by Thomas Davis
As Reestor glared at him, Ruarther felt
As if he’d turned to stone, his spirit hard
And eyes as cold as when the wall of ice
Had overtaken him inside the field.
“We’ve been at peace with dragons much too long
To start a war with them,” the old man said.
“You’re dreaming’s not enough to have them fly
Above us as their breaths chars all we love.”
“It was no dream,” Ruarther growled, his temper blazing.
“The dragon singed me with her stream of fire!
We have to kill the witches’ girl, or else
The world will change in ways that weird us all!”
Ruanne, disoriented, looked at her only love.
He’d kill the child? She’d dreamed of having children
Since childhood, playing with her handmade dolls.
What child had powers strong enough to cause
Grown men to quail before their unlived lives?
She tried to see inside Ruather’s rage
And understand what fear was driving him.
A hundred times she’d thought she’d earned his love,
But every time he’d danced away from her.
“Why do you meld the dragon with the child?”
A stubborn Reestor asked, eyes fixed on rage.
The man was weak yet, still affected by
The storm he’d barely made it through to home.
Around them half the village stood inside
The hall, the argument a bane when winter
Was harsh enough to threaten all of them
If they could not depend on long-term braids
To knit their wills together as they strove
To live until the distant, longed-for spring.
“The dragon spoke about the child,” Ruarther spat.
“Why wouldn’t they be linked? She spoke of her.
If not from spelling by the witch’s child,
Why would a dragon speak again to men?”
Old Molly grasped Ruanne’s slim hand and hissed.
“You’re young, young man,” she said. “Your blood runs hot
Or else you would have known what good is yours.
You’re foolish. In the past we fought the dragons,
And many died, but then the dragons seldom
Attacked unless they were alone, but now
They have communities just like this place.
If stirred, they’ll come together in a pack.”
Ruanne felt like she ought to scream the swirl
Of roiling feelings trapped inside her chest.
“The storm is done,” Ruarther said. “I’ll go.
It doesn’t matter what the village thinks.
I see the danger rising in a cloud,
and like I’ve brought back game when others failed,
I’ll save the village from temerity.
The weirding’s got to stop. The girl is dead.”
Ruanne heard children screeching in the snow.
The storm was over. Now they’d laugh and sing
As if the awful winds and cold had never been.
Inside her mind she felt the dragons flying
In multi-colored packs, an endless stream
Of fire and deadly claws out of their caves.
“I’m leader still. Not you, not yet. You won’t
Go up the mountain,” Reestor said. “We need
More meat. The hunters have to hunt for game.”
Ruarther glared at him. He glanced at Brand.
The hunter looked away as if he heard
His young ones as they worked to dig a path
Between the cottages through feet of snow.
At last Brand looked into Ruarther’s eyes.
“No hunter has your strength or skill,” he said.
“You need to throw your madness out and be
The leader that you’ve always been for us.”
“Nobody understands,” Ruarther said,
His bitterness a rancor in his voice.
“Nobody felt the heat of dragon flame.”
He turned and looked toward the hall’s great door.
He looked at Reestor. “I have always done
What’s good for all of us,” he said. “I’m certain
Deep down that what I’m doing’s for the best.”
Before the men around him moved, he strode
Toward the door, his face implacable.
Ruanne took flight outside her thoughts, her feelings
As raw as skin upon the head of children
Brought out into the light outside the womb.
“You’re wrong,” she heard herself say, voice as sharp
As sharpened knives. “You cannot kill the child!
To kill a child forever marks the soul
With blackness stained into an evil life.”
Ruarther stopped and looked into her panicked eyes.
“I’ll love you all my life,” he said, voice loud.
He turned, picked up his bow, plowed through the snow
Toward the stone wall built around the village.
Inside the hall a hunter, Cragdon, startled,
Then left the hall to join Ruarther’s rage.
His young wife grabbed at him, missed, wailed with fear.
The young man did not stop or even pause.
Audio of Ruarther’s Threat
Note: This is the eighth installment of a long poem. Inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on 1 to go to the beginning and read forward, 8 to read the installment before this one. Click on 10 to read the next section.
13 responses to “9. Ruarther’s Threat”
This was fantastic I look forward to reading more 🙂
Ahhhh, Thomas, you continue to weave the spell, like the girl child that we now fear for. We feel Ruarthur’s fear and implacability; we know he places himself and his whole community in mortal danger because he refuses to see beyond his fear ……. and we wait ……. 🙂
Hi Thomas! Are you going to do the audio reading for us?? I hope so–your voice is so rich, moving and soothing. I’m putting that on my “wish” list–if you’re feeling up to it! God bless you abundantly.
Caddo, doesn’t the audio work? It does on my computer at home. If it doesn’t I’ll have to put the file up again? I hope you can tell me. Thanks, Tom
Well, I don’t know what my problem was–too many late hours, maybe? Anyway, I was able to access the audio–and very glad to hear you read this continuing tale. I’m sure there must be some deep-seated psychological reason why I find your voice so comforting–even as you read a story that is tension-fraught. Thanks so much for this gift you give us, Thomas. God bless and keep you well.
The suspense continues to build – this is so enthralling, Thomas, as we wait to find out what will happen to Wei – and will the people and the dragons be at war once again? Looking forward to more and more!
And what a voice you have! It adds even more life to this story. (Have you ever been in theater? I could hear you doing Shakespeare….)
Thank you for sharing this with us!
Betty, I’ve been in theater in that I’ve written plays, but never performed. I have given readings, mostly at universities, in different states of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia–never England or Ireland, though.
Reestor’s question is key, “Why do you meld the dragon with the child?”
Oh — how we fear change, suffering…these storms in our lives, the weirding in us. Such power here, perhaps, in transitions, in the crossing. This is beautiful, Thomas, such a pleasure to read and I love coming back for more. Will he really kill the child? Will she find her strength/power before they confront each other? What will the dragons do?
A good, strong comment Anna. We do fear change. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this on the epic. The questions are key.
Thomas, this is more and more putting me in mind of our impetuous ventures into Iraq and Afghanistan! As you know, I claim a large portion of my ancestry as Welsh. In our traditions, the dragon is guardian over the native folk against the invaders, such as the Vikings, the Romans, the Angles, and the Saxons. Oddly, the Spanish Armada shipwrecked survivors seem to have fit in quite well with the native Celts! This is how I view the dragon’s guardianship of the orphaned girl here! This series has me totally enthralled!
A wonderful engaging narrative, Thomas. I want to listen to the audio version, but am in a noisy Starbucks right now…will wait until I can listen it attentively. Thanks so for sharing!
TD: I’m glad I’m not the only person out there working on an epic poem…it’s National Poetry Day, so I’m reblogging your post…here’s to blank verse, dragons, and Gilgamesh! RT
I looked at your Gilgamesh project. Looks to me like you’re moving forward on a difficult task that is well worth doing. Congratulations on being willing to tackle something epic.