Medieval/Fantasy ‘Path of Thorns’ (Ezra)
Notes: The Poem Challenge, offered by…ME!!
Nope, it’s not to write a poem, but to base a story around one. Pick a long one, short one, old one, or a new one…heck, use one of your own, which would be great. Don’t include the poem in your story…this isn’t about that. Do, however, post the poem (please include the author’s name, book title, and the publisher) at the end, just so the readers can read your inspiration. Pick any AU, as long as you have permission, or create a new one!
Please send comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ezra looked out over the army of his people. They stood strong, determined, obedient, and resilient. Voices rang out toward the heavens in thunderous, deafening roars. Victory was within their grasp. Horses reared and tossed their heads, their bits and tack ringing like music. Their neighs echoing like thunder. Though the darkness of night was upon them, they would not surrender.
The enemy stood hiding behind their boarders, behind their trees and rocks. They yelled and cried out warnings—hiding like spirits without souls.
Ezra’s big chestnut jumped and tossed his head, foam dripped from his mouth and sweat gathered around his eyes and ears. His eyes were bright and willing—he knew what was being asked of him. His hooves danced in readiness, and his sides heaved with anticipation. But his rider sat firm in his saddle, watching, learning…waiting.
“Your men await their orders, Commander,” Marco said sternly, overlooking the armies. His chain male rang as he moved, with sword held firmly in grasp, the older soldier looked at his friend and comrade. “We will win.” It was a confidence shared by many.
Ezra looked at his friend, dark green eyes glittered under the moon’s brilliant glow. A subtle smile slowly etched its way onto his face and a slight nod of understanding was the only response Marco received. Ezra pulled on his horse’s reins and pointed to the east. “Their lines will break…their fires give way their location…be leery of the left flank and do not wait for the for the armies of the north to aid us…we are alone in this endeavor.” His army was grand, but outnumbered three to one by the enemy.
Men would die here today.
“We will win,” Marco replied confidently.
“We will not, surrender,” Ezra said firmly, looking hard at his friend. He nudged his horse’s sides and they galloped forward and down the rocky terrain. Rocks and boulders littered the land like sand on the ocean shore, trees and logs complicated then landscape, aiding anyone who cared to use it to their benefit.
The roar of the army pierced the air violently, and together as one they raced forward. Darkness aided their charge, hiding them from the enemy. With their voices looming all around it became impossible to locate anyone, or everyone. Arrows whizzed past the worriers, horses screamed out and fell tumbling forward, lodging themselves around trees, boulders, and men.
Ezra swung his sword through the air, slicing it open, allowing it to breath. The force of the blade cut the throat of his enemy, dropping him to the ground. His horse reared when a blade cut too close to his face, and together they fell backward. Landing with a thump onto the hard cold ground. The big chestnut struggled to his feet and shook his head, his reins flying rapidly around his neck. Ezra stood on his feet and fought with his men, kicking, punching, and striking anyone who raised an arm against him.
Violence was a love shared by many, but mourned by all.
Marco rushed for his commander, his heart racing and mind wheeling. The enemy swarmed upon them like flies to death. Ezra struggled as three men came upon him with all the force they could muster. Their swords were flung toward him and he blocked each blow with his shield. The haunting sound filled his ears and he backed away, tripping over the bodies of his men, his enemy, and the steeds they’d rode. He fell back suddenly when his foot lodged between a tree stump and rump of a dead horse. He dropped his sword and shield when his back hit the ground, but before any of the enemy could strike, Marco was there, stopping them.
Ezra quickly regained his feet and thanked his friend before continuing in the battle.
Smoke billowed upward from fires that continued to smolder. The early morning fog had settled in the trees and hovered inches above the ground. Bodies littered the ground, some crying out for help, others making peace with their god. Horses, some wounded, some struggling to stand, and others standing protectively over their fallen masters were scattered.
Ezra knelt down on one knee and rested his forearms on the other. He looked out over the land, seeing the destruction of war. Blood trickled over the ground in narrow streams. Some of his men used the mercy of their blade to end the lives of those mounts who suffered.
“The day is ours,” Marco said, standing beside his friend, his commander.
Ezra nodded, wiping his brow with his hand. “The count?”
“Six and seven hundred.”
Ezra turned inquiring eyes toward Marco. “Again?”
Marco smiled: “Six and seven hundred.”
Ezra sighed and shook his head, not believing what he was hearing. “Praise be,” he whispered.
the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate.
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
—William Ernest Henley