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Some distance away, though not as far as you might think, there is a hill. The kind of hill that looks like a perfectly kept lawn from a distance, but when you stand upon it you can see how much of that green is moss, how it is in fact not a pure green but an aggregated colour of greens, greys, browns and yellows of grass and moss, weeds, bare earth and rocks. To stand on this particular hill would also bring ill thoughts and disquieting dreams, and few decide to stay awhile and admire the view, either departing at once from its uneven surface or continuing unhappily on their journey across it.


Most of the people who knew exactly what caused this most disagreeable of downs have long since passed away, leaving their children with half-forgotten nursery rhymes as sole warning. The children, too, have grown old, the bedtime stories they once begged for now largely forgotten.


Yet, still, in the villages on either side of the mount, the people know that there is a reason that children need not be warned of playing out too late, or of wandering off onto the hillside. The houses in their very stones recall that their occupants must be reminded not to tread lightly on this ancient mound of dirt and stone, and so they whisper at night, murmuring to their sleeping residents of what has been, and what may yet come to be.


The houses speak in different voices, as people do. The old pub creaks with the dry depth of the English oak of its timber frame. The old shepherd's bungalow rumbles as the rocks of its walls once did when they fell up from the Earth's mantle. But they all tell the same story. They sing the same song, all:


A kingdom once both dark and bright
Stars kept watch over the king of night.
Dawn and sunset kept its borders
'Till the king grew tired of daylight's orders.
His imperial might was no small thing,
But greater still when he began to sing.
For Midnight's song was feared and known
To take a man and leave just bones.
When one night his song kept on,
the morning did not dared to come,
but hid and waited for night's end.
The night-king borrowed from his friend
The shadowed colours, no more nor less
Than from herself the Queen, Darkness.
Creatures died and no one wept,
For dying themselves, the people slept.
With night still unbroken the king grew proud,
and proclaimed his power to all, out loud:
"My strength holds back the sun itself,
and the world will fall to toast my health"
forgetting his might was borrowed, not owned,
And to whose lender thanks were owed.
But Darkness heard and buried him deep.
And alone beneath the stone he sleeps.
So softly tread above midnight's King;
Lest he be woke again, to sing.


Or so it has been recorded by those well-versed in the old tongues of wood and stone. But nowhere yet have I been where the crow of the cockrel is heard with greater relief, than in the two towns of Morning and Dawn, separated by the low hill of Nightsfall. And if the locals should be a little more cautious than most about where they walk at night, so much the better, surely? Whether or not a mythic sovereign waits beneath that hill, I cannot say; but if he should be there, sleeping in fury still, while these old houses stand yet, the people shall not wake him with their tread.

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P1000033
Nightsfall
Day Glo Released ago
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fleet of footbreaking branchesrunning with your sisterto feel the shock of shattered boneand dance under a fountain of hot leaping blood- which you drinkand gladly beneath hersmilebeating hooves and the kickdo not stop youyou beast you madnessyou moonbeam made bright andbreathing fleshhappy and alive with joyat the killso sing you arrow fletched with godless furyyou silver tooth and golden eyecall run bite leap with lovesorrow joy joy joyand announce your warm destructionin a homily of adoring devotionsinging to your sisterthe moon
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