XX

The New World

 

Out from the wastes where the old world slept,

a man on his last legs carefully crept.

But up from the horizon to where he would go,

a demon on horseback from the new world did show.

 

Death rode out for him and Fensham did start

to account for his life and the beats of his heart.

An arrow struck bark in the tree by his eyes

and, narrowly harrowed with no compromise,

he drew for his sword with a sun-catching glare

and stood he his ground with measures of care.

 

The rider leaped gamely with blade in his hand,

and the horse was still going as the rider struck land.

With a roar born of fury, he swung for our man

to be parried with righteousness felt by Fensham.

 

The fight was a clashing and gnashing of steel

and teeth ground with determination.

But the rider sent forward to bloody the field

was no match for Fensham’s frustration.

 

Gradually grinding down fervour and breath,

Fensham fought back at the prospect of death.

And soon, though the sun shone a-high in the sky,

the rider fell breathless awaiting to die.

 

Looking up to the victor with a hatred gone cold,

he found admiration for a villain so bold.

And Fensham, changed much by the Forest’s allure,

chose life for his enemy struck down like a cur:

 

‘Return thee now hence from that place whence thou came.

Let all who will know it know the truth of my game.

I am Lord Fensham, who seeks not the crown,

but merely a place where my voice be a sound

that is heard across valleys and mountains and dales.

I am the one who defines all your tales

of the man seeking justice where justice is rare.

I seek my place in this kingdom fair.’

 

The warrior came deftly to feet and to horse,

and set about swiftly returning his course.

Fensham watched the rider cross ground with such speed

that he wished for the return of his loyal steed.

 

And no sooner had he longed for his horse to emerge

than she whinnied behind him and their paths were converged.

Her flesh shone healthy, appearing renewed

and Fensham leaped to her back with the saddle eschewed.

Never before had he felt so close to creation.

He headed for the only place he could make reparation.

 

Hours on horseback had suffered him not,

as he perused a land badly bruised by his plot.

He came to a village so poverty struck

that even the merchants were bereft of luck.

And it seemed to him then that some other power

had taken the land in its darkest hour.

 

For up ahead, he could see a crowd gathered

by their fear and their needs, a desperation untethered.

Amidst them stood a Church man, all dressed in white,

and Fensham rode closer to challenge his right.

 

Cloaked was the Priest in angelic garb,

yet he spoke to the people with a demon’s barb:

‘Save ye thy souls from the judgement to come.

Make reparations to the Church, and some

of ye may not burn when the fury rains down.

Let me gather your wealth for the good of the town.’

 

Fensham split the crowd without hesitation.

He knocked the man to the ground with all consternation

and spoke so aloud that all might listen in.

Said he these words of the nature of sin:

 

‘Blessed the white cloak that masks dark imagination.

Sacred the truths behind these lies of salvation.

For secret saviours are never made known,

lest salvation lead only to their selfish throne.’

 

The Priest, understandably infuriated

brushed himself down with his arrogance unsated:

‘And who art thou to preach to these folk?

I serve The Fierce King and the Church is his yoke.’

 

‘No Church of greed is allied to the Lord.

Give to these people all that thou hoard.

Thou art their servant lest you be impure.

I am Lord Fensham, and I bring the cure.’

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