Towards the Dawn:

--

Albeit drab this beggar clothed,

For flocks he must feign caring.

Once he was a paladin bold,

Now filthy rags he's wearing.

--

Was duty bound by vow and grace,

Still he donned this garb with rue.

False jester's ruse did he embrace,

Thus to fade from this world's view.

--

Upon this haunted heath to hide,

Himself and his horse and sword.

On downs amongst the ancient tombs,

Awaits his suzerain lord.

--

Far and long from his love and land,

With ghouls and spirits hiding.

He yearns to fetch the cobbled strand,

King's ship at anchor riding.

--

Now snow upon the barrow's gone,

'Mid grave mounds where he bided.

Of the king's ship there is word,

Sail and hull have been sighted.

--

The king's own banner from the mast,

O'er violent seas set flying.

Running down afore the blast,

Gales in the rigging, sighing.

--

Southward bound 'neath the sheer cliff's brow,

Through green seas, she tossed and dove.

If strake and keel hold firm she'll fetch,

The fey hidden, trysting cove.

--

Fierce vernal gale, with cold shrill blast,

Raced o'er heath, stone ridge and brae.

On barrow's height he stood his watch,

At the gloaming of this day.

--

Finally thus the signal sent,

O'er yon ridge three banners stream.

So long did wait was almost spent,

Stood there dazed as if in dream.

--

Though cold gust roused him to the call,

And he prepared for night's long ride.

Now that darkness soon would fall,

Mark the turning of the tide.

--

Against the red and sinking sun,

He doffed the jester's sham.

With haste flew down the greening slope,

For sword and shield he ran.

--

Within the ring of standing stones,

Were his horse, saddle and tack.

His hand again his broadsword owns,

And slings shield upon his back.

--

With haste he mounts his Frisian steed,

Standing in the stirrups high,

Wind sweeping past his helmless head,

Until king and thanes draw nigh.

--

Iron shod hooves with power bound,

'Neath a field of blazing stars,

So swift across the shieling pound

As to mark the sod with scars.

--

Dull sheep all from their slumber roused,

Who scatter then, fleet and spry.

Spied by just the wan moon's crescent

And the owl's hunting eye.

--

And even with the dawn rising,

And salt scent upon the gale,

He presses still his failing mount.

'Til in sight of the ship's furled sail.

--

Only then might come to canter,

And still ease once more to trot,

To halt and full obeisance make,

To cast, with king and thane, his lot.

--

Full ready to shun any crown,

Be it leaves, silver or gold,

Nor vie for seat at the king's right hand.

Bought not, would honor be, nor sold.

--

But when he o'er the last crest rose,

He did view along the strand,

Foes attacking the king and thanes.

So charged down his sword in hand.

--

With awful might he joined the fray,

Gave his brothers heart anew.

Well fought, he gave his king the day,

Though his comrades' deaths did rue.

--

The king's great need for him was plain,

He to northern realms would go,

And together challenge with force,

Scattered legions of the foe.

--

He grasped the task with all his heart,

Though knew it might speak his death,

He'd risk it all, would halt for naught,

Nor yield, while he still drew breath.