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A Tale of Peace: The City by the Sea (Narrative Poem)

Updated: May 16

A silhouetted man standing on the edge of cliff before a distant luminous city by the sea.

Once thwas a city by the sea,

Forged of gold, christened of sheen,

Spirited, with eerie glee.

The eld magistrate sent me to spy:

Unravel the mystery of the child who died.

Swift tongues fell silent, the death denied,

Lost eyes unveiled what wry lips beguiled.

To stranger acts they spurned, once I inquired,

My wager: fear of the pyre for liars.

Others warned me, “Leave quickly!

Do not speak of such death,

How dare that you claim:

A boy drowned in our depths.”

Not once did I,

Accuse such aloud,

Their folly, not mine,

Confessed their shroud.

The city, now rife with the mockery of fools,

I fled to the edge, maddened, mistrewn.

I cursed the heart of the city: it beat for blight,

So I rested my mind; the suns surrendered to night.

The stars above me, I wondered vexed,

For I knew guilt lied within their damned heads.

How could they mock justice, flouting the law,

Is there any good left? Any at all?

Sleep subdued me,

Wicked spirits aroused,

An unholy vision:

Murderous hounds.

Awakened by the sea,

Then arose crepuscular fog,

Unsettled my feelings,

Eerie and odd.

My eyes robbed,

An epiphany struck,

The prime suspect:

The sea’s enchanted call.

I climbed down and ‘yond the shore,

When a warning rasped at my ear,

“Do not enter the water,

For doom lies therein.”

I turned ‘bout to see,

An old seafaring man,

He beckoned me near,

I obliged his command.

“To enter is sin,” urged he,

“And judgment draws near,

She lingers beneath us,

The fool doth not fear.”

He lifted his eyes, burned smoky white,

I saw no soul, nor glint of light.

He warned, “Beware the city and her children’s deceit,

Beneath us lies the Hades of the Sea.”

He regaled of otherly beauties,

Abominable seeds of man’s sins’,

The serpents of the water,

Soul-feeders of men.

Twas a time no one believed,

Except a few; he not of these,

Save that new moon night,

When one’s merglow gleamed.

His youthful vigor drew him to the alluring waters,

Entranced by the sea and her seductive daughter.

She slithered toward him,

A face none judged farer,

She drew him nearer to her,

And gently loosened his cares.

Her eyes held his image,

The creation of his dreams:

His chosen to wed,

And a mother to-be.

She led him in tow,

Grinning aglow,

Deeper she went,

Her way, he followed.

Her beauty morphed grim,

And she struck him a blow,

His blood flowed up,

And he sank down, down low.

Dark gods of the cold,

Dragged him deep into hell,

Yet the light of the stars,

Dawned will at his helm.

He waded up,

Upward toward night,

Ascend O land’s son,

To your throne of light.

Swiftly, she chased him,

Their separation closed,

Her fairity yielded to truth,

Her human veil was thrown.

Frantic, he hurried,

Bloodied, he fled,

The city, shining o’er,

His haven from death.

He sundered sea’s blanket,

Onward t’ward silvered shores,

Salvation rested on high,

The sea swallowed all hope

Pain stung through his feet,

The demon screeched her shrill caw,

Her sisters rallied around,

And ransacked his guard.

They stole him down, to blackness afar,

To the witchic lair, of the deeps’ Mars.

They fastened him bound,

By sinew of the sea,

And tortured his skin,

Their pleasures unclean.

The depthic devils gave up their tort,

He lorded his pain, wielding silence, his sword.

The witchlust waned cold,

For he was a rugged man,

No pain made him writhe,

He laid still at their chants.

They restrained violence to ponder,

Whether his suffering was vain,

Torture birthed them great thrill,

If only victims pained.

If they took mercy on him,

He might stir up a fight,

They needed sure word,

He’d be theirs all his life.

The Queen of that ring,

Decreed, “He shall not die.

His punishment: severe

So fear be kept ripe.”

The Queen beckoned her changeling

And set her back to first form,

And took a staff in her hand,

And uttered words men adorned:

“Your heart is hers,

Her beauty is yourn,

All you see,

Will be reborn.”

They made ready the fire,

And conjured powers to smite,

And sent him floating ashore,

Bereft of eyes, devoid of sight.

The old sailor arose,

And broke from his tale,

I fathomed belief,

He said, “Remember it well.”

As much as he knew,

Then he must have seen,

I asked if he knew,

Of the boy deceased.

His brows furrowed, his sorrow seemed deep,

He said, “That fool would not hearken to me.”

“Do not tarry with questions,

For the hour draws near,

Where the waters will change,

If you linger here.”

He continued his ode:

“The Merwitch let me go,

To return to the city,

Stricken silent as stones.”

“All glee had subsided,

Truth caused them offense,

Me living: their horror,

Their cure: me dead.”

The sailor preached his story,

“And the first came to believe,

As other high men vanished,

Within the wicked seas.”

Fear brokered a tribute,

He called, Peace of the Beast:

“Gift one bastard disowned,

Each moon of sea’s feast.”

I revolted such words,

“But if it be the truth,

The highers must know,

And send in a troop.”

The old man stared,

As if he had sight,

The night bells ringed,

He warned these lines:

“You wander amiss,

No fault of your own,

You seek by the law,

We abide by the oath.”

He said, “To the deaf, you speak;

For the mindless, you think.

We’d rather hide in dark,

Dark peace.”

In the midst of that night,

Atop the shore gorge,

I glimpsed the old man,

Wading shallows, leaving shore.

I descended and ran in,

Into waters accursed,

Was his mind too old?

I tread through to rouse him.

He stopped waist deep

And the waters took rest,

I rang out, “Old man!”

But he froze there like dead.

Then, the ocean whistled,

Yet the sea made no sound,

A shadow moved right beneath me,

I was snatched deep, deep down.

I bludgeoned the devil,

With the might of my fist,

She rebounded the blow,

With a teeth-gritting hiss.

I swam up for air,

A force held my head in,

Two hands made me squirm,

It was the seafarer man.

The hounds engulfed me,

No light at the end,

My last vision eroded,

The sea witch shadow man.

He fixed his eyes forward,

Til the spy’s flailing ceased,

The elder lured him to death,

His gift for Her feast.

She ascended the surface,

Out of darkness, serene,

The fair witch of the sea,

His longing heart clinged.

She came to his lips,

And met him a kiss,

His weakness: her beauty,

Her blinding: his bliss.

A Narrative Poem.

Written by Abren Khael.

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