The ruin of the battle was strewn as far as anyone could see. Lifeless and dying bodies lay tangled and piled, smoking, bleeding and stinking. There were carrion birds and other vermin feasting. Yendor awoke and the smell alone made him retch. As his consciousness came into focus on his surroundings, he fought back another gagging reflex. It was late in the morning, but other than that, Yendor had no idea how much time had passed since he had lost consciousness, but the last thing he remembered was facing three hulking soldiers. They marked the points of the compass in front of him, he realized, so he must have won that contest, but he could not bring his memory to show it to him. Presumably, he had passed out after that. He burned with the sting of a hundred cuts, but none seemed serious. He must have succumbed to exhaustion. He still had the Crescent Moon and all his other belongings on him. Somehow he had been spared by the robbers who swarm the dead for treasure as soon as they feel safe from the bloodlust of the soldiers. He had heard tales of warriors seeing their fallen comrades robbed of their belongings, fall upon the the human vermin with as much gusto as any enemy. There was no other warrior awake in sight. The armies had moved on. He remembered vaguely being told to reconnect with the rebels to the south afterwards, if he was separated. Yendor took a deep breath. He would not be rejoining the army.
He sat among the carnage and contemplated his place in the world. He had been raised a musician. It had been impressed upon him that artists were proudly peaceful members of society. They were honorable. They added value to people’s lives with entertainment and the history and news they disseminated. He had abandoned all that without a second thought when he met Danse. Their short time together was like a distant dream. He had searched for her, he had become a wizard for her. He had become a warrior for her. And he had failed at every turn. What an absolute failure he had turned out to be. The chosen one? Him? He was going to vanquish Incarnate? What a joke. What hubris. He was worthless. He had become a killer, no better than those he called enemy. What was left for him?
He found his way back to the camp. His tent still stood, though the rest of the army had fled. They had left in such a hurry, they hadn’t bothered to try to save or steal any of his things. Was this some kind of pattern? Was their defeat so crushing that no one dared linger? There was the usual abandoned garbage left of the camp, but it was more. They had left in a panic. His was not the only tent left. If what remained was any indication, their army had been decimated. He rolled everything into his pack, and turned decidedly north. Away from the rebels. Away from civilization. Away from his past. Away from everything. He set off towards the wastes. “Here there be Dragons” he muttered under his breath and disappeared into the growing mists.
My daughter Adelia is just 7 months old. I did this when she was pretty new. Probably at 3 mo. I love being a father. I am also father to 2 yr. old Gabriel. Adelia, btw had just this moment, fallen asleep in my arms. She was fussy when I started this post, so I’m holding her in one arm & typing with the other.
Anyway, what I wanted to tell you is that she is developing such a great personality! She laughs and is tough and determined to work hard to sit up & crawl, and become chief justice of the Supreme Court. I swear she is already talking.
I love doing portraits of my children even if they are quick sketches. Lately, I have been working on a children’s book, and raising these two wonderful monsters, but I think I get the most personal enjoyment painting my children. Of course they love to participate and Gabriel has made many improvements to my drawings.
At 9 months old, Adelia is almost standing on her own. (she uses lots of things to pull herself up and support her.) she’s crawling faster than Gabriel ever did. We’ve put up barriers until the place looks like Minas Tirith, but to no avail: she overcomes every obstacle. She follows me everywhere and climbs up into my heart.
My new circumstances make clear what I would have told you all along: My main purpose in life is to take care of my family and create. In the past, I have done these things via working full time like every other person who ever lived, but recently, my wife has decided to get a job, so she can get out, be social, allow me to spend more time with the children, giver her a break from being with the children, and show me how it’s done, as far as getting a good job that pays decently.
So now I’m spending time with the kids, but I haven’t had time to create. It’s difficult to do while they’re awake. Whatever daddy is doing, my son wants to do too. It’s awesome and humbling having someone look up to me so much. I honestly don’t remember ever feeling like that about my dad. I was a weird kid though. My mother said so.
Even though I would have told you my main purpose was to take care of my family, now that I’m home more, I feel weird about it. Not working full time makes me feel irresponsible. My kids are exhausting, and I don’t feel like I’m doing much more than being the adult in the room. I feel like I should be taking them to the park, but so far, it’s rained every day. I feel like I should be teaching him things, but he doesn’t pay attention in a teacher, student way; he picks things up. Sometimes he’ll mimick something I do in a way that is so uncanny, that it’s unnerving. I didn’t even realize I did that. (he likes to pretend he’s taking asprin when I do. Do I really take that much?) But he’s too young to make a turkey drawing by tracing his hand.
He loves to draw when I’m drawing, but he doesn’t want to try to actually draw anything, he’s two. I love him with all my heart like I never knew it was possible. He’s teaching me things, too, which is important. I’m learning to help him eat his meals, to make sure he has food to eat in between. I’ve learned I don’t have to have as much privacy when I’m peeing as I had previously believed. He’s learning to use a fork. So it’s a real give and take.
I’m looking forward to really learning how to be a good dad. I think I’m off to a good start. I’ve got a pretty good teacher.
What mysteries lurk beneath the surface, looking outward, unseen; waiting to be discovered? My work methods are unorthodox. Try as I might to sit down and devise a tale of my own making, I find it’s a bit like hunting. Not that I have ever hunted anything except cats with my childhood dog; Heidi. Nevertheless. One has to pick up the scent, track one’s quarry. I have to lay in wait, sniff the wind. It’s a merry dance, the hunt. I do research, I conceive a subject; in this case faeries. I devise a format: a picture book. I want it to be in verse, but not the verse of picture books. They’re all so much the same.
My research takes me to medieval poetry. I skip Victorian because that’s where everyone hunts for fairies. But I’m not looking for the story. I’m looking for the voice. I’m looking for something antiquated. Something to give a flavor of a treasure long-lost and discovered anew. In medieval verse, there was a taste for alliteration as much as if not more than rhyme. I find I’m not ready to unravel sonnets and the tricks of language that make poets from Shakespeare to Shelly thought great. Wordsworth’s genius eludes me. I find I like Taliesin.
To lure my prey I paint some of my subject. I write endless babble without any plot or destination in mind.
Then, back in the real world, my one year old is having nightmares. I feel this is my legacy. He has his mother’s eyes, and his father’s untamable imagination. Perhaps the faeries can be called upon to drive them away. I’m generally unconcerned with whether fairies are mischievous as conceived in the Christian era or minor nature gods as seen previous to that. To me all things are manifestations of the Source: Love. In fact, along the way as I fill my sketch book with non sequiturs and rubbish, I hit upon a new mantra: Always choose love. It becomes my hashtag. It is to be a guiding principle in all I do and create, so that when I am done here, I won’t have left only rubbish behind. Looking back on my work, one could argue that it has always been my mantra, just latent, undiscovered. So my faeries will be bringers of light.
I may be getting closer, but still the hunt goes on.