Blinding was the banner bright beside her
True, the tales they already told:
Already twice a hero, twice a saviour!
Wonder not we rallied when she called:
To no more slay, nor spare to slay again
To spill no more new blood for wrongs of old
To no more trim the rot, but trace the trail
Back to the bitter source and burn it cold
So when she broke the seal, we stood beside her
Dared with her to delve the long descent
Met, in serried ranks, the roaring magma
Beat, and bound it back —
But we had spent
A day too long, beyond the mortal seal
Our lives too short, to end in such a quest
You could not be contained in any maze.
You only had to raise your hard right hand
And lay it flat upon the dungeon wall
To trace a path, inexorable as Fate.
That distant giantess may cut the thread;
You fed the present goblins to your sword.
They sung, in taverns, of a magic sword
Long lost, within a grim enchanted maze.
Rumours of rumours, but you traced the thread
To take a map from cold and wrinkled hand:
A cloakèd man, who met a grisly fate
Waiting for heroes, by a tavern wall.
Sir Simon was a hero with a sword,
Who gladly fought for glory, wealth and wine.
No gold, nor ruby dragon ever roared
That could defeat Sir Simon in his prime.
Von Argash was an undead lord of note,
For cruelly keeping slaves, known far too well.
Sir Simon cut his bony neck and throat,
And let his captives out of every cell.
Dame Eileen was a knight Sir Simon knew,
A monster-slayer, and his fiancée.
When next he greeted her, she ran him through.
Then met dead eyes. Then slandered night and day.
Von Argash cursed his killer, “Take my face.
Then face my foes, and suffer in my place.”
Here’s to the days before the world was broken,
When foes came one by one, and none too strong!
Then Danger reigned, but Doom had not yet woken;
Then hope survived for peaceful lives and long.
Those loyal friends — they gave beyond all duty!
Here’s to the nights ’round campfire and table,
When pranks were played for laughter full and free!
Those songs segued to pleasant dreams and peaceful,
And in dawn’s clashing chorus, we’d agree.
Those lovers’ trysts — the last we knew of beauty!
Here’s to that hero’s era halcyon,
Before we fell too far, nor faced defeat.
Before the death, the torture, and temptation;
Before becoming what we tried to beat.
These are the oaths a paladin would keep:
To do with honour what can thus be done;
To shield the threatened, comfort those who weep,
And then move on, once pain its course has run.
To neither scorn, nor be a slave to laws,
But do what’s right, then give the law its due.
To fight — but only in a holy cause,
And once a plea for peace has been refused.
To be a beacon, shining coast to coast:
A force for change that none need ever fear;
A friend to lost souls when they need it most,
Who does not need to say what deeds make clear.
To be a soldier with no martial heirs,
Who leaves, to souls of peace, a world that’s theirs.
We had heard that there was treasure
In the caverns beyond measure,
Which ran deep beneath the Mountain,
Which had never had a name.
So we planned to name it "Danger"
(So's to frighten any stranger
Who had heard about the mountain)
And we went to stake our claim.
It was granted, on condition
That we go upon a mission
To explore beneath the mountain,
And return with money made.
We've a month for preparation,
Then we have to leave this station,
And seek gold within the mountain.
For our debt is yet unpaid.
From under-fortress ancient
And spawning pit yet young,
From ship upon a sunken sea
And hollow crypt, they come:
The orc before a surface door,
The elf of deep below,
The thing erased from ancient lore
Are all compelled to go.
Through secret passage shallow
Or smoky fissure deep,
Dwarf-road long in ruins,
Or calcite cave, they creep.
An open cavern mile.
A dome of cut black stone.
A sea of blood-red tile.
A ready, leaden throne.
You made us champions, with words of gold:
The bold, the few, who faced the fallen horde.
Return from all despair, your songs foretold;
In every sacrifice, you saw reward.
You spoke, and we were what we had to be:
Meek supplicants in honest need of aid;
Young rogues in eager search of villainy;
A fighting force, whose terms would be obeyed.
In nothing foreign could you find surprise;
You knew the nature of our every foe,
Could read their loves and terrors in their eyes,
And, with their form and tongue, amongst them go.
Your grave shall bear no sword, for, at the end,
You laid it down to meet them as a friend.