That Ochre Landscape

When I think of my late father there is one memory that inevitably comes to mind, first and faster than any other; one scene that, for me, is my father, inescapably. I cannot help but see him that way.

It is not the moments he bounced me on his knee, though with a surety I can say that he did, I can remember that far back, if I try. It is not his face hoving in and out of view when he stayed by my bedside for days, nursing me back to health from the wasting fevers that took me. It is not the time he held me and sobbed into my hair when my mother had been lost to consumption, nor even her weak choking that very moment she died in his arms, though I was there to witness that terrible thing too.

No. Those memories are there, certainly, but when I think of my father what comes immediately to mind is that ochre landscape, where all the colour seems frozen in oranges and yellow-browns; all except the wet red splattered up his saber and across his stern face as he stands there in the sand and bright sun, with the man who would have saved me, my love, lying dead at his feet.

The White Lady

From my letter to the council -

In the end I found the White Lady in the Northern lands, and seeing what she had done to the people there, how she had enslaved them and bent them to her cruel will, I realise she has become worse even than her step-mother.

Though the natives of that land may be stunted in growth and grotesque in form (so that at first I thought them to be demons or imps of some kind), over time I found them to be kind-hearted and honest folk on the inside. They had led a simple life before the Lady came, almost at one with the ancient forest around them, living in groups in crude, wooden hovels. They would live nameless until their seventh year, when the eldest amongst them named the child for his temperament; now, under the lady and her huntsmen, they have no names, or rather, they are all named the same - dirt or 'dwarvi' in their own tongue.

She has them all toiling in her new mines from dawn to dusk, and who could say what she seeks down there? Each day they bring up gold yet still she curses them, and each day they fail to appease her she has one of them beaten, often so badly he cannot work for the next seven-day.

I managed on one occasion to persuade the group who were nursing me back to health, though that might have meant their deaths had I been discovered, to sneak me into the mines that I might ascertain what it was they were being so harshly subjugated for.

What I saw in those mines has been branded into my mind forever, a scar in my beliefs in humanity. Those poor homunculi are tied together as they enter the mines, a man's height between them, and sent in with crude picks. In those tunnels it is as if one has stepped into another world entirely, one of utter darkness, more complete than any night, until guttering, stinking torches are brought forward and then the rough walls and low, craggy ceilings suck in the light and it seems as if the whole dreadful place is writhing around you, like the inside of some great worm. Very soon, as the work begins, the harsh dust and foul smoke in the air bring on a hacking convulsive cough, but should any one of these slaves pause for too long in a fit they are beaten or whipped in punishment.

This very same cough persists once they have left the mines and the weak gruel, their only nourishment, does nothing to sooth their throats so their nights are broken by violent spasms as they choke up great clots of black phlegm. Through the day all they hear besides their own labouring is the droning voice of the White Lady, sustained and distributed through the entire network of tunnels on some arcane magics, to which they must keep rhythm.

"Hi!" She screeches.

They draw back their picks.

"Ho!"

They strike.

"Hi! Ho! Hi! Ho!" Nothing but her shriek and the strike of metal on stone for company for they are allowed no conversation amongst themselves. They return unguarded to their hovels each night, they have not the strength or will to escape and so they are nothing but the Lady's things anymore.

I fled that land as soon as my health allowed but I must return, I must do something for those poor wretches, and I fear for their sakes and ours what may happen should the Lady find whatever it is she so urgently seeks.

New World Order

"We all have to make sacrifices for the New World Order, Benjamin...
"I'm totally cutting down on those little crunchy, sugary, rainbow things they sprinkle on cakes and ice cream."

The Other, Ourself

By others, we judge ourselves.
Well, let justice be done, and the guilty cast down.
Your company won't change, I'll wager.
And let he who is innocent cast the first stone,
They say.

In others, we see ourselves.
And no one likes to look at themselves in a broken mirror.
So for those too afraid to approach the pieces,
Seven years bad luck,
I say.



[Spur of the moment poetry... and an example of why I dont write poetry.
Verse 2, line 3 is the one that holds the most meaning, but I can't get it right...
I think I'm going to start posting some of my unfinished poetry on here, because I like some of it, but not enough to call it a finished poem...]

Bring It

It has come to my attention that there have been threats levelled against a certain young Elfling thief should she attend this year's conclave.
Let the word be spread that she is under my protection. Should any individual take action against her despite the conclave's amnesty I will ensure their censorship by the council. They will also be subject to various unspecified harms at a later date, by my discretion.

Operation "I don't believe in fairies"

"Is everything in place? Is Operation 'I don't believe in fairies'"
*clap, clap*
"a go?"

"Yes Sir, Operation 'I don't believe in fairies'"
*clap, clap*
"is ready to roll."

"Good. This is the White Queen to all points, initiate Operation 'I don't believe in fairies'"
*clap, clap*

"And next time remind me to pick an operation name that doesn't make Mary clap every time we say it."