I slept and have woken, my eyes burning in the white morning sea-sky.
From the roof hung glittering a single strand of web,
its creator blown on by the wind.
A ghost came up from the ground,
gestured across the bloody fields,
and spoke, saying, "In life we were enemies,
but in death we are partners against all the living."
A drop fell onto the paper.
It felt as if life had become detached from that world,
and in its place was an immeasurable sea of loss.
Entropy swallowed their bodies like the passing of summer days
or the dissipation of the smoke of a thousand tomes.
"It was I who wrote that story," said the bookkeeper,
"and all who read it believed it to be true and spoke of it as truth,
and so in time it was as truth to all."
"It is a good thing, then, that we question ourselves occasionally,"
said the tortoise, who was too old to bear offspring,
the last of her kind.
The sand is cold beneath my feet.
And as the kite rose in the wind,
the sound of the paper flapping brought me back
to long ago and a place deep in the country and nearly forgotten---
Amid the bodies of the fallen legion,
I found a letter addressed to me.
It began to rain. A steam came up from their flesh
which stung my eyes and choked my throat.
The plants withered and the sun flickered and was gone.
They who were set on a path of destruction had arrived at their destination.
Their minds were clouded and so have they been given to the lord of decay,
to the grey veil. I saw then the fields of anguish in which men lie,
and the hilts of the daggers they refused to release,
and their mutual suffering was as a web over the mass of bodies,
tended by a great spider hanging suspended from the moon.
The hand was feeble and kind,
like a warm old smile in defiance of encroaching death.
It read, "My Dearest Octavius, I apologize
that I cannot deliver this message to you personally.
Your father succumbed to his wounds late last month,
and your mother could not bear her own grief.
As for me, I am needed in the War;
even the fire wants a pen to record its vagaries.
Please find attached the encrypted coordinates to your family's fortune.
I am sorry, my boy, that we shall not again enjoy the beach together.
I have entered your story of birds in the library annals.
If it is true, perhaps we meet again on a more peaceful shore.
Signus Regalia, Bm. E."