July 6th, 2011

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Poem: "The Shortest Night"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by ladyqkat.  She asked for three crippled heroes defending their fairy village from attack, and here they are.  (I'm easily intrigued by unusual characters who might otherwise miss the limelight, and she gave great descriptions.)  Worth mentioning is the connection between the fey and deformities or other aberrations; it is often listed in fairytales as a way to distinguish them from humans.  But even a serious handicap needn't stop people from protecting what they believe in, and these three heroes are not  to be dismissed.

The Shortest Night


The fairies ride out without fail, without fear,
On Litha, the shortest night of the whole year.

The King and the Queen of the fairies ride out,
And everyone follows behind, without doubt.

With jingling harness and sparkling blade
They make a magnificent, mystical Rade.

Behind are the "nobodies" that no one counts,
Considered unfit for a fairy rade's mounts:

A fairy with one shredded wing from the time
That dog shook shook her madly to play with her chime,

A cat with no balance -- a problem, it's sure,
And nothing the likes of which glamour can cure,

A brownie who's scared of his own shadow's fall,
Too timid to answer the old battle-call.

The sidhe mor  was empty as empty could be,
With fairies off rading ... except for those three.

An ogre came down from the mountains that night
To smash up their sidhe mor, expecting no fight.

They watched as he climbed down the slopes of the comb,
Then three crippled fairies stood fast for their home.

He swatted them right and he swatted them left;
He bruised and bedeviled them, battered and reft.

He tripped on the brownie (was running away);
The cat clawed him fiercely, and how he did bray!

The fairy fell out of a tree on his head.
He swore he would drain them until they were dead.

The ogre sucked all of their energy out,
But that was an awful mistake and no doubt.

He swallowed the fairy's fragility first,
And blood from his terrible injuries burst.

He took the cat's lack of good balance the next,
Then fell on his face and cried out he'd been hexed.

He ate up the brownie's timidity last,
And crawling, fled wishing he still could run fast.

The King and the Queen and the Rade all returned
To find their sidhe mor  yet unlooted, unburned.

They listened to how the great battle was won
And hailed the three heroes for what they had done.

So don't disregard those imperfect or flawed
For they have their virtues some future may laud.

As for able bodies and honors they earn ...
Those don't last forever, as some villains learn.


* * *
The phrase sidhe mor  means "great fairy mound."

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Poem: "Shine On"

This poem came out of the July 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a detailed prompt from marina_bonomi who wanted to read about a world-weary paladin and/or a novice paladin in training.  Then haikujaguar chimed in with her interest in same, and the_vulture mentioned a favorite iteration of paladin (from a series I also love).  So that got me to thinking about what a paladin is and does, and the relationship between paladin and deity, and the nature of faith in a world that has some magic but no inclination to move obstacles out of anyone's way just because of that.

"Shine On" was sponsored by marina_bonomi, with an extra tip from chrysoula.  I'm really pleased to be able to share this poem with you.  For me it was one of the most potent poems that I wrote in this fishbowl.  You can also read the sequel "The Ones They Leave Behind," which shares Larn's perspective of the aftermath.

[EDIT 7/13/11] See a sketch of Shahana and Ari, illustrating a scene late in the poem, as drawn by meeksp.

[EDIT 7/13/11] Also inspired by the poem "Shine On" and its accompanying sketch is the haunting and beautiful story "Holy Walking Warrior" by siege.

WARNING: "Shine On" contains imagery that may prove triggery for some people, so think before you click.  There are fairly detailed descriptions of the aftermath of a raid on a village, and references to two different rapes with varying levels of detail though neither is exhaustive, along with background about cosmological violence and upheaval.  The overall tone is weary and gritty but determined.  People who are readily depressed or upset by what they read might want to skip this poem.  People who are tired of pristine paladins with perfect lives will probably appreciate it.

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Poem: "Ready, Steady ... Oh"

This poem came out of the July 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from kelkyag and sponsored by janetmiles.


Ready, Steady ... Oh


The Hiring Hall stood quiet
except for a quartet of apprentices.
All of the experienced adventurers
were out on an assignment.

Vielle strummed her lute.
"Battle sounds so romantic,"
she sighed.  "When I'm a bard,
I'll tour all the battlefields of the land."

"When I'm a fighter, I'll go with you,"
said Gret, stroking his sword hilt.
"If your Master is as stubborn as my Mistress,
though, it's a long time before we get anywhere."

"Too true," said Ruthanne, firefly lights
weaving trails around her fingertips. 
"My Mistress won't even let me past cantrips."
The other apprentices nodded commiseration.

"I pray that we all see some excitement,"
said Pren, clasping his holy symbol.
"Otherwise we may die of boredom."
They drank to that, but it was only apple cider.

Just then, the Hiring Hall door slammed open.
Vielle's and Pren's Masters carried Gret's Mistress,
leaving a broad trail of blood.  Every time Ruthanne's Mistress
put out her own robes, the flames rekindled themselves.

The Healers on duty at the Hall
quickly hustled the battered adventurers
into a back room and shut the door behind them.
Silence fell again.

"Well," Gret said a bit faintly,
"we should really get back to our studies."
"Yes," Vielle agreed, "I'm with you."
Pren and Ruthanne hurried after them.

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Poem: "Down the Drain"

This poem came out of the July 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from ellenmillion and aldersprig, who wanted to go adventuring in sewers.  It also ties in with the "golden rule" prompt from janetmiles -- whereas most fantasy governments are monarchies, this one is a plutocracy, which has an interesting influence on culture and character perspectives.  (See the related poem "All That Glitters," also set in the Plutocracy of Aurea.) The poem was sponsored by janetmiles.

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Poem: "All That Glitters"

This poem comes from the July 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It began with a prompt from janetmiles about how those who have the gold, make the rules.  From laffingkat and haikujaguar came the importance of small, everyday magical items.  eseme threw in the idea of a character who isn't a hero, just an ordinary employee.  The poem was sponsored by janetmiles.

Now it happens that I've had an idea simmering away in the back of mind for some time, about a fantasy setting with lots of little nationalities, each with a different form of government.  I'd just written "Down the Drain" which is set in a plutocracy, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to develop that society further.  The Plutocracy of Aurea considers wealth an indicator of competence and wit, with the interesting adjunct of investing in practical magics to provide a foundation for advanced social development and leisure.  They run to elemental magic, with different proportions of the elements manifesting in different populations.  I like  this setting.  It is a long, long way from the Kingdom of McFantasyLand.


All That Glitters


Ritaine felt proud of her position.
She held the most important job in the world:
she was an Accountant.
Without them to manage the flow of money,
nobody else could do any work at all.

Ritaine loved her office.
She gave thanks every day
that she lived in the Plutocracy of Aurea,
where people had the gods-given sense
to invest in everyday magics and not just frills.
So she opened her windows to breezes and sunbeams,
screened against insects by a cunning little charm.
Her quill would chirp at her if she made an error
in calculation or spelling, although to be fair,
the thing counted far better than it spelled.
A set of nine square brushes scurried around the floor,
alone or in groups, keeping it meticulously clean.
She had a magic rope to lift heavy file cabinets,
and an enchanted lantern to light the room after nightfall.
She couldn't imagine trying to do all this without them.

Ritaine enjoyed her work.
She handled a dozen accounts,
carefully tallying income and expenses
and all the other little steps
that made the endless dance of wealth
such a wonder to behold.
When she finished each update,
she sent off the news with a flick of Air magic,
quick as you please, alerting all the other Accountants.
It only made sense  that the people
who amassed the most money would make the rules.
Who else knew more about how the world worked?

Oh, the job had its drawbacks.
Now and again, some rival would strike out
and curse her with dyscalculia,
so that she had to take off a day or two
until her numeric sense recovered.
She knew, too, that there were government offices
higher and brighter and glittering with more gold than hers;
but she liked  working where she was.

Ritaine touched reverent fingertips
to the bullion buttons of her uniform,
counting off the cornerstones of her life:
one, two, three, four, five.
The numbers in their perfect promenade
were power enough for her.