From the evergreens of Timberidge
to leagues beyond the Agate Tarn,
my wares are banned in every town,
my name and reputation scourged.
They stoned my stall in Yalderin
and drove me from the market
with the flats of their swords.
They say that I defiled youth
and traded in enchantments
that have led good men astray.
Yet the gods know I am innocent
and have never meant to harm.
I offer dreams diverse
to those who have the need.
My patrons can be anyone
who seeks to ease the burdens
and travails of the everyday.
My prices are so reasonable,
a silver coin, perhaps a gold,
they have never made me rich.
I have not dealt in nightmares
nor ever tried to force a sale.
The gods know I am honorable,
a merchant more than fair.
For those who seek adventure
I provide most any kind.
Glory on the fields of war
with legendary heroes of yore.
Battles with rocs and basilisks
and other fabulous beasts.
Travel through exotic lands
to realize your fantasies.
Bloodshed without danger
and slaughter without loss.
Rivers forded and mountains
scaled at negligible cost.
The gods know that adventure
can illuminate and please.
For those in need of romance
I will fill their wanting hearts.
Princely lads for peasant maids
to charm their darkest nights.
For noble lords and ladies
masquerading on the sly,
desirous of a different taste,
I can supply erotic interludes
with flesh of any age or race.
I can conjure nymphs or satyrs
who are guaranteed to satisfy.
Even the gods play at love
to occupy their empty hours.
Yet the dreams that offend,
the ones they seek to ban,
are fashioned from a higher art
that moves within men's minds
and makes them understand
how to look beyond their fate
and see the world at large,
to question among other things
why some must serve and toil
while others rule and play.
The gods themselves have said
that men can learn to think.
On this far and windy slope
where I've managed my retreat,
I live the dreams I want to live
and I do so without shame.
I watch the ocean changing
and I dance along the sands.
The tides do not judge me
and the waves will never care.
The moon may shine alone,
yet still it lights the heavens
and proceeds upon its way.
And wherever the gods reside,
it must be by an open sea.
From the evergreens of Timberidge
to leagues beyond the Agate Tarn,
a pall now hangs upon the land
that sun and wind cannot dispel.
Wherever thought is censored
by the canons of a chosen few,
when the only lawful visions
are ones that do not speak,
when hope is so ephemeral
you cannot feel it in a song,
men believe the gods have died,
and wonder if they ever lived.
For those who wish to dream,
and those who would be free,
follow the southern caravans
beyond the Beggars' Scree.
You must hike a narrow trail
through the rocky hills of Lorn.
From there make your descent
past the Village of the Outcasts
to the shores of the Sovereign Sea.
Look for a house of mortared stone
that stands against the jagged cliffs.
And don't forget to bring your gold.
The gods know I'm a mortal man
and like others I must eat.

(First appeared in The Zone #8)