We Went Off All A’Riding (A Xmas Epic Poem, Part 2.)
We traveled first cross wind-swept plains
With icy winds a’ blow’n.
Ten cold days we rode our steeds,
Never stoppin’, never knowin’
That on t’other side there stood
A vast forbidding wall.
In the dark it came up suddenly –
And over us threw a pall.
Twice again a man’s height stood
This barrier before us;
Atop it glistened sharpened spikes
Beyond it loomed a forest.
My sons lassoed the spikes right quick,
And after climbing up they stood
Atop that wall, from whence they saw
Into the dark’ning wood.
“There’s frightful beasts beside the trees,”
My eldest shouted down.
The moment next he disappeared
So quick! Without a sound.
We heard the awful gnashing
As I drew myself up there.
While both my other boys drew swords
I peered into the glowering air.
We couldn’t see my eldest son,
We couldn’t hear his cries.
“Stay there!” I told my wife, but heard
Her snorting, with surprise.
“Stay here and let you all get killed?”
She grumbled, as she climbed.
“I’m coming with, I’ll hear no guff,”
She stood tall by my side.
We had to leave the horses there,
As we passed into the wood.
We crept along a brambled path,
Led by a trail of blood.
In a clearing not far from the wall,
Lay —alive! – my eldest son.
A band of goblins held him down,
While their rancid king had fun
Tormenting him, and torturing, too.
We didn’t waste a breath
But charged into the clearing
To fight them to the death.
They scattered quickly ‘fore our ire,
We felt ourselves well met—
‘Til below our feet the ground did shake.
We wondered what was next.
Mere moments later we beheld
A giant with three heads!
He reached down, tried to grab us all
But missed us as we fled.
We scrambled under brush and branch,
We darted through the trees,
Feeling thorns tear at our sides,
And roots lunge at our knees.
The giant tromped behind us still
And kept us in his sights
Till my wife beheld a cave of ice
Where we thought we could alight.
We ducked into the tiny hole
‘Twas lined with spears of ice,
Then once inside began to slide
It wasn’t but a thrice
Before we’d sped our way down deep
Into the belly of the world,
Where all was dark and cold and still...
Until the walls unfurled
Into a horde of icy wings
And fangs like glitt’ry spikes
Like bats they were, but so much worse!
They froze us with their bites,
They beat us with their icy wings,
Our limbs their gleaming talons tore
They dove upon us, bore us down
As we tried to flee once more.
‘Twas no escape, we had to fight.
In a circle, side by side
My family stood, their swords held high
Brave against that fearsome tide.
The ice-bats fell upon us then,
I felt them gnaw my bones,
I saw my sons fall under wings,
My wife stood off alone.
One by one we fell, we failed.
Our quest was at an end.
My last glimpse then before the dark
Was of a limping, bone-thin man.