XXI.

And so, small bird friend
Night Star has dwelt with them to
shed grace on us all.

How shall we find it?
How have we lost its fair grace?
What chance do I have?

The bird sang anew
and flew away from Ailfrid
into the darkness.

Wait! Bird! Don’t go bird!
Ailfrid followed the bird’s song
crashing through the woods.

The gnome, just a lad
stopped. Lost, alone and weeping.
Gasping. Listening.

He hears the bird’s tune.
He creeps quietly toward it,
Into a clearing.

The mossy carpet.
There stood many gathered beasts
quietly arrayed.

As Ailfrid looked on
the bird flew up to the sky
vanished in the black

Only the song left
behind in their waiting ears.
they strained to hear it.

Ailfrid shivering
to see this childhood legend
looked up for the bird.

XXII.

Come back, he thought, please!
His heart was loud and pounding
He looked for his friend.

No creature scarce breathed
or ruffled a feather there
the sky dark and empty.

I trust, Ailfrid prayed
my heart knows that all is well
no need for sorrow.

Each day comes in turn
a mother loves her children
they can laugh and sing

The darkness and gloom
which wear away life’s edges
are ours to dispel

This night shall pass too.
and goodness fill our dear world
if we but treasure.

If I cannot find
The Night Star and its sweet light
I will keep looking

But the peacefulness
I will not need to seek for
it lives inside me.

The world seemed full then
and warm around young Ailfrid
standing, looking up.

His heart felt bursting
like the rippling song he’d heard
he heard it again.

XXIII.

It poured through the dark
drawing closer and nearer
closer, nearer still.

Then a roar was heard!
Many roars! Flapping of wings
A rushing of wind.

Ailfrid and the rest
gasped as up above they saw
a cloud of dragons!

Fiery wave, tails
weaving as though in a sphere
chasing each other.

They stopped mid-air
arrayed above the clearing’s edge
flying head to tail.

Each dragon in turn
cast an eye so red and dark
on Ailfrid below.

Shining eyes bulging.
exhalations, blown red clouds
rolling in the dark.

the tips of five wings
together in the circle
sparks flew as they touched.

Then the dragons banked
they flew as along a wall
around those below.

They found a place there
in the dark, quiet again
standing at the edge.

XXIV.

And so the waiting
of animals and dragons
and Ailfrid began.

The night had drawn on
while he walked telling the tale
of the gem, Night Star.

Ailfrid remembered
the tale he’d heard so often
of the vigil kept

Over Night Star watched
until the gnome boy came and
light returned to them.

The night gave no hint.
Although he could not be sure
Ailfrid was content.

Once again he heard
the song of his friend the bird
circling above.

The song drew closer
entwined with a single note
high and pure it was.

Ailfrid could not see –
the bird was near to him now
the song beautiful.

He looked up again.
the bird perched on his shoulder.
the single note fell.

Fell down to the ring
to the moss-covered bank there
a crystalline note.

XXV.

Moment of surprise
bubble of gasp and silence
anticipation.

Ailfrid remembered
the tale, the vigil, the hope
which rose from this gem.

He moved not at all
the others kept their places
the silence kept watch.

The night fled westward
morning pushing the dark away
the circle waiting.

The first beam of day
through the trees, one golden beam:
the dark gem ready.

It sang a bright dance
splashes of light and color
across the clearing.

All gave a shiver
dragons shook sparks from their scales
a fox flicked off dew

Ailfrid felt the bird
give its feathers a slight shake
putting all to right

The gem played over them
colors and brightness and light
each breath was pleasure

In this tale, the hands
which gathered up the Night Star
stood ready, knowing.

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