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Tredroy, 2035

The games, the games. All glory to them. All things I am are because of the arena.

The fighters stand in a row, twenty of us in salute as the mayor is seated again to the sound of bucinae. We view the fresh sand laid over new bloodstains, thirty yards of it between the seats where the hungry crowd stands cheering. As the music plays, we stand erect and proud. Here we are, the headliners: six provocatores, a new retiarius and a pair of even newer secutores to goad him, plus a tired old charioteer.

Today I spread my arms wide, turning about to sneer at the crowd. I am The Lion, Yusuf The Lion, none other, and no one touches me without a lot of gold changing hands. I draw my sword and clap it against shield, signaling the rest to disperse, and they obediently run the perimeter, shouting at the spectators and twirling. Still more obediently, the crowd roars, willing slaves at my command, hanging on my every gesture. I’ll knock down any young fool who raises a spear at me, or any old one, and the paying customers love me for it.

Down the generations the rules have altered, they tell me, always favoring more of the carnage that pleases the city fathers, telling them that they are men, capable not just of dealing out death but of commanding Death itself.

In other cities, in the west, it is said that more fighters die in their arenas, with no set times for matches, leaving bodies piled high enough to offer shade. Mere slaughter does not impress me, I who have met their finest and lived. Here at home are games that thrill, but more importantly build fighters who have hope of life, who live more often than not, and know how not to die.

After my tenth kill, they told me, folk learned to fear my roar. Twenty or more, beyond counting, and they would scream along with the fresh meat I cut down. Years passed, and the faces changed, but the games remained.  Blood for cheers, cheers for blood.

After some magic number, after the screams of the women became more pointed, they rented me out. The women, young or old, and the men, always old, seeking something in The Lion’s embraces that they lacked, or feared. I slept apart from the rest of the fighters, those whose stylings and reputations were ordinary, whose scars were less comely.

Some who paid for me were eager, some feigned reluctance, but all paid in hard coin; there were rules to these games that I learned quickly, and my masters were pleased. I was fed meat, rubbed with expensive oils, and given the cape they call The Lion’s Mane.

By day I trained in the sand, and thousands cheered. By night I was a different sort of warrior, slipping past shields and under armor to win single hearts in new ways that took me as long to learn. They were there, after a match, perhaps pretending interest in the outcome, perhaps so eager that there was little talk of the kill, or of who might face me next.

Their eyes wandered as I rinsed the blood and grime from my skin. Their tongues touched their lips as I slipped the leather straps from my arms, and my master would nod once. Then I knew that here was another match, and that I already belonged, for this night or for several, to this lady or to this man. I would smile, sneering as I did in the ring, and see my new master tremble with anticipation. With these my newest skills I would buy myself a week of rest, of no spears nor blades trying to pierce me, and of whatever fine food and wine my captor cared to share with me.

It is a life any might envy, and now, today, they tell me that it is at an end, that a stranger who names my father has bought all my future days and nights, and given them back to me, if I will only go to the west to meet the stranger who sired me.

I know not how or why. I only know that without word or thought I walked away to join the caravan, into the afternoon sun as the horns struck up again for a match I would never see. There are lovers enough to mourn my loss. My sandals tread lightly in the dirt as I turn away from the slaves of the arena and toward the world of free men. I hum along with the horns for a time, and then I cease to hear them or the crowd’s cheers behind me. The games, the games, glory to them, but greater glory to me.


(Really sincere apologies to William Harrison.)


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Wallace, March 2005slander01

Magnifico strummed the lute softly, awaiting his next cue.  Stone flooring balanced by the sheerest of curtains against  the warm sun made the exquisite instrument’s sound carry well throughout the hall.  The strings answered his lightest touch, urging him to caution.

“Your sharbat is excellent, my lord,” said the Wazifi whose eyes lied.

William, Lord Wallace reclined, looking relaxed–no mean feat in his high-backed chair of dark, forbidding wood.  He stretched his sword arm, which fell by his side to where his dirk was slung out of sight of the embassy.  “It is last night’s untouched fruit, ibn Ja’far, sweetening the unfermented apples from last harvest.”

“Your kitchener–your cook, lord–is a clever one, perhaps well accustomed to serving the faithful,” ventured the lesser visitor, with a glance at his ambassador.

The younger Wallace, Malcolm by name, spoke up, scowling.  “A cook?  You think my father a newly-landed baron, with a single field hand pressed into service to boil his meat?  Whatever the king tells you, you are in the seat of  Wallace, an old and vast holding.  His table is the finest you will find.”  He was silenced by a fearful glance from his father.

The ambassador’s face betrayed no emotion.  “I apologize for my friend’s words, ill-chosen in a tongue he does not yet command.”  He brought the sharbat to his grey beard, and drank deliberately.  “He meant only compliments, which I now echo.”  His countryman gripped the arm of his chair, but set his mouth in a thin line and did not speak.

Magnifico slid his hand up the neck of the lute to begin the centerpiece of his performance.  He rose from the stool, and walked casually about the lord’s table, singing in the tongue of the foreigners:

O Jandal, what do Banu Numayr say
When the male organ disappears into your father’s buttocks?

Lower your eyes in shame, for you are of Numayr–
No peer of K’ab not yet Kilab!

The ambassador’s eyes widened, but he remained silent.  With an ugly look at Magnifico, ibn Ja’far said tautly, “I have heard, lord, that it is now the fashion in the west to keep feeble-minded clowns, who may slander all with impunity.  In my country, such offenders are killed.”

Lord Wallace sat in silence, smiling in satisfaction.  Leering, Magnifico continued his song:

Al-Farazdaq has declared that he shall kill Mirba–
Rejoice, O Mirba, at the prospect of long life!

“Ash-shi’r asyar, effendi,” said Magnifico, his hands still at the playful tune, and unable to resist, added in Anglish, “Poetry goes farther.”

Ibn Ja’far gritted his teeth and said, “My father’s son will not be so spoken to.  My family–”

Magnifico smiled sweetly, though his hand trembled, and shifted into Arabic again.

You have not an ass in the parliament, nor a mouth,
Nor ever had in the past any worth knowing.

The hija stung, and ibn Jafar leaped to his feet, smoothly drawing from within his robe a dagger.  “Dog!” he hissed, kicking aside his own chair.

Behind ibn Ja’far, though, Malcolm Wallace had moved more swiftly, and the Wazifi died on his blade, clutching at the table’s edge as he fell first to a knee, and then upon his face, blood gurgling from his back as he gasped his final breaths.

The reality of the murder in which he was complicit crept on Magnifico, as the blood of the Wazifi pooled on stone.  He stepped back, panting, and dropped the lute.  Malcolm Wallace calmly removed his dirk from the dead man.  Only then did His Lordship stand.

“You understand me, ibn Falan?  Your man concealed a weapon and drew in my presence.  Only the swiftness of my own son preserved my life from the assassin your Sultan sent to me.”  Wallace’s gaze bored into the blank eyes of his remaining guest.

After a pause, the ambassador’s steady hand lowered the crystal goblet to the table, placing it gently without a sound.  “I understand you, lord.  I will tell you a secret, though.  This man was sent with me not by the wishes of the Sultan, peace be unto him, but by the man’s father, a powerful voice in the kingdoms.  I have been aware these three months that he informs upon my every move.  How could you have known?  Only the wisest of lords might have foreseen the placement of a spy, and arranged for his removal a bare two days after our arrival.  Only the most devoted and sure-handed son might have chosen the precise moment at which to take offense, and trained your singer of songs in the subtle art of insult as set forth by the poet Jarir.  All this done to trick the youngster into revealing his hidden blade?  At a meal when only two of my bodyguards stand outside?  No, it is a tale not to be believed.

“I must write to my Sultan, advising him of the regrettable loss of a valued companion who nonetheless acted foolishly, violating your laws and receiving God’s judgment for his error.  And leaving me alone in a strange country.”

Lord Wallace grinned.  “Yes, we understand each other.  Now, at last, we can speak openly on certain matters.”  He waved a hand in Magnifico’s direction, and young lord Malcolm snapped his fingers, meeting the clown’s eye for an instant.

“Basmala,” muttered Magnifico, turning to flee the bloody scene.

freeze00The witch snarled.  Falling.  Down.  Down.  Impact.

He felt himself go.  It felt like falling, and as though he’d stopped long ago.  No sound.  I’m cold, he thought.  The heat leaves the limbs first, the heart and head last.  It’s cold.

No, there was sound.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.  A wind.  Were his eyes open?  Louder: crunch, crunch–

“Ow!”  A boot came down on his head.  “Mind your step, if you please!”  The sound of the boots halted, and he looked up.

“Oh, it’s you, fool,” said Radskyrta.  “Reckon you’d best get up.”  The soldier offered an icy gauntleted hand.

Magnifico let himself be drawn in a direction that might have been up.  “You.  You’re here.  We’re here.  Where?  My head aches.  What happened?”

“You fell down.  I did, too, but I’m not gonna just lie there.  Always got to be moving, right?” said Radskyrta.  “You stop moving, you…don’t get up again, maybe.  You freeze.”  He shrugged, and drew a cloak around him.

“Where are the others?”  Magnifico shivered, becoming aware of a frigid twilight, and of snow.

Radskyrta shrugged again.  “Back there,” he muttered, barely inclining his head in a familiar gesture.  “Think I’m done.  You coming, or what?”

“No,” said Magnifico quickly.  “You go ahead, friend.  I will see what is keeping the rest.  Don’t go too far.”

“Got to keep moving,” said Radskyrta, trudging on through the snowy wood.  “Miles to go.”

“Don’t go too far,” Magnifico heard himself repeat, and turned–back?–in the direction from which the plodding Radskyrta had come.  The forest was darkening, and still but for the scuffle of his own feet, or the echoes of Radskyrta’s.

No, there was a light that flickered.  That would be Mendel, or Gestlin, or a fire built by the others, and it would be warm.  He would find out what had happened.  Fight.

It was a blue light, and the light was armor, and the armor encased a man, tall as Rainald, and the man moved gracefully from tree to tree, seeking something or other.

“You there, sir knight!  Hail and well met!” cried Magnifico cheerily.  “I am a performer who has lost his way, and would welcome your company.”

Shaking his head, the glowing man in blue turned on the clown.  “Who…ahhhh…you?” his voice rasped.freeze01  Glittering eyes pierced, and a chill stabbed at Magnifico’s heart.

“I, sir, am Magnifico, fool and songster.  What is your pleasure?”

The stranger looked long, pointed, and said in his oddly accented Anglish, “Your clothes.”

“These are but the trappings of my trade, sir knight, and in my charming gear I seek with my friends to rid the land of evil.  I was just looking for them–”

“You put on…dot…and fight crime?”  The thick vowels made him hard to understand, and he began to chuckle.  “With your friends?”

“Eccentrically put, kind sir, but essentially correct.  My friends are around here somewhere, and would no doubt make a place for you at their fire.”

The blue knight laughed, pointing again at Magnifico.  “You…AHHH…super!  You need to”–he drew from his back a kind of rod that made a whining sound–“chill out.”

Magnifico fled, numb feet leading him away into the gloom.  Behind him, the knight’s voice mocked him.  “You’ll be back!”

And then it was warm. and there was dear Merasiel, arguing with Sir Dane over the disposition of the corpses, and Mendel was there, watching him wake.  “Radskyrta,” said the monk sadly, shaking his head.

“Yes,” replied Magnifico, remembering snow and the fresh track of familiar boots.


Wallace, Anno Domini MMVI  slapstick01

There was the thump of a dropped sack and a groan as a soldier took a seat on the rock.  “Good morrow, fool.  How do ye?”

Still crouched, Magnifico raised his head.  “Good morrow, Corporal.  You come to Wallace on an auspicious day.  Smoky and bloody, with a chance of screams tapering off until dawn, followed by a week of storms and ending in an eerie silence.”

No chuckle was forthcoming from the corporal, who merely nodded in acknowledgment of the grim jest.  “Not so bad, this fight.  They ran.  Not us.”

“And you look remarkably well for a man who has looked the Devil in the face, and all the fiends of Hell.  I will rest a while yet, and reflect once more on the wisdom of walking a battlefield.”

“Lord help us when a fool talks of wisdom,” said the man, not unkindly.  “You find any, share it with our commanders.  Maybe they use some on the bugs.”

“I’ll venture into the lords’ tents tonight as I did the night before: after they have numbered the dead, despaired, shouted their recriminations, pretended to forget these, sworn lifelong brotherhood again, then persuaded themselves anew that victory shall surely come tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow.  Aye.”  A sigh like a dying breath.  “The Hammer saw you dance on the wall today, and he laughed.  You had the town-folk singing, even as they died.  He wished me to find you and ensure you lived, or if you were among the dead, he’d light you a pyre.  Said I would know for certain if your lips still moved.  He calls for you to come and drink his mead.”

Magnifico smiled.  “An honor.  It seems that I did not disgrace myself this day in disgracing myself.  But the Northmen make mead from honey, and to acquire honey means wrestling the bear.  A hero’s drink!  Victory in every gulp!  No, wine will suit me well enough, for which I’ll stalk, kill and skin the fiercest grape, laughing the while like the Hammer.  Yet I’ll come, to sing and to paint the day’s deeds larger than perhaps is merited by strict accounting, and to pretend that tomorrow will never arrive.”

“The Hammer did good service.  He didn’t kill more’n you can count, maybe, but far more’n he can.”

With a cackle, Magnifico said, “The finer reckoning!  You wrong him, Corporal, and his enumeration of the dead.  Master Rainald knows well enough that in this war, one is always followed by another one.  Counting beyond two is for generals and widows.”

“Afore you try to talk sense to them generals, lift a mug of it at our fire, fool.”  The corporal rose, and stretched.

“Go before me.  I and my breast must debate a while.”  The thought came unbidden: but Doctor, I am Paglicacci.

The corporal shrugged, shouldered his burden and trudged up the hill to rejoin the men from the north.

Wallace, Anno Domini MMVI  slapstick00

Two teamsters, bloodied and covered in soot from the bombards, carried the limp body of the jester into the tent.  “We got ‘im, Brother.  He was askin’ fer you, ‘n’ babblin’ some, but ‘e’s gone quiet.”

“Bless you for your efforts,” murmured Mendel, squinting in the lamplight to make out the nature of the fool’s injuries.  The child in the other bed moaned and tried once more to turn over.

“Poor li’l guy got broke up somethin’ bad…but guess he kinda started out that way,” added the other, shouldering Magnifico’s full weight to lay him gently on the cot.  “Take good care o’ him, Brother.  ‘E’s got balls, fer sure, beggin’ yer pardon, Brother.”

With a practiced eye, Mendel inspected and began to clean the gaping wound where the Vasar spear had penetrated his friend’s side.  “Who would have guessed that the Bugs could sail a ship?  That was clever of them, but Sir Dane tells me you pushed them right into the river.”

“Aye, that we did,” said the taller of the two, grinning.  “Master Clown here gave us the ol’ one-two, heave-ho, singin’ while they chopped at ‘im, ‘n’ into the drink they went!  You shoulda seen it.”

“I’ll have to be content with cleaning up after it,” said the monk absently.  “The spear came out cleanly, praise be.  Leave us.”  Folding his hands, he began to pray after the Gospel:

“Alioquin propter opera ipsa credite amen amen dico vobis qui credit in me opera quae ego facio et ipse faciet et maiora horum faciet quia ego ad Patrem vado, et quodcumque petieritis in nomine meo hoc faciam ut glorificetur Pater in Filio.”

The fool’s eyes snapped open, and his lips formed the Savior’s name.

“What in Our Lord’s descent into Hell were you doing out there, my son?” said Mendel, pushing at the entrance wound now, willing the flesh to knit.

“I believe, Brother, that it is called the Hambone.  A syncopated–oof!–five-accented rhythm in a 4/4 signature, accompanied by the judicious shaking of what the less reputable of poets might call my moneymaker.”

“Don’t make me administer Extreme Unction on your skull, Magnifico!  I mean, what did you hope to accomplish with such a stunt?”  Mendel kept talking to distract his patient while the aqua vitae went into the wound.

“Not fade away, Brother,” said Magnifico through clenched teeth.

“Well, your tradesfolk saved the district from being overrun.  You were ventilated for your trouble,” the monk said crossly as he dabbed away the wasted liquor.  “Do not pass out yet.”

“Rudie can’t…fail,” gasped the clown cryptically, tuning paler even than his smeared greasepaint.  “Let no one say that I failed to accomplish diddley.  Brother!” he exclaimed, grasping for Mendel’s shoulder.  “I…I want.”  His eyelids fluttered.

“What?  Let the spell work.  What is it you want?”

“Candy,” came the clown’s reply as his eyes closed and his breathing became regular.

Brother Mendel rolled his eyes, crossed himself, and laid a hand on the forehead of his sleeping friend.  “Benedicamus Domino.”


The master of the house was fled, his cousins, the band of troubadours, and so all his knightly honor.  Cawdor-in-the-Dell, far beyond the walls and sight of Fordham, lay in the hands of Maxwell the Bandit King, indeed at present comprising the whole of his nascent empire, and safe perhaps for a week before Sir Hunchback could return with any help from the city’s troops.

Safe? The word, a single syllable, held layers of meaning that mocked him, thought Maxwell as he sat in the chair of state–as modest as the manor’s other appointments–at the head of the empty feasting hall.  How was one to enjoy the conquest of the house when one hardly dared stir out of doors? Oh, this had been an ill-conceived raid, to which only hunger and a hard winter could have driven him. No great stores of fine wine were there to be taken, and the knight’s table had not been a luxurious one. No, most of that beef–as fine as any he’d tasted, it must be admitted–had gone to feed the damnable pair of damnable dragons, brought to life by the magics of the Demon Wars and kept as pets and curiosities by the damnable owner.

They’d been away from the grounds, his scout had sworn, on the snowy evening chosen for the taking of the house. It would have been fitting had the scout been killed as the beasts assaulted Maxwell and his men, but no, luck had spat on him again, and his man lay moaning in an upper bedroom, agony having replaced his sword arm below the elbow. There was aqua vitae enough to keep the man drowsy and to fight the dragon-fever, and to cheer the rest of his band for a few days–but how would this end? If the dragons hunted by night or day, how could the Bandit King ever leave? And what would happen when the whisky ran dry?

The men knew, and the muttering would return with sobriety. They were penned as surely as the horses in the stable, and in truth their predicament more resembled that of the cattle, waiting to be devoured one by one.  Last night that commotion had woken all, and today the thought hung in the air like battle-smoke. Here in the hall, the enormous window bore not only stout shutters of oak, but heavy iron bars.  What these implied was frightening, but that they still stood?  Reassuring.  It might be that they could slip away, one at a time.

Thus it was that any interruption was a blessing. “Boss!” called Tacker, “there’s one at the gate!  Dragons didn’t get ‘er. Askin’ fer you!” Her? The women of the house–three by his count–had all vanished with the rest in another black mark against the invasion. If one had been found, he would soon know how the rest had gone, and where, and why.

Some laughter echoed beyond the hall, though not of the bawdy sort he would have expected. Dread surely had not killed all the spirit in his men? A lone woman, captive? He should already have had to break up a fight, which in itself would not be a bad thing. A bit of loot is good, but boredom and growing unease would spoil the spoils, as it were.

Tacker sounded almost tired beyond the door. “Get in there, old woman, and bow before Maxwell, king of the bandits.” Through the arch came a figure bent with age and bundled against the cold, righting herself with a walking stick after a rude shove. The stick clattered to the wooden floor, and a long moment passed before the figure bent, and bent further, clawing for it with hands crooked with rheum.  “Hail,” cried a thin, shaking voice. “Hail to Maxwell, king of Cawdor! Thou shalt be a greater king hereafter!”

Amused by the woman’s words, Maxwell leaned forward. “Do you make prophecy, old one? Or do you flatter?  If you know me a king, you know what sort of king I am. Not one known for mercy, no. Are you a wise woman, come to foretell magnificent deeds for coin? I have met a few of those.”

“I invent no prophecy, my lord,” snapped the woman. “I come to visit vengeance upon the house of the false knight who once sat where you are. He wronged me, long ago, and steeped as he is in sin, has fled the justice of Our Lord, who says, ‘as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the licentious, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire’.” She slowly drew back her hood and lifted her face–God, that face!–into the light of the window.

Maxwell grimaced, but determined to show no other reaction to that hideous, pustule-ridden excuse for a face, incongruously covered in paint in a parody of all that was womanly beauty. “So you can hate, I see, grandmother.” Sneering, he asked, “Did this hunchbacked knight deceive you, or beguile one of your daughters? How did he wrong you, and why should I care? Where are he and his house fled to?”

Nodding, the crone crept forward and whispered loudly, “Great lord, you understand aright. Deception”–here she gritted black teeth and hissed alarmingly–“deception is indeed his crime, and was ever his only virtue. He robbed me of my comeliness, and years of my life, and thanks to his sin I am cursed never to bear children.” Raising her piercing voice, she ranted on, eyes on the window or some ancient hurt rather than on Maxwell. “But your coming, great lord, is also foretold, for does not the Scripture tell all men to prepare the way for a new king, who comes not in peace but bearing a sword?”

Her lips quivered, and the wrath in her wrinkled eyes unnerved the king of bandits; he was dimly aware that Tacker had started forward involuntarily, and that two more of his men had entered the hall. “The Lord God conceived of chivalry as the flower of knighthood, and curses most of all those lords who laugh at it, who lie and with their lies bring poor women to ruin, even as you see me. What should I not do to a man who has done me this evil, stolen from me my good name and turned me into a beggar?” The grating voice, rising to a shriek, drew a roar from one of the dragons outside, and a shadow crossed the shutters.

Distinctly uncomfortable with this display, he gestured to Tacker to remove the mad woman. He had to snap his finger and repeat the wave of his hand, so enthralled was his man. Leading the strange visitor away, Tacker was less rough than accustomed, and the others drew away as she passed, lest some of her insanity infect them all. Before they gathered their courage to speak, or to jeer, she spoke again. “But do you want his treasure, my lord?  You have his throne–would you be crowned by his jewels, hidden where no living man may find them?”

“Wait. Bring her to me,” Maxwell ordered, and his stern words seemed to awaken his band. Tacker was joined by others who grabbed the woman, half-carrying her before the dais and their leader. “You spoke madness before, but now you truly have my attention, crone. I want you to talk, clearly, with no more raving. What is this treasure, and where is it? You’ll have my gratitude–the gratitude of a king, if you will–but if you lie, or waste my time, I will cut your throat.”  From his vest he drew forth a knife capable of making good that promise. He let it sit in his lap, and sure enough, the mad woman’s gaze fixed on it, or on something beyond.

“Is this a dagger I see before me?” she wailed. “Nay, lord, stay your hand, and I will requite. You seek the knight’s treasure, and I will see it in your hands, and so dies my revenge. The key to all the wealth he won in the war hangs beneath his chair. There, my lord. It is yours, if you will but take it up.” Her eyes widened, pleading, and in them Maxwell saw himself the king of her harangues, jewels flowing through his fingers while about him men and women shouted.

“Back, all of you!” shouted Maxwell, taking up the dagger and waving it at his men. His left hand fumbled beneath his seat, and there it was, a large key of iron, wrought in the shape of a dragon. He grinned broadly. “You do not lie, hag, so you may yet live. Where is the lock that fits this key?”

His grin was matched by hers, and more than matched. Madness lit those eyes, and again she cried, “Hail, king of bandits!” Raising an arm she pointed at the chair. “On the floor, behind the seat of state, is the lock that when opened will reveal the treasure!  All the wealth that was his shall be thine. I swear it, I who know thy worth!”

Whirling about, he let the dagger drop with a clang, and drew his sword, leveling it at the crone and his men. “Stay put now,” he babbled. “Keep away!” Backing slowly, he drew behind the chair. A glance confirmed the tale, as set into the floor was a metal plate with a keyhole. He knelt, and found it a perfect fit.

There was a click, and a pause, and the grating of metal on metal, behind him. Then there was an incongruous whistle from the aged crone. “Boss?” said Tacker, looking up, and then came a great clang as the iron barring the window fell. There was a rush of wings, and a roar that mingled with screams.


The next morning, Sir Magnifico awoke and stretched in a bed that had never seemed more comfortable. The last of the greasepaint had been scrubbed away. The servants and family would soon return from the caves, and were there any beef left, would eat well and merrily. The dragons, he imagined, would not need to be fed again for another whole day.


Magnifico the Clown, 2005

Lord Wallace’s men on the road again, by the light of a double moon,
Had a brush with death.  If I have the breath I’ll sing you a battle tune.

While marching along they could do no wrong in a land that was far from home,
Then a dragon fierce with a cry that pierced put a stop to that cheerful roam.

The Hammer o’ the North was first to come forth with a hideous rain o’ blows,
While Soldier Dane, a mighty swain, a feather’d arrow chose

The holy monk from the battle shrunk, he being a man of peace.
We crept away with our faces gray from the rage o’ that fearsome beast.

We were just about free, but from over the scree came the groom to the monster bride
With a roar like a bear that’d curl your hair–and us with no place to hide!

Rainald was quick to wield his pick like to pry the mother apart
And Dang’rous Dane he found a vein as he shot toward its heart.

When Gabe in white slipped out o’ sight to face the mate alone
‘Twas all I could do to count some coup by throwin’ a handy stone.

That got it mad, but Gabe was bad, more so than the hell-sent fiend,
And a cut to its chest left the thing hard-pressed, and t’ward the ground it leaned.

The she-worm curs’d had a pow’rful thirst for a shot o’ Northern juice
She swallowed him up and would-a supped ’til Rainald, he cut loose.

The hammer red upside her head made her release that bite,
Beside ol’ Dane the Dragon’s Bane, Rainald wrapped up the fight.

They tore on through, and we all knew they’d saved the day once more.
With Gabe on our side, the creatures died; we gave ’em all what-for.

I learned today to run and pray when a beastie gives you shakes,
But the might of men in a monster’s den still gets you dragon steaks!