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Aras

The sun was brutal this season, rising as it was from the house of Juth, an occurrence that transpired every one-hundred-and-sixty-two circuits of Nengath’s Chariot. It always foretold struggle, and this time it was no different as the rains had not come to refresh the oases; but that was not all.

Aras k’an Thril surveyed lands that were not his as his leathered-skin shell beat back the burning rays. The Juroikar had come, as they always did when the people and the land were afflicted by deprivation, somehow sensing weakness as though it were a scent, or a beacon for their atrocities. Yet, he was not unprepared; he had studied the histories and consulted the star-seers, unlike those before him. The Devotes of Ytisa had been ridiculed in the past by the Ghari tribes as charlatans, practitioners of false omens, and sometimes slain during the dark times when the ways had become forgotten. But Aras had embraced them, needing the wisdom of their visions.

Many Ghari had been put to the sword in his conquest of unification, but those that remained were his and would follow his direction. They were the elite; the strength in his arm and without them all else would be surely doomed. He had won them and he would wield them like a great spear, stabbing at the heart of his enemy. Once he had become Uthara of the Ghari, neighboring peoples such as the Bolokur, Ostyeni, and Pe’elan had come readily to his banner; a united Ghari was not a foe any of them were prepared to face.

Aras turned to his Shatrah, sitting astride her beast like a queen upon her throne, “Escah, tell me, am I fortuned this day?”

She stared vacantly out over the expanse, seeing the camp situated in the dead-space of the Illari wash. “Aye, my Uthara, but only slightly. Field your forces wisely or else victory will slip through your grasp. The field is even, but your vision is greater. The commander you face is but a stripling, yet his forces are quick and determined… and there is something else I cannot determine. Indirectness is your ally.”

“Your vision matches my thoughts, Escah. Fortune will indeed be with us this day. Your advice is a blessing on my heart.”

The Shatrah of Aras looked at him then, her fiery hair bound by many bands, but her piercing, almond eyes unrestrainable; unafraid of the judgment of her Uthara. “When we are one, then Ytisa guarantees the rightness of our actions. Victory is ours.”

A flicker of mirth glinted in his grey eyes as he regarded his stately, stoic Shatrah. “If such is the case, Escah, then perhaps a smile can cross your lips for once in the time that I have known you. Your beauty can only be enhanced by it.”

In her typical fashion, Escah lowered her eyes to him, for she was a tall woman, and remarked, “Beauty is arbitrary; the way of Ytisa is paramount.”

Aras sighed good-naturedly, flicking an imaginary speck off of his hardened leather armor. “Ah, Escah, you break men’s hearts.”

He thought for an illusory moment that he saw a flicker of a smile as she responded, “Men are weak.”

“Truer words have never been spoken, especially in the presence of the likes of you. Tell me then, how is one to free a caged demon such as you? Am I to walk the fire-plains of Durel? I would do this.”

At this she sighed resignedly, never shifting her gaze from Aras, for in truth, she found him compelling. “Uthara,” she began, “you have a battle to wage and my duty is to Ytisa. I am of the chaste. The desires of the flesh hold no influence over me.”

“Hah! I say, hah! Your blood boils as all Qa’reni do, and yours more than most, I dare to say. But, you are right; there is a battle to be fought, and my fantasies of what secrets your barusa holds will have to wait for another day. However, make no mistake, I value your words.”

“Yours too, Uthara, I value, for there is truth and strength in them.”

“And do not forget that I see how you have not answered my question. I will get my answer.”

“As I have commanded before, you may call me Aras, as we are in a sense, equals.”

He sensed amusement in her eyes as she locked her gaze with his. “No, Uthara, I may not. The service of Ytisa prohibits it. And you may never command me, as you well know.”

Aras studied her again, following her long legs that rested comfortably in the stirrups of her Klath; noting how spectacularly her emerald tunic fit her body, and the way she sat so comfortably in the saddle. He was a man that got his women, and yet she was so unreachable to him; so incorruptible in her devotion to Ytisa.

“Shatrah, will you ride beside me in battle?”

She hid her shock at this request, for only the Uthara’s most trusted arm was given this honor. Each time it might be a different soldier, depending on the exploits of the previous battle, but to her knowledge no Devote to Ytisa had ever been offered this position

Escah swallowed hard as she contemplated the consequences of her decision and the chance to bring respect to her order. “I would be honored, Uthara. My blade is yours,” she invoked the traditional acceptance.

“Your blade is my shield,” Aras responded in the traditional manner. His offer was no idle offer to gain her interest. The Devotes of Ytisa were also women of the sword as theirs was a Goddess of Wisdom, War and Healing. They could hold their own as well as any of the peoples of the Qa’reni, save the Ghari. He had seen her fight and trusted her blade.

Aras turned his reptilian Klath around and headed back towards their concealed camp, Escah followed, glancing back once more towards the enemy. Something bothered her and she could not figure it out.

“Tarseg!” Aras called as he passed the sentry into the minimal camp. There were no tents up, only small lean-tos to provide shade as this was a battle camp.

“Uthara, coming!” Tarseg responded trotting over to his leader, then taking a knee as he rested his hand on the Klath’s snout; a sign of respect and trust.

A Klath was highly attuned to its rider and would bite the arm off of anybody it sensed its rider disliked or mistrusted, or even sensed for itself some danger to its master. For Tarseg to offer his arm in this matter meant he was no threat. Only Ghari rode Klath and those the Uthara favored, such as the Shatrah of Ytisa.

Aras regarded his top Ghari commander a moment before issuing him orders. “Take three Hreqarra once the light fades to the east end of the Illari wash; our enemy seeks to remain hidden from us there. Have Ughayr take one Hreqar to the west end.”

“Four Hreqqarra, Uthara? A thousand riders?” He asked surprised. “That will only leave you with two Hreqarra and the rest of that rabble that call themselves warriors. You can’t hope to assault with that!”

“Yes, as you have noted, it is not enough, that is because you will be the main assault. Ughayr will be the first feint, I will be the second, but I hope they will think I am the main. Once I have their forces turned and drawn out, then you will attack.”

“You honor me greatly, my Uthara-as you command!” He brought his fist to his chest and bowed.

“You honor me with your skill and tactics, and have earned this glory.”
“Each is to take a Devote with them,” Escah added before he left, “so we can communicate the orders, as I will be the honored sword in tomorrow’s battle and will know the time.”

A brief look of surprise flitted across Tarseg’s face. “As you wish, Shatrah!” He sped away to make preparations.

“Wise counsel, my Shatrah, but then, that is why I have you.” Aras had not discussed that with Escah, but what he had researched and learned at the Sanctum, and what the rest of the Ghari had trouble accepting, was that in the Time of Juth, the Uthara and the Shatrah were to become as one voice, one authority.

Aras smiled to himself. He held a secret that he had also learned in his studies, one that he would keep to himself until the appropriate time came, and then he would share it with Escah.

MAGA

via Daily Prompt: Retrospective
Retrospective

A Freedom’s breath
from the brink of death,
so narrowly saved
from lefties depraved,
promoting a craven woman.

In retrospect,
with no regret,
the man before
is leader no more,
far greater is the nation.

His legacy removed,
the economy since improved;
his legacy jaded,
the “greatness” faded,
America great again.

Me

via Daily Prompt: Narcissism
Narcissism

The greatness of me
has not been foreseen
by the great books of old
with prophecies foretold;
I do not understand
how Nostradamus did not brand
my name in his pages
to be read through the ages;
it is baffling and vexing
my absence perplexing
in ink and in spirit
I’ve been given no merit;
so great is my Id
with nothing I did,
Obama

Land of Was

via Daily Prompt: Forest
Forest

I came across an elf one day
who happened across my forest way,
well actually, as it happened to be,
he dangled down from the limb of a tree.
With his feet up high and his head down low
I felt compelled to stop and not go.
I looked at him, he looked at me,
he looked at me and made a decree:
“I am the Elf of Lorilum,
I’d like to know from whence you come!”
I had never heard of this Lorilum place,
but I looked into his oval elf face.
I told him I came from the Land of Was
and Was, as it happens, is “did” and not “does.”
You see, I explained perhaps too fast,
everything we do is done in the past.
He dropped to the ground to land on his feet,
then looked at me and gritted his teeth,
he looked down again and said with a blurt-
“How can that be? that can’t possibly work!”
Of course it can, I tried to explain,
I started to walk and with me he came.
It’s really quite simple, I’ll tell you, you’ll see,
since we do in the past, the present is free.
We have all the time in the world to play
because everything was done just yesterday.
The elf he stopped and looked at me,
he frowned his face and tapped his knee;
“If I am to understand you right,
I may not, but I just might,
today you played and had your fun
and this little walk is already done.”
I smiled at him and nodded and said,
I think you got it, but I knew you did,
because this already happened in the Land of Was
and Was as it happens is “did” and not “does.”
The elf he stood, then he sat, then he thought,
and mulled in his mind the answer he sought.
Suddenly he rose and declared “I must go!”
“But surely,” he winked, “you must already know!”
So off he ran so spritely and quick,
away and away before a tock could go tick.
He appeared to me, my little elf friend,
at a place on my path, just where it bends.
He grabbed my hand and pulled me astray,
to sit by an oak and speak of the day.
This is peculiar, I said with a fright,
this hasn’t happened yesterday or last night.
“I know,” he said with a keen little grin,
a twinkle in his eye and a thrust of his chin.
“It’s a gate I have magicked with spells extraordinary,
to bring you to Lorilum and the Land of the Faerie.
It lays on your path, just where it bends,
it’s magicked for you and for you it opens.”
Why you have done this, I said, I don’t know,
I have always just went and never did go.
Away he ran for me to follow,
to new experiences for a me so callow.
Never did I know what would happen that day,
not a thing, not a place that happened my way.
He took me to sing, to play, to dance;
with elves and brownies through faerie rings prance.
A thousand year old dragon he took me to see,
on that day not a thing would I know it to be.
We went to a village, just there, by the brook,
where sat an old elf reading a book.
“Fi fiddle faddle,” my elf said, “brother elf,
and fiddledy fum or maybe a felf.”
“Why yes, I did faddle a few,” the old elf said,
and faddled a fuddle, or fuddled a qued.”
“You see,” said my elf, “if you have something to say,
this is not the place to say it, they don’t speak here that way.
They speak without meaning and say not a whit,
to say something of meaning, it just wouldn’t fit.”
Yes, I said, I know what you mean,
we have place like that to which I have been.
But now I think it is time to return,
I have seen much and much I did learn.
I’m a bit overwhelmed, all of this in one day,
what it is when one does something a new way.
Back, he took me, to the gate in the road,
and out of Lorilum together we strode.
He shook my hand and bid me to go,
we’ll meet again, I told him, I know.
He winked and he smiled as he turned away,
and whispered, “I too know we’ll meet here again some day,
because this is the Land of Was,
and Was as it happens is “did” and not “does.”

Ebb and Flow

via Daily Prompt: Tide
Tide

I watched him sail
away from me
astride a tiny skiff
A fragile thing
or so it seems
would give in a moments grip

I watched him part
the sun-stained depths
unaware what lay beneath
I thought to myself
as he slipped from sight
did I win? Did I win?

Did I beat the angry swords of fear
and fashion his armor right?
Did I strengthen the walls of his pliant heart
not too hard and not too soft?
Did I temper the mettle of his precious soul
to bend but never break?

What measure have I for success
or failure
but to set this skiff adrift?
and hope one day he returns to me
a neatly crafted ship.