- The Princess in the River -
Prologue: Son of the Dragon
I was called the Son of the Dragon, in an old guise I wore…
Just one name of many, one scar of countless that I so bore.
People speak of life and death as if a single set of memories,
Can anchor a soul to one or the other, like a cross blessedly.
Yet a cross is but a symbol of torment used for a new cause,
And sometimes death is but a moment when we must pause.
Like an actor, I rose again to play my part in my fresh attire,
Never forgetting lines spoken of old; that burn like cruel fire!
Once I had another name, and wore raiment now long dust,
I was wild in my heart and had a soul burning mad with lust.
Yet love tamed that madness sure, for one whose spirit yet,
Haunts my dreams so oft at night, so that I can never forget.
Green her gown and raven her hair, with eyes sparkling still,
Despite that centuries have passed and, likely, they yet will.
People remember my legend, but of her they oft speak not,
And so I shall immortalize her final days with poetic thought.
Part One: Another Age
Hard it is to tell of her, and yet for love’s sake I will persist,
And resurrect the dread memory, that ghost from my past…
Cold was the day that fell upon the land: and chill the breath!
In my castle, on the mount above the river cold as icy death,
Where ‘round about the wooded lands on and on did range,
Within which so many of the simple folk, did oft feel strange.
Dark forests beneath the cloudy sky, endless in the number,
An image frozen in my mind: that I must eternally remember.
Therein those stony halls, was I then a prince of noble fame,
Of the order of my father so sworn, the Dragon’s own flame.
Bloody were the wars of those times, and scarlet my blade…
The price of chivalry paid in full, though my heart was afraid.
Afraid to lose the single treasure for which my life endured…
The princess who kept me content, and my soul enamored.
Ironic that her name should be lost to me whilst mine spoke,
By so many, who knew me not: a dark god’s cruelest joke!
Part Two: The Final Night
Night was our last time together and so she became queen,
Queen of the night for me ever since, and all as I had seen.
Red was the day of battle to come, to keep my castle well,
And red was the ground near the forests, as fires from Hell.
Dark was the sky above my lands, a storm carrying me on,
As my sword met the armies before it, all of time had gone.
So close we were to victory, as a single act of cold deceit,
Took from me all for which I dreamed, before my sad feet.
An arrow through a windowpane, with a simple note there,
Telling my princess I had perished, laying her heart so bare.
She saw not the place where I fought on, could not know,
That her beloved’s heart still beat, beyond rock and snow.
And so, she leapt from the high tower, into the river below,
Never to know God’s grace again, or feel the winds blow.
In hearing of my beloved’s end, madness so took my soul,
And vengeance rose up in my heart; I had lost my control.
Part Three: Damnation
My soul was lost on that hour, if but an hour is all it takes,
For a soul to become damned, even to linger on mistakes.
To this day men tell tales of red woods thick with blood…
In the land beyond the forests, where I wept a bitter flood!
For every tear I shed that day, a soul was to Hades cast…
Until my rage was wholly spent, and not one foe could last.
To my castle I returned, and held my love’s lifeless form…
Desiring to join her in death so that I might keep her warm.
My hand, that slew a hundred men, now caressed a maid,
So gently that you’d not have known it in woodland shade.
Green the gown she wore as her last, and raven her hair…
The last I’d ever see it again, the beauty of my lady so fair.
So pale was she then, unlike the rosy color of her youth…
For in death, all youth is undone, and lost is all life’s truth.
Eyes once big and dark with love, were now shut in sleep,
Eternally to dream of us, in some paradise vast and deep!
Part Four: One Last Kiss
The priests cast her back into the river, denying a grave…
Although so much for God was lost, even more we gave!
No more for God, for where was he to welcome my love?
Perhaps another could help us, in some dark place above.
I left the priests to perish, when we abandoned our home,
To fight for our country with every bit of flesh and bone…
But before we left the castle to the ravages of time’s hand,
I washed my face in the river, one with her and the land…
One last kiss for the one I so loved, forever swept away,
No more to dance with me, beneath the light of the day.
Her blood was still in that river then, and stained my face,
So that I had to wash again, until I was cleaner than lace!
In night I found my solace after that, and in darkness pure,
I hoped to meet my love again along time’s winding shore.
Another life I walk in now, but how the old ages do haunt,
In the hours of the night, when a maid’s love is all I want!
Vampire they called me, for superstitious hearts know ill,
Save what they can imagine, and that does not a river fill!
But I was and am only a man, once perhaps much higher,
Than mere mortals are want to be, if mayhap a tad shier…
For so many secrets have I held that words cannot speak!
Even the gods I walked with are beings sometimes weak.
And so sometimes I must unlock those vaults of my soul,
Letting those who retell my legend once again to know…
That still I exist and I remember things as they once were,
But more than anything else even, I do still remember her!
The princess in the river that still flows strong to this hour,
Who lived in an ancient castle above it: my solitary flower.
In the land beyond the forests, where dark lie the shadows,
Where once the sun smiled upon the lush green meadows.
There we lived and were happy for but one span of years,
I hope that we will meet again and cast away all our tears.
For Elizabeth. Hundreds of years cannot make me forget you.