~ David Bradley
As evening stars ignited, Dewin hunted, dripping and muddied, all the lawn dewy, raindrops falling from leaves as he went. The air was thick, the sky dank cotton wetted, all the world descending from day into night; brown’d light, brown’d mist, brown’d sight; water pooled and puddled; midge clouds and mosquito failed on the thick of his arms and the thick of his legs as he trod his way.
He felt all ‘round him the spiorad asleeping as they nested, great taproots writhing about them, warm in their places, hollows and hovels, his spell invasive and slowly waking them. His music worked its way to them, whetted their appetites for such love and mystery as he swung to them. His web he spun about them, drawing them sticky and sweet from their drowse. In them they felt the pull of his spinning and his weaving and the lore of straw meadows and blighted harvests and a vow of granges overflowing with gold. And they wept all of them with hungor and drede, all of them but one.
The moment came, the moment Dewin’d foretold, the moment he’d created, the moment that the loose eyes of the feral fell upon him. Somewhere, there, awakened in the periphery, burrowing from hiding, the vines and the crawlers alive, tendrils reaching even deeper still, countless fingers stretched upward and outward from the wintwiges they’d weaved in their waiting, the fantoma felt of his coming and he, mighty Dewin, sensed of their waking. Onward still fair and infinite hedra moved about them, clawing blind through ancient peat, sweat sheets of silt laid by sruth when it was deep and far and wide, ten thousand lives of inundation and inferno and plague and plenty, one after another, lain atop each other and atop each other more, strangling in their cradle Lady’s Mantle and spreading thick Foxglove, always; patient and planning and understanding, until the loam and the turf and the very earth itself had become fantoma and they, in turn, had become the very earth. And all their eyes fell upon Dewin, liquid eyes as salt as sea, ancient sea, eternal grandmother’s grandfather’s grandmother of Etang Bleu, home to all water, she most clear, she most pure, she most serene and chill’d to her icy heart.
Many were they wounded, broken wing and tongues twisted and torn and flayed, Dewin’s curse’d damnation having drawn them in and taken them in and then thrown them aside. They lay in states of repose, nursing wounds both real and imagined, some few plotting their escape, some few daring horrible revenge, but more, and more than that, seeking only the dark and the damp and the warmth of their dug dens.
Fated that sweetest of days was Seren, hard of shell, long of gate and thrice eyed, to be drawn by the song of Man from her leafy bed of Vervain. Others withered, their vines bent and misshapen, and withdrawing for all of time. But Seren, weird queen of honey and heat, hidden in lengths of locks, depthless eyes pitch and fire, knew desire as an ocean rising.
On Dewin strode, confident one would follow, one each day, one whose hunger and ache t’would overcome, draw her out, draw her to him, out of the weeds and the stench and the mawing greenwood, moving beside the trail, not so silent as she dreamed, until the moment it seemed she would fail, and this day Seren was called. And she knew him before she saw him and he saw her before he knew her. The cord that bound them was knotted and noosed on the day of days, before even Seren was conceived in the fertile mud of lochan, before even Dewin was hatched in the first of fire, before even rocks were hurled from Hadean’s sea. And it knotted them, him to her and her to he, she and his footsteps and he his ritual path, through pools of liquid clay, across the forest floor, their eyes rolling with their fear and their lust and their hunger.
The moon looked down as Seren followed, helpless and wanton to his magick, her trail slick and grease, through a maze of hedgerow battlements and hand hewn bawn. On Dewin’s lawn the hives were settled for their slumber, beobread sweet wafted, and the lowing faded from the grange. Meat was hung and netted from slaughterhouse eaves, and baying wolves retreated as he came. Through his garden awash in Beelzebub’s Wort and Poppy, Witch Hazel and Nightshade, his home overgrown by Orchid and Henbane, all staggered at Seren’s fatal honey’d breath.
Flame gasped in Dewin’s grate, dying eyes glowed their last in coal spent, twigs and kindling ash white, wisps of smoke dwindling to the rafters and on into the blackish night. On the hob heated blade and bowl, Dewin’s repast, hare and root, thick and fatty, set aside to break his fast come morning light. Dewin’s ritual unchanged.
Seren traced the earthen walls, blood pulse and sweated brow, her sapphire eye following Dewin as he led her, and her sapphire eye following Dewin as he turned to her, and her sapphire eye following Dewin as he approached, hard and determined and knowing; Dewin’s ritual unchanged.
Seren took her breath and spread herself and braced herself, her sapphire eye following Dewin’s steps fast toward her, her sapphire eye following Dewin’s lust for her, her sapphire eye following Dewin’s eyes upon her; Dewin’s ritual unchanged.
Seren hissed and raised her hood, drawing Dewin to her, wrapping herself around him, holding herself to him, closer and closer still, stretching her arm to her arm and her leg to her leg, gripping herself to herself, pulling herself to herself. And Dewin was lost within her, knowing not what was become, until lungful breath escaped him, and bones brittle became. Sweet Serin’s teeth, as sharpened blade, were bared and sank, poisoned and painless and deep, into Dewin’s bared flesh.
There was a being, the soul of the Man, perched on a particle deep in darkest Dewin, that recognized the moment, the moment of moments, and watched as if from afar, yet within and without it, the crushing of the meat and the splintering of the bone and the piercing of the heart. The light turned blacker still, and cried and called out to eternity as it was extinguished. And then mighty Dewin was no more.
All through the night Serin slumbered and fed, and wept and bled, her lust and love ingested and dead, until the dawn, nursed life unto the fire and built of Dewin a vast and glowing pyre.
And then it was the day, and the keep knew of green shoots and scarlet fruit. And Seren saw it, and named it, and knew it well. For that was the morn of Seren’s day.
David Bradley is a freelance writer with one non-fiction book (The Historic Murder Trial of George Crawford) to his credit. His short stories and poetry have appeared in Broken Pencil, The Adirondack Review, Down in the Dirt, Main Street Rag, The South Carolina Review, and Pennsylvania English. He has spent a dozen years as a newspaper reporter and columnist in Northern Virginia.