With crumbs dusting his unkempt beard
Nodding his thanks to the Ancient of Days.
‘And I have these to add...’
Handing each one then an herbed honey biscuit.
Then he, looking up at the stars beginning to come out
Commenced reciting a poem...
‘Oh man-kind, deep and dark is this misty moon’d night
Your sad realm. so lightly attached
Finding no special dancing fairies here…
Which even these soft moonlight magics
Fail to draw
Kindred laughing spirits near
Sadly, rare, not to hear.
Then do teach me, better living songs to sing
Repeating best refrains that thou hast learned
Pleasant platitudes sounding up from wrong’s
Thinking egos have the power to snare, into sharing blame...’
Then he looked over at the Ancient of Days smiling
‘Still waiting for more to finish that one’, he said
Then quickly added…
‘Well, I know you are not here to get something different to eat
Or hear more of my poems...
What is it you wish to discuss?’
[to be cont’d]
Copyright © Brian Rusch | Year Posted 2022