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by E. L. Williams


I was born in a storm I did not bring,
on the eve of a war not mine;
the child of a traitor with blood on his hands,
my mother a sinner cursed twice.
As the flames of war kindled
across the lands,
the betrayer who set them died.
His bloody hand stilled the night I was born,
his last breath flew the same hour I cried.

She who slept deep in the web of intrigue
knew the present peace to soon flee.
Too guilty to stand for all she had done,
too weak and encumbered to leave,
the throes of my birth
became those of her death,
under the blade of a knife.
Her coward's hand stilled the hour I was born,
as I left her, she took her own life.

Some came with intent to take her away
and found she had already flown;
her sentence now passed she was left in the hands
of friends loath to call her their own.
They wrapped me in funeral cloth
cut from her shroud
and refused to give me a name.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
now forever to carry their shame.

Four times four seasons the wars carried on
and hushed voices begin to rise.
Autumn brought storms and spring no relief,
whispers crawled at every side.
The years nursed infection
fed upon fear
and focused in my living breath.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
surely fated to follow in death.

Quarter score years passed, all in misfortune
and I finally earned a name:
Thanatos, Lord of the cursed underlands
who brings plague and fiery rain.
Close they watched me grow older
in visions dark
‘til my eyes held too much dread thought.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
sins embodied in what they begot.

From village to town and into the wastes –
as I came, so they drove me out.
Bread from a rouge, the cold mercy of thieves,
to steal was what now filled my mouth.
And so I learned to become
something akin
to the creature fear raised me as;
born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
fearsome purpose such legacy has.

In cunning and strength both mind and limb grew
and in kind, my ill-fated name.
Thanatos, ruler of the realm of the dead,
now imminently stirs his day.
The gleam of coin soon became
my only friend
and my enemies were chosen in kind.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
a fetid cord to securely bind.

In a world plagued by loss my fortunes soared,
increasing in gold and in men.
The devil’s own horde marched at my word
and waged war by the coins command.
Where we moved there was terror
for victory sure
fell to the hand that paid our price.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
a child fed on destruction and vice.

Thanatos comes, grew the herald whisper,
to serve prayer and cursing both.
The lord of hades rides a midnight stallion
and leads a legion of ghosts;
this power they marveled at
absent knowledge
of what horrors had set me here.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
who turns water and wind into fear.

Like a sword grown too heavy for the arm,
a dog too vicious in the chase,
my threat soon outgrew my use and sent
dark hands to deliver my fate.
Yet treachery and blood lay
close as my skin,
these ever the sounds I waited for.
Born of a traitor, birthed by the damned,
a birthright to perfect and abhor.

The boy they had fed on silver and gold
and trained in the fields of war
now rose as an equal to take what was won,
no longer to act as their sword.
As a wind-driven fire
I moved on the land
and all that fell was given my name.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
now a lord to reap glory and fame.

I set up mayors, governors and lords
to hold office at my behest.
They swore oath in my name and lived at my word,
death to reward the faithless.
Palace and citadel fell
at my advance,
but of none did I make a home.
Born of a villain, birthed by the damned,
cursed henceforth to eternally roam.

At the changing of standards I rode in
on my last and greatest conquest;
the city of lights, capital of the world
under whose golden throne all met.
Past glittering spires and
harbors docked full,
I rode to a soundless salute.
Born of villain, birthed by the damned,
lauded with silence, praised by the mute.

The war that had raged a score and five years,
a flame set by my parents’ hand,
was now ended in my victorious march
against the throne to rule all lands.
An outcast, a criminal
and now a king
of mortals and hades’ hoard both.
Born of a villain birthed by the damned,
now the sole being by which all swear oath.

* * *

E. L. Williams is a Renaissance man in training who enjoys anonymity, Autumn rain, and telling extemporaneous tales to children (even though she denies it). She divides her creative energies between writing and recording original music, and agonizing over the details of her current novel-in-progress.

What inspires you to write and keep writing?

Self-preservation; the stories gnaw at my mind until I let them out.