42. The Deadly Dragon Horde

a passage from The Dragon Epic by Thomas Davis

1

Up from the mountain slopes above the circle
Of black stone, dragons filled the sky, their hearts
And spirits fierce with dragon rage and war.
Above them, eyes afire, Sshruunak watched fiercely,
Exultant that his time had come, the skies
So filled with rising dragons that they seemed
A swarm of blackness, death aimed at the humans.
The sun was bright and echoed off the snow
That covered jagged peaks thrown at the sky.
He glided as they came to him, then turned
Toward the village closest to the caves
And shrilled his challenge at the universe.

2

The blackness emanating from the mountains
Made Wei attempt to move her too large wings
And lift herself into the morning air.
The snow around her sprayed and glittered light
Into the shining blue of cloudless skies.
Ssruuanne moved quickly back to miss the force
Of wings more powerful than Wei could know.
The human child inside the dragon body
Felt tears well up inside her tearless eyes
As nothing seemed to move as muscles strained
To lift a body not her body off
The snowy ground to insubstantial air.
Wei moved her massive legs and beat her wings
And roared frustration, startling her hearts
That thundered in her chest and frightened her.

She was a child, she thought. She could not be
A dragon with a dragon’s roar and hearts.

A little way away a wild-eyed Mmirrimann
Kept glancing at the sky and then at Wei,
His feet a drum-like tattoo on the snow.
He looked as if he did not know if he
Should launch into the skies or watch the rainbow
In front of him take life that seemed unreal.
Around him, stretched as far as Wei could see,
The other dragons stared at Mmirrimann,
Then Wei, as if they waited for a sign
That told them what the black mind-storm assailing
Them meant inside a day of miracle.
Great dragon eyes whirled colors at the light
Intense enough to make the morning golden.

Ssruuanne was silent as the human dragon
Strained at the gravities of solid ground.
She looked confused, as if she could not make
Her thoughts reorder to reality.

Reality seemed skewered from the course
Of natural life, its permanence undone.
At last, the struggle in her thoughts’ confusion
So strong it made Ssruuanne feel more human
Than elder dragon born with dragon strength,
She shook her massive golden head and grumbled,

“On ground this flat you have to run to fly.
The question is, what are you flying to?”

Sshruunak’s cry slammed its triumph through the plateau
As Wei began to run, her panic turbulent.
She lurched from one side to another side
As Mmirrimann and other dragons cleared
A path for her and wings that did not match
The rhythm of her wildly churning legs.
Ssruuanne took off so smoothly, wings
A golden flashing in the light, she seemed
A definition of a dragon’s grace.
Along the edges of the dragons’ circle
A dozen other dragons leaped to flight.
Then Wei, her heartbeats double beating rhythms
Her legs and wings could synchronize, so slow
It seemed as if she’d slam into the ground,
Rose from the snow into the air in flight.
She murmured to herself to feel the wonder
Of being what she was, a dragon flying
From human form into the heaven’s skies.

Around her dragons filled the air, so many
There did not seem the space to hold them all.
The blackness drumming at her mind suppressed
Exhilaration storming through her spirit.
She was a human dragon flying, strong
Enough to be the being she’d become!

And then she felt another cry, a human cry
That shivered where her arms had been and made
Her human heart asynchronous with how
Her dragon hearts beat with the beat of wings.
She gasped, a human, still a dragon. Fear
And anger made her stall, then start the beat
That kept her in the air again, the blackness
A song outside of who she’d ever be.

3

The coal black dragon led the arrowhead
Of dragons flying at the waiting village.
His heart calm, Cragdon turned and shouted out
The warning that the village knew would come,
Then dropped behind the wall and took his bow
Into his hand and lit a flaming arrow.
There had to be more dragons in the flock
Of dragons flying to their human war
Than he had ever seen in all his life.
Ruarther had not flinched to fight a dragon
By moonlight when the two of them had faced
What seemed to be a night of certain death.
Ruarther had no spirit of his own,
But Cragdon had a wife and child and love
And would not flinch to splash his arrow’s flame
Into the hardness of a dragon’s scales.
He waited, glanced to see the dragon’s distance,
Then knelt behind the stony wall again.

4

Ruanne, upon her cottage roof, heard Cragdon’s voice
And knew the time of blackness came on wings
Of many colors as attacking dragons
Gave shape to darkened songs inside her mind.
She felt the power of their warrior song
And felt her witch’s power stirring in response.
Come on, she thought. Come on. We’ll meet you here.
She lit the pot that leaped with flame and yelled
Defiance at the coming dragon horde.

To listen to this passage of the epic, click on The Deadly Dragon Horde.

Note: This is the forty second passage of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally 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 below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to Fate and Sentinels to read the passage before this one. To read the following passage, click on .

4 Comments

Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

4 responses to “42. The Deadly Dragon Horde

  1. Julie Catherine

    Wow, Thomas, your vivid imagery has these scenes dancing in my head; I was totally transfixed by this passage, right there with Wei as she struggled to fly. Awesome segment – I am fearful of what this epic war will bring to both dragon and human, and almost breathless with suspense that is now so taut it’s almost painful …. wonderful! ~ Julie xox

  2. Wow, Thomas. I enjoyed this, especially the descriptions of Wei struggling with her dual form and identity, the hearts beating, and the visual image of all the black dragons is very dark and heavy. Write on!

  3. Good to see another instalment from you Tom!

  4. The excitement continues while the threads of the tale stretch towards their inevitable fateful interweaving tapestries.

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