[Note: Over the next month or so I plan to update and redesign the blog, and return to ‘hard-hitting commentary’ and thoughts on contemporary poetics. Meanwhile, a little tale from my notebooks to while away the time…]
Hung came in from crossing the 12 Waters and pulled his small vessel onto the gravelly shore. He watered and fed his blurg and surveyed the territory around him in the cold dawn. To the east the great castle of Yort loomed, dominating the small villages around it that sprinkled the hills. He could see the green-black pennants of Vandriggyl snap in the breeze and knew that his enemy, the Dark Prince, slept somewhere inside.
But Hung would be patient. He would take his time.
To the west and north rose the craggy range of mountains known as the Sorrows, and there he would roam, raising an army from the oppressed and discontented peasants who lived and worked in the hills. He would love a peasant girl and her father would be like a father to him and her brother a brother, and also his most loyal and trusted lieutenant.
And she would be beautiful and dark, and they would be married by torchlight at midnight by the riverside, all of the families and herdsmen from every neighboring hill sending gifts and animals to slaughter for the feast. And the feast would last three days and nights. And she would give him a child, a dark elfin maid who would grow up to be a mighty sorceress. But she, who was his wife, would die in childbirth.
With the grieving brother at his side and the teeming multitudes at their backs, they would storm the castle of Yort, overthrowing the oppressive old tyrant who’d scourged the land, and Hung would meet his rival the Dark Prince in the cool stream that fed the castle moat. There, after a mighty battle, swords flashing in the sun like fish in the water, he would defeat the Prince in single combat, cut off his hand and strip his arms, and ride with the severed hand under his banner, thus quelling the last embers of dissent in the field.
In the castle tower he would find a fair maiden who had been cruelly imprisoned by the Dark Prince, but who had refused against all compulsion to succumb to his desires, threatening to kill herself with a turpis-root poison concealed on her person. She was the daughter of a great king to the east. Hung would marry her at a double ceremony that was both wedding and coronation, and together they would rule the land with justice and love, the same love they would have for their many children, including a noble son named Yurk who would be the most learned and beautiful prince the world had ever seen, and the pride of the land.
But after many years of wise and prosperous rule, when his days were settling into a harried, administrative pattern, there would be trouble; Silvio, his most trusted earl and the brother of his peasant bride, would fall madly in love with his fair queen Chan-wook and run off with her to the land of Queeg.
With almost a sense of relief at this unexpected adventure, Hung would raise a small, elite force of grizzled veterans and ne’er-do-wells from previous campaigns and lead them against the mighty hordes who had flocked to his former friend, the usurper. There he would meet the traitor in a cool stream after a mighty battle that raged for three days and nights, the fighters still clashing wearily around them, and by some evil trickery devised by his daughter the sorceress, Hung would fall under the sword of his rival, to whom he would breathe forgiveness with his dying words.
Either that, or Hung, anticipating treachery and wearing an amulet to protect him from evil spells, would defeat Silvio in single combat, strip his arms and cut off his hand, riding with it under his banner, etc., and rescuing his queen—he wasn’t sure which.
But so it was all ordained. And as he camped on the gravelly beach with the mist spitting up from the 12 Waters, concealing the smoke from his humble fire, Hung knew this much: life was good.