(this piece references events that take place in Shopping with Mages)
Inari brushed her long hair, her thoughts winged
to Mount Eredren, to her beloved
but her eyes rested on her son who hanged
on what Sarn said; he, a substitute thread
in the tapestry of her family.
Nerule no longer competed for time
her beloved spent not with family
but with the rangers, working overtime.
No, her son’d found a naive substitute,
one used to playing the role, and always
glad to include her son in his pursuits.
Her family was eroding away.
She was on a family trip sent by
her beloved who’d stayed to work, but why?
~ ~ ~
Inari’s brush stilled, then fell from her hand.
Ran popped up holding a paper, smiling.
She stared at herself sketched in a child’s hand
with skill that outstripped his years, admiring.
He’d caught her half-hid by door left ajar,
brushing and musing, her gaze wistful, sad.
Outside darkness fell deep, without a star.
After thanks and a hug, Ran drifted, glad.
Inari looked at the eroded mount’s
side and wiped tears from her eyes; years given,
ten in total, and a son–an amount
that did not total enough to riven
her beloved from his rangers for one
weekend’s vacation with her and their son.
~ ~ ~
The Trouble with Magical Security
Sarn lay on a pallet of blankets piled
in front of the door, staring at slanting
ceilings, recalling empty market aisles,
glass breaking, people running and ranting.
No one had realized he was the culprit.
His party had joined the crowd, cutting short
Inari’s shopping, because he’s a twit.
Racine felt so artificial, its short
cone no match for Mount Eredren’s, seeping
through the honeycomb levels, his magic
crawled the tunnels, corridors, spidering
along, finding more stylized attic
lofts and more artificiality.
It kept seeking originality.
~ ~ ~
It found nothing new, refused to obey
his commands to return to its dark cell.
He ignored it but info found a way
to seep into his mind–all useless intel.
What did he care how many statues stared
at blank walls next to rows of potted plants?
Sarn pulled out his son’s drawing and there stared
Ran’s usual question, but not by chance.
why’re you sad? asked this graphite and paper
rendering, this perfect likeness and then,
with words half yawned, Ran asked without paper,
“Why’re you sad?” from his pillow, eyes open.
Sarn didn’t answer because he did not know.
Ran scampered over dragging his pillow.
~ ~ ~
His magic found a cluster of symbols
heading this way; it zeroed in on knives,
three–no six–and he had none with trouble
headed this way intent on what this time?
Another ping–icons rising–climbing?
Sarn rose with the son pillowed on his chest
in his arms, rushed to stop them from climbing–
too late, one icon entered, arrested
him on sight–the man wore the Ranger’s greens.
Inari stepped between them, the man stared
at Sarn, then nodded and laughed, his canteen
jangling, “I thought you needed help, right scared
me to see you with another man but
I see now he’s just a boy and a mutt.”
~ ~ ~
Inari spoke to Mount Racine’s Ranger,
a friend of her husband Nolo’s, he said.
After an hour’s talk, she and the stranger
emerged looking grim, “You go now,” he said,
“Trouble’s coming and so are the Seekers.”
Seekers–magic hating fanatics bent
on destroying all magical creatures.
The stranger started for the door intent
on leaving that way but Sarn blocked his path.
“Not that way, ‘less you have six friends waiting.”
“Window, I left rope dangling; there’s a path.”
So they climbed out the window, down dangling
rope to where shear rock gave way to gravel
path, hiked down the mountain for more travel.
~ ~ ~
They struck the river Nirthal as the moon
set but no ferry cut its waters yet.
“There’s a boat,” Miren pointed, “not ’till noon
the next ferry. Want to chance it?” and yet
what choice did they have? A late night boat ride
or death at the Seeker’s hands? ‘Course Sarn chose
the boat and they set to rowing the wide
river back thirty miles to their repose.
With Sarn, Miren, Nerule rowing, the trip
ended at sunrise and a shadow jogged
up to the boat, “what happened to the trip?”
Nolo asked, he’d just got off work, dogged
by guilt for not going, he looked relieved
to see them, he hadn’t wanted them to leave.
~ ~ ~