By Isaac Summers
He knew the scoundrel by name. He never told me what the name was, though. He would have me ask the bishop so I am forced to fall at the alter. I know better. I will never go back to that alter; even if the rugged doe wants to be held again.
If you wind your way around the top of my tree, through all the knots of branches and spurs, the latter drawn down from mountains for my health benefit, whose jaws laugh at kindled flower fulcrums for their pained moping, you come upon my trap (2). I trust you because of what you forgot you once did for me before, before the mill worker did his job for the clergy and made you lose your memory, so you may hear me tell this now. If you tell others, I won’t fall ill from hurt. The doe already tore at my heart, and there is no healing if one of them breathes into your skin. It is not a situation of protection to disguise the existence of the trap, either. The priest will take note of my absence and find out about the doe before Lady Shroud can come to our aid. The trap will only open upon you if you experience a lapse in judgment and refuse to bark. The bark of the tree identifies instantly with this, and the trap will momentarily cease. You will know the trap by the burning sensation in your lungs. Once you are through, locate the water spout. Go before you lose your sense of self again. I will meet you there.
The boy was left alone. As soon as the King was welcomed into the leaves surrounding, the young one’s strength failed. He could see the falling of his lord from grace, the ruler of papacy proclaiming the sovereign had broken his vows to God and refused to recognize His presence in the kingdom. The fall keeps on going down, down. Have you ever heard the screams belting from the castle’s moats at night’s late token of sky musk (4)? Those are the captive female does crying for the late mate to relieve them. He only takes one mate per new moon. The people know the danger of letting the females loose; the male must have only one mate (1). Children are not told why until they are welcomed into adulthood. Does must always be kept locked in seclusion, for there is the worry if they were all the other days to roam free that one will sneak away every moon as, or before, they are marched to the moats.
The scars on the back of the tot’s head were not yet healed. When the apprentice would ask his master what the voices he heard meant, the master would not know. After a time of this asking, the master requested that he quit it (3). But the voices never went away, except whenever he left the village grounds and approached the forest, where they would all abide in silence. It was never in a tongue he understood, save when they wanted him to, which was rare. This time, as he lay where the King went his way, the ones who spoke were glaring from somewhere. They were not glaring at him, though. Something was taking their attention from a distance. He could not move, the weight of their minds pressing in on him their anger. One noticed him again after quiet reflection, the oldest and faintest of voices. “Raft kra ful.” The wind knew those words better than anyone. The trees moaned and croaked. The boy in the hours spent on the ground had lost a year in age. All he remembered was the voices crawling through his head and raking his brain with their claws. A younger and raspier utterer, “Boy, remember us the Vocals. You are our son, but you have no mother. Chance the spires of the Crematorium, and deliver to us again our box.” The trees moaned again; this held no more meaning to the Crow of Saul, for it had fled from razor passions. “Bring the King his sword so he may note his subjects of its worth without subtext.” The trees nearest buckled and bent in fear as the boy took one’s branches. “There was a command from someone else, I am sure. I am to climb up somewhere.” The claws left his brain and clutched his lungs. “We seek shelter, foolish child. The trees have nothing of worth. Begone with you, ye wretch. WE WILL FOLLOW WITHIN TO DINE ON YOUR FAILURES.” They pushed their way into his mouth and spun down to the soles of his feet. The leaves drowned in the comfort of their parents’ remains of smoke.
The bishop dipped his hands in the baptismal font. They were to perform God’s miracles, and the task of castrating the deer certainly required one. A doe had spread influence under the moon to a sinner, a royal sinner, and he to them. None could mate. They were now tainted by man’s hand, and only a holy man’s might sent from Heaven could purge and nurse the moon back to health.
The fall of the trees of the forest was as if sent by thunder, the King believed to be dead. The tainted doe would know and fight. Magic had failed the kingdom, purity a scarce resource grown in number only by the allowance of God. “The Deer, God’s graces, bring forward, to please, yes, for another direction to deal oughtn’t but mine.” The shackles extending from one weary leg to the other clanked when the possessor was escorted in. A crowd teemed on the steps outside. The bishop slithered past the deer, a healthy elk, to address the onlookers. “A bishop is but a priest, so see me. No more will you fear the secrets of the forbidden tree. This,” gesticulating to the animal, “our filthy health, is but fragile. God is strong, and He will not fail us. The secular rulers of this land relied on the beasts to fill our hearts with love; one such ruler has now broken his ties to God and showered his sin on us from above, obscuring and tainting the light given from on high. He has broken his covenant with God’s people, with his minister, with the Lord divine (8). We are all jackals and FOOLS to listen to his word before our God’s. With this anointing we break all ties to the Devil. May the sun rise again before the Rapture, or our souls will not be given pardon by the Holy Ghost. Close doors!”
Once the portals were shut, men lowered the elk to kneel at the feet of the ordained. A knife surfaced from a concealed scabbard behind the mission’s Cross. Red fire simmered within. “The blood of Jesus rescues you from women’s files.” “Baa!” Done. The priest was efficient, as if he had done this before or God had guided his hand. Disciples called, “Praise be to God! A sound mind delivers us.”
The Crematorium near the graveyard had tiny notches built into the side, which were easy for the boy to ascend. Flames were not spewing, and all he felt was the cold of the world. The top was made of brick and dirt, tiles shooting out and down existing sides and lengths. One such was loose, and below was a tiny box. His hands of their own free will guided it to his mouth, and there at the opening it stopped and held. The boy descended and went on his merry way to the castle, the box emanating from the front of his face. “Lower your arms and part the doors,” they told through the box to the guards. No question or resistance was made to this. Along the halls men gathered to salute this boy of no worth. Up the palace floors he went, arriving in King Saul’s bedchambers. Queen Ahinoam gave up the sword, her heart aflutter.
The people of the castle and the villagers below followed the young apprentice out to the forest, he wading through the remaining leaves to sit where the King’s tree once stood. There was no trap, for the trap had went out and sought after its victim. Saul arose from the dust and stood before the reckoning. The priest had men trailing behind, the ill doe biting and hissing between them to be let go from the net cast over her. “Why have you broken your covenant with God, Saul?” called the bishop. “Why did you pour your heart out to a beast?” Saul said no word. His wife Ahinoam cried to him, “Do you not stand by me in either life? Do you not love me?” Saul’s eyes filled with tears, yet he said no word. The Vocals spoke, “We know you bark as we do, our liege.” Here the boy both curtsied and bowed. “We only ask that you take your sword back from us, as the sword is the only thing that can kill your betrothed, and we would not have you maim her.” The arm of the man met the arm of the boy on the hilt, and here unspoken words passed from young to old. Saul took back his sword and there stood before his kingdom, his subjects.
The gleam of the rising sun fell on the blade, and from this beam notice reached the doe. The men were not able to hold her. She dragged them behind as she ran to her steed, the priest screaming to not let her escape. The Crow descended from the sky and perched on the King’s shoulder, wings extending and moving forward to form a shield made of glass its master’s unarmed arm coursed through the straps of. The sword hid behind the shield just as the doe flung herself upon him. She tore at his flank with her teeth, he combating her with the shield and attempting to keep the sword away. “If you would like my help, call on my name.” Saul trembled under the weight that pressed down on him and managed to gasp out, “My old friend, you saved me from the wrath of the Philistine dragon. I do not know how much more I can ask from you.” “I told you I was a humble servant of God and would follow in His King’s service. As you are of God, so shall I do your bidding.” “My loyal and- and faithful David-” He had no breath left in his body, the final gasp sputtering out, “Help me.” David tore the doe off the King and broke her neck with his tiny but monstrous hands. The King lay sprawled out on the ground, his eyes wide and mouth open, body numb and stiff with shock. David left him there, walking away to the church on the horizon.
By order of the bishop, Saul was stripped of all his gallant attire in the marketplace square on a pedestal, the people laughing at his bare body. “Look at you, oh prestigious man of the prized and noble!” they chortled. “Shall we bring you our cattle to make love with too?” “Oh look at that pale ass of his!” called a woman. “I don’t think he has actually raised it from his heady throne a day before now in his miserable old life!” With this, she fell into a bread stand in hysterics, loaves flying out onto the street, for which starving children quickly dove. “His sword was no match compared to the strength of a child!” said another. He let no word out for the remainder of the given five hours that he was given to face for being weak in the sins of the flesh.
Night came, and it was a pleasant night. The people were asleep, as was the King, who was allowed to remain in his position until the Church had reached a decision. Lady Shroud arrived from the water of the river, her body dry as she entered upon shore. With her came three swans, each with a head covered in blue wool. They notified the guards of their presence, and so they woke the King to hold small council with him.
The next day broke, and the bishop went to see the King. Upon entering the bedchamber he found Saul in a pool of blood, his sword skewered through the chest. Ahinoam alone sat nearby on a bench, staring into space. The priest approached and asked her what had happened. She would not answer, so he shook her and pleaded to know. Her head raised to have her eyes meet his, hers glowing with triumph. “He would have David as King.” This is all that would escape from her lips.
Word spread that King Saul had committed suicide, ashamed and afraid of what had become of his life. King David soon was granted the throne, the young boy to have Queen Ahinoam as his wife. The Church approved of his ascension, and all who looked upon him remarked how the Sword of the King seemed to belong to him, his word strong and mighty in the ways of the Lord. The box he had fitted on his face was tucked behind the throne, three swan feathers lying inside. The Vocals were never again heard emanating from his mouth; the does were freed from the moats. The castrated elk was King David’s steed, a sign of the throne’s purity and freedom of sin through God. So his kingdom reigned eternal, he never dying as his subjects withered and passed away. The new moon no longer promises security, never promotes bloodshed. The crows yield to noone, and the forest never grows. The Church and the rule are one, and the people grow restless toward the peace. Is David God made in the flesh? Is he Jesus come again? If you listen to the wind closely enough, you may hear a faint answer from ages past: Raft kra ful; From all to one.
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