« on: January 06, 2015, 12:00:13 am »
Before the sun rises, my retainers ready me for battle.
My panoply in its full array, or cap-a-pie as they say in days long gone by,
Is in a form so archaic as to seem antique,
Yet in construction anything but.
From my cap to my shoes, to include doublet and hose too,
Of spiderís silk, of maidensí hair, of ancientís kevlar, and of silver spun,
And with magics woven within to be proof against beam and blow both.
All to stanch the hurts I shall certainly receive,
To blunt the blows of my beastly foes,
And to save my flesh from searing blasts
Of both beams of light and breaths of dragons.
My armor is as black as the shattered ship from beyond the heavens
Its ore wrestled from walls of metal harder than iron.
With gold and iron it is inlaid,
Glyphs, runes, and symbols in formulae and equations
Describing geometries possible and impossible,
Inscribing names of demons, elementals, and angels,
Reminding all named of pledges and allegiances hard won
By generations beyond number with blade and with book,
Blessings of war, of strength, of luck, and even against rust.
Strapped to my arm and suspended from my neck, my shield.
Stories told by elders long past
From the door of an ancientís war machine it was cut.
An inch of ancientís steel, solid and massy,
A bulwark of my body as I am shield to my people.
A field of green, a tower crossed by lance and sword,
The blazon of my clan is painted thereupon.
A squire lays in my hand my long lance,
Thrice three feet of ash.
Once white wood now long stained scarlet,
Once more ready to drink deeply of dragonís heartblood.
Girt at my waist, a sword and a dagger,
A pair matched they are not.
The dagger, short and stout,
Ancient bronze, nicked and notched,
Only one sapphire remains of the rumored thirteen,
Twelve lonely cavities like empty eye sockets leering along the blade as adornment
Opposite rests her adopted sister.
A weapon I won in a card game as a wager.
The mysterious masked loser of it remarked,
ďMoth wings, moon beams, and rathe that were mome
Forged and folded until the form of a blade they were fixed,
Or at least that were what the man what sold me it said.Ē
To my eyes like plain steel it seems,
But upon advisement of a sage, into battle
I shall wear it. For
To against a dragon fight
In defense of people and of land.
Prepared to strive day and night,
I stride out of the gate with lance in hand.
Beaming brightly the sun beats down as I stride to meet the beast.
Five fathoms, or more, or less, its form hard to see,
It stands shrouded in silvery shadows stinking of smoke and sulfur.
Rearing to deliver its challenging roar,
From its gullet a thousand gears rattle, if not more.
Upon shield with spear, I bang out a reply so thunderous as to sunder windows.
(This monster for a month has people and stock massacred.)
Lifting its head and lithe body sucking in air
I brace myself behind my bulwark to receive
The blast the beast is about to breathe.
A sickly-sweet smelling smoke
Of thick shadows spew from shaded maw
Hammering my ecranche as it holds fast guarding my flesh from harm.
My feet dig into the cracked and dried earth, pounded dense by decades of traffic,
Tenebrous tendrils twine around my targe
Trying to entangle my arms and feet.
I discover to my grim amusement, this dragonís breath can feel pain,
As an engraved invocation to an illuminating angel blazes into solar incandescent
Beating it back with the a sacred heat greater than any brand,
Screaming and sizzling the shadows and smoke retreat.
I speak my thanks as I speed to the great serpentís side.
Blinded by the bright blast of light, the beast should be easy enough prey.
I cast my spear like the gambler tosses dice, with the hope that luck is at my side.
Crimson spar flies from my fingers.
Whether due to lady luckís love or long lanceís blood-lust
Deeply into its side my long dart digs
Stabbing between the serpentís shinning segmented scales.
Yet now is not the time to call ďCalloohĒ or ďCallay.Ē
It is not dead!
Sans lance the beast I must slay?
From ground on to spear on to head
I leap like a game I must play.
And hope after this blow the dragon is dead.
Stout spear unsprings to fling me upwards.
Like a bolt from a crossbow, I fly to bring my quarrel
To the rattling ravagerís high head to finish the deed my lance began.
Wraithly ropes of shadow-stuff, thick as a wrist, in the air writhe.
Sprouting from the serpentís scales like hair,
And entwining together to impede my serpent slaying endeavor
They weave a net, trying to wreathe me in the wind.
With gleaming glaive cleaving gashes through gellid shade
I force my way through the wraith-rope forest
Hurtling ever down to the fiendís head.
Frigid foliage can barely check my flight.
How far away the sunís hammer heavy heat grows.
Gladly battered by the sunís bold light would I be
Than feeling the clammy caress of this creepy hair
The sun soon left in the distance, as shadows screen out the light.
Not prepared for the this flight
Nor expecting the loathsome serpent to violate
Natureís laws as much as manís.
Distance and time distorted by this damned thingís presence.
Had I expected this, from ground to lance to head I would not have lept.
Much more pleasant it would have been to keep pugilistic heroics grounded,
Than cut through this nightmarish net of nasty congealed shadow-stuff
Yet at the time I thought it
Would be fun,
And even if I should die
A grand poem might be spun.
Even if my folk think this a lie
Iíll tell this tale when all is done.
I marveled in the dark, at how sharp moonís light looks.
In songs and stories how soft they say moonlight is.
Here, now, smothered by serpentís smoke and shadow
What seemed simple steel, now like hard edged moonbeam slices the shadow.
Softly, slowly, a sound beyond sound grows.
First one, then two, then more, much more
Soft moth wings? No, hard moth wings.
As if against a billion windowpanes batter a billion moths.
It surrounds me. Slams into my skull.
Make it stop. Make it stop.
Sword slams into serpent scales
Sibilantly shearing slices free.
Shards of armor, cogs, gears, cable, conduit
Flying freely far into the fetid dark.
Deeper I hack. Harder I slash.
Mothwingís maddening melody grows louder.
I have begun monologuing.
I am outside myself.
I report about myself.
My body has found its own rhythm.
Hack and slash, cut and chop
Madness melody moves my body metronomically.
One and two. One and two. ONE and TWO.
A ragged rent through the ravagerís hide
Has my moonbeam blade battered beneath its head.
Wiping sweat from my brow seeing for the first time
The swarm of moths within steel
Trapped beneath the swordís surface, the source of the maddening song.
Now I understand what the ragged gambler said of this sword won as a wager.
Scores of moths flittering furiously added fervor to my blows against the fiend.
And my face is bathed in moonlight scattered by moth wingbeats.
Crisp illumination shines in the wreckage of my path.
Pooling around my ankles are the putrid petrochemical laced
Fluids seeping and flowing from ruptured veins, conduits, and pipes.
Caused by the sizable hole I cleaved through the ceiling?
Dozens of these damned monsters I have destroyed,
Yet this serpent is significantly more strange than any I have ever slain.
Above, the gaping hole knits back together; gobs of shadowstuff binding scales.
Scintillating moonlight shed by my sword shows my only options,
Each way looks just as likely to lead to somewhere.
Curiously curved and pulsing walls of metallically colored chitin enclosing me,
I carry on down, deeper into the bowels
Of the beast.
With pulsing metal sheened walls
Picking my way through its last feast
Wondering at how the beast is so unsmall
And how much further to go, at the least.
Long did I walk downward, deeper within the dragonís body,
With my mute companions: sword, dagger, and shield,
Lance left lodged in the lithe dragonís side.
Were it not for the blade of moonlight and mothwings,
As bright as full moonís night,
A dark and treacherous walk it would be.
The weird winding passage is much larger than the witch-thing seemed from without,
Filled with the foul fumes of its seeping phlogistons,
And the over-ripe remnants of cattle,
As well as rubble from houses and keeps.
(This beast, is as fond of houses as horses and humans.)
Clearly seen are these chunks of men, beasts, and buildings,
Yet hard-edged shadows, provide for superior places to slink.
Their sneaking muffled by the burbling of the beast, they had me surprised.
A chitinous collection of their clawed tentacles gave only a chatter of warning
Before I heard a whine long unheard by me,
Hot beams of light ionized the air as they lanced out from all around me,
How this beast became host to drones with lasers I did not stop to wonder.
Fortunate it was this morn against such arms I girt myself,
Despite no reports regarding the ravening beast possessing such dangers,
A sage named Prudence advised, ďProtection from laser would be prudent.Ē
Time for thought I did not have,
But monsters demanding to be slain in abundance I did.
Scarlet, crimson, and other shades of red beyond counting lit up the long hall.
Shield discarded, a crawler crushed beneath,
Armor scored with searing bolts.
Turns out a blade made of moonbeams can bat those back.
And a dagger cast of ancientís bronze deeply digs into metal-woven chitin.
A dozen split open from dagger, spraying shadow-stuff-blood
A dozen more blinded by reflected bolts,
(Why anything would shoot lasers from its eyes, Iíll never know)
A great battle on any other day it would be,
But today it was an annoyance,
For soaked through were my boots with ichors.
And close to the hellish beastís heart I hoped I was getting,
Or doomed to walk within winding ways I feared.
But now alert for more chittering, my advance slows.
Dragon slaying is not supposed to be
Not this trudging within the beast.
Although I am the peoplesí ward,
Iíd rather be enjoying a feast,
At least I am not bored.
Its heart, my swordís anvil to hammer upon.
Gore like flint-fire sparks and flies from my blows.
Each hewing strike echoes down quaking corridors.
Thin rivulets flow, grow into rivers.
Raging torrents of quicksilver and oils
Rushing from fissures riven by my reaping blade.
To the bone I am chilled, bathed in the blood of my foe, by combat rebaptised.
Are my sins washed away by the expungment of the monster?
Or merely compounded with its crimes of reaving my lands?
The beastís body around me rumbles
As the chitinous walls of its corridors begin collapsing.
Now Ďtis foolish to do anything but flee
As the crumbling walls seem to be caused by the recompression of the creature,
Else I am expanding from a size I did not know I attained,
For the walls are closing in, much more so than they are crumbling.
Reverie interrupted, once clear upon this I will contemplate.
Through waist deep blood I wade
To hew upon the nearest walls
With my gleaming moon-blade.
Under which the chitin falls.
Before the sun rises, I ready my child and heir for battle, and reflect
Back on the strangest of serpents I had to ever slay.
Although I have aged long past anything considered prime
My decrepit condition is more caused by the cancers
Flooding my body from my ill-fortuned bath in filthy phlogistons.
Whether Ďtis right to right wrongs with weapons,
Despite decades of slow death,
A dragon had to be dashed till it lay destroyed
Such as my doom is to die in defense of land and people.
Even as it is that of my doughty daughter.
Whether the beast was evil or was a mere beast,
The woe it wrought, wrathful or not, had needed stopping.
In the end it matters not,
Although its ruin repaired it still had its revenge upon me.
My tale may be ending
But hers is just starting.
And so with grace and little pain
I yield the stage, content to not be main.