Forthwith Flies the Mage by A.A. Rubin

There is a city on a hill
A beacon burning bright
A model of the great and good
A citadel of light

The enchanted forest lies below
Behind it mountains rise
Where darkness lurks inside the caves
And evil waits and hides

The city’s ringed all around
By a wall both tall and stout
It glistens brightly ‘neath the moon
And keeps the demons out

But Lo! The prince of devils stirs
He wakes, his power grows
He plots and plans his sweet revenge
The city does not know

He gathers spirits to his side
On that fateful day
And sends a sortie swiftly out
The town to make assay

The wraiths are whirling all around
Above the city night
Attendant shadows do they bring
Quelling all the light

Forthwith flies the mage
On a dragon does he ride
Forthwith flies the mage
Through the dark and dusky sky

He brings his glowing staff to bear
And trains it on the shades
The dragon flaps its massive wings
Beating back the raid

The mage he speaks the sacred words
An ancient holy spell
The wraiths they writhe beneath his might
Banished back to hell

A raucous cheer, it rises up
From the city streets
Hosannas for the hero mage
Their enemies he beat

But deep inside the caves of hell
The demon king does rage
He stamps his foot and gnashes teeth
O’er the failure of the wraiths

Sworn swords and lords he calls to him
He gathers up his hosts
A massive army to command
Of monsters, orcs and ghosts

They rise up like the living dead
And with a steady thrum
March to the heavy sound of doom
Beat out on their drums

The goodly people gather round
They cower in their homes
They pray to gods most tearfully
But fear they’re all alone

Forthwith flies the mage
Resplendent in his power
Forthwith flies the mage
In the city’s darkest hour

His dragon swoops with wings unfurled
It dives on down eftsoons
Towards the city’s citadel
Silhouetted by the moon

Into the fray, callooh callay
Like Zeus’ thunderbolt
He is the storm, Mjolnir thrown
Until he feels a jolt

His dragon’s mighty scales are pierced
A bolt has found its mark
Shot blindly by a demon’s bow
Lucky, in the dark

The dragon rears up suddenly
The mage from off him thrown
Falls straight down into the field
Through the Sturm und Drang

With magic does he slow his fall
And through the wind does float
And hovers lightly in the air
Above the city moat

Forward walks the mage
With a steady tread
Forward walks the mage
And faces the undead

He stands alone before the gate
His staff of yew in hand
The last best hope to stop the spread
Of shadow through the land

A silence settles o’er the field
The mage and the commander
Stare silently across the sward
Like figures trapped in amber

The demon lord’s in disbelief
Have they just sent but one,
Hero ‘gainst his mighty hoard?
They couldn’t be that dumb

The devil lifts his fist of doom
And gives the dread command
And thus the static silence breaks
At the falling of his hand

A volley from his archers flies
Into the sky of night
Eclipsing pale Hecate’s orb,
And quashing out the light

The arrows fall, a deadly rain
Toward the mage’s person
The people groan behind the walls
His death is all but certain

The shafts they dot the city gate
Haphazardly they land
A raucous cheer now rises up
From the demon band

But still the single figure stands
When the air does clear
The mage, unscathed for all to see
Inside a glowing sphere

Another volley is sent forth
This one all-aflame
But when the arrows reach their mark
The outcome is the same

The demon prince, the lord of hosts
Rides up and down his ranks
His soldiers shout and beat their plate
Armor loudly clanks

And all at once the horde does charge
The wizard to engage
A cavalry of nightmares filled
With berserker rage   

Forthwith flies the mage
Forward cross the field
Forthwith flies the mage
With just his staff to wield

He cuts on through the charging line
Breaking their formation
But round they move, from the flanks
In retaliation

In the deadly circle stands
The mage with staff of yew
Surrounded by his evil foes
Whose vigor is renewed

Wave after wave they fall on him
In a constant motion
But break like water on the rocks
Which jut into the ocean

A ring around the mage does form
A pile of the dead
A mound of lifeless bodies grows
Even to his head.

They battle on past midnight
And still the bodies rise
A mountain there before the mage
Reaching toward the skies

The enemy indefatigable
Can smell the mage’s blood
As he begins to tire
Drowning in the flood

The demon prince strides out perforce
To land the final blow
He gloats above the fallen mage
But little does he know

The injured dragon has returned
Seeking out his master
He swoops upon the hellish hoards
Reigning down disaster

Beneath their heavy plates of steel
The cavalry does burn
And with the fire of his breath
The tide again is turned

The mage’s vigor is renewed
By his beast’s return
Like the phoenix from the fire
His courage is reborn

He plants his staff and rises up
Trying to hide a wince
And looks into the demon’s eye
Staring down the prince

The devil wields his ancient sword
Forged in the pits of hell
He swings it wildly at the mage
With an evil yell

The mage dodges dips and weaves
Avoiding every blow
But his leg is injured
And he drags behind his toe 

The demon’s rage redoubles
He sees the mage is lame
He focuses his efforts
On the limb that’s maimed

But still the mage eludes him
Though each stroke by less
He wills his foot to movement
And curses ‘neath his breath

The two contend throughout the night
The duel goes on for hours
They dig deep trenches in the dirt
Trampling all the flowers

The devils nicks him with his sword
The mage’s hand drips blood
Which falls on down, to the ground
It’s soaked up by the mud

The demon spins his spectral sword
His is the day to win
But mid swing his blade is frozen
The mage begins to grin

He’s drawn some runes in the dust
With the leg he lagged behind
Tracing symbols in the dirt
Which the demon bind

And with the sacrifice of blood
Dripping from his hand
He locks the devil to the ground
Roots him to the land

The demon’s hellish blood runs cold
He is a block of ice
The mage taps with his staff the ground
And mutters something thrice

The ground below does open
It swallows the prince whole
He sinks ever downward toward
The pits of ancient She’ol      

The remnants of the demon horde
In confusion flee
The city gates thrown open with
Hurrah’s and shouts of glee

But the field is empty
The mage he isn’t there
He’s mounted on his dragon and
He’s flying through the air

Whenever he is needed
Wherever evil reigns
Take a look up to the sky
Forthwith will fly the mage

Rubin_AA

A. Rubin‘s work has appeared recently in publications such as Kyanite Press, Bards Annual, and Cowboy Jamboree. He has won numerous awards for his prose, flash fiction, comics, and poetry. Mr. Rubin, who holds a BA from Columbia University in Writing/Literature and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University can be reached on twitter, facebook, and instagram, as @TheSurrealAri, or through his website AARubin.wordpress.com.