Humanity’s Eyes, Part 4

Continued from here. This will be the final part–I will post a unified version (like I did for the LaSein Account) soon.

I lived in the wet

For a long time

This odd striving place

Where things kept growing

I learned the humans were burning down the last bits of the forest

Hacking off the trunks and limbs of the trees

Killing the furry people who hid behind them

They were very harsh these humans

It was no matter to me

I did not depend upon the trees

I buried myself in the sand and the dirt

The drying of the forest felt good on my thick and chitinous skin

I could smell the humans, the fuzzy creatures, or my marked

From far away. I remained out of sight

Anytime I wanted I could kill a human or two

When they were particularly lingering or loud

The humans cut down the entire the forest some years in

All of the creatures that lived in the trees were dead

My marked humans began to leave

Walking up the mountain, where their scent eventually disappeared

They left me

In this moist and dirty place

And I started to reflect

Upon my life

The old man

And the little girl with the emerald eye

Maybe I had wanted too much from her

From all of them

Though, I don’t know if I had ever wanted anything 

Survival maybe

Gifts maybe

To be seen, to be near

I saw in myself for the first time a sort of softness

Beneath my now granite-like hide

I understood I really did like loving them

My former little group of marked humans

The girl

And love was what it was.

I started to take care of little creatures I found

Letting them live in my hide

Providing them little goodies, food bits, bugs I found

I enjoyed these little creatures scurrying all over my body

Then the mountain came crumpling inward

Like a strange earthquake

A horrifying sight

Dust billowing everywhere

Moaning and twisting of rock

The tops of the peaks came below the clouds

And beneath the clouds they shined like gold

I smelled smells I had never smelled before, along with metal and fresh growing plants.

There was much blood then

Those next days

I smelled much blood

And the tang, the sour taste of magic being cast

Me and my little creatures waited

Burrowing in the sands

Eating, avoiding

Living as we did.

Then I smelled my marked

The ones that had left me so long ago

Sand Lips. But not Sand Lips. A child maybe that had grown

And the unknown scent of something.  Several things, living, but mysterious.

The humans now crowded the top of the mountain

And my marked were walking down

down into the desert

Deep into the heat, the land of no water, 

the land of the dry, the beautifully dry

I walked towards them

These marked and the mysterious others

Me and my creatures were going back to the land of the hot

My true home

And I gave these new creatures little gifts

Just as the girl had done for me

I watched over them.

Not a part of them, but near them

A demon

A crag

A landmass

Sharing its home

Humanity’s Eyes, Part 3

Continued from here.

As the sun grew hotter the days grew longer

The earth became drier

Fewer and fewer plants grew up in the damned wastes that were my home

My odd little collection 

Of marked up little humans

Was suffering

Their people, the older ones, but not too old

Would go further and further into the wastes

Hoping to find and bring back a large cactus

Or find a small pool of water

Or a beast whose blood they could drink

Some of them got hurt when one of those beasts found them instead

The next days I noticed they were packing

Gathering together their little makeshift homes of canvas and bone

Loading them on sleds

They were leaving me

This land of sand and sun

Leaving this waterless pit

As they left, they left behind a final bowl for me

A final farewell of types I supposed

My shovel-like fingers took up the offering and it crunched in my teeth

I felt alone

For the first time in a long time

I wished for their odd presence near me

I missed the giggling screams of their children

Missed the strange noises they made at night

Missed their footprints in the sand

So I followed them

Their stench was lingering long in the desert

Clear tracks.

I didn’t wish them to notice me following them

I don’t know why I cared

But I wished to remain a secret

My long legs and massive arms easily moved through the desert 

I followed them many nights

Just past the point of sight, a day away, no more no less.

The ground became thicker

Moister

Dirt

The bugs were different and disgustingly plentiful

Every little nook and cranny of earth seemed to have a bug inside

It seemed grotesque

My little pack of marked humans came 

To a partially burned forest

With a mountain in the middle that stretched into a thick layer of clouds

And a massive human settlement

that stank like a decaying corpse

Full of humans

Normal humans

The kind covered in crunchy metal and hateful looks

I stayed away from this human settlement

And found the first pool of water I had ever seen since I was a child

A small puddle and I saw my face

Spikes were ripping out of my carapace in hellish angles

My deep seated eyes were even darker yellow than I recalled

My snout was sharply pointed and looked almost like a beak

I was so caught by the look on my face

The look of my face

The look of me

I did not notice the human until they screamed

I turned towards them

They were a quarter my height

An eighth my width

Built like a tree where I was a mountain

They threw a spear at me

Like I was a dog to be killed

They pulled out a small sword and screamed in rage

Their spear hit my outer carapace

Jammed inside

Stuck like a twig

They ran at me with their sword

I lifted my thick shovel like hands

Their sword bit into my wide and hardened fingers

Their sword got stuck in me

They looked down in shock

Up in fear

My hands crumpled around them

Squishing this human’s meat

Pressing their limbs into their body

Picking them up 

I held them in the air, immobile, helpless

Thinking of squishing the blood from their meat

But I instead I held them in front of my flat yellow eyes

They asked me what I was

I said I was the crag

They spoke strange

Bouncy and fluid

But a sound I oddly did not fully hate anymore

They asked me if I would kill them

I looked at their pulpy limbs

Soft squishy face, tears at the brim of their eyes

I said no

If

I looked at the human 

Told him the name Sand Lips

Confusion covered their face

But also recognition

I told them to ensure Sand Lips was safe

Along with the little ones Sand Lips kept

I told them to ensure these marked were safe

Or I would smell their scent 

And I would kill them as prey in the night.

I breathed deep into this human, learned his smell

I stared into their eyes and asked if they accepted the terms of my agreement

He said yes. The fear in his eyes was fresh, moist, and sweet.

I dropped him 

He ran.  

I smiled. 

I had no more hate for humans.  

They were small and afraid.

As they should be.

Part 4 here.

Humanity’s Eyes, Part 2

Continued from here. As before, by Leland.

The next many years were long and harsh

They were also lonely, but I had no idea what that meant at the time

In the beginning I was like a piece of sand.

I blew from place to place

I felt nothing on my insides.

I ate

I drank

I killed

I moved

Life was a never ending cycle of survival

Though my body continued to morph and change

My chitinous ledges grew larger

My fingers grew thicker and harder

I could tear out huge piles of dusty earth

And suck out the soft crunchy creatures that burrowed beneath

I was a moving land mass.

Not a monster

A thing

An object

My hate roiled inside of me

But without eyes watching me

Reinforcing that hate

It began to bake into my bones

But the eyes

The eyes of my mother

Of the only girl to give me a gift

And the smell of that lock of her hair

Was still fresh every time I remembered

I would cringe in those times.

As the years wore on that pain stayed true.

I avoided the smell of humanity

That would drift in with the dusty blasts of air sometimes

I preferred my thick and rigid solitude

As I roamed one day I smelled blood 

Fresh blood

Active blood

Human blood.

I sat on my haunches. Staring into the far setting sun.

I decided to pay back the one act of kindness I had received

And walked towards the blood.

The sun had almost set by the time I descended upon the moving human

One of the grit, the marked, the human rejects I had been raised with, was sliding in the sand.

Legs inert and twitching behind them

Blood staining the sand as they moved.

They had a fierce and hard look in their eyes, dust embedded in their teeth.

They first felt my shadow land upon them

They looked at me

A moving mountain

With my fetid yellow eyes

They showed fear on their face.  Or maybe acceptance.  Maybe denial

Something firm and unrelenting.

I spoke the language of the desert to them.

The words sounded odd and strange in my mouth

They were shocked I could speak

And relieved. 

They said their name was Sand Lips

And they needed to send a message

That the Mukori were coming

To kill the Kamai

Their exhaustion took them

And they fell into the sand.

I looked at the grit. The marked and scarred human. Helpless.  Desperate. Clinging to life over some words they claimed needed to be heard

Heard by someone human.

I stared at this breathing corpse for a while

Thinking of this message

The Mukori, the Kamai, Sand Lips

Names felt strange in the desert

I was a demon, a mountain, a pair of yellow eyes

Sand Lips.

Sand Lips.

I hated names.

I hated these monikers of humanity

I hated them in my ears

In my throat 

Along my tongue

I pounded the desert

Threw a massive boulder, 

Flung a mountain of sand

Trying to throw it out of me

But it was stuck. 

These names 

These filthy human names.

The desert could not take them from me.

For the desert was no home for humans.

Only those filthy human camps could take these names

I screamed

A sound so loud the sky quaked

And the moon cried

I lifted the filthy human over my back

Limp and helpless

A sack of barely breathing meat and pus

I moved my body weight forward

Let my legs press against the earth under me

I loped

Towards the humans

The sickening smell of the humans

I saw their little fires in the distance

The ground under me flew

The cool wind whipped into my eyes

The earth stretched and narrowed and the fires grew larger

I came to the fires, the humans all around, all marked, all cut, all children of the grit.

I crashed into their makeshift home

This little gathering of scarred humans

Humans that were so small

Looking up in terror

Shear terror

I was still a demon 

And they had no idea what I was here to collect

I put down the limp sack of meat from my shoulder

And I spoke those pus-riddled human words

The Mukori, the Kamai, Sand Lips

Told them they would die.

An old human came out

Thanked me

Whatever that meant

Said they knew not who I was

Said they had not seen one of my kind for a long time

My kind

My… kind

Tears began to leak from me

The elder lifted a bowl up to me

Some sticky nectar of the cactus fruit

I ate the bowl.

This was the second human to ever give me a gift

I left

Went back to the dark

To the desert

The sand and the rocks

The moon and the sun

The bugs and the earth

But I continued to smell these humans

And I did not go far.

More humans came

Clanking humans

Loud humans

Humans laden with the pungent, sour smell of relics

I killed these humans, before they could see me, before their eyes could look at me in disgust

Like a pack of bugs they crunched in my teeth

I Split them in half

Popped them like flies

I left them dead there.

They were too loud.

Entitled, angry, and hellishly human. 

Their trinkets smelled sweet

And I ate them 

They powdered in my teeth

Leaving my mouth sour and salivating for days

I decided this part of the desert was mine

And these cut and marked humans

The ones with the sand lips

Could stay in my piece of the desert

And stay they did

Leaving little bowls of cactus nectar out for me

I felt a touch soft towards them

Like a favored rock or time of the day

I would not choose their death

And they grew older and smaller

And I grew larger and larger

Part 3 here.

Humanity’s Eyes

A poem by Leland for Rale.

When I was born I was betrayed

My mother tried to kill me

For I was born wrong

Sickness marked me all over

I was a cur a curse a wanton filth

She thought a kindness was death

She threw me to the desert

But the desert men found me

Took me and raised me

As a second hand slave I was raised

A child of rejection and poverty and begging for scraps

I ran between the stalls of the desert men, not unhuman enough to kill, not human enough to love

We roamed through the desert

I stayed mostly with the children of the grit

Marred and scarred and blackened and raw they would not hit me

As I got older, the sickness that flaked my skin grew harder and tougher

Stranger by far, long thorns grew from me, and my eyes became a fetid yellow

I began to be called the demon.  The demon they whispered, no longer in contempt, but also in fear.

As my muscles grew thick and crusted like a humanoid crab, my eyes began to wander

I hated the world as the world had hated me

But there was one little girl who treated me with kindness

The daughter of the leader of the desert men

The daughter of their sultan

She was a kind girl with a horrible scar on her face from an injury from when she was a baby

She had one eye that was emerald green

She placed bowls of water out at night

I knew they were meant for me

Her emerald eye reminded me of the eyes of my mother

I felt that my mother had killed herself and she had been reborn, 

Now she was here to take care of me like she never had before

I got older and older and I never stopped growing

The other boys stopped growing, but five years later, they stood at my shoulder

Then they stood at my chest

Then they stood at half my height

The fear in the desert men’s eyes grew

Their deep religious belief in the martyr was being pushed

They began to talk about the “Demon among them”

I watched the little girl grow up.

She was beautiful

And kind.

Long brown hair and that emerald eye

My mother’s eye

She started to leave food behind with the water, and flowers, and then a lock of her hair.

I kissed it and nuzzled it and tried to breathe it inside of me

And I would watch her from the corners of my eyes.

As I roamed through the tent filled trading stalls, resting on my knuckles, clawing into the dirt with my back feet.

She came one night

And touched my face

Not afraid.  Not like the others.

She held my face that night

And she cried 

Her one eye pouring sweet and salty tears onto my mountainous, grotesque frame.

The people came the next night.

Her father came the next night

The torches came the next night

They told me to leave.

They pointed towards the desert

The said go anywhere but here.

My humanity had run up in their eyes

They owed me nothing

The savior owed me nothing.

I crawled into the desert

The aching moon at my back

The harsh sun on my face.

I walked through the desert, lumbering like a barge as the heat cracked my skin like stone

I licked rocks for water

I smelled foul nests of bugs using my strange and sensitive nose

I ate the creatures

While I thought of her

My mother reborn who abandoned me again.

As I walked into the heat of the sands

And the ice cold nights

I realized I was never human.

And I no longer wanted to be.

Part 2 here.

Top image: “Hazeen’s Man of the Clouds”, by Rae Johnson

Lords of Cinder

More prose poetry, this time on Dark Souls.  The below is a lot of things, but among them, I intend it to be an extremely succinct (and therefore not very careful) explication of my argument from the Dark Noon series. You can fill in the gaps with the actual essays, excepting those gaps in the essays which you can fill in with this. Git gud, I suppose.

***

“When the Ashes are two, a flame alighteth.  Thou’rt Ash, and fire befits thee, of course.”

-Father Ariandel, Dark Souls 3

In the beginning, there was mist, and in that mist were shapes of trees, of branches, of great, stone dragons that remained forever still, of vermin that writhed and crawled in the fog’s deepest whorls.  Nothing seemed to move. Nothing seemed to cease moving. No creature in that mist looked out and recognized any other, but even if one had, it would have troubled at a quandary: “This Everything I see–is it one, or is it many?”

***

Two.  The first prime.  A great, uncertain step forward, every bit as profound as the gulf between the mist and the void, even more important in its way.  It answers a question, a question that truly must be asked: One or many? No one, after all, disputes that there is something. Even the most charred cynic claims not that there is nothing, merely that nothing matters.  Nothing is different.  It is all the same.  A Son of God once claimed that where two gather in His name, He shall be among them.  It makes sense. He claimed to be the Truth, and Truth is what separates the first from the second.

***

A moment came within the fog–timeless until this strange happenstance–when a fire, dim within the great stasis, flickered to life, deep within the earth that clung to the trees.  Its heat drove back the mist, and the vermin, eyes at last open, could ignore it no longer.

For the Fire brought disparity: Heat and cold.  Life and death. And, of course, light and dark.  The vermin at last saw themselves amongst the trees.  They saw the dragons looming above them. They saw difference, and, within the Fire, they found a means to address the inequity.  From its burning depths, they drew forth the souls of Lords: Light, order, nobility; Chaos, change, flux; Death, decay, eternal rest.  Together, the Lords rose up and overthrew the dragons, Lords in their own right of stone and Stasis. Upon what remained, they built a great kingdom for the Humanity they championed.

But were they truly champions?  The Flame of Truth had made two of one, had separated humanity from the tree and the stone, but is Truth itself singular?  

When the Lords departed for their war against the dragons, the pygmies of the vermin, the lowest of those that writhed, considered what remained within the Fire and found in its dregs one final soul, a Dark soul of ash and lies, a stain to be feared, buried, forgotten.  Truth, after all prescribes what is true but also what is not. Is Humanity, then, above or below? Is it the second or the first?

***

A fire is not an object.  It is a process. It devours the singular, separates its fuel into two: Goats and sheep, good and ill, heat and ash.  To be fuel is to be exalted, momentarily brought forth from the mist, placed upon a hilltop to be, however briefly, a guiding light for those attempting to see.  But the fate of cinder is grim. Heat dissipates. What once appeared lordly soon crumbles, charcoal to ember to ash. The Fire gave us God, but it is the fate of gods to die.  To burn. To be separated into truth and lies, buried, leaving us to wonder whether there was ever truth in what we believed. But still deeper, quietly slithering beneath the denouement, a question remains.  It is not the question–Fire presupposed to answer it.  It is our question.  Not: One or zero?  But: One or two?

Ignition brought us new life, but the dying Fire offers a choice.  Do we wish the Fire to survive? It needs fuel, that which we elevate, which guides us, which dies and is forgotten; but not just any fable from the mist might be a Lord of Cinder.  The abyss within us is clever. It sees the dying light and asks: 

“Don’t you see?  Your Lord is dead.  Why should the next be any different?  Truth has shown its colors, revealed that Truth itself is a lie.  Hew no more Lords, set no more lies ablaze. All are hollow, and I am their final Lord.  Let us break the cycle, now and forever.”

The words of the abyss are like cold iron.  They cut and slice the specters Humanity has brought forth, those unkindled that would be cinder.  Some are defeated, others corrupted, persuaded. Some retreat to the cold land of stories, far from the Flame’s light, in search of a sweetly rotting bed where they might breathe their last.  But some remain, steadfast, flickering like embers in the dark, stronger, more meaningful to us than the abyss’ creeping truth. More meaningful, for just a brief, shining moment, than Truth itself.

These few are fit for the pyre, fit to be fuel, to become two and be forgotten, but immolation cannot be their choice.  They are mist, and mist cannot choose.  No, the choice lies with us. Do we allow the flame to gutter and die, plunging us into a new era of dark and mist?  Do we throw our Lords upon the Fire? Are we of lies or Truth? Dark or light? One or two?

And if we have abandoned our choice, retreated to our stories and our cold and our rot, do we yet pray to the shadows that remain of gods long dead?  And what of the Fire that casts them? Perhaps it only flickers, but we are ash, and Fire befits us, of course.

The Night Sky

A prose poem for an Old God.

The sun has set, twilight’s pastel aether faded to cool, thin air, and a vista like a vast sphere of ink hangs over the camp.  In daylight, the landscape had been unremarkable, hill after hill, trough after marshy trough, but the night has taken even those bland features, engulfed them in a void the campfire can only lap at.

At first you see nothing in the dark.  The fire is hot and blinding, and next to it, you surmise you must be safe, though you wonder if the light has simply made you terrified of the beyond to which you’ve been blinded.  In a moment of courage, you stand, you forsake the heat and security of your fire, and you take a small, timid step into the night. With surreal immediacy, pinprick glimmers blink into the sky overhead.  The hills, the trees, the cattails and rocks at the pond’s edge all fold into relief as the night stirs in its sleep, and, slowly, in a sense you can feel only in the space between your lungs, the Night Sky opens its eyes.  On the horizon, from shadow your fire could never reach, the moon rises.

Blight.  Aberration.  What do you dare bring here?

The words are not spoken, but nonetheless they are borne to your ears on whistling wind, the buzz of dragonflies, pond water slapping at its shore.  They are not spoken, but, somehow, you perceive a speaker anyway.

From the horizon, the moon approaches, wreathed by dead branches, clad in bark and tenebrous mist.  Atop an eyeless steed the color of coal, it regards you. You feel its presence, its vastness, its derision–for you–its hatred–for…something else–and as the pale sphere’s gaze moves beyond you, to your camp, your fire, your intrusion upon this dream so clearly not your own, you feel–deeply and certainly–unwelcome.

Children.  Gone astray.  Weak. Blasphemy.  Destroy. Devour.

The words are no longer coherent.  They still suffuse the air, spoken in that half-sense by which the Night Sky speaks, but they are not for you.  None of this is for you any longer, but the Night Sky does not lash out in violence like the creatures of day. It would have you understand your transgression, swallow it, have it writhe like worms in your blood, that you should go willingly to nothingness, for you deserve only nothing.

The moon’s steed turns to you, and its head splits into halves, equine silhouettes spreading like lepidopteran wings, baring yet more swirling constellations within their cranial span.  Then the nightmares begin. All around, you perceive the subtle, fearful shifts. At the shore of the pond, the tiny pebbles glinting in firelight reveal themselves to be teeth, erupting, bloody and irregular, from throbbing gums where ground should have rested.  Leeches wriggle at your ankles, crawling over one another for a taste of the blood you yet owe this place, and in the pitch beyond the moon’s sinister figure, the reeds and grasses flagellate the sky in ways that plants should not move.

The steed continues to approach, vaporous tongues lolling from its mangled wing-face, caressing your cheek, your eyes, the inside of your face, tasting what it is like to be you.  Its touch is icy, alien, shocking in its utter strangeness, and yet its intent cannot be misunderstood: It means to imbibe you, with the night, of the night; to extinguish your heat, your clarity, your definition; to purge from you any pretense of being.

You feel the hopelessness, the isolation of the dark, but instinctively, you rebel.  You tear your gaze from the steed’s hypnotic visage. You run headlong back to your blaze, your bulwark against the night’s advance.  Behind, you hear the steed’s hooves bearing down upon you. You shudder at its rider’s curses, carried on the whistle and rasp of the breeze.  You thrust your hands into the fire and withdraw a flaming bough, and you fling it, whirling, frantic, back at the approaching moon. The flames lick your hands, leaving charred, smoldering marks on your palms, but your aim is true enough.  The branch strikes the rider across the arm, igniting its wooden armor, but even as the blaze engulfs the rider and its steed and the grass and the sky and the nightmare that has swallowed you, the moon’s gaze remains impassive.

You open your eyes to an undisturbed camp.  Your fire has died down, the sky is clear and starlit, and even your erstwhile terror, still ringing in your skull, cannot quite disturb the serenity of this nocturnal silence.  But the moon still hangs between the clouds above, and it occurs, quietly, buried between the ripples of your relief, that the eyes of the Night Sky have still not closed.

One Wing, One Eye

This piece was jointly written by Leland and I. He wrote the “primary sources”, I wrote the framing. The things being described are connected to recent pieces as well as one that will be coming soon. I’ll leave you to sort out how.

In my task, I found myself poring over the contents of the Great Library when I came upon a most peculiar scroll. I asked the librarian: “What do you know of this work?”

It seemed veritably ancient.  The parchment was thin, dry, the ink a charcoal black that seemed alien amidst the other works of the library, transcribed by the Mignikolai in their invariable rusty pigment.  Most curious was its language. It was neither the sacred tongue of Kol nor any of the earlier, forbidden dialects of the Diarchy. This was something completely different, making use of characters I knew not how to pronounce.

The librarian seemed surprised.  He apologized: I had evidently come upon an out of place original.  He bade me wait a moment while he fetched the translation. Upon his return he explained that this particular work was among the oldest held by the Kolai.  It had, of course, been inherited En Sacristi, though it was difficult to tell when the Goetia had acquired it. Curiously, the translation had also been inherited–the language was an archaic dialect of the Windwood that fell into disuse some time before the fall of Thago, and the librarian doubted there were any alive today that could read it.

He advised that the subject matter of the scroll was almost certainly unrelated to my research–and he was right–though I make separate mention of it here because it is curious to me.  There are, in fact, two distinct works represented in the scroll, and though, stylistically, they cannot possibly share a source, one cannot ignore the (somewhat unsettling) similarity in their themes.  Understanding the significance of folklore is difficult even with the best of context, but a certain feeling persists that these pieces refer to something of power.  Perhaps the half-creature of these stories is connected to the Gods which came before, those whose mantle the Blood God has so gloriously donned. 

I have made myself a separate copy.  See here for both:

The One-Winged Lark

The lark has dreamed another night for me.

It flapped up to my window.

Tapping the glass

Tap tap

Tapping me to open it.  Tapping to follow

It’s one winged flight

Up and down and around and around

Circles up and down and around and around

It flew up like a whirlwind

Like a pretty petaled whirlwind

Swirling

And I followed it.

And swirled upwards, flapping my wing.

My one wing.

My one sweet wing.

And it took me it took me.

It took me to the moon.

This opalescent ball of crystalline light

Swirling in front of me.

Pulling and pushing and undulating and wrapping 

Warping around itself

This icy light that poured on my skin.  Rubbed me down.

And cleansed my pores, leaving them oiled and clean. 

I was bathed.  I was bathed by the lark.  This little one winged lark.

My little one winged friend

Who flies like a whirlwind

Made of soft feathers, and moonlight.

The Fable of the One-Eyed Crow

Once upon a time, there was a big black wood.  With slim tall trees and thick black moss. And in a tiny old house, near a tiny old town, there lived the hag of the black wood.  And the tiny old town loved the old hag, more and more still. She’d take sick little children and she’d fix them up well. Broken limbs and sniffles and little snake bites all would be fixed in her cottage at night.  And the things that happened there were happy and happy, until one day, when the blue marks started.

Tiny blue peck marks, like chickens dipped in ink, appeared on children’s underarms, in their mouths, in their stink.  And then they started coughing, and then they couldn’t stand, then the people from the tiny town, went to the house for a hand.  They went to the old woman, the old hag of blackwood, and told her of the blue marks, and she just stood. They asked her to fix them.  She said no. They begged her to fix them. She said no. They threatened her to fix them. She said no. And the children started dying.  And grieving came full storm.

And the town became a thunder cloud.  Ricocheting anger. Every child dead. Little blue marks all over. 

And the Blackwood hag, who had fixed so many bug bites.  Had stood there and watched as their children laid down, coughed, and died.

And then a young boy, not ten years and twenty, yelled she must have done it.  That’s why, that’s why.

And the men and the women and those undecided, all were so sad, so angry, they bought it.  That’s why. That’s why.

And the thundercloud crashed, through the woods, with metal pots.  With torches and fire, and anger and plots. And dozens of angry fathers, and dozens of angry mothers with the faces of their children in their eyes came to find her.  The hag of blackwood. The one that watched them die. The one who must have done it. That’s why. That’s why.

And they found her.  In the wood. Near her tiny old house, near the tiny old town.  And they pulled her body open. And gave her tiny marks. Marks of red all over her body.  Marks of red, to pay her penalty. Marks of red to match those of blue. Marks of red for her to scream to. 

And they ripped off one foot.

They cut off one hand.

They gouged out one eye.

And sliced open one breast.

For the woman half there for them, and half just stood.

And they left her there to die.  That’s why. That’s why.