The Opal of the Hills is hard to find.
It’s rarely where its seekers daily pass
But wanders with the wind, on paths that wind
Through cliff and cave, among the trees and grass.
At dawn of day, they say, it may be found
Along the shoreline of the northern lake.
At noon, upon the peaks. At dusk, around
The cliffs that hold the caves where bats awake.
But often are the bat-cliffs bitter cold.
The peaks are steep; the lake-side damp and drear.
The seekers find that searching soon grows old,
Return, and say, “No-one could find it here.”
At this, the few who know the Opal found
Will smile still. They know it’s still around.
I did not go prepared upon a quest:
To dare abandon life, and honest home,
And first trespass in lands unsafe to roam
Was surely error, even at my best.
My days were long, with lessons harsh to learn.
The nightly dreams of glory lost their gold;
The wonders of the trail soon grew old.
At last, I dropped all plans except "return".
But then, I'd left the marked and easy track.
I wandered blindly through the haunted lands,
Went on past friends, charged through at false commands,
Forgot the map — and no roads now lead back.
The quest I thought abandoned comes again:
A hero I'll become, or here remain.
Prepare now for the plunge into the deep:
To slumber through that sea of currents strange,
To flee the storms rampaging as we sleep,
And know we'll waken to a world of change.
We fall to face the grim Leviathan,
Who once survived the storms that now return.
From such an ancient mind, we'll dare to learn
A history we hope contains a plan.
To floods, we leave the rooms that were our home.
To thunderstorms, the towers of our song.
To leaf and thorn, the lands we made our own.
To hope and pride, our boasts when we were strong.
Our wisdom, both witheld and not yet won,
We'll save till we can rise and face the sun.
O wanderer, why tread you on this shore?
What fatal need has driven you this far?
What grand enchantment would you ask me for?
To truth I bind you: tell me who you are!
Some come replete with gifts the best to please,
Others afoot and clothed in pilgrim's grey;
A few come armed, with dreadnoughts on the seas.
But how you travelled won't change what I'll say.
You've proven you are brave, to journey here
Where what you knew's remote beyond remote.
So truly you believe, you've quelled your fear,
In hope I'll grant your wish and spare your throat.
I won't do both, but I will give you one:
Die here and now, and what you ask is done.