From The Jackals To The Shepherds 35: Four of Clubs


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The poet this week is Claude McKay:

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Battlebards Tracks used:

Elven Dirge – Farewell – Score Music – Philippe Payet

Crypts of the Undead – Where the Dead Dwell – Score Music – Wilddog Productions


For a long time, we were at war with The Jackals. But now, we’ve driven them off, and we have this – a year of relative peace. In this moment, there is an opportunity to build something.

A week has passed.

We don’t choose the cards we’re dealt.

If we must die, let it not be like hogs hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, while round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, making their mock at our accursèd lot. If we must die, O let us nobly die, so that our precious blood may not be shed in vain; then even the monsters we defy shall be constrained to honor us though dead! O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe! Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, and for their thousand blows deal one death-blow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Connecting cabins together with walls and halls makes the disparate shacks of the old mining community into one large building. Sleeping quarters ring around our central square where the ruined model of a skyscraper towers in the open air. Drach smooths the last sealing coat over his work and watches it dry slowly in the cold autumn air. The heavy snowfall of weeks prior has all melted away and we feel unusually warm this far late into the year. As he sets his brush down a roar and a scream pull from the woods.

Sopping wet, The Beast pulls itself from the bank of the river, little Ezekiel trying to scamper backwards over the hardened sand. Having run from his work, Drach is the first to reach the river. The fur of The Beast, once lush and full now hugs to its bones and while its stomach warms from its meal of the bandits recently, it still bears the signs of starvation. It hesitates when it sees Drach, and Drach hesitates as well.

The morning sun sparkles on the frost that grows on the withered stalks of the flowers that grow from the Jewel of Gerrard. Ezekiel runs to the shacks crying as Drach holds The Beast back. By the time the rest of us arrive it is too late. We rob The Beast of a meal, but not of a kill.

We do not joy to see the playful snow, like white moths trembling on the tropic air, or waters of the hills that softly flow gracefully falling down a shining stair. And when the fields and paths are covered white and the wind-worried void is chilly, raw, and in the mountains a spell of heat and light the cheerless frozen spots begin to thaw, like the mourning girl who has been with us a long time you’ll long for home, where birds’ glad song meant flowering lanes and leas and spaces dry, and tender thoughts and feelings fine and strong, beneath a vivid silver-flecked blue sky. But oh! more than the changeless southern isles, when Spring has shed upon the earth her charm, we’ll love the Northland wreathed in golden smiles by the miraculous sun turned glad and warm.

We find Drach’s journal under his cot. The last page a meditation on anger, reflecting on the Jackals, the bandits who now share our homes, and the monsters living both in the woods and in his dreams. He ends with a poem, and as we read it out loud, we set about a new project: with Drach’s own tools we begin to dig a well. Without the protective girl who’s been with us a long time, we no longer feel the strong pull to the river, and we can’t guarantee that it will stay flowing in the cold of winter. We put our mourning to use in the same way he did, transferring our emotions into work.


Anyway, I found this poem in one of Clovis’s books. He said he used to read it to Figueroa whenever the Jackals took strides. I gotta keep it in mind, remember it when things get too rough.

I will not toy with it nor bend an inch.
Deep in the secret chambers of my heart
I muse my life-long hate, and without flinch
I bear it nobly as I live my part.
My being would be a skeleton, a shell,
If this dark Passion that fills my every mood,
And makes my heaven in the white world’s hell,
Did not forever feed me vital blood.
I see the mighty city through a mist—
The strident trains that speed the goaded mass,
The poles and spires and towers vapor-kissed,
The fortressed port through which the great ships pass,
The tides, the wharves, the dens I contemplate,
Are sweet like wanton loves because I hate.

Never was a lot for poetry before but I like this one. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, journal. Those houses won’t seal themselves.

Thank you for joining us for the thirty fifth episode of From The Jackals To The Shepherds. If you like this show please give us a rating on iTunes, tell a friend, or share us on social media. As always the intro for the show was read by Dave Lapru, who is also our mapkeeper. You can find Dave on twitter at plantbird, and I’m at leviathan files. The voice of Drach is Aaron Catano You can find Aaron on twitter at Aaron underscore Catano, where you can reach him for all sorts of Voiceover work. He’s been an absolute joy to work with, and you should check him out if you need anything. This week’s poet is Claude McKay. Please consider visiting our website at Riverhouse Games dot com, or supporting this show and other Riverhouse Games work on Patreon at patreon dot com slash Riverhouse Games. Music for this episode was provided by Battlebards dot com.

Listeners, I have a favor to ask of you. In these times there’s a lot that needs doing in the world, and we have to stand up as a people and make our voices heard. I ask that you make a few phone calls to your representatives about issues that matter to you. I’ve been using a great website at 5 Calls dot org which provides critical issues, background information, contact info, and even scripts to read while on the phone. Thankfully my representative’s offices have been polite and personable when I call, but if you’re worried about it, or if you experience phone anxiety, there’s an app you can download called Stance, which allows you to pre-record your statement, which it will then deliver straight to the representative’s voicemail. You can also use ResistBot, a free service that emails or faxes your representatives based on text messages you send through the service. Calling makes the biggest difference, but it’s a smart strategy to cover your bases. A polite and persistent approach across multiple mediums is the way to go. Today I’m calling to urge my representatives to DEMAND THE FCC MAINTAIN NET NEUTRALITY.

Internet users scored a significant victory in 2014 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) installed protections for net neutrality and the “open Internet.” Net neutrality allows all users to have equal access to everything available on the Internet, and prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from essentially turning the internet into cable television — creating fast and slow speeds for sites of their choosing and charging consumers premium prices for upgraded access. Without net neutrality, small businesses, low-income individuals, and much of rural America would lose access to affordable, reasonably-fast internet service.

The four major ISPs (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and AT&T) have been lobbying against the 2014 net neutrality regulations, frustrated by the constraints placed on their ability to profit from those who need their services the most. They have specifically targeted the classification of ISPs as Title II services, a category that requires more strict federal oversight. In response to their lobbying efforts, the new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has pledged to roll back these net neutrality protections with a softer Title I classification and will allow ISPs to instead make voluntary, unenforceable commitments that they will maintain the open Internet.

Please make your calls to help make our world a better place. Thank you, I love you, and I’m proud of you in advance.

And until next week, I hope your week goes well.

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