This was something I wrote as a culture piece in a indeterminately nearish future grunge sci-fi universe for an obligate carnivore species of seven foot tall metal-scaled horned neo-fascist space viking colonists of a recently deceased empire driven to extermination by a) hubris, b) civil war, c) crapshoot unpredictable sentient robotic war machines, and d) EATING PEOPLE FOR PETTY AMUSEMENT. And their texture.
Ten Thousand Years, or, The Valkyrie’s Lament
9-10 syllables long
We are old; our scales flake, and horn cracks.
Ageless are the rocks, unmarred by time.
But for the breathing,
All are under one setting sun.
But night has its light too.
Soul of all Men, kindler of stars, our moonlit sword.
She who lays to cradle the prince and king,
Who stirs the tides with her pale finger,
Who delivers steel and scourge with breath and horse.
Empress of the Syntar, whose dominions are measured
In the lines of her maternal hand,
Stretched forth from womb to sky
Her children of three thousand years.
In oldest times we stalked the land, bled and fed it
With blood, with bone, with fire, with steel,
In Orstyil, in Mennshil, in Serdyil,
An unwelcome guest were we.
And when Orst’en, Grenn’en, or Serd’en
Laid challenge at our Queen’s table,
Brazen and bold, greedy and cruel,
King’s men rose for her honor.
In Vosstil, in Shrodyil, in Vashtil,
Our fathers’ names were feared,
Born under banner and saddle,
Spread with fire and sword.
In Llewyn, in Hagal, in foreign Etroz,
Now their sons walk wearing black steel,
Sit astride moons for mounts, couched suns for lances
Feasting on the flesh of kings
As the King’s Men before, six thousand years past,
Their souls immortal, unbroken,
No arrow may yet pierce their steel hide,
Not with rust of six thousand years.
A thousand years still ahead, nine thousand behind.
Never such odds have we faced before.
Where the strength of men have failed now lies open
The Cradle, the Creche, the Kitchen.
Thin are the ranks of King’s Men and King’s Sons.
In their stead stand weak and sickly hearts
Hell-bound machines, craven auxiliaries*,
Dark in our watches as the sun’s last light dies.
When night falls, who will bar the gate?
Who will light the brazier? Who will heed its wordless call?
King’s Men and King’s Sons are but bones in brine
The Sons of Sons have left their wives for wine.
Ten thousand years. Who has lived so long?
Not our gods, whose idols are shattered and altars cracked.
Not the rocks, who have turned to glass and ash.
Only a Queen’s heart, who never traded children for wine.
Lift your swords from the dust, and your spears from the sod,
Break out the old guns, sharpen your claws,
Band your horns with iron, ready for slaughter,
Like our old King’s Men, my sisters and daughters.
As King’s Men stood for their Queen’s honor,
Let us soldiers’ daughters stand over our fathers’ graves.
Tip your spears with scorn and bathe your swords in gall,
That no one may cry murder in our dead men’s halls.
Bring your fire, bring your scourge
Bring your war, bring your swarm
Send your famine, send your sword
We are gone already, a deathly horde,
Old of ten thousand years, a thousand more in store.