Copyright 2013. PATG LLC. All rights reserved.

Chapter 23

On the Road

Blacksmith’s hands were shackled and chained,

And arms and neck and waste the same,

The chains all joined up to a post,

Encaged within a prison coach.

He lay hunched atop thick straw

Blackened and beat, toe to jaw,

Glaring out through iron bars,

Staring up a sky of stars.

Yesterday they left the village,

Amid jeers and threats and jillage,

Of mobsters who were all enraged,

By hateful taunts Persephony waged,

Upon the blacksmith and the elves,

As those blameful for their ills.

The mob was made of villagers,

Emotions whipped to spewing words.

Their faces dirty, their broad backs bent,

Their children malnourished, their happiness spent,

With worn out dreams and joints and eyes,

Frustrated at their miserable lives.

“This is he” Persephony hissed,

“The criminal man, in our midst,

Who served the wicked queen and king,

Their puppet dancing on a string.

He is why your lives are dire,

And threatened by the giant’s ire!

Working all the day to find,

Coal and diamonds deeply mined!

The last 5 weeks they’ve worked with you,

And felt the lash and torment too,

And suffered of the pain inflicted,

Upon you as I had predicted!”

And then she turned to face the smith,

slapping him with shouts forthwith.

“For once, another’s fate this day,

Who gave us to the giant’s ways,

Has suffered what has been our fate.

Next you have a prescribed date,

To meet the giant’s prison cells,

And face the execution bells!”

Right afterwards, the crowds mad cheered

And booed and spat and looked and leered.

At both the Blacksmith and the elves,

Until they were no more themselves,

Screaming crazy, glad in violence,

While the prisoners cringed in silence,

Huddled each in their own cell,

Fearful for their lives as well.

Persephony slowly led the wagons,

Out of the village, a snaking dragon,

With many other carriage cells,

Full of hapless souls as well,

Leaving back the frantic mobs,

And all their vicious quips and quobs,

To begin the great commute,

Along the giant’s hewn road route.

Then for a second Blacksmith saw,

Two hooded figures stare and gaw,

At them from the maddened mob,

Standing silent, on the job.

Their heads were hung, their necks were bent,

Following, following where cells went,

Craning and keening as if in shock,

When the town’s folk threw their rocks,

And at the actions and distractions,

Of all the angry mobulous factions.

With battered eyes and cloudy sight

Smith wondered if he still saw right,

But thought he watched the tall one cry,

And wave as town gates closed good bye.

“Get up!” a harsh voice brought him back,

To the present and the clack,

Of wagon wheels on the road,

And a horse, who rode and rode,

Around the prisoner’s caravan.

“Get up!” it told the humbled man,

Running a dagger along the bars,

Keeping prisoners a-jar,

And lagging long, beside the wagon,

Stabbing, shouting, laughing, bragging.

Smith and elves stood up slowly,

Keeping all their six eyes lowly,

Feeling no warmth from the sun,

Or from their clothes, since they had none.

Hours later, at mild pace,

Dragon slowed to widened space,

Which was shared with other pillagers,

Bringing wares before the villagers.

It lay along the giant’s road.

Where today, traffic was slowed,

By a large block of congestion,

At a clogged up intersection,

There a river rushed to sea,

Wild and rapid, rocky-free,

Where the wait was two day’s long

As bridge ran over river’s song.

Traffic was tight and five abreast,

As growing more and more distressed.

To make things worse, bridge had begun,

To close its gates, because the sun,

Had settled behind the mountainous west.

This forced the travelers, all, to rest,

Along the roadside, as they best,

Could manage in their circumstance,

By guile or will or got by chance.

As for the blacksmith and the elves,

They had to cover up themselves,

With the straw strewn on floors,

As each carriage faced their doors,

Around a small fire burning low,

Who’s heat the prisoners wished to know.

Persephony and her vicious vaunts,

Assayed them all with wicked taunts.

“So Blacksmith, what say you now?”

Persephony said, the fat old cow.

“Are you feeling puffed and proud?

“Stripped and barred before the crowds?”

“Ha ha ha ha!” she smiled with glee,

As did her servants wickedly.

But then she had a distant look,

Of sadness made from some sharp hook,

That only she and the blacksmith knew,

Which now passed between the two.

“We’re off to bed” the servants said,

Knowing that she’d take the lead,

From their hides, if they weren’t,

Up at dawn, ready to spurt,

Back to road, to take their place,

And move their wagons up a space.

When the servants all were gone,

Facing the fire she sat there long,

Conflicted face with hurt and shame,

Staring deep into the flame.

“Persephony” the blacksmith whispered,

Feeling low and base, and pispered,

“Persephony” he said with strife,

“What has happened, my dear wife?

How can it be we are estranged?

And I am to be arranged,

Before the execution bells?

We once shared and loved so well,

Our lands and homes with King and Queen,

And a wish that they be seen,

To once again govern the lands.

What has happened to our plans?

What has caused this noxious switch,

Turning you to Giant’s witch?”

“Those days are gone you silly man!”

She said, voice cold and clenching hand,

Poking the fire with a sharpened stick.

“It’s been too long and I am sick,

Of watching shadows just for you!

The plans you made, are done and through!”

She came at him with burning stick,

And thrust it through the cage bars quick.

“I did not wait here for your plans!

Or kings or queens or for their lands!

I waited here, hoping for you!

I waited like a moonstruck fool!

And all that time, not one touch,

Of contact from you though I much,

Gave up life, hoping waiting,

Without one word obviscating,

Since the giant exiled you.

That is why we now are through!

Where in the world did you go?

Then you show up hoping so,

That I will help you with your plans.

Horrid husband! Wretched man!

Horrid husband! Wretched man!

Live with yourself, while you can!

I am the giant’s servant now,

And you will meet the cut block’s gow.”

In her face, lines of distaste,

Framed her mouth and then with haste,

She threw the brand back in the fire,

And to her bed dropped down with ire,

Flipping the covers over herself.

Up in the cage the blacksmith sat,

Double bent, thinking that,

He’d been foolish all these years,

To leave Persephony to her tears,

And that perhaps his loyalty’s price,

Was too much a sacrifice.

That was when the elves sharp eyes,

Saw something that gave surprise.

And Willow whispered quick and low,

“Two dark shapes, there, in shadow!”