“Ashen Murder” – Act II – Scene 2

Artwork by Linda Lobo (more of her work HERE).

Previously…

 

ACT II

Scene 2

The village market square; early afternoon. The swarm of simpletons is gathered like maggots around the remains of their beloved town crier. They don’t seem to grasp what has happened, they’ve never been so lost – and that’s saying something. The darkened rings around their vacant eyes still persist – sleeping seems to be a luxury these days.

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[Enter THE MAIDEN OF ASH.]

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Fair people of faith, I mean you no harm
I wish you’d just listen and lay down your arms
My pyre to seek, the omens decree,
The feathers to lead the ravens to me

SIMPLETONS
The Witch in White for us to see!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Implore you I must and come you no further
The darkness, it feeds on vengeance and fervour
When your forests ran empty and your stars became dim
We’ve never turned tail, myself and my kin

SIMPLETONS
Purge the witches of their sin!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
When your children laid stiff at the foot of the bed
Who ushered the life that your gods have but fled?
When your forests ran empty and your stars bled alight
Who warmed your hearths and banished your fright?

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, the Witch in White!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Fair people of faith, I don’t wish to fight
I am no beast, no banshee or wight!

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, the Witch in White!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Go home to your kin, sleep tender and tight
There is no need for bloodshed tonight!

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, the Witch in White!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
To burn like my sisters, you wish this of me?
To wallow and wail in mere misery?
To be bound once more, I could never accord
Now bow down and speak – where is Ravenlord?

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch… the Witch… in White…?

[In a lightning flash, the gentle rays of the afternoon turn to a turbid raging thunderstorm.]

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Speak to me, curse you, by fury and storm
What have you done to the Ravenlord?

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, the Witch in White!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Ugh! Get out of my bloody sight!

[With the furious clench of her fist, THE MAIDEN OF ASH rains death upon the whole village; the SIMPLETONS collapse dead to the ground as their homes slowly start catching fire.]

“Ashen Murder” – Act II – Scene 1

Previously…

 

ACT II

Scene 1

The Oaken Glade, a small and quiet clearing in the middle of the forest outside the village; the timid sun-rays of noon bleed through the daunting crown of the forest. The Matron of Ember is slowly stirring in a cauldron, paying excessive attention to the ripples left on the surface. The Lady of Matches lays in the shade in a makeshift hammock, seemingly carefree. They’ve been arguing for a while now.

THE LADY OF MATCHES
For the last time,
Dear sister of mine,
She’s been late before, I’m sure she’s just fine.

THE MATRON OF EMBER
Is that faith or folly that I hear?

THE LADY OF MATCHES
A little bit of both, I fear.

THE MATRON OF EMBER
Tail of the fox and eye of the cat –
Show me wherein lies that mischievous brat!

THE LADY OF MATCHES
You’ve seasoned that swill for innumerable days;
Do you still have faith in the boring old ways?

THE MATRON OF EMBER
Lilac and acorn and plumes of the swan –
Show me where she is, where she could have gone!

THE LADY OF MATCHES
Red wine and cheese and a loaf of bread –
Maybe you should just look for her instead!

THE MATRON OF EMBER
Have you no mind? What if she’s dead?
What if she stumbled and fell on a sword?
What if she met that damned Ravenlord?

THE LADY OF MATCHES
Calm yourself, sister, few have that luck;
And if true, in vain do you cackle and cluck –
Didn’t he choose you to become his bride
Before you callously broke off from his side?

THE MATRON OF EMBER
You know nothing of that, of the horrors I faced
‘Fore I fell from that tower, his cursed embrace!
We will speak no more of his terrible name,
Lest we summon him from his darkest domain.

THE LADY OF MATCHES
It was so long ago; do you still fear his sway?

THE MATRON OF EMBER
As if it were yesterday…

[THE MAIDEN OF ASH enters the scene. The soot from her blackened tips seems to have spread further; this is no ordinary soot, it seems… THE MATRON OF EMBER and THE LADY OF MATCHES both stand to greet their protege.]

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Greetings to you, sweet Matron and Lady.
I’ve heard your call, you’ve been looking for me?

THE MATRON OF EMBER
Where have you been, girl, spare no detail!
Where did you splurge while we wallowed and wailed?

THE LADY OF MATCHES
Pay her no mind, she’s been howling for days.
What held you so long on your merry ways?

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
At the edge of the woods, I was gathering herbs,
When the snarling of wolves and a child’s voice I heard,
So I rushed to her aid, for helpless she was;
She would have fallen for their fangs and their claws.

THE LADY OF MATCHES
My, oh, my, isn’t that true?
Sounds like something my sister would do.
At the edge of the woods, at the jaws of a hound:
That’s where she was once, when you were found.

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
And the child I brought to the village nearby,
For lost in the woods she’d not live through the night.
She thanked me, that lone girl – hair black as a crow’s.
The peasants were… less grateful, I suppose.

THE MATRON OF EMBER
Foolish girl, when will you wake?

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
They spat and they shoved and bound me to a stake!

THE LADY OF MATCHES
My, oh, my… isn’t that true?
Sounds like they did what they did to me too…

THE MATRON OF EMBER
And what of your chants? We’ve heard none through the woods!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
I’ve sung all my songs, I’ve done all I could…
I spoke of the Lady, the tender and fair,
Who ushers the love in our hearts everywhere.
I spoke of the Matron, sweet Matron of guilt,
Mother of vengeance and hatred of filth.
I spoke of my sisters, I give you my word;
Yet, in the end… there he was…

THE MATRON OF EMBER
No…

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
The Ravenlord.

THE MATRON OF EMBER
No!
Foolish puppet, you’ve doomed us all!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
To every summer, there must be a fall.

THE MATRON OF EMBER
You were always a halfwit, blinded and deaf!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
To every life, there must be a death.

THE MATRON OF EMBER
Leave this forest and never return!
You have befouled the trust you have earned!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
For all your long years, you never did learn –
The longer you hate, the brighter you burn.

[Furious beyond words, THE MATRON OF EMBER leaves the scene; The Oaken Glade bursts into a wild fire shortly afterwards. THE MAIDEN OF ASH and THE LADY OF MATCHES approach the cauldron.]

THE LADY OF MATCHES
In all of my years, I’ve never despised
His cold gripping touch, the void in his eyes.
He spoke to me once, “little raven”, he said,
Yet, in the end… chose my sister instead…

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Is there anything left for my dark eyes to see?

THE LADY OF MATCHES
Go to him, child, listen to me:
Live all that I only could dream I would be;
After all, misery does love company.

[THE LADY OF MATCHES takes the raven feather from THE MAIDEN’s cold hand and gently places it on the surface of the bubbling cauldron.]

THE LADY OF MATCHES and THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Feather of dark, the silence of stars –
Show us our Lord, the void of our hearts.
Plume of the night, of peril and plight –
Ravenlord, grant us the truth of your sight.

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Nothing…

THE LADY OF MATCHES
Don’t you fret, child, listen to me:
In the depth of your heart, what do you see?
Heed the song of your destiny true;
What does the beating whisper to you?

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
It says I must leave and never return;
That I should have died, that I should have burned…
It says I must suffer for my blissful image;
That I must return to that cursed village…

THE LADY OF MATCHES
Go to him, child, he waits for you there!
Never you falter, never despair!
No matter how silent, no matter how dark,
Never forsake the song of your heart!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
But how will I find him, I can’t help but wonder…

THE LADY OF MATCHES
One way, my dear; one way or another…

[THE MAIDEN OF ASH leaves reluctantly. Gently swaying in her hammock, THE LADY OF MATCHES makes herself comfortable as the whole clearing is enveloped in flames. Her soft hums echo as the young girl departs.]

“Ashen Murder” – Act I – Scene 3

Artwork by Linda Lobo (more of her work HERE).

Previously…

 

ACT I

Scene 3

The village market square; the next morning. A thick smoke still enshrouds the village centre. Curiously, the rats have already picked clean the bones of the town crier. The Maiden of Ash rests under the shadow of what was to be her untimely grave. She has just awaken. The tips of her silvery strands of hair seem to have blackened over night – probably just some soot from yesterday’s fire.

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THE MAIDEN OF ASH
“The Witch in White” – what a disgrace,
To be hauled like cattle and debased.

‘Tis I who grew their forests grand
Which they turned to barren land;

‘Tis I who veers their fawns and deers
And brings them ‘fore their feeble spears;

‘Tis I who made their fam’lies whole,
Yet they tied me to a pole?!

I’ve taught them songs of harp and lyre,
Yet they cast me to the fire?!

Was it dream… or memory,
Our darkest “remedy”?
Was it real… or revery?
Was he here or… where is he?

[THE MAIDEN OF ASH stands and picks up a raven’s feather off the ground.]

I called his name, to flame defiant
And he found me on a whim.
Now he’s somewhere seething silent –
Now it’s my turn to find him.

“Ashen Murder” – Act I – Scene 2

Artwork by Linda Lobo (more of her work HERE).

Previously…

 

ACT I

Scene 2

The village market square; midnight. Lightning dances and flickers behind a curtain of thick clouds. The Maiden of Ash is tied up to a stake with elm branches piled at the bottom. She knows she is scared – they do not. She appears calm and collected, but isn’t. The gleaming shades of her hair and her seemingly glowing pale skin glisten in the faint light of the torches. Cowering together on the other side are the simpletons, facing the pyre, with The Town Crier as their front-man; they haven’t slept in ages. They are uneasy.

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THE TOWN CRIER
Hear ye, hear ye –
The blessed gods did speak to me
And brought-they forth – their might, praise be –
The Witch in White for all to see!

SIMPLETONS
The Witch in White for us to see!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Lady of Matches, your favour I seek,
Warm the hearts of the cruel and bleak!

THE TOWN CRIER
Behold, my brothers and beware –
Before the gods does she declare!
She speaks in riddles of her kin;
The Devil dances deep within!

SIMPLETONS
Purge the witches of their sin!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Matron of Ember,
Remember, remember
The day they smouldered your sisters dear;
And may I surrender,
Sweet Matron of Ember,
To the fire that kindles the hatred in fear!

THE TOWN CRIER
You will utter no more your blasphemous spurn;
If it’s fire you seek, tonight you shall burn!
The gods did speak – they showed me the light;
Make peace with your devils and may you burn bright!

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, The Witch in White!

[THE TOWN CRIER throws his torch on the elm pyre; the SIMPLETONS cheer violently.]

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Ravenlord, oh, Ravenlord,
Aid me in my darkest hour;
Speak through me your darkest word;
Descend from your darkest tower!

THE TOWN CRIER
No longer will we quail and cower!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Oh, Crowfather, heed my call!
Lend me unforgiving sight;
Let me see the rise and fall
Of thy feathers’ darkest flight!

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, The Witch in White!

THE MAIDEN OF ASH
Lord of Ravens, Ravenlord,
Lend me strength and will to fight;
Let me be your darkest sword;
Let me live another night!

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, The Witch in White!

[Enter THE RAVENLORD slowly clapping from behind the crowd of SIMPLETONS; the rain pours down and extinguishes the pyre; THE MAIDEN OF ASH remains tied to the stake with her head down and her eyes closed.]

THE RAVENLORD
A fine performance, what a feat!
A cornered kitten, what a treat!
You people sure look like trouble
With your rags and piles of rubble.

THE TOWN CRIER
The scripts were right! The gods spoke true!

THE RAVENLORD
That’s quite enough out of you.

[At the hand gesture of THE RAVENLORD, THE TOWN CRIER collapses dead to the ground.]

SIMPLETONS
Burn the Witch, The Witch in White!

THE RAVENLORD
Get out of my bloody sight.

[The crowd of SIMPLETONS dissipates and leaves in all directions.]

THE RAVENLORD
“Witch in White” – what a disgrace.
Tasteless name for such a face;
And what a face… I cannot place…
I feel as though memory betrays.
And that voice, I can’t compare…
Say…
Don’t I know you from somewhere?

“Ashen Murder” – Act I – Scene 1

Hey folks! Long time no write, right? Wrong!

This is what I’ve been working on for the past three months or so. Well, not all of it, just a teaser. To keep it manageable for people who’d rather not have to read an entire play in one go, I’ll be posting the entirety of the text scene by scene. Keep in mind that this is not supposed to be the stage-ready version of the piece but rather a published variant.

Most of the inspiration for the play and the incentive to keep on writing it has been provided by my very close friend Linda Lobo, who is also responsible for all the artwork included in and affiliated with the play. More of her art can be found HERE.

 

 

“Ashen Murder”

____________

A Play in 3 Acts

by

Morvarth

CAST OF CHARACTERS

The Ravenlord: Appears to be a man in his 40’s. A perpetually dark and troubled individual; prefers to hide his unrest behind a smile – he’s very bad at it.
The Maiden of Ash: A woman in her early 20’s. Her thoughts always seem to drift elsewhere. She seems shy, but isn’t. She is regarded as naive, but she does not know the word.
Corax: A raven; one of Ravenlord’s advisers. Constantly seething, almost shaking with anger. Addicted to cigars.
Cornix: Another raven and adviser to the Ravenlord. Always in a jolly good disposition; never skips a chance to flirt with anything that moves. Wears a hat or a hood to hide the gruesome scar on his right eye.
The Matron of Ember: A few centuries old witch. To call her a bitter and venomous shrew would be a grave understatement.
The Lady of Matches: Also a witch; only six minutes younger than her sister, Matron of Ember; appears to be a tall and beautiful woman in her early 30’s. Her smile is a rare sight… but what a sight, indeed…
The Town Crier: An old man in his 70’s. As wise as a rabid dog; as eloquent as a drunkard on death row. He reeks of manure – and despair.
Simpletons: A collective of raggedy peasants, layabouts and overall morons – all that’s left of this god-forsaken village. Somehow.

ACT I

Scene 1

Atop The Ravenlord’s Tower. It is close to midnight and a storm is brewing. The Ravenlord is very bored today; he sits upon his elm throne sighing with every breath. Corax is perched cross-legged atop his elm roost with a cigar in his tattered beak, a small jest away from bursting into chaos. Cornix is leaning on the edge of the tower with a wing behind his back and another holding his hat from falling; he has never looked so heartbroken.

untitled_artwork

CORNIX
And here I thought “no chance in Hell
That I’d toy with such a dame”
Such a flame inside her heart, oh well,
Such a pity, such a shame…
I only wish…

CORAX
Shut up, peacock, you’re to blame!

CORNIX
If the gentleman’s dissatisfied,
I suggest he joins the bride.

CORAX
When I’m finished with your hide,
You will wish that you had died…
Instead of…

CORNIX
Perhaps she’s not quite yet dead, love.

THE RAVENLORD
I beg of you both, leave me be;
I’ve no need for “remedy”
If your presence is involved –
And no more talk of peace and love.

CORNIX
Sire, we truly do sympathise –

THE RAVENLORD
Then leave the corners of my eyes!
I relieve you of your ties.

CORAX
But my lord, he’s right, for once –
The damnable deluded dunce.

CORNIX
Oi…

CORAX
We’ve all got poisons, what’s the fuss?

CORNIX
What will you do without us?

THE RAVENLORD
Ease your talons, ’twas a jest…

CORNIX
Our Ravenlord knows best.

THE RAVENLORD
Tell me, friends, do you recall
The day I stood atop this tower
For the first time, proud and tall
In my glorious darkest hour?

CORNIX
As if it were yesterday.

THE RAVENLORD
The day I soared with song and sorrow,
The first day my wings did sway…

CORAX
As if it were tomorrow.

THE RAVENLORD
I do not, I bring to light –
I’m not quite myself tonight.

[CORAX and CORNIX leave.]

THE RAVENLORD
But what is this?

“The Big Question”

Hey folks, been a while! I’ve started writing this like an hour ago.

Enjoy!

“The Big Question”

Leaning low, all weak and wary,
Gleaming, glowing bleak and scary,

My own limbs I lug and carry
With a struggle temporary.

I’ve prettied up, I’ve donned my clothes,
I’ve trimmed up all my frigid toes.

They stare in awe, the whole world knows –
I am frankly indisposed.

I’ve limped through this town far and wide
And all I see is black and white;

And everything I smell smells like
Roses and formaldehyde.

Far and wide, this I must stress,
For they surely seemed impressed

As I limped and crawled distressed,
Just to find your new address.

I long for your prolonged affection,
To spite your husband, I must mention

And though I’d stay for a dissection,
To ruin your evening’s digestion,

I kneel humbly ‘fore your mansion
With a most arduous question:

My sweet and fleshy Anne-Marie,
Will you bury me?

“Velvet – Donnie’s Statement”

This is the followup of a recent creation. A second chapter, if you will; you can find it HERE for your convenience.

Let me know what you think!

“Velvet – Donnie’s Statement”

It was sixty past eleven when
The thunder shook my sleep away,
Begging again and again
For me to find reasons to stay;

So I took my ragged duster
From the rack it solely reigned
And I drove faster and faster
On the streaming narrow lanes;

And there she bled, my paramour,
Hunched forth in her velvet car,
With velvet stains of Eleanor
In front of her favourite bar.

In her deathly grip I found
Words that echoed through my head
And upon the velvet ground,
I pried her fingers and I read:

“Dear Donnie, my dearest dog,
I might have hidden what was true,
I know you loved my latest song,
But it was not meant for you.

I’ve become somebody now,
I don’t need your sympathy,
I don’t need the velvet gown
That you’ve commissioned for me.

I’ve no time for pretty words,
Please don’t write me anymore.
You knew this was gonna’ hurt.”
Signed “Yours, Velvet Eleanor”.

…And there I stood besides her car
In the waning fading lights,
With velvet stains of Eleanor
Draining down the sewage pipes.

I wanted to burn that letter,
So a match I slid and struck,
But the velvet got it wetter –
I was sorely out of luck.

I never liked that witless song,
Yet it always made me smile,
Made the world just seem less wrong;
It got old after a while…

I don’t need no Eleanor
To jive and swing inside my heart.
I don’t need no velvet whore
To stain the concrete with my art.

I bought the bar where she performed
And every night I hear the song
That she sang to me before
I became her “dearest dog”.

With each echoing encore,
I dream in every shade of red.
Sometimes I miss my Eleanor,
But, frankly… I’m glad she’s dead.