I am, but I am not. I see, but I do not see. This is what was, though it never happened at all.
* * *
There is much green, dappled with a pale light - though it is day, the sun's rays seem so very far away here, now, where a thick canopy lies deep and lush overhead and ribbons of light stream weakly in. A pale light, and sickly, and tainted with green. I would normally describe it as beautiful, but I somehow feel it is not. Not today.
In my eyes, figures begin to coalesce, and I find myself in a small clearing. Men have built a modest camp here: crude canvas tents in a loose circle, surrounded by the refuse and detritus of messy campers. Stumps and felled logs bear mute witness to their stay - they have been here for some time, as if waiting in expectance. I see there are weapons lying among them - great composite bows, and full quivers of arrows stand out to me most - and I realise that they are hunters. A fire twists and curls in the middle of the camp, snapping in a hushed voice, as if listening to the hunters who have gathered there to talk. One, dressed differently from the others and bearing but a small knife - it gleams coldly in the fire's light - stands suddenly and glances cautiously behind him, struggling to see through the forest underbrush and dense trees. I hear a laugh - not his, but someone else's: a rough, abrasive sound, and it is offensive to my ears.
Something is wrong.
The laughing man grins lopsidedly, showing crooked teeth. As if on cue, the other hunters take to their feet, forming a closing circle, and quickly the one with the knife is singled out at its middle. The men produce metal claws in their fists, and they flash red in the fire, but the man in the middle does not draw his knife - he sees they bear an insignia familiar to him. He felt a surge of pride, a sense of familiarity, yet now as the reality sunk in, it became like a poisoned dart more deadly to him than any blade or arrow. He has blue eyes - I see them clearly - and though but minutes ago they were hardened and cold as ice, now they are liquid and trembling and filled with a sudden fear.
I hear a voice in my mind - he hears it, too - and though it is not mine, it is somehow not unlike my own...
Obeying, he turns and bolts from the clearing, but he does not make it. Strong hands and slashing blades reach for him, and he trips wounded upon a stray fagot in his fluster. The circle of hunters closes, and a shadow like a black, grasping hand falls over him - the image of an oak tree flashes in his mind, its arms once beckoning but now talonlike, and suddenly, with a terrible sinking finality, he understands...
A feral scream erupts from the brush - a piercing, chilling cry, freezing hunter and hunted where they stand and striking all thoughts from their collective mind - and it echoes throughout the clearing, filling it with its terrible, fearsome sound. Like a living bolt of shadow, a great beast seems to coalesce in the light as it comes tearing across the camp towards them all.
Time slows... With blue eyes, he sees and remembers the creature, that beast of nightmares that wrought his dreams with fire and ash, that betrayed and slew the allies that dared trust it.
He recalls as if from a dream: that is why he had come, was it not? Under a grim oath of vengeance - he came as a hunter, and now Hunter had come for him.
And now the beast had come for them all.
He draws his knife... What happens next, happens very quickly.
The beast, keen eyes narrowed and burning bright and hungry as fire, leaps with curving claws outstretched - there are cries and flashes of metal, and a spray of crimson fills the air, and for a breathless moment he thinks that he is dead... but it is not so. The flayed body of a man lie crumpled, his throat torn open and carotid severed, useless metal claws still limp in his hands - the white maw of the beast is red, and for a brief moment of shock and silence, even as he stares dumbly with knife in hand, it gazes evenly back at him with hardened, raging eyes, knowing fully that the knife was meant for it.
The shock passes, and the men leap to action, their old quarry forgotten, but the beast is too fast for them. Ignoring the fallen one with the small knife, it leaps past him and vanishes into a fray of blood and violence and fire.
Dazed and sick from it all, he does not at first believe the curtain of flame that rises before him from the small, humble fire that once was. Magic is about him, a terrible fearsome magic, and it follows the beast as it rampages, a harbinger of destruction, catching the hunters in its wake. The acrid smell of burning flesh and vegetation fills the air, and the air is charged with energy and clouded with curling smoke. Staggering, he rises in pain, still clinging to his small knife. He hears the sound of singing bows and crashing blades, and the cry of fighting, dying men, and lost in the chaos of the burning forest, he runs.
Much of what follows is a blur to me: it is filled with flashes of claws - some metal, and some not - and the sounds and smells and pains of battle. The men do not give up their quarry so easily, for their numbers and pride are great, and even the great beast is but one, taking blades and bolts that were originally meant for the other as it goes forth seemingly impervious and kills... But the men are scattered and fewer now, and the beast though wounded does not relent. They finally flee the great conflagration, filled with smoke and burning Ash, and vanish.
Returning to the one hunter turned hunted, I find him collapsed in a small clearing, bathed in the red glow of nearby flames, exhausted, and hurting, and regretting if only he still cared enough. The sounds of battle are dead here and a kind of silence reigns again, though the sound of roaring fire fills his ears, and for a long moment he lies there with the flames as his only companion, the image of a skeletal oak still haunting him, draining his will to endure.
The black paws of the beast appear suddenly at his sides, padding silently up on him in deadly stealth - the sheathed claws were tipped with blood. He feels its hot breath, and the touch of something wet against his neck - the beast's great muzzle nudges him, and he would have perhaps thought it gentle were it not for the blood upon it. Get up, it urges, in words that are not words, but he does not move. As it stands over him, wounded but still terrible in its power, his small knife still in hand, he nevertheless expects to die.
A lone arrow strikes the ground, not far from where he lay, and he feels the rush of air as the beast vanishes swiftly from above him. He sees the distant shape of the laughing man, standing tall in an opening between flaming trees, the insignia on his shoulder still mocking him where he lay, and he sees also the beast... but it is a beast no more. A figure, silhouetted in flame, approaches the man with sword drawn, black hair whipping as a shadow about her. Suddenly, a bolt of fire flies towards her - his assassin had called the flame forth, not she - and though it seems to strike, for it bursts in a fiery rosette about her, she walks on unscathed. The energy in the air becomes now tangible, and man leaps forward in wrath - thus begins their duel: the two disappear into the flames, though the sound of their battle fills the forest.
At last, he gets up, not daring to follow, and runs. Closing his eyes against the searing smoke, he stumbles through the chaos of the burning forest, dual images of the beast and the friend that never was in his mind, but the shadow of the great oak overshadows them all. Suddenly breaking from the trees into the open fields beyond, he gasps at the free air, runs little further, and collapses once more into the grass.
An uncertain amount of time passes, and the end of the forest duel goes unseen. The lone victor stalks into the field, emerging from the conflagration, the beast that is not. Finding his body in the grass, she gazes silently down at him, sword still in hand, forest still blazing in the distance. He returns the gaze weakly until a blackness takes him and he falls into unconsciousness.
There is an exchange of words, then, or rather, an exchange of views: what had seemed to be was not what it was, but what it is is not what it seems to be. What is said is between them, and still I am not sure of the words.
Now collapsed beside him, she touches his hand gently - the hand that bore the knife, that held and struck; the one that would have killed - and kisses it. The fire roars and writhes, and a rain of ash falls about them. Horsemen approach rapidly from the west - she assures him that his friends have come for him at last. One sees her figure hunched over the fallen, the beast from nightmares, and draws his bow...
* * *
... I am, but I am not. I see, but I do not see. This is what was, though it never happened at all.
Reading the story and looking at the image, I can see how they fit together so beautifully. But looking at the image before reading the text... anyone who tries to take the kill away from a beast that angry is going to meet with a very sticky end.
"What big teeth you have... and this is me. Running the opposite direction."
Thanks so much for taking the time to read the scene that goes with it. The title and image are supposed to be somewhat misleading, but when coupled with what actually happens, you think, "Ohh... I got it all backwards..."
It is very well done! It makes you think- looking at the image by itself with the title, you form a very quick conclusion. But then after reading the little story, you're forced to look at the picture through another not-so-obvious perspective. I like that
away time is back
:D! This time I've
got 1500pts to give
away c:The last
giveaway was really
well received so I'm
doing another! After
the way the last one
panned out, one
thing I would like
to remind you guys
of is to PLEASE
PLEASE follow the
guidelines so you
can be properly...
A few days ago we
had a chat to
issues and solutions
(see the original
thanks to everyone
who came and raised
took 45 minutes for
the volume of talk
to max out Sta.sh
limit and this chat
went for two more
Even though summer
is imminent, you
often find yourself
on your couch,
watching Honey Boo
Boo, thinking; "I'm
rather chilly o_o.
OMG I'M CHILLY." .
would rather blast
the air conditioning
and bundle up then
turn it down and
rely on the earth to
There are ten days
left to submit to
the Louder Than dA
folder. With that
being said, I'm
putting out an
article that offers
some tips and quick
problems a poet may
be facing when
writing their slam
poem. But very
quickly, I would
like to address a
`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More