Gnomic Saga II

XI.

Each foot fall, each step
further from home and castle
the sky grows darker.

He feels a shiver
and not knowing the reason
he shrugs his shoulders.

The bird flutters close
always nearby with a chirp
not fearful it seems.

“Little bird,” said Ailfrid
“you’re a comfort to me here.
This path darkening.”

It seemed to Ailfrid
that as the light was lessened
the world quieted

Until his own foot
made not a sound on the road
only the bird’s call

was in his two ears
straining to hear what might be
in the twilight.

“If the world’s light dims
sure the stars shine brighter still
my mum would tell me.”

He thought of his home
and quickened his pace anew
and find his quest’s end.

He fingered the chain
placed there by the most High Queen
pondering her words.

XII.

Stopping for water
he sat at the road’s dry edge
how far had he walked?

He looked behind him
no remembrance of the light
he’d left at the dawn

the bird perched nearby
and then hopped to his shoulder
singing all the while.

“You’ve not lost your nerve.”
Ailfrid said to the small bird
offering a crust.

The woods seemed to creak
but without a touch of wind
what moved the dark place?

The road before him
gathered like night in the east
a night with no stars.

Behind the road also dark
still bore the promise of home
and his sweetheart fair

“This the journey’s test
to leave home, and those most loved
their strength and comfort.

“and the journey’s hope
to return and know again
hearth, home and their love.

“Needs to go on then
to find the Night Star and bring
justice to a thief.”

XIII.

The wee bird listened
head cocked, both wings akimbo
as Ailfrid spoke soft,

“the darkness here serves
to make home’s golden light a
beacon to return.”

They both fell silent
Perhaps they dozed together
or one at a time.

When at last he stood
with one last glance towards his home
then walking again.

years later we speak
of the battles bravely fought
but not the hero.

The hero who stays
the path vast and unknown
when it is not marked.

Who ventures from home.
the evil not clearly known.
who must act alone.

Acts without witness,
Without desire of reward
but for good alone.

And so he walks on
pondering where Night Star dwells
and who holds it close.

“The tale is oft told,”
he remarked to the wee bird
Night Star fell to earth

XIV.

“One night, without moon
fell to a place without hope
and lay on banked moss.”

“Sparkling silently
its silvery beams cutting
the darkness so still.”

“The deer and the birds
the smallest insects came forth
bear and wolf drew near.”

They kept watch all night
When the sun passed over head
they still waited nigh.

Inside the forest
there where the cool and dark green
sparkled with gold light

the darkness within
wrapped around the mossy throne
and was cut by it.

the creatures stood by
or laid on the soft leaf mould
keeping their vigil.

Late the sun drilled its
final ray towards those waiting
a single white beam.

Multiplying thus,
that light caught the fallen star
and leapt to the sky.”

The bird sang to him
her wordless song, he wondered
if she had seen it

XV.

That light, shooting up
to the black waiting above
A single sliver.

So this moonless night,
still and gloomy, did bear light
across starless sky.

Cold and small boy gnome
peeking from the worn covers
looked out the window

To him, the world loomed
Great in the day and sun-warmed
as bright and shiny

As when it grew most dark
and the evening wrapped the world
in quiet sleeping.

This night, this small gnome
who should have been long asleep
looked and looked for stars.

Below his mother sang
a quiet gnome-mother song
a quiet song for dreams.

She thought of her son
tucked into his tiny bed
beneath the old quilt.

She wished for him dreams
gnomish, of home and garden
with small adventures.

She knit a striped sock
into each stitch winding hope
for her sleeping child.

XVI.

Sending a silent,
unintentional prayer
she dozes herself.

Her son, shivering,
searching for stars, waiting
sighing in the night.

In that dark quiet
the deepest part of this night:
a single light beam.

The silver column
Dark world to darker heavens
filled his wide blue eyes.

Filled the whole room
He laughed at the sweet lightness
and waved at the joy.

His mother, sleeping,
never woke as he crept past
intent on seeing.

Out in the silver
the path was strewn with bright stones
and shining flowers.

The light beckoned him
the silent night reposing
he walked past the town,

on into the woods
dark even in brightest day
now brightest of all.

Fallen, earth-bound star
pulsed and sang and multiplied
that last beam of day.

XVII.

So, Ailfrid told the bird,
that wee gnome walked through the night
now brighter than day.

The single upward beam
guided him between the trees
on strangely lit paths.

Perched on his shoulder,
the old tale spun past the bird
who listened and sang.

Her refrain was caught
between the remembered words
passed down the ages.

So, Ailfrid spoke on,
telling of the silent path
bathed in silver light.

“Soon the gnome lad came
to the gathered animals
keeping their vigil.

They were not fearful
but filled with a dignity;
flowing with wonder.

The small gnome came then
to the mossy scene so still
the light now softer.

The brilliance tempered
’til the circled attending
seemed lit by candle

and all hushed they watched.
He went nearer and he stopped.
A moment of poise.

XVIII.

“The small lad approached
The animals held their breath
The light-filled gem dimmed.

He stretched out his hand
the clear crystal seemed to call
One more breath and step

Just a moment when
his life and the light were two
his hand moved closer.

Then the light called out
leapt up to his hand and he
he plucked Night Star up.”

The small bird leapt up
fluttering around Ailfrid
pouring his song out.

He sang with passion
Ailfrid walked on, listening,
wondering what words.

“You tell your own tale
Friend, and like to mine it is
of honor and life.”

In my tale, the boy
stretches out his hand and says
‘behold the Night Star!’

The animals stood
and watched him take up the gem
and saw it fill him

Saw it fall dark and
then burst forth in colored beams
newly bright as day.

XIX.

The assembled stood
watching awhile as light danced
across the dark world.

Then the boy’s mother
having found him out of bed
and followed the light

Found him with Night Star
standing in the purest light
his sweet face glowing.

The King’s men arrived
standing stiffly at the edge
of the ring of light.

The captain walked up
and said softly, ‘come with me’
All turned and followed.

the long procession
boy and Night Star, his mother,
animals, king’s men.

The light reflected
in each eye along the road
they walked on calmly.

As they walked, more came
til the path to the palace
over flowed with folk.

The animals calm
walked stately and with clear eyes
bearing their witness.

The king’s men came last
knowing the light had beckoned
and they had answered.

XX.

So they all arrived
The Night Star leading the way
Greeted by the King.

The King and the Queen
stood watching them approach
All smiled with pleasure.

The King raised his hand
‘Come forward young gnome boy
and show what you’ve found.’

The lad stepped up then,
holding Night Star in his hands,
held it up to them.

The King looked solemn
but the queen’s gaze was softened
‘come closer to me’

He approached and knelt
held up his hands full of light
to the kind lady.

The queen bent over
the gem, which quite exploded
in bright golden light.

when the gem subdued
they looked upon the queen
radiant with light.

The small gnome, rising,
bestowed the gem on his queen
into her white hands.

The glow left not him
nor amplified in her face
but flowed in them all.

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