Rupik the Pitiless: Part I

In the Jadewood on the Deeprun lived an outlaw known as Rupick. He was cold and he was vile; he was seldom seen by men. In his youth now long ago he was a fisher’s boy in Dradik; by age of twelve the boy had crossed the sea and back again.

When he was scarce fifteen he took a lover in the city, though little could he offer her of marriage, bliss or life. So he left her there in Dradik and he sailed the seas a deckhand; what little coin he made he saved to make the girl his wife.

Off the dreadful shoals of Wairk did Rupik learn the ways of water, and sailed he clear to Narne with ladened cargo bay to sell. He dove for pearls and rockfish in the coves of craggy Tartar, and learned he every yarn and tale that mariner would tell.

He journeyed far and deep, and grew from deckhand up to bosun; by age of twenty Rupik had the charge of twenty men. His eyes were fierce and dark; his voice would echo like a cannon; He led his crew and cargo safe through every wreck and fen.

Once when his ship was moored upon the coast of wooded Fenar, a caravel of raiders swept around the horn at speed. His crew was full ashore when Rupik spied the pirate schooner; no hope of any help had he, though desperate was his need.

Swiftly came the warship on to swarm the Dradii freighter, the gnarled and fetid captain standing rashly in her prow; but swifter still assayed the thought of Rupik, master-sailor, and “anything but capture, even death!” did he avow.

The Lay of Ember Earthenhold

from The Pages of Erise, “Collected Poetry of the North”

The snow fell deep on dark Northold,
the day was damp, the night was cold
when softly marched the host untold,
coming from the Northern-wold.

Her rooftops whitened swiftly now
that autumn’s death was final-
how the flakes of silky whiteness plowed
the fields of that forsaken town.

It crested on a hilltop round
The clustered buildings on the ground
Trembled softly with the sound
Of marching, marching, underground.

For long lay waiting forces strong
here tromping now in horrid throng
those under-men that fortune wronged
had waited, waited, waited long,

With hatred forced to lands unkind
The under men grew coarse and blind
now ravaged south in hope to find
somewhere new their caves to wind.

They come! They come, with fire and drum
They come with tune and flute and hum
They come with death and terror wrung,
They come with darkness ‘bout them hung.

For seeing not their souls yet burn
With fire bright and pain unearned
As slowly they the tunnels spurned
And towards the hated surface turned.

To come in wrath and just accord they
Struck with skill at northern hoards and
Stomped they over kings deplored with
wrath of passion then un-stored

Twas on that day, the fifth December
When the under-men met Ember
Those that stood that night remembered
Evermore his words un-tender.

Slow began his song of woe,
As softly notes began to grow
The under-city’s torches glow
Went out like matches on the snow.

Crescendo building every second
Ember’s voice now quickly beckoned-
Soldiers sprung from fen and bracken
stalks revealing branches weaponed.

Terrible his voice now rising
Upwards flew he, greatness sizing
Giant’s limbs now enterprising
Forth from Ember’s form despising

Trembling notes rocked earth as nature
Buckled ‘neath the weight of stature
As an arm reached out, a fracture

Leapt from Ember’s feet; his aim sure
Tearing soul from body dying
Echoed screams displaced the crying
voice as one from heaven scrying

melody still amplifying
Reaching sounds as yet unfathomed
Darkness fled for fear of chasmed
fire leaping from phantasmal visage-

Ember’s height then spasmed
Echoed ringing still was heard
Though Ember now spoke not a word
As slowly passed away the herd

Of soldiers sprung from moss and fern
Great fissures healed upon the earth
The singer’s form now shrank and birthed
A man of common form and girth

He stood and righted self with mirth
A smile on his youthful face
Contrasted chaos in his wake
As strode he from that fateful place

where hero sang with frightful grace
So many years from then is told
The story of the Emberscold
When earth rose up and swallowed whole

The marching men of Underfold
And though the people never knew
The whereabouts of hero true
It often was remarked by youth

That hills and forests sang anew
The songs of Ember Earthenhold
The hero of the northern-wold
The man of smile and laughter bold

But terror sharp, and anger cold.