The sky was black as crepe
As they set out to find the fabled Palace;
These men who’d fain escape
Their own kinfolk’s wrathful malice.
Their rucksacks clacked together
As they traveled through the night;
Braving Gaia’s evilest weather–
Following Avarice’s light.
For ’twas said the palace held the riches
Of a thousand generations.
More wealth than Gods or Devils; Angels, Witches–
More than all the gold of all the Nations.
RODERICK, their leader, and the boldest,
Had plotted them their passage through the hills.
While HOOD and COUNT COLE (the oldest)
Brought their hunting and survival skills.
Fugitives and criminals they were,
But none would dare assail their cunning–
That malignant genius that will oft occur
In men who are from Justice running.
On the 13th night of their unhallowed quest
They came upon a sickly woman, lying down,
Off’ring silver, and clutching at her chest–
She begged them take her back to town.
“We’ve neither time nor need for this”, growled COLE.
And his comrades nodded their assent.
Then the woman’s silver purse they stole
And left her there, laughing coldly as they went.
They crossed forbidden hills and curséd woods.
They shot rabid wolves and other creatures, too–
And even as they ran low on food and goods
Their intelligence and cruelty saw them through.
For every vicious monster that they met
They were always strong enough to kill–
And for every evil they encountered, yet–
They showed themselves to be more evil still.
And one night, by the moon’s half-hidden ray,
RODERICK espied the Palace they long had sought.
The three started down the long and rocky way
Readying all the weaponry they’d brought.
The Palace was magnificent, as prophesied–
Windows made of crystal in turrets made of gold.
And richly-colored banners, looking freshly-dyed–
Though they must have been unfathomably old.
At last, they reached the Palace gate
And thought their epic journey ended–
But ere they seized the treasures to elate
them, an apparition dread descended.
From atop the highest turret–or even higher yet!–
Appeared a figure clad in red and black.
And they recognized the woman they had met
All those many scores of miles back.
And so the brigands, transfixed with fear,
Stood helpless as she pronounced them cursed.
“So be it ever”, said she “To all who enter here
Without paying me my tribute first!”