This poem came out of the April 7, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from haikujaguar. It has been selected in an audience poll as the free epic for the June 5, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl reaching the $200 goal. This poem belongs to the series The Odd Trio; you can find the other poems through the Serial Poetry page.
Each came in alone. All were shy.
For some reason they caught my eye:
One dwarf, one elf, one human … oh my.
The Hiring Hall was neatly run.
They read the lists and then, when done,
They came to my table, one by one:
Druga the dwarf, fighter by trade;
Elan the elf, a bard – he played –
Hope the human, a cleric, who prayed.
The day wore on and others left,
Hired away, leaving bereft:
The doughty, the dainty, and the deft.
In came a centaur, lathered wet,
Who cried, “Are all the heroes let?”
I pointed downhall and said, “Not yet.”
They were the last three in the Hall.
I heard negotiations stall.
“Take them or leave,” I said. “That is all.”
The centaur hired; off they went
As quick as hounds hot on the scent.
For days, I heard nought of that event.
They came back on – riding, I say! –
A centaur stallion, white and gray,
Who left them three sacks of bonus pay.
“For novice heroes, you did well,”
I said. “Such gold – why, what befell?”
Druga shrugged. “It’s not my tale to tell.”
Elan just laughed and strummed his lute,
Singing of love and bandits’ loot.
Hope said, “We got the poachers, to boot.”
The centaurs talked it round and round,
How Elan held the men spellbound
While Druga cut them all to the ground.
“And what did you do?” I asked Hope,
Who said, “I climbed a hidden slope
And prayed for luck … and helped them cope.”
Some dwarves took Druga out to drink.
She didn’t lie with them, I think;
She came back with Elan, arms in link.
People don’t like that sort of thing –
What kind of hero hireling
Leaves their own species to kiss and cling?
I watched them fight; I watched them flirt.
Oddly, it didn’t seem to hurt –
The contracts came for me to assert.
Druga, Elan, and Hope went east;
They caught and killed the Questing-Beast
And battled bandits, hundreds at least.
Then they went south, clear to the sea,
And in six weeks word came to me:
They slew the monster of Culver’s Quay.
They came back here when lilacs bloom,
Slept at the Hall – all in one room –
But somehow eluded any doom.
Couriers came to lead them west:
Crazed clerics were killing the blessed.
It turns out their god liked Hope the best.
Next the odd trio headed north
To face the trolls that had come forth …
Against the Trio, they came in fourth.
That time all three came back in tears.
They fought each other, voiced their fears
Of the future – I covered my ears.
One night with Druga on the mat
I caught the end of one bad spat:
“I can stand a dwarf one time for that!”
I thought at last they had called pax –
Then off they went, so I’d been lax.
Next evening I stuffed my ears with wax.
A dwarf met Druga … not to fight …
Moaning away the candlelight,
An elfess came to Elan by night.
Druga and Elan said one day,
“We have two children on the way.”
“Congratulations,” I heard Hope say.
“We’re sorry we fought.” “That was grim.”
“Don’t you want kids?” they said to him.
“I will help raise yours,” he said to them.
They all made up, as family should,
Then headed off to parenthood
And left the Hiring Hall for good.
That’s how tolerance came to Cree;
That’s the end of our tale, you see,
For Druga, Elan, and Hope – and me.
The children – that’s another tale,
Wild as ever, without fail,
But if you’re a bigot – watch your tail.