Dark Horse

They say he means death.

That seeing him ends your life. Or means that you’re going to die very, very soon. If you can hear his gallop, or can see his silhouette, it’s best if you get your affairs in order.

That’s what I’ve heard.

The tales they’ve always told about the black horse. The one that vanishes before dawn. He has no rider, and they say its because he’s only an omen. Only a warning.

He comes back later, they say.

Rider on his back.

And, guess who they say his rider is.

Guess who they say he belongs to.

Continue reading “Dark Horse”

Rise Again

For a while, I believed I was forgotten. That my skill and my hammer and my forge were all lost, somewhere beyond myths and legends. Dark in the minds of man. For a while, I believed that they’d stopped telling the tale. Stopped speaking of my works. For a while, I thought I’d never have another visitor.

And then, he showed up.

Him.

And when he walked into my forge, he knew where he was going. What he was doing. I realized then that it wasn’t a matter of being forgotten, but, rather, a matter of being feared.

Why else would you memorize a land not of your own?

For the sake of keeping your head, yes?

As he approached my forge, his eyes shifted around the room. Cataloguing everything in sight. Ready for something to pounce, to jump at him. To make an attempt on his life.

He walked into my forge—my home—fearful.

Terrified.

Determined, and yet:

Very much afraid.

…good.

At least they’ve got that much right.

My works are nothing to scoff at. My hands building only the finest of beasts. My forge brutal, a fire that shows no mercy.

Mercy makes for weak metal, anyway.

For making creatures that are not-quite-so-mythical beasts.

There is no room for a cool fire.

Not in my forge.

He walked in, afraid, and yet…

He knew exactly what he wanted.

Though I don’t think he realized what kind of hell I’d have to make first, in order for him to get it.

Ha.

Foolish mortals. Continue reading “Rise Again”

King of Crows

There is a tale I’ve heard told about an ancient king. Glendower, the Raven King. He sleeps in the forest somewhere, or so I’ve heard. Waiting for the waker—waiting to join us, the living, once again. Somewhere, Glendower sleeps, dreaming of the day he will be woken. Eager to walk through his lands once again.

Eager to grant the waker a wish.

That’s the tale I’ve heard told.

The tale of The Raven King.

A magical king. A wish-granter. A sleeper whose quiet breaths are full of life.

I’ve heard the tale of that king. Heard it several times, actually.

But…

There’s more to the story than what there appears.

You see, I believe that something isn’t adding up.

There are… things… that can’t be explained by that tale.

Things that we, the listeners, have screwed up.

Things that we got wrong. Continue reading “King of Crows”

Between the Tides

“Well… since you’ve come this far, I’ll let you inside—but don’t touch anything.”

“Uh, okay,” I replied.

“Not ‘okay’. You say ‘yes’ like you mean it.”

“Yes!”

Huffing, the guy turned and walked back into the cottage. Not even bothering to make sure I was following.

I was.

“Shut the door on your way in,” he called over his shoulder, moving down a flight of steps.

I could feel it.

My nerves were bubbling. Oozing. All my veins were dancing, jittering against my bones.

All my life I’d waited for this. Looked for it. Sought after it.

And now?

Now…

I was finally here.

The Ocean Library. Continue reading “Between the Tides”

One Raging Lion

He was older when I took his pelt.

That’s why it was an easy kill. Why tearing his jaw off wasn’t as hard as it should’ve been. In that moment, I wasn’t akin to Hercules, not like I wanted to be. Instead, I was only proving that I was a brute. Strong, yes.

But not like a god.

Not like the son of a god.

Not yet.

People stopped believing in the beasts forever ago. Lost faith in the lore. Took to science, to thinking that superpowers were a thing of biology. Left mythics behind. Left it to crumble, to rot. Do whatever it was that old, abandoned things had to do in order to cease.

But.

They were fools.

In their lack of understanding—their strive for solid, concrete knowledge—they cut themselves off at the knees. Made themselves weak. Turned off a faucet that granted power, that granted real, true understanding.

Fools.

But, not me.

Not me.

When I killed the lion, I still had to rip the fur off his body. Still had to skin him. Still had to prove I had enough strength to pull even the invincible apart.

On that day, my proving began.

And it continues.

Even now, it continues. Continue reading “One Raging Lion”

Glimmer of Moonlight

I thought it was…

Amusing.

Cute, in a way.

She stood with her shoulders back, braced for anything. Ready to get hit with rejection, to get hit by a gust of wind, to get hit with a tree that I conjured from the ground.

In that moment, she was ready for anything.

Except:

Acceptance.

“For now,” I say, leaning over my boulder, elbow resting against the rock as my palm props up my face. “You may be my apprentice.”

And so it began.

Our spiraling stars.

Sputtering, glowing.

Burning out.

Giving all that it can give.

Giving all that I can give. An exhale in the dark. A whisper that tapers into echoes. A single word given.

And it’s all that I am.

What a glorious night. Continue reading “Glimmer of Moonlight”

Burning Jungle

It wasn’t safe.

It had never been safe.

As I stare at the climbing trees and listen to the birds toss their remarks back and forth, I realize that.

It’s never been safe here.

And, honestly, I think I knew that all along. Because, really:

ThisĀ isĀ a jungle, after all.

A burning jungle. Continue reading “Burning Jungle”

Chimaera

Glowing yellow eyes.

Glistening teeth set to snarl, to snap.

Fur bristling, angry to the touch. Pointed, directed. Speaking clearly.

Stay away.

It bunches up its shoulders, the massive beast. I see more pink flesh as its lips pull further back, pearly in the moonlight. It’s jaw is slightly ajar, drool beginning to pool at the sides of its mouth.

Against its tongue.

Dripping from its massive, sharp teeth.

It snarls again, the sound jagged as it rips through the air. Warning me once more.

Stay away.

The beast’s claws snap a branch, reminding me that there’s more to him than fang and fur. More damage he can do. More ways than one to skin a cat, so to speak.

But I see what lies under the snarls, too.

Under the bristling fur, there’s a softer coat.

Those eyes that rove the landscape behind me, that sift through the trees, they’re not just suspicious, not just threatening.

They’re scared. Continue reading “Chimaera”

Last Hope or the Edge of the World

There was an island.

Lonely, isolated. Off to the east, right before the world dropped, there was an island. A waypoint.

Last Hope, they called it.

A place where one could turn back, turn away from the edge of the world.

If you let yourself survive it. Continue reading “Last Hope or the Edge of the World”

Shadow of the Stars

“Do you expect the light to return, simply because you wish for it? Should the earth bow so easily to your whims? Plunge others into discord to sate your despair?”

I flinched, convicted. Conflicted.

Part of me said yes. The part that was not made from stars. That longed for something other than the dark. That wished for the sun to return so I could warm myself against its gently sizzling beams. Those rays that would warm my soul like nothing else could. That part of me was foolish. That part affirmed.

Part of me said yes.

But, the other part?

Of course, it was more reasonable.

Even under the the heaving dark, amassing with stars. Corralling light and shadow together to create the beauty that dusted the heavens. Even as oppressing as the earth’s darkness was—as boastful, as ravenous—still.

Part of me said no.

…the correct part, more than likely. Continue reading “Shadow of the Stars”