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And let me speak to th'yet unknowing world

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LAERRYN

Now all is fire, at this age’s end

And as the city falls into its place

So falls the Ring of Brass. My husband’s hand

Hath saved me, yet I see my dearest friend,

My Patia, lying dying in the glass.

Bold Nydas, gentle Zerxus, side by side,

Commit their blood unto our city’s stones:

It flows as one. O gods that I have scorned!

I stand within the cradle of the dream

I made to spite you; never will I know

If by this dream, I slew the world or sav’d it.[1]

And who are we, we six, this Ring of Brass?

We strove to be this city’s heroes, yet

I still recall the tree – my husband’s face –

He fear’d I was a monster, and I knew

That fear alike. Is that the truth of us?

Enough, ‘tis done: and in a world like this

Swollen with power, who can rightly tell

The valiant from the villain? Wake, my dream!

My city to the stars thou shalt not bear –

But take my foes instead, and break them there!

 

CHORUS[2]

Now far across the broken city’s depths

The eldritch core alights with verdant glow

As like a weary bird unto its nest

Or reunited lovers into arms

Fair Avalir descends into its seat,

Enthron’d a final time. The sky is flushed

With bloody hue, the threatening of dawn.

And as the Architect Arcane completes

Her work of centuries, as power flows

Into the earth, to break the ancient wards,

The titans to release – the Leywright wakes.

So Laerryn carves a pathway to the stars.

 

ASMODEUS (off)[3]

What hast thou done?

 

LAERRYN

- My greatest work, at last.

 

ASMODEUS (off)

Nay, nay, it cannot be! No mortal slave

Could thus out-scheme the Lord of Schemes, and yet

My schemes are turned to ash. Well, let it be,

And if this land's the planet’s gleaming smile,

Her teeth will shatter ere my work is done.[4]

 

CHORUS

The mountain sunders, and the sky is drenched

With hues of blood and flame. The skyships rise

With all who could be saved upon the decks.

A vessel bears the sorc’rous children hence

And with them all the magic they command,

To bless Exandria in years to come.

 

ZERXUS

The devil-king that wore my husband’s face

And pierced my soul – his words were cloying sweet.

And now my heart is riven: by the blade

My brother blessed it with, and by the choice

That heavy lies upon me. Do I take

The road good Nydas offered, into death?

That road is like a knife against my throat:

It promises release. I would not fear the heat[5]

Of hungry flame, nor wear this twisted crown

Of devil’s horns. Yet, dying, I would pass

My sweet Evandrin by. My love, my soul!

I shall not doom thee to be left behind

As once I was. I lay the dagger down.

I loved a devil, hoped for him, and paid -

Yet waiting flame shall find me unafraid.

Whatever horror I become below,

I too redemption’s gentle touch may know.

 

Enter Evandrin, Elias and Tempus, above.[6]

 

EVANDRIN

Belovѐd, Tempus flew on wings of night[7]

And forged a door into a sea of stars

To bear our son across the realms to me.

Beyond the stars, the gods themselves were born

Beyond the stars, thou foundst that shining place

Beyond the stars, I too will search and strive

And when those stars are all aligned aright

I’ll walk a path of stars to bring thee home.

 

ZERXUS

My love, thy name is writ upon this stone,

My heart, thy name is writ upon my soul.

Dies.

Exeunt Evandrin, Elias and Tempus.[8]

EAEDALUS (off)

My brother, we are safe upon the ship.

Art also safe, my Nydas?[9]

 

NYDAS

- Brother, ay.

All shall be well. (Aside) Forgive a final lie![10]

I see as clear as if I stood there now

A skyship deck, a bright and sapphire sky,

A city in the clouds. ‘It shall be ours,

Some day, perhaps,’ thou saidst. I answered, ‘Ay,

For we Okiros soar on wings of gold.’

‘Thy head already makes the clouds its home,’

Thou toldst me, and I laughed beneath that sky.

‘Yet more important than the wealth of kings

It is to dream,’ I said. O, how I dreamed!

The beauty of that dream shall be forgot

Yet real it was for us, and sweetly dreamt

And how the dragon soul within me sings,

To know the world shall dream of greater things.

Dies.

PATIA

O Laerryn, friend of friends, thy work is done

And I may die contented. I am wreath’d

In coloured glass and memories of old.

I see my father’s father in the shards,

I hear his voice within the breaking earth.

‘Our family raised Avalir,’ he says,

‘And should it come to pass that thou shouldst choose

Between this kingly city and thy kin

Remember we could raise these streets again.

What matters more – the dreamer or the dream?’’

 

MAYA (off)

‘Tis Maya, father. I've an orb of sorts –

I know not what it is, but ‘tis an orb.

 

PATIA

O grandfather, I have an answer now

‘Tis not the one that you would have me give.

This shining girl will keep the mem’ries close

And steer new dreamers from our tainted path.

And though I know my lovѐd dream is done

For those who live, more dreams are still to come.

Dies.

Enter Maya, Kir and Wrayne, above.

MAYA

‘Tis Egghead, father.

 

CERRIT

- Egghead, I am here.[11]

 

MAYA

What has befallen us?

 

CERRIT

- Be not afear’d.

Art thou and Talon with thy mother?

 

KIR

- Ay.

‘Tis Talon, Wingspan. We are –

 

WRAYNE

- In Gwessar.

Our chicks, and I, are well.

 

KIR (to Wrayne)

- Yet speak

Our secret names.

 

WRAYNE

- Ay, Wingspan, they are here

And thou shalt be here also. Is’t not so?

O tell me it is so![12]

 

CERRIT

Forgive me. O forgive me that my eyes

Forever trained on secrets, saw you all

So seldom. Would that I could behold you![13]

Should I yet live, I swear, I swear to you,

I vow that I shall never look away.

 

WRAYNE

Thou bidst farewell.[14]

 

CERRIT

I shall not speak that bitter, lonely word.

Of all the works that thou and I have done

Our children are the jewel. Let mountains fall!

They shall not keep me from you.

 

WRAYNE

- Dearest heart,

Do not regret what thou hast failed to see.

Ever has time felt lazy, ‘til it flew.

Thy heart is true. Thou art a lovѐd father.

I know not –

The sending stone breaks. Exeunt Maya, Kir and Wrayne.

LOQUATIUS

Belovѐd Laerryn, let me see thy face

And let me take in mine these hands of gold

That forged a starlit pathway into grace

What joy, that they were ever mine to hold![15]

 

LAERRYN

My hands and heart alike I give again.

 

LOQUATIUS

‘Tis like a church here; thus, I vow to thee

Though I've become a thousand different men,

Thy husband is the man I choose to be.

 

LAERRYN

To think I almost wrought a fatal rift!

I scorned the gods, though miracles were mine:

That I have known thee is a sacred gift

Thast thou hast lov’d me is a thing divine.

My heart was ever, is, and shall be, thine.

 

LOQUATIUS

And I shall love thee past the death of time.

They kiss.

CERRIT (aside)

How right it feels to see these dearest friends

Embrace as once they did, and as they should;

Yet there are those that I would fain embrace[16]

And promises I must attempt to keep.

The halls are crumbling, falling – yet I’ll try

I owe my Kir and Maya that I try!

Brave Nydas blessed me with a guiding light

And canny Laerryn knows this lab’rinth well

She shows me, silent, paths that I might take.

Loquatius throws Cerrit his talisman.

Thy talisman, Loquatius! Bless thy soul

I pray it guides me as it guided thee.

Farewell, my friends, and farewell, Avalir –

I fly to Wrayne, to Maya, and to Kir!

Exit.

CHORUS

Amid the ash, beside their fallen friends

Loquatius holds his Laerryn to the end.

In veins of red, with screaming, thund’rous sound

The titans fracture Toramunda’s ground.

Each avenue and square, each silver tower,

The burning earth and choking smoke devour.

O, Domunas! A long-forgotten name

For you were lost to hubris, smoke and flame.

You shining gem to those who called you home –

The Shattered Teeth, we call your scattered bones.

Two mighty titans hurled to distant planes

Ensure that in the dust, a world remains

And through the ash that thunders in the skies,

Above the clouds – behold the Warden rise!

Enter Cerrit above.

CERRIT (to Laerryn)

Thou gav'st this world a future. Be assured:

Through all that’s lost, the Ring of Brass endures.

Loquatius and Laerryn die.

CHORUS

A city crumbles, and a father flies

Above a burning sea and choking skies.

The age of magic is betrayed and done –

For all is fire. Calamity is come.

 

Exeunt all but Chorus.

Why do we tell such sorry tales as these?

Why speak of fallen friends and sundered trees?

Why tell of sweet and savage words believed

And noble hearts, corrupted and deceived?

Why speak of love, bereft of time to bloom

And dreams that promised starlight, bringing doom?

Our hands are weak, and fumble as we strive

To map a meaning to the word alive.

The world is vast and fright’ning, yet such tales

May let us weep, then whisper, ‘hope prevails’.

The Ring of Brass lived on as one alone

Their tale is one that passed unheard, unknown

But though their age came howling to its end

They mattered, and they lived, and they were friends.

The shadow fell, and ruin came to pass

Because of them, the ruin did not last.

Exit.

 

FINIS.

 

 

NOTES (click the number before each note to return to the text)

[1] You’ll notice that Laerryn deviates from the rhythm here a little. The basic structure (‘metre’) of Shakespearean verse has ten syllables to a line, but Laerryn adds an extra syllable to this one. Shakespeare would often mess up the usual rhythm to show that a character was losing their mental rhythm – speaking in a panicked, breathless way. It felt right to me that even Laerryn would slip a little here! Similar breaks of metre happen again throughout the scene where I thought they were appropriate.

[2] The Chorus was like a narrator – a guy who’d pop up on stage to describe things that were happening offstage. Though I’ve absorbed some of Brennan’s dialogue into the characters’ speech, I used the Chorus to fill the DM’s place for the most part.

[3] ‘Off’ was used to indicate a character speaking from offstage.

[4] ‘Ere’ = before.

[5] A shout-out to one of Shakespeare’s most famous funeral/mourning songs, Fear no more the heat of the sun, from Cymbeline (my favourite obscure play)

[6] On the Shakespearean stage, this would mean that characters entered on a balcony or platform above the stage.

[7] The accent indicates that the word is pronounced with an extra syllalbe – ‘be-lov-ed’ – rather than with two syllables.

[8] Exeunt = ‘they leave’ – stage direction used to indicate multiple people leaving the stage.

[9] ‘Art’ = are you (a contraction of 'art thou')

[10] ‘Aside’ was used to indicate a character speaking to themselves or the audience, without the other characters hearing.

[11] You might notice that Maya’s and Cerrit’s lines here, if spoken directly after each other, form a full ten-syllable line. Shakespeare would have characters share lines like this to indicate closeness (because they finish each other’s sentences), or to show that they were speakling rapidly, right after each other. Both is the case here – as well as an emotional conversation between Cerrit and his family, they’re all desperate to get out what they think is the final goodbye. (N.b. Brennan had Maya call herself Clear Eye, but since Maya was consistently Egghead and Wrayne Clear Eye elsewhere, that’s what I’m going with.)

[12] And here, Cerrit does not complete a full line of ten! The sudden stop in the metre forces a pause before Cerrit's next line, which could be used to indicate a character being overcome with emotion. For a moment, Cerrit just can't speak.

[13] ‘I wish I could’ or ‘if only I could’. I deliberately messed up Cerrit's rhythm big time here, because this is an outpouring that breaks through any attempt at polished speech.

[14] A note on ‘thou’! Back in ye olde dayes, ‘thou’ was used to denote intimacy and casual conversation, whereas ‘you’ was for distance (physical and emotional) and formality. Cerrit uses ‘you’ here when speaking to his family as a group, but uses the ‘thou’ of special intimacy when talking one-on-one. (I also had Asmodeus talk to Laerryn using ‘thou’ – not to denote intimacy, obviously, but because it was the form used by superiors to address their inferiors, which is definitely how Asmodeus sees their relationship. Of course, if Laerryn had spoken to him longer, I’d definitely have had her use ‘thou’ right back! She most certainly wouldn't use the respectful form towards him...)

[15] Buckle up, fellas, we’re moving into the most romantic form of Shakespearean dialogue: the sonnet. The sonnet (a fourteen-line poem with alternating rhymes, ending in a rhyming couplet) was a form of love poetry – Romeo and Juliet famously speak one together at their first meeting. Now, here's the thing: in Shakespeare, verbal chemistry is emotional chemistry. If you’re finishing each other’s lines, if you can rhyme your lines with someone else's, it means you’re almost sharing thoughts. And if you can share a sonnet, if you can spontaneously craft the verse of love together – you’re soulmates.

[16] Fain = ‘gladly’