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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Wet darkness damp and cold
Chilling to her very core
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.
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,”
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
“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:
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
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
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.”
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
All legs, fangs, and eyes converged on the same spot.
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.
Ruler of Ja-Kara Zăd
Keeper of the souls
“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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