The Translated Works of Tosmorn, IV

Author: Vateshran Tosmorn, Xandier Edette (translator)

Third Fragment

[Editor's Note: The third of Xandier Edette's translated poetic fragments covers what has grown to be the most enduring of the Reach's legends — that of Red Eagle. As indicated in his preface, Edette finds this fragment bereft of pride — a staple of Red Eagle stories — and adopts an almost elegiac tone. — V.A.]

Translator Xandier Edette's Preface

Red Eagle. His deeds of rebellion and resistance during Empress Hestra's conquest of the Reach inspired generations of vateshrans, in addition to bards and raconteurs from beyond the Reach's harsh lands. It should be no surprise to find that Tosmorn also chronicled the life and death of the Reachfolk's greatest hero.

I was fortunate to find a fragment of this particular epic. After I secured safe passage into the holdings of the Thornroot, a coven of otherwise extremely reclusive witches, I happened upon a collection of curios and ephemera that included a most ancient headdress. Within the band I found a tightly rolled piece of yearling hide, and scratched upon its surface the familiar name "Faolan" — as Red Eagle is known in his native tongue.

The text of the fragment focuses exclusively on the aftermath of Faolan's final battle with Empress Hestra's legion. Contrary to the tone of more widely told works, Tosmorn instead regales us with a mournful, lingering verse (such as it can be called). The absence of the uplifting call for Red Eagle's eventual return leads the reader to speculate: could the revival of Red Eagle and the call for freedom in the Reach be the invention of later vateshrans? It will be a mystery for the ages, one of thousands in this craggy land.

* * *
The Death of Faolan

The weeping ones bear him up the crag
Red Eagle, so called at birth
In death, red from a hundred wounds

The light of the rising sun shows the world
The carpet of the dead
And the souls of a thousand are weighed against
A son of the Reach

The witch-men come with pots of ash and resin
To meet the weeping bearers
And Faolan is laid down

The chieftains weep to see him
Riven to nothing
The ashes are scattered to lay upon his frame
But it will not settle
It pools upon the stone below Faolan

On him it finds no purchase.
Hushed whispers bound across the hall
All heads lowered

The Hag comes now to claim her due
Her crow, in vanguard, laughs to see the witch-men
Their ash and resin useless
She takes the staff of yew and brings it down
Upon Faolan's breast

The ichor within bursts forth, a black blood
And she takes the fruit of her desire
Seeded in Faolan's chest

A hundred hands draw flint, nock arrows
All lose heart, the Hag's laugh festers at the soul
As death surrounds her
A thousand crows take flight beneath her cowl
And she is gone

She is beyond the spear, the sword, the bow
No witch-man would cross her
For Faolan bade her aid him in his fight
She claimed her due

The weepers carry Faolan down
Into the mountain's heart
He is laid bare for the last time
In sleepless rest, the stone is sealed
Wax is poured and flints are shattered

Here Faolan lies dead

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