Here’s the last section of Canto I. I’ll include the whole poem thus far in a new page located here.
Ms. Fairlies was no slouch in fights
And stood to defend her friend with cash.
She would secure her earning rights
By slaying thieves who sought the stash.
The scimitar strapped to her side
That Raven called the Friend of Crows
Had fed murders to birds that bide,
Waiting for Raven to lay them low.
With this she cut the nearest drunk.
From head to toe she neatly sliced.
The gash was deep, and so he sunk
With cloven face still showing surprise.
Meanwhile Skathen stopped the horde
By slashing wide and felling brutes.
Each man had drawn his hardy sword
But felt outnumbered by the two.
A few with courage struck at Skathen.
He leapt upon the table high
And booted heads until they caved in
Or they fell back, let others try.
A skillful swordsman with a rapier
Thrust at Raven to stab her chest.
She was fast but still it grazed her,
Nicked her arm but it barely bled.
She fenced the fellow, blocked and slashed,
Falling back when he advanced.
A rapier’s quick, but not as fast
As Raven’s feet in a swordsman’s dance.
He thrust too far and opened his guard
And couldn’t recover in time to block.
She struck the blade, broke it in shards,
And sliced her foe from bottom to top.
Skathen crashed through tables and chairs
To chase the thugs who sought to fight.
And soon but few would even dare
To face the man and risk their life.
Amidst the wreckage of furniture
And bodies and limbs in ghastly piles,
A gang of thieves in armature
Awaited the final battle with smiles.
The burnished steel of armor gleamed
In light come down from the chandelier.
Their swords and daggers also beamed,
As if in the light of a burning bier.
They wouldn’t wait to soliloquize
Or gab like the fallen, armless youth.
They rushed the two to win the prize
By cutting Skathen to get the truth.
In turns one routed the gang with slashes,
The other singled out a member
To stab through the chinks or even crack
The armor and pick a limb to sever.
The group looked tough when all together
But each alone was weak and scared.
When separate from the other members
To Raven and Skathen they couldn’t compare.
And so they died without a word.
One by one they fell to cuts.
Between the chinks the blades inserted,
Raven and Skathen spilt their guts.
Finally the brawl had ended.
The blood had soaked into the floor.
Up to the bar, Skathen wended
And scraped his boots of crusty gore.
The barkeep shrieked and ducked below
The bar in fear of Skathen’s fury.
But when he heard a wallet open
He stood to take the coins in a hurry.
Though Skathen owned but little money
Besides the silver owed to Raven,
He paid doubloons for what he’d done,
Spilling blood and breaking tables.
He left the dumbstruck barkeep then,
An ale in hand to find his room.
He needed rest for tomorrow when
He’d search for another to join his crew.
“Take care to clean this bloody mess
Unless you want your customers
To bolt before they pay to rest,
Leaving you with an empty purse.
“Scrape up the bits and build a pyre
To burn the lot and hide the crime.
The help of soap and funeral fire
Will cleanse this place of death and grime.”
With a titter Raven advised
Then left the barkeep to clean the place.
The work would take most of the night
But at least it wouldn’t look like a grave.