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Poem: "Of Restful Inclination" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Of Restful Inclination"
This poem came out of the March 4, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chordatesrock.  It also fills the "masters and students" square in my 1-31-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo  fest.  This poem has been selected in an audience poll as the free epic for the November 4, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl reaching the $200 goal.  It belongs to the series Path of the Paladins.

"Of Restful Inclination"


There was not much left of the village
when Shahana and Ari arrived.

A few curls of smoke rose lazily
from the embers of the buildings.
There were patches of blood here and there,
but oddly, no bodies and no scavengers.
Broken fences leaned drunkenly.
Scuffed tracks in the dirt
hinted at the past altercation.

Stick in hand, Ari poked curiously
at the large bronzed pellets
beside what might have been a barn.

"Those are fewmets," Shahana said.
"A dragon attacked here."

"Is it true that dragons like virgins?"
Ari asked.  "It seems silly.
I mean, they're a whole different species ..."

Shahana smiled.  "It's true," she said.
"Dragons find virgins to be of restful inclination,
but the same is true of the very old or very young,
as well as those who take no interest in romance.
Lovers are filled with a wild energy
that dragons, like unicorns, consider irritating."

"Did you find anything else interesting?"
Ari asked, looking around at the ruins.

"A few things," Shahana said.
She held out a scrap of crimson banner
and a half-melted medal.

"Symbols of Gorrein," Ari said.
"This might have been a supporting village."

"Likely so," Shahana said.
"Even evil people have families."
Including Gorrein, the brother
of their own goddess of peace.

"So what do we do now?" Ari asked. 
Her booted toe traced the edge
of a track pressed in the broken ground.

"We go see if the dragon needs help,"
Shahana said, pointing out a trail
of pockmarks burned into a collapsed shed
by the creature's corrosive blood.

It took hours for them to follow the trail
high up in the rocky hills where
the dragon had taken refuge in a cave.

"Don't expect treasure," Shahana said.
"That part is largely nonsense.
Dragons are no richer than
anyone else these days."

Indeed, the cave looked like
a refugee's hideout,
a few scraps of canvas tacked up
to keep out the wind,
bits of salvage stacked about,
with the dragon curled around
a smoky little fire in the center.

"Come to slay me?"
the dragon rumbled.
"You will not find it so easy."

"Paladins in the service of Gailah
do not go about murdering people,"
Shahana said.

The dragon laughed,
sparks flickering from scaled nostrils.
"True enough," he said.

Then he uncurled enough to reveal
the deep wound behind his left foreleg,
where the broken end of a lance
jutted out between the scales.

The corrosive blood ate away
at their heavy leather gloves
as the two women worked
to draw out the head of the lance
and close up the hole it left behind.

The dragon apologized for it
until Shahana shushed him, saying,
"I've lost more than one white tunic
to plain old human blood."

"This looks like char cloth,"
Ari said as she nudged the remnants
of their disintegrating gloves.
"Do you suppose it might light?"

"Aye, even in the rain,"
said the dragon.
"We are creatures of fire.
It lives in every part of us,
and in all that we touch."

"Well then, that's useful,"
Ari said with a nod,
and went to unpack their tinderbox.

"Your little novice is very prosaic,"
the dragon observed.

"Farmgirl," Shahana said
with a fond smile, "like myself."
She rubbed the sensitive skin
behind one great horn.
Shahana had always enjoyed
the steady heat of a dragon's energy.
She found it as soothing
as they did her restful paladin's heart.

The dragon sighed and tilted his head
to give her better access.
"I have a thing for you, paladin,"
he said.  "There, in the corner."

Shahana followed the line of his claw
to where something glinted golden
in the shadows of the cave.
She picked it up -- and gasped.

"Where did you get this?"
Shahana asked.

"The followers of Gorrein had it,"
said the dragon.  "It was clearly not theirs,
so I relieved them of it after the battle."
He huffed, sparks and brimstone.
"I do not like what they would make of this world."

Shahana rubbed soot away from
the tiny treasure that she held.
There in her hands lay one of
Gailah's consecrated candleholders,
warm gold set with citrines to catch the light.

"It's beautiful," Ari said,
coming up beside her.

"This belonged to the bright temple,"
Shahana said.  "It must have been a trophy.
It's ours again now, though."

Ari smiled, warm and sweet.
"It's funny that, no matter how dark things get,
somehow you always find a spark
when you least expect it."

* * *


Fewmets are dragon dung, or more generally, the droppings of a beast after which one is questing.

Dragons, like unicorns, are considered to like virgins and their body parts have mystical properties.

Ari's primary virtue is practicality.

Gold and citrine relate to purity, warmth, and kindness.

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