The short and squat stone building jutted out of the mountain side, suspended almost like a pure white cloud, floating along the top of the mount. You pull you’re feather cloak tightly about your shoulders and finish your climb to the summit. The service has started, but you’ll be able to catch the end. Gently sliding the door open you sneak inside, dropping a silver coin into the donation plate, you stand for the remainder of the service.
An excerpt from The Wintery Hymns of Ithreia:
To be performed in the D minor scale:
Refrain: The storm, she is a coming.
The sun shines high in the morning
Toil on the land, fish from the sea
Times like this; be busy as a bee
The clouds they serve as a warning
In the springtime it’s time to sow
In the summertime the plants will grow
Harvest in the autumn time
Get ready for the oncoming Rime
Biting wind and raging storm
Salt the meat and store the wheat
One day, again it will be warm
Springtime we are anxious to greet
Blessed are those who prepare for the cold
Blessed are those with food; as good as gold
Prepare thyself for what lies ahead
Prepare thyself lest you try to live without bread
A reading from the Lamentations of the Frost
The Harpy queen was known to sleep during the day – her kind find the night safer for their flight and their hunts. After sundown, the light of the sun was fading and the shadows were beginning to rise on the mountain, her nest high in an ancient hollowed tree. Her call echoing through the wood, she was queen here, taking her pick of the prey.
This Harpy queen had grown old and persnickety as time went on and she grew more and more irritable, especially if her daily slumber was disturbed. One snowy mountain day the ancient harpy opened her eyes to the raspy song of a xax bard nearby, hard at work.
The harpy queen called out to the beast, “Have you no manners, sir? Get away from here, respect your elders and let me rest in peace!”
But the Xax answered back that he had as much a right to the mountain as the Harpy in her ancient tree, and went back to his work, louder than before.
The elder harpy had not grown old due to foolishness, and knew better than to argue with the brute. Her eyes were not as keen as they had been in her youth and the light of the day strained her eyes. She laid aside all her malice, and spoke softly and kindly to the monster.
“Well sir,” she started, “if I am to stay awake I am going to settle here near you and hear your song, you do such glorious work… I have been saving this glorious wine I received as a gift for a special occasion, come and sup at my table.”
The foolish Xax was taken in by the Harpy’s flattering words. Up he climbed to the Harpy’s den, but as soon as he entered the den and the old Harpy could see him clearly, she pounced upon him and tore the started bard limb from limb.
Flattery is not a proof of true admiration. Do not let flattery throw you off your guard against an enemy.
The parable of Ithreia strike true in the hearts of the crowd. They must be ever stalwart against their enemies and prepare for the worst, as it is yet to come. Winter is always on the horizon – biting cold and snow, but it is nice to know there is a place and time where even a grizzled old veteran can get a bit of a reprieve.
Ithreians of Porphyra by David N. Ross is now available.