Images from Temenos

Image from Temenos

Image from TemenosAt the Shrine of Lost Suburban DreamsVisitors at the Shrine of Lost Suburban dreams

Transcript from the Cetian Archive Volume 22

Images from the Edge

Cleaning Up Art

Cleaning Up Art

Malkeith

Malkeith

My name is Malkeith and it has been given to me to tell this story, to sing the last song of a sad cadenza in the history of my tribe, the WraithenClan who cleave still to the underbelly of Perfectcity. I can tell it now for the great change is upon us, the wind is all awry and great doors are unhinged at the world’s four quarters. Soon the Beast will be among us. After that even I cannot say. And I am a Timewalker, and the gift is strong in me, as strong as my seed is thin. No heir will bear me forward and keep faith with my memories, I am the last of my kind. That knowledge has always kept me distant from my clan, detached from them, alone. They think I am arrogant with the strength of the gift, nothing could be further from the truth, I am humble with it and it is always a source of pain, to see a child born and number its days, to scent the first star-rise and know that evil comes. It has been a dark journey and only Tisane has ever seen into the complexities of my heart. One day my name will be set among the stars, that was Tisane’s promise, and she never lied. It is some small comfort to know that I might cast this story into the heavens, for such things can be read there if you know that language, that in some unimaginable future a child will look up and read there something of what the WraithenClan were, of their beauty and their peril. Of the light they held to against the ravages of the dark.

It was Tisane who first set this story upon me, she forged it with iron links, a chain of remorseless memory and she claimed me through the strength of our shared gene heritage and set my feet upon this path. Sometimes I have wondered if I was merely a brilliant ornament for her, a cipher for her passions, her memories but that is a thought unworthy of both Tisane and myself. She was a woman shaped by brutal forces and still retained compassion. It is said that as a young girl she walked out of the devastation of the cities destroyed by Firstbomb, left the legend of the great King, Zip, who loved her despite himself and travelled through the wasteland of mutants and Timesickness and came to the vast desert where she journeyed and survived amid the tribeless. It was in the desert that she found the last mystics who worshipped the voyage of the stars. She learnt their arcane magic and suffered much in its making. She rarely spoke of it, once I remember her remarking that starcraft was an old art when the wind itself was young. But everything she did was informed by this teaching in the desert. She came east and journeyed to this place, Perfectcity, and became the first Matriarch of WraithenClan.

Tisane set her stamp upon all of us, she gave us a sense of place, of clan, she shaped us always to resist the lies spun in Perfectcity for she knew the art of their lies well. We were meat to them, outcasts and aliens, creatures whose only conceivable purpose was for experimentation. They were perfecting their techniques of cloning and engineering genetics. It sometimes amused them to use the outlawed of Perfectcity as raw material for FreakZoos. There was also a demand, although this practice was supposedly illegal, for meat that had been sexually enhanced, pleasure dolls. They were apparently much in demand by the Elite. All such experiments began with the erasure of consciousness and then the product was re-engineered for specific market demand. It was an old technique even then and it has now been entirely superseded by NewIntelligence which is more deadly to us than any of their previous science.

The WraithenClan are not technophobes, Tisane would not permit us that luxury and in this she was wise though even she could never have foreseen the consequences of her vision. Although members of the Clan resisted the intrusion of technology, Tisane ruled that only through our own technology could we be free. Or as free as any subjugated race can be. She permitted the stranger, Deuteronomy, to come among us and install the Roguecomputer. He was much feared by the Wraithen though I liked the man, he was quiet and he had little of the static dissonance that characterised him as ‘other’. But for the Wraithen he spent too much time above the ground to be trusted. He found our world too dark he said. I tried to teach him how to read gradations of colour in the caves, the crystal qualities of tone but he had lived long in full sun and he never really adjusted. The Wraithen can go abroad at dawn and eventide easily and the country of night is their truest domain for they understand starcraft and the moons but full light is cruel to them. Once I went out in the mid cycle of day with him to read the colour he saw but it blinded me. It was as white to me as our world was as black to him. But Deuteronomy taught me many things, he was an envoy to whole worlds of knowledge that fascinated and intrigued me. Some of this knowledge gave meaning to the strangest of my visions. He bought a set of lenses for my eyes which would disguise their Wraithen pupils and diminish light blindness and with him I sometimes traversed the Perfectcity almost as one of them.

They horrified me, these people of caprice and endless power, they killed for no reason and would turn vicious on each other if there was no lesser creature to torment. Birds, animals, all nature abhorred them, these people who walked casting no shadow. I did not go often among them, it was a great risk, even with the subterfuge that the Roguecomputer had given us, I was not certain they would not detect my genedensity and I would never have survived a full blood scan.

For the Roguecomputer changed much in our tenuous world, we gained access to their programming, we knew their plans, the movements of their Killingsquads; more importantly we knew how little they knew about us. If they had ever suspected that beneath their perfect white world we crawled and writhed, exalting blood and wine, reproducing in the old hallowed ways, our women lactating and bleeding, our men rejoicing in their seed spilling onto the earth, cultivating food using by-products from the human body, allowing illness to take its course; they would have moved their sun to annihilate us. We are a living heresy to them. Perhaps I make my Clan seem brutish to you, like mindless animals, it is not so, the Wraithen have a quality of beauty that is hard to describe. Deuteronomy once described the Clan as a marvel of harmony, a perfect cadence he called it. He was a man much beguiled by music and tougher spirits than his had fallen under the spell of the Wraithen’s hymn to Urbanstar.

We are so utterly alien to Perfectcity. They do not understand the delicate webspan of the stars. Darkness. They cannot concede that death, too, has a dominion and if they come to it despite all their intervention in the natural processes of decay they find it a source of shame and humiliation. We will never understand them, nor they, us. I know, I have walked in their minds, the endless golden maze of their unspeakable deities appalled me. There are no cycles in their beliefs, it is one eternal linear progression, it moves towards an ever shifting horizon; nothing that is past has any value only the sun-drenched future. It should never have surprised anyone that they welcomed the arrival of Opal and her contingent of cybertechs. She would become the Queen of the next horizon. Soon after we heard the first scream from the city.

For a city is an organic entity despite what artificial constraints are laid into it. It has nerves and arteries, bones and muscle, its sends its own messages through unintelligible neural pathways, it exists above and beyond and beneath its denizens. It has its own law of being, a logic peculiar to its own existence. It evolves and decays, it nurses its wounds and bares its scar tissue, more importantly it desires to exist beyond its makers. Opal sensed some of this but not enough. She began with the citizens, the Elite who ruled Perfectcity were ecstatic with the new vision that Opal brought, it was for them the zenith of cultural and scientific achievement.

In truth we should have paid much attention to Opal and her cohort of technicians but we did not. Tisane was dying and we were more preoccupied with her transition. Tisane had always been a small woman but death rendered her almost child like, egg-shell fine, age etched almost unwillingly across features that seemed too fragile to contain her strength. She had been Dreamkeeper to the Wraithen for time out of mind. She kept our future woven into our hearts. To lose her was very hard for she had no woman to follow after in her path. Her dying was long and we kept the vigil with her, she said little until the last when she called for me and gave me her dream of what was coming. Even though much of her spirit had taken the path to the silent country she had enough strength to speak it in the old way of Dreamkeepers.

‘Malkeith’ her voice trembled with fatigue ‘It is the dream and the dreamer must dream it. Out of the past we have travelled pursued by memories. We carry the map to ourselves to set out against the stars of infinity, to track in the pathless dark the shadow of ourselves. In the desert the wind will rise like an omen to haunt the sands like the memory of the sea. The Wraithen must learn to dance again, to shape the empire in the heart and spirit, dancing the language of the stars, the sun, the wind, the shifting floor of the desert sands. Do you understand ?’

I understood too well, for she had confirmed the future I had seen, the Wraithen would soon be driven to wander again. And we feared nothing more than the desert country with its implacable light, the white sun burning, heat, shimmer visions, the bones of earth aching for water. Tisane had often warned us that living in darkness we would come to fear the light. But we knew so little of sanctuary except our caves beneath their world. We had been hunted by light for too long. So Tisane died and left us this difficult legacy and I saw no way I could convince the Wraithen of our need to travel outside. They would not hear of it. The city was screaming in agony now, even we could not ignore it, it shuddered and groaned as if its tissue was being rent apart, it permitted no rest, few of us would venture above ground. What we saw in the distance frightened and confused us, it was as if the great edifice of light shrieked under a continual assault of strange colour. Roguecomputer hissed and spat at us as if it too was in pain, it would not transmit for us. Unease and discord spread everywhere, an infection in the heart. I walked in the future when I could beset by visions of unending, seamless landscapes of dunes. The desert ruled my heart and grated on every nerve, my eyes ached and I felt as if the winds that buffeted my spirit would carve me slowly, inexorably back to the bone. The Wraithen avoided me, I had never had Tisane’s particular charisma, I inspired nothing in them but despair. And then suddenly, unannounced, Deuteronomy returned with the news that I had dreaded for so long.

‘Malkieth’ Deuteronomy was distressed ‘The Clan must move and fast, Opal knows you exist, you have little time, she can track anything through cybertechnics and Roguecomputer can’t resist her..’

Even as he spoke Roguecomputer suddenly flashed into existence again with a music so strange we turned to it as one. Then slowly Opal coalesced onto the screen.

‘Ah Malkeith’ she drawled in a voice that had a flat metallic edge to it. And then she laughed. It was ugly that laugh and promised evil. ‘I cannot believe that Perfectcity has so long neglected its most precious resource. Have you any idea how valuable you will be to me. Flawlessly and totally human, no markers, no enhancement, fed on excrement and still sexually capable. And all mine.’

It is difficult to describe her, she had become more machine than human and nothing of humanity lurked in her eyes. Fine metal flanges seemed to grow from her brow, she was all blinding silver, a creature of chrome and intricate chips that she had decorated with glyphs of strange design. But there was a symmetry to her, something that was terrifyingly like beauty. And her voice was metallic but it held an unleashed music in it, her tonal qualities ranged over an impossibly human scale. She was, in total, nothing short of breathtaking, she literally had the power to stop our hearts. But she chose to invade our souls.

‘Do not look long upon her’ warned Deuteronomy ‘She has a power I do not understand.’

The Wraithen were already succumbing to the vision she offered them: peace, freedom, a traditional life honoured and unmolested in our caves. But there would be a price, there is always a price for such as us. She made it sound so simple, so logical, for all that she would give us she required only twelve of our children and myself in exchange.

I walked into Opal’s mind unhindered and found that she had merged into the labyrinthine structure of Perfectcity, she had enmeshed herself with the hardmind infrastructure of the Kingcomputers. Whatever Opal was it was very far from human. Even as she spoke she annexed the database of Roguecomputer, analysed it and re-formatted it, she erased lives and memories, she rewrote our existence as that voice rose and fell offering the Clan their deepest dream of freedom. Inside that mind I heard the city screaming and clawing against her dominion and I knew that in time Perfectcity would prevail though Opal would not. She would become its vehicle, its medium even as she believed she controlled it she would become its slave and never know it. I saw her plan for the Clan’s unblemished children and their unholy destiny. I also saw my own and marvelled at how little she knew of my gift that she could demean it with such purpose. It would all become redundant as the city consumed her for Perfectcity had its own designs and it had no thin neural pathway I could navigate. There was no way I could access its sentience, no common linguistic shared inheritance. All I could feel was the strength of its contempt for human intelligence. I walked out of Opal’s madness untarnished and picked up the Clan’s hammer which had been used to signal danger since we had come here.

I drove it through Opal’s screened face and then I smashed Roguecomputer’s casing and ground its technics into slivers of crystal. The noise was horrific, the Clan screamed and ran for cover as bolts of light flew randomly through the cave. Someone was calling out my name over and over but I would listen to nothing until the last chip had been destroyed. My hands were bleeding and I was crying with rage when Deuteronomy finally stopped me.

‘It is done, Malkeith’ he said ‘It is over, she has gone, she cannot come again.’ ‘You are wrong Deuteronomy, even now she is preparing to attack us, we must leave, the cybertechs are moving fast and she will destroy anything to modify the children, they are her master plan, they are her only defence against the power of Perfectcity. She doesn’t even know that yet.’

Although he didn’t really understand me he saw the need for action, that is what I had always liked about him. And he had come prepared. He gathered the remnants of the Clan and distributed his lenses for light blindness. But they were angry and confused, half of Opal’s work had been done like this.

‘What have you done, Malkeith’ someone shouted

I stood up and towered over them.

‘I have delivered us from perversion’ I said ‘Would you sell the Clan’s children into eternal cyberchrome mindlessness for the slim promise of that monstrosity, a promise she neither would nor could keep. Even now she is disintegrating into something else, she is no longer human, she has no blood allegiance to us, she has no allegiance to anything. Answer me, will you sell the children’

Silence yawned in the cave. Finally a small voice broke the darkness.

‘We choose not to be sold, elders.‘ It was Janev, a boy distantly related to Tisane, a brief vision of him as a man suddenly touched me, he would be a man that others followed through eternity.

‘We will follow Malkeith, no one may gainsay a Clanmember’s choice and I am no mewling child. I will not cower in this darkness waiting for death or worse. I have finished with fear. The other children come with me, the chosen twelve will not wait for a sacrifice that the Clan seems only too happy to condone’

His words shamed them into something like sense. Though they continued to argue.

‘We have no time for this’ I shouted ‘Those who follow come now, we take the tunnel of snakes, we leave now’

‘Malkeith’ some one cried ‘We cannot survive the desert, we will die there’

‘You will most certainly die here’ said Deuteronomy.

I turned my back on them all and led the way. Janev came with me and the children, I heard Deuteronomy cajoling and forcing the others. Some would remain regardless, there was nothing more I could do. When the last of them were through Deuteronomy blasted the entrance to the tunnel. And then he turned the blaster towards himself.

‘Deuteronomy’ I screamed

‘Leave be, Malkeith, Opal has tampered with me in some way, she will track you through my presence, let it not be said that I brought the Wraithen to their doom. Remember me at Urbanstar.’ And then we ran as his blood and shattered bones drove us further through the tunnel.

Night, endless night we endured until we emerged into the glittering light of full desert sun and crept back into the tunnel our eyes streaming under its assault. But we were free of Perfectcity and Opal. Free to survive or succumb to the savagery of the desert’s laws. Years later I can barely remember our first years here, so much of it was driven by death or light madness, only the ritual of Urbanstar sustained me, the memory of Tisane and Deuteronomy’s sacrifice. I made myself live although there was little joy in it. But I endured and watched Janev grow to manhood. In time the Wraithen adapted and grew strong again. I am old now, the clouds have covered my eyes and the wind whistles through me as the threads of memory weave through my dreams. The children come each eventide to listen to the old stories of Tisane and the caves, of Opal and Perfectcity for Janev has insisted that we will not forget the place where the real darkness lives. I have not the heart to tell them of the dream I have seen coming. And there is no Timewalker to follow me.

Kate McNamara

The Last of Miss Hewett’s Shenanigans

The Last of Miss Hewett’s Shenanigans: The Death of Dorothy Hewett

lately I‘ve heard

that little crop-eared owl

that lives in the ruins of Athena’s temple

hooting a warning.

(Black Harbour)

I have resisted this, writing of you, or rather of you dying, your death. Knowing, too well, that writing is an alchemist’s art and unwilling to transmute the experience. For there is no gold to be found there, only the black clay, the gaping hole into which they lowered your coffin, strewn with roses and wattle as a single crow cawed, the music played and the day was liquid with light. And all those strong men you loved fighting

gravely against their tears.

Now I can no longer deny or elude it, the words are taking shape beneath my skin, they will not be denied anymore and you taught me far too well. Only words will serve as a scalpel to carve grief and anger back to the bone, exposing the viscera, the muscle, the flesh until I can articulate shape, the skeleton of you, dying, in such a rage.

In the hospital garden amid the ferns, the sky is lark blue, diaphanous, you fix me with a fierce and baleful eye

I won’t recant, I never will, not now,

The light is filtered through green and on the rocks there are shadows of darkest moss, I cover you with the Connamarra shawl, although you’re not cold, just lately you’re always hot, fevered, warm to the touch; you always hated the heat. Somewhere, close, the long pitiless cold is seeping towards you like a bloodstain. Your skin is green and black with bruising, the medication doesn’t agree with you, nor you with it. And you’re roiling with rebellion, seething, there is no point in trying to calm you. Although, in the past, I’ve had some skill at that.

They want me to see a psychiatrist because I’m sad about dying. How fucking stupid is that

They want you reconciled I reply reconciled to death.

It has always been a pointless exercise to lie to you about important things; you’ve not tolerated fools or evasion well. For you truth is a necessity, you need it like oxygen, or a plant needs light.

Cunt, cunt, cunt

One of your favourite words, it came from the solar plexus we once decided and that was the reason that it was such a satisfying expletive. And you are furious with it all, with yourself most of all, with the body that is so bitterly betraying you.

I don’t envy the psychiatrist I say.

We laugh and a small bird flies up, startled. Your hair is all silvered in the light, a nimbus, hazarding sentimentality, I could say a halo. How you’d hate that. But I know the afternoon is a gift, an act of grace, to see you outside in the world, not pinioned in the darkness of pain, or morphine madness or even the old cantankerous wheelchair. Now you have a new one, and very glamorous it is, too.

We speak of Blake, and despite your vehement protestations against a vicious Patriarchal God, we both love Blake and have some experience of his Angel. And Keats, of course, Wordsworth and then Pablo Neruda dying as the junta destroyed his manuscripts; Victor Hara silenced by the military, his hands mangled. For this is what truly frightens you, silence, the stilling of your voice, the clamour of all your voices, layered and textured and never easily contained. Almost inevitably I am reminded of Dransfield, the great hope of Australian poetry, dying young of tetanus, that marvelous laugh silenced, the poet’s jaws locked against the lifeblood of his heart. The black irony of his fate. I look up and see that there are tears in your eyes

I don’t want to die, Kate

I can make no reply to this, I have none; love is such a fragile gift to balance against the scales of night. There is nothing I can do but stroke your hand as if you were some wild creature, crippled and defenceless in the iron trap of time.

Once I used to tease you about dying. I had promised that I would conscript a priest, any priest, to hear your deathbed confession. How you would be absolved of all your sins, despite your intellectual protest made in arrogance and pride, that God would forgive you. And then, an eternity, wrapped in His cruel arms, of relentless Christian bliss. That it wouldn’t matter what you said, (this would always particularly enrage you) that God would understand that you really did want to cross the great divide, to be relieved of your atheism. I knew you’d rise up, in some things you were entirely predictable.

Now, no threat of priestcraft can change the tide that is inexorably pulling you further away into dark water, as remote from human need or desire as the change of a season. In the garden I feel the sun, almost tangibly, slide slowly down the sky, and we should go back inside for you tire very easily now. But I don’t want to return you to the cage of blank, white walls, the insidious smell of the terminal unit that gets onto your skin, in your hair; the endless, muted hush of machines that monitor every second of life slipping away. In this war of attrition pain is dissecting you, as the cancerous cells divide mindlessly and even your rage is defeating you. Light deepens, eventually you look up and say

We should go in now

There is something now broken in your voice, it’s threaded with fear, you, who taught me so much about courage.

When next I come I bring more oyster silk nightgowns, frothy with lace and delicate beading, lavender oil and lanoline. A frail armoury against the dark that is stalking you, but all I have. You have always been a woman who loved to touch things, a tactile creature. I can still see you at your last opening, with an oddly secretive smile, patting and stroking a red velvet gown, fingering your jet-black beads.

I had not expected to find you conscious this visit, but you have defied prediction, as is your want. I don’t know what to expect anymore, but I never really did, not with you. The bruising is worse, your nose keeps bleeding and you drink a little fluid, perhaps only to humour me. But your mind is fiercely alive, that prodigious intellect fired by pride and the insatiable desire to pursue ideas, knowledge, to shape and distil experience in the crucible of your art. I read you a review of your latest collection of poems and you concede that it has real merit. Over the years you have acquired immunity to the vitriol, the sheer, unadulterated malice or the bewildered incompetence that has characterized so many reviews of your work. There haven’t been a whole lot of people who could keep up with you, scale the heights of your intellectual and creative prowess; part of my pride was that I could.

Outside the insulated hospital window, the palms trees crash riotously in the wind, bending under each new onslaught, like hunted animals. The fires have burned down in you since last I came, there’s less of rage and nothing of acceptance. To this, only, have you set your will. And God knows how stubborn you are. I watch your husband, a giant of a man, prowling the horizon between life and death, never still, ceaselessly vigilant. He walks, poised on the balls of his feet, like a boxer, waiting for another lethal attack by a devious opponent. He doesn’t sleep much anymore.

I read some of your poems to you, watch you mouthing the words with me, I lose myself again in another of your poetic worlds and look up to see tears in your eyes again, so unlike you,

Don’t stop, keep reading

And I do, throat aching; I read the poems of your last book, the lucidity of that marvelous language unraveling out of my mouth.

I want so much to take you home. To where the magnolia tree is luscious, almost indecent, with blossom and the shy camellia bush is bending under the weight of bloom. To your beautiful room, with its domed ceilings, shaped like the Chapel on the Green; teeming with books and artworks, light cascading through the stained glass windows, all the shadows of all the voices and lovers and conversations illuminating the walls. It only lacks an owl.

When I leave you the next day, I kiss you adamantly on your head and say

Don’t cry, I promise I will see you again, soon

Such banal words. Ten days later on a serene and sun-filled morning you die.

One of the last things you said to the man who kept the long vigil with you, the warrior, was that you wanted a cat. I wonder if you knew that the cat is valued in many different cultures as one of the wisest companions with whom one can cross to the spirit world. I suspect this idea would annoy you a great deal. We never agreed about death. To me it is a brief liberation, and then bound again to the Wheel. To you it was the end; the mind snuffed out like a candle, and to argue otherwise was abject cowardice, a refusal to acknowledge the absolute limits of what it means to be human. The argument doesn’t matter anymore.

Death and I are old companions, for it has been given to me, by some quirk of fate, to know a great deal about death, and grief. There seem to be far too many corpses in my life, and you go now to join these shades, some of them quiescent and some restless. On windy nights when the moon is full they will sometimes roam the house, unquiet or agitated. Then, as befits a descendent of all those black Celts, I get up and make a pot of tea for them, light a candle and converse. I shall set a cup for you now, never fear.

I have never truly known if you understood what a great gift you were to my life, to the difficult and tempestuous young woman I was or to the even more difficult woman I became. How many times have I sailed my craft into treacherous water and turned back to you, your hand on the tiller, your wisdom the stars by which I navigated another precarious passage. My life feels strangely dislocated, joyless without you, and this too will pass. In time, the bitter dregs of time. Just now I have neither the strength nor the inclination to take Pablo Neruda’s advice and break off that:

Sombre rose, shut up the stars and bury the ash in the earth.. to wake with those others that awoke or go in the dream, reaching the other shore of the sea which as no other shore.

(The Watersong Ends)

Kate McNamara

7th September, 2002

The Chronicles of Rosalia Janus Hawthorne: The Welsh Archive

The Chronicles of Rosalia Janus Hawthorne

Part 1.

The Archive of Clan ap Gruffyd

From Gruffyd ap Hughes, the Welsh Archive

8.8.2/495

I have lit a fire on the headland, the sea is pounding, do not desist for the time is heavy, my love. The flame tree, as we call it, is about to bloom, the water is silky green and there are stars in it. Though the moon is waning, we must not be disheartened, my heart, amidst all our enemies, I am here. I shall never give in and I love you. I wake earlier each day for the equinox warms my blood and my dreams are vigorous and strong; I know what is calling us and it is not yet time to cede dominion to that utter darkness. I refute it. I will not have my clan go down again to the charnel house.

My flesh is not young nor is it raddled and my arms are strong, desire is in me, hot and syrupy. Waiting. It is no long easy and I had patience for that task once. Our girl is thriving in the Summerhouse though it be cold and winter still groping at us. She does not seem to mind that at all; her eyes are as deep as yours with mystery upon her like a wave, white and foamy, blue with fish; the dolphins will come this morning as it almost sunrise. A pearly day though it will cut up later and still my bones sing of you, beloved, I feel you coming somewhere, not death itself can divide us. The edge of the world is dancing. Much change sings at the hinges of the universe and I will not heed the warnings of the Alpacheks yet. They are useful to me. I sharpen, each morning, the knife you gave to me; it is a deadly thing in its beauty and its purpose. Two eagle feathers fell here a yestereve ago, an omen, the prophecy moves on inexorably and I tell you, I tire of it. Webbed within the skeins of time, we will cut through this time. I feel it in the child; she is as alien as the meerkat we hunted once and never caught. Her eyes surrender nothing.

You know I can still hear how the music in your voice is great, though they will say I am one sided in this, I refuse to deny your purity in song and truth, In that I remain incorruptible. I will, this lifetime, act upon the tapestry itself for I feel the drive of it, can no longer resist it. The fire was the beginning. The predators will not ignore it, it signals war; nor should they; it is my first statement, first kill; no longer to hide in the crevices of the mountain. Long have I healed here with our daughter, and I tell you true Rhiannon, she is well and will sing the valleys back through time. The time to dissemble is done.

Later I will go down to the sands and set your sea harp down for the wind to play. Yea verily, there will be war, but that was always inevitable. Our little one Anwyn Rose is walking now and she asks of you, questions only you can answer. Her hair is fair and strawberry in hue and she is all moon gold and the creatures of this quiet island follow everything she does. I did not accept that she will be the Chosen One. No more victims for the alter of time, it is done. It is a true gift that she lived at all, when they brought her, fresh from your womb. I counted her breaths with her, as mine, until that tiny ember of her spirit took flame. She was so tiny the women here almost despaired but I knew where and when we forged her, my love, and I know what flows in her veins. If you could but see her it would set a smile upon your face; only in dreams I know, and hard, so cruel on you, her mother, but I swear to you Rhiannon she hears your music. I have watched her little feet patterning to the sound of your sea harp. Thus I have moved the plan forward although Tele, my oldest brother in arms, has warned me that they will keep you longer in the darkness and that thought alone has almost unbalanced me for I know how much you need light. My woman of flowers and fire, keep it alive in memory, in the eyes of your mind, in the ventricles of your heart. I, so much more that all the others who love you, know that you are not able to give in. But you may fade, my sweet, and that is what often drives me forward. They think that by imprisoning you, I will make a mistake. How little do they know of us. Your pain is the probe that stills my every judgement and I would not forswear it for all our lives. I will balance it in time. In time. You will not allow me to be less than what I am… but I will have vengeance when the world dances around the flames of its own destruction. For you and Anwyn Rose, my Rhiannon, I will settle it on my own scales of justice. It is strange but I believe that our daughter understands this as she understands how to breathe. It is so simple to a soul so wise. She does not even have to work at it. Morning has come here now; and it hurts me to think how they will not let it come to you, and in this you must believe, each night I send to you in dreaming, all the gold and green and colours that I know. The flowers that you love, colour, so much colour that you are almost blinded with it; and in that colour I ask you my love: stay but the time, I cannot yet, if ever, bear to loose you. But I know you so well and you have become far too still; therefore I am coming.

I have sent my men to Danger Point and the young man on lookout on Mount Agony reports of odd movements on the mainland, and he with eyes like young falcon; a cousin of yours he is, Iestyn. Many of the men and women are dwelling in the sea caves with the old people; they have safe haven there, though not freedom. Hard is the waiting, but the heart will yield to that, but not utter defeat. The young men are rebuilding the fleet your father once designed before the great madness overtook him and he succumbed to that dark woman, regardless, the design is excellent; ingenious and cunning. Forgive me, I know you hate to be reminded of him, but the dead must have their due and he did father you. All the dead, the wise, the stupid and the brave, who are we to judge them; many of their deed s were great, though evil in design much good came from them. Strange. The wise old man told me when I was young that it was my task to make the sacrifices of the dead meaningful. It is a hard old time to be born into, but needs must when the devil rides as the old man said. I laid three stones on his grave last Solstice moon.

I believe the stars themselves are changing now. Those great and ancient star charts are no longer settled, they are moving and no longer reliable. When I was a boy my teacher foretold this. For we were boys once, all my brothers and I; we laughed and played and made mischief in the world of childhood; a grace for which only now am I truly thankful. For my father’s patience alone, I am indebted, he was secure enough to let us roam free like untrammeled animals and he bestowed upon us that confidence that will make a wild boy into a resilient man. I miss him, still. Laughter and the hall and the harp and the sweet warmth of my mother’s smile. Some of the clan distrusted my father’s judgement in his sons; he chose to disappoint their singular expectations. A man of deep ironies, he knew the ambitions of his kinsmen only too well. But I and my brothers were innocent of court politics then; and he ensured that we stayed that way in all the country of a childhood unbetrayed by malice. A great man and a wise father. All those gifts that you never tasted my Rhiannon, would that I could give them now. Not so, you are matchless my love, perhaps because you grew up so differently to me. Thus I will give our daughter a childhood beyond cruelty, a garden to grow and to plant each flower of her innocence and a time to play in the world without recourse to fear or hiding; or the ancient curse that we broke to set her free into this world.

Wait for me, Rhiannon. Swear it on the blood bond we forged in the cells of our daughter. Do not lose faith with our credos, though even I know the time is growing quickly and liquid and not even love can solidify the tide that pulls our blood. O beloved I will not write again for a time. It is close to coming to undo me and I cannot permit myself that luxury, not yet. Not ever.

Archive II

The days are ending in this twilit, enchanted island. Too long from stillness I can now no longer hear Rhiannon’s hands upon the tapestry of her music. Only in dreams where nothing is truly lost or truly gained. Stasis. And yet the sea itself is changing and of late I have thought of my mother and how she would have loved the luminescence of the Arum lilies just now in bloom. The whales are hunting the last of their old migratory paths and they will not come this way again. Last season the female of the pod did not whelp and now only the younger males follow the song lines of their ancestry. Taking the deeper path with their haunting music, back to their elders; I will miss that sonorous chant that oft kept me company in the bleak dawns of time, particularly in spring when they played with their young in the tranquil bay that is hidden behind the point. So much to lose and little to gain but waiting and I am anxious in the high summer of my life with a war to fight , a woman lost and a child to hide and shape against the changing of the world. Darkness abides in my heart now, I cannot seem to shift it but for smile of my daughter, the small warmth of her tiny hands. If I could but hear Rhiannon, coming softly through the dawn, her feet barely touching the grass, I would weep with joy. I will never forget the night that she labored to bring our Rose into the world. How my mother had warned me that the women had already forsworn themselves, betrayed her to the enemy; how we waited for that particular cry; a babe and Rhiannon; I almost heard the gush of her blood and then there was my mother and the maid and we rode like all the gates of hell had spewed forth ugliness into our green spring. And I left you behind. Yes I know we had made that agreement. I know, but I will not forget the tearing in my heart at the memory of leaving Rhiannon in a blood stained room at the mercy of our enemies. O Goddess protect me from that memory; it will never settle in my heart and for all that I still know that what we did was well done; it was our only option. Life is unforgiving here. Whether I will ever forgive myself is quite another question.

I will go down to the sea caves later for I feel the King tide coming again, out of turn, against the rhythm of this season. It is too clear this morning and there is both the cruelty of savage memory and the scent of danger. It will not be so long now. That I know only too well.

Later in the day and I have returned here to finish this final transcription. Testimony. A last witness and this much I know this record must travel into the future. The pride of my people was the keeping of clan history, for should the memory of us and our struggles, our beauty and our ways, should that die, we must ask ourselves the question: Was their a truth in the valleys, did not men and women live and die in defiance of evil and make music for the wild creatures and we were not defeated, murdered, yes, but not defeated. Never victorious, never defeated; that was our inheritance and we treasured it and kept it well. I must keep this hope for without it I will have been truly defeated. To this only will I swear: I will not lie down in my grave and be covered by the ashes of forgotten. I will keep it safe; this much will be kept in memory and tale and song and one day there will come a bard again to make it whole and complete. `

The men in the sea caves are not hungry, they feed well and the small boats they built are long and sleek like dolphins. Tele, my brother, is working with them, he is the black to my light, I have only to watch his face, his pale cold eyes and see what is written. Though he is not a cruel man; he is like many; he has forgotten laughter, music, the small joys of the world. For that alone I shall kill many, for my brother was a gentle child who loved animals. He is warped now, beyond his purpose. So many ways to kill a man or to scar the spirit is but the first part of that abrasion. I wish that I had greater wisdom, perhaps I could heal some of the illness that mars my people. But I have not time for that; it is long work and meticulous and needs a slow hand, a breath, the swathe of bird’s wings. We were not born to that. It will be a half moon season ‘til we leave. I have sent bird messages to you my, my love, and the little one is wrapped now in the eagle wings. She is playing by the sea, unknowing that she runs and jumps in the twilight of the world. I have not the heart to listen to the mothers and stop his waywardness. She will come to discipline soon enough. I have taught her the way of the Tree beloved, heart’s ease there may be in it for her.

She senses much, it is what causes her to be so difficult, if that she is, so finely tuned to the turning under the world.

There is a wind rising this eve and the fires are early. The woman came today to lay formal leave taking, Leila is leading them; she is strong and I do trust her with the task, for she understands the depth of it; to survive beyond the madness that is approaching; to lay quiescent like a seed in the desert’ it will not be easy but of all of them Leila is pure camouflage, pure chameleon. And she understands. So few of my people will undertake the long view and yet we must; it is the only way. Without it we are what the enemy expects of us, soul-less, un-human, incapable of thought. Let them think this in their silver cities with new thick fat bodies and their strange unblinking eyes.

Long ago was it said that to understand victory was to understand defeat and the wisdom of the tribe was that victory lay in understanding the enemy: thus I have failed, for they are quite beyond me. I cannot or will not comprehend them.

It is a long time now not to write to you, though I had hope of one day finding much, fortunate they had called us in the springtime of our lives before the enemy came to slight us with plague; how we have rotted, in the roots. We are dying, my heart, a death of little things. How could we not have known this; what strangeness it is to live in these blurry days. If I had tears of salt to waste I’d spare them now. The vessels are almost ready, much store have we set in them. The weather is changing. The irony, black, black, of new growth in the trees are budding under tree skin, blood flows leafly through them, the blue of sky, I can almost smell the apples and bittersweet is that memory. Apple blossom and you; your warm thighs in the pink of spring. It was surely a dream come after winter to taunt me. As old Llyr once said ‘O let me not be mad, not mad Lear’

The lost letter of Rhiannon of Ceridwen

archived in 2/58.08 by Annalyn,

Chief Bard to ap Hughes, Clan Leader, Deos.

(Translation taken by Lady Llewellyn)

I am writing to you in the blackness but I feel the shaping of each word. This I write in the old Runic way that the scribes had on Mona Isle. I have almost forgotten your voice Gruffyd but not quite. I keep it like a dark flame in the bottom in the caves which are buried beneath the mountains in my mind.

So let me write it true though it will cut you. I was ever one to do so, I cannot change it now. So many men have used my body I have lost count. Their smell is ingrained beneath my skin and I know I am losing the battle. I have never failed for lack of courage but this is different. It is an erosion of my flesh that has finally broken a barrier into my secret glade. The hearth where I keep the memory of you and my Rose. But I am so tired, now, Gruffyd. I fade like an old moon.

Beloved hear me! Take no personal vengeance for this, know it and accommodate it. I had to tell you for I have never been able to conceal the truth from you. Better from me than others.

No they have not broken me, Inside I am like winter and now I must retreat. To die here alone is my only victory; and I do it willingly of course. That was always the point.

So hear me now Gruffyd across time, space and the energy of stars. Bear you my Rose to adulthood and guard her well. She is The Chosen but not for this sacrifice, she is the one to whom the Oldest of all gave true choice and the Oldest one gave a Voice. We gave her laughter and song and all the graces she needs.

She is the seed of the future, the last of the Dragon Claw Clan; she will be a mother of nations.

So told my beloved, that rage of yours is no longer appropriate to what has been done to me. I bore it well; and one cannot be used unless one consents. I consented to nothing but my love for you. Thus it was and thus it will be through centuries, Gruffyd until we two come again.

Heart’s ease my love. Look for me in moonlight, in the space green and gold that the stars reflect. I am the comet of the future.

I will not say words of love they are not necessary anymore.

Music, beloved in all the music there is I am. There as an echo of each note played.

Believe me and keep faith with our credos

But for now I go to the Single Benediction of death.

O Rose, live long and be you as a rose is beautiful and perilous.

The future is in the palm of your star filled hands

Be you sweet my little one and travel well