Join the Neopoet online poetry workshop and community to improve as a writer, meet fellow poets, and showcase your work. Sign up, submit your poetry, and get started.

ÇAÇÔ, Man of the Morning Star, epitasis, p.1, b.1, Harsh, canto 1

Canto One ~ In the heart of the City of Laura, beneath Torgándon and its White Salt Mists, a glittering, cream white colored spire stands flawlessly straight and reaching tall enough to be shroud most mornings in the swirling clouds that so often blanket the North Country. It is The Cornicle of the King and has stood, by men’s reckoning, more than a thousand years, but the reckoning of common men is short.

On mornings when the skies are clear, Gundhag looks down upon the apex of the King’s Tower from the windy, little room atop her tower. Partly hidden in the cliffs beyond the northern walls, no tales hazard even a guess as to when it was raised.

The lands of Lurien have been inhabited by men far more generations than history can give an accounting of. Myth and legend, as with all peoples, explain little and the story of The Clovis, whose history is as old as the river itself, is known by them alone. Although many kingdoms east and west of The River Sea have tales from many thousands of years in the past, confusion and contradiction is not the exception.

The Confederacy of the River Sea was founded over nine hundred years ago following an era of darkness and oppression that extends beyond men’s memory. During this time, generally known as The Hoarfrost, the land of The Naw east of the River Lurien and many of the now devastated lands westward to the sea were seats of the dark power that subjugated the realms. As misunderstood then as now, the ever shrinking population of The Clovis supported the monarchy that claimed sovereignty as Lurien’s High King.

At the height of its power, the darkness was broken and the kingdom of The Naw retreated into the east only later accepting a place within the confederation. Why its power failed is not clearly understood. The communities of common witches in the land of Lurien believe it reached too far in its quest for the magic that fueled its beginnings. It was this black power that gave rise to The Naw and its failure, however incomplete, is what holds The Naw even now in check.

Though not responsible for the downfall of the Dark King, a hero arose at this time credited with the land’s rebirth.

The evil that oppressed Lurien for generations was gone, but the state of Empire was anarchy. Systems of government and economic trade had not existed in the memories of those now living. All sense of order had been imposed by the power that held the kingdom in sway.To bring such things back to a broken people, a Good King began a series of reforms, the chief of which were two.

The first was the constitution of what would be known as The Monarch’s Mercantile. By decree, the Good King declared that all money, goods and services in the nascent Confederation of Lurien belonged to the monarchy. In another time this would have faced fierce opposition, but in the ravaged kingdom of Life’s Lurien it was meaningless.

Within this new system, which the King was careful to document, were used nonexistent funds to pay unskilled craftsmen with few tools and farmers of barren fields to make and grow new things. The products he paid for with fiat coin created value determined by the crown. He purchased transport to far reaches of the realm for these same worthless goods and sold them for next to nothing with monies he created out of hand and loaned. Within a generation the Good King had created a collection of guilds and farming complexes that were producing goods and services of quality for a coin that had become trusted and universal. Life’s Lurien had been reborn and at the Good King’s death, he rescinded The Monarch’s Mercantile forever.

The second was known as The King’s Responsibility and was instituted as a way to assure the people of their new king’s faithful intentions.

Under the Darklord’s rule, abuse was rampant by those lesser lords who served him and recourse was nonexistent. The activities of a local king were lawful based solely upon his ability to support his rule by arms.

As The Mercantile began to make its first attempts at reform, the populace nevertheless remained fearful of it, for nothing had changed in their lives for generations. There was little to prove that it was not simply a highly decorative way of continuing the same dark conditions. Therefore, cooperation was difficult to obtain, particularly since the Good King did not make participation required by his new laws.

As part of his reform, the King had installed governors throughout the country that were responsible directly to him. Such a system, of course, could not continue indefinitely as the land was vast and the Good King intended to maintain its vastness for the benefit of its people in a world that had grown dangerous for the small and unincorporated. Moreover, the governors acted with impunity by virtue of the very might that had maintained the strength of the dark throne for so many lifetimes, the invincible military prowess of The Clovis which now, for reasons known only to them, swore allegiance to the new king. Governors in time would be little kings and little kings would grow large, but the Good King was resolved to instill, quickly and permanently, a trust in them and through that trust responsibility to the people they governed.

To accomplish this he allowed the people of the land to act as sheriffs in their own stead. A lawbreaker who it was felt discriminated against the populace at large could be brought to the attention of the Governor in the region who was required by The King’s Responsibility to bring the alleged criminal to the King himself. He would then be held in Dungeons at Laura for one year as parties were allowed to argue the pros and cons involved. If at the end of that year the individual had not yet been found guilty conclusively enough to condemn, but no evidence convincing enough to release the prisoner was extant, he was publicly executed, all his belongings taken and divided amongst those who had condemned him, the people of his household were enslaved and his House (if such a thing existed) was to be no more.
It was a difficult reform for the Good King, though it was not ill received. For generations the land had lain under a sense of imposed order far worse. To convince a people conditioned to such tribulation he had their interests in mind, the King determined the necessity, for at least his lifetime, of a law system in their favor as stringent and even cruel as that to which they were accustomed.

Long before the Good King’s death (and he reigned for a very long time) the time of incarceration was allowed only every four years and then ten though its term remained a year. Ultimately, bringing an individual to The King’s Responsibility became very difficult. Though not always, with the difficulty it became more just. However, it still was known among the lands near and far, those in Lurien and elsewhere, as Harsh.

Although this too the good King Carlturin Fan abolished upon his death, it has (as The Mercantile) been reinstituted many times, for good or ill, in many forms throughout the centuries following. The characteristics of both have been lost in the fog of Lurien’s confused histories and in spite of the salvation they granted a Kingdom long, long ago, they are now commonly used and abused by monarchs base and cruel, lords selfish and vain, witches ambitious and influential too numerous and varied to be discussed here.

The good and evil wrought by them will inform our tale throughout to the very, very bitter end.

Canto One

The tallest Tower there men say
is that thin spire shining grey
protruding from the city’s lore
and stretching high for many score
of generations of the kings. 5

Of windowed apex each bard sings.

He’ll know the tale of Caroline,
of Creaky Joe and Whining Pine;
the seventh King of Lurien
who built the tower way back when. 10

Innumerable count the tales
he knows by heart, but if he fails~
if he not know which twin born son
had found the stone, so race was won,
then no one in the land will give 15
a crumb of bread, though where they live,
what region from, determines which
had found the stone to thereby switch
and beat the savage, evil one
to reign as King under the sun. 20

But seldom does a Bard risk life
and limb and a following strife
with tales told only late at night
about the lost, confusing plight
of that drear, twisted obelisk 25
that stands as if “to spike a risk”.

O, long it’s stood outside the wall
built flush to mountains thick and tall~
in sheer rock cliffs where hidden first
when building it and many’s the thirst 30
of daring bard drowned brave in ale
if late at night he knew the tale
and had the nerve to tell aloud
to small and furtive, frightened crowd.

Though even men of passing strength 35
of courage, nerve might tell at length
the gist of story that’s still known
and never speak that which is shown
each morning of a cloudless sky
when twisted tower reaches high 40
beyond the King’s bright tower tall
a full one hundred feet in all.

~ ~ ~

‘Tis now Harsh morn and clouds drift high
as storm abates quite slow and sly.

A steady growth to populace 45
is chief of signs yet obvious.
No banners fly, no beacons burn.
Discussions in the pubs they spurn.

Although the masses seem at home,
due most to past excursions roam, 50
the people milling markets here
are not that of the city’s drear
and huddled mass of anchored folk.
The streets and inns are filled to choke.

Beds could be had if one had “bread”. 55
Not hard baked, but hard coin instead.

A bag of fruit might cost you more
than stock of merchant’s stocked full store
before the mob’s arrival here.
The weight of gold asked for a steer 60
is now more than six men could hold.

There seems no limit to how bold
each craftsman, farmer, journeyman
will be with each pedestrian,
but plethora of folk by dusk 65
will leave the place a barren husk,
for all would have by then what came
from coffers of the rich whose fame
had settled them and theirs below.

If still there by this dawn they know 70
the lives they led and all their gain
is gone. Though wives cry out in pain
and children beg for help of lords,
the outcome of the king’s accords
has nary changed in memory~ 75
no recourse could one hope to see.

If held in dungeons of the king
at break of day, each treasured thing:
ancestral home, rich farming land,
your titles held illustrious grand, 80
each beast you own be wild or tame
and women of estate you claim,
your men at arms, their servants, yours,
now treated as the lowest curs,
are taken from you and what’s more 85
are all divided twixt the poor.

The glaring dawn approaching Harsh
will see such flurry, such wild farce
of odd judicial start and stay,
that “Druthers of the King” they play 90
(a ruthless game of politick
that one plays sly and shy and quick)
will friends make in the oddest place.

To know when one should lose one’s face
is talent that could save some lives. 95
The careful lord not always strives
to keep a pride of image strong~
too pomp an act could lead you wrong.

‘Tis also wise to not make gain
too many times. ‘Tis oft refrain 100
will keep a rich man rich awhile
when too flush tends to turn one’s smile.

Of course the larger wealth of some:
the grand estate be choice or slum
with monuments to family’s dead, 105
the stable of a thousand head,
artwork and books, the odd bare fields
(the list is endless what one yields
when everything is taken mass)
will not to poor men ever pass. 110
Though certes lords will claim as so.
Indeed men’s wealth too much may grow.

Hence, guardians by score and more
will take and hold these things in store
for perpetuity in name 115
of “little folk” who have no fame.
Therefore, if you could count it true,
you’d find while counting all that coup,
the people of Life’s Lurien,
though none can tell, are rich as sin. 120

Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
This begins the story proper of "Harsh" and is posted to be available to those who are engaged in perusing it. Welcome Rula, William, Scott and all others who have a taste for fantasy tales.
Editing stage: 


a promising start for the Harsh.Shall this continue?
Waiting for the upcoming canto.


Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words
........Robert Frost☺

Please follow me on Instagram

just upgrading less than two comments

so old
a lovely poem unread
heaven has now me
loved sent

And there is so much more of it. Just skads.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

author comment
(c) No copyright is claimed by Neopoet to original member content.