The Song of Ceber

Argument: As Takara prepares to continue pursuing Ceber, the god Oufa sends two dragons down to distract her, allowing Ceber to escape. Ceber and Medy then plan how to approach Valayis.

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The Two Dragons

To mortals travel       takes time,
But to Takara Time-Keeper
Distance cost not a mote-speck.
The geared goddess       needed no guide
And set upon petty vengeance posthaste.
Yet favor always is       fortunate for Oufa who
In his distant palace,       watched his daughter with disdain.

Illuminated Essa
Clear sister       of the shining sun
Said to her husband thus,
“Our daughter’s crimes cannot be forgiven.
The gods’ duty is to keep balance of the world
To stop disorder from spreading.
Yet here, our granddaughter deflowered.
Our grandson       in shame.
Our sons slaughtered.
And the Weaver Worms misused.
We must punish her.
Pull her down.
Break her upon the rocks of fortune
And put her in her place.”

Oufa, prophegaunt, spoke,
“We need no involvement,
For Tamed Takara       has tendered her own fate.
The future is clear to me.
She writes her own doom.
The worms weave it even now.”

Lady Essa       astonished said,
“How can this be?
Epenè, wonder worm, is no more.
Prophecy has ended since she killed him.”

“Ended?” Oufa Allghaust said.
“No. Not even a god can kill time.
Takara slew nothing but herself.
For now the worms work against her
As a carpenter shaves down a corner
That gave a stubbed toe.
Yet, here’s some fun. I shall delay her a bit
So that she cannot find Ceber
And work any more mischief.”

Down to Takara he sent two dragons.
Cat-sized, one bright, one black.
“Hail Takara Thoughtful!” black said.
White said, “Slam thoughtless Takara!”
They both of them spoke.
“Goddess Takara! The great Oufa wishes to see thee.
Thy crimes haven’t gone unnoticed. Submit to his
authority or be cursed. Thou disruptist the balance of
earth and multiply discomforts on the malnourished
multitude. The only restitution for thee is just
punishment. Repair the balance before the balance
repaireth thee.”

“Preach at me, you stupid pissants,”
the goddess snapped the bright one in twain.
Pretty pieces fluttering like petals.
The dark dragon grew
Fire dripping like drool from its jowls.
As tall as a mountain it rose.
“Heed Guilty Goddess!
Balance will resume.
Do not let thy filthy odor scent thee to the hounds of fate.”

“I’ll never go to justice. Let balance send the hounds!
I will rend them to pieces. I will bleed them dry. A
thousand dogs dead today or tomorrow! I don’t care.
Feed the puppies into a meat grinder!”

She cursed the dragon and flew away.
Distracted from Honest Ceber and Good Medy
As they made for the mountain pass.
She didn’t see them go,
Instead thinking insidious ploys inside
Her hateful head
Hard-hearted       hate-hoard that she was.

Assured Ceber       braved the pass,
Mindful of brambles       brave Medy
Scouted above       observing safe passes
Sending it back       to stinging Ceber

Twice as fast       this was to travel
Fast as the wind
Like Alson the Earth-Stepper
Who, born with bad wings,       broke dirt walking
The whole       worldwide
Far searching for her       churlish child
Lost in Sival’s storm       while sailing the clouds
And carried across the sea
To live among the gall wasps,
That savage tribe       terror-beasts
Attackers, sapsuckers,       stealers of children.
Far-traveling Alson’s own       taught their ways.
How to behave       how to be best.
Unwholesome table manners
Regurgitation, crop-effluvia.
Those horrors given as good and proper
To the young wasplet
Ere Alson’s arrival
Fleet on her feet as Ceber on hers.

Honest Ceber said,
“Some wild god       gives us good breeze.
We could fly faster       than the fair-folk
Further than they that dart before the sun.
If I had wings we would fly on a sunbeam!

My heart longs       for my home,
To find friends       childhood playmates.
Larking in Comely as youth
We never imagined how our life would un-spool.
Who would go       what paths we’d take.
Onward and upward       winding out our ways.
How many hold me       to their heart?
How many allies in waiting,
Sincere in their sympathy       to Ceber?
Or do they view me as Jeena does?
Homesick Ceber,       they’ll call me.
If I find enemies in my bosom friends
Then where will I go?”

“Heavenly Ceber,” Medy said.
“If your friends are friends,
They’ll stay true       through all time
As a lovely lighthouse beyond the sea
As the luminous northern lights
Reflecting off the dark merstrata.
Keep your eyes on the light
And it will guide you.
Angle your bow       brave the baleful waves
And you’ll see friends again.”

Much encouraged       they moved on
Coming toward the desert of Comely
That stretched off the hind of the mountain
Like a giant sea of salt
Glittering in the dim sun       like a silver plate
Stretched along the foothills.

In Ceber’s youth,
It had been lush as any forest.
But year upon year       it dried.
The rains ran from the fields.
The crops died.
The animals died.
Every well went       with the rain.
Away for good.       Gone.
Until every mouth cried for water.

Ceber paused.       “Shall we continue?
The sinister sun       will be monstrous,
The salt will cut our joints.
This was a great lake once.
Now nothing not even a memory survives.”

There was no way around the noxious saltpan
So they set out       across the salt flat.
Each step searing.       The cruel sun
Knew no mercy, its gaze fixed
On the travelers.       Thirsty, tired,
Bereft of the benefit       of blue water.
No choice but to soldier on.
Each burning step no nearer to salvation.
Was this all that remained
Of Ceber’s childhood home?
The seaside hive       hidden under sand,
Consigned to dirt       and dry desolation.
Not a drop left,
The desert despised       damp water.
In wetter days,
The magnificent merstrata       met rivers here.
Now, the drinkless drought parched the land,
Pierced the well       to the water table.

They braved it,       Ceber and Medy.
Step by cursèd step.
Until Medy said,       “Ceber, look,
There, like a heat image,
Trees or something else.
Do my eyes illuminate       or fail me complete?”

“Nay,” Stalwart Ceber said,       “you see true.
A growth of green.       A great grove.
Fine and fair.       A little forest.
A hidden spring!       Hurry! Shade is succor!”

They took the last league in a lunge,
But lo! Come hither out to meet them,
Rock locusts       livid in their livery.
Olive-colored       wild-eyes
Spur-throated       mountain-beasts.
Larger than any grasshopper,
Greedy green fiends,       horse-headed heathens,
No friends to wasps
No friend to any.
Fifty score rose from the grove
Blocking the way.
Shouting every other word:

“Wasps of the gauntlet, go back.
This land is ours.
We have heard       of fighting hornets
Come to bother       our ancient brothers.
Never did it cent them any good.
We defy you, wasp-kind.
Go back and die in the desert!”

“Surely you can spare water,”       Ceber said.
“Grasshoppers are known       to be generous
In times of need,       they never forget friends.”

“We are not grasshoppers,
Hoppers hospitality       is foolish gullibility,”
The swarm replied.
“Grass or not,
Wasp or not,
We defy you.
Leave or we will consume you.”

Against such numbers,
The two had to cut west,
No rest until nightfall.
Two days without water       was nearly a killer,
But soon they came upon the Run River
With its clear blue current.
Ceber, she calculated two days journey to Valayis.

“When we invaded       and war-worked Valayis,”
She said,
“We used caves to see       the ant’s city.
I will hide in the caverns       concealed from the city guards,
While you go to       see the city.
I fear some great danger
Or evil on my home.
Report to me       if you love me.
Report true.
I cannot abide waiting       aside.
I am a wasp of action.
But I will cool my wings
If wings I had
For knowledge is a weapon.”

True faithful Medy said,
“Don’t worry, for I am pledged to you.
If trouble is there       I will tell you all.
I will find it.”

So, they came to Valayis
And set to work.
Medy to the city,       setting the stage for excitement,
in the heart of October.

The Song of Ceber

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