The Forty-Eighth Leaf


The Easter season has renewed within me the power of grief, for this is the first Easter since the death of my son who died tragically the moment after he was born into this world, but unlike the savior, he was not resurrected again in this life.  I pray that he be resurrected again, and that he should walk with the Lord through the gardens and beautiful places of heaven.  I visited his grave this day.  He rests beside Kathryn in a simple plot.  I have found it difficult to break my fast during this difficult Lenten season, for a part of me would prefer to suffer even though the feast be in celebration of the risen Christ, and though as King I am not obligated to follow the customs of Lent, I consider it an important obligation that I will continue to respect.

I have spoken with Bishop Jacob about the meaning of the Easter season and the Holy Triduum, for they make up the end of the Passion and the renewal of the spirit.  In truth, Christ was not the only person to claim to be the savior, Jacob assures me.  There were many who claimed to be the savior.  Simon of Peraea was such a man until he was tracked down by a Roman General and beheaded.  The messiah was supposed to save the Jews from persecution from Rome, and when the Lord was crucified, the people wondered if he could possibly be the messiah because the messiah was not supposed to die.  Jacob has helped me to understand that the work of the Lord was beyond the understanding of the people, for in fact, with the resurrection, the Lord had defeated death itself.  This is the meaning of Easter, and that we should live again with the Lord, and all the Beltane fires ablaze on the dark hills of my kingdom can never resurrect the spirit of my son who rests in a cold grave, but only by the resurrection of the Lord.

These were powerful words for me to hear, for I am not the most saintly of men and I have fallen short many more times then I care to admit.  I know that I have committed many sins, some of which I no longer remember, but Jacob assures me that Easter represents the resurrection of the spirit in all men and women.  For that I am grateful, but I had no idea how powerfully this revelation would strike me.  I was so moved by the words of Bishop Jacob when he spoke of the redemption of the human spirit that I, later that day, did two things, and I pray that I do not live to regret it.

The first thing I did was done with very little thought, but was instead a compulsion, a reaction that I felt compelled to do by the grace of God.  I did this in full awareness as if moved by an inner spirit newly awoken. I released a terrible and vicious prisoner from the Bishop's Prison.

His name was Nevyn, and I incarcerated him in the dreaded Bishop's Prison for murdering his best friend over an uncontrollable fit of passion for a woman.  He followed his friend home one night through the empty lanes of Peel, and with a large knife, he stabbed the poor man to death in a dark alley on Queen's Street in the suffocating silence of the night.  When he was caught, he had not even taken the time to wash the blood from his knife.

I remember walking up those dark, cold stairs that wound up through the Bishop's Prison like the diseased organs of an evil beast.  My heart was alive with the sweet reverberations of the words of Jacob.  Christ had gone into hell to release to souls of the dammed, and as by the grace of the Lord, I intended to do the same thing.  I unlocked the iron door and stood there in the pale light of my torch.  He remained in the shadow and made not a sound.

"Stand up, Nevyn!" I shouted, "for I am your King."

Slowly I saw him rise to his feet because he was weak and found it hard to move. He looked up into my face until he recognized me. His face was drawn and hollow, for he had suffered greatly.

"Do you know what day this is?" I asked, but he did not respond.  "I know you by your name, Nevyn, and I know what your name means, as does the Lord."  And then I said in a soft voice as my throat began to tighten, "By the grace of Christ, I release you.  Go away in peace, Nevyn.  The Keeper will feed you, and then the boatman waits to take you back across the water."

The second thing I did I only now have just come back from, and I tremble as I write these words.  Within the sacred grounds of Rushen Abbey is a small cemetery where I have buried my precious wife, Kathryn.  In an isolated corner of the cemetery, densely wooded and lined with a row of Hazel trees, and sacred Ash trees to ward off evil from the penetration of the Otherworld, I have laid her to rest beneath the strength of an old Oak tree. Next to her is an unmarked grave where my precious son is buried without a proper Christian name, for it was too painful for my wife to endure in the short time she lived after giving birth, and I am grateful that she never knew that her son had died.  I have never had a name engraved upon this stone, for the memory is unbearable to me, but I come here often to pray for his soul and to beg the Lord for forgiveness for not giving him a name to take with him to heaven.  On the right side of the headstone was a pot of wilted flowers which I had neglected, for flowers do not thrive well in captivity. I fell to my knees and kissed the headstone.

Then I stood up and disappeared into the woods behind the cemetery that surround the Abbey. I had been careful to lead Sorren to this spot by a very circuitous route, entering the woods from farther up along the Silverburn, and I believe that he truly became lost before we came to the secluded spot I had chosen. I knew right where it was, at the foot of a large Hazel tree. I looked for the spot, and then I drew, from the satchel I carried with me, a shovel, and I slammed it into the earth where the hole had been dug.  In a few moments I had torn open the earth that I had so carefully guarded.  And then I knelt down near the hole and dug with my hands until I had recovered the book I had buried so long ago with Sorren at my side.  I held the book in my hands and felt the warm tears on my face, for I had been brought back to life again, resurrected by having once again in my hands, the most important thing that I had left in my life.



The loss that Sigmus experienced must be a pain without comparison. His writing up until this point had been mostly about his departed wife. But, here we can see in detail that his tears are also for his nameless son. The leaf is not clear on this point, but it appears as though he seeks out the Bishop in response to this sorrow. And in further response to the Bishop's catechism on the Easter season, Sigmus impulsively releases a prisoner accused of a heinous act. Should we view this as an act of state mercy or as a selfish grab for absolution? I suspect we shall never know the answer to that and that this portion of the tale, Nevyn's future, may be lost to time.

And finally, the book which Sorren bore witness to is recovered. I confess that my first impulse was to question the King's change of heart. I found the Twenty-Ninth Leaf to be quite compelling and his act an honest reaction. But why then does Sigmus now desire this book for himself, rather than as a sacrifice to his beloved? Has his sacrifice now ended? Perhaps he has accepted his own weakness and cannot deny his heart's desire. And what could be in such a book?

Two gifts, two acts of fidelity, two acts of consequence. What are we to make of this? Grief does indeed follow. But sometimes grief is a poet. And I would be less than honest with my readers if I did not also say that sometimes, poetry gets it wrong.

- D