Mist and Fog
© 2003 Butch Sollars
BoomThe sound of a heavy drum drifts across the body of water striking the sides of the mountains invisible in the dense cloud of dew. The fog swirls and mingles with the morning mist creating a moving sliding veil shrouding the creators of the heavy beat.
No birds sing this dreadful morning, no loon cries for its mate. Instead, the solitary haunting reverberation seeks to suck the very soul from the depths of the startled listener as it weighs heavily on the air.
A faint clanking can be heard as the haze swirls and reluctantly parts to reveal three warriors in heavy armor striding forward, each carrying banners high above their heads. Each banner reveals a form more terrifying than the previous. The first banner, all in white with a blue sword sewn as if thrust through the cloth. The second banner, black with a shield of blue and white radiating what little light can be reflected. The third and final banner consists of a blue background, blazoned with a large brown griffon fierce in its stance, eyes of brilliant red sapphires, wings gilded in gold fully erect on its back. Oddly, the banner is placed on the crossed poles upside down.
The steady beat of the heavy drum continues, as in the distance an eagle cry sounds harsh and condemning. Yet the sound appears as if expected, for no one pauses as the procession continues to appear from the gloom. A woman steps forward, head held high. Her dress a white clinging shroud of pure fabric, that forms to the shape hidden within. Her long hair, with touches of grey, lays upon her shoulders, as if weighted down by burdens to numerous to understand. A small delicate crown has been placed on her head, although resplendent it does not distract from the object in her grip.
Firmly clenched in her hands is a large sword, similar to that on the banner. Only this sword is made of metal, deep blue in color. Topped by a handle as large as her face, the tightly wound leather, is stained with the sweat of many battles. No nicks can be seen in the blade, however the handle implies the hand that used it, carried it often.
Following the women, comes eight men carrying a large platform on which is a king, signified by the crown on his head. Grey hair and beard belie the age of the person lying there, but one can tell he is not of great age. His chest, arms and legs are encased in linen, but the power that once radiated from the man still emits as if he were very much alive.
Faint music can now be heard as the procession continues moving forward with each step in time with the drums oppressive thud. As the mist parts once more, the entity responsible for the resounding thumps strides forward. Followed next by a large gathering of men and women, each dressed in shrouds of white, blue and black. Nowhere is there a hint of silver or gold to be seen. No armament, no weapons of any form. Upon reaching the lake, the group pauses and watches a large flat boat drift to shore from out of the murky blanket covering the now rippling water.
As the woman steps onto the craft the body is placed with reverence in the center behind her position. The faint music builds to a crescendo as the veil of despair parts again to reveal a plethora of bright colors — reds, greens, gold, and silver. This last group wears no blues or white, or gray of any shade. As they arrive they start to blend in with the others as the body is placed at the feet of the woman on the boat.
All sound ceases as the eagle gives a final cry, and a lone figure emerges from the dense cloud. This figure carries the banner seen earlier, only now the banner displaying the griffon is hung properly, right side upwards.
A final figure steps forward, abruptly parting the curtain of moisture as surely as if the sword he carries had been used as a knife. This man is tall, taller than most in the group. His head is bare displaying black hair, and fierce penetrating green eyes, shrouded by thick eyebrows. Power emits from his body as if he is a source of energy. This feeling of might throbs and pulsates; radiating everywhere, the energy seems ready to ignite anything combustible. The strength is every bit as awesome as the body laying on the boat, with one exception, this man is very much alive.
He steps slowly forward to the woman and hands his sword towards her, as she in return hands the blue blade to him. Slowly, he brings the hilt of the sword to his mouth and places a kiss where the leather caresses the blade.
“Today, you are King.” States the woman, as he thrusts the blade into the midsection of the gown she is wearing, killing her instantly. She collapses across the body on the boat as the current pulls the craft away.
“Goodbye mother, you served my father well.”
“Away!” Bellows a voice from behind as flaming arrows arch upward and then down into the bodies and craft as it disappears in the mist, a fading glow. No sound is heard from the crowd, or from nature herself.
Suddenly, the clouds part above the young prince and a bright shaft of sunlight encompasses his form. Stunned, the group falls to their knees and as a single voice declare to the figure still standing, “Long live King Aeson.”Special thanks to the author for his permission to archive this story at Cut Quill