Gnomic Saga III

XXI.

And so, small bird friend
Night Star has dwelt with them to
shed grace on us all.

How shall we find it?
How have we lost its fair grace?
What chance do I have?

The bird sang anew
and flew away from Ailfrid
into the darkness.

Wait! Bird! Don’t go bird!
Ailfrid followed the bird’s song
crashing through the woods.

The gnome, just a lad
stopped. Lost, alone and weeping.
Gasping. Listening.

He hears the bird’s tune.
He creeps quietly toward it,
Into a clearing.

The mossy carpet.
There stood many gathered beasts
quietly arrayed.

As Ailfrid looked on
the bird flew up to the sky
vanished in the black

Only the song left
behind in their waiting ears.
they strained to hear it.

Ailfrid shivering
to see this childhood legend
looked up for the bird.

XXII.

Come back, he thought, please!
His heart was loud and pounding
He looked for his friend.

No creature scarce breathed
or ruffled a feather there
the sky dark and empty.

I trust, Ailfrid prayed
my heart knows that all is well
no need for sorrow.

Each day comes in turn
a mother loves her children
they can laugh and sing

The darkness and gloom
which wear away life’s edges
are ours to dispel

This night shall pass too.
and goodness fill our dear world
if we but treasure.

If I cannot find
The Night Star and its sweet light
I will keep looking

But the peacefulness
I will not need to seek for
it lives inside me.

The world seemed full then
and warm around young Ailfrid
standing, looking up.

His heart felt bursting
like the rippling song he’d heard
he heard it again.

XXIII.

It poured through the dark
drawing closer and nearer
closer, nearer still.

Then a roar was heard!
Many roars! Flapping of wings
A rushing of wind.

Ailfrid and the rest
gasped as up above they saw
a cloud of dragons!

Fiery wave, tails
weaving as though in a sphere
chasing each other.

They stopped mid-air
arrayed above the clearing’s edge
flying head to tail.

Each dragon in turn
cast an eye so red and dark
on Ailfrid below.

Shining eyes bulging.
exhalations, blown red clouds
rolling in the dark.

the tips of five wings
together in the circle
sparks flew as they touched.

Then the dragons banked
they flew as along a wall
around those below.

They found a place there
in the dark, quiet again
standing at the edge.

XXIV.

And so the waiting
of animals and dragons
and Ailfrid began.

The night had drawn on
while he walked telling the tale
of the gem, Night Star.

Ailfrid remembered
the tale he’d heard so often
of the vigil kept

Over Night Star watched
until the gnome boy came and
light returned to them.

The night gave no hint.
Although he could not be sure
Ailfrid was content.

Once again he heard
the song of his friend the bird
circling above.

The song drew closer
entwined with a single note
high and pure it was.

Ailfrid could not see –
the bird was near to him now
the song beautiful.

He looked up again.
the bird perched on his shoulder.
the single note fell.

Fell down to the ring
to the moss-covered bank there
a crystalline note.

XXV.

Moment of surprise
bubble of gasp and silence
anticipation.

Ailfrid remembered
the tale, the vigil, the hope
which rose from this gem.

He moved not at all
the others kept their places
the silence kept watch.

The night fled westward
morning pushing the dark away
the circle waiting.

The first beam of day
through the trees, one golden beam:
the dark gem ready.

It sang a bright dance
splashes of light and color
across the clearing.

All gave a shiver
dragons shook sparks from their scales
a fox flicked off dew

Ailfrid felt the bird
give its feathers a slight shake
putting all to right

The gem played over them
colors and brightness and light
each breath was pleasure

In this tale, the hands
which gathered up the Night Star
stood ready, knowing.

XXVI.

the wonder filling
them could not be imagined
by any reciting.

the watching dragons
breathing soft so not to harm
smaller beasts nearby

The rabbits and fox
watch without fear, lending their
still quiet natures.

Mindful of the tale
Ailfrid steps forward, hand out
to the pulsing gem.

In his head or ear
a voice spoke then, plain and soft
he looked up and down.

‘Ailfrid I took this,
the Night Star, your grand-dad found
here, many years past.

She brought joy to him
and those who treasured her most,
this bright earthbound star.

Of late, she faded
with the mean, the long darkness
I heard her weeping.

I beckoned to her.
She was guided by dragons
and lit up the sky.

She wished to bring light
and hope to all your people
as you do, yourself.

XXVII.

So I brought you here
because it shines in you too
that kindness and hope.

I heard the old tales
as you often re-tell them
just to remember.

As you walked tonight
grand-dad’s tale was with you
and gave you its strength

None possess Night Star
Not king nor queen nor kingdom
Not even Ailfrid

But to you, Ailfrid,
I give the task to protect
and to share Night Star.

take it up in hand
to guide and prosper your folk
all the gnomish clans

Not to rule, your task.
Your quest to enlighten them
to lighten their days.

Do you accept? it asked
Do you accept this lifetime
of love and service?

The bird flew down then
and stood beside the Night Star
looking with shiny eye.

Not hearing the voice
Ailfrid thought, ‘yes I accept.’
There stood a fairy.

XXVIII.

All there were startled
The faery was silvery
and most sparkling.

You were the wee bird?
Ailfrid thought as he knelt down
before the faery.

She took the Night Star
putting it into his hands.
He stood and showed them.

The smallest rabbits
the foxes and bears and deer
turned toward the road back.

Small to large and great
they filed toward the road homeward
but stopped just in view.

The dragons still kept
the perimeter leafy
watching the two left.

We will follow you
back to the castle, Ailfrid
laughed the fairy,

that should give them all
a tale to tell their children
and their grandchildren.

Her voice was like bells
and her eyes were so merry,
Ailfrid was smiling.

He turned to join the file
as his grand-dad had before
the faery came next.

XXIX.

Then the dragons joined
one at a time just behind
walking to his home.

They walked that day long
to the village of Ailfrid
where the folk joined in

And all proceeded
back to the castle and keep.
King and Queen waited.

Town folk lined the road
they cheered when first they saw them
louder for Ailfrid!

They bowed and curtsied
as the faery, silvery
passed by waving

Then the town folk all
grew silent to see dragons
bringing up the rear.

But they cheered again:
The dragons strode proudly by
without harming them.

The long line stopped soon
and the animals parted
to let Ailfrid pass.

The Faery and dragons
followed through the now two lines
up to the royals.

The whole parade met
and circled around the gem
held by Ailfrid’s hands.

XXX.

The King and Queen stood
and saw them all and Night Star
there in the center.

The light of Night Star
shone even by day so clear
in every face

The faery flew up
as the queen held out her hand
expecting Night Star.

“No Queen, nor any,
shall possess Night Star’s fair light
it shines out for all

Seeing it recall:
the first warm day of April
and your love’s first touch.

Your babe’s smile sleeping.
The warmth of fire in winter.
Rain on your home’s roof.

Know all the good things
each day brings and hold it dear
remember it all.

Ailfrid and his heirs
shall keep the gem and daily
bring remembering.

Hope, once ground away
by flowing time and sorrows,
now reclaims the land.

You, King and Queen here!
Give love and kindness to all
The gnomish folk you see.

Remember magic
dwells in every heart, in song,
in telling the tale

Of Ailfrid, brave gnome
who remembered legend old
and lived up to it.

XXXI

Ailfrid, not alone,
stood with mother and father
and his dearest love.

The folks of his town
rayed out from him and Night Star.
Somewhere a song rose.

It rose small and soft
Then spiraled up and around
ringing clear and strong.

Folks hugged each other
and gave forgiveness and thanks
and pledged their kindness.

Night star throbbed and glowed
when each heart added to its joy
making all a whole.

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