There is a scholar. She shadows boneyards and sun rotten battlefields, picking through the dead with gloved hands. Crows call affronted to one another, noting the strange scavenger among them. The thrum of swollen corpse flies drowns them out.
She searches, tossing away red stained bones and soaked cloth. Some choice individuals go into her cart, but most remain offal, useless to her and the world their souls so recently departed.
Long ago she took an oath, to heal, to do no harm. The dead are beyond her aid, and past injury. It makes things simple, and simple in these times is valuable. There are lessons here, amidst the swollen bodies and empty eyes, if someone is willing to find them.
Above the fields the night sky loses more stars. Briefly, she pulls her gaze from the dead at her feet. The scholar watches the light dive behind the mountains, she imagines they hit the great ocean beyond with the hiss of dying fire.
She harvests until her cart is full. Some people die, some don’t, and the stars fall. The scholar seeks to know why.
There is a prince. He hovers near the table’s head, and in the modest watchtowers overlooking the ocean’s horizon. Those who pass him in the warm, smoke filled, hallways do not trouble him out of hand. He is assumed to be busy, he usually is.
The wooden battlements are nothing more than short wood walls on which they place guards and the occasional barrell. He walks them nonetheless, exchanging small words with the smiling soldiers who man them. They like him, everyone does, in the way one appreciates a sharp knife or a full sail. It does its job, and without complaint.
In the depths of the night, something anticipatory coils inside his chest. The lantern oil burns low on the prince’s desk. He rests there, fallen in the line of duty over letters, maps, and treatises. A collapsing light hauls him from sleep.
Out past the shore and waves arcs of pale gold fall from the sky, brilliant against the black mass of sky and sea. The prince stands and stares. He does not know what it means, only that the stars are falling again and that he cannot go back to sleep.
There is a servant. She slides through gilded hallways and out into stinking pig yards and stables. The night is not young, her shift was long and late, but there is life yet if one looks hard enough. She is willing to brave sore feet and slow wits tomorrow for diversion tonight.
The hostlers smile at her, their teeth obscured behind smoke. She leaves them with only a wave of her fingers. They flick smoldering twists of paper and herb into the mud with long-learned disappointment. She follows the sounds the fire and music down to the sand.
Waves reflect the towering flames and the shadows cast by the young. They lean into each other’s warmth even as they shy from the snapping fire. Some dance, others walk and drink deep mouthfuls of sweet ale. The servant finds many welcoming arms to linger in.
A hand at her neck, another on the angle of her hip, it is not hard to keep them at bay with wide-eyed words. She turns his focus from her face to the black water. They forget each other.
Pale stars fall from the sky even as the fire’s embers rise upwards to meet them. Both wink out, extinguished by the dark swaths of air and water. The servant gathers her skirts and leaves the other gaping at the sky. She wades into the surf as if she could pluck the lost light from the cold waves.
There is a thief. She darts through parlor, and alleyway, and den. Her eyes are blue and rheumy, her eyes are bright black, her eyes are lined and cold. No one knows her behind the stolen eyes, or protests when she walks stolen feet and stolen faces past watchman into stateroom, coffer, and chamber.
She opens her eyes. They are grey and framed by dark lashes. Her body is slight, weak-limbed and shivering. She leaves her room, wrapping wool and silk about her shoulders and neck. The common room raises their eyes to her.
No one calls out in greeting, or invites her to a table. There is no offer of food or drink, she can simply take such things if she wished. They pay their respects instead with silence and quick disregard. She returns it and moves to the door before the odd loneliness begins to sting.
The spires and lit glass of the capital city dull the sky. Behind the luminescent haze of cloud and polluting light, the stars fall unseen. The thief wonders if the king in his white towers can feel them fall.
Another music challenge, this week I dared Raw Rambles with Emilie Autumn’s Shalott. We both wrote something spawned in some way from the song below, which in turn came from Emilie Autumn’s interpretation of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem.