#1627

[ The video opens on a room so dark nothing can be seen outside the harsh glow of the computer screen. Sitting in that glow, Daren seems another part of the darkness in the black shirt which covers him to the neck and wrists. Set against that darkness, his skin glows ghostly white. He stares absently off to the side as if he has not noticed the webcam records him. ]

DAREN:

I know what you’re doing. (speaking softly, as if to himself) I told you not to, and yet you persist. You are truly a foolish man.

(sighs and turns to face the screen, looking directly into the camera)

I know you’re here. I can feel you, somewhere in this city. I wonder what you do to pass the time? Do you wander these foreign streets in the hopes of sighting me in the crowd, or finding me in some back alley? Or do you lose yourself in drink and danger, hoping I’ll come to collect you before one of your nightly paramours goes too far?

(lifts his right hand into view, dropping his eyes to watch the little silver blade he weaves between his fingers)

I won’t come, you know. Not tonight, not tomorrow night, or any other night after those. I am not coming. You can’t seem to grasp that concept, which is a pity. You know me. You know I don’t change my mind once I have decided. And this is decided. I am not coming

(turns his eyes back to the camera, lips thinned in the barest scowl)

So instead, you came to me. That wasn’t the agreement. That’s not how this works. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough on our parting? But your scars should serve as a reminder if your memory fails. (thoughtfully, eyes on the blade again) Not that you can forget me, can you? I’m not an unkind man, though, so I’ll give you one more warning.

(snaps the blade shut and leans toward the camera)

Go home, Tanim. I am not yours to pursue. I left you alive once; I will not again. It would be best to remember that. After all, I keep my promises – even if you do not.

[ Daren rises to his feet and one white hand moves to shut off the webcam. The video ends. ]

#1626

[ The video opens on a smiling Mage seated in a computer chair, her feet propped up on the desk in front of her, fingers steepled beneath her chin. She sits too close to the computer screen for much of the dark room behind her to be glimpsed, but the shadowed items resemble the expected; weapons, armor, occult objects, and monsters that may or may not really be there. ]

MAGE:

Hello, friends. (wiggling fingers at the screen in greeting) You are, I expect, surprised to see me here. It’s true I usually favor more…indirect… means of communication, but this seems best for the task at hand. You see, (frowning) I believe there have been some misconceptions as to my motives in our past interactions, though I of course (placing hand on heart) take all the blame for the confusion.

(lowers legs and leans closer to the screen)

It’s not that we aren’t friends, or that I don’t like you. I do, really. You’re good people, even if you do have awful taste in music. It’s just… (gesturing vaguely at the computer screen) all this? It’s not tenable. I mean, Peter Pan, really? Is that really the fairy tale you want to emulate? The one with the gang of emotionally-stunted anarchist children lead by a predator who brainwashes kids into leaving their loving families to go die for the sake of his personal vendetta?

(mouths “wow” with clear skepticism, then sighs abruptly and gives the screen a sympathetic look)

Look, I get it. I had family problems too. Mother out of the picture, father who just didn’t understand me… it’s practically a cliche. But do you see me whining about how I never got a real childhood and was thrown out into the cold, harsh wilderness to fend for myself? No, (jabbing her finger at the screen) because I’m not a pussy. I didn’t wallow in misfortune, I used it to my advantage! I struck out on my own and made something of myself. A pretty impressive something, too (pointing with both hands to her body appreciatively). So don’t think I don’t understand. I’ve been there, too. I’m not doing this because I hate you. I’m doing this because, well…

(shrugs and throws up her hands as if helpless)

Your little fantasy world has to be destroyed. It’s nothing personal, that’s just the way things are. (waves hand at the computer screen, shaking her head) This world full of fairy dust and fireworks and free hugs and shit, it can’t be allowed to remain. (pointing offscreen) There’s a real world out there that you have to face one day, one full of concrete and pain and growing up–

(smiles widely)

–and I’ve been chosen to show you that world. To plunge you kicking and screaming into it, if I have to. But no hard feelings, right? After all, every story has to have a villain. Aren’t you lucky I’m yours?

[ Mage winks and leans forward to switch off the webcam. The video ends. ]

#1625

long ago, the story goes
the sun and moon were much in love
and met each dawn to share a kiss
as they passed on the horizon
long ago, the story goes
the sun and moon were lovers, brothers
lords of separate, parallel realms
one of darkness and one of light

in the dark of wintertime
we sing to the moon
we sing to the moon
in the harsh heat of summer
we sing to the sun
we sing to the sun

long ago, the story goes
they met one morn’ to share their kiss
yet instead the moon drew out his blade
and ran his brother through without a word
long ago, the story goes
the sun thus gave his final breath
there in the arms of traitorous love
and dying, yet spake forgiveness

in the dark of wintertime
we sing to the moon
we sing to the moon
in the harsh heat of summer
we sing to the sun
we sing to the sun

long ago, the story goes
the moon in mourning called down winter
’til all the land was dark and bleak
a time of grief and lamentation
long ago, the story goes
the moon swore penance, swore his life
and sealed the sacrifice with a kiss
the kiss yet owed his beloved

in the dark of wintertime
we sing to the moon
we sing to the moon
in the harsh heat of summer
we sing to the sun
we sing to the sun

long ago, the story goes
the sun arose, no mark upon him
returning summer to the land
banishing the dark of winter
long ago, the story goes
the sun then drew his shining blade
and ran his lover-killer through
though tears like gold streamed down his face

in the dark of wintertime
we sing to the moon
we sing to the moon
in the harsh heat of summer
we sing to the sun
we sing to the sun

and so today, the story goes
we celebrate the moon’s betrayal
his bringing of the longest night
and honor the winter solstice
and so today, the story goes
we celebrate the sun’s resurrection
and honor the summer solstice

in the dark of wintertime
we sing to the moon
we sing to the moon
in the harsh heat of summer
we sing to the sun
we sing to the sun

in the dark of wintertime
we sing to the moon
in the harsh heat of summer
we sing to the sun

#1624

Dua Bast, oh Bright One, oh Lady of the East!
Protect us from all fires which may threaten our health and home, from wayward sparks to hungry infernos.
Lady of the Flame, command Your sacred burning creature to pass over and leave us untouched this night, that we may live to see Your dawn triumph over darkness and sing Your praises.
Dua Bast, oh Fiery One, oh She Who Is Without Equal! Dua Bast!

[ I originally wrote this prayer to be used over July 4th, but considering that most of Washington state is on fire right now… not a bad one to use more often. ]

#1623

Ace of Pentacles – material goals/ good fortune will come your way/ use it to create

Two of Pentacles – with the means to work/ now is the time to take risks/ so make things happen

Three of Pentacles – teamwork earns success/ be patient, cooperate/ two will achieve more

Four of Pentacles – miserly spirit/ afraid to lose anything/ embrace loss, be free

Five of Pentacles – trouble, depression/ neglecting the heart and soul/ seek the ray of light

Six of Pentacles – generous spirit/ as you give, so will you get/ faith will be restored

Seven of Pentacles – time to make a choice/ reap what you have sown, or wait?/ consider outcomes

Eight of Pentacles – become the novice/ embrace practice and learning/ nurture a new skill

Nine of Pentacles – acknowledge your strengths/ confidence is rightly earned/ strong sense of self-worth

Ten of Pentacles – lasting achievement/ financial security/ time of peace and joy

Page of Pentacles – energy to build/ as long as you are willing/ opportunity

Knight of Pentacles – humble, steadfast, true/ be down-to-earth, reliable/ old ways are proved good

Queen of Pentacles – sensual and strong/ a self-sufficient spirit/ always generous

King of Pentacles – a richness of life/ everything touched turns to gold/ wise father figure

#1622

Ace of Swords – mental energy/ a new world view emerging/ conflict begets change

Two of Swords – denial of truth/ conflict is at an impasse/ open eyes and heart

Three of Swords – heartache, isolation/ let yourself break down and weep/ this wound must be cleansed

Four of Swords – seek enlightenment/ withdraw inside yourself, rest/ tap your inner strength

Five of Swords – admit your limits/ you have taken on too much/ swallow pride and fear

Six of Swords – conflict has drained you/ now you have a chance to rest/ the storm is passing

Seven of Swords – life may require wit/ deception, diplomacy/ don’t let it blind you

Eight of Swords – indecisiveness/ situation seems hopeless/ always a way out

Nine of Swords – fear of the future/ look inside to find its source/ cast aside your doubts

Ten of Swords – uncontrollable/ yes, the fall will be painful/ ride it out and heal

Page of Swords – mental powers grow/ logic over emotion/ new ways of thinking

Knight of Swords – mind’s fierce energy/ one is driven to their goal/ don’t be too hasty

Queen of Swords – noble ideals, yes/ but don’t demand perfection/ you are still human

King of Swords – smart and capable/ embody the great leader/ confident and wise

#1621

I think I like you, little warrior, with your fierce eyes and eager mouth, your callouses and tumbling locks. You have the heart of a wolf, the pack hunter determined to serve its role, defend its alpha. You have the mind of a swordsman, always on the alert for danger, ready to protect the beloved. You make love like an acolyte in the presence of her god, a knight pledging to his king. I could see you on board my ship, sailing the dark seas alongside myself and my godcrew. I could see you in my chambers, burnished skin and supple curves. Yes, I think you more than worthy of Us, to have come so far so boldly. So, little warrior, little wolf, are you brave enough to sail with me?