A Bard's Lament

A mixture of crimson with an earthy hue formed into neat puddles inside almost artistic cracks throughout the land. Each small carving was slowly swallowed up by the rainfall that curses these parts constantly; however, this only seemed to dilute the blend spreading it further along the lonesome footpath. The eclipsed sky was bursting with an abundance of spotted lights drifting endlessly without aim or consequence. Between these little pockets of purity, nothing seemed to matter. There were no alliances that needed to be kept, no friendships begging to be respected, and with no difference seen between the souls of the wicked and that of the divine. The full moon shone new light over what had previously been hidden, and creatures darted from one miniature piece of woodland to the next, seeking shelter from the unforgiving storm. Kind animals hopped from one natural umbrella to another managing to hide their innocence and majesty. This small snapshot of the world reminded him more of those past temptations which never truly gave him total satisfaction, and only served to beckon him further on through the pain.

The silhouette appeared over the horizon signalling the arrival of another wayward traveller making his way from beginning to end. After every footfall, the sound of dried mud cracking can be drifting in the wind. His heavy arms drooped at his sides. Thickened leather rubbed against his cracking skin as he marched on and the wheezing strings from a lute can be heard desperately trying to breathe on his back. His beautiful, still eyes were locked in the distance as if waiting for somethings to appear. To give meaning once again to his now empty stare that longs for things he once held close. His previously styled to perfection hair, now lay dead on his scalp, to rot. The ancient decorative helm that once adorned his head – a clear show of his lovably infectious personality – was missing and gone. His clothes – now coming into focus – have shifted from eccentric to damaged, showing signs of unnatural corrosion and pierced tears spreading throughout the deep purple robes. The padded leather embedded inside his precious robe now hangs out, escaping through the multitude of holes. His exquisite cape which previously flowed in the wind thus creating just as many enemies as admirers, now has retreated, crumpled near his nape with its frayed remains hardly even trying for the world now. The once trimmed to perfection goatee, now grew unruly and negatively bold in its ventures away from his chin. The peaked ears by his weathered face were now ripped and torn exposing his past perfection from his present.

The familiar crimson stream emerges from two places on the charismatic stranger. A sprawling wound exposed on the upper left arm bandaged in frantic manner, barely managing to calm its flow, with small runic symbols engraved into the surrounding skin that seemed to constantly pulse with a silent purple haze assisting with its containment. The second blemish was less controlled, and fresher than any of those protected by his raw constitution. On his hands and drying under his fingertips. This came from others. The mess trickled down his right arm racing from the weathered elbow and leaping from his fingers into the mid, racing off his small leather boots. Blood. Every drop leaks out of his grasp soaking the landscape with his memories and all his regrets.

His pace doesn’t quicken. His walk never changes. Constant and sustained. Direct yet confused. Strong but heavy. He dreamt of the past whilst simply gaining more restless nightmares for his future. The deeds will never be forgotten, yet only he could remember every single painful detail. Life’s never that fair, even for those stuck in the eternal loop as he is. Though the adrenaline is now calmed and sapped away from his simple form, his words still seem trapped within the prison of his own creation. Those memories, despite how painful they seemed, gave him some solace. They meant he was someone to be remembered. And he intended to keep it this way. All those new thoughts stirred around inside his old, worn out head but the new mission given to himself will never change.

***

A weathered rake slams against the newly vitalised ground dispersing some of wet dirt, then pulls back tilling the land in the process. Beads of sweat drip off the farmhand’s youthful brow, as his workload for the day is nearing its end. The rugged exterior of his worn cloth uniform rivalled the young face and body which this man was blessed with. His muscular arms pulsated with every movement of the rake, like a gladiator demonstrating his strength to an empty coliseum. The boots upon his feet were old, seemingly older than he could ever be, but managed to function well in the now marshy terrain. His once white linen shirt was now stained with copper patches from the unforgiving labour he’s forced to complete to feed himself. After an entire morning of constant work planting new seed for the next harvest, the young farmer switches his rake for a slightly blunted scythe, using it to clear out the tall grass which has now plagued his homestead for some time. The recent rainstorm destroyed most of the crops which he had worked tirelessly to grow, but his efforts did not go unrewarded as small sprouts were seen maturing at an unremarkable rate. Possibly enough to feed himself and even more to sell on in the market. Hope was his friend and close ally in these long times of need. A brief gust of wind brushed through his short hair and gives the farmhand comfort that his existence will one-day amount to something more. Something worthwhile.

The small path leading to the nearby villages passing by his property was the farmhand’s pure focus. He prayed that one day, any one of the many gods would give him reason enough to leave this place and begin adventures of his own. The stories of fighters risking their lives to protect the innocent and thwarting evil in their every step, filled his gullible mind. Promise of adventure, wealth and daring quests were engraved into his very being and he desperately prayed for an escape from this tedious, simple existence he has been gifted. Whilst these thoughts swirled around his inexperienced brain, an image appeared on this blessed path. He’d waited his whole life for this moment. The moment when a fated adventurer would whisk him away to freedom, somewhere fair away from here. The scythe fell from his fingers suddenly as he forced his body to drift toward this new and exciting figure with an urgency and curiosity that he had never grasped before. His dry, cracking lips opened for the first time in what seems like years to speak to this fascinating stranger before him.

“Hello sir, how may I help – “

The farmhand’s gruff voice – which paralleled the boyish charm still shining through his exterior regardless of experience – is cut immediately short. The figure stared at the farmhand with still, beautiful eyes that glistened in the moonlight. A raised hand now had the full attention of the petrified farmhand’s gaze, focusing on every pulse of muscle and vein located within in strangers open fist. The farmhand’s eyes were locked with his and whilst the farmhand’s pupils remained still, every other fibre of his body was trying to resist and begging to escape. But he was now locked in place by some otherworldly force it seemed. A few moments pass. Everything is silent. The calming wind has dispersed completely. The kind animals have suppressed their purity to the point of no return. The wheezing strings drifting through the air have cancelled their struggles for dominance so far. And as the stranger slowly closed his now furious hand, another pure crimson stream appeared dripping down his wrist. The farmhand’s gaze met with this stream as his paralyzed state was released and his young body relaxes finally. However, as he calmed in that strange new moment, he looked further down to see a thin ray of emerald energy that meets with his chest. A single cry of relief mixed with fleeting disappointment emanated from the farmhand before his simple, ambitious and strangely enviously normal life disappeared whilst his physical being transformed into fine dust.


The calming wind returns. Animals reconcile into their woodland realm. The now alone stranger pauses for a moment, allowing the small tears to run down his cheeks and splash onto the wet dirt. His feet are coerced forward as his lifeless eyes stare back down at the path towards the densely populated villages. All that is heard on the wind is a slight murmur from the stranger: “Never… again…”.

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