The Woodsman’s Hope

((Sentences or parts of sentences in all capitals seem to be written by a much more frantic and chaotic hand))

The warm summer sun shone down through the verdant canopy as a woodsman, new to this particular area, trudged on through the underbrush. There was a bit of a reprieve from the hotter-than-normal summer Njordir was having in the cool shade of the forest just outside Runehiem, but the evidence of hard work and exertion showed on this man’s clothes and brow. His pack, filled with materials gathered from the land, weighed on his shoulders, albeit still a burden he could bare. His clan taught him well the value of hard work and respect for the land. He ventured toward the top of a hill deep in the woods in search of a vantage point to get a lay of this new land, as well as a place to sit to enjoy his hand-made trail rations.

As he shifts through the brush, steps over fallen trees and rocks, and skips over small sinkholes, he thinks back on his parents. They were so caring and knowledgeable in their craft and taught him much raising him. HE’S JUST SO DISAPPOINTED THAT THEY HAD TO BREAK THE FAMILY APART. They taught him the best mixture of nuts, berries, flour, honey, and just a bit of animal fat to make these trail rations just the right thing for a hungry gatherer. All he’s learned in life has been from either his parents or his clan, EXCEPT VIOLENCE. He still misses them, EVEN THOUGH THEY DID THE UNTHINKABLE. As the woodsman sits on a fallen log atop the hill to enjoy his trail rations, he looks out into the forest and hopes he continues to make friends in this new village. For the short time he’s been here, it’s felt more and more like home AND WHERE HE BELONGS. He sees new paths forming toward bright futures, and not only the one involving taking a priestly vow. As he’s dwelling on the new friends he’s made, he finishes his trail rations and is ready to venture forth again.

He looks back from where he came, and a small ephemeral bird darts across his sight line. It was so quick, even the trained woodsman couldn’t fully catch it. He looks toward where it went and is met with just the typical sight of the dense foliage with several rays of sun piercing through the canopy for illumination. A voice stirs in his mind, “I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR LIFE, EVERY ASPECT OF IT”. He blinks a few times and shakes his head. For good measure, he takes a drink from his water skin, and tries to focus on the voice again. Nothing but the chirping of the birds, the buzzing of insects, and, in the distances, the soft rushing of the river. He says a brief prayer for safety and turns to make his way back to his work and to town. This incident sits uneasy in his mind, BUT AS SOON AS HE LEAVES THE FOREST AND GETS BACK TO TOWN, IT IS OF LITTLE CONCERN TO HIM. He finds peace in his community and the act of helping them with their needs.

Over the next few weeks, during days when he ventures not into the wilderness, the woodsman is found practicing archery in whatever suitable open area is available, mostly out of preparation for the next season’s hunt BUT ALSO YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOURSELF. His thoughts, again, drift back to his parents. His mother was such a dependable hunter and member of the clan, BUT SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE END. The clan trusted her with many a folkwise and leaned on her frequently for food and clothing for the winter. WHY DID SHE HAVE TO DO IT? WHY? WHY? WHY? The woodsman, gathering his arrows from his last volley, had tears welling up in his eyes. He wiped his eyes, nocked another arrow, and took just a second to aim. Just before he let the arrow fly, he closed his eyes and let images of hope fill his mind. Next he opened his eyes, he was met with the arrow jutting from the center of the makeshift target. “The light of Benalus is the gateway to hope, the road to salvation. I feel I have hope, so I must be on the right road,” The woodsman mumbles to himself.

The Voice of the Voiceless: Fleeing

The following is found scrawled in one of Olivier’s journals:

“How are you doing, mon amour? I’m shaking as it is, and he wasn’t my Uncle. I can only imagine what it’s like for you”

“I can’t believe he’s gone either. I didn’t want to kill him. It just happened. I hope you can forgive me.”

“It’ll take some time. You know me, I’m not a killer and don’t want to start anytime soon. I just want to create, not kill.”

“Thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“I hope this new place is alright.”

“I’m scared, too. I’m going to miss mother and father. I’m sure Anastasie, will as well. I also hope I can protect the two of you in this new place”

“It all sounds really scary, but also somewhat safe from your father’s reach.”

“I know that sounds harsh, but remember what he did to my mother, to you, and what he said as we were running”

“It was really weird how violent he’s become. He’s always been such a nice man.”

“Remember when he’d get us pastries when we’d watch mother perform in the square?”

“He’d stand up for us too when Gregory and his family would harass us”

“I can’t imagine what would have changed him so much”

“And now we’re running from him. The man who raised you and helped raise me”

“I hope mother and father are alright. At least we’re together, I can’t imagine taking on this journey alone.”

“I know it’s only been a few days, but I already want to go back home”

“I know it would be a death sentence, but at least we would have some kind of happiness until then”

“But what if this new place is as horrible as the stories we’ve heard?”

“You’re right, as long as we’re together, we can do whatever we set our minds to”

“Have you thought about things you want to make? It’ll be around early winter when we arrive, and the Mari Lwyd should be taking place. I’ve been trying to write poetry for the others there”

“A scarf? That sounds great! I would love to wear it. You’re such a thoughtful person, Alexander”

“I love you, too, mon amour”

The Many Poems for Mari Lwyd

We seem to be arriving in Stragossa in early winter, I better ready some poetry for the citizens there for the coming of Mari Lwyd. I hope the people there like them and maybe come up with some on their own. I just don’t want the spirit to take what little they already have.

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Mari Lwyd, Mari Lwyd
Your dour pressence
We do not enjoy

You Haunt, and you sing
with the visage you bring
We won’t give a thing
To make it to Spring

Mari Lwyd, Mari Lwyd
Your deathly essence
does not but annoy

Your time, it is done
we hope you had fun
We won’t give the mead
you say that you need

Mari Lwyd, Mari Lwyd
We will not fall for
your devilish ploy

You thirst for our ale
you thirst for our wine
Your plan, it shall fail
with our furious rhymes

Repeat Till gone:
Mari Lwyd, Mari Lwyd
Return to the void

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You ask if I want for company
but I know what you offer’s not free
You’ll take all my liquor
and just make me suffer
so begone, I wish for reprieve

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Your presence it wreaks of death
You’re unable to draw breath
Begone from my sight
I don’t want to fight
And this night I wish to forget

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Your thirst makes the drunken man weep
your visage makes the shaken man cower
The liquor, we’ll keep
You’re presence, we’ll glower
Till we all see the moon’s darkest hour

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You boneheaded spirit of old
Please just do what you’re told
I won’t give you drink
If that’s what you think
please, just leave me alone

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I won’t take up arms
in steel or liquor
nor listen to yarns
nor sit here and bicker
with a ghost full of charms
who’s making me sicker
and trying to harm
my poor old ticker

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I fear not that which you threaten
your horse head nor your beast skin
I have control
and I’m telling you no
I will not give you my gin

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The Vultures won’t eat your body
The spirits picked you clean
I’m not scared of this old banshee
now please, just leave me be

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Mari Lwyd of the winter
Mari Lwyd of the Night
Who has us all a titter
of your ghostly sight
Our Food and our Liquor
we’ll keep for ourselves
As you retreat quicker
to your ghostly realm

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You shall not enter
You shall not drink
You’ll only soon venture
To the next home’s brink

Our wine and our ale
Shall be only ours
Not the one with a tail
who dances with stars

Please leave us in peace
Please let us be merry
Mari Lwyd please cease
you must be weary

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Move along Mari Lwyd Move along
Move along To that house move along (pointing to another house)
Move along with no ale move along
move along we’re not scared move along

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Oh spirit of old
who wants for our ale
return to the cold
and tonight’s windy gale

we will not be so bold
as to fight you with steel
please leave us our hold
and tonight’s great meal

you return to the trail
empty handed and wanting
with us there’s no sale
of your fiendish plotting