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Author Topic: a Hiveling Ballad (?) urgh, not sure...  (Read 2309 times)
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seth ghibta
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« on: 22 December 2010, 00:23:28 »

The ballad of the Headless Hiveling
Well, I wanted another hiveling myth from outside Sarvonia, because of yet there was only one. so i wrte one. not sure why i decided it should be a ballad, but i'm really not great at poetry so pleeeeeeease say if it's rubbish. :P

Categorization: Library> Poems and Songs> Ballads of Caelereth

Teaser: This Nybelmarian traveller’s ballad is often heard, in various different forms and fragments, sung on merchant wagons and inns throughout Nybelmar. It originates with rumours and myths prevalent among those few traders who have to brave the passage across the desert wasteland known as “the Bucket” to the north of the dreaded Venlaken Enclave. It seems to describe a Hiveling formed of pikewing moths, a rare apparition at best, but unheard of this far north of the marshes and jungle with which the moths are associated. That said, among hivelings abnormality is something of a norm, so there might be some substance to the tale.

Pikewing moths are only rarely recorded to take hiveling form, partly because they are dangerous carnivorous insects in their own right, and accordingly rare.  What little is recorded of pikewing hivelings suggests that, like many hivelings made of dangerous creatures, the hiveling itself is arguably less hazardous than pikewing moths usually are – hence the rather macabre denouement to this tale. The ballad also features mentions of other hazards associated with travelling too close to the Venlaken Enclave, such as the dream tempter apparition, mad dancing fairies, and void sails.


The Text:
In dust the Daran river flows
And weaves through wasted lands,
And those who wander there well know
The madness in its sands.

Alone in all the yawning bucket
A single traveller strays.
Wandering lost and far from friends
For days and lonely days.

He cannot even find the river
And fears he may have crossed it
And if it’s true he’s crossed the line
His poor brief life, he’s lost it.

For over the creeping Daran river
Or thereabouts, at least,
There lurks the land of Venlaken
Where only flies can feast.

Where only dead things hold their way,
And skeletons live like kings,
And bones grow from the ground like trees,
And the blackened unicorn sings.

It is a land of sickness
In soul and flesh and mind,
The traveller shudders, fearing what
His wandering feet might find.

One night he dreamed of Love herself
Her face all smiles and light,
And waking, felt less like himself
Than he thought perhaps he might.

He dreamed the same night after night
In smiles she drank his heart,
Devouring piece by painful piece,
With all her cursed art.

By day he found he scarce could stand
And could not find his way;
The malice of the Bucket wastes
Turns memories to clay.

Beset by tempting wights by night
And thirst and fear by day,
He lay down in the deathly dust
And wished to fade away.

He could not tell how long he lay,
But by and by a sound
Of rustling wings like breaking strings
Rose up from all around.

“Perhaps,” he said, “you are a Lost One
Come to hunt the living?
I’ve not much life in me, I think
But what there is I’m giving.”

The apparition did not speak
But drew itself together
A figure made from pikewing moths
With wings of painted leather.

The moths were hundreds , tightly swarmed
As strong and firm as flesh
But shifting always, breaking apart
To build its form afresh.

He cringed away with fearful eyes
And dared not ask its name;
A tremor in its movements
Spoke of madness and of shame.

It stood and started over him
And soon he saw with dread:
The eerie figure made of moths
Lacked a mothy head.

At last he found the strength to speak,
Though fear clawed at his throat
He bid it speak and tell its name
If it could sound the notes.

Of course it could not speak to him;
It had no mouth or tongue.
But in the rustling of the wings
It seemed faint words were sung.

It paced and gestured round him flying
And seemed to build a voice
From feverish murm’ring thrill of wings-
He listened, had no choice.

“I am more lost than you are, sir
More lost than any wight
The only things I have are these;
My tale, and your own sad plight.

“The first I can do naught  but tell
The second may be elsewise
But can a maddened ghost foretell
Where mortal fortune lies?

“I lost a treasure; one of six
I dropped it in the deep
I put my head inside because
I thought then I might sleep.

“It was a box of willow wood
And still I hear it weeping
Drowned with my mind, and yet I find
I’m mad for never sleeping.

“You shift and scowl, you think I stray
From reason in my tale
And that is true, or at the least
As true as desert sails.

“The box was one of six, I said
And now I say again.
Two boxes for the start and end
For why and how and when.

“They were both lost so long ago
Or might have never been.
They were the first and last of what
Was told by the four between.

“Four boxes carved with ancient words
And holding things inside
A whistle, a flint, a knife, a bell
Keys to where ancients hide.

“They were our treasures and our burden
And we would bear them always
But always is a longer time
Than any moth-life stays.

“I’ve died by inches since the first
At first I did not heed it
But when war stole our minds away
The loss seemed but to feed it.

“I want to sleep, to die, to fade
But when I do, I wake
A mind in a box that should hold a bell
In a broken-mirror lake.

“I lost the bell when I first came here
Stolen by dancing fae
Who mocked me for my sanity
And now I’m mad as they.

“They gave me back my voice though,
Or near as I can tell.
I used to have a bell-like voice
Or was that not the bell?

“I cannot say, it makes no sense
My mind is far away
Lying with my voice, the bell
In the box where it must stay.”

The moth-made-form grew still at that
And the wings sang low and sweet
And he took its hands and wordless he
Was set upon his feet.

He followed its flight from day to night
By night it swarmed around him
And kept away the dreaming face
That in smiles had all but drowned him.

One day the moth-ghost pointed out
Across the dusty plain,
And said “A day that way and you
Might find your way again.”

“But don’t look back as you go on,
Stepping over Oblivion’s Call
Something stirs in every life
And I cannot recall...”

The traveller stepped away but when
The moth-ghost spoke no more
He paused and asked “Cannot recall?
Recall what? And what for?”

He stayed, not looking back, but still
There followed no reply
So turning, smiling bright, he said
“Thank you, and goodbye.”

“Thank you, and goodbye”, he said
But then he said no more
For where the moth-form once had been
Wild pikewings swarm and roar.

Dreams are fearsome things, it’s true
And ghosts and desert wastes
But little stands up ‘gainst a moth
With such carnivorous tastes.
« Last Edit: 22 January 2011, 16:23:30 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged

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Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr
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« Reply #1 on: 22 December 2010, 07:08:29 »

Nice! Couple of rhyme slips, but I can't comment very well with an iPhone, computer troubles. Just take this: thumbup and this: :aura:

Ath
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Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang
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« Reply #2 on: 23 December 2010, 03:17:47 »

Welcome back, Seth. And that's a glorious way to return! 41 well-formed stanzas - I am distinctly impressed. It's a devious little horror story. I was thinking of H. P. Lovecraft while reading it, for some reason that I cannot quite identify. Maybe the connection is that like Lovecraft, you torture the reader with a dread that remains unexplained, and thereby more deeply horrifying than if we precisely knew the curses and evil machinations that lead to the traveller's downfall.

Anyway, I found very little that could be improved. Three types of comments, though:

Here and there, I thought the meter was stumbling a bit, and where I did, I tried to provide a suggestion to even out the rhythm (see below).

Second: At first, you describe the apparition as "it". Later, it becomes a "moth man" (is it clear that it's a man, then? It came as a bit of a sudden revelation for this reader, who had already formed the picture of a sexless form in his mind.), and even later a "hiveling", although it's not clear how the traveller knows this name. I've made suggestions for adjustments below. Feel free to reject.

Third: as you've usually capitalized the first letter in each line, it's better to do that throughout. (I haven't marked this - there are just a few verses affected by loss of  shift key.)

Anyway, the verses where I have suggestions are:

...

Where only dead things hold their way,
And skeletons live like kings,
And bones grow from the ground like trees,
And the blackened unicorn sings.

It is a land of sickness
In soul and flesh and mind.
The traveller shudders, fearing what
His wandering feet might find.

One (?)  night he dreamed of Love herself
Her face all smiles and light,
And waking, felt less like himself
Than he thought perhaps he might.

He dreamed the same night after night
In smiles she drank his heart,
Draining (?) inch by painful inch
With all her cursed art.

...

Beset by tempting wights by night
And thirst and fear by (?)  day,
He lay down in the deathly dust
And wished to fade away.

...

The moths were hundreds , tightly swarmed
As strong and firm as flesh
But shifting always, breaking apart
To build its form(?)  afresh.

He cringed away with fearful eyes
And dared not ask its name,
A  tremor in its movements
Spoke of madness and of shame.

It stood and started over him
and soon he saw with dread:
The
eerie figure made of moths
lacked a mothy head.

...

Of course it could not speak to him;
It had no mouth or tongue.
But in the rustling of the wings
It seemed faint words were sung.

...

“the first I can do naught  but tell
The second may be elsewise
But how can a maddened ghost foretell
Where mortal fortune lies?

...

“Four boxes carved with ancient words
And holding things inside
A whistle, a flint, a knife, a bell
Keys to where the ancients hide.

...

The moth-made form grew still at that
And the wings sang low and sweet
And he took its hands and wordless he
Was set upon his feet.

...

One day the moth ghost (form?) pointed out
Across the dusty plain,
And said “A day that way and you
Might find your way again.”

...

The traveller stepped away but when
The moth ghost (form?) spoke no more
He paused and asked “cannot recall?
Recall what? And what for?”

...

"Thank you, and goodbye," he said
But then he said no more
For where the moth ghost (form?) once had been
Only pikewings swarm and roar.

« Last Edit: 24 December 2010, 05:16:06 by Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: 23 December 2010, 03:28:44 »

PS: Maybe you could add to the introduction that pikewing moths eat flesh, including occasionally human flesh? This way, ignoramuses like me don't have to look up the entry to be properly horrified by the image of a pikewing hiveling.
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seth ghibta
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« Reply #4 on: 24 December 2010, 18:33:47 »

thankyou Shaba and Athvi! Shaba, those are amazingly helpful suggestions, thankyou lots and lots and lots! i'll get to work on them tomorrow.
aaand, a day later than i said, edits done. :P
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« Reply #5 on: 27 December 2010, 23:25:12 »

I spy some neat little improvements in the poem, beyond the few suggestions I made. Well done. In my non-significant opinion, this is just about blarrowable. Except for the paragraph added to the intro, I'd say:


Quote
Pikewing moths are only rarely recorded as hivelings, partly because they are not often encountered in any form – dangerous carnivorous insects in their own right, they are, like many hivelings made of dangerous creatures, arguably less hazardous than pikewing moths usually are – hence the rather macabre denouement.

I find this confusing: "they" first seems to refer to pikewing moths, but then seems to change referent to indicate pikewing moth hivelings , specifically. Needs sorting out, I think!
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seth ghibta
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« Reply #6 on: 28 December 2010, 19:17:25 »

this is true, god, it's painfully easy to tell when i'm writing pre-coffee. ;) i'll sort it soon as possible.
edit: aaand, hopefully that's better.
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« Reply #7 on: 28 December 2010, 19:38:50 »

Splendid. I also think it's nice that your intro now alerts the reader to the references to mad dancing fairies, dream tempters and void sails - these entries will be a pleasure for new Santharians to read up on.

Now all we need is an illustration of a headless pikewing moth hiveling.
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« Reply #8 on: 22 January 2011, 00:41:16 »

I recommend that this poem be included in the next site update.
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« Reply #9 on: 22 January 2011, 00:47:44 »

Yep, thanks for the pointer, Shabakuk, will be added this week!  thumbup
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