The Song of Ceber

Argument: Crushed by the loss of Medy, Ceber decides that she won't live without him. Resolved to starve to death over his grave, Ceber sits and waits to die. Terite, seeing that Ceber is disheartened appears as a bumblebee and tells Ceber of a way to rescue her lover from the Realm of the Dead, Ja-kara Zăd.

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Three: Journey to Ja-Kara Zăd

Ceber Alone

Ceber sat and set and wept
“Lucky me       living lively
Still awake here       still alive
My chance at love is dead
But I’m still here
Do I dare to get up?

Well, goddess! Does this please you?
Am I meant to suffer here?
Not enough playthings in heaven
To keep you there?
No poor world-wearied       wasp to needle?
Someone other than poor Ceber?
I could have been       blissful.
And the rest!
I know I am but an insect
Crawling upon the ground
I am barely of notice.
Are you so cruel or bored or petty
That you must notice me?
O! the sculptured       sun should hide
From such venom
And with itself hid me.

Terite! Dragon! God of Fair Fighting!
Supposèd north-cut       through southern seas!
Why am I forsaken?
Did I forget       to give due?
Hath my battle score not pleases?
Your sister and consort vex!
She plagues me       with bitter poison
And drains direct       my heart’s hemolymph

It hurts to feel!
My pain is a dark tide
That ebbs and flows       and flourishes
When it goes out and I think I can stand life
I am reminded of high tide
And the pain       in that place
It then comes rushing back in
To crush me on my own rocks.

Bright Dragon! Call off thy sister
Reason with her cunning clockwork!
To this I owe you seven kine
If it pleases you;       for a purpose,
A motive,
To keep me from driving my sting
Through my       trembling thorax
To place a peg       in this endless pit
Even ticks       they tell me
Are not immune to their own poison!"

Terite trembled in rage       at this
And struck Takara
With his mauled fist.

“This is your idea of fun?”
The dragon spoke with fire.
“I look away and you've
Declared war       on my favorite devotee?
I ought to fry your face for this!”

The clockwork       goddess cowered
Saying to the mound-dragon
“What am I to do? In the midst of a tale
she interrupted and insulted me saying I did
not know how to tell the story. I who talk to
the worms directly!”

“Silence!”       the dragon said again.
“I’ve seen what you wrought.
A volcano       in Ayeguay
When our nephew Sein promised
The radiant       Lacewing Lady
That there wouldn’t be an eruption
On the continent for a thousand years!
You make him out a liar
And you betray       behind my back!”

Clockwork Takara bristled,
“Accuse all you want, you son of a bitch.
Side with mortal scum rather than
your wife, your kin. Do not look for me tonight.”
Spring-loaded Takara left
Going to       Ausohara’s garden.

Ceber did not cry as she dug
A grave for most-lost Medy
He was lost and dead and gone
His proper place       in poor dirt
Where the Weaver Worms       would find him
At the End of Days
And reconstitute him with the All
Where the Worms       would gather when
The stars went out
And the frozen phantoms       fought their way free
From Ja-Kara Zăd       killing their keepers.

Ceber grave-maker was skilled
In earth-play
As a Hawkwasp this was her right
But it still took her all day
And at night
She lay on top       a fitting headstone
For dead Medy’s       material resting place.
She meant to die
To cook under the sun tomorrow
Or to starve to death
She had the will to do it too.

Terite distressed       descended
As a humble       bumblebee
And aged ancient       to appear wise.

“Oh! A wasp!”
he stumbled over Ceber
As if just then seeing her.

She raised her head.
“A wasp who       wishes to die
Let me hug this grave
Until its cold swallows me up.”

The bumblebee       bent and looked.
“You’re still young,       yet you despair.
A Kuroni defeated.
Unheard of.
Surely       when I slept last night
I fell asleep on Earth
And woke up       on some other world
Where asses are backwards
With their faces on their rumps.”

“Grief is defilade for jokes,”
Ceber commented wearily.
“A wise bee would       not bother a wasp.”

The bee laughed,
“And a wise wasp       would move.
Why die on a grave
When you’ll get one in a short time anyway?
Life comes       lives a little
Then passes
Then it is gone forever.
Why not die on your own terms
In the heat of battle

As a good wasp should
Biting at an       evil enemy?”

Ceber said,       “Sir, I have lost my country
My queen, my lover, and my wings
And gained a curse besides.
An immortal hates me
And only in death
Can one escape that kind of attention.”

Again the bee laughed,
“And be served by the Spider       while serving worms.
No. That fate is shameful,       Ceber Starlight.”

“You know my name.”

“How could I not?
I’ve seen you fight the bloodiest battles
Coming out       without a scratch
And I’ve known your heart.
True Tanis       told me once that
When you were a translucent grub
You could inch out all others
To get at       the good bits
of spiders       and sweet flies
And when meta       morphized
Pale and white
She chose you
Because you were the most determined
Breaking out of your cocoon first
So great was your desire to live.”

“Me thinks a god’s knowledge
Is best spared from fools and ingrates
Sorry, I did not think I’d be answered.
Say I that I’ve been abandoned
And say I eat my own words.
But why approach wise bee?
I am done.
Tanis raised a weakling.”

“You are only as weak as your last action,”
said the bee.
“The gods do much       mortals must fear
But agency they cannot touch.
Do not be bullied.       Life is a battle.
Regroup, reinforce
And break the enemy lines.”

Ceber said bitterly,
“I’m the one       overrun
I’ve been killed, bee.
Let me rest.”

But Terite       thought not and said,
“You have another chance at glory
For I have heard
A tale by a seer       an old secret story
Of an outcast       offered death
But who refuses
Instead creating       a country
Filled with her progeny
That is forever
That doesn't end.”

“Then you've not heard       the true tale,”
Ceber said.
“The outcast fails for she has not the strength.
She dies either here or in the desert.”

“To die with a corpse isn’t a good thing.
Jewels could stud an outcast’s tomb,
Ceber Carapace-breaker.”

“To die with his body close to mine!
An outcast needs jewels?
Not even to build a hive
Would I forsake my love.
O great god,       if be you so great and powerful
Then bring my mate back
Surely you can breach       the southern shore.”

The bee said,
“No, I cannot.

But I know a way into the pale realm. It is dangerous
Guarded by the Arc-Spider Akenzee
Getting past her is no easy feat.”

Ceber stirred,
“Once there can one return?”

Terite told thus,
“A mortal may return from the Dead-land
If they enter by foot
And leave the same way.”

“How do I do this?” asked the wasp.

“Follow the river       as it runs under Cran
Into the tunnels       take only left turns.
Eventually you will reach Ja-Kara Zăd
The silken lair of black Akenzee
To return only take left turns again.
But beware       the black spider!
For she eats any who come her way.
Take this flower,
Eat it when you       get to the web
It will hide you from the spider
But only for an hour
Ausohara’s magic is not strong there
Being so far from the light.
Escape with your lover before the hour is up
Or the great spider will find you
And you’ll never leave.”

He then gave her a blue and white flower
Made of soft crystal
As unto glazed sugar
The amaryllis plant of Ayeguay
Able to hide mortals       from angelic Akenzee.

Ceber took it and said,
“I will not fail!”

But she spoke       to empty space
For the god       had gone.

The Song of Ceber

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