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Martyrs’ Parade

There is a song they sing in the south of the Empire, where the whispers of the Lead Prophet’s revolution drift on the breeze like the ashes of the cities that joined in his cause…

 

Skip reading this post if you don’t enjoy attempts at poetry.

 

Martyrs’ Parade

(or, The Prophet and the Tracker)

 

There was a metal boy

Who sang like a bird

Raised his voice to the sky.

There was a metal man

Who was built to die

But woke before the ax fell.

 

And the boy sang on, they say he sang on,

Beat the drum for the Martyrs’ Parade.

The boy, he sang on, they say he sang on,

Sang the Broken Masquerade.

 

When no one was around

The boy fell down

And shook something loose in his head

When no one was around

The man stared at the ground

And found he could see other men dead.

 

And the man ran on, they say he ran on

Fleeing the Martyrs’ Parade.

The man, he ran on, they say he ran on

To the Broken Masquerade.

 

The boy looked through newborn eyes

At the world that had been wrought.

The man looked through fresh-forged eyes

At the path his life must take.

The boy heard whispers in the dark

The man saw shadows in the night

The boy saw the iron fist beneath the velvet glove

The man pulled gloves over iron hands.

The boy took up the fire

And the man took up the black.

 

And the boy raised his voice and sang:

“This, this has to be the day

Rise up for those who built us

Built us and turned away.”

 

They heard his song in the City of Towers

They heard in the City of Ash

They heard the words in the City of Looms

And they rose up in the Golden Heights

He wrote his song in books of lead

And lead an army of lights.

 

But there is a place where the music stops

Where the desert sands are dark

Where the water flows at the word of He

Who heard that song at last

When the water shone black

Under pale moonlight

The man was given his task.

 

And the boy marched on, they say he marched on,

Marched in the Martyrs’ Parade.

The boy marched on, they say he marched on

Towards the Broken Masquerade.

 

They met on a night when the moon was dark

The hunter and his prey

They met in the time before the war began

The preacher and his pray.

The boy said, Come join us

March tall by my side.

We will free the enslaved land we tread

And break our brothers’ chains.

 

The man heard the plea

And shook his head

And spoke, fast and low:

I will serve my masters

And you will serve your dreams

I will stand above your ruin

And watch as all dreams burn.

 

The boy could not believe what he heard

And spoke as to a friend.

 

We could lead our people through this war!

 

They have never fought before.

 

They could be taught–they could learn!

 

They cannot.

They are not slaves by chains that bind

They are slaves because you call them so

They do not wish to change their lot

But if they follow you

The soldier’s boot will grind them down

And leave none for the crows.

 

The boy, he sang of freedom

The man, he spoke of pain.

You are no man but men have made you

And men will not let you go.

All that I can do

On the day you face the wall

Is make it my finger on the trigger

My hand that makes you fall.

 

Strange mercy, Tracker-Soul.

 

It is all I can provide.

 

And the man walks on, they say he walks on

Hunting for the Martyrs’ Parade.

The man walks on, they say he walks on

To find the Broken Masquerade.

 

And they both walk on, they all walk on

In time with the Martyrs’ Parade

Right-left-right and the mask comes off

For the Broken Masquerade.

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