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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "The Accidental Hero"
This poem came out of the August 2, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from janetmiles, stryck, aldersprig, and ladyqkat.  Each of those prompts provided something different: the characters, a clue, the complication, and the solution.  The result is a sequel to "The Reluctant Villain."

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.  

So far sponsors include: ladyqkat, zianuray, general fund, janetmiles, tuftears, the_vulture

186 lines, Buy It Now = $93
Amount donated = $78
Verses posted = 38 of 43

Amount remaining to fund fully = $15
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2

The Accidental Hero

Zenobia and Aldornia
were watering the orchids
in the Temple of Golden Light
when something went crash
in the altar room.

The two priestesses ran to the altar room
to see what had happened.
There they found Damarion Pearl,
who was in charge of tending the altar today,
sitting on the floor with an armful of hysterical young man
swathed in loops of shining golden chain.

Zenobia and Aldornia hurried over
to offer what comfort they could.
Zenobia cast Blessed Peace,
whereupon silence descended for two seconds
before the recipient howled "Get it off! Get it off!"
and burst into tears all over again.

Zenobia and Aldornia looked at each other.
You couldn't take off a blessing,
any more than you could undress a salad.
"Maybe I'm not so good at being good after all,"
Zenobia muttered.
"No, no, you're fine," Aldornia assured her.
"He must just be ... really stressed."

At the sound of her voice,
the sobbing young man lifted his face
from Damarion's shoulder.
"Aldornia?" he exclaimed.

"Saph?" said Aldornia.
"Dark Prince Saphrax,"
Zenobia murmured.
"Not anymore!" he wailed,
and threw himself into his cousin's arms.

Aldornia patted him awkwardly on the back.
"Saph, what happened to you?" she asked.

"After Zenobia Ravenne ran away
rather than stay betrothed to me--"
he began.

"It's Zenobia Goldencloud now,"
she corrected gently,
"and I'm with Aldornia."
She flashed her golden ring at him.

"After you dumped me,"
Saphrax continued through his teeth,
"my parents offered my hand
to the Harridan of Dusky Holt.
Needless to say, I objected.
Mother decided that I just needed ...
a bit of encouragement."

Both women winced.
They were all too familiar
with the Thornstele brand of encouragement.

"You know the spell, Villanous Ardor...?"
said Saphrax.

Aldornia nodded.
"It's supposed to empower a man
with enough lust to conquer any woman."
Zenobia added, "I can't cast it though."

"Apparently neither can my mother,"
Saphrax said grimly.
"Something went wrong with the incantation."
He gave his chains an ominous shake.
"Just look at the ferrous aurum --
it's turned to pure gold!
And of course I wound up here,
wherever here is."

Damarion cleared his throat.
"Welcome to the Temple of Golden Light,"
he said to Saphrax.
"If I've read the signs correctly,
that spell sounds like Heroic Splendor."

"I am utterly doomed,"
Saphrax said,
thumping his head repeatedly
against Aldornia's shoulder.

"No, that's a totally different spell,"
Damarion assured him.

"Close enough," Saphrax said.
"Let me up so I can go
put myself out of my misery."

Aldornia didn't let him up,
but a faint frown crossed her face.
"Saph, are you wearing your knife ... that knife?"
she asked her cousin.

"I always wear it," he said,
and slipped it from its boot sheath.
Then he stared in horror at the diamond blade.
The unicorn-horn hilt had also bleached from onyx to pearl.
"Doomed," Saphrax whimpered.

"Congratulations, you're officially a hero,"
Aldornia said. "You've just saved the world
from the Thornsteles' centennial
Ritual of Corruption next year.
Now we don't have to worry about that ever again!"

"I think your former family might take offense at that,"
Zenobia said to them.

"Good point," Aldornia said.
"Saph, did you lock the portal as you came through?"

"No," he said,
sniffling into her white silk robes.
"I didn't mean to activate the stupid thing at all.
It just happened, and then I landed here."

"That means trouble," Aldornia said.
"The Thornstele portal can only be locked from inside.
I'll have to go through and do it myself
or else we'll have a horde of Thornsteles here
as soon as they can arm up and activate the portal."

"You're not going without me,"
Zenobia said stoutly.
"I won't leave you trapped
in a house full of deranged relatives."

"Not trapped," said Aldornia.
"I'll just touch down there,
then jump back here
and lock the portal behind me."

"I'm still going with you,"
Zenobia declared.

"I'll watch over Saphrax,"
said Damarion,
gathering the distraught man
into a sympathetic embrace.

So the two women prepared for battle,
just in case, and stepped up to the altar.
Aldornia muttered the old familiar spell
to access her family's enchanted portal
and they stepped through.

No sooner did their booted feet touch the black marble floor
than the the spells began to fly. The portal slammed shut.
Zenobia and Aldornia pressed their backs together
and fought for their lives. Hexes seared the air.
Swords clanged and screeched against each other.

"Explain to me again," Zenobia panted
as they crouched under a sparking shield,
"how this is a good idea."

"We're saving the Temple," Aldornia replied,
"from my batshit relatives."

"Right," Zenobia said grimly.
She fired off blessings left and right
but they had little effect
beyond pissing off their opponents.

"I'll get you, Zenobia Ravenne!"
shouted Saphrax's mother.
"You undutiful little slut!"

Zenobia's temper finally snapped.
"Stop trying to ruin everyone's life!"
she roared.

And for the first time, Dominion
blazed into scarlet glory around a target.
Amaia Thornstele dropped to the floor,
silent and motionless.

Then Aldornia's brother, Brandeis Thornstele,
managed to rupture the floor under their feet.
Aldornia went down with a shriek,
one ankle snapping underneath her weight.

Zenobia grabbed her lover and said,
"Open the portal!"
Then she ripped her hand through the air
and cast Thundering Victory.
Thornstele Fortress trembled
and began to tear itself apart.

Aldornia wrenched open the portal
and the two women staggered through it,
locking it fast as they fell out the other end.
The altar room stood empty and quiet around them.

"Well," Aldornia said brightly,
"that didn't go too badly after all."
She stood on one foot,
leaning heavily against the altar.

Zenobia rolled her eyes at her lover.
She cast healing spells, cleaning spells, mending spells.
Truth be told, though, it could have gone worse --
especially considering their luck.
She looked down at her own hands,
remembering black ink, imagining blood,
and she wondered how it was that now, of all times,
she finally managed to cast dark spells correctly.
Then her ring glinted gold and Zenobia realized
how fierce a thing love can be.

They headed to their bedroom, arm in arm.
Along the way, they passed Damarion's room,
the door pushed not-quite-closed.
"Do you think Saph will be all right?"
Aldornia murmured as they walked past.
Zenobia smiled at the sight she had glimpsed,
two bodies twined in comfort atop the sky-blue bedspread.
"He'll be fine," she said.

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Current Mood: busy busy

34 comments or Leave a comment
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 4th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
*bounces happily* I see me in there, or, at least, some of my idea(s).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)


You'd definitely qualify for "If you're a good writer, and your character met you in an alley, he'd want to punch you in the nose."

Poor Saph.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: August 4th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
'Villanous Ardor'? This cannot go well!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)


If it had gone well, Saphrax wouldn't have crash-landed in the Temple of Golden Light. We're still a few verses away from a hypothesis as to what did happen...
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: August 22nd, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
There are worse things than dragons. :)

So....how much more of this would about $20.00 fund?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 22nd, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)


Worse things, indeed! Including pretty much all of the characters' relatives.

$20 would reveal the next 9 verses, what spell Saphrax's mother fumbled into, and why Saphrax is now an accidental hero.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: October 5th, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear!

Does the spell merely make things look splendid, or does it actually change them? The name sounds as if it should be an illusion only, but Saphrax is acting as if the transformations were actual.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 16th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)


>>Does the spell merely make things look splendid, or does it actually change them? The name sounds as if it should be an illusion only, but Saphrax is acting as if the transformations were actual.<<

It truly changes things. The spell cannot create something from nothing, but can shift what already exists in a particular direction. The potential for good is maximized and made manifest. Which is very disconcerting, if you aren't used to that kind of energy.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 6th, 2011 11:02 am (UTC) (Link)
LOL, this is fun. I await more.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

It's getting close to the finale.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 7th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can tell you had a lot of fun with this one. :)

I'm not sure why it tickled me so, but the line "You undutiful little slut!" really amused me, maybe because it's not language you use with much of your other poetry.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 7th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)


I don't use a lot of vulgar language in my writing, because under most circumstances, it doesn't add much. I tend to save it for occasions of high stress, times when characters are being deliberately insulting or coarse, and/or characters who are generally prone to crude expressions (such as soldiers, sailors, etc.).

In this case, "undutiful" is an aristocratic insult implying selfishness, and what else could a would-be mother-in-law call someone who dumped her son for another woman, but "slut" ...? She pretty much has to try and cut down the happy lesbians, or else admit that Saphrax wasn't such a catch after all.

You can see how well that's working out. Heh.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 14th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee! That was fun! :D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 14th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm happy to hear that.
eseme From: eseme Date: October 18th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
This, and the original poem, are both hilarious. I like the setting, and the humor, and all the opposites coming up.

Very fun.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 18th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like it. This series seems to involve a lot of upsetting expectations.
34 comments or Leave a comment