Higher Hopes – Part One

“A hermit stalks those tall, broken halls; totally mad – I’ve heard.”

Welcome to the first instalment in a series which will hopefully extend for some time yet, on a monthly basis – though the first two prologue episodes ought to be much closer together.

Written by myself: Rupert August
Read by: Tom Reeves
Sound effects provided by: “West Wolf” via Zapsplat.com

If you would like to follow along via text, the piece will be posted below as such.


Hark! Hoarse hounds whose howling hollows my halls.
Tapping tracks tracing troubled times.
And you, capricious crowd, come to cast contempt.
or gaze greedily at my gathered gains.

Oh but treasury is temporary to the tales told.
Leave lies lazing, let light loose:

T’was times of tumult and trouble that taught our tiny towns.
Scarcity scourged these small shores:
A bounty of blooming Bracteatus breads,
Steel, sharp and subulate from Subtilus,
Timber from Trabus’ trees tall,
Gems of Gazus given glaring glisten,
Halitus’ herbs for healing, all held hostage,
And many more miniature mounds besides.

Timid Trabus took to trade,
Great galleys taken as gracious guests,
Bringing bundled burden,
Received roundly,
Reciprocated righteously.
Each isle idolizing incredible inventories,
Business bustled as barter bore benefit.

Soon Subtilus sought spare,
But grain was the greater good,
Needed now, yet needles not.
Toolmakers and traders took to the tilt,
Ships seized, with sailors seeking safety,
Love lost in lust, lives lost in longing.

Blades now born of blacksmith’s beatings,
Blood brought boundless boon.
Into this, Princes of profit proudly poured their persons.
Denizens left destitute from these dealings,
Donning the drapes of destroyers.
Reavers, come to ravage and raze residencies,
Gathering the gated grain as gratuity.
Such was serenity swallowed into seething smoke.

Brash belligerence became the baron of Bracteatus,
Appeals for aid were accepted, an army assembled.
Listless labourers levied.

Waters now wild from those willful,
Timber of Trabus was trapped.
Posterity’s professions gained pride of place.

Forests felled for their felicitous fleet,
Knolls gnawed for needed nutrient.
Noted in notice.
Prying pirates prepared for punishment.

Sailors and statesmen,
Craftsmen and constructors,
Farmers and fishermen.
Manifold mechanists of their mazed milieu,
Seeking safety from Subtilus’ suzerainty,
Gazed gravely to the gathering games.

Allies allotted assistance,
Cast off with conceited contempt.
Subtilus’ ships seventeen,
Belittled by the bellicose Bracteatus:
A seaborne settlement of sightless size.
But agents of the army apprised:
Remember the reavers resolutely.
In character beyond counting they crept,
Of allegiance assumed in arrogance.

Designs devised, dawn drew the day.
To misguided merrymaking, the men marched,
A fleet flit to festivities, forsakenly. For:
The pirate prince prepared preponderantly.
Letters lay large on every ledger,
Payment, prestige, and plunder promised,
Bounty borne by every boy and beau.
Wolves of the water waited, wanting.

A few freighters, first.
Scouts, spies, and suppliers,
Made missing to their masters,
Brutally bound to bandits’ benefit.

Intrepidity increased, isolation impeded,
Packs of poachers, perpetually preparing to pounce.
The behemoth bled, bit by bit,
Vessel too vast in volume for veracious valuation.

Reconnoitre rendered reckless, resting as rash,
Spectral shadows seeking sedate souls.
Travels turned torture taught terror,
Yet, dire direction depended on deaf dictate.

And so, a husk was hauled into hostilities.
Twenty took on ten times their total:
The drained and daunt, driven at devoted defenders,
Granted ghastly gaze at the guardians’ game:
Brothers bound to the boats of those brutes.

The battle was brief, beaten before they began,
One boarding bid was baited,
Their searing screams: soul shredding.
Weary warriors, wrecked by war, wizened by wastrels,
Could seldom sling a single stone.
Deftly decimated, devastated, then destroyed.

Though felled forcefully, the force was few.
Many marshalled to the master once more,
Pressing to the purpose point.

Greeted at the gates, gracious guests given glimpse:
Arrayed ancestry of acquired audacity.
The eyes of empire’s ego, embarrassed and encased.
Bound, as bargain.
Despite desperate direction,
The power of pleading persuaded,
The soldiers stood still, silent.
Campaign contained: the captains conceded.

A generation, given to the gamble,
Those remaining, required ransom.
Payments priced to prohibit,
Interest indemnified,
Laid in labour.

Vulgar villains in victory,
Subtiline sovereign sang sailing songs,
Erred in every entrance.

Pirate’s peace proclaimed,
Seas seized to Subtilus,
Weapons, wealth, wares, and wives,
All ascribed as accolade.

Dawning domino descends,
Echoing ever into eternity.

Peace protected the putrefaction from perspective,
Chained clasp; constricting claws of curse.
Free farmers of the fold,
Driven to destitute despair,
Labour lost to loveless levies,
Sustenance stolen to soaring sums,
Fields of foreign farmsteads left fallow,
Bread basket burned and bare.
The hungry hopeless, heedless to their homely hindrance.
Restraint restrained; riot required.
Bound bearing the brunt,
Agents of administration assaulted also,
Taking time and tribulation from trying tasks.

Promised payments, paling to pledge,
Risky, relating to a reaver.
Content to cast curiosity on a contemporary campaign.
Gazus: Glutinous in grounds,
Paltry in populace: a perfect prize.
Smalls settlements to start,
Seldom sold, some secured in service.
Dovetailed devotees to desired dividend,
Bound brothers in benefit.
Fully facilitated the final foray,
Some seventy sails in surprise sortie.
Fort foregone in frenzied flurry.
Complete clan, caged,
Spoils seized, split, and sold.
Formerly fastidious folk, forced to the flog.

Simultaneously Subtilus’s streets strained,
Sovereign serving senselessly, so seen.
Transient tramps taking their tax,
By blade and brawl.
Remembering restoration of righteous retribution,
Praying on people pitiable in punishment.

Through tragedy taken to targeted treasuries,
Ascendant assets assuaged,
Compensation continuing.
Alternate arrangement assembled,
Thrall to be transferred,
Payment pending, percentage of produce as profit.
Freedom foregone, fought in finance.
Down drops due dominos.

Hefty in holdings, heads held high,
Belying brazen backdrop.
Coffers cold, company cowardly,
A princely purge was pondered.
Reconnecting reavers, relationships restored,
Entreated energy extended,
Efficiently engaged,
But brutally brought.
Proud peasants: put to painful penalty.
Territorial tribute taken, torturously in trying times.

Brutally brings such bountiful benefits.

Harmless Halitus, hopeful, homely,
Ultimately uprooted ungrateful urging.
Inviting in impeccability, intriguer in indignation,
Perhaps perspective pertains polarity.

Deep disdain dashed dividend demands.
The shocked spokesman spat scurrilous slander,
Leviathan’s limbs, long and limber,
Drove dread of dangerous and doomed designs.
“Widows will weep over wasted wastrels,
Serene shores will scorch,
Delights will drain in your dying despair,
And only mice mourn your meek mounds.”

Dour in deceit, the dictate was denied.
Gregarious grin,
Insinuated insults igniting incendiary indignation,
Elusive enough to exclude encompassing exasperation.

Sovereign state will struggle in solitude.

Harmless Halitus, harangued by the hostile,
Their people pleaded to potential partners.
Concealed conference called to create a coalition:
Familial farmers, furious in frailty,
Trepidatious tyrants of Trabus,
Scarpered spokesman to servile slaves,
Repressed retailers of restrained rigour,
Menaced mechanists, makers of many motherlands,
Choleric creditors of copious counting,
Yet, the hosts held higher hopes.
Concealed to the crowd, corsairs cowed with care.
Ever incendiary in intent, but intrigued.

Lulling loyalty from longed licentiousness,
Participants pried their payment in promise.
Gazus granted grace,
Frees farmers of furor,
Promise of peace, plies many pockets,
And torching taxes tallies troops,
To waste with widowing waters,
Thus, Provision prepared for the prospering of pirates.
Post predation, perhaps.

Acknowledgement of aggravated acquisition,
Granted the gains of Gazus’ gems,
And provided permanent prided price,
Holdings hosted by Halitus.

Depriving the danger,
Proliferating the profit.

Regular rhetors might risk retaliation,
Failing that, the finest of felicitous fiascos.
The best benefit borne by brothers bereaved,
Of outstanding oratory outlook,
Found fortune where foes fail.