A horsebow creaked, an arrow zipped
Through the air, glancing and ringing
From the head of my brother's axe. Then another, tipped
With burning oils, cut short all singing
As a tree of the grove burst aflame.
Another bow creaked, breaking shocked silence.
My brother knight struck out, breaking both the bow
And the man who bent it. A flower bloomed
At my beloved's throat: a fletcher's feathers
Spattered with blood. He threw down his axes.
They went before him to the earth.
All song was forgot then, save wrath and for ruin
Though we Green, in faith to the Lady,
Sought first our own defense.
All at once, a dozen songs began,
Raising earthen wall and bramble
On every hand. I, too, joined the singing, raising
From the valor of my brother a thing of earth to wield his axe
A dozen bows creaked. An arrow flew.
Woe! For the Hunters a Red Sister slew.
The Rods of Chaos raged to see a sister die.
Forth they went in anger, calling from sea and sky,
Field and forest, each his sacred animal to aid.
With bear and badger, wolf and falcon,
Bull, hawk, hare, fox, and dolphin,
Each went forth friend to save or foe to kill
Trees of fire, planted with song, broke the chill
And sent the innocents scattering home.
Only those stood who for good or ill had come.
A few good Men of the Mace by the grove stayed,
And their Lord, the Young Albrecht,
Erinsford's Wyvern then in his own right.
The news had gone to and fro from the fight,
And the old Lord's heart had grieved and failed.
Back came the news like a winter wind.
The Young Lord took up arms and wailed
That the Wyvern would remain behind
With those who kept both faith and the grove.
He charged forth, mace in hand his word to prove,
With Greenaxe on his right and Redrod on his left.
The chill air sung with curses, spells, and flying steel.
From Hunters' arrow and Spider's bite our number began to dwindle.
Three Sisters Red and four of the Green fell within the Circle,
Many fell beyond it, rushing out to strike or heal.
Yet all was for nought. Our defense and their rage
Raised conflicting spirits. The walls burned fruitlessly,
Or turned to mud. Even when the walls of fire held,
The Hunters' hatred urged them on.
The last blows were dealt by the fountain.
Our defenses broke and we must needs flee.
The last of the Red Sisters turned her back
On grove and town and fountain,
Calling up wolves to clear her path.
I followed with the thing of earth behind me.
Those few dark moments I have never forgotten.
The Young Wyvern came not with us,
But gathered his Maces around him and stood his ground,
And honoring our fallen, buried each where he was found.
O Lady of the Green, forgive us,
Our folly it was that brought your grove-trees down.
No grove grows there now, no trees beside the stilled waters.
They buried each one with honor when the hate-filled ones had fled.
Many too young they buried, newly blessed by sons or daughters.
Forty-six in all they honored. All our Knights blessed the ground where they bled,
All but one Red Sister and Knight also, and last, the spirit of the fountain,
A water-spirit carved of stone, who fell when our spell went wrong.
Broken and blackened, they buried her also, least vicitim of the interrupted song.
The golem alone remains to me, the thing of earth and memory,
Alone in silence, I await the day when complete my given task shall be.