chapter 20: Gauntlet
Here, there and everywhere,
Ghosts and mirrors of plenty that stare,
A castle and kingdom for the bards riddle,
And a mark upon the glistening midnights middle.
The stars have fallen as the darkness runs,
Bloody stairways have the old kings become,
And the tale of death has yet begun,
And the silence and black has swallowed the sun.
Follow the rose stripped off her thorns,
Flowering red and the cold eyes of storms,
As she drinks of those loved hands,
And locked in the tower is the shadow of man.
She is but the actress of his mind,
As she twirls about before the looming twilight,
Dancing the seduction he knows so well,
And the story of hearts too soon to tell.
As hunger was held upon the glade,
As often can strike the silver blade,
For lips that burn with the rushing fever,
As often can see the lost water in the river.
There are wonders of magic and illusions,
As soft as the frail girl that turns,
Who looks beyond heavens gates,
Above the rising cloud for her to stay.
For so sudden a change in the sky,
For the flood of the world today to cry,
Soil and skin have grudged no fair deluge,
But she stands sadly parted from his towering refuge.
Now the rose that lay stripped off her thorns,
Her eyes lay hidden and damned by the gods,
Death that wagered her pain and curse,
The thorn that pierced her heart to burst.