Lay of Kushta, Quartozain 50
Now by Maliva’s grace I do resolve to swear fealty
To the Emperor Geoff the First on his Jade Stair throne.
Now tell me of the the trouble, and why say your far off coast
Be god-struck? Surely Maliva needs not we royalty
To hurl off divine challenger, be so dread, from his own?
Kushta has ever been safe through Maliva, more than most.
Spake Cecil, Jonachem the High Priest in Argora fane
Senses the god sleeps, or so it seems. Six paladins he
Charg’d to restore the Empire, realm by realm, and on this quest
We are about, with Bror our first stop. Whither next, is not plain,
But to wake the god through devotions is our goal. Please see
That we do not challenge any order, we are but guest.
This last he made with nod to Xar, stripp’d of chain, and taken
From the highest step to distant dungeon forsaken.
Lay of Kushta, Quartozain 49
Now one of the councilors of Moneos, Xar by name,
A fat boyar in furs and chain, sidestepped to his King
And said, My Liege, were this not ever the lies spoken by
Surface dwellers to subdue honest dwarves? Such is the fame
Of their misbegotten races, to gain by tricks the thing
Force cannot avail them, such is our power. By the sky
They swear by, and their surface god, they are come as foul thieves
Thirsting for this golden throne of your forefathers, which is yours
By right whether Geoff say yea or nay. A pit awaits
To eat these interlopers, give word. The King said, It grieves
Me to learn that such blasphemous hate among my boyars
Should dare give voice here. To the pit with you, take on their fates.
For Moneos was a pious king, despite his great wealth,
He gave credit inwardly to god and less to himself.
Lay of Kushta, Quartozain 48
Then none made answer for a brief moment, for all were daunted,
Then Amit strode forwards and bowing gave this earnest reply
Thereby proving to all the worth of this Haplan-born noble:
Hail Moneos the Golden! From shores of Durkghu-haunted
Armatta comes honor! Under Maliva’s clear blue sky
Geoff our master salutes you, and bids you know the trouble
Which like a smith’s hammer has reforg’d the bonds of holy
Empire in our time. Such was Maliva’s original will,
That all sentient beings unite in one polity,
Argora bas’d, but easy upon those who solely
Rule in their birthright-appointed place, under Geoff’s skill
And grace. He confirms your reign, but sentient unity
Requires your fealty as King of Bror to submit with ease
And transmit your oath of allegiance to such as these.
Lay of Kushta, Quartozain 47
Cecil strode to the fore among them, to speak as their voice
And all the others drew back that he might be better heard
But before he began the King roared a bitter laugh
And cried, Ah Moneos! Here, indeed, is a sorry choice
Come to you august agents to bring you the merry word
Abdication; or perish in open war with your staff
And kinfolk; a fine kingly deal which I espied as soon
As news of your Emperor’s happy coronation reach’d
Bror. And you brought with it gifts! A prickly pear; I’d not guess
It better to send them back, or keep them, or see them strewn
On high mountainside forever. Come now! I’d not have breach’d
Imperial protocol on this point! Make your address!
Then slumped Moneos breathless in his great golden chair
But though all silent, he shouted volumes with his dark glare.
Lay of Kushta, Quartozain 46
In wide hall broad Moneos sat high on his golden throne
Surrounded by richly fur-clad boyars with golden chain
And their prosperous squat retainers in finest dark wools.
All enriched by the King since he came into his own
And therefore loyal advisors to preserve his great reign
Though dwarves as a rule may not be easily taken for fools
This company were shrewder than most of their kind, and known
For sagacity of counsel and keen business sense.
Moneos himself was regarded as wise, and wily
By his whole royal career he had clearly and oft shown
That he brooked no fools and tolerated no pretense
But pierced subterfuges as a rapier darts freely.
Now these then were the sort of dwarves which the King represent
That the Embassy now approached after their descent.
Lay of Kushta, Quartozain 45
With torches suspend’d like orbs of light, as on spinnerets,
The roped Embassy descended into the abyss,
A chthonic void that no mortal light seems able to pierce,
Until from on high they spied the cone tips of minarets
A sure proof of Dwarven habitation that none could miss
Then as eyes adjusted to the murk, the father’s faces fierce
Appeared from the gloom with surly disapproving frown
Lit by radiant fungi that never knew the fair sky
And with lightened hearts with jumars they their descent made
Inching through sturdy ropes they all softly swung their way down
Until to the palace grand terrace they did with care fly
And to inner throne chamber by his guards they were soon bade
Mindful as always of their dignity and decorum
Ignoring the twelve archers poised ready to score them.
Lay of Kushta, Quartozain 44
Bror! Great and glorious mountain realm beneath icebound crowns
Whose abundant cavernous halls from living rock claimed
By generations of Dwarves with hand-held tools, working slow
With hammer and pick to pry from frozen granite walls, towns
And entire cities, of smoothed hewn rock shaped, and then were named
In the Dwarven fashion, after forefathers all Dwarves know.
Beard’d visages of these patriarchs from high tier did glower
O’er icy freshwater waterfalls in plunging cascade
Onto sandstone aqueducts raised of precise unmortared stone.
Onyx streets, marble bridges between hollow stalagmite tower
Such were the urban spaces the stolid Dwarves for themselves made.
And in Bror was this art raised to levels never outdone.
To this subterranean kingdom the Embassy came,
And the grand wonders they beheld left none of them the same.
I Don’t Write Sonnets Anymore
I have a friend who is a published poet in Norway.
I showed her my work and she said I cannot claim to write sonnets.
I do not follow the established rules for sonnets laid down 400 years ago.
It's a new century and I'm taking sonnets into the Space Age I said.
Nuh-uh was her reaction.
No more sonnets.
I write fourteen line poems in iambic heptameter called Sonnitz! TM
For a small fee.
Lay of Kushta, Sonnet 43
The capitol quieter, the mob restrain’d, they turn’d once
More to planning the embassy to Bror. Ambassador
Need’d, they select’d Amit, a noble from the old
Forest of Hapalan. Competent but best known for hunts,
They hop’d he’d appeal to Moneos. Then away for Bror
They proceed’d, laden with gifts of silk, oak, beer, wine, and gold,
For such were most greatly lov’d by dwarves. They march’d in winter,
For regardless of season, most bitter cold would they meet.
Higher rose their road, steeper their trail, into the alpine
Land above the treeline, without vine or grape or vintner,
Sore were their backs, sore were their legs, sore were their eyes, of feet
The less said the better. Ysolde soaked them in hot salt’d wine.
Without her ministrations they’d still be on the white slopes.
Til at last they reach’d the entrance and could descend on ropes.
Lay of Kushta, Sonnet 42
Scum! Said Abner from beside the Throne. Guess what would Mother
Say we had done. They stood together on jade Temple stair
And look’d on at the mess of the city below. Fires were
Burning on heaps of trash, and drunken mobs chas’d one another.
Sour violence and raw turmoil mars Argora the fair.
O Jamal, said Ysolde, this is our home. Tears shone on her
Cheeks, but she did not wail. She said, What must be done, fellows
To restore peace to the Emperor’s capital? And none
There thought it odd that Ysolde would ask as a full equal.
Hire half to arrest the other half, said Bob. His mellow
Wit was met with a deep silence, since almost everyone
Thought it was the best idea since receiving the eagle.
So that is in fact what they did, though it was very hard,
Bob’s bad joke became the start of the Imperial Guard.