On the Steps of the Temple of Deoch
by Clockwork of Dark Ages

The Dreamers' Mass has ended
the temple returns to the mundane laity
and we file from this grand church
an army of heroes and poets,
laughing and talking
returning to our homes and hunting grounds
The wide-eyed children of Suomi are here
whispering and pointing
They've come to see the Aislings
the fierce and splendid champions
their rich embroidered robes
their glittering weapons
The children stare and giggle
as the throng of supermen streams down the steps
diverging into twos and threes
grouping into their factions and cliques
I am alone
I remember this temple empty and ruined
We played here, my Beloved and I,
the clockmaker's daughter and the servants' son
when we were only children
no taller than these,
hiding between the dusty broken pews of the great hall
chasing each other through dim passages
staring at the ruined friezes depicting pagan rituals
drunken orgies to the god of debauchery
We were so innocent, my Beloved and I
in those days before the gods returned
and before the Advent of the Dreamers
O, great stones of the temple do you remember my beloved?
Do you remember her laughter pealing through this vast stone hall?
I remember stolen kisses
We did not yet know those years had become Deochs,
when we were the clockmaker's apprentice and his daughter
Our love was still bright and new
on that day
when everything changed
the day the first Aislings came to Suomi
We watched them, my Beloved and I,
their grand entry
pennants and banners snapping in the breeze
the serene monk, the scowling wizard, and
the beautiful, proud warrior
(she smiled when she saw us watching)
they rode past us on their mighty warhorses
their retinue of mundanes marching proudly behind
toward the town hall
after that day our parents would speak
in hushed tones,
of dark incursions from unholy realms
strife amongst the gods
and the thin line of light holding back the darkness
O, great stones of the temple, do you regret the loss of devotion so profound?
Do you mourn for our great passion felled in its full bloom?
I remember the call, the terrible, beautiful call
a chorus of a thousand angels screaming in my head
calling me to Mileth
demanding to be answered
I left my master without a thought, forsaking my trade
I cast away my family
I betrayed my friends
and I abandoned my Beloved
to reach for that prized pearl
the precious spark
I remember fever-dreams of ancient gods, on my journey
a storm-tossed ship
a kind priest who fed me
the beating the soldiers gave me
and then there was my Beloved, my beautiful Beloved,
with me on my journey
I do not know where she found me, or when
only that she was there
steadying me
when I stumbled through the gates of the city
along the avenues
until I reached the battered hotels of the poor
and finally collapsed
to be reborn
They think I am so fearless
when I go to meet the lumbering horde
when I battle the twisted minions of the enemy
when I descend into the crypts
They sing now of my glorious bravery
my endless war against the darkness
If they only knew
how I long for the enemy's welcome embrace
to be torn from this world
to be hurtled through the aether
to spend a few hours in the sinister realm
for a few moments, to be complete
I never wanted more than the tradesman's life
a simple home, enough for my Beloved and I, a few children…
the finery of the Aislings, the disciplines of the monks
these calloused hands
accustomed to killing
are strange and empty to me
The clock-maker's apprentice is so far gone now;
only I remain
this scarred soldier of light
trapped in the labyrinth of Temuair
O, ancient temple,
long-forgotten cathedral of the Light-Bringer,
Your finery has been restored
Plush velvet tapestries from Rucesion
Intricate facades repaired by the master stoneworkers of Loures
New pews carved by the woodworkers of Mileth
After the long centuries, the priests have replenished your congregations
Gathered your worshippers back from the wilderness
Your god has returned home,
burning brightly with newfound redemption
O, great stones of the temple
do you pity me?
You have regained your soul
and I have lost mine
I remember the warm summer air
thick with the sweet, cloying scent of the Garden
I remember the lutes of the musicians
and sharing a tankard of hot, spicy wine
deep in the woodlands, at the Celebration of Glioca
on the night my Beloved died
I was so eager for acceptance
the novice monk and his Mundane lover
so desperate for the blessing
of Aisling society's elite
I was bright with my new power, giddy in the full bloom of our love
I remember kissing her cheek by the fire
as we listened to the old epic songs
the blood-curdling scream of a child
and then they were upon us
huge dark forms loping into the clearing
the strangled battle-cries of the goblins filling the air
mixed with the terrified cries of celebrants
fleeing into the trees
I stood fast with my brothers
shouting our cries -- tzaaii!  tzaaii!
leaping through the air
battering the monsters with kicks and punches
we fought so fiercely, my brothers and I!
for every one killed,
three more came
we began to fall
I remember crawling, with both of my legs broken
at the end of the battle
through the perfumed plants
until I found her
crumpled and bleeding
I do not know if she was already dead then
or soon would be
I held her in my arms, and wept
she was so beautiful, through tear-blurred eyes
I kissed her,
one final kiss
tasting bruised lips, broken teeth
and then they found me
the wicked brutes of the forest
I remember
being yanked into the air
hot, rancid breath
yellow-fanged maw closing on my shoulder
wrenching  my arm away
watching the wretched beasts rip the meat from it
crack the bone, suck the marrow
as the cold twilight enveloped me
and then
strange turning, hot, intoxicated half-sleep
hurtling between the realms towards the faraway light
turning again
I was standing
my body transfigured, angelic, mute
my beloved beside me there
in the realm of the shadows
the terrible resonance of the great chamber of souls
singing with dark power -- yet silent
the great, rotting form of the Attendant regarding us
pointing his skeletal finger at me
and then I was hurtled again, back through the aether
to my resurrection
in Temuair
O, great stones of the temple, how can I unfold this gnarled heart?
Where is the key that unlocks the tragic accord?
How long must I wait for the cruel, glowering sun to pass beneath that distant horizon?
When will I regain my lost soul?
How many times have I slipped from this bright world
fled from Danaan's hot gaze
to that shadowy realm?
every time she is waiting there
gazing at me in mute sorrow
so silent, so sad, so beautiful
until the bony finger points
the compact of the League of Darkness is honored
and I am restored to the living earth;
the conscript of the gods returned once more to their chosen battleground
the pawn returned to his rank
O, great stones of the temple,
how long must I search?
When will I find the answer to this riddle?
I have deciphered the ancient scrolls of the great Library of Loures
translated the lore of the Mukul
interpreted the hieroglyphic walls of the Temple of Veil
the Pact cannot be broken
I am no closer to escaping this sunlit labyrinth
Deoch's Gift has bound me to this living world
so gloomy, so barren to me now
When shall I break this cruel cycle, and slip finally into the welcoming night?
When will I become whole again?
I am alone now,
alone on the steps of the temple of Deoch
the last mundane priest smiles and nods as he hurries past
leaving me to my thoughts
the sun is high in the sky now
and the children of Suomi are long gone
only I remain
and the brutal, silent stones of the temple
      --Valdemar "Clockwork" Norrsbruck