Cries from Empty Mouths

Author: Varederil
Released In:

Translated by Varederil, Psijic Order

We know very little of the Sinestral language, which complicates efforts of translation into the common word. I’ve used Yoku as a starting foundation, but the two languages diverge considerably despite the geographical proximity of the relevant people. Nonetheless, I believe the following story hews as close to the original as it’s possible to achieve today.

As you read, note the interesting switch between verse and prose. It’s unclear whether this was an artistic flourish, or if it represents a cultural detail. Also, I won’t claim to be a skilled poet; I stuck to translation instead of creative interpretation.

* * *
Long after the battle fell silent,
I sat, still, on ichor-slicked stone,
regarding the fallen across the field.
A cloud of moans drifted to me,
rich with confusing despair.
I sought our battle-sage,
and gestured to the crying mass.
“Why do they cry out, wise one?
We do not care for their wails,
and no one else listens.”

“Our enemy believes a falsehood while they live, bladed one. Like us, the Yokudan knows life is brief and nothing awaits them in the final after. Rather than accept this, they tell stories that hide and obscure. Stories of an immortality that awaits after a mortal death. Their society clings to these beliefs, and through repetition hopes to make them real.

“As their life draws to a close, the Yokudan’s grip on these stories slips. The dying see clearly what we Kanuryai know—nothing awaits past the final after. Pity them, for the sudden confrontation with the Real brings them terror. Thus, the cries.”

No moons rose on the wagon ride home.
In the thick black, I thought on these words.
What cowards do we fight? What weakness?
Bile rose into my throat
to imagine a people convinced
the Real has no hold on us all.
Once more I sought my teacher,
his placid face ready for questions.
“Our enemy hears their wailing kin.
How can they still believe in stories?”

“Do you know the Yokudan idea—Honor? A force existing outside the self. Our enemy thinks it grows by their actions and persists beyond death. To them, if one accumulates enough Honor then death becomes temporary. The living still hold to the story of Honor while the dying confront the truth.

“We know that truth, don’t we bladed one? There is bone and dirt. Blood and smoke. Flesh and metal. This is the Real. While many stages of death exist, in the final after there is nothing. Knowing this makes our people strong. We tell no stories for comfort, so we fight to stay in the here and now.”

A fire flickered and cracked,
throwing shadows around my home.
I sat, still, by my rough stone hearth
feeling its heat enter my skin.
Life beyond this one enticed me.
A seductive story to hear.
The fire popped and cinders leapt out,
the glowing motes landing on my hand.
Through the pain, understanding came.
That which I see and feel is the truth.

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