The Fall of Forestwatch
By: Wivylma Posted on: March 29, 2006
This poem is the companion piece to "The Conquest of Forestwatch" by Demetrios.
The two poems describe an encounter on the night the buckawns took the fortress
of Forest Watch which is fictional, but which complements all extant historical
Young stranger, why do you inquire of me
To learn my tale, my doom and agony?
My body's dead. My spirit stays in pain
I wait and watch the forest, yet in vain.
If you have walked this fortress you have seen
The buckawns striding in their filthy den
This place belongs now to the crude and mean
Yet once it was a home of noble men.
We settled here when bright Ceylon we left
My lord was leader- strong he was and bold
With bow was fierce, as I with sword was deft
I loved him, and he wore our crown of gold.
Our happiness was short, for soon we found
That dwellers in the forest hated men
The dryads who appear without a sound
They shot at us from some deep-wooded glen.
We knew not why- the forest is so fair
Its images we loved to carve in stone
Or weave in silk- the ivy and the hare
Great antlers decorate our fortress home.
We struggled with them fiercely, and at last
We conquered them, though ever from that day
The forest rose against us- winds us blast
Though into it we once did freely stray.
The buckawns aided us. O treachery!
But we would not invite them to our hall,
They wished to dwell among us- foolery
It was, and now the price is paid by all.
For they betrayed us, in our halls so dear
They swarmed us from within- they armies brought
To trap us twixt the forest and the fear
Of savagery, of death- and we were caught.
Well do I remember that dread night
When sounds of violence reached our noble band
My lord commanded me to never fight
He rushed out from our chambers, sword in hand.
I paced a while, I fidgeted and prayed
The clash of metals and the groans of war
They reached the room where I, obedient, stayed
My fingers resting on the sword I bore.
The noises changed- I heard more shrieks of pain
More wails of voices that I long had known
Fear woke what courage in my heart had lain
I knew that I would go and guard my own.
My lord had left some guards to stay with me
And these I ordered now to join the fight,
"Do not stay to guard a frightened lady,
For we must cleanse our home of evil blight."
My nobles heard my words and saw my eyes
And in them the resolve which was my fate
The courage which in Maya's children lies
Turned on buckawns, wretches whom I hate.
Although they knew they disobeyed my Lord
They vowed that they would follow where I'd go.
I squared my soldiers, firmly drew my sword
And hoped to fell some buckawns with a blow.
Our party went on tiptoe, stealthily
Towards the chambers where the buckawns dwelt
Through caves and tunnels we moved quietly
We heard odd screams above, and blood we smelt.
We came upon a door- 'twas firmly shut
But faintly sounds of speech came from that room
We grimly smiled, for buckawns we would cut
E'en if the fight should send us to our doom.
I thrust the door- my sword was in my hand
And men behind me came with feral cries
Within the chamber was a tiny band
Of buckawns, numb'ring close to ours in size.
In their group's centre stood a wizened thing
Wrapped in ancient robes which stank of death
His white hair hung like hanks of dirty string
With charms was covered. As I drew a breath,
He smirked, the smile not reaching yellow eyes.
He stopped his arcane chanting, said, "I see,
The Lady of the Keep now comes and tries
To strike at her betrayer, hinder me?"
"I do," said I, and fixed him with my stare,
"I come to rid my home of fright this day,
Of filthy, wretched buckawns- this I swear
To conquer you with blood of Pasiphae!"
He lept as I did- Iron rang on steel,
My men and his squared off and fiercely fought
But I jabbed at the doctor, made him reel
As my sword on his elbow deftly caught.
He fought with strength, and yet he was no match
For a noble daughter of Ceylon
And though my limbs he'd wither, still I'd snatch
A chance to stab him more. Thus we fought on.
The witch's doctor faltered, backed away,
His men drew in to shield him from my blade
"Coward," taunted I, "Come out and play!"
I laughed then, and a new assault we made.
The fight went well for us, for we were bold,
I paid no heed to where the doctor stood
Though he made arcane mumblings, words of old
Which none of my group heard nor understood.
And suddenly, the totem standing near
Which carved was with runes on every side
It seemed to radiate agony and fear
But whether mine or not I can't decide-
But worse- O wretched vision! Sight most grim!
There came a group of zombies at his call
And at their front there walked the shade of him
Whom I had wed, whom I loved more than all.
My fingers on my shortsword's hilt grew slack
I met his eyes, his name I whispered low
But he made not a sign, so I drew back
And unprepared was I for his first blow.
It struck me to my knees with violent force
A wail of grief from my poor heart lept free
I spoke again to him, my own voice hoarse
"No," I pled, "My husband, you know me!"
He struck again, but I made not a move
I could not raise my blade for love or fear
Lest this shade should to be my husband prove.
The filthy, wizened buckawn then drew near,
"Oh yes," he crooned, "His life is held by me,
And worse, much worse, he died a coward's doom.
Did you not know? He did from battle flee.
I think our forces nearly made him swoon."
"He cowered in his chamber, full of fear,
But my men broke the door and slew him there."
His voice was soft, his lips upon my ear
His stench, his words were more than I could bear.
His laugh was soft and high, his eyes so fierce
He touched one rough finger to my face
My cheeks were covered o'er with blood and tears
As helpless I lay in unkind embrace.
My spirit, once courageous, slipped away
From pain so tearing, and from men so rash
With last strength in my body did I pray
In voice unheard above the battle's clash.
"Dear Gods," I prayed, "If merciful you be
To one who's spirit's crushed, whose hopes have fled,
Then only this one favour grant you me
To never be his zombie when I'm dead."
The Gods immortal granted me my boon
But dryads, whom I'd wounded in our strife
They laid upon me my unending doom
To walk my halls forever, hating life.
How cruel is their vengeance, harsh this fate
And my regret and anger comes too late.
No- I cannot bear it. Go now- Flee!
Eternity no longer waits for me.