The Crone’s Ingredients for Soldiering on

Six Sentence Stories is a weekly writers’ challenge hosted by Denise at Girlie on the Edge blog. This week’s cue word is INGREDIENT

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.

40 comments

  1. This sounds eerily like the sort of Sith magic or sorcery used by the Nightsisters of Dathomir in Star Wars (the Nightsisters were the mysterious witches of the planet that Darth Maul hailed from, and they were the people that saved him from death and gave hi his prosthetic legs).
    But I can’t believe it is nearly another week of suffering since your last Six Sentence piece….I am getting frustrated by what little I can really do, Just keep hoping I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks FT. Yes, I remember reading about those Nightsister witches on a SW reference site – fascinating.

      As I was saying to Resa on my previous solidarity post, there’s not much we can do after sending charity aid and signing petitions other than think good vibes, well wishes and peace to all the victims, and hope for better days. Any art we can offer as solidarity is a good thing too, and keeps the positive vibe flowing. It’s not much, I know, but it’s something good.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Chris. The subconscious is a powerful dynamic yes. One of my current side projects is a comic book script – and even that I’m finding is making some reflections on what is happening in Ukraine.
      Keep those positive thoughts flowing my friend, thank you! 🌻

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A voice, even one bearing soundless witness to injustice is still a voice. We sometimes forget that the power of a voice is not merely its direct effect on an adversary, rather the true power of the lone voice is felt by the others on the verge of raising their own.

    fav line: “…my mortality but one revolution from termination on the clock face of death.

    Not an art guy, but when it comes to drawings and such, I’ll take the one drawn in blood and/or tears over the quick and clean. Technique, imo, isn’t everthang…
    Exhibit A: Jimmy Page.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So very well said there about the ‘voice’. Thanks Clark.

      The line you picked out I’m rather fond of, and along with the piece’s overall inspiration of DC’s Weird War Tales, that particular line was inspired by another DC comics title: Watchmen.

      Exhibit A is a perfect choice!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I read the first sentence and immediately thought of Ukraine. 😦 A solution is on all of our minds. If only there were a magic potion.

    I wonder if years, hundreds of years from now there will be tales told and songs sung about this conflict.

    If there’s anyone left to tell the tales and sing the songs. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lady S. I hope they do make songs, stories, films and such later down the line, and I think they will. Imagine from a child’s perspective over there… what images they will save as they grow up. I think about the elders who have already gone through previous conflicts. And those millions of refugees now in shelter abroad, who will carry their images too. I hope the invasion stops right now, and those people can return and rebuild.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A creation worthy to be in a Book of Kells!!
    Begs for continuation (not necessarily the obvious one…hmm… tbc@SSC&B)

    Ford, once again the words were forged, sharpened and delivered in a decorated sheath…

    Mark Twain said it beautifully…
    If I may:
    “Each of you, for himself or herself, by himself or herself, and on his or her own responsibility, must speak. It is a solemn and weighty responsibility and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government or politician. Each must decide for himself or herself alone what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man, to decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor. It is traitorous both against yourself and your country.
    Let men label you as they may, if you alone of all the nation decide one way, and that way be the right way by your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country, hold up your head for you have nothing to be ashamed of.
    It doesn’t matter what the press says. It doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. It doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. Republics are founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe in. no matter the odds or consequences.
    When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move. Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world:
    “No, you move”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Nick. That’s some towering company you mention, merci beaucoup!

    As for the continuation… if we can somehow project the vibes stronger, yes!

    The Twain quote is superb. Of course, the ‘oppressor’ would also use some of Twain’s thinking to their honour and advantage too; but Twain’s words strike hollow at their claim for them, when the majority of the peaceful world isn’t the ‘oppressor’. For the peaceful majority, those words strike like hammers against bells.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is some of your best storytelling, V. Reading your Six was akin to viewing a powerful piece of art – the feeling from reading it, a holistic one where a body’s left with a resounding internal “wow”. Fine bit of writing. (what? you want an example? lol)

    “…brought hope to my mortality but one revolution from termination on the clock face of death.” Not, “brink of death” or “at death’s door”. The words used to describe the character’s tenuous grasp on life are way more poetic, enhancing their implication.

    To use the phrase I coined many moons ago, this is a top notch “armchair easy” read, V. 😎

    Liked by 2 people

    • Many thanks D. I like how the piece went from a ‘DC comic book inspiration’ work to a reflection/hope for Ukraine – though I wish I was writing under better circumstances. Thanks too for the ‘example’ you gave – I love that line too, and again it was inspired by a DC title: Watchmen. 😎

      Hope you’re feeling better btw and catching up on some well-deserved Zs!

      Like

  7. Definitely the pertinence to the war in Ukraine is evident.
    I also stand with Ukraine. Best you tossed the r art program. You can draw, so you don’t need the r’s!
    Take care!!! Resa

    Liked by 1 person

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