Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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by James Matthew Byers

The horde encroached the dragon
    both on foot and in the wagon
tied behind the oxen lowing as they stretched beyond each mean.

Every sinew, every muscle
    in the stout frames felt the tussle
as their four horns etched the struggle seeing dwarves pass in between.

On the left, berserker barrels
    donning spike and chain apparel
tightly pressed within the leather straps securing them in place.

To the right, a pile of axes
    fitting in the wooden taxes
nailed to side of wagon spelled out agony on oxen face.

Helmets taut and hammers swinging
    added fervor to the singing
of the dwarf parade to slay the white skinned dragon from the east.

Loudly bleating while completing
    motion's symphony repeating
were the heavy breaths of oxen being burdened, being beast.

Unconcerned for mammal manner,
    one dwarf streamed aloft a banner
donning colors red and black in form of bear and eagle twined.

He, the king of Kedar Mountain
    spouting as a livid fountain
had become there rich and famous from the minerals he mined.

Heard about a dragon's treasure,
    one beyond his wildest measure
hence his kingdom he commanded to pursue a zealous quest.

Dragon born without conception,
    purest white in all perfection,
and the greatest gem of all stood centered in the dragon's chest.

Icy crystal like no other
    as a beating sheath to cover
what the dwarf king did not sense to be creature's lonely heart.

She had purpose yet to ration
    in assailant's heated passion
and began to slow her pace from when the horde made swift its start.

Over trees nearby the tavern
    she pushed into looming cavern
knowing this would mark the end of what beginning would yet be.

In a huddle she awaited
    only all she had been fated
as behind her animal and bird secured their path to see.

Kedar kinsmen did not notice
    for in greed they found their focus
and the king beamed brighter than the torches lighting up the road.

Creepy crawler full of pallor
    sought the noble beast of valor
as with it came any creature knowing of the dragon's load.

Tavern empty of all being,
    for the post left for the seeing
of the mighty dwarves of Kedar gone to slay a dreadful sight.

Men and women ran for cover
    trampling o'er one the other
quite determined to make haste in lure of dragon colored white.

Every stable near the course
    fell empty of each cow and horse
and still the dwarves and other people did not settle in the scene.

They could only think of wealth,
    unfair to dragon's vying health
thus why the king of Kedar halted horde intent to maim and glean.

Sword and axe within the fervor
    sung the tune of looming murder
as the ghastly eyes of dwarf behind corrupted metal mask

fell in fury and delight
    upon the dragon of pure white
joined by hundreds to secure the king would rally to his task.

Wings of splendor over spread
    while raised one last a dying head
intent to look beyond the dwarves into the forest all around.

Moonlight suddenly fulfilling
    cavern where was done the killing
offered clutter in the midst of Kedar's king who made no sound.

In his grip a glowing cluster
    of a gem emitting luster
bade the greedy king assume the night had given unto him.

Darkness broke before in shading
    as the moon began its fading
and the gem within the hands of evil started going dim.

Silent sea in cavern wasted
    on the truth they all now tasted
stood alarmed without so much glow as an ember from a torch.

Voices of the beasts in union
    sung a song to their communion
o'er and o'er until a blinding light singed upward in a scorch.

Oxen broke free of their yoke
    as to the dwarves the creatures spoke
along with every cow and fancy fox or bird or bee about.

Above the dragon in her beauty
    gained fulfillment to her duty
while the dwarves looked on in nothing short of dire amazing doubt.

Horse and mule were given peace
    within this hour of release
and oxen turned to leave their wooden chambers to the dwarf's device.

Kedar's king began to mumble
    in the minute seeming humble
while within his hand the gem had melted like a piece of ice.

Dragon risen like a phoenix
    spoke within the blaring zenith
of her new life given for the lives of every beast now free.

"Animals depart to freedom
    in my given dawning kingdom
for my flesh was slain but rose for you all given unto me."

"To no other will you toil,
    not the oxen in their coil,
nor the cow or pig be eaten for my death has claimed this right."

"One the same within my call;
    I love you whether great or small."
Spoke she while taking every beast with her above from earthly night.

To the heavens she ascended
    with each creature she amended
and the dwarves were left to work and sweat, and sweat and work and swell.

Whitest dragon was the Savior,
    and for all their bad behavior
every dwarf found this to be the torment of eternal hell.

© 2007 James Matthew Byers

James Matthew Byers is a published author(Grecian Rune, 2004) and a father of two. He has been married to his wife, Dorothea, for seven years. Currently, he teaches Special Education at St. Clair County High School in Odenville, AL. He resides with his family and two cats in Rainbow City, AL.

Find more by James Matthew Byers in the Author Index.

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