Barefoot Poetry

SS Matthews


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Tavern on the Edge of Twilight

His face was clean shaven, but framed by years of untrimmed locks. Though he seemed well-mannered and calm, his features resembled those of an untamed and rather predatory creature. Never the less Sara could not deny an instant, almost instinctual attraction to the man that caused him appear exotically handsome. Amidst her dance and twirling toward dizziness, Sara found herself caught up in the eyes of a stranger.

The compelling wildness he possessed was so pervasive that it radiated through his outter veneer of civility like the howl of a wolf through a forest. His apparel, also most unusual, was tailored to fit a lean, hard frame and only added to an overwhelming aura of mystery. This was the impression Sara sensed about him immediately when he entered. When their eyes met she also sensed she was being swept downstream by a raging current.

Never the less, for Sara this encounter was something she’d always longed for, dreamed of, and suddenly; at a time when all hope had been long abandoned, become an inevitability that resisting could only delay. She wasn’t inclined to kid herself. She fully understood that the attraction she felt was probably akin to what the lamb felt toward the lion. Still, that didn’t matter. The stranger’s initial appraisal of her was so intense that it was sufficient to set off a trembling inside that was yet to cease.

Obviously he was an outlander, but caught up in a situation that couldn’t possibly be real, Sara found herself irresistibly drawn to the table where he took seat. But not until the back of a brutish hand knocked her from her feet did she realize her poor choice in timing.

Like everyone else in Twilight, Sara did her best to keep clear of the town bully. How strange it was that in approaching the stranger she hadn’t even noticed Burk was there. Stranger still was the improbable and dream-like vision of seeing the bully flipped through the air like a puppeteer’s doll.

From where she landed on the floor, to Sara the whole thing seemed much more like fantasy than actual events. Even with the resounding thud and cracking of a nearby tabletop she remained unconvinced that she wasn’t simply imagining it all. What did seem real however, was that her cheek burned like fire and was weeping blood into her mouth.

Of Course this wasn’t the first time Sara had been struck down by an angry man. Given her trade coupled with a hopeless appreciation for men of strong will, she been in this position before. Having a forgiving heart, not often did she wish herself able to retaliate.

This time though, it was different. Swatted away from something she was utterly attracted to, her first thought was how good it would feel to wash her hands in the monster’s blood. The idea so excited her that she found herself licking the inside of her swelling cheek.

How many years had it been since such a potent passion had blossomed in her breast? Enough that so distant were such passions that she found the unbridled intensity of it startling. Regardless of her response however, any retaliation Sara might imagine was destined to remain in the realm of vengeful daydreams. Dazed and looking on, it appeared the outlander moved with the speed and agility of a mountain panther. In a single movement he’d risen from his seat and taken things in hand.

There existed also in the outland stranger’s manner yet another aura. One that generated around him a warning defying interference in his affairs. This and the patrons’ ingrained fear of being accosted by Burk caused those nearest the confrontation to back well away.

Perhaps it really was a dream, Sara mused. After all, who could’ve foreseen the dance-floor becoming an impromptu arena and this unlikely savior standing over the larger brute holding him pinned to a table by his throat. Dream or no, Sara certainly found it worthy of a smile.

SS Matthews

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This excerpt is from the stand alone short story and chapter one of Wolfe’s Bane.


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Thief Saga – Jewel of Night part 1&2

Jewel of Night

Part 1

A spell is best cast upon those who believe,
that power through practice of magic achieves
superior craft when one’s talent is rare
to call from the shadows what things you might dare.

A firm non-believer may discount results,
never-the-less beware the occult.
Dabbling in darkness may offer a thrill,
but lurking within are things that can kill.

From velvet chambers she conjures a Name,
invading my night with her summoning game.
Called from my card play to heed her demand.
Does she think me novice and hers to command?

For here’s a magician awake in the night,
able to shine an experienced light
on some would-be sorceress testing her fate
by compelling a demon to dance for a date.

A trio of knaves I fold with a frown
placing a threesome of winners face down.
Gambling for coin requires no heart.
I make no excuses, just rise and depart.

The curse that I carry does grant me a boon.
To spells of control I am nearly immune.
When muttered at midnight amidst full array,
even a specter might fail to delay.

Some find me more than a shadowy spell.
Some even think me an agent of Hell.
Her witch-work is potent and tough to defend,
drawing me into a this contact with men.

The stench on the street is nearly to much.
Streets should be vacant of riff-raff and such.
As torches of pitch throw their intricate weaves
of shadows down alleys, the playground of thieves.

I spot the two bullies, clubs poised to transfer
cherished possessions from my hands to hers.
Did they think me easy, a target of sport?
My dagger by moonlight will swiftly retort.

Dull eyes from darkness leer red in the night.
Mistress of magic how deadly your plight?
Fool of a bully, come fill then your grave.
Torch-light I wrap and reflect from my blade.

This phantom is more than some ox at the block,
this fine cloaked pedestrian’s head you would knock.
A blur is my answer, your mate must now grieve.
Red eyes roll upward and blood stains my sleeve.

What vanity drove you to wear this grave face?
Your thug-mate retreats at full speed from this place.
Fleeing this figment of death’s steel caress
may save him some breath and sudden arrest.

I’ve no time for chasing a wet-legged fool.
The witch that awaits me by her gazing pool
will see by the shadows a-swirl that I come
and wonder if mayhap her deed is undone.

Part 2

Arcane reminders to visit by day
circle her threshold and would keep at bay
most any practitioner of ill intent.
By spoiling their purpose my message is sent.

Withering sigils, well-crafted in blue,
might stymie the best, but I weave and pass through.
Having shadows for allies provides me an edge
to slash through illusion when out on the ledge.

As final announcement alerting the lass,
the old oaken door cries aloud as I pass.
Faintly a glow from her corridor’s end,
warns me away from invading her den.

A pentagram smoldering crimson conforms
to a waxwork geometry set round her floor.
Surrounded by candles reflecting her gaze,
she stands in her witch-light miasma ablaze.

Feeling secure when ringed by designs,
an elegant mistress of dark paradigm.
The envy of monarchs is won by her stare.
The envy of ravens is won by her hair.

Black is her raiment, black as her frown.
a web-work of lace to suffice as a gown,
Youthful and supple, I study her form;
voluptuous assets with skin pale but warm.

My interest reveals her control near its ebb.
She lifts from a table a bowl brimming red.
“Hold witch!” My dagger tip tickles my palm,
“You got lucky once, be still and keep calm.”

Her mouth sags to open, her robe reveals all.
A practiced beguilement, a trick to forestall.
I should not indulge the shape of her thigh.
“You’ve brought us together, I want to know why!”

I send forth a thought. She winces in pain.
Feeling my power she utters a name.
“No one can help you, but he whom you face.
Last time I’m asking, the truth, every trace.”

“You have many secrets of vigor and youth,
while other men stumble about most uncouth.
Fables surround you and legend’s your name.
I crave to learn these, to be just the same.”

“So is it my talents you say that you need?
Lying is painful, might cause you to bleed.
Your story, I will with spells, rip from your mind.
You’ve kept me this long, yes, I have the time.”

“Onto the table witch! Off with that robe!
Look not so shocked when acting so bold.”
A light from my hands quells her every protest.
She did as I bid and I did the rest.

Her story she utters in mutters and moans.
My real adversary stands right of the throne.
I left her to dreaming amidst her designs.
Magic has uses, yeah, magic like mine.

Barefoot Poetry
SS Matthews


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Thief Saga – Jewel of Night pt. 1

Jewel of Night

the sea witch by frank frazetta
The Sea Witch by Frank Frazetta

A spell is best cast upon those who believe,
that power through practice of magick achieves
superior craft when one’s talent is rare
to call from the shadows what things you might dare.

A firm non-believer may discount result,
never-the-less beware the occult.
Dabbling in darkness may offer a thrill,
but lurking within are things that can kill.

From velvet chambers she conjures a Name,
invading my night with her summoning game.
Called from my card play to heed her demand.
Does she think me novice and hers to command?

For here’s a magician awake in the night,
able to shine an experienced light
on a would=be sorceress testing her fate.
by compelling a demon to dance for a date.

A trio of knaves I fold with a frown
placing the threesome of winners face down.
Gambling for coin requires no heart.
I give no excuses, just rise and depart.

Some find me more than a shadowy spell.
Some even think me an agent of Hell.
The curse that I carry does grant me this boon
To spells of control I am nearly immune.

Yet muttered at midnight amidst full array,
even a specter is urged to obey.
Her witch=work is potent and tough to defend,
leading me into this contact with men.

The stench on the street is nearly too much.
Streets should be vacant of riff-raff and such.
Torches of pitch throw their intricate weaves
of shadows down alleys, the playground of thieves.

I spot the two bullies, clubs poised to transfer
cherished possessions from my hands to hers.
Dull eyes from darkness leer red in the night.
Mistress of magick how deadly your plight?

Did they think me easy, a target of sport?
My dagger by moonlight will swiftly retort.
Fool of a bully, come fill then your grave.
Torch-light I wrap and reflect from my blade.

This phantom is more than some ox at the block,
this fine cloaked pedestrian’s head you would knock.
A blur is my answer, your mate must now grieve.
Red eyes roll upward and blood-stains my sleeve.

Your thug-mate retreats at full speed from this place.
What vanity drove you to wear this grave face?
Fleeing this figment of death’s steel caress
may save him some breath and sudden arrest.

I’ve no time for chasing a wet-legged fool.
The witch that awaits me by her gazing pool
will see by the shadows a-swirl that I come
and wonder if mayhap her deed is undone.

Arcane reminders to visit by day
circle her threshold and would keep at bay
most any practitioner of dark design.
I tingle a little, but cross it just fine.

Withering sigils, well-crafted in blue,
might stymie the best, but I weave and pass through.
Having shadows for allies does give me an edge
for shredding illusion when placed on the ledge.

Barefoot Poetry of
SSMatthews


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Track of the Wolf

Anion had never attempted such an incantation before, but then she’d never felt so compelled to seek someone out. Setting the clay bowl into its makeshift cradle over the small fire, she let the combination of ingredients simmer. As the mixture began to bubble, she added the wolf’s blood and slowly began to stir the mess with a large crow’s feather. In all, it was an unappetizing looking, sour smelling glob of seeing herbs and fluids.

Deciding to follow her instincts, she didn’t really know how to define her rescuer. If he wasn’t a god, this spell should work be he a man, an animal, or a combination of the two. This grove would no longer serve her as a haven; that was clear. The magic was broken and it was time to leave. Traveling with a companion would be much safer than going it alone.

Thickening, the mixture began clinging to the feather. Determined to divine her rescuer’s whereabouts, Anion stripped the gum from the feather and began to chew.

“Bendigeidfran, Bran The Blessed, bless this, my incantation.

On your wings my vision soars above the Father Oak.
From my eyes you may not hide, ‘neath mantle, cowl nor cloak.
Blood of wolf, blood of man blend now with my own
Feel my blood flow into yours and be to me now known.”

Closing her eyes, the vision began and Anion found her consciousness in flight. With the eyes of a raven, she could see a hare bounding along the same path that only the night before she’d fled along in fear of the slavers. The marks of her desperate attempt to escape, still visible, led to a disturbed area of dried and blackened blood. The bodies of the three men were gone, but the ground surrounding that horror-stricken site bore yet the imprint of his tracks. They were truly the prints of a wolf, large and wild.

Unbelievable as it all had been, it was no dream. Two slavers the wolf had savaged with fang and claw. While their leader struggled with his fear, she’d gathered the sword he’d discarded to rape her. Putting the blade to use was an act she’d never have accomplished on her own. It was the presence of the wolf that’d helped her find the strength. Still, it wasn’t out of debt that she sought him. Strange an association as it might be, a connection was made. And there was this unfamiliar sensation, one that had crept into her blood and set it aflame. Driven by feelings she did not yet understand, Anion followed the trail of prints to the edge of the trees.

#

With the previous evening’s storm cleared away, the stallion grazed contentedly on the fresh green of an open field. Finding enough dry wood to light a fire, Rowan sat watching the smoke rise as his clothing dried by its heat. He knew he should move on, away from the girl and the carnage he’d wreaked on her behalf.

Still, something was causing him to hesitate. Vague as it was, the feeling over-powered the suspicion that getting involved would only bring further risk of exposure.

Being new to these Isles, he could maintain his anonymity, but that was best done by traveling alone. If word should spread of a beast loose in the countryside, someone would come hunting. Those deaths bothered him little though. They were slayers and aware of the risks. It was the innocents caught in between that weighed heavy in his thoughts. They always seemed to be the ones to reap the harvest of his violence. In trying to defend them, or they to befriend him, the result was usually the same. Those who hunted him cared little for those he left exposed.

Whistling for the stallion, better judgment insisted he leave. Like a wisp of smoke straying from wafting column, he felt her then and paused. So she was a spell caster. He hadn’t picked up on that. Her skills might be unpolished, but the potency of her thaumaturgical casting was effective. He could feel her. She was trying to get into his blood.

She wasn’t truly defenseless then. He could leave her to fend for herself and she’d probably do little harm. Although labeled a witch by the locals, she’d probably be eventually captured and stoned. In their infinite ignorance, those who couldn’t understand her gifts would seek to end them. The talent she exhibited would need direction and refining to really be dangerous, that is to say, effectively lethal. If he waited for her, he’d end up filling that role. She’d learn from him and would become a force in the magical world. That is, if she survived. Those he’d taken as companions in the past had not.

Like it or not, he was the emissary of Death. He continued on while those around him withered at his fell touch. Let it be her choice, he thought. If she wanted to learn, he’d teach her. If she didn’t, he’d teach her anyway. It was, after all, the way of things.

Out-take from Wolfe’s Bane
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