The Visitor


Late on a cold and snowy wintery night
When the moon was bloated full
And the stars up in the heavens
Seemed to twinkle with a mystic pull
I was up in my observatory
And there was a knock at my door
Downstairs at the entry chamber
On the first floor

‘Who could that be at this hour?’ I asked
As I grabbed a torch to descend the tower
What poor soul would be out there
In snow and wind building in biting power?
With some trepidation I traversed the hall
To my entrance chamber door
And there came knocks upon it again
In successions of four

I opened the portal, and upon the threshold
Stood an old man garbed in black robes
He leaned on a gnarled old staff
And might have had a ring in one earlobe
But so far I could not tell for sure
Because his head was shrouded deep in his hood
A white beard descended from his jaw
And his teeth shone as if in a mischievous mood

“Good evening, young one,” the robed stranger said
In a deep and booming voice
“You are the Lord Peron?
“Regent of the land of Goyce?”
“Indeed, I am,” I answered
“And who might you be, sir?”
And I continued looking at him
As my brain began to whir

Trying to decide if this black-robed man
Was a friend or if he was foe
And if I would be wise
To let him into my hold
“Just a humble traveler,” he answered
“Seeking a place to rest my bones.”
And my sense of charity overcame me
I could not leave him out there alone

“Come in then, wise one, out of the cold.” I said
“Looks like it’s going to turn into a dreadful night.”
And when he thanked me and lowered his cowl
I received quite the fright
For his left eye was only an empty dark socket
And had about it an ugly scar
I tried my hardest not to stare
His feelings I did not wish to mar

“You must forgive my appearance, my lord,”
His voice seem to echo as if out of a cave
“Many perils I have faced being so old
“So many dangers so grave.”
“Come, let us enter my study,” I answered
Trying not to be shaken up
“You can warm yourself by the fire
“And I will find you something on which to sup.”

“I have no need of food currently, thank you,”
His teeth shone as he smiled again
“Just some warmth for my body
“And someone to talk to who is tame.”
As we entered my study lined wall to wall with books
He looked about in awe
“You have quite the collection, my friend
“What a well from which to draw!”

“I beg your pardon?” I asked, confused
Not understanding his cryptic words
He smiled again as he said
“Your mind must take flights greater than birds!
“Tell me, what do your books contain?
“What stories do they tell?”
As I tended to the fire, I said,
“Sit at my desk for a spell.”

“I am honoured truly,” he answered
As he sat in the chair at the ornate desk
“You wonder about my books?” I asked
“I shall show you one, my dear guest.”
And I took a great tome from the shelves
And laid it before his gnarled hands
It was bound in red leather
And for a marker contained horsehair strands

As he carefully flipped through the book
His one eye widened as if he drank deep
From the words within
The stories they told, and the secrets they did keep
And then he looked up at me
With a twinkle in his eye
And said, “Truly I was right
“With what I suspected, by and by.”

“And that is….?” I asked
As I sat down in the opposite chair
And as I gazed upon his face
So weathered and beaten by ages of wear
He smiled yet again and said,
“My lord, your tomes are those of great wonder
“Of imagination, and mystic lands far away
“Of adventure and of plunder

“Of heroes and monsters, demons and dragons
“Wizards and mighty kings
“Gods and battles and magic spells
“And all these wondrous things.”
“Yes,” I replied, “That’s what they are.
“I’ve read such since I was a boy.”
Then he fixed me with a deepening glare and said,
“Do you know from whence comes what you enjoy?”

“What do you speak of, old one?” I asked
Completely and utterly confused
He then took out a long stemmed pipe, and answered
“Let me give you a clue.”
He loaded the pipe’s bowl with tobacco from his pouch
And lit it with a wave from his hand
I then with an eerie feeling knew
That he wasn’t from these lands

“All these tomes around you,” the old man explained
“What you think of as entertainments for your mind.
“Are actually gateways to other worlds
“And other times.”
The stranger inhaled the smoke from his pipe
And then slowly he exhaled
And I began to see formed in the smoke
Things of a grandiose scale

Worlds floating before my eyes
Galaxies and stars
Planets and portals in space
So distant and so far
Universes there werem so many more than one
Yea, an infinity
And in each universe, I beheld
A different version of me

I saw myself as a wizard in one
A warrior in another
A God in yet another reality
At war with a rebellious brother
In still another I was a king
And in another, a last survivor of a race
My visitor nodded his head in approval
As he saw amazement dawn on my face

“Yes, there are more realities than just this one.”
He said as he continued to smoke
“And they are all wrapped in a beautiful framework
“Of that, I do not joke.”
And as he pulled his hood back over his head
His face began to change
And seemed to take on an appearance
Quite fearsome and strange

And I realized to my utmost terror
That his face had become a skull
His teeth locked in an eternal grin
And I began to wail in woe
“You are Death!” I screamed in fright,
“And you have come for me!
“It’s meant for me to die this night
“To be taken by such as thee!”

His voice softened as he said
“Do not fear! I do not seek to take your life from you!
“It’s just in this lonely world sometimes
“Even Death seeks company too.
I shivered as he laid
His hand of bone on mine
And then I felt a calming magic
Blanket my spine

“You have entertained an angel unaware
“And for that, you shall receive great reward
“You will live for many happy years
“More than you could hope to afford
“If there were more folk like you
“It would be a far merrier world
“For a light that fills the multiverse shines
“When such kindness is unfurled.

“Fare thee well, Lord of Goyce
“And remember the truth you have seen
“Reality is so much bigger and wondrous
“Than mankind could ever dream.”
And with a laugh from his white jaws
He faded from the room
And never will I forget that night
When Death did not come with doom


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