Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "With Whatever Comes to Hand"

This poem is from the January 5, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] kyleri and [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah. It also fills the "trapped!" square in my 10-2-15 card for the [community profile] ladiesbingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Path of the Paladins.

"With Whatever Comes to Hand"

Shahana and Ari had just emerged
from the bath house when they were
ambushed by the agents of Gorrein.

They had left their armor and
weapons with Einar the smith
to be cleaned and repaired,
leaving them trapped between
the building and the soldiers.

"This way!" Ari said,
yanking Shahana's hand.
She eeled through the gap
between the bath house
and the laundry shop.

Beyond lay the market square,
crammed with carts and booths
full of fruits, vegetables, used clothes,
and assorted other merchandise.

They were no longer pinned,
but they were still trapped
because the enemy stood
between them and their gear.

All too soon, the soldiers
found an alternate route and
thundered into the square.

Shahana looked around
in hopes of finding someone
selling swords or at least
some kind of ironwork.

The followers of Gorrein charged
through the maze of crates and tables
with no regard for any of it, upsetting
everything that lay in their path
as they waved their weapons.

The tomatoes caught them completely unawares.

Startled, Shahana looked around and
saw that Ari was making excellent use
of the ammunition that lay around.

With a shrug, Shahana picked up a melon
and hurled it at the leader's head where
it cracked open, blinding him temporarily.

"Fight back!" Ari urged the villagers.
"Use whatever comes to hand."

The angry peasants swarmed
into combat, flinging vegetables
and other bits of debris at
the unwelcome interlopers.

It worked for a few minutes,
but then the troops rallied.

Shahana realized that Ari
had stopped throwing things.
"What are you doing?" she asked.

"They're not dodging
anymore, right?" said Ari.

"Not much," Shahana said.

"Well, I'm arming these," said Ari.
"Cover me for a minute or so."

Shahana stole a moment to glance
over at the younger paladin.

Ari had found a paring knife
in someone's stall and was
efficiently coring the tomatoes ...
and shaving bits of onion and pepper
into the holes before plugging them
closed with part of the cores.

"I'll cover you," Shahana said,
swiftly fashioning a scarf into a sling
and arming it with potatoes.

Though not as potent as stones, they
flew well and made a notable impact
against throats, or in the case of a few
unarmored assailants, testicles.

When Ari popped back up,
she threw loaded tomatoes
into the faces of soldiers who
no longer bothered to dodge --
and then went down screaming,
hands clawing at their faces as
the fiery juices burned their eyes.

Just then came a loud, mysterious groan.

As everyone turned to look, the soldiers
disappeared under a reeking wave of manure
as the massive catapult wagon belonging to
the street-sweeper unloaded its entire cargo
directly onto their already-compromised column.
Only the leader and a few of her officers managed
to elude the flow and escape down a side street.

With the soldiers pinned under the heavy refuse,
the villagers surged forward in a baying pack.

"Capture, don't kill!" Shahana shouted.
"They often have unwilling slaves."

Grudgingly the peasants obeyed,
binding the soldiers with thick ropes
to face judgment at a later date.

When they uncovered a pair of
camp followers -- one of them
roundly pregnant -- and a healer
bound in clanking chains, then
the villagers admitted her wisdom.

"How can I thank you enough?"
the pudgy man asked as
Shahana examined the lock.

"Take care of the people who were
injured in the fight," she replied, then
shook her head over the chains.
"The mechanism is fouled; we will
need the smith to cut you free."

"Gladly," said the healer.
"I am called Thale. These are
Mesha and Ferelli." He motioned
to the two camp followers. Evidently
Mesha was the mother-to-be.

Einar was more than willing to lend
hammer and chisel to freeing the healer.
The villagers even managed to assemble
something of a supply kit for Thale.

"Well, that went better than we had
any right to expect," Shahana said
as they collected their equipment.

"Except for one thing," Ari said.

"What's that?" Shahana asked.

Ari gestured at their filthy clothes.
"Now we need another bath!"

* * *


Under the right circumstances, peasants can be converted to marginally effective fighters. This works best if you have the bad guys grossly outnumbered.

Improvised weapons require a certain mentality to imagine and use, but they work. Pepper spray is a good example -- not just making your own, but looking around for caustic things to throw in an assailant's face.

It also helps if you know the human body's weak spots.

Springs can be used to make freight wagons able to dump themselves at the touch of a trigger. This type of catapult wagon is designed so that loading it cocks the spring, and then you push the release to dump it.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, humor, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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