Mead Immortality and Song

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As had become his habit over the past century, Nathanos Varg stood by one of the large windows of his high rise apartment and stared down at a city that never slept. The city had come to grow on him, even though it had not been his home for very long. Some things never changed, no matter where or when, cities inevitably had a darker side. Something that had changed, however, was human nocturnal habits. Nathanos could remember sleeping the same way he remembered history, as distant and almost intangible facts. At times, Nathanos forgot just how old he really was. Over forty thousand years’ worth of memories amalgamated into simple statements. Every evening he would gaze as he did now, at the countless city-lights and think, Ah, yes, that happened to me once, didn’t it?

The nocturnal skyline with its neon and electric gold had replaced the stars. Nathanos sighed, he missed being able to stare into the infinite depth of the milky way. Humans fascinated him, in their frantic search for the mysteries and the enigmatic truth of life they had bereaved themselves of the very thing they sought. Where they had once seen ancestors and spirits, they now saw burning balls of gas. But only in picture books or on monitors. Once again, he sighed. He had been doing a lot of that lately. Pulling back the sleeve of his shirt, he looked down at his watch.

Light pollution was not the only thing on his mind, far from it. Recently, relatively speaking, the air had become much more agreeable. This did not in the slightest change his need for the appropriate air-filtering equipment. Nathanos chuckled. My need for clean air, huh? he mused. In some ways it did not matter, but that line of thinking quickly led to despair. If he trivialised air, soon everything became trivial. Shaking his head, he concluded he had suffered plenty and saw no point in adding further pain to an already too long list.

Suddenly his apartment darkened. Swirling black mist rose out of the floor two arms-lengths behind him. “You are late,” he announced as the mist coalesced into the shape of a women.

“What is a minute or two to you, old friend?” the woman laughed as her form solidified.

In the window’s reflection he could see that she wore a solid colour knitted dress. It was a red, form-fitting thing that flattered her body shape. He also noted that she had gotten her hair done, as well as her nails, most likely the very moment before she arrived. Nathanos commented on neither.

“Much longer than you’d expect. I like your shoes,” he replied instead. “Are they new?”

She joined him by the window. “They are indeed! I thought you might like them.”

For a moment she dropped her guard, Nathanos tended to have that effect on others. Nine silvery tails briefly flashed into ethereal existence before vanishing again. “How are things back home?” he asked.

She took a deep breath and smiled. “I am transferring to Hong Kong next week.”

Nathanos grunted in response. “Can I get you anything? I’m afraid water is off the menu, though.”

“Since you offered! What name do you go by these days, by the way?” she added as an afterthought.

Grabbing a glass he went over to the kitchen and turned the tap. “Nathanos. You?”

“Lǐ Xiùlán.”

Once the glass was full of water, he turned the tap again and walked back to the window. By the time he handed over the glass the content had transformed from water into mead. A slightly jaded smile pulled at his lips. “My favourite brew for my favourite fox.”

Taking a sip, she asked, “How do you do that?”

“Not by choice,” was all the explanation Nathanos would offer.

“Mmh, tasty!”

“So,” Nathanos ventured eventually. “Have you spoken to her yet?”

Xiùlán pouted. “Death is a hard woman to track down.”

Nathanos sighed. “Unfortunate.”

“What is this about anyway?” Xiùlán demanded. “You are the oldest creature I know, hell, you might even be the oldest of us all.”

Nathanos laughed. “Me? What could I possibly have done? Actually,” he paused. “Do you know how I came to be this way?”

Xiùlán crossed her arms. “No, I don’t believe you ever told me.”

“Humans have many stories concerning mead, the Nordics have some of my favourite ones, but the truth is much more mundane. I invented it. Well, I suppose discovered it is more appropriate. I cannot recall the reason, but I put honey in water and must have forgotten about it. When I finally remembered, it had fermented. I am the first person to ever drink mead, and for reasons I do not know, every liquid I touch become it.”

Xiùlán  arched an eyebrow. “Is that so bad?”

Nathanos gave his head a subtle shake. “I cannot remember the taste of water. There is a plethora of human ingenuity I have been denied. Beer, sake, bai jiu, souju, whiskey, wine, the list goes on. But no, it is not so bad. Others have it far worse than I.”

Sudden laughter escaped Xiùlán’s mouth. “To spend eternity drunk, who would have thought!”

Nathanos waved a hand dismissively. “The alcohol does not affect me, it hasn’t since the first time I drank it.”

A moment of silence passed between them. “If there is nothing else, I must be going,” Xiùlán declared.

“I shan’t keep you,” Nathanos sighed.

“Thank you for the drink,” Xiùlán teased and vanished in the same manner she arrived.

Left to solitude, Nathanos went over to his refrigerator and took out a small container. He extracted a handful of blackberries from it, which he then he put into a glass of water. He considered the infusion of berries a small victory over his affliction. Bringing over his glass, he put it on a small coffee table in front of his couch. Taking a seat, he pulled up his legs on the chaise portion of it. Resting his head on the couch’s back, he took a swig of his drink.

Closing his eyes, he considered the sum of his life. The many names he had carried, the profound joy and sorrow he still felt, but most of all the persistent yearning that never seized to haunt him.

“When I reminisce,” he addressed no one in particular. “More than anything, I remember the songs. When I reminisce, I marvel at the immortality of such things. They sang, and continued to sing, passing ever-changing words from one generation to the next.”

Nathanos took another sip, then put his glass down. “It has been sung in every language, in countless words. How is it that they keep singing the thoughts I cannot give voice?”

Dismissing his own thoughts with a scoff and a brief chuckle, Nathanos opened his eyes and looked out at the city skyline. A tune found its way into his mind, and even though he kept his mouth closed and refused to speak… it escaped through his throat, a secret demanding to be hummed.

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For My Brothers


My dear brothers,
I am your elder only by a small margin,
Yet even so, I am what I am.
Thus ~
When the storms of life brew,
and the winds carry the rain of sorrow ~
when the weight of it all buckles your knees,
I will be your bastion,
I will be your bulwark.
With tear-shot eyes, I will scream,
I will scream until my lungs heave sore,
I will bellow defiance until I can stand no more.
For you both, I will sing odes in times of joy,
and lament our grief,
For the two of you, my younger brothers ~
Because these things you have done for me.

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Spirit

He said his dreams were frequent and vivid, full of life. Not so anymore. They had an air of ritual and mysticism to them, he told me. These dreams, they permeated him and even I could see them. I wonder what possessed him to spread his dreams under cruel feet. I mourned with him when he laid the fragments to rest. 

His aura is different now. I do not see it, never did, but that is what I call it. His aura. It used to brim with promise and potential. I could feel it like static across my forearms. I am afraid. I fear he has lost that something that made him undeniably him. He is like them now, and he hates that part of himself. Never told me that, of course, but that is because we both know he did not have to. 

Who am I? I have been by his side longer than any other. I have watched over him for many lifetimes. I am older than even his soul. Yet I have not seen him without dreams before. It frightens me. It is as if he cannot hear my voice anymore. He tries, the old fool. In the muted roar of the rain, secrets carried on the winds, and in booming thunder he listens for my voice. 

Perhaps a storm is what he needs. To wake up! So that he may sleep in dreams once more.

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A bottle of Sake

I am sure there are many things that pair well with a pensive mood. Light, or a lack thereof, to set the tone, or perhaps the right tunes to touch your spirit. Speaking of spirit, it is true that we often find philosophy in brew. 

While I appreciate a good stout,  the tragedy is never finding it without. Inhibition holds the key, but honesty sets free the heart. Liquid courage is too cruel a prophet, for an honest heart.

I feel there should be music to go with the mood. What better way to think than listening to emotion? Music that speaks to a person’s desire, to see with one’s ears, and be inspired.

There is bliss in finding the courage to be honest. It lies beyond the fear we rock in a cradle built with doubt.

The secrets held by a bottle of sake may be many. But when you pour the universe into a bowl, the answers will always be too small. 

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Apathy

Perhaps it should not surprise me that I have to wait until I am truly alone and have turned off all the light sources, save the computer monitor, for words to come back to me. Seclusion, it seems, have always been my most dependable muse. I find myself straining, as if my hearing has deteriorated. Perhaps it I am simply out of practice and am no longer fluent in her language.

Apathy has been following me around, lurking in the background but never leaving my peripheral. It is a very odd sensation, being able to look right at it. I realize now just for how long it has been following me. I can distinctly remember a time when it was not.

There is something I have lost. I have been disconnected. I do not recall exactly when it happened or how, but the door I see before my minds I is closed and locked from the other side. The calming serenity is no longer there, replaced by elaborate mimicry.

So how do I feel? Well, not what I expected. I feel reassured now that I can see, now that I once again am learning how to listen. While it is frustrating having to learn how from the beginning again, I am also hopeful. I am being more honest with myself.

I will meditate… and I will dream again like I once did. I will leave apathy behind.

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Open the Door – Turn Me Loose

When I close my eyes I see a man running. I know that he is I, but also that I am not truly him. He is what I wish I was, a man running through the thunderous onslaught of a storm… I want to run, and laugh as the exhilaration of it fills me with life. I want to feel the static crawl across my skin, with that deadly promise of lightning. But why? Why am I unable to see anything else?

I know where I am running. There is a door manifested by my spirit, a door locked from the other side. I run through the thunder and the rain, seeking to bring with me all that is primal and ram into this door with all that I am. I am desperate to reclaim the parts of me that I imprisoned behind it.

Sometimes the door becomes a stag. I have dreamt of it before, running armed with spear and fire. I can feel the hunt in my blood whenever I run. Perhaps that is why I am addicted to it, to life.

So find me the eternal forest and turn me loose… among the wolves.

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Trepidation: sharing your work

The sun is long set and I can hear a downpour through my open window. I have experienced this night before, as have you… I’m sure. I have ink on my knuckles, blue smears and abysmal handwriting have become a bit of a calling card.

Nights like these make a person aware, do they not? I have never understood why the mind finds the roar of rain so provocative. They come with the territory, these blue-smeared knuckles. When characters bleed or shed tears, they stain our hands as we lay bare their hearts on thin sheets of paper.

How, I wonder, is it possible to capture their essence in such a vessel? Binding pages into a book, pouring our innermost joys and pains into the space between binders, is intimate work. No small wonder there is an element of woe… Tread softly indeed.

There is fear, and yet I wonder what meaning such words would have if they were never read. So we stain our hands as we bind a piece of ourselves with paper and ink, magic such as it is. In portraying others, we capture ourselves. Thus I lay myself bare, a fragment paper thin that whispers of my soul.

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