Daric looks in horror as she shifts into a form
That shows faint hints of her old self, but still it makes him squirm.
He runs the fallen minion through, then charges at the beast,
She blocks his path and views him like a predator its feast.
He shows the flat of his great sword, its strange glow gives her pause;
Her feral eyes reflect it as she growls and bares her claws.
“Beatrice, please, don’t heed his lies; I’m Daric, your true friend;
Love and sacrifice are things he cannot comprehend.”
She trembles at his gentle words, but the beast is stronger still,
She snaps back to her vicious state as he exerts his will.
“Your ignorance will bring you down, all power is mine to give;
It’s only for the sport of it that we still let you live.”
The two beasts circle round him, looking for a chance
To pounce and rip his throat out in this deadly evil dance.
He backs against the cabin wall to cut their angles down.
“This coward is no threat to us, let’s go and raid the town.”
They turn and head towards the woods, he quickly scrambles after,
The beast jags left and back around, and roars with mocking laughter
“We have you trapped in open ground, no barriers to hide you,
Your guard will drop eventually, and then we will divide you.”
His vision’s width is limited by his visor’s plate;
He blinks blood from his eyes and spots the movement just too late.
The beast pounces onto his back, sinks a fang into his neck;
He throws the beast off, tearing through trapezius muscle wrecked.
With one last force of will, he plunges down with his blessed blade
Into the prone beast’s midriff, but as contact’s to be made,
She pounces forward, knocks him down and pins him to the ground;
His helmet pops off, they lock eyes, then turn to the vile sound
Of wailing shrieks and sizzling flesh, the blade’s pinned through its leg
Into the earth so it can’t move, just pitifully beg
As flames and smoke pour from the wound, creating a great cloud;
It writhes and shrivels into dust, with a thunderclap so loud
It knocks her off him several yards, the cloud then comes alive,
Swirling like a great tornado, then it starts to dive.
He presses on his neck and slowly climbs to his weak knees,
Grasps the sword and waves it as if swatting angry bees.
The cloud backs out of his sword’s reach, then rushes into her.
She springs up to her feet and then gives out a joyful purr.
She snarls at him, then falters as she sees his holy blade;
One last hope occurs as his vision starts to fade.
“Beatrice,” he slurs, and stabs the sword into the earth.
“I gladly give my life for yours, whatever that is worth.
This makeshift cross can take your curse, grasp it and be free;
If I die before you live, then please remember me.”
With that he falls and lies quite still; she smells his salty blood,
His tender flesh so succulent, and hunger like a flood
Washes over her and draws her to his fallen form,
And yet a small voice whispers in the middle of that storm
That there is more to life than feasting, victory and war,
That this pile of meat is a good man that she adored,
And so she reaches fearfully for that repugnant steel;
It burns with purest agony, but she clings on with zeal.
The evil cloud is funnelled through the sword to the abyss;
Its final scream of terror fades into the faintest hiss.
Near-exhausted, Beatrice pulls the sword out from the ground,
She looks around the battlefield and whistles for her hounds.
When they come running from the trees, she’s not angry they fled
From the terrifying beast, she’s glad that they’re not dead.
She moves to Daric’s fallen form and listens for his breath;
It’s shallow, short and weakening, he’s very near to death.
“My Daric, you have honoured me as if I were a queen;
No matter what you thought you were, you were a knight to me.
For what it’s worth, I dub you with the sword that set me free.”
She puts the sword face on his wound, it hisses, glows brightly.
“Arise, Sir Daric, Knight of all I am and have to give,
Know that you have won my heart, but most of all, please live.”
Her dogs lick all the gore away, she drags him back inside
Lays him in her own soft bed, keeps herself occupied
With cooking, washing, nursing him with all she can provide;
She sends a dog to bring some help while she stays by his side.
Days later Daric slowly wakes, is welcomed with her smile;
She kisses him and tells him he still needs to rest a while.
Her door’s been fixed, her house is warm and festively spruced up;
She brings him fresh stream water in a simple wooden cup.
Her smile drops, “Now that you know about my heinous crime,
Do you still wish to stay with me, through pain and toil and grime?”
“My love,” he says, “a day with you is worth a thousand more
Without your beauty and your grace, whatever lies in store.
It was the beast who acted through your captive hands and eyes.”
“I remember clearly now, he used my wounded pride.
“It felt just like an awful dream, I could not but comply.”
“Perhaps those are false memories; he served the Prince of lies.
But even if it was your fault, all that and more besides,
I can’t condemn, since there but for the grace of God go I.
“Please be my wife, that we may be and work this farm as one;
‘Twould be my crowning moment, my greatest treasure won.”
The priest arrives, but not alone, the news has spread far and wide
Of the great battle that took place, and that the beast has died.
The king and all his pageantry arrive in state to bless
And honour Daric’s courage, to publicly express
His gratitude for this great feat, give gold and tracts of land,
And approve the ceremony that joins them hand in hand.
“What God and king have joined as one, let man not separate;
This marriage is a victory over rage and reckless hate.
May the ballad of their love be sung and oft retold,
Until it is a treasured myth of ‘that grand age of old.’ ”
This poem in its entirety is the finale to my second poetry collection, Selected Verse – Heroes and Wonders, now available on Kindle, which looks at heroes and wonders of the grand type we see depicted in our favourite epics as well as inspiring everyday examples that only a few ever notice. Beauty to enjoy, courage to inspire, wisdom and folly to admire and avoid: