Ever onward and ever they come,
One by one by one by one.
Chivalrous men, knights of the realm,
With sword and shield and polished helm.
They trudge across moor, fen, and field
All for a glimpse of my majesty revealed.
My fiery eyes and tight-curled tail,
My vicious limbs adorned with scales.
They blanch beneath their mail and plate,
Their faces pale, or grim with fate.
Still they come, and come and come,
And I eat them all, one by one.
Some fight with valor, their bravery bright,
Wielding their swords, honed to bite.
Some fight with lances, keen as frost,
Others with maces, or axes tossed.
Yet all men falter under my gaze,
And my breath, a hellish roaring blaze.
My teeth crunch their hammered plate,
Their bones and flesh never enough to sate.
Their weapons though, I cast aside,
And horses left with none to ride.
Sometimes I chase them through the woods,
Yet never abandon my trove of goods.
For you see, that is why the men they come,
To take what is not theirs, and never was.
They seek blood at the edge of their steel,
Where I seek only peace, here in my green weald.
Then lo’ came a day I had never foreseen,
When a man, clad not in armor of silver sheen,
Strode from the gloom, his hands raised high,
And his face, I admit, drew my sigh.
For his eyes bore no malice, no greed or lust,
Just a bold-hearted will to do what needs must.
In his grip shone a key, gold as a summer’s day,
And my heart, it did leap, in a secret sacred way.
For centuries none had dared to tread
Those trackless paths through the land of the dead,
Where secrets rise like mist o’er the mountains,
And blood flows through soil like a wine-filled fountain.
There he must have smote the wraiths of the past,
And won the key, to grant me at last
The freedom I’ve longed for since my own dawn,
Since the curse that bound me in this scaly brawn.
He yields the key, and bows before me low,
And I hesitate, sensing his pulse rate slow.
He is not afraid of me, this mortal man,
And I wonder if this is some new trick or plan
To entrap me further, to damn me to my penance,
To play on my affection, what little is in remnants.
He lifts his eyes to mine, dark brown and proud,
The earth to ground my lightning-veined clouds.
From atop my pile of treasures resplendent,
I proffer the chest long-hidden by my attendance,
Guarded day and night lest some fool disturb it,
Yet now I give it freely, to he who has earned it.
He kneels reverently, his key gently held.
It turns in the lock, and I hear the knell
Of a new dawn approaching, for us both if he wishes,
For inside ‘pon the velvet, lay the fruit of his ambitions.
Two circlets of gold, forged in embers ancient,
Two symbols of power, and relief for those who are patient
Through toil and strife, through endless nights alone,
Two crowns of gold, and a golden throne.
I reach for the first, my claws sharp yet steady,
And place it on his head, the metal warm and heavy.
He puts his hand to his breast and bows again,
Then reaches for the second, the curse’s wound for to mend.
He lifts it up high, my head for to reach,
And I bend down low, as his voice does beseech:
“Lady of fire, clad in emerald armor fair,
let me place upon thine hair
This crown of sunlight, of heaven’s rays spun,
And undo the curse by your ancestors begun.”
His words light the spark and absolve the spell,
The crown touches my head and my anger is quelled.
My horns they do shrink, my talons retract,
My tail is no more, and my jaws no more snap.
My hair flows long, and my skirts unfurl,
My bare feet alight ‘pon all the treasure in the world.
Yet here I have found one greater than all the gems,
A man who seeks the root of the world’s problems,
And fights tooth and nail to help those in need,
Like a woman forced on evil to feed.
He takes my hand, his dark eyes aglow,
And kisses it, softly and slow.
The years of pain, of sorrow and despair,
Now pale in the face of the future’s fresh air
When we rule together, atop our golden throne,
Turning hearts to our cause in our palace of stone.
Ever onward and ever they’ll come,
And we’ll help them all, one by one by one.
Meredith/M.A. Crosbie is a writer and art historian who loves getting lost in books, films, TV shows, and music. She writes adult historical fiction and is currently working on a novel set in 17th-century Venice. You can read all of her Muses stories here.