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A Black-Bramble Story

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Old, lonely Ravel tends her gnarled garden.

She plants her secrets deep in the dark earth, sprouts a-creeping, roots a-spreading, worming in the hidden corners of her would-be prison. The Lady of Pain, she is crafty, but Ravel wasn't born yesterday, she's seen a thing or two about the planes a-turning in her time.

The cage, the maze, the warren of brambles is a prison, not--knot--a killing pit.

A pool there is for water, and bitter roots for gnawing with her gnashing teeth. Sweeter leaves and juicy fruit that burst on her tongue she grows in her garden. She has little need for sleep among a-waking, but soft leaves does she pry from the thorny vines to lie down on.

The roots they burrow, deeper, deeper all the passing, whirling time.

Few are they that find their wending way to cunning, riddling Ravel, and fools the better part of them. The walls of her prison are not without their holes. Slithering and creeping through come her visitors. She cuts them with her black and whetted fingernails when their words have stopped running. For a sweeter voice she hungers, poor, lonely Ravel.

Sometimes, she has a heart afterwards, red and a-dripping.

Time she has.

When the garden is a-weeded, knotted and tangled and twisted as she likes, she casts an eye on her still and gleaming pool.

His voice is not forgotten. Like the World Tree, a-breaching worlds, Ravel sends her tendrils and roots through the cracks in the great wheel of the Planes. As water travels up the vine, so does Ravel pull her beads of knowledge rippling in her pool.

Shadows there are, clinging ever to his trail. She spies them through the eyes of borrowed shapes, and in the water of her pool.

Changed he has, when the turn of the Planes brings him to her at last. Regret a-stirs in her breast, but waited she has long enough, has poor, lonely Ravel. His fairest words can't stay her hand.

Fight she does, tooth and nail and spell and craft. Her will can't stay his purpose. She lies still and quiet as he goes from her brambled cage.

Dear he is, the nameless one, but Ravel strings out her heart for no man.

The hollow creature comes a-calling before the trail of her precious, broken man even grows cold. Ravel knows not--knot now upon knot--if this time, he will live.

The hollow one, a-glimmer in its arrogance, leaves her a broken husk, shadows a-gathering. They tear her up and Ravel laughs like teeth a-clatter.

She spits the last of him in her mouth into the soil. Her black heart beats its last, but the stolen blood under her tongue is warm and sweet.

Time she has, does clever, lonely Ravel.

In the black ground, she will lie a-dreaming. Long will the brambles grow, a-shrouding her. No light finds the maze where the Lady hid her, but her seeds need no light to grow. Sprout they will, eat the blood-soaked soil, open dark and glist'ning leaf. Fruit will they bear, red and fat like a heart a-beating. Peel will split and pulp will spill.

Then will Ravel a-wake from her sleep.