Listen to Let Me Tell You by m b blissett
When I am holding
My guts in
I think of you
And it kills the pain
What a gift it is
And how I reward
Stroking light beneath
Pinned and delighted
To elysian shores
To heal a king
Lover is to have
Them serve you
With an attention
Tenfold the force
His eyes itched and sunk into their sockets at the first rays of light which struck his upturned face. Movement stabbed bright bolts of pain down his spine when he tried to move. Sensation returned to him by degrees.
The liquid brush of silk beneath his skin was a surprise. He lifted a trembling hand and tested the fur throw which covered his lower half, taking a cautious pleasure in the comfort it offered. Eilhu shifted upwards and looked around him. The stone walls held ornate tapestries, woven with threads of silk and dyed wool. Patterns and sigils of various houses, some of whom were apparent in his memories and the fragments of education afforded him. Perspiration clung beneath his arms and the backs of his thighs.
‘You’ve become quite the young man, Eilhu.’
The man sat in the corner of the room, with long, black hair tied away from his face. He had gleaming, crystalline blue eyes set in their sockets like precious stones. The years had burned excess flesh, and each swallow showed the shift of his anatomy. Tendons shifted in his throat and muscles throbbed along his jawline. He wore a simple hooded robe and his feet were bare, and through the veil of years, Eilhu recognised the man.
Eilhu’s eyes brimmed with tears as he brought his hand to his mouth.
‘How did you find me?’ he said.
The corners of Paul’s mouth turned upwards and he entwined his long, ink-stained fingers together, rested his forearms on his thighs.
‘I never stopped looking.’ He said.
Paul’s voice was a terse whisper, a bulwark against the pain of his injuries, and the years which imposed upon them.
‘Where are my parents?’ Eilhu said.
Paul lowered his head and pressed his palm over his heart. He grimaced and Eilhu watched the controlled shudder which wrestled his control from him.
‘Their suffering is over. If only they were here to see this day.’ He said.
Eilhu blinked and laid still, pinned beneath the point of revelation as it struck him through his middle.
‘How long?’ Eilhu said.
Three years. His mother first, then his father.
‘Grief and loss take their toll, Eilhu. They grieved for you without pause or restraint. Or appeared to.’ He said.
Eilhu touched his throat, the skin still burning from where the length of rope had bitten into him. The injury of Paul’s words compounded his physical injuries and made him turn onto his side, bringing his knees to his chest.
‘They searched for me? All this time?’
Paul shook his head, lines cutting into the white skin of his forehead.
‘No, I did.’
He ran his tongue over his teeth and sat back in his chair.
‘Eilhu, your parents loved you. Your kidnap took a great deal from them.’ he said.
Eilhu’s ear heard an unspoken sentiment, polite in waiting its turn for acknowledgement.
Paul stared around the room.
‘But death and time demand truth, so I say this to you, they were weak.’ He said.
Eilhu flinched and swallowed, the prickling burn in his throat made acidic by the sorrow which coated each breath.
‘Their weakness was their narcissism and self-obsession. Too absorbed to see the damage they did to everyone around them.’ he said.
Eilhu leaned forwards and clutched the fur.
‘You kidnap me, bring me here and tell me this? Why?’ he said.
Paul’s face was a composition in control.
‘So you understand.’ Paul said.
Eilhu hummed with dread as he sat there, pulled apart by a conflicting series of emotions and taunted by events.
‘I ran away, Uncle.’ He said.
Paul gave a slow nod and stared at his nephew.
‘You were a child. Subject to wild, powerful magic and unable to resist its call.’ He said.
Eilhu shook his head.
‘I asked if I could leave with him.’ He said.
Paul hid his surprise but Eilhu caught its passing.
‘You were afraid of your father’s response.’ Paul said.
Eilhu nodded. Warm pride arose within him, bound by the fresh manacles of obligation and injury.
Paul’s impassive expression darkened into a tight, pinched scowl.
‘Eilhu, I had reason to believe otherwise.’ He said.
The implication leapt between them. In his imagination, it bared sharp, blood-stained teeth and drew claws across the flanks of his soul.
‘What have you done, uncle?’ Eilhu said.
Paul stood up, wincing with the effort as he looked at Eilhu.
‘I did what was necessary. Nothing more.’ He said.
He opened the door, a maid brought a bowl of rich broth, a clay flagon of water and set fresh clothes at the foot of the bed. She did not acknowledge Paul or Eilhu beyond a casual look.
Eilhu noted how she shivered in their presence and wondered what form the rule of his uncle had taken.
Paul stepped out of the chamber, eyes glinting with a cold, implacable regard as he looked at his nephew. The maid stood there.
‘You have no cause to fear me.’ Eilhu said.
The maid blushed and looked at her feet.
‘No, your highness, I don’t.’ she said.
Eilhu prepared to ask her more, but she left him alone. He was not hungry, but the water soothed his throat and the clothes fitted him.
Paul had thought of everything.
Eilhu was unsure, but the thought terrified him.
He dreamed of maidens, giggling and playing in cool, clear streams. The rhythms of their bodies stirred his appetite into anaesthesia, which remained in place as the cell door opened.
‘You took care of him.’
The manacles rattled and both men looked at one another.
‘He was a boy and I saw the gold inside him.’
The man stood with his hands by his side.
‘It was not yours to take.’ He said.
In the dark, chained and exhausted, he smiled at his captor with a fierceness of spirit.
‘You might chain me up in darkness, ignore me but you know who I am, and how I will rise again.’
The man chuckled.
‘Not this time, Wild Man.’ He said.
The cell door closed and in the darkness, he waited.
To paint pleasure
Into the warm tender places
To lick like I’m healing
To tighten and arch against
Emptiness and fullness
In the same instant
Because I can take off
The armour I wear
Rest against you
And feel safe
Once upon a time, Eilhu wandered through the forest, as far as he had when he was a child, lost and cramped from hunger.
He kept his bow slung over his shoulder, his sword in its sheath as he walked, searching for signs of The Wild Man’s passing. The trees reached overhead, their branches blocking out the wan traces of sun which hung in the sky. Roots emerged from the soil like bones and he took care to step over each one. Eilhu had known the auspices of nature, cruel in how they refused to spare the weak but beautiful in the abundance it provided to those who held the terrain in esteem. Birds sung to one another, the damp, restless struggle of small wildlife rose to his ears as he searched. He had tied his golden hair back, tucked under a leather hood and wearing boiled leather armour, in a myriad of shades.
It suited him to wear common clothes to hunt in.
His emotions growled and pulled in their restraints. He would wake in the mornings, suffused with a spreading bleakness, like an insect had bitten him in the night, suffusing his limbs with a poisonous gravity. Each breath wore the rime of winter upon it, but despite his lassitude, he moved with purpose. Eilhu wanted absolution to cleanse the taint of guilt which hung between him and Mirabelle. Had they spoken of it, he wondered?
He spoke through his actions, leaving the interpretation to others but hoping the meaning did not escape them. Words were not adequate vessels for the depths of his feeling any more than a tapestry could capture the roar of a wild beast. Eilhu was not a troubadour, but he knew himself and acted in it. He feared his silence would grow impenetrable, creating a barrier between him and Mirabelle but he feared her rejection for his weakness even more.
A crack of a branch to his left echoed towards him, rippling and turning on the still air. He glanced in its direction. The bow slipped into his hands with an arrow notched and ready as he dropped into a crouch. The sound captured his attention and he moved in its direction, his posture and attention transformed by activity. Eilhu, without the help of The Wild Man, bore his instruction well and with each angled step, he moved with poise and focus. His actions were a way to assuage his own feelings and to prove his innocence to Mirabelle.
The Wild Man, like all men, was unknown to Eilhu, let alone himself.
He circled a thick copse of trees, breathing in through his nose to keep himself calm without losing his aim, lowering the bow to improve his position.
The mastiff growled at him, its black lips pulled back over sharp, yellowed teeth as it lowered its haunches. Eilhu stepped back and glanced about him.
He knew the dog; the breed had been a perennial favourite of huntsmen but his connection was more intimate and confusing. He respected animals, but he did not lower the bow.
The mastiff had one eye rheumy over, bisected by a thick, white scar which snaked down it’s muzzle but it appraised him with a trained attention. Ropes of drool swung from its mouth but it remained in position.
Eilhu took a step backwards. The mastiff stayed still and Eilhu’s intuition bubbled with concern.
The first blow took him upside the head. A fist aimed at his temple made his vision blur as he turned to address his attacker. His feet kicked out from underneath him and he hit the ground hard, the breath squeezed from his lungs as he rolled onto his side, hand on his sword and ready to fight.
His opponent had moved around, and before Eilhu could draw his sword, a length of woven rope snapped taut around his throat, dragged up to his feet as the rope bit deep. Eilhu grasped at the rope, kicking backwards as he fought for breath. His opponent grunted and shoved himself away without relinquishing the grip until Eilhu felt the edges of his mind darken and enclose upon him. Each breath was a promise unfulfilled but needed, and as he fought, his will to act ebbed. He gouged his fingers into the backs of the man’s hands but they brushed, useless against the black leather gauntlets he wore.
Eilhu fought until his breath left him and then knew no more. A blurred outline stood over him and slipped the rope from his throat, bound it over his wrists and knotted it with a languid expertise before he picked up Eilhu and dragged him further into the woods. The mastiff got to its feet and followed them both.
Carrey did not dress as a noble when he set out. He wore rough leathers, with a crossbow and a pair of hatchets worn on his hips. The diction of his voice would betray him, but Carrey had practiced a regional accent. Riding out offered him a cogent means to connect with his purpose, but his mission weighed upon him with an unease he could not define. Eilhu was not like other men, but it presented a motive which made Mirabelle’s decision a matter of logic over emotion.
It carried the weight of betrayal, and Carrey moved slow to accommodate its burdens.
The cold iron burned with each contact.
He remained silent, and their threats made him laugh at a volume thought to be madness.
His captors slipped out of the cell, locking and closing the doors behind them.
Within the womb of darkness, he sat there and waited.
Listen to All You Are by m b blissett #np on #SoundCloud
There are times
When i, always a gentleman,
Shed my skin and relinquish
Being a gentle man
heavy with desire
Need as I bend you
Not a transformation
But a reveal like dusk
Squeeze you beneath
As I take you
Fucking you into surrender
A holy fire burns through us
I shudder and grunt
Furred and exposed to you
I listen and read you
I am that which turns
Pain and wrath
Into an ecstasy
The stars dim in envy
And afterwards speak
Restored and absorbing
Mirabelle and Sir Carrey sat in the Queen’s chamber now. Their mutual witness and incipient guilt at the death of their king, and her father bonded them beyond fealty.
The arrow laid on the round, oak table between them, on a swatch of black silk, handled with a slow care which befitted its awful role presence in their lives.
Carrey found his eyes drawn to the glowing symbols set along the shaft, passed to the scholars of the kingdom, whose worn fingers danced along ancient texts in search of meaning and found none in recent memory. The arrowhead remained sharp, its edges marred with a black tarred substance which carried the bitter tang of roots and leaves distilled to dust and essence. No one touched the head without protection on Carrey’s orders, but an apothecary and the head gardener had studied the substance for its origin.
Mirabelle stared at the arrow with pain and hatred, fighting the urge to snatch it up and break it in two between her hands.
‘We have nothing?’ she said.
Carrey sighed and rubbed his face, exhausted from the relentless pace of the investigation and his own, unspoken guilt. He had sworn an oath to defend the king and stood before its failure. He had gone out into the field, offered rewards and threatened violence against anyone who might have gained from the king’s death but it had all been for nothing.
‘Aside from this.’ He said.
Mirabelle sighed. Eilhu was out in the forest and she ached for his presence to reassure her, but it was thin comfort as he conducted the terrible, bright burden of her grief through his own manner and actions.
‘The arrow is unusual.’ He said.
She pursed her lips together and stared at the arrow. Her education had vaulted to unknown heights and part of it had been admiring lectures on the craftsmanship of the offending arrow. It held no record in the military histories and intelligence of the surrounding kingdoms, aside from references to hedge magic which made her skin prickle with gooseflesh.
‘It is not the arrow which concerns me but the hand which wielded it.’ She said.
Carrey leaned over the table and looked at her.
‘We must follow each sign to its origin, your highness. Leave no stone unturned and we shall uncover who ordered this.’ He said.
Mirabelle wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and gazed around the room. Duty was cold, lonely work and she took it upon herself to spare anyone the worst excesses of grief, aside from Eilhu.
‘Then?’ she said.
Carrey frowned and sat back in his chair.
‘Justice, your highness.’ He said.
Her head throbbed with withheld emotion.
‘None of it will bring him back.’ She said.
Her voice betrayed her, and she caught the emotion before it spilled outwards. A woman’s tears were a weapon with a cold ease of application. Mirabelle took a deep breath and sat up in the chair.
‘No, but his descendants and subjects. An assassin strikes at memory and reputation.’ He said.
Carrey’s words held bitter experience. He was a man of honour, a titled noble with an impeccable reputation. Still, a man for all his station and the man had committed acts of ill repute to break the back of a situation.
‘Carrey, who do you believe has done this?’ she said.
He clapped his hands together and exhaled through his nose, lowering his eyes as he retreated to his intuition and found an answer.
‘Not Roderick or his ilk. The nature of an action reveals its origin.’ He said.
They looked at one another, searching for reassurance in a time when it had fled their grasp.
He pointed to the arrow.
‘It is rough, old magic within this arrow. We closed down the castle and found no trace of an assassin. Your highness, we are not dealing with matters of state here but something else.’ He said.
Mirabelle stared at the arrow and wanted to snatch it up, crack it into splinters and stamp upon them. Such impulses were not appropriate for a princess, least of all a queen.
‘Are we dealing with it, Carrey? Eilhu hunts in forest shadow and we sit there, thwarted and sick with lack of success. How is it a strategy?’ she said.
Carrey’s lower lip trembled. He bit into it and turned his head.
‘I know the simple fact of sword against shield, the invisible web of obligation and diplomacy but magic combines the worst of both.’ He said.
Mirabelle folded her hands over one another and pressed her lips together.
‘Yet the one man who knows more of it is almost silent on the subject.’ She said.
Carrey straightened in his chair and regarded his queen.
‘You would have me follow him?’ he said.
Mirabelle bit the inside of her lip and turned her head to hide her gaze, gave a tight, choked nod and Carrey understood.
‘I will be discreet.’ He said.
His words were thin, crumbling on his palate and dry as dust. Mirabelle stared at him, eyes aglow with guilt and grief. Each decision was uglier, bred from rough, desperate stock and bearing the scars of their parents, duty and obligation.
Carrey got up, bowed from the waist and left his queen to her devices.
She looked outside, the sun was high and bright, golden like Eilhu’s hair and the betrayal sat in her stomach, a poisonous meal which would kill her by degrees. Mirabelle stared at the arrow and cursed it with every fibre of her being. Her hate was such, she imagined plucking the arrow up and tossing it with enough force to find the assassin and strike them dead. The world resisted her wishes, and she sat, amidst a standing army, a population of loyal, grieving subjects and a consort who had gone out to hunt her father’s murderer down.
Mirabelle had set the former against the latter, and it made her sick to the stomach with guilt.