Shadows in the Twilight, Walking

   Why this particular piece? This was a bit of background for the original Manifold setting (and possibly a frontspiece for a book of worlds), but it’s languished in the old files long enough.

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Within the womb of the earth

The living rock both barrier and doorway

Spirits are bound upon the cavern wall

In ochre, clay, and pigment, by the painter’s art

They breathe, dance, run, and hunt

A life granted by flickering flames

Interplay of light and darkness

Shadows become reality

In the mind’s eye

The shaman drums

At the dawn

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The rainbow serpent illuminates the path

Those who walk define the world

Bind the changing wilds to form

Spirits to flesh and loci

The horizon is turned back upon itself

Sun and stars are driven beyond

They lurk behind trees and stones

The wild things, hidden in the night

Hold converse with those who seek them out

Born among men, a heritage of the shaping art

Ride wind on wings of song

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Tiamat coils in the depths

The storm incarnate

Birthing gods and monsters

In equal measure

The light rises

Against the dark mother

Blood and fury churn

In primal waters

Dreaming serpentine rebirth

Sagae, lesser dreamers

Draw familiar fragments.

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In the boat of a million years

Threes upon threes

Man, beast, and elemental force

Sand, sky, and river

Body, mind, and spirit

The balance which is Ma’at

Reflected in the triads

Which are god, world, and man

The priest bridges god and world

Image, name, and rite

Bind worlds with desire

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Dragons whisper in the voice of streams

Secrets of heaven and earth

The jade throne binds all in order

While demons whisper chaos at the world’s core

The touch of Heisenberg is laid upon the world

The Orchard Woman dances before Shiva

The cycle spins, eternal

Night surrounds day, day infiltrates night

Twice nine the paths of immortality

Walked by the sages, the wheel of Tao

Men walk the way of gods

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Olives reach out from stony soils

In dust and chaos dreams of order

Hecate whispers from crossroads, beneath the hanged man

Slain and reborn, a lord of wine and mystery

Harvests seeds of magic, like grains of wheat against a famine

As crystal spheres bind the world to geometric order

Within a solar helix

But chaos pools in deepening wells of night

A vintage rare and strong, a forge of words

The hand of Circe reveals the beast within

While will alone withstands the titan’s fall

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Two yet one the vortex spins

Supernal fires smelt the mana of falling gods

Lens of ink, pen, and word

Focus light and dark beyond endurance

A cabalistic tree ascends the worlds

Cryptic keys inscribed, Kether and Qlippothic

Only miraculous strength suffices

To burst the bounds of order

The faltering twilight dance

Of man and spirit

Yields to the wizard’s way

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Wild godlings rage

Beyond the borders

They hang upon the tree, word become rune

Bearsark assail the order of the world

Women pass under the wings of death

To bring forth new life

And power with it

Hammerblow cracks crystal prison’s core

Too long exiled from the earth

Rain abyssal and heavenly shards

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In desolate crucible

Blowing sand enfolds shards of power

Birthing Jinn, and crawling darkness

In a city of doors

Wise in the old ways, fueled with burning faith

Turbaned sage whispers death and transformation

From mountain aerie

A thousand nights

Spin threads of magic through mathematic glyphs

Words which disregard the world

To cloak the clockwork mage

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Distilled in fire, the stone of the philosophers

Stands counterpart to venomous pact

A thousand clashing visions

Fuel witchfire rebellion

Order encysts chaos

In a thousand tomes, the spreading tide

Rides the crests of sails

As foam beneath their keels

The crumbling core sets earth about the sun

And finds renewal, while printing press

Spins summoning visions to a thousand minds

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Westward rides the dawning light

Where crimson flood feeds failing gods

Drips from Jaguar’s jaws like honeyed wine

The feathered serpent flees

Divinity twisted to nightmare by desperation

Called to mortal avatar, the carrion gods

Breed terrors dark and light, press power from flesh

In unholy alliance

Souls fuse in unnatural union

Those once ascended descend to beasts

Mirrored in obsidian, an invisible labyrinth

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The fourth world, enchained in iron

Falls back upon itself

In secret enclaves

Weakened spirits creep through crystal pores

Seek once more to fly between worlds

The ancient dance is interrupted, falters

Shaking earth’s foundation

A new age creeps in chaos

Through ten thousand crystal gates

Ancient seeds sprout from musty pages

Finding within hearts of men an ancient womb

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