Arnulf’s dragon

Deep under the fortresses that Arnulf the crusader was patroling an egg began to hatch. The strong brown stones of the fortress were ancient rock seated on a cliff.

The cliff face was assailed by wind and rumours of war parties constantly but night after night only the moon came to visit. No villagers remained by the walls and the huts had been torn down long before. The palm trees swayed gently as dust drifted past. The ramparts oversaw steep drops and dangerous paths, nothing else was left. The guards were a nervous lot. They were sick and plauged by fever dreams.

They were the ones slowing down the forced marches. All alone behind the stone walls they were terrified of both being discovered by another war party and of being forgotten by their own. They would survive neither. Their armours’ cold metal was harsh against their gaunt, pale skin and many slouching figures could be seen periodically shuddering.

After the scorching day came the unbearably night with a cold vengeance. The rocks used to build the castle, to build back it’s battlements and towers were old. Long before a spring ran through here and it had a different name. Pilgrims came for a different God, one that lived in the deepest valley, and built shrines and monuments in his name. Those structures were pulled down, those idols turned away and the carvings worn down to faceless figures piled up to make a rampart.

With old myths forgotten what hatched under the castle, deep in the well serving the sick had no name, no cause and no reason. In the moonless night an old Norman crossbow man was the first to scream when he saw what was in the bucket of water he was drawing. He slipped and fell right inside.

The castle was overrun with panic as everyone rushed to remove the sickly Norman from the water. Lamps were turned about in haste and something was seen in the water. Nothing came of this, except from curses directed at the Norman. He would not last long, not even in the minds of the party that set off abandoning the fortress after they saw it had taken away more than it was ever worth.

Arnulf’s lean figure grew in power as the crusader’s ranks and bodies thinned. He was sent to bury the dead in proper graves far away from those who did not want to be reminded of what awaited them. The castle grew quieter, the food went by faster despite the hungerless troops frozen in unease and the water, the water was worst of all metallic and bloody in colour.

A year had passed before the main host returned to the fortress covered in sand. No one remained but overturned graves and signs of battle. That night they met Arnulf’s dragon. Crocodilian in shape with a short snout, a scaly limless body that twisted and turned in the nature and speed of a snake. It had defended him as the guards turned on themselves, he nurtured it and it grew fast, the length of three men with the strength of ten.

It came on a moonless night when the troops were sick from the water and already dreaming of marching to Cairo. It came with all the uproar of a small skirmish, skattering troops, knocking over lamps and sending entire battalions lurching out into the valley looking for the ambush that had caused the chaos. While the troops tried to gather their skittish horses their lying eyes saw Arnulf’s dragon slither right out of the gate, he called for it from the valley, cursing and screaming in Norman, only worsening the uproar.

Brave knights charged in lamplight and were thrown by their horses. Their axes and swords were not made to hunt reptiles, their lances stabbed dangerously into the darkness where their comrades squinted. Quickly they cleared a path and the next morning at least 5 companies had slain the beast, then 10 and many more as the weeks past. The worm under the castle grew with every passing month as the crusaders marched further and faster from the path to Cairo.

For a few hundred years or more as crusader kings were annointed and dethroned, brave knights returned to the valley. Arnulf was never seen again but his dragon slew Knight after Knight till one had their vengeance. Again and the crusaders would return to be slain till they implailed the dragon with their steely lances. Yet with every crusade the dragon came again. Arnulf’s valley always took it’s toll.

Cow headed

I am the minotaur’s unfortunate cousin, born with the head of a cow. I lack all beastly fury, possessing something much worse- self awareness.

I too am on an island but I hate it here. At least you get lost in the labyrinth. Here I’m sorrounded by a sea of dry grass, golden under the setting sun but dull under ever other light. It is cold and the sea weather invades every hut and run down stonework I can see.

I wear a black cloak, adorned with two golden stars. It resembles a priests habit and must make for a strange sight with my yellow hide and horns pointed at the sky.

There are only a few trees breaking past dry rocks, barely reaching past my shoulders. I have been sent here with the two stupidest woodpeckers they could find in the southern hemisphere. They have the arms and voices of women. They are not guards, not prisonkeepers. They are the cruel punishment. They follow me constantly. They bicker. They plot. They scheme when every wave over the horizon foams vageuly in the shape of a ship.

I cannot escape them. I am neither beast nor man and neither beast or man could bear them. Again and again they recruit me into their schemes. They throw hay in front of me and advice me to eat heartly. Why? I would know how to eat as both beast or man. Where I alone I might have some dignity. Instead I have two woodpeckers chipping away at my soul.

I trudge in circles following my footsteps praying for some adventurer, some shipwrecked crew to come here and slay the beast. Ah but why would such liberators come here to a rocky outcrop. I cannot go mad, charge or be a beast with these avians constantly announcing themselves. They are convinced they are blessing, King makers, maidens to wait on Queens. They look at me as though my bovine eyes should see blessings. I can never see straight anyway.

So I do my best to slither, as best a cow or half of one can. I stare at the sea when I can muster the courage and curse it. I melt with it’s waves. When the sun sets I wonder why I did not watch the horizons. When the sun sets the entire world is the colour of the dry grass, my hide, the rocks, the swaying trees all of us are cloaked in the light of another day gone by. I look to the sea and think “maybe one day…”.

Moss lands

A woman laughes without any hesitation cutting right through the neighborhood, reaching me on the 7th floor.

Small towns have large areas of quiet, parking and shaded greenery that lull you into a sort of luxurious laze. No wonder life seems more pleasant here. Looking down you’ll see just green cover, the coconuts trees give away the boundiers between homes, every house has them.

Maybe apartments makes voyures of us all. Natural vantage points and a view right into your neighbors home. I can see my neighbors at their worst, their uninhibited habits and routines, glimpses of who they are when no one’s looking. It’s like trees across seasons, changing habits and routines slowly but in circles. The same arguments, the same hunched positions at their tables.

I see right into the apartment across the street where others also look for the laugh. There’s no one we can see, only a few dogs sleeping on roofs. They make the best of the steep incline that the neighborhood is on.

I can smell the sea in the air so I stay on the balcony while the rest retreat indoors. It’s a smell you grow fond of.

A lazy motorists makes his way into his yard behind the apartment. He’s got a stream behind him and space he’s done nothing with. The moss grows green on his walls. All old house, old neighborhoods and old memories are closed off by green, green moss. Everything goes back to sleep.

Apologies

I’m sorry, really I am. It was never my intention to steal your glass eye. I saw it by the darkened desk side as you dozed a cyclopes, and if Sinbad was anything to go by this was my time to strike.

What a treasure it was! Iris as green as an emerald sky, pupil black as the charcoal you draw with. I thought it might be something nice to remember you by, it had great potential for decor back at home. It might go great by my teal painted door. How it would gleam by my first edition Guide to Shogunates, a bust of mazdak, broken china and burnt feathers.

Yes, something to remember you by, an eye for an I! Surely the flowers I left should make up for it. It’s a fair exchange! In the land of the blind, all you need is an eye.

Holy man

“Don’t you know holy men can live without food or water for days? They never need glasses or medicine. We never get sick!”

The doctor stared. The holy man urged, “I’ll need a few pills and a new pair of contacts to convince my followers- for a few days tops.”

The real Ella

I knew the real Ella M.

A face on the wall, the plaque in the hall

The great dame of corruption

A legendary center fold.

But I knew the real Ella M

Her wit quicker than a whip

And deep seas of doubt that haunted

Her iron clad pronouncements

I knew the real Ella M

Her dark eyes hiding

Our shared​ happiness

A great moon over an ocean

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And I killed her.

Born to wait

The queue seemed to stretch for miles with people moving like they had all the time in the world.

I was tired and unsure of the ground below me. I looked around and decided that the people there were a sorry lot despite being dressed up like a carnival. The ones that smiled made me uncomfortable.

Eventually I reached the gate. Some guy there showed me a video- all sped up but vaugly familiar. I said “What a sad little story, you guys should make that a movie.” 

He said “The name’s Peter. That was your life on replay.”