My wife said, “You should write about… an altruistic adventurer! Something upbeat and heartwarming.”
This is… not upbeat and heartwarming.
When she said “altruistic adventurer,” what popped into my head was how a man would feel, having fought to save people on a one-to-one basis all his life, suddenly given a lord’s seat or a duchy for his valor. Now he has the power to affect the lives he used to save individually, and he can change all their lives… but now the questions are so much more complicated, and he no longer knows how to help anyone. It feels like every hope and good intention he has can’t make it through the walls of paper and men and stone on every side, out to the fields where the people he used to save are starving. He helped them more by stabbing goblins than he has in five years as their king.
The way I was intending this to go, the last stanza would feature him taking off back to the road again, to do it the way he knows he’s good at. But I’ve been reading too much news lately and the wires got crossed with my dour thoughts about the way our current government is draining the populace and the planet with such naked, drooling glee. My writing often runs off with me – I rarely know where something’s going to end when I start. That’s what I like about it.
Once I had a sword made of silvered steel,
the ransom of ten men in the hilt alone.
I had a fortress built of quarried stone
whose halls rang loud with laughter, click of heels.
From this lofty seat I surveyed my lands.
I saw men starving with the fields unworked,
houses empty while men in doorways lurked,
saw the ill die with medicine at hand.
Those lofty halls were full of vampires.
Remember when we used to slay such beasts?
Now we let them sit down by our fires
and let them plan the menus for our feasts.
Now with the silvered steel that won this peace,
I spit my own people for their fires.