'fighting for goodness' by Linda M. Crate
there is still beauty in this world, and it can be heard in the soft song of magnolias and other flowering trees; in bird song and ivy spilling over the garden gates and stone ledges— it can be seen in tiny purple flowers growing among the roots of ancient trees, and in the solemn laughter of creeks and the bright lyrics of sunlight dancing across my face; i refuse to surrender my hopes and my dreams because i know there is goodness in this world worth fighting for.
‘The Valley of the Winged Horses’ by Alberte Steengaard
The forest was silent in the early morning light. Too silent. It was as if the fog had covered the trees with a thick blanket, muffling the sound of their footsteps. The sun had not yet risen, but it would not be long. Onyx could see the the outline of Faelar’s dark green cloak a few meters ahead of her. Normally the cloak would make the elf almost invisible against the forest backdrop, but at this hour his tall dark frame stood out against the white fog. Faelar knelt at the the ground examining something Onyx could not see. In all of her years as a hunter she had never been able to match the tracking skills of the elfin folk.
“We’re nearly there”, he said as he stood up.
“So you’re still not going to tell me me where we’re going?”, Onyx asked stifling a yawn. Faelar only looked at her with mischief in his eyes, as he continued down a path only he could see. Onyx had learned during her time with the elfin folk, that they rarely spoke if a look or a gesture would suffice. She had grown used to the silent ways of their kin, but that did not stop her from talking when she felt like it. This had, more than one, caused her to be ridiculed by those in the elfin king’s court in their own tongue which she did not yet understand, but even that she had gotten used to. Words were the power of her kin, so why should she keep silent just because the elfin folk did not understand what power they held. The memory of the first time she introduced Faelar to poetry crossed her mind, and caused her to glance at the elfin prince in front her with a smirk. For all of his efforts he was still unable to understand how words could mean something other than what they said, let alone how they could convey emotions or beauty. To him, books were merely things filled with knowledge, facts on the page. For a folk renowned for their beauty, the elfin folk did not care much for the beauty around them and they understood it even less. Only Faelar seemed to have some sort of interest in learning about this foreign concept. She had once caught him in his chambers, a single rose in his hand, pondering over a poem she had shown him earlier this day about said flower.
“How can a flower symbolise love?”, he had asked her in his frustration, “it makes no sense!”. Onyx had spend the better part of that afternoon trying to explain to him how the delicate beauty of the rose had merely reminded the poet of his lover, making him write the poem. She had even tried to use what few examples of beauty she could think of that might be familiar to elfin prince, but the idea of love and beauty were still foreign to him. The elfin folk did not love the same way mankind did. To them, love was rational and resembled more a deep bond of friendship than the love found in Onyx’ poems. Aside from the occasional rumor of an elf falling in love with a human, thus becoming an outcast never to return, there were no hard proof that the elfin folk even felt love.
“Do you feel it?”, Faelar had asked her once, sapphire eyes boring into hers, “this, love?”.
“Not yet”. Her answer was truthful, she had not yet experienced the kind of great love explained in her poems. She had left her life in the capital to escape an arranged marriage, because the thought of marrying without love was as foreign to her as the thought of beauty was to the elfin folk.
“Then how do you know it is real?”
“I suppose I don’t, really. I only have the words of the poets as proof”
“But can poets not lie?”. Faelar’s unfaltering logic had made her chuckle, only to elicit
more frustration from the elf.
“Yes. Poets can lie as well as any man”. Her answer had caused the elfin prince to lose some of his regal composure as he stood up with a sharp exhale.
“But I have faith. I have faith that one day I will get to experience the feelings their words bring me. That one day I will meet someone who makes the beauty of the world better, simply because I get to share it with them”.
Since then Faelar had decided that to understand love, he must understand beauty, and he would often make Onyx describe in detail the beauty she saw in different things. Flowers, food, clothes, the skillfully crafted bows so unique to the elfin folk, and even the castle they lived in had he forced her to find the beauty in so that he might take part in it. One night an idea had struck her as she snuck into his chambers and together they snuck out through the Seagate. She made him lie on his back next to her in the damp grass, as she told him about the beauty in the stars. He was so silent, even for an elf, as she spoke that she thought he might finally have begun to understand. Even without looking at him she could feel his concentration as he hung on every word she spoke of the diamonds in the skies. As she spoke she had snuck a sideway glance at him, only to find him looking at her instead of the stars, much to her annoyance. She had given up. Despite Faelar’s protests and pleas that she continued her tale of the stars, she had come to the realisation that he, like his kin, was incapable of seeing the beauty in anything.
Faelar’s hand grabbing her arm brought her out of her thoughts and back to the cold and damp morning forest. He put a single finger over his lips, telling her to be silent as he sat down in the wet grass. She slid down next to him, and they sat in silence as the sun became visible on the horizon. As they sat watching the sea from the edge of the forest Onyx began to grow impatient, but just as she turned to speak to Faelar, he pointed at the sky. His elfin eyes must have seen what they were here for, but it took at couple for seconds for Onyx to see it against the backdrop of the clouds. When she did, she gasped so loudly Faelar had to cover her mouth with his hand. A single great white horse, with wings ten times bigger than an eagle’s, was descending from the sky. As the horse landed in the shallow water it folded its wings along its side. It was far bigger than any horse Onyx had ever seen, and as she stared at it more came to join it in the shallow waters. Each was a different colour, ranging from the brightest of white to the darkest of black. She could hardly believe her own eyes, for she had always thought that the Pegasus had died out long ago, that they were nothing more than a mere legend.
They stayed at the edge of the forest in complete silence as they watched the horses drink and play around in the waters, knowing that the slightest movement might spook the majestic creatures. It was near mid-day when Faelar tucked at her arm gently, signalling in his silent ways that they should get back to the castle. They walked silently, as Onyx tried to comprehend what she had just seen, until Faelar looked at her and asked.
“Was that … Beautiful?”. The question came as such a surprise Onyx stopped in her tracks. Faelar was staring down, adjusting his armband, almost as if he was embarrassed that he had asked.
“Yes”, Onyx voice came out as a whisper, “That was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen”.
An almost satisfied smile spread across Faelar’s face and they walked the rest of the way to the castle without saying another word. Onyx had the sense that Faelar was watching her, but she was still too focussed on the sight of the winged horses she did not notice the
glances he gave her as he tried to gauge her reaction to the sight. He was slowly beginning to understand the beauty she saw in the world.
"What Were We Talking About Again?" by S.J. Saighead
Underwear hangs in beauty as do the socks and shirt, above the glistening light of a dying city in mourning thinking of the loss of sobriety of dear thought and loveliness. Reading modern romantics speak of the beauty of life so lovely. What are we talking about? When we talk about love we remember the smiles and crooked gestures made with a mind of sex and evening smokes. I don’t think of socks and shirts when I’m drunk or hungover or drunk. I think of the lights of a city so far away it doesn’t bear contemplation. He told me, spilling vodka on the carpet of the beauty of the scene, how the light touched each hair so to make it shine, speaking of the beauty of life so lovely What are we talking about?