Epigraph–“The Land of Many Kings”

“The Land of Many Kings”
By Alfraed the Aberrant

In the North, the cold winds cut
Like a brand through brittle bone.
But her people stand stern
As mountains–Sentinels,
Their will iron, their spirit
Molten from the furnace,
Coursing across the earth
Until it cools, forging
          The land of many kings.

Further South, the moorlands stretch,
A great peat sea rolling on,
Surging, plunging, undulant,
The rocky outcrops her islands,
Algal green breaking
Across their sharp sides
In intimate cataclysm,
The desolate air damp, purifying
          The land of many kings

In the East, the dunes and dust
Swirl through settlements,
Clouds of grit turn to sediment,
Settling deep in the souls
Of those who call it home,
Fossilizing them from inside out
Until they are clad in
Armor impenetrable, fortifying
          The land of many kings

And in the sea, her surface glittering
Like a vein of lapis lazuli,
The merfolk lazily lap about
Singing their crystal-clear songs.
Their shimmering hymns
Fill the air, effervescent.
They lift sailors’ hearts
Like wind-scooped sails, invigorating
          The land of many kings

A gossamer peace webbed
Itself about these lands and sea.
But a curious wind is stirring
And brushing a slumbering beast,
Rousing it, as it shakes the halcyon dust
From its bristled mane.
Its tired eyes shine red once more
And now it staggers toward
          The land of many kings

The fragile filaments
Are calcifying,
Hardening like hearts,
Rattling in the wind,
The bone-chimes of war.
The beast plods ever closer.
It has been round before, for like
A moth to flame, is the stalking beast to
          A land of many kings


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