This poem is spillover from the December 4, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a comment from rix_scaedu under the poem "Quarterboard." It has been sponsored out of the general fund, based on an audience poll. This poem belongs to the series Path of the Paladins, which you can explore further via the Serial Poetry page.
The worship was long since over
and the temple nearly empty.
Only Gorrein himself remained,
sulking near the altar,
and the soul of a drummer boy
who had died valiantly in battle.
"What are you still doing here?"
"You seemed upset about something,"
the drummer said.
"I thought maybe I could help."
"Go away," Gorrein said,
"or I will peel away your soul
like the layers of an onion."
The drummer spread his intangible hands.
"If it would make you feel better,
My Lord, go ahead," he said.
Gorrein looked away.
"Waste of my time," he muttered.
Then he turned back, grudgingly,
and said, "I'm bored. I'm lonely."
"I'm here, My Lord,"
the drummer said at once.
"I'll entertain you however you like."
"If you ever tell anyone about this,"
Gorrein threatened in a growl,
"I will turn you into a piece of coal
and fling you into the brazier."
"Agreed," said the drummer.
Gorrein sighed, then,
his breath like a curl of smoke
from a cooling campfire.
"I've lost my last ally," he admitted.
"Barzay no longer supports me."
The drummer's eyes widened.
"But Barzay always -- um. Wow,"
he said raggedly.
"No wonder you're upset.
I'd be upset too, if all my friends left me."
"Everyone hates me," Gorrein said.
"I'm the God of War and Evil,
and all anyone ever wanted to talk about
was my stupid sister. So I took over
a bunch of other realms, and now
nobody wants me around at all."
"Then why don't you try
doing something different?"
the drummer asked.
"Because I don't know what else to do!"
Gorrein snapped at him.
"I don't know how! I am what I am.
It's just that nobody likes the way I am."
"Oh," said the drummer.
"I guess I'd hate that too. I'm not
very good at being nice and quiet."
"Plus I'm still bored and lonely,"
Gorrein said. He toyed with something
in one of the ornate cabinets.
"What is that?"
the drummer asked, perking up.
"I've never seen a game like that before."
"It's called Quarterboard,"
Gorrein said. "It's a strategy game,
meant for four players,
but I've lost the last of mine."
"Well, half of four is two,"
the drummer pointed out.
"So you could play two of the four sides,
and I could play two, and it would be even."
The god looked the very small soul
of his very young follower and said,
"Hardly. I'd beat you in no time."
The drummer shrugged and said,
"So let me play three sides against your one.
At least then it'll take you longer to beat me."
"I like the way you think," he said,
and began setting up the board.