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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Balancing In Action"

This poem came from the May 1, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from janetmilesthe_vulture, and kelkyag.  It was sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series Sort Of Heroes, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.


Balancing In Action


Nib and Brod traveled along the winding road,
still thinking about the fall of the Basalt Tower
and the pitiful minion call in Whinton
and the increasingly common kooks they heard
in the villages who shouted about banishing Evil
from the land once and for all.

"Going to banish own selves?"
Brod asked one overeager duo.
"Yah, everybody does some bad stuff," Nib said,
as the would-be heroes hemmed and hawed,
insisting that wasn't what they really meant.

It was therefore not surprising
when someone jumped on them
out of the trees one day.
"Another bandit," said Brod,
drawing his sword.
"Yah," said Nib.

What was surprising was the bandit's shrill cry of,
"Stand and deliver for the Champion of Light!"

"Um, what do you think you're doing?"
Nib asked the man in clashing green-and-orange tights.
"I'm a hero," he declared.  "I rob rich people
and share some of the wealth with poor people."

"That  not heroic," Brod grumbled.
"Are you sure?" Nib asked behind his hand.
"Pretty sure," Brod said.

The fellow was decent at light magic, though;
he cast an evil-repelling spell that made them feel
as if they were mired in quicksand.
"Can't move," Brod said.  "Do something."
"Right," said Nib, and flung his crossbow
hard into their attacker's belly.

The man folded up with a wheeze as his spell collapsed.
Brod bounced him off a nearby tree,
then slung the limp form over his shoulder.

"Where's the nearest gaol?" Nib wondered.
"Sword say Oaklin,"  Brod replied.
So they hiked toward Oaklin,
wondering if there might be a reward
for the light-casting bandit that Brod carried.

Something niggled at Nib's attention,
a wobble in the magic.
He didn't have much sense of magic
but he could feel that much, all right.
Ahead of him, Brod shook one huge foot
and then the other.

"It's like a stone in your boot, ain't it?"
Nib said.  "It makes me think,
after all the grief come down on evil overlords,
what are the good ones getting up to?"

"Bandit come, magic wobble," Brod said.
"Bandit go, magic settle."
That made sense, Nib thought.
Then again, when was life ever that simple?

They left the bandit at the Oaklin gaol
and collected the reward,
which amounted to a Nib-sized handful of coins
and a round of free drinks at the tavern.
Nib couldn't feel the wobble in the magic anymore.

Then again, that could just be the ale.

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Current Mood: busy busy

4 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 5th, 2012 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
"It's like a stone in your boot, ain't it?"
Nib said. "It makes me think,
after all the grief come down on evil overlords,
what are the good ones getting up to?"

"Bandit come, magic wobble," Brod said.
"Bandit go, magic settle."
That made sense, Nib thought.
Then again, when was life ever that simple?


I feel really stupid about this, but I'm just not getting this one. Could you unpack it a bit, or would that ruin it for everyone else?
siege From: siege Date: May 5th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a world where the default balance trends toward badness, and it's changing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2012 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Okay...

In this setting, there are evil overlords and good overlords -- people with a bunch of power in stable positions, who manage the flow of dark and light magical energies and other power dynamics. We may gather that these are generally "lawful" rather than "chaotic" or at least are concerned with maintaining some kind of consistency rather than anarchy. It's the difference between having a tent securely pegged down, or one corner flapping loose in the wind.

Toppling the Basalt Tower (back in "The Henchmen's Hitch") left a power vacuum that destabilized that. In "Falling Up" the Myrklord muses on the changing power dynamics, which is something he's more inclined to notice, rather than Nib and Brod who are functioning at a much lower level. "Call to Duty" indicates that other people are noticing; there's a new dark lord attracting minions and making a bid for power. But he's not competent, and fails the attempt.

By the time we get to "Balancing In Action," there's a chaotic good character making a nuisance of himself -- and in proximity to that moderately strong source of light energy, the growing instability is now an active irritant. Nib and Brod can't sling around magic like the mages do, but they have some awareness of it, when it's strong enough.

Does this help?

I'm not sure whether I could clarify this further within this particular poem. Nib and Brod aren't theoreticians. To them the magical/political upheaval is on a level of ... feels like a rock in my boot, and gee maybe we shouldn't have killed the dude who fed and housed us even if he was turning into a nutter.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2012 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

In this setting, there are evil overlords and good overlords -- people with a bunch of power in stable positions, who manage the flow of dark and light magical energies and other power dynamics. We may gather that these are generally "lawful" rather than "chaotic" or at least are concerned with maintaining some kind of consistency rather than anarchy. It's the difference between having a tent securely pegged down, or one corner flapping loose in the wind.

Toppling the Basalt Tower (back in "The Henchmen's Hitch") left a power vacuum that destabilized that. In "Falling Up" the Myrklord muses on the changing power dynamics, which is something he's more inclined to notice, rather than Nib and Brod who are functioning at a much lower level. "Call to Duty" indicates that other people are noticing; there's a new dark lord attracting minions and making a bid for power. But he's not competent, and fails the attempt.

By the time we get to "Balancing In Action," there's a chaotic good character making a nuisance of himself -- and in proximity to that moderately strong source of light energy, the growing instability is now an active irritant. Nib and Brod can't sling around magic like the mages do, but they have some awareness of it, when it's strong enough.

Does this help?

I'm not sure whether I could clarify this further within this particular poem. Nib and Brod aren't theoreticians. To them the magical/political upheaval is on a level of ... feels like a rock in my boot, and gee maybe we shouldn't have killed the dude who fed and housed us even if he was turning into a nutter.
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