Thane Of Strife

I should be burned, dead and buried. God knows, I could have helped them burn. Soap does burn, does it not? I am made of ash and oil. Twas my place to soothe, though. To aid. To cleanse. My current station? To laquer a haunted Thane with fresh layers of guilt, year by year. They were my creators, the Lady and her boy. Fife’s son. The heir of Macduff. Don’t ask me how I was made, I know not, but I became aware of two sets of hands at my moulding. One reddened and fierce, guiding the tender, soft fingers of the other. They made me together, just as together they met their end.  Though I was born to cleanse skin, I wish I could scour my memories. Their screams will torture me forever, until my last grain succumbs to oblivion. Yet I am habitually disturbed. Like many an heirloom I am brought out from storage for one evening, to wash Macduff as he pays homage to his kin. Murdered Kin. Why me? Why, they found me clutched in the hand of his murdered son, the one unburned dweller  of Fife’s castle. They found him at the hearth, as if reaching for his father’s sword.

I travel everywhere with my thane. He is mine, as I am his. He speaks to me. I am his fragile bridge to the past. He tells me I am made from the ash of Birnum wood, and the bounty of Fife goats. My oaty abrasiveness was made from the grain with which he fed his son, nay all his family. Ere Fife burned. Despite his many bold deeds, he was always a farmer at heart, and heart he has in abundance. Grief has stricken his eyes and frosted his hair, but his heart beats strong, though tis broken beyond any repair. How I loathe to cleanse him. Not to cleanse him, no, tis my duty. Nay, I loathe to hear him weep. On the cyclical day of his kinsmen’s butchery he annoints himself, yet sobs at my scent. My very perfume maddens him, and though I refresh his body, I plague his mind with grief-stricken woes. Tis my curse, as I could not help my makers.

I see hear feel smell taste their demise in my dreams as in waking hours.  No creature, beast or object should have to bear witness to the evil that befell them. The castle was surpris’d. Beasts tore it asunder, and found my young master and his mother as she bathed him. He was but four years young, and noble to his very bones. Yet he showed the mettle of the man he should have been when he charg’d his murderers, though small and fragile as a Wren. He must have been strong, for even at his last breaths, even as his mother was torn from him, he made for his rightful place. The hearth that Macduff had promised to him. The heart of the home he was to protect. A sad irony it is that of the entire castle, only the fireplace and my young master’s arm survived the flames. Macduff knew him by my scent, and the freckle on his thumb, that my haunted master also possesses. Like father like son.

Tis little comfort to Macduff that he could bury but part of his offspring. He is as good as interr’d himself. What worse hell than to know he was not there. He fled from his pretty chickens, abandoning them to bribed thugs. He failed them, and they all knew it before their torment was over. His torture will be eternal. Even when I am washed away he will reek with guilt, and never be cleansed. He looks upon me with a battleground of emotions, yet will lament my passing when my job is done. I? Nay, I welcome oblivion. I am sick of the sight of him. This oorst part? No demon will ever possess the love and horror in my lady’s eyes, as they dragged her away. Nay, not even a hell-hound could match my poor scorned lady.


© Tom Tide 2016


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