A young pigeon once asked his cell mate if there was life outside the cage. The older bird, having pecked away the button that once yielded sweet cakes gave a wistful look and replied
“These wings could fly me to places beyond the eye’s reach. Those cakes however ruined it all for I now only dream of cake and so keep waiting.”
“That seems quite sad, but I don’t fully understand” remarked the younger pigeon. “What does it mean to fly?”
The older bird sighed and said “To fly is to live”.
Avalon’s gardens held a unique attraction. Every fall, the old caretaker would hang lanterns filled to the brim with delicious seeds, grains, and nuts. Birds of all varieties would take a detour from their annual migration to visit Avalon and enjoy the respite. Such had been the case for generations that they eventually referred to the garden as paradise, the land of bounty, song, and rest.
One season however, the lanterns turned empty. The caretaker, in old age and poor health, was bed-ridden and had fallen into a deep coma. Sensing the time was near, the birds one by one perched on top the lanterns to mourn the caretaker’s passing. Some recounted the time they first met their loved ones within the garden cloisters. Others spoke of distant homes and their long journeys to the outer terrace. Those who had personally met the caretaker hummed a requiem into the night. Alas, when no more chirps could be uttered and further lamentations spent, the caretaker took a final breath, grinned, and then vanished.
From that day onward, the lanterns of Avalon would be everflowing.
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Adrift at sea, I watch the sun set.
It tarries a bit, longer than I expect.
Perhaps its the setting, a horizon unbroken.
Waiting for a sign, some message, a token.
And then she appeared. Liberty’s flame.
Courage I asked her, torch bearer, no dame.
So she hands me a lantern, and whispers in my ear.
Light for the night, may others appear.
And then she vanished, the lantern ablaze.
I pick up my paddle, spirits raised.
West I go!
Scribbles and scrawls. Sado’e journal deteriorated with each passing week. Three days he wrote, without sleep nor rest, switching hands every hour to ease the paralyzing grasp of the pen. Candlelight flickered with dire urgency as time withdrew its loan and his bargain turned treacherous.
Clairvoyance, the reward for his “deeds”, had a price for it promised no remembrance. Only fragments he could record in a journal, and always in a form removed from the immediate percept. The advantage however remained great as portents turned futures were capitalized with the ruthless efficiency of unfettered ambition. Visions of his enemies gave him preternatural initiative. Images of fame and fortune became self-fulfilling. The voices of revelation commanded obedience.
But alas, all such powers ultimately turn on their wielders. Years flew by into old age until a singular harbinger appeared before him. The date of his death he witnessed but only the circumstances he recorded. Gruesome was the depiction accompanied by an unspeakable terror. Again and again, he would return to the harbinger, begging it to reveal more of his fate. The pen however would only scribble and scrawl.
“The plebs. Why do they leave? Don’t they know all roads lead back to Rome?”
“Their shepherd understands this but he must delay, lest slaughter and slavery reach his people.”
“So exodus he proffers but revolution he disguises. Marching in circles to cull the weak, breeding the strong to fight the stronger.“
“Would the empire be so blind? Wolves can smell their sheep a hundred leagues away.”
“The empire let them go for they no longer desire food but a challenge.”
“And the shepherd?”
“A sheep-wolf or a wolf-sheep. Makes no difference.”
Two fronts by the sea.
From East and West they came.
Calm as a breeze. Light as a tease.
One day they meet.
A tickle at first.
A spark here and there.
But enough to ignite. Drew fate’s sight.
Potential made fright.
Day turned night, and night lit day.
Lightning strikes and thunder quakes.
Till morning comes and blue skies wake.
Two fronts met and left no trace.
“But no one approaches The Lagoon by broadside. Four tiers of guns, two hundred in all. Furnishes holes in both ships and coastlines. It is suicide!”
“She’s a formidable Galley. Fended off five sloops one time and they were no small fish. Now I hear rumors of Spanish gold. A quarter of the King’s vault emptied.”
“A quarter! And you suppose she’s fetching the full haul. What a mighty weight to bear!“
“Too much weight me thinks… Less she plans the crew to push. Would probably still see port by day’s end.”
“How much did she shed? A hundred tons? Two hundred?”
“More. Probably had to toss the essentials. Food, water, and … guns.”
“Guns? We counted the two hundred this eventide.”
“Aye, guns for show. Who points a gun in both rain and shine?”