Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
The Barbaric HordeBehold the massed barbaric horde
Ten thousand strong and filled with hate,
With rhythmic fists on hardened shields
Beyond the city's guarded gate.
See muscled thighs and shoulders broad,
And brutal arms that tear apart,
Each dressed in scars of midnight ink -
The marks of heathen battle art.
Advancing now before the throng,
Their battle lord draws every gaze,
With bow held ready at his hip,
And fiery arrows full ablaze.
Loud cries the horde in frantic chant;
"Akrull!" they scream, and scream again -
For thus is named their cruel god,
Their king who rules in death's domain.
And now Akrull lifts high his hand,
His war scarred fist is tightly clasped -
As if his foes lay in his palm,
Already crushed within his grasp.
So silence falls upon the plain,
The beating fists on shields fall still;
Defenders closed behind the wall
Are trapped in terror's icy chill.
When silence now is full complete
And every eye is on the king,
The battle lord, incarnate god,
With rasping voice begins to sing.
His song, in coarse barbaric tongue,
Does echo roughly o'er the plain
And brings to trembling fear the ones
Who hear its cruel and strident din.
At last the final words are sung,
Akrull falls still, with head bowed low,
Then turns to face the city gates,
Lays fiery dart to archer's bow.
Swift speeds the god's first battle stroke;
Trace now it's long majestic arc,
And hear barbaric cries of glee;
For death's first strike has found its mark.
Before That Fateful Arrow FlewIn years long past and near forgot,
Before that fateful arrow flew,
When men who now wear shields and swords
Were fresh and young as morning dew:
The fates had intervened again,
And brought their skein of twisted cord;
They wove a tale of theft and grief
To fell that fierce and brutal horde.
Two sons were born of peasant stock;
The firstborn child was strong and bold,
With smiling, ruddy countenance -
A handsome infant to behold.
The younger twin born on that day -
In visage pale, in stature slight -
Was cursed with twisted, shortened limbs,
A homely face and clouded sight.
Between these boys there grew such love,
A strange affection they had found;
The younger idolized his twin,
The elder was by pity bound.
But fate had set these twins apart,
For deeds of greatness yet unknown
As one was stolen from his home,
And raised by strangers all alone.
How can I speak of evil deeds
Inflicted on that elder son,
That broke his body and his soul -
Left every hope at last undone?
In service to the pagan priests,
Without a country, stripped of name -
He only knew of blood and fear,
And sacrifice upon the flame.
Yet far away, beyond his reach,
A younger brother wept and prayed,
Bereft of strength, bereft of love,
Twice over by the fates betrayed.
And though he prayed with passioned pleas,
And wept with fervent, bitter tears,
His tears were dried, his prayers were stilled
As hope was crushed by passing years.
The Riven GateAs one, the loathsome horde advanced
With coarse and vilest cries of hate,
While o'er their heads bright arrows coursed
In fiery paths both true and straight.
Upon the city gates they merged,
All drenched in blood's metallic scent,
'Tween angered cries upon the wall,
And deadly thud of arrows spent.
And though the horde, ten thousand strong,
Beat long and hard upon that port,
Its panels of unyielding oak
Lent hope to all within its fort.
So high atop the wide stone walls,
Defending soldiers peered beneath
With shields held high against the darts,
They jeered and laughed with swords unsheathed.
Laugh not, O foolish men within,
Count not your hopes in steel and wood,
For see their king maleficent,
Whom none on earth has e'er withstood.
Akrull, the god of nameless dread,
Whom none should even dare defy,
Tips back his brutish, scarréd head,
Shrieks long and loud a barking cry.
And now appears a strange machine,
Brought forth by man and mighty horse:
A ram with monstrous dragon face,
Conceived in fiery heathen forge.
The horde was parted by this beast,
And jeers turned silent in one breath,
As soldiers faced those flaming jaws
And saw in them remorseless death.
Three times the beast crashed at the gate,
Three times its booming echoes hung,
While deep inside the city's shrines
A desperate prayer was on each tongue.
Yet fate and death laugh at their words;
The beast once more brings forth its weight.
Weep now as splintered panels crack,
And pagans pass through riven gate.
The Broken BardInside the gate brave men stood guard,
With spears and swords, in ready stance -
Prepared to die for king and home,
Impaled on deadly rival lance.
Brave men, and bold, they stood their ground
While feral beasts in human form
Rushed at the gate with swords aloft -
A strident, manic, raging swarm.
But near the door, unarmed and weak,
There sat a man in still repose -
Unfrightened by the surging throng,
Indifferent to invading foes.
The younger son of twins he was,
Grown old and frail before his years,
For fate had taken all he loved,
And left him naught in life to fear.
With crippled limbs and blinded eyes,
For years he sat beside the street,
And sang his songs of grief and loss
With tender voice and lyric sweet.
On peaceful days as crowds would pass,
And hear his voice invade the throng,
The ones who loved pure beauty paused
To hear his melancholy song.
Among the people of that land,
Who stopped to hear his dulcet tone,
His only name: "The Broken Bard,"
His true name lost and long unknown.
So proud they were to have such song
Adorn the entrance of this place -
For even strangers spoke with awe
Of brokenness that hid such grace.
And though the peace is lost and gone,
Still sits the Bard alone and still,
And weaves their pain into a song
Unheard beneath the battle shrill -
Except when soldiers fall at last,
Their gaze would meet those blinded eyes,
And to their ears would come sweet hope
To lift their souls beyond the skies.
The Heathen RiteAll through the day the battle raged
And Death did drink his cruel due,
While valiant soldiers bravely fought
Undaunted as the death toll grew.
Barbaric foes swarmed through the streets,
With vulgar grimace on each face;
Akrull imparted strength on strength
And guided every sword and mace.
The men who saw their friends hewn down,
Themselves grew weak and longed for rest,
Yet could not pause against the foes
Who by their god were now possessed.
But even gods must be renewed -
And gods who take their strength from pain
Must be reborn by cruel rite
Of helpless men in torment slain.
By eventide the battle turned,
Akrull himself called for retreat,
By hundreds and by thousands then,
The horde drew back from blood filled streets.
The heathen priests with gentle hands
Did place their god upon a bier;
His strength was failed, his life near gone,
And Death himself had now drawn near.
Now all around are keening cries,
From heathen men in trembling fear,
To see their god's cold prostrate form
Laid limp upon that deathly bier.
Throughout the night, as dark grows deep,
And Death stands grim in anxious wait,
There on the plain such silence reigns
As heathen men know fear's full weight.
Dread midnight comes upon the world;
The priests select the godhood price:
A thousand men to lend their blood -
And give their lives in sacrifice.
As one by one the men approach,
In cruelest pain their life is torn;
'Midst tortured screams of suff'ring men
The dying god is now reborn.
The Strands of FateThis heathen rite had long been known,
From age to age since dawn of life;
The god of pain could be renewed
By sacrifice upon the knife.
The human body of Akrull
Though weakened by the battle stress,
Could be restored to strength and might
By lives surrendered in duress.
Yet still the god's frail human host
Is doomed to age as all mankind
So every generation sought
A new host for the god to bind.
A child is found in every age
To hold the soul of twisted god -
A child both strong and full of life,
To clothe their lord in youth's facade.
But woe to him who takes this role!
His life is stolen by pain's lord;
His heart is crushed beneath the god
Who sears his soul to guide the horde.
Divided thus, Akrull is both
A man and god in living death -
The human soul finds endless sleep;
Akrull drinks deep of human breath.
And so it was, two decades past,
His human host reached three-score ten;
Akrull demanded youth and strength
So priests of pain sent forth their men
To find a child of beauty fair
And strength of limb and innocence
To bind his soul and body there
'Midst chanting priests and crude incense.
Thus fate had drawn the strands of life
And shaped those cords in strangest schemes;
Not even wisest men could guess,
Nor find it in their wildest dreams.
For while inside the city gates
One twin is steeped in songs of woe,
Outside his brother, long subsumed,
By strangest fate did guide the foe.
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