Sunday, November 12, 2006

Briar's Patch

I

While walking through the woods one day
I heard a rustling sound,
by peeking through the leafy splay
a brand new world was found—
quite startled, I beheld an elf
who smirked then introduced himself.

"Be steady man, I mean no ill
consider me a friend,
my name is Briar from yon hill
an onus to expend,
so listen now as I regale
a strange and tragic sylvan tale."

Intrigued by this impromptu plea
I swallowed down my shock
meandered to the nearest tree
and sat upon a rock
"Okay" I said, intent on him,
"and by the way, my name is Jim."

He gave me an appraising glance
then let a chuckle slip,
assumed a most dramatic stance
one hand upon his hip
a scripted pause, then he began
the saga of his troubled clan.

"For eons we have roamed this place
at peace with all around
avoiding those who sought our race
by living underground
the shield of nature’s verdant arm
has kept us safe from any harm.

But one day not too long ago
a strangely shriveled sprite
found the place where we lay low
and told us of her plight
a necromancer very grim
pursued a sly malicious whim."

Once more he paused and slowly cast
a most discerning stare,
some kind of test I must have passed
for he said, "Now prepare
yourself to hear some gruesome facts
which just may drive you from these tracts."

My interest piqued, I merely shrugged
allowing him to speak
apparently the dam unplugged
and then in one long streak
he blurted out the ugly truth
his knuckle gnawed by nervous tooth.

"It seems this cur, by name of Zack
has somehow found a way
to siphon off what he should lack,
his power grows each day
but also warps his addled mind
which rots inside a fragile rind.

He seeks all creatures who possess
the mystic eldritch spark
to feed on them with eagerness
while welcoming the dark
that shrouds his heart with blackest silk
the foulest foe of fiendish ilk."

I cleared my throat respectfully
to interrupt his spiel
"So what’s this got to do with me?
Divulge the real deal."
Once more he chortled, eyes aslant
"My, my you are impertinent,

all right, here goes, I need your aid
our nemesis is strong
‘tis fate that led you to this glade
my instinct’s never wrong
so please come with me to our cave
we’ll sup, then plan to beat this knave."

I gauged his twinkling impish eyes
uncertain of this quest
but much to his unmasked surprise
benignly acquiesced,
"We’ll make an effort not to flub
now let’s go get some elfin grub."

II
And thus the human Jim
along with valiant Briar elf
would take a chance, though slim,
to reach beyond the centered self
to face a grueling test
defending those innately meek;
we bow at Fate’s behest
or scale the highest snowy peak.
So Briar led this gangly
man to chambers down below
where whispered spurts of slang
revealed how little humans know
his clan distrusted those
that weren’t conceived in open fields
they’d witnessed jealous throes
with all the horror hatred wields,
but kindly showed the hand
of truce proffering a repast
"Eat all that you can stand,
for this could surely be your last."
The food was truly strange
but still the best he’d ever had
amazed at such a range
of tastes Jim gorged himself like mad
from ant-encrusted cakes
composed of sticky honeyed grain
to frothy fruity shakes
which made him numb with frozen brain;
he sampled all the treats
he could, his gusto quite intense
apparently the threat
of death enlivened every sense
but once he felt his hunger
fade his fear began to grow
he knew the evil monger
would be ready for a show.
"So Briar, tell me what
the heck are we supposed to do?
This Zack sounds like a butt
head who will strike if we pursue;
perhaps a trap would be
the best, but who would be the bait?"
and gasping Jim could see
that this was sadly Briar’s fate.
III
A tempest came unleashing shrieks of doom
with sheets of rain that draped the brave in cold
together we advanced into the gloom
convinced our sense of right would make us bold
but fearsome shades of doubt began to loom
behind the landscape evil sought to mold
as fractured flora warped beyond belief
shook twisted limbs in pantomimes of grief.

We found a safe retreat not far from where
the darkest forces seemed to emanate
while Briar took a moment to prepare
my anxious mind began to calculate
the odds of beating Zack within his lair
and knew we’d make a bookie salivate
an underdog whose future looked quite grim
the perfect lure to snag a bettor’s whim.

"Ahem" I heard behind me so I turned
to see the elf adorned with fancy mail
he stared at me with eyes that fiercely burned
then said "I shall endeavor not to fail
but just remember" (as my stomach churned)
"to intercede the second that I hail
and strike with all the fury you can aim—
don’t hesitate to end this madman’s game."

I sensed that he knew more than he would say
but simply said "OK, I’ll do my best"
he grunted saying "Follow me this way
it’s time to face the viper in his nest!"
Then grimly marched to join the coming fray
a soldier’s heartbeat drumming in his chest
reluctantly I trailed my little chum
unease increasing over things to come.

Remaining out of sight but very near
to Briar, I controlled an urge to run
I strove to keep my jaded conscience clear
intent on seeing this injustice done
but still felt gnawed by feral fangs of fear
whose nasty nips I couldn’t seem to shun
when suddenly a ruckus up ahead
engulfed my mind in drooling jaws of dread.

From where I hid (behind a tree) I saw
a strange and truly scary thing unfold:
this foul behemoth with a gaping maw
made hungry gurgling sounds that turned me cold
and hanging there within it’s mottled claw
was Briar trying hard to break the hold
one hand enveloped a peculiar blade
which pulsed with yellow light when thrusts were made.

But Zack was ready, parrying with ease
then knocking Briar’s dagger to the ground,
his tactics were devoid of subtleties
he knew that there was no one else around
to challenge his unsavory decrees
his power had indeed made him unsound
in mind as well as form; a sad disgrace
that meant to dominate the human race.

I cowered there embracing prickly pine
uncertain how to prudently proceed
aware that soon the duty would be mine
to somehow make this fearsome creature bleed
and then I saw the weapon sleekly shine
with steely strength I knew that I would need
amazingly enough it seemed to call
"Come forward man it’s time to stand or fall."

I shook my head but stood as though controlled
exhaled a prayer for guidance from on high
I darted for the dagger, dropped then rolled
and neatly snagged its hilt while on the fly
then Briar screamed with agony untold
and in my head that voice said "You must try
to stab the brute in his tormented heart
my magic will make his evil depart."

As Briar writhed within it’s foul embrace
I looked to see a sight I’ll not forget;
all impish charm was gone without a trace
his tortured features glistening with sweat,
he groaned, then looked me squarely in the face
and said with labored breath "I’m not dead yet
so grow a set and strike you human shmuk!"
Without a thought I gritted teeth... and struck.

2 comments:

Shirley said...

Hey Bob,
THIS IS AWESOME!!!!! I can't wait to read the rest of it.
Shirl

Crunchy Weta said...

Wow! Epic! Thoroughly enjoyed the read. Well done ol chap.