Tiger's Daughter, Son of Wolf
Tiger's Daughter, Son of Wolf was my first attempt at a narrative, epic poem. The story was never finished. I may still continue it someday, but since there are no guarantees, I decided I may as well already share what exists of it. At close to 200 lines, it is one of my longest poetic works, even unfinished.
It is a simple, old-fashioned adventure yarn, with perhaps even a pulp-like quality to it. The story was begun in April 2002, the first few chapters written during that spring. Chapter V was added in December 2003.
Come, gather by my side tonight
you Muses of that world so bright,
from whence those wondrous tales do come,
Fantasia, where dreams are from.
I call upon ye: guide my sight!
Help share those ancient dreams tonight
with others cursed with burning wills
to hear those dream-tales, seek new thrills!
And thus tonight I tell a tale
of ancient days (that were not pale,
as hasty life we see today),
and take thee with me on this way,
to sights of fancy, where still live
valiant hearts who gladly give
their tales to warm our hearts this way,
to help us dream in dreamless day.
So let us journey, now at last,
to see that realm that long has past.
The world was wilder, and so wide
no man had journeyed side to side.
The countless tribes across these lands
relied on it for their demands
to fill, and lived in comfort well,
though harsh, that Earth would let them dwell,
and hunt Her woods to fill their needs
and of Her rivers drink. Their deeds
were sung in songs of blazing joy,
their lives were hard, but never coy!
Their beasts they loved as their own kin
and oft would wander far within
the deepest woods, which some might fear,
yet loved as Mother, held them dear,
and therein walked, but man and beast,
to seek some glory, or a feast,
in furs and leather, with a blade,
which out of strongest stone was made.
Now, in the tribe of Wolf there was
a young man named as A'cheros,
who rode forth from his home one day
to seek a wondrous world that lay
beyond a vast unknown expanse
of wood and plain, and sea perchance,
of which their many legends told,
yet none, said they, could it behold.
He rode upon his steed, as proud
as was its name, 'twas Silvercloud,
thus named because of silver streaks
that covered scars from eagles' beaks,
for in his tribe he ancient was,
a Lord of Wolves, because he thus
was marked by war and heroes' deeds,
the first amongst the chieftain's steeds.
Likewise the boy, though young of age,
had long discarded childhood's cage;
the chieftain's son, it was his part
to own a bold, courageous heart;
though light of build, was spry of limb;
the strongest could outrun, or swim
the rapids of his homeland's fells,
and counter all deceitful spells
Yet not a single deed had he
accomplished that in song could be
as praised as heroes of the yore,
as Cathar of Cathalidor.
Against his father's wish he swore:
'A-questing, like in days of yore,
I go to seek my lacking part,
to Dellen go to win a heart!'
For in that land that none had seen,
so many questers once had been
to seek immortal love, no more;
thus perished brave Cathalidor,
who in those ancient lands did seek
a tribe of legend, so do speak
the songs that well learned A'cheros,
and by those tales thus tempted was,
for in those lands, the legend says,
there lived a tribe in ancient days,
whose daughters were as fair as Night,
their eyes as stars that shining bright
the black of night adorn. What's more,
their standard was a tiger's claw;
a wilder folk than most, they were,
and clad themselves in feline fur.
Yet, told is, if you win the heart
of one, she'll swear to never part
until the sun her final breath
doth pull, and leave all lands in death.
About them magic woven was,
they 'lone yet held the skill to cross
to worlds forsook by mortal man,
where spirit voices hear one can;
as Mother Earth their hearts were warm,
yet strangers were to Heaven's storm.
Thus tempted was young A'cheros;
his doom that moment written was.
Far journeyed noble man and steed,
of game and fruits of Earth did feed,
and under starry skies they slept
(but under leaves when Heavens wept).
Their tankard was the running brook,
their feast each vale and woodland nook.
With greetings many tribes they hailed,
of Hawk and Dear and Bear, none failed
to greet them in their native style,
with comfort, feast and rest a while,
in honour of the son of Wolf,
before the night again engulf
did chieftain's son, who once again
on lonely ways faced wind and rain,
until one morning sunlight fell
on lands his folk had no heard tell
about, in legend or in myth.
Young A'cheros could not tell if
a single living man could dwell
in forsook valley, wondrous dell.
He wondrous jungle flowers saw,
and many wondrous creatures more
than any legend yet had told;
yet first he was not to behold
that ageless beauty, for he'd seen
a pair of tracks lead in between
enormous trunks of unknown wood
that by the forest's fringes stood.
In Dellen Wood he now did walk,
and many wondrous creatures talk
he heard among the shrubs and leaves.
For many shadowed starless eves
he thus did walk; he'd lost his way,
but not despaired, for plenty prey
he found in every glade and dell,
and in the rapids water fell
so cool and pure, he cared for naught,
like sweetest wine it comfort brought,
'til late one evening he did see
smoke rising beyond hill and tree,
and from the hilltop he could spy
a village in that vale did lie,
and fires burned so bright and warm,
so peaceful that a very storm
the wilderness around him seemed,
and he did feel that he had dreamed
and in his dream he'd been a beast
that wild upon its prey did feast.
And thus it was that he first saw
the ancient tribe of Tiger's Claw,
there ghostly dancing in the night,
pale silhouettes in bright moonlight;
and power in the air he felt,
as stepped he, careful, through the belt
of fires strewn about the glade,
and into night the woods did fade.
And all alone now there he stood,
so far away from earth and wood,
another world it seemed to him,
a world so bright, and he but dim
as grey-maned beast by master's side.
In awe, he could but look, and hide;
they had not seen him sneaking in,
yet so much fear he felt within
that maybe he'd have frozen there,
a statue made of stone, as 'twere,
if not for Silvercloud, beside
him still, and serving him with pride.
Now growled the wolf, and as he stood,
there spied the youth a cross of wood,
and on that man-made tree could see
a girl, as fair as life could be,
and in that very moment knew
he was no beast, 'twas them! For few
had told the truth of Tiger's Claw,
naught but monsters he now saw.
Now A'cheros stood still, and dazed
he watched the girl there, and amazed
he tried to fathom reasons why
someone should leave a rose to die,
thus tortured, bleeding, yet alive.
Then gently cutting bonds, 'Survive!'
he whispered softly, for no crime
he knew that called for fate that time
could never heal. Her fault or not,
this fate was crime itself, 'twas what
he thought. And as he her did haul
upon his shoulder, 'rose a call
so fierce he thought the very end
of days the Gods now there would send.
'Twas Tiger's Claw, the tribe had spied
his deed and now for vengeance cried!
This work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. You are granted permission to distribute and modify it, as long as you credit me, Ben B. Bainton, as the original author and distribute any derivative works under a similar license.