The Lay of Skathen Nord: Canto II [cont’d]
Bleary-eyed, the barkeep mopped
The last of the blood upon the floor.
All night long he hadn’t stopped
Until he’d cleaned away the gore.
Skathen noted the bodies gone,
Assumed they’d all been buried deep.
Unaware they were on the lawn
All together in a burning heap.
The barkeep stopped his task to cook
Some food for Skathen, who sat and thought.
Raven, hung over from rum, came looking
For Skathen and ordered a morning shot.
“It’s hell to wake so early, caitiff.
I’m used to sleeping when ashore.
Unless we’ve got to run away,
Why rush when we could sleep some more?”
Skathen explained the situation,
Bringing out a tattered map.
He traced the route to their destination
And warned of the forest’s hidden traps.
“I’m well aware of the woods, dear lad.
I’ve heard the legends as have you.
There’s nothing there to fear but bandits,
And meeting me they’d surely rue.
“But more important, why a blacksmith?
You want to cross the Strait of Caul,
But what’s across that needs attacking?
Don’t lie or you won’t cross at all.”
“I’ve not admitted my true intent;
For that I shall apologize.
And yet I feared you wouldn’t lend
Your boat if I had not just lied.
“The Witch King lives across the strait
Within an icy citadel.
He has revived and plans to raise
An army fierce from the pits of hell.
“Long has he slept in seeming death,
Felled by my father, Aldric Nord.
In truth, he lived – on madness fed –
Until he had regained his force.
“My father suffered long and hard
Against the madness ever growing.
The Witch King cast a curse that scarred
His brain before the final blow.
“The Witch King feigned his death but fed
On Aldric’s growing insanity.
He lost his mind and died in his bed,
While Witch King thrived on his agony.
“I will avenge my father’s death
And reap in blood what he is owed.
I’ll hear the Witch King’s final breath
And feed his guts to hungry crows.
“But more, I fight for Tartaria.
The king has sent me on this quest.
If the Witch King’s barbarians
Assemble, all will suffer death.”