A Queen By Crown-of-Thorns Caressed
in acid rain
all basic space
move my head
am half insane
give me prayer
"In Titans' name."
in measured days
i can't erase
of your face
He looked up, live with misery, at skies like warm milk; sleepily dripping fog onto the hex. He slipped across hex boundaries, missing Hits, high on Move, his rage in bloom, old Crown-of-Thorns; he whispered, "I'll make it right, I swear." as he (gentle and soft his movements with veined, knuckled hands like wood) lifted a miniature armoire, and put a key no bigger than a fingernail into a lock no bigger than a grain of rice. Crown-of-Thorns still had a Queen; encased in ice ten thousand turns, in a Level 1, with a single farm, and nothing else, she stood in a palace monument to her luxury, the product of a winter so vast that it could only come from Mancy - preserved by the last efforts of her Weirdomancer, she stood there with her contemptuous expression, but he loved her still.
Before her yet knelt a statue of her chief caster and consort: Hiddukel, Mathamancer and Moneymancer - his hands still cupped around a rod he no longer held, his otter-skin garment still offering exchanges for gold; and one measuring scale left snapped and twisted at his feet. He hated him still, as he tipped neutrals and scouts onto that stone cloak that only grew larger as he paid a long blood price, forever getting longer.
He'd been alone ten thousand turns, paying upkeep on her special hell, and setting Schmuckers aside. And now it was time.
He buried a seed, and in the distance, a palace collapsed into ruins. He whispered, "Rank Xerox.", cycling between selves, with his Midas Touch and his crude traps and his one man army, a vain monument to herself, as they widened and slew in the vast, vast forest of his home, as they cajoled and bargained and he continued to slowly increment himself, walking into the Magic Kingdom's sunset again and again, exchanging Rands for power and bargains and Signs to desperate men, as they wondered who he was and why, doubling his Experience and Income and burning juice and learning cues and doing everything that money and magic can do when you have nothing but your mind to occupy yourself, gaining notoriety as the dark heart of the wood.
And he screamed as he found her warm body thudding into his arms, from the pain of his otherself being crushed and then trapped, as he felt her life fade and then sink into the soil, and a feeling of emptiness growing, a thread snapping, until it stopped. And a tree grew as if in stop motion, and he lay her by its branches, in the shade, and flowers bound her to her station; Croakamancy and Flower Power bound together as one. And she screamed, soft, as her otherself, built by proxy and Carnymancy, transposed in the ice, was shattered in turn. All throughout his forest empire, amulets with her face on bodies of his screamed, too, and vanished.
And he bound her to a tree, and walked to a shattered palace, where a perfect line of rubble shot across an unnatural fault line, wavering and curling like a wave. And he pulled, "Bi-cep." and he pulled with vigor, and he carried a man he hated, rolled in an otterskin as long as a bridge, to the great bower of a tree, and he woke him with a slap, and he asked him, "What's the worth of a man?" and in a Mathamancer's eyes, he saw hate like an auditor. And he touched him with a rod that should never have existed, and the world became as gems, and then coins, and then more, and more, and more, and the otterskin stretched wide, describing the worth of many things, then vanished. Melting out of the fog they came: the product of his many bargains, ushered by his many selves, to commune over a woman, strapped to a tree, and the world became busy with Mancy as turn after turn ended, at his expense, and in the end he stood alone, a blasted tree and a woman, with feral eyes, live with contempt, rising from the ground, and she said to him, "And what is this, my faithful Dittomancer?"
And Crown-of-Thorns replied, as Signs came live, and young,
"This is a way to begin again."
as he hunted and gathered and wandered around himself.
And in the end, he was one, and his focus was one, and the contempt melted as his words redoubled; and, upon Erf, they were one withal.