This is the freebie for the May 2013 Crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from meepalicious. It also fills the #9 Ember slot in the Rainbowfic Moonlight list. This poem belongs to the series A Conflagration of Dragons. You can read more about the six races, the Beneberak, and the Shu. Listen to a gorgeous recording of this poem by book_worm5.
The city Demas rose above
The sighing sea of grass
And from it roads reached far beyond
Where many peoples pass.
The springs and streams gave fish and cress,
The brewers tides of beer;
The hunters brought down buffalo
To fill the larders here.
The Beneberak ruled the land,
Wise alchemists of old,
Who cleansed and wrought by magic's might
In tales the bards have told.
They quarreled with the distant Shu
And made no allies tight,
Although they let the Hachi farm
The flats by treaty's right.
The news came in from farther east
Of how Shaunaka fell,
And then Jehuti of the Shu
Was stricken low as well.
Proud Demas was the capital
Of Beneberak range
And nobody who lived within
Could think that it might change.
Then Zaavan came on stormy wings
As blue as broken sky;
A graceful, savage drake was he
With terror in his eye.
In ancient songs his whispered name
Brought heroes to their knees
And now he came to fight again
With claws and burning breeze.
The scar was there as had been told
All down his leftward wing,
To prove that he was Zaavan true
Of whom the elders sing.
To Demas came the dragon fierce
And vengeance wrought he there;
He caught the alchemists upon
The twisting marble stair.
The steamcraft cannons fired high,
The crossbows fired low,
But naught could stop the stubborn drake
And little did he slow.
His flame of pale and vivid blue
Cut like a torch through stone;
It slew the people hidden there
And charred them to the bone.
The mighty buildings tumbled down,
The city in its prime
Turned ember, charcoal, rubble now,
A drift of grit and grime.
Then Zaavan slipped into the hole
Where alchemists once dwelled
And feasted on their rare supplies,
The things that steamed and smelled.
Revenge he had for what was done
In years long gone to dust,
But those who wounded him were gone,
Their weapons nought but rust.
A dragon's grudge is graven stone
That outlasts fleeting lives,
And for ancestral ventures then
May claws come down like knives.
Alone of all his scattered kin
Came Ladah to the gate;
He fled his burning city's reach
And left it to its fate.
His red-gold hair was dulled with ash,
His hazel eyes were dim;
His curling horns hung lower then,
A weight of grief on them.
Some refugees went to the Shu,
Though enemies they were;
The forest people laughed at them
And never would bestir.
They would have taken Ladah for
The care he once had shown,
But Ladah walked away from them
To stay beside his own.
Some refugees went to the swamps
To beg the Hachi's aid
And succor found from wandering
But still a price they paid.
The marsh was never meant for those
Of Beneberak kind;
Its muck and gloom both weighed upon
The body and the mind.
Once Demas and its prairie were
The larder of the land;
Now smoke and ash lay waste the streams
And bread comes hard to hand.
It's Ladah and his people who
Walk weary on the plain --
But all six peoples stood apart,
And so all feel the pain.