Prompt — Wordsmiths

The two men stood on opposite ends of the basin. The best champion each rival nation had to offer. The fate of those nations would be decided today.

As one, the soldiers stepped into the basin, approaching each other. They wore armor of leather and chain-mail, but neither carried a weapon.

“We meet again, old friend!” the larger of the two said to another as they got within earshot. Barlen the Painter, as they called him. The many scars on his face did nothing to undermine his jovial demeanor.

“So it seems,” his colleague replied. Pelleas: the master of the arts, by now pushing seventy. While he hadn’t had as many victories in battle as the Painter had, his experience had left him undefeated. “I suppose we will find out once and for all who is the better wordsmith.”

Barlen nodded. “It has been an honor to have known you, friend, and may honor favor the victor.”

Pelleas smiled. “Honor favor the victor, Barlen.”

At that, the two left the center of the basin to claim positions further back, just within shouting range.

“Let’s see you put your title to work!” Pelleas yelled to Barlen. “I would have you call the first song.”

“Very well!” the Painter yelled back. “Defend yourself if you can!”

At that, Barlen extended his hands outwards, arms outstretched as wide as they could go. Then, he began to chant.

“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.”

The first sign of a successful summons was the hooves. Like rolling thunder, a swarm of cavalry approached the end of the bluff. Knights in glowing armor upon unarmored horses, equipped with lances and sabres.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.”

The Light Brigade stormed down the hillside, crashing over the grass and rocks like a wave of light flooding in and painting the landscape with liquid gold. They flew past Barlen, and he vanished into the cacophony. A summons couldn’t hurt the wordsmith, so he had nothing to fear.

“Very impressive indeed, old friend,” Palleas mumbled. “I’m not sure even I can face the mighty Light Brigade.” After a slow exhale, he threw his palms out ahead of him.

“And, as in uffish thought he stood,
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
      And burbled as it came!”

At his summons, a gray-green wood sprouted from the ground. The trees grew taller and taller, and as it grew wider, a black, hulking beast with scales and evil wings emerged from the forest, growling with an intense severity. It’s eyes blazed with an indiscriminate hatred, and it locked its gaze on the incoming cavalry.


Prompt: Warrior-Poets, champions whose magical abilities manifest based on the poetry they read in battle, prepare to go to war.

3 thoughts on “Prompt — Wordsmiths

  1. Policeman Policeman,
    help me please!
    Somebody went and
    stole my knees!
    I’d chance them down,
    but I suspect
    My feet and legs
    just won’t connect!

    — immediately loses.


  2. On a more serious note, this is a cool idea for all sorts of reasons. Say you have an extremely powerful warrior poet, but they really only know silly things like Shel Silverstine.

    Then you have the idea that some fairy tales and old stories can be so much darker than you expected, and something as simple can take on a far more fearsome approach than anticipated when told the right way.


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