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The Walking City

The Doom of the Age was approaching fast
The streets of the city were filling with sand
The skies grew ever more dark, and the last
Hours of pity would soon be at hand

Supplicants prayed to their stone-faced idols
Scheming and dreaming, they hoped to awake
From a lifetime of dust – and the lost, suicidal
And suffering people would see the storm break

But the Gods had their plans and the dark was drawn near
And the palaces shuddered in awe and in shame
For the ancient stone walls and the holy sincere
Would all soon crumble and fall both the same

But the dread of the end, and of facing the dark –
The fear of slaves and their masters –
Did not touch one who hid in the bowels of the Ark
And who bolted the doors ‘gainst disaster

For the flood was coming across their world
Ending long years of hunger and drought
As the old ones foretold, the distant winds whirled
And the lights in the high towers flared and went out

The bells rang in panic and cold ran the blood
As cries and laments tore open the night
And the land become lost in the black, and the flood
Flowed round the island of flickering lights

But deep in the tunnels, in dungeons and mines
And through the foundations and catacomb walls
There rushed a blood of some rare design
The Warrior Priest had summoned it all

This drowning city was sinking and screaming
The sea and the storm triumphant again
But beneath it all, called out of dreaming
A Colossus drew breath, woken by Men

A Golem, Homunculus, creature of mud
Born from the depths of the heaving earth
Lifting the land from the swirling flood
Thunder roared forth at his monstrous birth

The city rose high upon his spine
The mountain man was awaking
Stone flesh and bone stood strong and fine
‘Midst the bellowing and the quaking

The people, wide-eyed, looked down on the waves
As the giant stepped out across the sea
And in his heart – a jewelled cave –
The Warrior Priest held the key
That had opened the veins and opened the eyes
Of this man with his head in the clouds
With magical science from an Age so wise
It believed the Unknown – and so did the crowds
Who ran to their homes as the city walked on
Over river and road, fortress and farm
Sailing the sky with danger long gone
Carried in safety, unhindered, unharmed

The city folk slowly return to their lives
And the days turned into years
How soon they forgot, those who survived
Their once so terrible fears

But the feet of the city can never find rest
As it stamps across the world
An ancient darkness beats in its chest
Where the Warrior Priest forever lies curled
Up in a crack of the crystalline heart
That powers the walking city
He lies with his books and his keys and his art
As dead as to need no more pity

This visionary mystic, so deep underground
Gave up his spirit, and offered his life
To uncover and plunder the magic he found
A hero; a fool; a great sacrifice

So – without any map, destination, or plan
The Colossus goes forward forever
And the city grows melancholy mad
Weary of wandering, yet pulled by a tether
By a traveller chosen from journeyman stock
A lookout; to guide where his massive feet fell
A flesh-grain of sand, leading the rock
And not one amongst thousands can break the spell

For the Doom of the Age is now long since passed
While their prison is safe – both a curse and a gift –
And eternally moving through continents vast
They vanish in mystery, legend, and myth…

A part of the Fable and Folklore collection