“You asked for hope, that’s all I know;
There is no simple cure.
You have to walk against the flow,
And most of all, endure.”
“Who are you, that you don’t flee
From my horrific countenance?”
“My name is Cuinn, and as you see
This frame would make poor sustenance.
“Fleeing would not help my fate
Nor aid you on your troubled path;
So I’ll stay here by my garden gate,
Offer help and risk your wrath.”
“My name is Daric, or it was, when I was still a man,
If you can truly help me, then I’ll gladly shake your hand.
I only hope the beast in me will stay under control
And one day you will be rewarded for your gracious soul.
A warm meal is provided that gives relief and strength;
Cuinn retrieves a faded map, describes the route at length,
Packs a bag with fresh supplies then sends him on his way,
Towards the distant mountains at the very break of day.
Daric sees a pack of wolves surrounding an old cart,
Threatening to tear its screaming occupants apart.
Brave parents armed with pitchforks try to keep the beasts at bay,
But there is little hope that they will see another day.
Daric charges down the hill, transforming as he leaps
Into the canine pack, discarding bodies piled in heaps.
They retreat when they see he is more fearsome than they,
The little family is now free to go upon their way.
Instead of offering their thanks, their cries grow shriller still,
They fear him more than snarling wolves who closed in for the kill.
Their lack of gratitude inflames the growling beast within;
He flees before it takes control and wipes out all their kin.
Daric presses on through hills and fields alive with streams,
Through dark and barren lands that seem more like a fever dream,
Past riverbanks and still lake shores and even ocean coasts,
By ruined citadels whose shadows swarm with silent ghosts.
Then at last he spots the end point that is marked upon his map
The beast screams deep within him that this place is but a trap.
He ventures forward warily to scale the verdant slope
As bitter fear is blended with a truly lethal hope.