Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Outdated Directory"

This poem came out of the August 20, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from my_partner_doug.  It also fills the "taking advantage" square in my card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis.

Outdated Directory

The summons came without warning,
snatching Shaeth off the street
and depositing him inside an elaborate sigil.

This was mage-magic and not priest-magic,
Shaeth knew from the feel of it.
Before abdicating his position,
he would have been too powerful
to be summoned like a common creature,
let alone held by such paltry means;
but without his old power base ...
well, things were different now.

"Shaeth, God of Evil," intoned the mage.
"You're half right," Shaeth muttered
as he examined the chalked lines on the floor.

The idiot must have been using
one of the cheap magical directories
that did not update itself automatically,
and therefore still listed Shaeth's former position.
A summons by name would work, but
the inaccurate title would weaken the boundaries.

"I command you to grant me infinite power,"
the mage demanded.

Not long ago, Shaeth would have simply
poured magic into the fool as requested
and watched him burn up like a torch.

"That's not going to happen," Shaeth said.
"I am no longer God of Evil, and thus
do not have such resources at my disposal.
Would you care for a drink instead?"
Shaeth had developed a spell for that
because drunks could get surprisingly sick
from going without alcohol --
you had to wean them off it slowly.

The mage glared  at him.
"Do not mock me!"

Shaeth could see the moment
when anger turned to calculation
and the mage decided to take advantage
of his captive's lowered capacity for resistance.

The mage began intoning arcane words.
Shaeth recognized the prologue
to a power-transference spell.
Those could be ... unpleasant ...
especially when bridging different types of magic.

... please be all right ...

Shaeth startled at the inner voice.
He had almost forgotten what it was like
to hear someone praying to him.
His former followers no longer had the connection,
and his new ones were more accustomed
to speaking with him face-to-face.
Trobby had stumbled across the connection,
his thoughts fraught with worry.

Trobby, listen to me,  Shaeth replied.
A mage summoned me, and I'm stuck here
for the time being.  I need your help to get out

What do you need me to do?
Trobby asked, all willing.

Follow this,  Shaeth said,
tugging on a line of magic
spooled through the rickety bindings.

He wasn't the best at travel spells,
but there was always a certain affinity
between god and follower that made it
more feasible to pull Trobby toward him.
The aim would be imprecise,
but Shaeth was actually counting on that
to land Trobby somewhere nearby
but outside the mage's easy reach.

The spell began to scrape along Shaeth's essence,
gathering curls of power like a knife
dragged along a chunk of butter.  It hurt.
Shaeth gritted his teeth and hauled on the line
that would bring Trobby to his aid.

The weight shifted.
The line went slack.
Trobby was nowhere to be seen.

The mage began to giggle
as Shaeth's power trickled into him.
His cheeks and nose pinked.
The spellbook in his hand began to waver.

Shaeth's power had been toxic, once,
before he gave up the sphere of evil.
Now, apparently, the essence of the God of Drunks
had become intoxicating.

Shaeth began to laugh
despite the spell scratching at him.

Oh, the irony:
if it weren't for the low ebb,
the fool might managed to siphon off enough
to kill himself with the magical equivalent of alcohol poisoning.

As it was, the spell
merely gave Shaeth a headache.

The mage was weaving on his feet
by the time Trobby snuck up behind him
and coshed him with a wine bottle.

Trobby scuffed a foot over the chalk,
breaking the sigil to set Shaeth free.
"Was that fellow drunk?"  he asked.

"He tried to steal my power," Shaeth explained,
"but he cannot hold his liquor god.
Thank you for the timely rescue,
though I wasn't expecting
such a prosaic choice of weaponry."

Trobby just shrugged and said,
"A mage may have fancy robes and flashy magic,
but he goes thunk  just like any other man
when hit over the back of the head with a bottle."

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing
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