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Gilded Serpent Presents..
Raven of the Night:
Dancer's Allegory for
New Year's Eve 2005

by Najia Marlyz

Raven of the Night was the name by which he thought of her-but feathers?  Raven had none!  She was the castle's Dancer of Dreams and aspired to become Jester of the Court when-and if-the official storytelling clown retired (or, more likely-fell from the high cliffs in a drunken fit of tomfoolery).

Upon this particular morning, Raven had glanced skyward and noted that atop the tower of the northern-most exposure of the aging castle-fortress, the limp banner of the realm hung-untouched by any hint of breeze.  Its worn images, stitched so lovingly by Raven long ago, was shamefully tangled in itself and around its staff so that the symbols of heraldry (a dragon clutching a virgin in its terrible talons) became a matter lost to forelorn memories and wistful prayers. 

Raven had had but one brief occasion to dance all year, leaving a great expanse of time resting listlessly among her days.  Thoughts of him who ensconced her in the castle built from his dreams weighed down her usually buoyant nature.  Yet, come whatever may, never an idle dancer was she!  Raven had already begun to fold away her dancing costumes for one last time, when from a fold in the golden threads, a graceful design of metal tumbled forth, danced itself across the floor of stone, clattering as it rolled.  She watched it spiral about on the stones smoothed with a million dance steps that her feet had traced throughout the years, as she had invented and re-invented herself.  She lifted the delicate band lightly into her palm and its graceful curves drew her mind back to her youth-in which all the trees were still small and provided only the promise of shade.  She slipped the small ring over her center toe from which it had gleamed last New Year's Eve as she had danced in the Great Hall, wallowing in futile hopes of new beginnings

The Wizard had advised the dancer thus,
Of a knowledge most commonly writ,

Witness Thee:
"Before the Mighty One will set your feet on a new path of incredible Destiny,
The Seeker must have completed the old one! 
The lessons of the old path must determine the lessons contained in the next."
 "Horse apples!" she  had scoffed, digging in her heels.

Once again wrapped around her toe, the little circlet pulsed, causing her to move in a familiar ritual slowly toward the candlelight reflected in her mirror.  The movement reminded her that her feet still touched the ground-and she had forgotten the feeling of it, so strong was the estrangement.  "The power of my resolve must be as insurmountable as his stubborn determination to send his heart away to God-knows-where without his body!" she pledged to herself.  (Nonetheless, Raven hoped that his errant heart was safe from dragons and other terrifying beasts.) 

The Wizard had advised the dancer thus,
Of a knowledge most uncommonly spoke,

Witness Thee:
"You, Raven, must remember that this Particular One desires only
That which he may not have."
"Lord save us from foolish desires!" she scoffed, tossing her hair aside.
 Raven's heart whispered softly in her ear,
"But you know that the Wizard speaks truth born of experience."

After only two decades, more or less, the rebellious dancer, who had, indeed, caused swooning in nearly all the decadent and distant courts of the world, determined that there had to exist a sorceress having something to proclaim without having to resort to unnatural spells.  Surely she could find one!

Witness Thee:
The alchemy that once was created in blooms of rare flowers no longer congealed itself invisibly around her spirit, protecting her-as  it once had.   Now, she had had to resort to using a more visible forum in which to plead her case!

Witness Thee:
Gray tendrils of fragrant smoke arise in shafts of Raven's morning sunlight,
Spiraling in the palpable atmosphere she had created for herself.

She inhaled it (as if it were life itself) as she moved about completing her morning obligations.  Silently celebrating life in her dance, pensively spending each day camouflaged in bright colors and objects that captured sparks of inspiration, breathing essences of flowers, her days disappeared one by one.

"Send me Inspiration!" she begged the incense as it glowed-

In response, sharpened swords of inspiration pierced the sky, passing shafts of reality downward through her heart, but they bounced haplessly in silence, broken on the floor beneath her gown.

Thus, it happened each morning before dawn, before the first bird thought to call.

"Send me Forgiveness!" she pleaded each spiral as it rose toward Forever.
Raven didn't know that mercy rained lightly all around her-unheralded and imperceptible.  It slithered through her tangled hair, giving fragrant memories to all the clouds of incense she had lit in her anguish. Each dawning happened thus, before sunrays had dried the dew.

"Send me an Embrace!" she fiercely demanded of the gods of romance and potent herbs (secretly ashamed to be asking at all).
Each night, in her private dreams, she wove new stories of hope.
She embraced herself with inspiration and forgiveness.
Through the darkened chambers of the castle, whose tangled banner was fielded with the stars of the night, Raven danced her story-time after time, before the Nighthawks ceased their cries.

Throughout the all the days of the year, many more revelations fell from the folds of Raven's dancing scarves as she folded and re-folded each one, carefully matching all the corners and every hem.  Day by day, the new notes formed melodies in which Raven bathed her soul by eventide.  The musical notes entwined themselves into lacy nettings that captured Raven's spirit and caused her to dance with more abandon to free herself from such conquest.  She struggled to recall the words spoken to her by the graying Wizard (who had abruptly abandoned the post).  She wished that some unexpected and undesignated day, no more troubles, deserved or undeserved, would fall from the folds of her days with clattering fascination. 

In that time, she envisioned a new pathway of fate would beckon to her, through the impossible atmosphere, which now filled her body with desperation.  Her human heart, she imagined, would  spontaneously leap forward without hesitation.and without a choreography! 

"If all else fails," she thought to herself, "I can rely on my role as Court Jester-to-be and create a new path for myself, constructed of feathers, silk threads, laughter, and the sounds of 1000 chattering birds." 

In her vision, a new dance, not seen previously in the courts of the world, would begin.
A new song, never heard by souls in distress, could emerge, clean and compelling.
A new story would write itself across the ages, and Raven would be the only dancer able to perform it!

So, Dear Ones, this you must know:
On the very last eventide of the year,
The Great Hall of the castle fell dark,
The air stilled.
The stars-though twinkling-remained cold and distant.
Existing there 'round about her:
No light,
No fire,
No revelers,
No castle lord,
And no cups of wine to salute the New Year in good cheer.
Instead, Raven quivered in strange anticipation.
As she drew a feather-down comforter more closely about her body, she allowed her eyes to close.
The night-riding sounds of her seductive dance music spilled into her mind once again.
"Happy New Year Everyone!" her lips sang in sensual silence.

Her thoughts were shaped by the musical rhythms of her soul as Raven of the Night offered up wisps of her spirit to the moonlight.

...Gently, his familiar hand slid through the strands of silken hair that graced the nape of her neck,
deftly plaiting there his response:
 "Happy New Year, my little bird."



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Check the "Letters to the Editor" for other possible viewpoints!

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