My name is Michael Joseph Donnelly,
An Irishman who loves good mystery,
I have an odd penchant, I have this need;
To explore the ‘unknown,’ I hope you’ll read.

It was start of fall, eighteen hundred ten,
In Europe’s eastern mountains this took place
And true is the story that I do pen,
Upon my honor and gentleman’s grace.

Wanderlust swayed my inquisitive mind,
The ‘Carpathians’ called like siren song,
Pulling me forth, in my soul it was twined;
Something ethereal beckoned quite strong.

I hired a coach with provisions in stow,
Destination unknown, at dawn we left
As sun kissed landscape with an eerie glow;
We entered the mountains through a dark cleft.

Granite outcroppings like gargoyles loomed o’er
As we traveled dim roads near forgotten,
The way was lifeless, save a scraggy boar;
Consuming a dead mate bloated rotten.

We entered a valley just before dusk,
And already a full moon was peeking,
There was a foul stench of animal musk,
As the coach halted; with springs a creaking.

My coachman, a mute, known only as ‘Dirk,’
Knocked twice on the coach to signal a rest,
A reliable chap, who needed work,
Lit his Meerschaum pipe pulled from leather vest.

Peering at the moon as it quickly rose
Atop rocky peaks far off to the east,
Again I smelt pungent musk in my nose,
Animalistic no doubt, from a beast.

Around a small camp fire, Dirk and I sat
We sipped brandy and conversed best we could,
With gestures and note, did our best to chat,
Stoking the fire with bits of scavenged wood.

And then it struck me, there was no night sound,
No crickets chirping, no hoot owls in trees,
Just fire’s crackle and my heart that did pound;
As there came a foreboding mountain breeze.

Just then, the horses gave a startled whine!
They started nervously dancing around,
And as the full moon overhead did shine;
There erupted a most bloodcurdling sound!

A maniacal deep primeval yell,
Reverberating with echoing verve!
Like something had crawled from the pit of Hell,
That greatly shocked each and every raw nerve!

Dirk and I sat there, quite frozen in fear,
As we gazed into the night with great dread!
With kneejerk reaction we gathered gear,
Then we pissed on the fire and quickly fled!

By lamplight old Dirk snapped leather reins,
And we were off like a cavalry charge!
With startled heart pounding blood through my veins,
In our wake, Holy water I did sparge!

Till the horses were winded some miles hence,
We seemingly stampeded for our lives,
Until we came to a great metal fence,
With a strange gate fashioned from swords and knives.

Above the odd gate, was a sign, in rune,
And atop that, a large raven did caw,
Yet beyond, there did lie, human bones strewn,
Where vultures and ravens, did peck and gnaw.

Our horses could yet sense something was wrong,
As Dirk did his best to keep them steady
And beyond the gate, midst fog, chanting song
Wafted our way with incense quite heady.

Strange mantras unknown, but ancient I’m sure,
Echoed as if sung in a great stone hall,
Mesmerizing they were, calling with lure,
As mist cleared revealing ramparts quite tall.

I brazenly did push open the gate,
Held simply with a wrapped and rusted chain,
Turning to Dirk, who sensed I could not wait;
I swear he mouthed, “You are bloody insane.”

Michael J. Donnelly©2013

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