The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Necromancer harnessed silver out of moonlight,
Gath’ring power in an ancient grotto’s keep,
Where none might witness occult incantations;
A pagan rite to fetch souls from the deep.
Within the nether reaches of this grim wooded veil
Strode a revenant silent in a long ragged hood,
Boasting layers of robes and the marks of brutal victories;
A figure of mystery, more devil than good.
Inhabiting a realm between the light and the darkness,
A void neither flesh nor eternal depths of sleep,
He consulted the Arcanum to extract his killblade.
Then bowed before the one who from death did reap . . .
“The Hand Of Fate!” his foes respectfully whispered.
None could defeat what was destined to unfold —
Till he met an even rival; such a beauty was she,
That moment of wonder locked him in a stranglehold.
Unable to defend; the target of a dagger thrust,
He timbered like an Oak and it echoed all around.
His heart would bear a wound from a worthy adversary,
Who weakened sturdy knees and cut him to the ground.
A Knight had failed his sworn allegiance, the challenge lost,
And with it his breath for she claimed a brave life.
Monk-like, the skilled assassin battled out of honor
Whene’er his King demanded. A man without wife.
The champion would fall, yet he wore a glad visage,
Almost seeming to welcome this stunning demise.
The victor of the bout sent his corpse to be honored,
Proclaiming herself a Queen’s little surprise.
Now the wielder he must serve, like a magickal Jinn,
Dutybound to heed the wishes of a cloaked spellcaster —
The gaunt warrior wraith; a phantom of Nocturne,
Summoned from his tomb by a newly crowned master.
Raven spirits did he beckon; a canine familiar,
Companions that once trailed him through fog and storm.
Another purpose drew the Knight to this haunted forest,
Resurrected from the grave in a menacing form.
He had lain an eternity of dim forgotten dreams,
The cage that once held his heart aching to throb.
Time would fill its cavity with anguish and desire
To spy again those features that caused a beast to sob.
The mission was announced, his command stated clear:
Destroy a paladin who waits beyond the trees!
Across a field beneath stars tramped the gruesome specter,
Renamed at this hour The Sword Of Damocles . . .
A hero’s lot no tranquil bed of roses and fruits,
Ever bound to face slaughter, be it soon or late;
And without true reward, such a man was a fool.
He had forgotten to live, or to wear a breastplate.
So haughty and bold, assured of each triumph,
His vanity cost every hope that gives meaning.
But a cold nap furnished hindsight along with regret;
He must wring this chance of its final gleaning —
As a King faced his Queen, who revealed her best:
Risen from the sarcophagus, freshly unwrapped;
Not a day over three hundred, buried in her prime,
A legendary fighter. The audience clapped.
“We meet again,” she disarmed. “Do you remember?”
The voice brought a shiver. “How could I forget?”
Opponents well-matched though her outfit less baggy,
They squared off for combat — a bloodless duet.
Like a ghostly game of Chess, slowly they circled,
Near and then apart, the steps a cautious dance.
She had dreamt of him too in her lonely coffin;
The pair became tangled in a necromance.
He bared a chest scarred, already conquered by charm,
Yet his lady could not repeat their previous duel.
They kissed while her sword united two souls . . .
And shared one funeral bed, a Princess and her fool.
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Lori R. Lopez:
Trouble with a capital C! The tale begins when a car stops and a body is tossed into the Corn. But this is not just any crop. It is the battleground of a legendary creature who haunts fields along desolate highways, only when stalks are tall and the blood of brothers has been spilled in the soil — rising above the Corn like a burly Scarecrow.
A novelette of betrayal and retribution, “Cornstalker” pits a female truckdriver and a man with blood on his hands against a mythical beast summoned by a band of men wearing feathers and paint.
Jane is searching for her younger brother, who disappeared along a highway bordered by many ears. The last message on a sputtering cellphone had been something about a monster. So she took over his rig, coincidentally called “The Monster”, a heavy-duty black beast with a long snout, double chrome stacks and a reinforced grill. Anxiously prowling the roads of The Cornbelt, she picks up a stranger who could be dangerous. Our heroine may need to unleash her own demons to emerge from the Corn once she goes in.
First appearing in the 2014 anthology DEAD HARVEST, “Cornstalker” is part of Lori’s SPOOKTACULAR TALES collection.