AR 1211-09 and 10 Yari Goes a Little Crazy -or- An Excuse for Poetry
30 SEPTEMBER 1211 – 01 OCTOBER 1211, 21:00 – 03:30
A cool, north wind blew gently through the sparse trees, rustling hundreds of drying leaves in the bluish light of the autumn moon. Thousands, millions of stars danced around the lunar circle, singing an otherworldly song only they could hear. Elsie shivered and snuggled closer into Yari.
From their vantage point, perched side-by-side high upon the thatched roof of the inn, the two amores could see for miles. The land, lightly dusted in a layer of snow, reflected the full moon, illuminating everything as though it were a silvery midday. Not for the first time, Jarl Hastae inhaled deeply, taking in every sensation he could and savoring them.
The smell of the straw beneath him, of the trees’ scent on the wind, of Elsie’s hair. The warmth of her body, contrasted by the chill of the approaching winter. The sound of their heartbeats, thumping in time together, and together with the rhythm of the Universe; the sound of the wind through the trees that brought with it the promise of harsh, cold months to come. The view of Eternity, splayed naked, exposed before them on the night’s sky, slowly spinning, slowly dancing in concert with the rhythm of their hearts, of their souls. The taste of her lips, still lingering on his. It was good to be alive!
Echoing off the valley walls came the howl of a lone wolf, savage and untamed, as though it too felt the same pressure Yari felt in his chest, and needed the same release. Caught up in the moment, the boy threw his head back and answered the howl with one of his own, scaring Elsie. He pulled her back to him and held her close, bumping her shoulder with the side of his head reassuringly. That seemed to do the trick, and she relaxed again into his embrace.
Within moments, the valley was rocked by a frenzy of responses. Howls, yips, barks, roars, caws; it seemed as though every primal beast for miles around was sounding off for attendance. We are alive! Elsie and Yari listened to the cacophonous chorus in silence for a long while, until it finally died down. She shook again, though not from the cold.
“Foot prints,” Yari whispered, suddenly. Elsie gave him a quizzical look. His eyes were mirrors to the starry void above them, dark and cold and uncaring. For the first time since she had met him, Elsie was frightened of Yari. Seemingly oblivious to this, the boy continued, staring out into nothing, everything.
|Tracking across the forested hill,|
|Snow dyed blue in the moon.|
|A call just ahead|
|Welcomed the night,|
|And bade it safe return.|
|An echo then,|
|Sounding further down the slope,|
|Spoke of work yet to be done.|
|The night could well|
|Take care itself;|
|The pack was on the run.|
|Those beautiful two cries!|
|A wild thing never to be tamed.|
|I was not afraid|
|Standing on that hill,|
|But was trembling just the same.|
He fell quiet for a long while, unmoving, as Elsie continued to study him, trying to decide if she should run away. Finally deciding to be brave, she leaned in and kissed his cheek. Immediately, he was back with her, eyes sparkling their normal bright blue. Yari shook his head slightly, as though coming out of a trance, and then smiled at her.
“Hey,” said he.
“Hey,” said she.
And, then they kissed some more.
01-02 OCTOBER 1211, 17:45 – 00:10
It took a special kind of friend to be able to sit together in silence for hours on end without it getting weird. Yari had a lot of friends, but not very many who fit that description. He could probably count on one hand the number of people he could comfortably spend hours with, without speaking, and it not feel uncomfortable.
His father, his sister, Wolf – strangely enough – Elsie, and Sardi. Yup, just one hand! Was that a good thing, or a bad thing? Maybe it was just a Thing.
Sardi and Yari sat alone together, dangling their legs off the cliff face that overlooked Hidden Valley. Below them, the snow-covered trees of the elven forest glistened a bluish silver under the full moon. The wind was harsher up where they sat, but down in the valley, the trees were moving and swaying too.
It was colder than the night before, but maybe that had something to do with being atop the mountain wall – that would have shielded them from the brunt of the wind had they been below. Whatever. This was higher up, and thus closer to the gods.
Sardi, for his part, was a good sport and seemed to understand. He hadn’t questioned Yari at all when the younger cleric asked him to come up the goat trail after dinner. The former cat just seemed to know what Yari was about, and quietly fell in step with him. It had been hours since their ascent – they had long since watched the shadows grow, and finally disappear, from the setting sun behind them – and now they sat in the dead of night, alone together on top of the world.
As high up as they were, the stars were higher still. Yari found he could not look up at them, and so he cast his gaze out over the forested valley. Intellectually, he knew that hundreds of people – humans, dwarves, elves – lived in that valley, all of them moving about their individual lives. Each of them was special, important; and, though Yari didn’t know all of them, he stilled cared about them. However, he could not reconcile the knowledge of their existence with his senses. All he saw was a snow-covered forest, empty of any life or movement, save for the wind and the trees. How could he care about a lifeless forest?
Was that how the gods saw mortals? Were they seated so high above them as to be incapable of understanding the importance of each individual life? Were they capable of truly caring about their followers, or were mortals all just ants to them, invisibly moving underneath the concealment of snow-covered trees?
Sardi seemed to sense the turmoil of Yari’s thoughts, and he scooted closer to rest his head on his friend’s shoulder. Yari responded by leaning his head against Sardi’s. The two boys sat like that, staring across the top of the forest until the moon lowered itself below the earth. Finally, Yari lifted his head from Sardi’s and fell backward, arms spread wide, to gaze up and the stars. Sardi did the same, his arm overlapping with Yari’s.
Breaking the hours-long silence between them, Yari began to whisper:
|A man sits up on a hill one autumn night,|
|While the many stars spread out before his eyes|
|Spanning the sky, and reaching out of sight.|
|Gazing at the celestial bodies from his grassy height,|
|A desire is aroused to reach the skies.|
|Then, standing up and finding his ways,|
|The man sets out for home and bed,|
|Saving further planning for the days.|
|He awakes to find his thoughts a haze,|
|All want for something more leaves his head,|
|But every night he comes back to the hill to stare.|
|The thoughts of aspiration always return.|
|The faraway suns’ gaze leaves his soul bare,|
|Dispensing with any worry, thought, or care,|
|And makes his heart ache and burn.|
|Then, in the morning the burning fades,|
|Leaving nothing from the night before.|
|The man lives the happy life he made,|
|Knowing he would lose it all if the aching staid;|
|It would make discontent to his very core.|
|He saved his desire for the nights to muse,|
|And perhaps in a sad way that choice was right,|
|Considering what grabbing the sky could make him lose.|
|The whole thing simply goes to prove|
|All men are a bit insane at night!|
Sardi never looked at Yari as he was speaking; if he had, he’d have seen the small boy’s eyes turned dark, reflecting the million-billion points of light in the sky above them. When Sardi did finally glance at his friend, the boy’s eyes were normal again. He poked Yari in the side, eliciting a yelp of surprise.
Yari rolled over to face Sardi and protect most of ticklish sections. He scrunched up his face in complaint, but Sardi only stuck out his tongue and smiled. The younger cleric rolled his eyes and sighed deeply.
“’S a good thing we aren’t men just yet, huh?” whispered the former cat finally. “Let’s get to bed.”
As the two stood, the silence reestablished itself around them, and not another word was spoken as they descended the goat trail, snuck back into the dwarven keep, and went to their respective bunkrooms. Light from the hourly candle flickered off Yari’s giant stuffed dragon, casting fierce shadows across the boy’s face while he tried to go to sleep.
02 OCTOBER 1211, 02:00 – 07:45
An endless spiral of moons, and planets, and stars, and galaxies circled around Yari. Sometimes, the stars would look like Elsie – if that made any sense at all! He really liked those stars, but they were gone in the swirling chaos as quickly as all the rest. Now and then a planet or moon would remind him of his other friends: Krunch, Sardi, Wolf, Sparky. One galaxy, far away from him, but still caught in the same vortex, seemed to be Wally; it, too, was gone in a flash. Maybe quicker.
Where was Rissa? Spinning, tumbling out of control, Yari cast about frantically for his sister, his twin. Things were moving too quickly in front of eyes for him to focus. Flashes of blindingly bright light whizzed by impossibly fast, confusing and disorienting him further. He closed his eyes against the chaos, trying to shut it out, but the vastness of the cosmos penetrated his eyelids and spun him around faster.
Around and around he tumbled. He tried to cry out, cry out for Arissa to help him, but Eternity swallowed his screams along with everything else. He was alone. Alone in a vast, chaotic, horrible existence. An existence that didn’t give one damn whether he survived or perished. It was too much to handle! Too much for one, small boy to handle on his own.
In desperation, he stopped screaming and howled. A moon, streaking past him, suddenly stopped and accept the howl. He was a wolf, standing atop a mountain, and he was howling at the moon. And, there was Rissa, a wolf herself, howling beside him. Together, they howled and howled, and the chaos around them slowed, kowtowing to their will.
The swirling mass of Forever was forgotten, leaving nothing but the wolves, enjoying life and sending their primal calls into the dark void of the night. Two small forms flapped across the silvery sphere of the moon, enjoining their caws to the wolves’ howl. Together, the sounds mixed and swirled, and became a beautiful song.
It was the First Song, jubilantly shouted at the creation of the Universe, beckoning it into existence. It was the Last Song, mournfully whispered at the death of everything, soothing it into gentle, eternal repose. It was haunting, and it was beautiful, and the Yari-wolf sung it together with his sister until morning.
A voice that was everywhere and nowhere declared
|I am Eternity|
|I am All.|
|I am Finality,|
|The Start, the End,|
|And even I|
|Shall meet myself.|
|In me, All are equal,|
|All are small.|
|Answer my call.|
The wolf howled again, one last time, before the sun burst over the horizon.
02 OCTOBER 1211, 08:05 – 09:15
The mess hall was its normal, loud self as Yari finally found his way to breakfast. Moving like a zombie, he plopped down between Krunch and Wolf, across from his sister and Fran.
“You look like Hel,” Krunch said. Yari grunted in response, staring blankly at his plate of food. “Maybe y’shouldn’ah spent so much time out with yer boyfriend.”
That got a chuckled out of everyone, but Yari was too groggy to properly retaliate. He was just glad Sardi wasn’t nearby to get embarrassed. Not really bothering to think about what he was saying, Yari answered, “I was seeing my girlfriend, too,” while stuffing his mouth with some fried potatoes.
“What, at the same time?” Wolf asked. Yari looked sideways over at the dwarf and glared. Wolf, in turn, furrowed his brow at the human boy as if to reiterate his query.
“Yeah, at the same time,” answered Yari, through a mouthful of food. “We all had a big orgy on top of the Eagle Clan’s statue!”
He regretted his words the exact moment after he had said them. It was too early; he was too tired; he should not be allowed around other people yet.
“What’s an orgy?” came Wolf’s seemingly earnest reply. The rest of the group was momentarily too stunned to say anything.
Yari swallowed loudly and mumbled, “Never mind,” before shoving six full strips of bacon into his face.
That was too much, and the whole group erupted into laughter. Yari hunched his shoulders and tried to block out their jeers and pointing while he continued to eat. He made sure to always have too much food in his mouth to be able to speak, just in case; this seemed to make his friends only laugh harder.
“Sheesh, Yari, you’re acting like Uncle Sindri, every morning after he stays up late with Dad! Have you been drinking? Where’re you getting your supply?!”
Yari gave his sister a look that they rarely used. It was a trump card of sorts, and as such, sibling-law dictated that it only be used in extreme situations. It was a tired, worn-down, angry look that said, “Not now. Please. I really cannot take it at the moment,” and like a good sister, Rissa immediately clammed up. The others didn’t, not understanding the silent exchange between the twins – or, really, even noticing it – but that didn’t matter. Their voices weren’t as loud as Rissa’s in Yari’s head, and he could block most of them out. Eventually, Yari muttered something about going to find some tea, not caring if anyone was listening, and shambled away.
Rissa caught up just outside the mess hall and trapped him in a corner. “Okay, Yari, explain.”
With herculean effort, the young boy slowly met his sister’s eyes, then immediately sighed and looked away. “I think I’m going crazy.”
“Well, I knew that.”
“No, I’m serious. I don’t know what’s going on, Rissa. I think, maybe, I accidentally made a deal with a demon.”
Were it not for the fact that she knew Yari was a horrible liar, Rissa would have laughed outright. His face, though, told the tale of a tired, frightened boy. Use of the trump card had been vindicated, and Rissa wrenched herself into a different gear, embracing her brother in solidarity. “You’re stupid,” she whispered into the side of his head.
“You smell funny,” he responded. The two held their hug for a long while, until they heard footsteps approaching, at which point they violently pushed away, each expressing great disdain for having had physical contact with the other.
When they were alone again, Yari glanced around, then reached into his pocket. “I wrote this down before I came to breakfast today,” he said, handing her a folded scrap of paper. “It was just kinda in my head when I woke up. I thought, I don’t know, maybe you could write a tune for it, or something.”
Rissa took the paper and unfolded it. In hastily scrawled writing were the words:
|I had a dream the other night,|
|While sleeping in my bed.|
|A beautiful song to God above|
|Was sung inside my head.|
|An angelic voice,|
|So deep and pure;|
|A melodious ballad!|
|I had to strain|
|My inner ear|
|To hear what words were said.|
|To hear what words were said!|
|These few lines, I told myself,|
|Shall not stay here for long;|
|I must wake, I knew it true,|
|Make haste to write them down!|
|_There’s so much more, I argued back,|
|To this God-inspired song.|
|Not to hear the end of it|
|Would be a dreadful wrong.|
|Would be a dreadful wrong!|
|And, so I opted not to wake,|
|But to linger listening.|
|_A few more lines, I thought again,|
|_I’ll have th’entire thing.|
|Alas! The song was not to be|
|For mortals to ever sing;|
|The words and tune were lost to me|
|On waking from the dream.|
|On waking from the dream!|
|My time ran out, my mission failed,|
|The angel’s song was gone.|
|I hung my head it silent shame.|
|I’d listened far too long.|
|So, this I pray most fervently,|
|When angels’ chorus sound:|
|Enjoy it well for it’s sure to be|
|_ Lost before the dawn.|
|_ Lost before the dawn!|
“It’s pro’lly stupid,” Yari said before she had finished the first stanza, “but, y’know. Whatever.” With that, he was off and away, leaving her to finish reading his poem in solitude.