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Freedom and flight

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Summer's tale

Sir Trefor started; as he turned, he saw
the shining girl who met him in the field.
His body wanted desperately to yield,
but conscience ever dragged at him the more.

“I am the Child of Summer;
you saw me in the field.
My mother is Aurorielle,
in part her power I wield.”

“Maiden, the Fay unto mortals may speak;
but you are not they, so your help I’ll not seek.
For the dead are denied with the living to meet,
and I sorely repent of my soul’s former heat.”

“Sir Trefor, you’re mistaken;
you have the Fairy Sight.
’Twas given as a gift to you,
so using it is right.

Besides that, though my body
lies dead, and life has ceased,
my spirit lingers listless here,
until my blood’s released.”

“If by the pow’r that was given to me
I see you indeed, then my heart must agree.
But your body is buried; where then is your blood?
For I saw your sad grave by the Durrinelm’s flood.”

“Sir Robert kept us captive -
four children lost in fear –
until his towers grew complete,
and then he slaughtered here

one child for each fair tower;
and to each tow’r he gave
the names the witch-hag chose us first,
his future so to save.

As long as there are seasons,
our names shall still be known;
and whilst our names retain their fame,
our mother sleeps, alone.

He mixed our blood with mortar
to join these towers’ fate
forever to our names, which he
believes will make them great.

His sorcerers have told him
that mortar mixed with blood
will save these towers eternally
from fire, war and flood.”

“Hatred and loathing can barely begin
describing the horror of Robert’s great sin!
Can he really believe that this sorcery black
will protect him, should Arthur arrive and attack?”

“Indeed it will not aid him;
he killed for mere belief
that doing so would make secure
his realm. False his relief.

His sorcerers will tell him
whate’er he wants to hear.
And so our lives were forfeit,
we poor Seasons of the Year.”

She sighed; though she had known the Fay since death,
to speak with humankind brought real relief;
she’d needed one to tell about her grief,
but never spoke with those who drew a breath.

“In infancy abandoned,
Sir Robert took me in;
though just a babe, I longed for him
to treat me like his kin.

But Robert never wanted
to father any child;
he needed to entrap a Fay
within his island wild.

And so the witch-hag used us
to catch the Queen of Fay;
but though we lay in silence, drugged,
alone I heard her say:

I take their dream, and therefore sleep
to hold the dream in slumbers deep
while they shall wake, and sow, and reap.
This, till their names shall pass, I keep.

These are the words that free her –
the Fay, Aurorielle.
Go now to her, Sir Trefor, and
those words will break the spell.

A living mouth must speak them,
and take the dream by choice;
or otherwise we seasons four
would gladly lend our voice

and sleep in turn for mother;
the only one we knew.
She showed us kindness, care, and love -
no less for her we’d do.

Your task, to be the sleeper;
to set Aurorielle free.
And then throughout all Logres, she’ll
once more bless field and tree.

And so you sleep for Arthur,
until his land shall fall.
At that the Fay depart, as they
obey their Master’s call.”

“Never I thought that I’d go from the stone
to taking the place of a Fay; all alone
must I face the long years in a hag’s evil dream?
Is that truly the point of sage Merlin’s sad scheme?

This does not sound like the manner of God,
but I have to confess that although it seems odd,
all my way he’s enabled as if it were paved;
and already my life on the stone he once saved.

If this is truly the will of the Lord,
I promised to serve him; it can’t be ignored
that the land will soon perish without summer’s sun,
and that famine will ravish the land when it’s done.

I have received from the Lord second life;
and if he require I give back what the knife
would have taken from me, on that stone on the hill,
I can not now regret thus to honour his will.

Had I recanted my faith at the first,
my countrymen would not have done me their worst.
So my choice, I can see, is already made plain;
Jesus saved me the once, He can save me again.”

But even so, the boy now sadly wept;
pale shimm’ring, insubstantial arms him held.
Compassion, mixed with pity, grew and swelled;
then Summer knew at last her heart she’d kept.
For all the years since Robert took her in,
her poor short life knew nothing but despair;
her heart was healed to care for Trefor there,
and so her spirit found death could not win.
Sudden inside her aching heart she found
a sparkling, shining shard set free from woes,
from which an inner joy at last arose;
her life had never ended in the mound.
For all men she had known would kill and lie;
but Trefor for his God prepared to die.

In Trefor courage grew as summer sun
grows golden wheat that swiftly rises high.
Within that chamber, sacred was the sigh
of breath belovéd, once his tears were done.
A sister now he knew her in his heart,
a fellow sufferer in life’s travails,
who comes to understand him when he fails,
and knowing this, he faces proud his part.
What if he lost his life, all slept away?
This earthly world he’d said was but a dream;
and so if sleeping long was heaven’s scheme,
to help such ones as this he’d face the day.
The first time now he found what grown men know;
where dare they not, for women will they go.

“Dear God, if this is truly how to win
the vict’ry over Robert’s hated sin,
then all my life is not too much to give;
rather than fail my friends, I dare not live.”

“Dear brother, you are growing,
and join the ranks of men;
your heart has changed,
and none will ever call you boy again.

How sad my heart for you now;
and not, for once, myself.
No noble sacrifice can grace
the station of an Elf.

And now you make me wonder;
if so, Aurorielle
has made a choice; what can this mean,
in heaven, or in hell?

The Fay took all their choices
the day that they were made;
and now the falling fairy fair
within the isle is laid.

Here things are passing strangely;
I stop to wonder why.
Are angels making choices, then,
eloping from the sky?

She slept for earthly children;
now if for her you sleep,
who knows what God has done for us,
until your slumbers deep?”

“Your care is something I had never known;
not since my sainted mother’s early death.
How glad I am that you were blessed with breath,
as much that I survived the blighted stone.

But how shall I escape this dizzy tower?
I have no means to leave its cold embrace.
How could I climb its damp and clammy face,
and yet survive to reach the isle this hour?”

“The apple you were given
is quite enough for me
to save you from this tower tall;
I’ll quickly set you free.

Please drop it in the moat now,
beside the walls, with care;
just trust me! I control the power
that grows the flowers fair!”

Thus trusting, Trefor drops the proffered fruit;
and in the moat below it stops, and stays.
Fair Summer speeds the role that nature plays.
She softly sings, and far below a shoot
starts rising to the sky beside the tower;
it twists its trunk, and rapidly grows thick.
Nothing on earth could ever grow so quick;
an apple tree in fruit within an hour!
Sir Trefor keeps his silence while she sings,
and knows his troubles now reduce to one;
where in the castle could the horse have gone?
And can he reach the isle ere morning brings
returning troops to Robert’s little lair?
Will time remain to wake the sleeper fair?

The tree, unseen by guards, she grew with guile;
in just three hours, it reached the little ledge.
Her heart rejoiced to think of Trefor’s pledge
to help her mother flee the silent isle.
Red Mars went raging o’er the world’s dark rim
as Summer showed the way from prison grim.

“Dear Trefor, here we part, for I must stay;
from hereon I will only slow your course.
Remember me in gladness, not remorse;
for in the end the Lord will one glad day
unite us all in heaven. Be at peace,
and I will ask him earnest your release!”

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