Tuesday, August 29, 2006

From the Minor Annals - VI


That year was the first of the years of struggle and secret strife.
Of long knives and silent ambush.
They came against us that year.
For that year the valley village swelled and burst with those fleeing eastward, seeking refuge.
Covetous eyes were cast upon our upland demense, our orchard and meadow and fertile fields where the frost goblins came late and did not linger, and the forest guarded our flanks in friendship.
Land is a lust - for it is gold - and so they plotted.
We lived as free outliers, subject only to a distant lord by an antique charter and beyond their formal power. We owed them no tribute or duty or obedience they could charge against us.
I believe that had long affronted them.
I think now that our different ways also made them uneasy, for we were of an older faith that they had long discarded, though they gave lip-service.
Since we were humble in our dwelling and faithful in our trade and in their temples, they thought us easy slaughter.
That year the long barrows above the river bank were defiled and broken.
We saw their spoor among the descecration and knew the ancient wards had faded.
They sought to enclose and fell the Old Forest near our boundary to the west and north, and the upright stones beyond our eastern wall were toppled and smashed and the land torn and and the green turf ruptured.
That year they circled like wolves in winter.
But I saw their smooth faces in the smoke and in the fire, and discerned their councils and their plans as on a page.
So we gathered our power and prepared.
We warned them in subtle ways, but they did not heed.
They came against us that year.
Some lived - to regret it.

13 comments:

For The Trees said...

"Some lived to regret it."

Oh, but that we could do this in our own lives! Oh, but that we could wield that kind of power! Oh, but that we could vanquish our enemies so soundly and roundly! Oh, but!

Well said, Fair Maid, well said. Now to see it again, in one's mind's eye, and relish the routing of the rabble: "Take I-25 to New South Wales, hook a right on Highway 407 and go to the T-bone, then go left and take U.S. 71 down to the Stuckey's, then right on County Road 1406 and go 14.5 miles to the old farmhouse...There you'll find your Holiest of Grails..."

Bernita said...

Thank you, Forrest.
I'm sorry, but I don't have a clue what you are talking about.

Scott said...

I enjoyed the easy flow of this. For some reason I was in it, and felt a building tension.

Ric said...

Wow! Transported to another world with ancient tones and colours, and more than a hint of terrible things to come.

Masterfully done in such a short piece. Wonderful!

Bernita said...

Glad of that, Scott.
Was afraid the scene setting might destroy tension.

Thank you, Ric.
Am fooling around with different periods.

Rick said...

Ohh, that makes me want to know more!

But surely Forrest's comment should be transposed to British highways - motorway M-somethingorother, and so on.

Bernita said...

Good, Rick!
Have half a sequel to this one...we'll see.

Gabriele C. said...

These snippets are beautiful and evocative.

There's just one thing I wonder about. Overall, I get a Late Neolithic or Early Iron Age Society in Western Europe image, with standing stones and the role of priests and religion, the very tone of the narrator. And then there's chartes and paper as part of daily life, (not something brought to them by conquerors as in the border areas of the Roman Empire), which I connect with Christianity. It's different in fe. Greece, or the Mesopotamian societies, but your images don't evoke the climate and surroundings of these. I definitely think along the lines of Celtic of Germanic priestess as your narrator.

Perhaps I should read less historical fiction and more Fantasy. :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Gabriele. A valuable observation.

I have not restricted myself to a period or place, though as you have observed, some are definitely northern.
This one I thought loosely as almost medieval and British.
I think one could be more or less Agean. And one could serve equally well as reference to a tel somewhere around the cedars of Lebanon.
Perhaps I should apply a little more local colour to this chronology.

M.E Ellis said...

This kind of stuff is like music to me ole ears!

:o)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I still heard the recorder and flute...(pick a wind instrument)in this piece...until we got to the last line..."Some lived to regret it"

Brings on thoughts of a DieHard movie I watched...LOL!

Dakota Knight said...

Powerful stuff, Bernita. Looking forward to more.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Michelle, Bonnie, Dakota.

I'll have to tune up some more!