Luanne and the Lost City

 

When all has seen what all has done,
and all to lift and all upon,
the four of thee with two in view:
when death falls from her lips,
the Elder takes the throne.

The boy of young wakes and steals away,
through the streets, away.
To the green, away.
He has done it three times now,
and each time has felt better than the last.
Time to be alone.

The fog clings to his jumper.
The village is desolate at such an hour,
and his footsteps echo into the
morning sky.
Early morning, early.
Still dark.
Rumbling grey skies waiting to break,
winds of vicious velocity.

At the park, she is waiting.
A little bit taller than him,
blonde hair, shimmering eyes,
still small, but to him a giant.
She smiles as he arrives.
He smiles too,
but worse.

She speaks to him, and her voice
lilts on the breeze.
She must be pretty, he thinks,
but he doesn’t really know what that means yet.

‘I want to take you somewhere,’ she says.
He wants to know where.
She nods her head
towards the woods.
He says that he is scared of the woods.
She laughs. It makes him shiver.
‘Don’t you want to play?’ she says.

He does want to play,
but he doesn’t know what to do.
She’s older than him,
so maybe she knows a secret way,
because otherwise they may get lost,
and he hates getting lost.

‘We won’t get lost,’ she smiles.
He trusts her.
It’s in the way she speaks.
So soft.
Soothing,
unlike his mother’s voice.
He takes a chance.

He asks for her name.
‘Luanne,’ she says.
The name bounces across the dew
on the grass.
He follows her, across
the bridge, and up the lane,
the woods high above them,
loomers with twisted arms.

The woods grow as they walk,
and she takes his tiny hand.
‘Little boy,’ she says,
‘you are cold.’
He nods. He is cold, it’s true.
Colder still with every step.

Luanne looks back and smiles at him.
Her shimmering eyes, yes, shimmering—
they seem to hold no pigment,
and even to his tiny mind this seems strange.

But she is pretty, or so he believes,
because he has only heard that word,
never really understood it.
His brothers say it sometimes.
From what he’s heard,
there are girls at school that are pretty.
But he wouldn’t know.

He pays so much attention to her face
as they walk,
that before long,
they seem lost. Everywhere
around them: spiralling trees.
He asks her where they are going.

‘We are going to meet the elders,’
she says.
‘There are five of them.’
He fumbles with the sleeve of his jacket.

He asks where they live. The girl
does not answer, instead
she just smiles. A pretty smile.

The trace of morning sun has been
blocked from the sky.
This isn’t his home,
nor should it be,
but why should he not be here, anyway?

Why not walk with this
girl of the woods?
This pixie?
She looks like a full-size Tinkerbell
from Peter Pan.

And after some hours, the woods break,
and he cannot believe his eyes:
there are whole other towns and villages here,
overgrown and sunken,
sleeping.

In the distance he can even see a city,
ancient, deceased,
huge towers reaching up.
Buildings within buildings,
ruined black architecture.

He laughs,
because it must be a dream,
must be.

Luanne stops and they gaze
over the lost buildings.
She turns to him and crouches.
‘This is how it could be.
How it should be,’ she says.
She pokes him in the belly and twinkles a smile,
‘and you’re going to help us.’

He wonders how. How
could he be any help to anyone?
He knows, he knows he is but
a burden, a nuisance.

It’s fine.

And now, he wonders—
how can he help?
For once, he wants to.

The girl leads him down further into the debris.
Trees as colossi, they must be four no five no seven no
eight no a million times bigger than him.
The branches grow persistently, breaking through
each other and joining together in harmony.
It really is peaceful here, he thinks.

They walk inside a house. Luanne
seats him in an old chair
that seems to be made of wax.
She looks into his eyes.
‘Let me tell you about them,’ she says.
He nods.

‘Sing the praises of the old gods,’
says Luanne.

‘We first feel Callaszag, the Soaking Wet.
His presence is signalled by a brewing of clouds
in the north. Once he is ready,
three thunderclaps will sound. And then,
the torrent that lasts for two nights will come,
and with it, there will be arrival.’

The young boy watches
as Luanne’s pupils glisten
with joy.

‘Then we will behold Shath,
the Watcher of Many Eyes.
His arrival is preceded by the Man in Blue,
and this arrival is stated by
the taking of virtues.’

The young boy sees a glimmer
of spittle fall from the girl’s mouth.

‘Following Shath is Veliszeth,
the Dirt Beneath the Surface.
We shall know she is here when
we hear:
Weal and Woe,
All Bark Fades,
and Full is the Cup.
Oh, how mean she is.
She covers the eyes.’

Her voice is louder now,
not shouting, just bigger,
more precise,
and he does nothing but watch and listen.

‘Before the end, we meet Lucreczia,
The Tainted Mother.
Her arrival is preceded by the Music.
Tones between tones between tones.
Fragments of melody,
like nothing else.
Her arrival is stated
by the taking of names.’

She lowers her eyes, no longer
staring so wildly around the room.

The young boy meets her gaze,
but there is something different this time.
Her sparkle has dulled.

Luanne holds up four fingers, then
she raises her thumb to create five
and says,

‘When all has seen what all has done,
and all to lift and all upon,
the four of thee with two in view:
when death falls from her lips,
the Elder takes the throne.’

She blinks, and the shimmer is back.
She smiles at him. Pretty.
He stares.

Outside, beyond the borderlands,
in the great depths of the black forest,
the great lost city moaned.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s