You could not be contained in any maze.
You only had to raise your hard right hand
And lay it flat upon the dungeon wall
To trace a path, inexorable as Fate.
That distant giantess may cut the thread;
You fed the present goblins to your sword.
They sung, in taverns, of a magic sword
Long lost, within a grim enchanted maze.
Rumours of rumours, but you traced the thread
To take a map from cold and wrinkled hand:
A cloakèd man, who met a grisly fate
Waiting for heroes, by a tavern wall.
The Adventurer, Issue 25, Year 3 of the Rose
Is it time to re-think healing magic?
Healing: the curing of wounds by divine magic. It’s as ubiquitous as adventurers.
Wherever delvers are active, wherever there are monsters to slay, bandits to stop, or changes to make where the idle hand of the law cannot or will not reach, there are adventurers. And wherever they go, the priesthood is quick to follow.
Who hasn’t stumbled, wounded and bleeding, into the hasty A-frame of a frontier wooden shrine, and walked out hale and whole? Who hasn’t dropped a coin into the party resurrection jar; a donation for the marble halls of the Great Temple of the Green Heart in Towerburg, if the worst should happen? One way or another, we all owe our lives to the work of healers.
Lo! In the stream-bed sun-scales glinting.
Grimy, the greed-seeds set eyes aglow.
Iron-eyed, starving gold-gorged engines
From the valley view a virgin peak.
Pink sky arcs over a pale-grassed meadow
Hollow cloth-houses hug the fires,
Billys of tea-dregs. Men talk of patience
Mine the grey eyes of an old mountain.
Bright-cheeked but earth-blind new chums eager
Fell for the hill-side — suckers! Hooked in,
Dug through a dead-end. Treasure lay deeper.
Shout 'cross the bar for a digger's dream!
Rings 'round the moon by near midwinter.
Water, glass-solid stops the wheels.
From freezing gold-holes boot-betrayed feet
Leave to her snow-clothes cold Kiandra.
Three rose bright in the morning:
The red, the blue and the green
From mountain, ocean, and forest
Each took a tune unseen
The ruby maid of the mountains
Played on a pipe of stone:
A song of the ice and the summit,
Where earth from Earth is alone.
The sequined soul of the ocean
Tolled on a sapphire bell:
A peal heard low, but forever
A single note in the swell.
The leaf-crowned son of the forest
Strummed on a silken string:
Soft as the light that dapples
Sad as a broken wing.
Note, note and note, together
Met in a burnished bay.
Lay, with the twigs, on the shingle
Spun in the rushing spray.
By the summit, the deep, and the bower
Ears and instruments stilled
Heard, by the echoes empowered
Hope of hearts fulfilled.
Feet on the stones, and the leafmould
Feet in the splashing spray
Met in the curve of the shingle,
Danced for the joyous day!
Three there were still at sunset:
The red, the blue, and the green
Moved as one by the music
Heard in a single theme.
The Elves were proud when conquering
They came across the sea
So long of life! So fair of limb!
They laughed so merrily
When they called us less than living,
Brief and brainless, born to die
Just the fodder for the fire
In a brighter Elvish eye.
The Goblins came in columns, cast
Of shot and brass and steam
And their shake-you-break-you engines
Left us dust and smithereens,
Each a number less than living
Brief and brainless, born to die:
The bloody hands and broken
To the Minds that Artify.
But the dawn comes all-a-sudden,
And a sword in every hand
And we’ll scalpel out the stubborn
Make them zombies where they stand!
Leave them truly less than living
Brief and brainless, born to die
To fertilise the poppy fields
The rosemary and rye.
A loyal steed, a silver sword, a light to limn my brow
I left behind: betrayed, and bent, and gone.
Cast from the precipice, book, bell and gown
And rode, red-handed, with the dogs of war.
By moonless night I trod, a murderer.
Buried my sin unsaid, unsalved, ungrieved.
Broke faith: I burned its sons who still believed
And shut away the screams until they ceased.
Ahead of hosts I marched, and desolate
My hoof and boot and belly left the land.
Save scarce oases. Green stains on the sand
Where bone and basalt rise in parapets.
What horse’s tongue has touched my tainted skin?
Why do I dream of silver in my hand?
Why do I wake with sunlight on my brow?
Moon in the sky unmoving
Ice on the barren plain
Three thousand miles from hearth to hearth,
If any still remain
Roses as red as a heartbeat,
Tulips, as deep as wine
Forget-me-nots, those eyes that smiled!
But none of these are thine.
Golden, the glint of the morning,
Diamonds, our lives at last,
A moon, pearl-fished from the ocean,
For none of these I ask.
Bees about ’round the pumpkin,
Tomatoes climbing the corn,
You and I, in the garden
And parsley, left on the lawn.
How, in a hundred words, to sing their praise?
The force who face the plague from pole to pole
Who make our broken dreams a future, whole
Who free the lives the virus locked away.
How can I count their millions? Mending hands
That twice and more will take us by the arm
And teach our lungs to breathe, our blood to calm
To know, and scorn the pathogen’s commands.
How, summarise the fifteen billion acts
That finally cut the curve. The work, the woe
The hope and sacrifice behind the facts;
Between “vaccine” and “we are free to go”.
Leave history lab and leader, clown and crown.
When we are saved, it happens town by town.
Ensure your mask is tight upon your face
Before you save: a kitten up a tree,
A city’s soul. The heroes go to waste
Who bear a heart too bold; who breathe too free.
Not for your racing heart, your rushing breath
Upon the precipice; but for the weary hands,
That knit, and nurse a fire at the hearth
And bear the weight of woe when it comes home.
Nor let your care relax when once alone:
With bleach and soda clean what crossed your mouth,
Stomach a kind and cleansing sustenance
And sleep with mask and costume close at hand.
The rampage runs, unchallengéd, uncowed.
Nothing but facelessness can save us now.