Beastcarver – an Elder Scrolls-related poem

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In my journey through the crags

Through snow-filled bowls of earth,

Through cloud-slicing spires of rock,

Through dead-frozen leafless bracken,

The Tall Lodge arrived softly through fog,

Bound beautifully by brick; by log after log.

*

In the groundless heavens over the cloud,

I knew the house had come from my head

But I felt the square-pattern lines in the log

And the carven shapes of men in the brick,

Each singing grim of harsh-winged beasts

With horn-pocked faces and snouts all creased.

*

I knocked thrice on the paint-stripped door,

And on the third, the lodge opened its maw

To reveal its candle-lit innards, warm and homely

To reveal an old man, warm and bearded.

“Come on in! You must be frozen!” he said

“Stay outside no longer! I don’t want you dead!”

*

The man was kindly and fed me for days

Before he had to get back to his work

On the enormous blocks of stone on the rug.

On the chiselling and carving of his art.

But before the first chisel, the man turned and said;

“My boy, why don’t you help me out instead?”

*

I spent the next days as the man’s student

Watching as the stone took on shape

Watching as horns and wings were cut

Watching as creased snouts were engraved.

Each one completed was fierce as the last,

Filling every corner once Frostfall had passed.

*

The ugly hoard now stood facing the door

Shoulder to shoulder, wing to wing

And the man, waving his hands, stood ahead and sang

His rising song in a guttural tongue.

“Children, come loose, your stone becomes skin,

Let your keen noses sniff out foe, o Gargoyle-kin!”

*

A knock came from the door, three times again

And the old man let the three robed men in

With their blazing eyes coming through their cowls

With animal mouths sneering shiny-sharp-swords.

“Carver, we’ve come to collect the Gargoyle haul.

Here’s the payment for yourself and your thrall.”

*

The foulest of the foul; vicious vampires.

“Why didn’t tell me that they were the buyers?”

The old man chuckled, and revealed his teeth.

I pulled a blade and swung for a heart

But with a snap of a thumb, the Gargoyles roared

And cast off their casing, and cast down my sword.

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