The Song of Ceber

Argument: Ceber enters Ja-Kara Zăd where the arc-spider Akenzee guards the dead spirits. Ceber must tread lightly here for while the spider cannot sense her due to the Red Dragon's magic, she can still be heard by the spider. Ceber begins her search for Medy.

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Ja-Kara Zăd

Wet darkness       damp and cold
Chilling to her       very core
Ceber Ant-slayer
Perused each       left-handed path
As Terite Dragon Lord had instructed her.

If Lady fate       struck my sight
It would not be half as dark
As that path       to the dark place
Where Akenzee spins her thoughts out
One by one
The great widow spider       speckled scarlet
Glowering to herself
In her web with the dead around her.

To this Ceber was passing
As a moth unnoticed without a candle
While Akenzee worried over lost souls.

Ceber heard her song       echoing down the dark halls
“Does Lady Diptera       send me flies?
Here a march fly
Gone a mayfly
Come a crane fly
Die a blowfly
In Ja-Kara Zăd
The flies are flyblown.
Akenzee, my dear
Yes, what is it?
What maggots a maggot?
Akenzee, I do not know.”

This the spider spoke       with none to talk to
No one heard her oaths       except honest Ceber.
When Akenzee was a hatchling
She set her       sights on heaven
Desired to go to heaven.
She web-wrapped       the entire world.
Her threads were the Earth’s roof
And she grew fat       on giant’s blood
Until Oufa observing       the opulent black widow
Poised as Queen of the Sky
Threw her down.
He cursed her to Ja-Kara Zăd
For her ill-advised       impertinent impetus.
To rule the restful dead.
Blind now, and crazy
She still had       her songs.

Like Terite instructed Ceber ate the flower
And Akenzee noticed       not her intruder
But kept spinning       her strings and her songs.

“Ceber come at last!”

Ceber Strong-sting       cried out
For out of one of Akenzee’s silken tombs
Was Aspe of the bent sting
Wrapped up in a silken cocoon
Paler that in life
For Akenzee had sucked her dry.

“Look where you’ve put me!”
The ant said, screaming.
“In Hell, and only for defending my home!
But I see you’ve won no victory,
Sinful Ceber,       for your sincere friends
Have abandoned you.
Queen Fyrness profits off your work
While Jeena plans a coup.”

Akenzee heard the ghost not
She had lost that way       long ago.

Ceber passed the corpse       greatly disturbed
For other lost and dead
Swayed in the web       silken spirits all familiar.

“Ceber. Despoiler,”
Pernis the cave ant, high above, addressed her.
Black-shelled Pernis,       barely visible.
“You stole our land, there will be no mercy for you,
carrion-maker, in this Hell.”

“I did my part for my queen,”
Ceber said, “I am not ashamed!
With survival no fair play can be brokered.
You shall never guilt me.”

“Oh,” Therdy responded from the dark,
“the Murderer feels no remorse.”
He addressed the crowd.
“Strong, yes.       She could have stopped me
Without excessive force.
But instead       she stuck her stinger
Up through my thorax       into my thoughtful head
leaving poison all the way.
My last seconds were in a peptic coma.
O! How long a coma can last!
I fell a hundred miles or more,
Ceber, before I ever hit the ground.”

She stumbled on this, but regained herself.
“I have no business with you, rapist!
Lead me to Medy       or leave me alone."

“Talking to oneself is not becoming,”
Akenzee said.
The ghosts were silent to her.
Ceber, no ghost, was not.
The widow brought herself down.
Being nothing       but a shine of silver and black,
Ceber strained       to see in that gloom.

“An invisible fly,”
The spider sang       softly smooth.
“We will find it.”

Ceber snuck around       the spider’s searching legs.
The magic flower hiding her.

“Ceber!” Therdy yelled.
She saw him encased above,
Spider silk       binding him still
Only his head visible
The rest hidden.
“Ceber look and know my face.
Know this that       you've taken from me!
What say you?
Will you speak to me?
Doesn't a murderess owe       her victim that much?
Answer me, wretch!”

Yet Ceber breathed no words
With Akenzee so close
Any word       would weigh her to this dark place
forever.

“Fetid little fly,”       Akenzee said.
“Thou art trespassing       in my realm.
A horrible habit       best left at home.
I am the       arachnid Akenzee;
Guardian of       the great sleep,
Heaven’s outcast       Hell’s denizen
The widow       of the great web:
Accursèd       Akenzee.
Now that we are not strangers
Tell my thy name       what thou art
Called by thy friends and lovers.
Thy name is pretty, I warrant.
Give me opportunity
To tripst it       across my tongue
To taste its sense.
Names are       the better noun
Not ‘you’ or ‘thee’ or ‘me’
But thy true title
Given to thee as custom dictates
By thy mother or father
Or some other fore-bearer.”

So the spider spoke.
Ceber did not answer.
It would be suicide to do so.
Instead she inched       sideways
Down Akenzee’s silken hall
Shrinking from       the silk-corpses’ speech.

What terrible trouble not to talk!
To answer the dead!
Oh, the urge was there.
Bright and hot       burning
Like a carotid artery
With its life pulsing
Drawing jaws       down upon it
Where the bright blood       would burst
Its warmth       wrapping around
Chewing mouth parts.
Like to battle Ceber felt called.
What could she say to those spirits
Given the chance?
With the spider on the web
It was       impossible.

Akenzee kept muttering to herself about flies.
Wishing the intruder vocalize
But glass-eyed Ceber had learned from her error
And whispered       not a little whit
Scanning, searching for Medy
Among the bodies strung up high and low.

Around a bend and there the daubers were.
All of Terbeir laid out
Silken coffins       coveting the dead
Silent in silk       swaying softly
Ere Ceber saw them hanging.
When she came       a cry, a shout
Rose from the villagers saying,
“Save us,       Ceber!
Save us from the spider
She sucks us dry
Steals away our life
Savoring us       storing us for supper.”

“Silence,” Ceber said, whispering.
“I come for Medy. And he alone.”

The souls said       nothing to this
And Ceber spoke no louder
Not even to shout his name
For fear of alerting       the ferocious spider.

In searching       she saw them all.
Elle, enchantress, poet
Spoke out in crystal’d tones,
“She slew me, Ceber,
The goddess of gears       gored me.
Never have I       hurt anyone.
But that did not stop her.
Do not think I am selfish.
I ask salvation not for me
For my children I ask
Cooked by Cran       like corn.
Ceber, save them.
Carry them, Ceber!”

Though it shook her soul
Ceber couldn't answer.
So she went on and met others.

The doctor, Alcuin was there.
Sochek too and her mate.
The village— entire.
She walked and woke the dead
Seeing and saddened by all of them.
Until she saw Medy high above.

She had to climb       to cut him down.
“Ceber!” Medy said.
“Have you come to save me.
Deliver me hence,       for I fear this place.”

“Quiet,” Ceber replied,       chewing off the silk wrap.
“We aren't safe here.”
They climbed down slowly
And headed toward the exit
With Akenzee’s eight long legs
Tapping, tapping, tapping       somewhere in the dark.

Medy’s shell lost its choleric hue
Every step down the tunnel.
Ceber took left turns only
As brave Terite       had told her
Hurrying as the flower was waning
Akenzee       maw-mouthed
Sensed trespassers       on her threads.

“Wasps!” she cried.
Stinging flies on the lam!”

She berserked       blazing her path.
They heard her down the tunnel and bolted
but not faster than the fleet spider.

“Ah!” Akenzee said, blocking the way.
“I see thee now,       warrior wasp.
Hidden before by       some benefic god no doubt.
A pretty pair       to be parted in death
Thine endeavor       ends, enemies of mine,
For who could escape death or my web?”

But Ceber       bolted by.
Ducking under the spider’s
bloated belly and making one last race to the finish.
Akenzee, not expecting such a bold move maneuvered
Pursuing them down the tunnel
Until Ceber came out into

Light! Light! Light!

The light of the living world!
Never a more welcome sight,
Escape the sound of Medy’s breathing.

“I had a dream,” he said.
“And all my clan was there
Even those who were dead
All I could do was stare!
My grandfather greeted me
As if I were a friend
Mother under a tree
Whose fruit would never end

Then a voice called me back
There were still things to do.
Ceber suffered a lack
of me.

And so I returned
From the peaceful dead.”

“ ‘Tis a true dream,” Ceber said,
“And I would tell it       to thee but for a lack of time.
The spider comes!”

Unfolding from the dark cave
A blackness greater than pitch
Eight shiny legs emerged
Pushing Akenzee’s body out.
The under-spider’s eyes reflected the sun.
And the wasps saw all of her
A sight not seen since Oufa
Threw black Akenzee down from heaven.

“Wasps!” the spider said.
“Thou wilt return. The underworld seekith thee.”

“Spider!”       Ceber called.
“Perhaps you do not recognize me
Without your eyes,
But I am a hawkwasp
A slayer of spiders such as yourself.
In your caves       blinded by blackness
I would not have dared to challenge you.
But out in the open—
You haven’t a chance.
Therefore, I say, retreat.
Retreat and return       to the rotten dead
Or be dead yourself.”

The spider laughed, “Verily,
Thy bravery art misplaced.
Thee cannot kill me
For I am an arc-spider.
When the parental gods formed
I was there.
Thee thinks thou couldst kill a titan?
Thou art mistaken.
In thy pride and thine arrogance
Thee sought to overcome death
Not reckoning upon Akenzee’s might.
I shall not quarter thee.”

It began.
Akenzee spread her legs out fully.
With her long front legs seeking.
Ceber circled silently       knowing better than to strike
Her blind enemy straight on.
Akenzee would feel the air
Pushed by       Ceber’s passing
And kill her.
So Ceber went slowly
Varying her circle
So that sometimes       she’d be close in
Sometimes far out
But always out of reach
Of those meteor-colored legs.

The spider searched
Fanning out       Feeling in the dirt
Hoping honest Ceber       would tread too heavily
So she could find the wasp       and strike.
But Ceber was careful.

Medy watched that dance go ‘round.
Ceber’s       concentration grew.
And Akenzee       dark-angel
widened her search.

Ceber waited, looking for an opening.
Those legs had a dangerous reach.
She had to keep skipping       so the spider would miss.
She jumped, weaved, was quick

Then Akenzee
Felt something
And she—
Struck.

All legs, fangs, and eyes converged on the same spot.
Empty!
Ceber flashed blue-black       across the spider’s back!
Stinging her right behind the head.

Akenzee roared       she flailed.
The spider’s legs       struck all points
But the compass was empty.
Ceber was away
Avoiding a retaliatory strike.

The legs raised dust       brown foam
Along with arachnid screams
The cloud seemed alive
As if it were consuming Akenzee.
Finally the food       was finished
And the cloud drifted away.

Blood-flecked Akenzee
Ruler of Ja-Kara Zăd
Keeper of the souls
Hell’s warden
Was dead.

“Ceber!” Medy cried,
“Never have I heard in all the tales
Of a mortal killing a giant!
Yet the spider-goddess       is gone.
Come! Let us save the rest of my people.”

But no sooner       had he spoken
A great groan rattled out of the ground.
To be alive after being dead
Can only be a rare thing
For if death allowed a return trip
All would have a stamped passport
To that place and the world would fill
And starvation would run       rampant through the world.
The great dragon closed the cave
With earth and fire so none could find it.
And he said to himself,
“Now Ceber, you will go north to the lakes
Not to seek adventure       but to settle down
Beget wasplets, be happy
And never trouble yourself again.”

Then the two were alone again
Never knowing they had an audience.
Ceber and Medy.
No, not even this poet shall stay.
Instead going       to the garden
Rather than spoiling
The privacy of their act.


The Song of Ceber

Song of Ceber 0: Explanatory Notes ¦ 1 ¦ 2 ¦ 3 ¦ 4 ¦ 5 ¦ 6 ¦ 7 ¦ 8 ¦ 9 ¦ 10 ¦ 11 ¦ 12 ¦ 13 ¦ 14 ¦ 15 ¦ 16 ¦ 17 ¦ 18 ¦ 19 ¦ 20 ¦ 21 ¦ 22 ¦ 23 ¦ 24 ¦ 25 ¦ 26 ¦ 27 ¦ 28 ¦ 29 ¦ 30 ¦ 31 ¦ 32 ¦ 33 ¦ 34 ¦ 35 ¦ 36

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