All right, I took another look at the poem draft, and there certainly are still issues, including a few that I introduced in the last editing pass, but you know what? I'd rather move on for now.
Move on from the frustration of agonizing over word choices, to the frustration of trying to figure out how to follow up on this.
To start with, let's see what I established in this poem. I know there are some ideas I have that I didn't convey, and I'm honestly not concerned about conveying in the poem, but I should make sure I have a good sense of what is being conveyed.
- The speaker's metaphor of time is based on upwind vs downwind, with upwind in the past.
- Some places in the setting have stone castles, which is apparently somewhat distinctive.
- The rulers of those castles did something bad, which violated the social expectations placed on them.
- But (just?) one of them refrained out of principle.
- It is reasonable to speak of magic that is specific to humans, so their must be some other source of magic.
- Human magic affects life in some way, healing, hurting, and taking or giving life.
- The land had two princes. The younger prince is the one that refused to engage in this abuse of magic, and the older prince became a vampire, presumably because of said abuses.
- The younger prince is not the only resident of the land to rebel against the royal family. He joins some kind of organization that trains him in terms of magic and combat.
- The society is polytheistic.
- The different gods have simple descriptive epithets. (Side note: I avoided naming them in the poem, because I didn't want the rhyme scheme to determine the names.)
- The different gods have different priorities.
- It is expected that both princes would have prayed to the same gods, and come up with their own justifications for why they should receive those gods' favor. (I'm assuming here that the narrator of the poem can't "really know" what the older prince was doing for most of the poem, so the older prince's prayers say more about social expectations than what "actually happened".)
- The God of the Crown is concerned with the aesthetics of government. The God of Life and Death is concerned with the cycles of life, and whether a particular killing is "just". The God of Leadership is concerned with the quality of government.
- It's possible to directly invoke the power of the gods, using talismans that can be affixed with pins. One function of talismans is to disable a vampire.
- There is a moon.
- Both brothers have some command over the wind. Perhaps this is related to the distinction between different types of magic. (I feel like I'm cheating and using setting knowledge with this one, so I tried to hedge a bit.)
- Vampires in this setting have stiff joints and super strength.
- Vampires in this setting normally cannot access happy memories from before they were turned.
- But it is possible to overcome this.
- Vampire bodies can move without their heads.
- Powerful vampires have some form of mental link with their minions, with varied effects when the link is broken.
- There is a town directly outside of the castle walls, so presumably, the castle functions as an administrative center.
- There is a sun.
- The sky has some form of upper liquid surface.
- The sun has something to do with dragons.
- (Some) dragons are aligned with the "heavens", and apparently specific gods.
- It is customary, at least in some cultures, for most people to avert their eyes from a visiting dragon.
- ... Though they will peek.
- Dragons can be tasked with enforcing the will of the gods.
- Dragons speak a language that is comprehensible to mortals.
- The younger prince forms the basis of a quasi-mythical group of vigilantes tasked with protecting people from exploitation.
I've sent out the draft to a few people, so we'll see what kind of feedback I get on how much of that, beyond the very obvious, was clear.
(I mean, some items on that list, I expect other people not to list because they're obscure, and other things, I expect other people not to list because they're obvious, so the stuff in between is probably the most interesting.)
Anyway, this was a use of my time, and I'm not going to stress myself out about doing significantly more in the next hour. Hopefully less time than that. I don't actually want to be on my laptop until midnight.