The Barbarian Bard

Tales and Musings by Michael A. Espinoza

The Writer, The Death God

Recently, I was conversing with a friend about the motivation for writing. While I write fantasy and she prefers either realistic fiction or non-fiction, we are both avid writers of our own styles. She mentioned that personal experience motivates a lot of her work, and provides inspiration for some of her content. Jokingly, I replied that “I write fantasy because I can actually fix the problems in those worlds.”

Amusing though that was, it got me to thinking about my relationship to the worlds I create. I could simply write paradises for all, with no turmoil or dismay. But I am a writer, and so paradise is never good enough. We need conflict, we need death. We need characters to be written to life so that we can make their lives Hell, then save them from it. Much like a god, we are the architects of boundless suffering. Now, to be fair, I have a perhaps unwarranted attachment to my characters. They feel to me like living beings, like people for whom I am responsible, and it pains me to hurt or kill them in the name of storytelling. But stories need conflict, and conflict needs misery in some form.

I’ve stewed on these thoughts for a few days, and at last they have come together in the form of a poem, possibly a song. And as the words (or lyrics) say, I hope that the writers of our world—whatever form they take—can learn not just from the misery we craft into our own creations, but also from the efforts we make to mend that strife. Let them be less like Death Gods, and more like Writers.

I’ve penned countless towers, destined to fall.
I’ve breathed life into heroes, and murdered them all.
Firelit bard songs, I’ve written a score,
and silenced those voices in the clamor of war.

With a word, I shape a world,
where countless seek peace from endless strife.
On a whim my heart gives birth,
and with a thought, my mind takes life.

Dragons will die because men want their hide.
Demons will slay so you feel justified
in rending their hearts and taking their lives.
Hail to your Death God! Glory and pride!

I bring misery, to set the pace.
I lift high a hero, then nail him in place.
Of lives shaped and shattered, I care for them naught.
A life’s only worth is to further my plot.

In a night, I’ll plan a life,
from its conception until after its death.
Beyond compare is your despair,
for I rule every footstep, and I govern each breath.

Dragons will kneel, so that men may ride.
Evil is evil; your hate justified.
Think nothing of the souls inside.
Slay for your Death God! Glory and pride!

To my own end, countless fates I condemn,
a soulless god, a heart of stone.
A familiar Hell I raise where you dwell,
to escape the Hell in the world of my own.

Dragons you fear, for I have none here,
in my magicless world, I pray you can forgive.
I’ll make your world Hell, but I’ll mend it as well,
and hope the writer is watching… and hope the writer can learn…
in the world where I live.

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