Image: The Wounded Soldier. By Ford. Hand drawn pencil and ink on card with photographed background.
The Crone’s Ingredients for Soldiering on
Wounded, on the verge of death, I staggered into the Crone’s lodge o’erlooking the valley of war from whence I’d fled, hacked to red ribbons from the kiss of axes and rapiers.
The Crone said to me: “Lay thee down upon my bed, and I will brew a potion to bring yer bones back from the dead.”
And in a foreign tongue glottal and Gothic, she set to work at her crackling cauldron, reciting ingredients unearthly enough to make a warrior cringe; yet, how her recital brought hope to my mortality but one revolution from termination on the clock face of death.
Sang the Crone: “One bushel of akran from the apocalypse tree; one tagr of a mermaid lost at sea; one drop of blōp from a human new-born; one sharpened haúrn from a unicorn; add six strands of sinew from an alpha dius; one skillet of eisarn; two more of silubr; three baskets of kaúrn and one sack of huzd from a troll’s stolen hoard; and last but not least – add one lock of tagl from the golden mane of a maid in a tower.”
There was a whip-like crack of thunder as she tipped into her cauldron her wicked brew, PLOOOMPF, FIZZLE, SIZZLE, BROOMF, great blooms of winding smoke did seek the rafters of the lodge, as I lay dying and drooling at the lips for just one spoon to be fed down my throat.
I arose the next morning restored and ready for battle, the words of the Crone singing in my ear as she marched me from her lodge and pointed to the valley: “Begone my brave soldier, and meet thy enemy to pluck out his heart; and know that no rapier nor axe shall e’er do thee harm, for ye are immortal in my eyes, my warrior, my servant, come back to me sleek with the blood of the red devils who covet our valley… for victory and magic belong to us.”
A ‘loose’ Gothic glossary of terms:
- akran – fruit
- tagr – tear
- blōp – blood
- haúrn – horn
- dius – wild beast
- eisarn – iron
- silubr – silver
- kaúrn – corn
- huzd – treasure
- tagl – hair
Editor’s notes: My Six Sentence contribution this week is another dedicated to solidarity for the government and people of Ukraine in the face of continued attack by Russian forces.
To be truthful though, The Crone’s Ingredients for Soldiering on wasn’t a deliberate decision by me to write a solidarity piece; the initial inspiration came from me wanting to write a ‘supernatural war story’ based on my fond memories of reading DC’s Weird War Tales comic books as a child, along with a desire to make a tentative exploration of a defunct ‘gothic language’.
However, as the piece materialised I found it was speaking strongly to me about what is happening in Ukraine. Even the art piece which accompanies it surprised me – as two of the dominant colours turned out to be ‘blue’ and ‘yellow’, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. I hadn’t pre-selected those colours from my ink palette… they just chose themselves.
On a note regarding art: I’ve stopped using since the invasion began my AI text-to-art collaborator because the programme is Russian-based – hence, I’ve sanctioned its AI ass (in a world where we are sometimes unable to make big decisions, it’s the small decisions which count). Doing away with the programme encourages me to get my lazy art ass in gear and make my own original drawings and designs again. They might not be as dynamic as my former partner (certainly not as fast) but they force me to work hard and be creative. Is there a lesson here for the West’s reliance on a certain supplier of gas?
To finish: At its simplest level The Crone’s Ingredients for Soldiering on makes for a rather splendid gothic supernatural war story. At a deeper level it reflects my horror, concern and hopes for what is happening in Ukraine.
Thanks for reading – Ford
The Mage stands in solidarity. Let love win!
The Crone’s Ingredients for Soldiering on by Ford. March 16. 2022. The Wounded Soldier art by Ford. March 16. 2022.