Injustice; Oppression;Evil: These are not just ideas. These may be challenged and fought by a true bladesman.
The Bone Witch knew a secret way into the Hall of Bones,
A twisting trail that wandered deep into the catacombs,
Where laid in jumbled piles the ivory remains,
Of emperors and heros grand, and also farmers plain.
She took from there a bushel of bones,
And from them built herself a throne,
As fell a construction as ever seen,
And sitting upon it, the most evil of queens.
From atop her morbid perch,
She drained the river and parched the earth,
The cattle went down on their knees to die,
Starvation, the bane of Severrin’s eye.
She needed no army but a vast empty land,
An expanse of nothing no life could withstand.
The Bone Witch sat in dominion undisputed,
Her great power to the throne imputed.
The former king she kept beneath her feet,
Fed him stones in place of meat,
The good man lasted until his body burst
And his bones where placed among the cursed.
His daughter had little hope of survival,
And had given up waiting for the arrival,
Of succor from some remote quarter,
Of Rues or even beyond its borders,
So enters Nemin Zahory of Anbara,
Trained well in the Dueling ways of Shiara,
Who traveled for weeks to reach the throne
Without food or water or shelter, alone.
The evil queen laughed to see such a sight,
A starving hero, a skin and bone knight.
“What a treat! A Visitor!” said she.
“Who dares to come and meet with me?”
Zahory replied “I come not to meet,
But to challenge!” and he climbed to his feet.
His good blade he pointed at the witch’s throat,
And intoned the words he knew by rote.
“I challenge you, Bone Witch, to prove your right,
To rule this land. I pitch my might
Against your powers, strong as they are,
Those who fight against you are stronger by far.”
She screeched in mirth, a terrible sound,
“But knight, you are the only one around!”
He answered “That is how it appeared,
Because I was the one who volunteered.”
“I bring the purpose of hundred to bear,
To save this land, and this maiden fair,
To destroy your throne after you fall,
And return the bones to their rightful Hall.”
An awful smile crept onto her face,
While she moved toward the knight apace,
“I know your name,” she said at last.
“You think me stupid, but alas”
“For you and for those dreaming fools,
Who thought me ignorant of dueling rules!
A Battle of blades I would surely loose…
But behold the champion I choose!”
The sky grew dark as the witch reached within,
And pulled from underneath her skin,
Every ounce of power to form a brute,
Overpowering, malevolent, mute.
His strength was equal to her cruel deeds,
Her atrocities matched his speed,
His skin was tough as her soul was callous,
And his eyes burned with all of her malice.
“My champion fights,” the Bone Witch crowed,
“And when enough of your blood has flowed,
We will sup upon your dying moan,
And all of your strength will become our own.
“We will call out in your voice to the hundred that wait,
And tell them come, that the witch met her fate,
They will arrive to find your defeat,
And I will keep them, and break them, and gorge on their meat.
This is my answer to your pitiful cause,”
She said, and without even a pause,
Zahory accepted the terms she drew,
And offered his own, should his blade be true.
“This creature born of your black heart
Will be defeated, and then depart,
To leave you with nothing, no power, no throne,
And you will wander in your empty home.
“No food will you find, no water to swallow,
No shelter to hid you, no hovel or hollow.
And though you may live for hundreds of years,
Your screaming for death will fall on deaf ears.”
The Duelmaster appeared and looked at the foes,
And said “The challenge is made, may you reap what you sow.”
He opened the field, but before it could start,
The princess stepped forth, her hand on her heart.
“Nemin Zahory,” she whispered slowly,
My crown has been taken, my station now lowly,
But I wish to give you what I can, if i might
Bestow my favor to aid in your fight.”
Her feet fell with purpose as she stepped to his side,
Gently kissed him, and thereupon died.
And the the knight’s hunger faded away
His arduous journey seemed but a day.
The circle was opened, the warriors charged in,
Virtue on one side, on the other side sin.
They clashed in the middle, a sound that rung round
The mountains and hillsides and then shook the ground.
Zahory was strong, with feet that where fast,
And the kiss had gifted him endurance to last,
But the great shadow duelist was from darkness wrought,
Did not tire, or stumble, or feel pain as they fought.
When the battle wore on for blow after blow,
The strain on the knight began to show,
Blinded with blood, his armor stained,
He knew that just one chance remained.
His cry was hoarse but his spirit was fierce,
He leveled his blade and lunged to pierce,
Through armor and hide, then go between,
To the heart of the beast who fought for the queen.
Before his blade struck as intended,
He realized, and then amended,
For such a creature would have no heart
And so he aimed for the dearest part.
Its gut, the centerpoint of greed,
That vestibule of excessive need,
Became a sheath for Zahory’s sword,
When the black beast at last was gored.
When the Anbaran’s Blade was withdrawn,
There was a rip in the belly of the spawn,
From which poured forth blood and bile,
Mixed up with arcanum vile.
Without the mass of the witch’s sin,
The brute was naught but empty skin,
A man-shaped sack of untanned leather,
The last result of a malicious endeavor.
The Bone Witch screamed, her power curtailed
Because Nemin Zahory has prevailed,
“Witch!” called the Duelmaster “Your champion has lost,
But you will bear the greater cost,
For as the terms where clearly defined,
No drink will you have, no food will you find,
You will be prisoner of this desolation,
And may your suffering have no cessation.”
When Zahory emerged from the blight, he was lauded,
Crowned with flowers, feasted, applauded,
“Nemin!” they cried, “You are victorious!
Praise be to the gods! Merciful! Glorious!”
It is said that their hero did not partake of the laughter,
He thanked them, but departed soon after,
He traveled the land from the Krugs to Shiara,
Carrying with him the princess’ tiara.
If he loved her, it was never made clear,
Bur surely that one kiss he held dear,
That strengthened the heart of one tired knight,
And commended the hero to finish the fight.