The Lost Legion
Tales of the Third White River Clan
Of the Quoraki
It was the height of the Season of Fire and the height of our journey. We had gone far afield, further than we usually do, past the men who throw sticks, past the men who dance in winter, past the men who wear ash. Jorst had blessed us with safe travel and good hunting, but we had not raided as well as we had hoped.
Now came we to the farthest afield of Jorst’s lands, where the giant birds dwell. Now in these lands there are good men, yes, men blessed by Jorst with strong backs and thick skin, called the Quoraki. These are a strange, alien race, whose men are an envious sort, and who cut off the manhoods of their enemies and make them slowly bleed to death. They live near good rivers, but use them not, for they have never learned the arts of carpentry or boat-making. Instead, they wander the plains, and wage war on their enemy, the Mardyn.
When we came near their lands, Our Shaman lit a big pyre with white blessed smoke, to send a message we were coming, and that we were calling for a feast in Jorsts’ name. Our Shaman was named Ron; he was an apprentice of White Foot, and only eighteen or nineteen winters. Ron put white feathers on the smoke, and spoke in the god-tongue and made magic, and the Quoraki shamans sent white smoke in return.
After one week, we took our ships downriver, in search of oak and other good wood, where the strangers would await us. Two of their clans had come: The Bloodraider Clan, whose leader was Morkon, and the Edgewalker Clan, whose leader was Sardon. Friendship was between these clans, and they had made camp together.
Now, when we landed, Their Shaman came to us. Their Shaman was named Salai, she was very old. Their Shaman said that a strange thing had happened, that three heroes from the West had come walking, and they had slain the Mardyn’s men, and were to be much honored. And two of these heroes were engaged to be wed, and the man was much handsome, and the girl was very fair, and Their Shaman said that Jorst must smile upon this union. Our feast, she said, should be a wedding feast.
Our Leader was named Thracia. She had the deer as her totem, and was cursed in girlhood never to bear children. For this reason, she had never been married. She was not jealous, however, but rather sweet upon lovers, and wished them the best. Therefore, she agreed.
Now, these were the three heroes from the West:
First, there was Dyvim, who was to be a groom. He was tall, handsome, manly, with a big beard and no scars. His eyes were vibrant and his voice was warm. He was proud and skilled with both spear and sword, but at wrestling he was a true champion. He was blessed by Jorst.
Second, there was Leesa, who was to be a bride. She was very small, fine-limbed, and weak-looking, with no scars. Her eyes were soft and her voice was sweet like honey. Her face was pretty, but she had small breasts and narrow hips. She was not blessed by Jorst. She had a strange temper.
Third, there was Harkon. He was old, short, ugly, with a moustache and many scars. His eyes were tired and his voice was sharp like metal. He was a great hunter and an even greater warrior, who knew many wisdoms but spoke them seldom. He had been blessed in his youth. He was a very lucky man.
All three heroes had skin like old ivory, and strange eyes. They had travelled far and their friends were dead.
Thracia decided that to greet the Quoraki and honour these heroes, we should play the game known as Little Brother of War. Among Quoraki only men may play this game, and therefore, Leesa did not participate. She sat on the honoured seat instead, and watched.
Of the game is to be told: That Our Leader had two captains serving her. The captain of the rear boat was named Varro and was Our Second Captain, he had a crippled arm. Varro had a favourite, she was called Kara, she was a warrior. Kara had a girl, whose name was Yin. Yin was small, fine-limbed, and not blessed by Jorst, but she was fearless and strong and had slain fourteen people in all her sixteen years. Yin was Our best player, and took the front position, and Dyvim was Their best player, and took the front position.
Now! When the game begin, Yin rushed at Dyvim and beat him to the ground, but Dyvim seized her by the waist. She kicked him and bit him and struck him with her vicious strength, but he would not let go! It was as if Dyvim’s skin was made of wood, and his balls were made of stone. Yin could not hurt him! And so Our side did not gain ground, and Their side did not gain it either.
But Harkon was a man whose lungs were made of leather and whose heart was made of bronze. He could run ten miles without tiring! And so, while Our side and Their side fought, Harkon ran around them, and took the goal-stone, and won the game! And so, They lifted him up and carried him like a hero, and Dyvim and Yin shook hands and respected each other.
Now, of Leesa is to be told, that she and Yin looked a great deal alike. When they met after the game, the old saying came true: Like attracts like. Lust burned in their bodies and clawed at their groins, and before long they were pleasuring each other. Leesa did not know Our customs, and Yin was a scoundrel who did not respect her elders; Yin was Kara’s girl and Leesa was to be wed, and yet they shamelessly tasted each others’ flesh! They took delight in each other while the sun traversed the heavens, as Dyvim and Harkon took delight in food and wine until the wedding.
Now; the Quoraki took Leesa to put on her dress and make-up, both of which were smudged after her dalliance with the warrior. They took her out to the pyre, where Dyvim was to impress her by Quoraki customs. Even after the beating Yin had given him, he wrestled three men! Of these, he bested one and held his own against two. He was a brave wrestler.
Now, Dyvim and Leesa went into their tent. They had sex, and Jorst blessed their union.
Of the brave Dyvim, and of Leesa and her gifts
Our Woodcarver was named Hothar. He was an ugly man, but blessed by Jorst and had many sons. Now, the Quoraki went to Our Woodcarver and asked him to make a shield for Leesa; for hers had been lost. Our Woodcarver made a fine shield, with red and green decorations. Its face had four horns and a big snout, and upon it were written these words: Lucky wife. It was named Little Devil, because its wielder was very small, yet very fearsome.
Now, Harkon, who was the leader of the heroes and had once been Their Leader, had come to Our Shaman with a request. They wished to travel west, to their homes, which were by the Endless Water. We were far east, and if one walked this distance on foot, ones’ legs would be worn down to the knees! Therefore Our Leader, who saw that they were good warriors, granted them permission to travel on Our Ships. There was room on Our Second Captain’s ship, and so they swore friendship and became Our Heroes.
A strange sight they were, coming aboard Our Ships! First, they had skin like old ivory. Second, they had strange eyes and a strange tongue, that went la-la when we say ra-ra, and li-li when we say ri-ri. Third, they had strange clothing. Leesa was dressed like a Quoraki, in their rough leather clothes for rough leather skin. Dyvim was dressed in a brown tunic, like those worn by Those-We-Raid, which concealed his swelling muscles and his beauty. Harkon, finally, wore thick and clumsy leather, and rarely took it off! He was a strange man, but believed it wise to be prepared. Dyvim had armour also, but he did not wear it.
Now rang the drums da-da-da, and farewell said we to our Quoraki cousins. Leesa wept, for she dearly loved the Quoraki women, though she had only known them for some days. She had a strange temper. Yin, when she saw Leesa weep, was touched. She felt warm things, and nursed these things in her heart.
Now! The weather was good and the rowing was good. Our Ships sailed along like arrows!
Of Leesa is to be told, that she had eyes like an eagle and ears like a wolf. On the afternoon, just a day after we’d left, she spied movement in the woods. Our Leader dispatched swimmers, and Yin and Dyvim were with them. Dyvim was a good swimmer and a brave warrior, and did not want to miss out on the glory! Dyvim killed a man, who was cutting wood. The man was Those-We-Raid. Our Leader decided, that we would descend upon his village.
We rowed silently ahead. Harkon’s luck was with us! A ship was docked ahead. It belonged to a Liar, and was full of false gifts. Of Varro is to be told, that he was enslaved by those who call themselves the Guild, and that they crushed his shoulder with a hammer. Therefore, his heart was full of hate for Liars of all stripes! Varro now cried, “Attack!”, and Our People poured from the ship onto the shore. Only Leesa remained behind. Why did Leesa stay behind? Was she not a brave warrior like the rest?
Our Shaman turned to look, and the sight he saw shocked him!
The girl was beset by ill spirits. Her face turned green, and her eyes went rolling in her head, and she screamed and gargled and convulsed like a madwoman! Down on the deck of the ship she went, and vomit burst forth from her mouth and her nose. Ron, who feared a curse, took her into his hut and gave her medicine.
Our Warriors, meanwhile, cut down foes left and right. Soon, Those-We-Raid were scattered like birds. Harkon, Varro and Dyvim dispatched the Liar’s people, and took his false gifts. But Dyvim was not satisfied! A proud and noble warrior, he went into their village. There, he spied a temple of the forbidden sort, that makes men quake with fear. But Dyvim didn’t know the meaning of fear! Into the temple he went! Our Teacher, a man named Korr, went to warn him and help him.
Now, of Korr is to be told, that he was tall, broad-shouldered, powerful and brave. Yet when he entered this temple, he was nervous as a child. And what did he see? He saw an evil priest of Vnax, cursing Dyvim’s eyes with a terrible curse! Hurriedly, Our Korr split the priests’ skull in twain, and turned to Dyvim:
“Are you not afraid, Dyvim?”
Yes, even with the horrid curse upon his body, Dyvim stood broad-legged and laughed! Korr was mightily impressed, and told all warriors of this fearless man. It was agreed, that Dyvim should have the precious cloth from the temple, to wear as a cloak for proof of his bravery.
Yet bravery is no shield against curses! Now Dyvim’s eyes began to itch and twitch and tickle, so the warriors hurriedly wrapped up their prizes, and headed back to the ship to consult with Our Shaman. But woe! Our Shaman wasn’t there!
Why was Our Shaman not there? Had he gone away to relieve himself? No! Our Shaman’s body was there, but his spirit had left!
For of Leesa, this is to be told: That she, like Ron, was born with the Gift. When she awoke from her spasms, she had told Our Shaman about a horrible vision, and Our Shaman took powerful drugs to consult with the spirits. Bam! Down on the deck went Our Shaman’s body, as stiff and dead as a log, and whoosh! Out of his mouth poured his spirit! And now lay he there like a corpse, when Dyvim’s eyes were all but rotting from his skull!
The warriors were mighty upset with Leesa. The boats were rowed some distance downstream, and the three heroes went to sit by a fire and speak, in their own strange tongue, which they permitted no-one to hear.
After some time came Harkon to the boat, and asked to speak with Our Leader. Our Leader, who was mighty concerned for the brave and noble Dyvim, asked him to speak his mind.
“Our Leesa is a foolish child,” he said, “She cannot tell one thing from another!”
“What do you mean, Harkon?” said Our Leader.
“Her heart is full of fear and bad ideas! She thinks she sees demons and spirits, but there are none!”
“Did she not convulse with magical spasms?” asked Our Leader. “Was she not possessed?”
“No! This foolish girl has eaten of the forbidden Fungalbite. That is why her guts turned inside-out, and her body turned to eel-flesh.”
Hearing this, Thracia was outraged. Our Shaman still lay there like a corpse, and who knew if he would ever come back? And Dyvim’s eyes were all but melting in his skull!
“Fetch the girl!”, cried Our Leader. “Strip her naked, and tie her by the river-bed. Jorst will judge whether she lives or dies!”
Two of Our Warriors got up from where they sat, and went to do as they were told. Our Leesa was taken, naked and alone, into the wet-marsh by the riverside, where bugs and flies creep and crawl and bite and sting and tickle. There she was tied, hand and foot, so that the critters crawled all over her and filled her with their poison.
But, you ask, did not Leesa have the Gift? So she did! When Ron woke up, he hastily told everyone that Leesa’s vision had been true! Indeed she had eaten the fungalbite mushroom, but to those who have the Gift, such mushrooms show portents of the future. That is precisely what Leesa had seen!
Guided by what Leesa had told him, Ron had travelled deep into the ground. There, he had met the great Carp that Sleeps Beneath the Earth, and he had seen with his own eyes that the big fish was stirring. He warned Our People, that we must make haste to find a safe space to pull the boats ashore. Our People thanked Our Shaman, but now told Ron about Dyvim’s great deed, and that his eyes were now all but boiling in his skull!
When Ron heard this, he was filled with worry. He held admiration for Dyvim in his heart, and knew him for a great warrior and a good man, blessed by Jorst. Hurriedly he went to Dyvim’s side, where he slept between four great fires. Quickly, quickly, he gathered mud from the river, and put it on Dyvim’s eyes, and blew the evil spirit right out of them! Dyvim had been cured, and fell on his knees before Our Shaman, and thanked him. Our Shaman took him back to his tent, where he could receive such thanks properly. Of this, there is nothing more to tell.
Now, presently Leesa was freed from her prison. By now it was already morning, and the insects had bitten her everywhere. Sickness and poison lived in her body. She was clothed, and taken to the boat, and Our Leader explained that she had seen true things in her vision, and that no ill will was to be held against her.
All good and honourable Linowan respected this.
Of the wise and cunning Harkon
Now is to be told, that among Our People was a woman who’d been born with no honour. Her name was Ten. Her hair was dirty yellow, her eyes were watery blue, she was short of stature and not blessed by Jorst. She was a filthy thing. Kara, who was Our Second Captain’s helper, was gracious to her and permitted her to steal.
While Leesa had been tied up by the water, Ten had gone through her things. She had stolen her clothing and her knife. When Leesa learned about this, she was very upset, and turned to Harkon. Harkon went to speak with Kara. He called her a weak leader, who could not keep the thieving Ten in check! Kara was deeply offended and angered, but Leesa’s things were returned to her.
Now! As soon as everyone had eaten, the boats were rowed to a safe place, on a slope by a forest. There, they were pulled ashore and secured, so that they would not be damaged as the earth shook and shuddered. All made camp.
Leesa, whose body was home to sickness and poison, lay in misery by herself. Dyvim had still nott forgiven her in his heart, and did not nurse her back to health. Instead, Yin took care of her. Yin now saw how weak and helpless Leesa was, and silently wished in her heart to possess her. But how could Yin possess her? She was herself not an adult, but served as Kara’s girl!
Kara now came to take Yin away. But Leesa, who had seen how bold and brave Harkon acted to confront her, stood up. Her voice, normally like honey, became like salt, and she heaped harsh words upon the woman! Kara, who was Our Second Captain’s favourite, was mightily upset! She left without another word, harbouring a grudge in her heart. Though Leesa wasn’t as fearsome as Harkon, her words could sting like a whip when she willed it!
Now presently Kara went to Our Teacher, Korr, and said this to him: That Leesa had assaulted Our Ten, and that she had brazenly struck and slapped her. Our Korr was a kind man, and even though Ten was dishonest and dirty, he wished to stand up for her. Therefore he sought out Leesa, to make peace with her through wrestling. But lo! When he came to where Leesa was resting, there was Dyvim by her side. As Leesa was still sick in fever, he offered to wrestle in her stead. So Korr and Dyvim seized each other by the arms, and their muscles played and their sweat glistened, and not a man or woman in the camp was not impressed! Korr was the winner, but Dyvim’s wrestling much impressed him, and from this day on they became close friends. It’s as true as they say: Friendship can be found in the strangest of places!
Now our story takes a different turn! For you see, in his youth, before he became Their Leader, Harkon had been a great hunter. Now, as Our People had settled in for the earthquake, he became restless and uneasy. Therefore, he went out into the forest nearby to hunt a little game. He did not plan to stray far, and would be back before it became dark.
As he walked along, he spied some tracks of a majestic deer. His mouth watered at the thought of venison, and he followed them a little ways into the woods. There, he saw the creature – a doe, fat and plump, with meat that could be eaten and skin that would buy many cups of mead. His stomach growled and his heart beat faster. He raised his sling – but ah! A bird flew up, and startled the doe! It ran some ways into the wood, and Harkon followed.
After some time, it stopped by a stream. Its white tail went up into the air, and its muzzle went down into the water. Harkon licked his lips and rubbed his belly, and raised his sling – but ah! He stepped on a dry twig, and startled the doe!
Deeper and deeper into the woods he followed it, until at once he realized he didn’t know where he was! Darkness was falling, and he couldn’t see his tracks for the failing daylight. Despair overcame him, but then – from afar – he heard voices. Careful, careful he stepped through the forest, and closer and closer came the voice. And there – a fire!
But it was not Our fire. For this is what had happened: Harkon had delved so deep into the woods, that now he came out on the other side! And there sat three men and spoke. They were not Our men. They were Those-We-Raid. These men wore brown skull-caps and ratty tunics, and they spoke with their thick and ugly tongues in their own farmer accent. Had Harkon been of Us, he would have shunned and loathed these men. But he was from the West.
Harkon stepped out and greeted these men, and lay down by their fire. And since he was not Us, they did not fear him.
Now is to be told how, in the morning, Harkon woke up to a sound, and this was the sound: Patatam, patatam, patatam. A horse was approaching. Sitting on this horse was a man. For this is to be told: Some people in Southern lands make slaves out of beasts, and sit on their backs until their own legs become weak and crippled. So lazy are Those-We-Raid, that they cannot even walk on their own!
Now came the horse closer, and the man upon it spoke.
“Have you found the Dragon-Man?”
“No, no,” spoke both the men in unison, “we have not found him.”
“And who is this?” said the horse-sitter, and pointed at Harkon.
“A stranger,” said they, “Since he is not Linowan, he is a friend.”
“Fools!” spoke the horse-sitter. “our leader Hong has said, that another clan also seeks the Dragon-Man! And this other clan is none other than Lookshy! This must be their man!”
Now the three men turned to take Harkon their prisoner, and drag him before their Leader. But Harkon was too cunning! With a mighty swing, he struck the horse in the face! The horse-sitter suddenly saw, how foolish it is to make slaves of animals! Up went the horse and down went the man, and in the chaos and panic, Harkon turned and ran! The men who were not horse-sitters came after him, but Harkon’s lungs were made of leather and his heart was made of bronze! He could run ten miles and not get tired! Into the forest they went, and with arrows whining ’round his ears, Harkon ran and ran!
Now we leave Harkon for a moment. Back in Our Camp, Dyvim and Leesa were getting worried. Harkon had been missing all night, and the earthquake was soon to break out. Thinking he might have gone into the woods, they went there to search for him. Now presently, the Great Carp that Sleeps Beneath the Earth stirred, just a little.
“Dyvim,” said Leesa, “We should go back!”
“Never!” said Dyvim, who was a brave and noble man. “We cannot abandon Harkon! He is a leader and a friend!”
“But Dyvim, he is a skilled hunter! He’ll survive this earthquake!”
“No!” cried Dyvim, “We will not turn back!”
They went on a little ways into the forest. The earth shook again.
“Dyvim, we should go back!”
“No!” cried Dyvim, “We will not turn back!”
A third time the earth shook, and this time it gave away beneath Dyvim’s feet! It was as if the earth itself sought to swallow him! Beneath the roots of an old toppled tree, he sunk further and further!
Leesa leaped down to where he was, and grabbed his hand to pull him free – but what is one woman’s strength against the might of the Earth? Nothing! She could not move him! In panic, she drew her knife to hack away at the roots. One! Two! Three! And the knife sunk into flesh.
“Ay!” cried Dyvim, “You’ve wounded me!”
“I’ll go get help!” cried Leesa, who had plunged the knife into his shoulder. Trapped as he was, there was nothing Dyvim could do but wait, and pray, as he sank into the earth.
Now, this is to be told about Leesa: She was born to Those-We-Raid. To her, the forest was as strange as the Endless Water is to us! She could not tell one tree from the other, and even as she fetched warriors from Our Camp, she could not remember where Dyvim had been trapped!
Jorst might have claimed Our Dyvim there and then, but lo! He had blessed the heroes with luck. Hold up, say you – had he blessed all of them with luck? Was not Harkon the lucky one?
Indeed he was! And here he came running! Out of the woods he burst like a majestic lion, and Leesa’s eyes filled with tears. “Dyvim is trapped beneath the earth!” she cried.
“Where?” said Harkon.
“I don’t know! By a twisted tree with tangled roots!”
“Aha!” said Harkon, “I know just the place.”
Now Harkon and Leesa and all of Our People came rushing to Dyvim’s aid. The ground had all but stopped moving, but all that could be seen of Dyvim was a beard and two eyes! Hastily, the men began to dig, and quickly, quickly they found his hand, and pulled him up from the earth. There was blood on his shoulder.
“Who did this?”
“It was Leesa!” cried Dyvim.
Hastily they carried Dyvim back to Our Shaman. He took Leesa’s knife, and burned the wound shut. Of this is nothing more to tell.
Of Those-We-Raid and their weakness
Now our story takes a different turn!
It is to be told that, among the lands of the South there are three great clans, who are so powerful that we cannot raid them. The first is the Lookshy Clan. The second is the Nexus Clan. The third is the Great Forks Clan. All three clans lord over the mighty Yellow River, and are allies and friends. Now, in the Great Forks Clan there were at this time four mighty leaders. These were their names: Hong, Fang, Sung, and Tang. Fang, Sung, and Tang never went too far afield, but Hong had gathered some sixty or seventy men to go raiding.
In the months of Fire they came upon a place called The Mill. A Mill is a type of thing that Those-We-Raid use to thresh grain; it works by itself, and requires no strength. So lazy are Those-We-Raid, that they do not even use their arms to prepare food!
Now, Hong wanted this Mill. But Hong was not Us, and he was too cowardly to take it by force. Instead, he gathered his people and placed them in the fields, and said this to them:
“When the people who live by the Mill come to pick their food, you will stop them! You’ll raise your weapons and drive them back, and soon they shall starve. When they have no food to feed their Mill, it will be useless to them! Then, they have no choice but to hand it over.”
Now, most of Hong’s people were originally Those-We-Raid; they were very weak and very cowardly. But some of his people were of the Great Forks Clan, and these were great warriors, and everyone feared them. When the people who lived by the Mill came to gather their food, these warriors raised their weapons and screamed and bellowed, and the Mill’s people ran back in terror.
Soon they became thinner and thinner. They were hungry and weak, and said amongst themselves: Shall we not give this Mill to Hong, and be done with it? Maybe we can prepare food with our arms, like the Linowan do?
But, though they were a weak and lazy sort, they were proud and unwilling to surrender to a coward who would not even raid them. Therefore, they endured. Now, one day a man from the Mill went walking up the river some ways, hoping to catch fish. Then he saw colourful sails and great ships, and knew that Our People were coming. He turned, and ran back to his leader, whose name was Genji.
“Genji!” he cried, “The Linowan are coming! Ai, we will be caught between two horrors!”
But Genji was a wise and cunning man, and shook his head. “The Linowan are very wise,” he said, “They care not for things that make them lazy and weak. If we had food, they might take it – but we have none! We have nothing to fear from them. But Hong is wealthy; he has food and silk and silver. Such a man might rightly fear the Linowan!”
And so Genji stood up, and put on his felt hat and took a man by each hand to help him walk, and made the long trek up the river. When the earthquake shook beneath their feet, they took shelter by a sturdy stone. When it was over, they walked another mile or so, until they saw Our People.
Here Genji fell down before Us, and spoke:
“Wise and mighty Linowan! A clan leader named Hong seeks to steal our Mill! We ask that you bring your warriors upon him, and kill him, and take all of his riches for your own! If you do this, we will help you in whatever way we can!”
Our Leader, Thracia, heard his words. She instructed her men to take the old man hostage but to treat him kindly, and then thought in her heart: This Hong comes from the Great Forks Clan. His own warriors must be very mighty. To defeat him will require cunning, and it’s true as it is said: To catch the fox, you must know his burrow!
This Our Leader kept in her heart, and told no-one for some time.
Now is to be told that Leesa was recovering from her sickness. Our Leader summoned her captains, and also Our Shaman, and worked out what should be done about the injury to Dyvim’s arm. Since Dyvim could not work or hunt, it was agreed that Leesa were to become his slave until the wound had healed.
Dyvim ordered Leesa to go out and gather food. Now, among Our People was at this time a girl named Naia. She was of average height, with long hair and a round face. She was moderately blessed by Jorst. This Naia had become good friends with Leesa over their days of travel, and therefore invited Leesa to go in her canoe.
Naia could not know that Leesa had been born to Those-We-Raid! Her steps were like those of a baby who has barely learned to walk!
Now, nearby Our Camp was a marsh. Here the hunters went in their canoes, to gather turtles and birds and other delicious things. Silent like floating feathers, the canoes sailed by a flock of birds. The hunters readied their slings. Leesa readied a bow, that she had borrowed. Out of the canoes they crept, and closer – and closer – until splash! Leesa’s baby legs failed her, and she fell!
Up and away went the birds, and barely a one was caught! The hunters shook their head and swore, and set about to gather turtles, now they were ashore. As is common when hunting for turtles and fish, they spread out around the marsh one by one.
Splish, splosh, splish, splosh, went Leesa when she stepped out in the marsh. Further and further from her friends she went, carelessly wading among snakes and leeches as if she hadn’t a care in the world! But snakes and leeches weren’t the danger. Leesa could not know that this marsh was home to a vicious alligator!
This alligator was almost six feet long and had a mouth that was full of vicious teeth. It was sleeping in the river when it heard a sound, and that sound was: Splish, splosh, splish, splosh!
Now, the alligator thought quietly in its great evil heart: Here comes a foolish child, whom I will gobble right up!
Said, and done. Smack! The great big jaws closed around Leesa’s leg! Down underwater they went, and around and around they spun, and Leesa knew not what had happened! She thought Jorst himself had snatched her from the green, green earth! She flailed and flailed, helpless against the beast, until – crash! Something came down upon its head, and split its ugly skull in twain!
There stood Our Yin, who had slain fourteen men with her hand-axe, and now also an alligator. Leesa’s heart was filled with gratitude, and she wept with joy and thanked her, but Yin put a finger on her lips:
“Shush! I will tell the hunters you slew this beast! That way, you’ll be free from your debt to Dyvim!”
Now the hunters came running, and saw the dead monster.
“Yin! Yin! You’ve killed this great alligator!” they all cried, but Yin shook her head. “It was Leesa. I saw it with my own eyes. Now, quickly, quickly – we must take her back to Our Camp. She is bleeding!”
Said, and done. Leesa was put on a canoe, and the great big alligator on another, and she was taken back to the camp in a hurry!
Our Shaman saw, that she was bleeding pretty bad. With a hot knife and a sacred fire, he drove out the demons from her wound, and she screamed and cried like a wounded pig! But the wound was not infected, and would heal. Our Shaman was very skilled.
Now Leesa rested through the night. In the morning, Our Woodcarver fashioned her a crutch, and by Dyvim’s instruction, attached to this crutch an axe-head, so that Leesa would be armed at all times. It was a very poor weapon.
Of the cunning ways of Westerners
Now is to be told that Our Leader summoned Harkon to her side. She told him about Genji and about Hong, and the many riches he possessed. Harkon told her that he had met some of Hong’s people beyond the forest.
“Hong is a powerful man,” said Thracia. “To defeat him will require cunning, and it’s true as it’s said: To catch the fox, you must know his burrow! What you tell me confirms what I thought – since you and your people are not Linowan, they will not suspect you! This is what you must do: You shall wear your armours and carry your weapons, and step into their camp saying your old clan is dead, and you wish to join theirs. Then, you shall learn all about his men, and his camp, and report it back to me!”
Harkon agreed that this plan was wise and cunning, but he thought in his heart: There is more that can be done! This man surrounds himself with weaklings, who are not from the Great Forks Clan! If merely I scare them with my words, they will surely betray him!
Thinking thus, he went to Dyvim and Leesa, and informed them of his plan. Of this, nothing more is to be told.
A day or so later, the three heroes put on their strange armours and picked up their weapons. Leesa had no armour, and also walked with a crutch. They made a very strange sight. They walked for a few miles or so, before came they to The Mill. It was held in a large hut.
Here the three entered, and spoke with Genji’s apprentice, who guarded it. They learned that Hong had placed his tents out in the field, and that only some ten or twelve of his people were of the Great Forks Clan; the rest were Those-We-Raid, and cowards. They thanked the apprentice and walked towards the tents.
This is to be told of Hong: He was very young, and inexperienced. When the three warriors came to join his clan, he invited them without question, impressed by their weapons and by Dyvim’s swelling muscles. But his people were more suspicious.
“What have you done, that you should join our clan?” they mocked. “You, who are strangers, might just as well be cowards and weaklings! Perhaps you stole those weapons!”
“No man calls me a coward!” cried Dyvim, “As for weakling, well, see for yourselves!” and he cast off his armour, showing off his strength. The people were mightily impressed, but two of them persisted: “He’s not brave enough to fight us!” Now Dyvim was filled with righteous rage, and he attacked the two men with his fists until they surrendered. “Truly,” they all said in the camp, “these are great and awesome warriors!”
And they welcomed the three into their camp.
Now, it is to be told that Hong had a shaman, who was Their Shaman, his name was strange and foreign but we’ll call him Jin. Now Jin was a jealous man. When he overheard Leesa say, that she had the Gift, he became full of envy and tried to best her. He came up to her and bade her name spirits and speak strange words. Here, truly, Leesa showed her talent! Instead of speaking the words, she reached down and wrote them upon the ground! So impressed was Their Shaman, that his jealousy melted away in an instant, and he bade Leesa enter Their Leader’s tent, to show off her talent!
Hong was very impressed with Leesa, and bade her stay overnight in his tent. When Dyvim heard this, he thought in his heart: That spineless coward will try to have sex with her! Since she is a young and foolish girl, he might try to inflame her with his words. I had best hide, and make sure no such thing occurs!
Said, and done. Dyvim stole into her tent, and hid there, poised to slay the man with his fist if anything untoward should happen!
But Hong was a weak and limp man. Though Leesa was much beautiful, she did not tickle him the slightest, even when she undressed! Instead, he asked her to speak with the spirits, and learn more about the Dragon-Man. For Jin had told him, that such a man lived in these parts, and Hong would very much like to become his blood-brother. Leesa, who had travelled the world, entertained him with tales of the Dragon-Men and their great deeds, but such stories are neither here nor there.
In the morning Leesa rose, ate her breakfast, and went out into the sunlight. Dyvim, too, went out from his hiding-place. They had only just exchanged words with each other, when a courier came riding!
“Linowan boats! We’ve seen Linowan boats on the river!”
When Harkon heard this, he thought quietly in his heart: Here is my chance! And he wove cunning words, and made fear in the hearts of Those-We-Raid, until their knees were shaking and their groins were dripping! They threw themselves down before the three heroes, and begged for help to escape!
Now Leesa stepped forth. “Hong is searching for a Dragon-Man,” she said, “who lives in these environs. I will tell him I’ll go look for this man, and I’ll take you all with me as slaves!”
For you see, it is the case with the Dragon-People, that nothing impresses them as much as a retinue of slaves. This Leesa knew, and this she told Their Leader. Their Leader wrung his hands, for he was a coward, and thought in his heart: If only I find this Dragon-Man, I can defeat one hundred Linowan! Therefore he agreed to Leesa’s plan.
Dyvim, you must remember, was also of the West! And in the West as in the South, some men sit on horses and make them slaves, and this strange art Dyvim had learned. He took a horse from Their Camp, and sat upon it while it ran, and it ran right back to Our Camp!
Quickly, quickly, Dyvim jumped off the great beast, and ran before Our Leader, and told her what he had learned.
“Now is the time to strike!” he said when he had finished. “Myself, Leesa and Harkon will lead the cowardly men away, and only fifteen or so warriors remain beside a handful of cowards!”
Thracia thanked him, and he went back to the horse, and sat upon it while it ran – and it ran right back to Their Camp!
Now the farmers quickly fashioned a big wooden boat, with many sticks sticking out from its sides. In this wooden boat sat Leesa, who could not walk so quickly. The cowardly men and women all grabbed one of the sticks, and lifted the boat into the air! It was as if it sailed upon a river made of people! And this river carried Leesa north, and Dyvim and Harkon went with her.
“Now,” said Harkon, “there is more work to be done. These cowards will stay here with Leesa. Myself and Dyvim will run back to Their Camp, and we will tell them the Dragon-Man killed everyone, and is coming behind us!”
Dyvim, who was a brave and noble man, objected: “We should fight these last warriors honourably!” But, Harkon was his leader, and he had to obey. Thus, they ran back toward Their Camp, and shouted and bellowed: “The Dragon-Man is coming! He will kill us all!”
A great panic broke out, and just as it did, Our People came running from the woods. It was a good fight. Dyvim slew many men, and Harkon and Varro together slew the greatest warrior in Their Camp, who injured Harkon. The injury was only very slight, and Our Shaman made sure it would not rot.
Then, all of Hong’s treasures were split among Our People. Dyvim was given a big share, but refused, saying: “I must go see to my wife!” and ran off. Harkon, who was old and injured, lay down to rest after the fight. Nevertheless, they were both given a good share. Harkon laid claim to the big bulky armours that Their Warriors had worn. These armours are full of copper, and while they protect against arrows and spears, anyone who wears them – plop! – sinks like a stone in the river! Such a man cannot swim or run, and he’s as slow as a turtle on land!
Our Leader came to ask of Harkon, why he had chosen such peculiar treasures.
“Great Thracia,” spoke Harkon. “It is soon time for you to turn north, back to the Third White River. When you do, we shall go west on foot.”
Hearing this, Thracia was greatly saddened. Our People gathered all the loot and took it back to Our Ships, but of this, there is nothing to be told.
Of Jorst’s blessing, and how the heroes left
Now is to be told, that Their Shaman, who was dead, had a map. A map is a kind of thing, upon which is recorded truths about the world. Those who can read such things get knowledge of lands far and wide. Our Leader could read such things. She took this map, and consulted with Harkon, Dyvim, and Leesa – who knew the lands of the West, but who knew not, where they were. From this they learned, that a little ways west was a wall, and behind this wall lived many of Those-We-Raid, and they had plenty of food.
Now is to be told that Our Leader went to Our Shaman, and spoke with him: “Ron”, she said, for that was his name. “Some ways west is a wall, and behind this wall live many of Those-We-Raid. Will Jorst smile upon us if we raid this place?”
Ron took his magical mask, and wore the face of Jorst, and spoke with Jorst’s voice: Yes.
Therefore Thracia went to Our People, and said that in a few days’ time, we would raid again. And all agreed, that this was good.
Now is to be told, that Our Second Captain’s favourite, Kara, still felt angry in her heart with Yin and with Leesa, for still they were tasting of each others’ flesh. Every night they would lie with each other. Leesa did not know Our customs, and Yin was a scoundrel who did not respect her elders, and they cared nothing for husbands or for teachers. And though Yin was small and not blessed by Jorst, Kara felt desire for her, and wanted to go to her, but could not.
Therefore Kara harboured ill will in her heart for Leesa.
When Yin saw this, she was full of anger. Therefore she went to Our Shaman, and said this to him: “I want to eat the Red Death and face Kara in the Ancient Challenge. If I win, I shall be set free, and Leesa shall become my girl. And since she is a child, she cannot be married, and therefore she shall not be Dyvim’s wife.”
When Harkon heard of this, he was filled with worry, and went to Yin, and spoke to her: “In two days time, we are raiding. You are a great warrior, and if poison lives in your body when we raid, our strength will be lost. Likewise, Kara is Our Second Captain’s favourite, and if poison lives in her body when we raid, Our Second Captain will worry, and our wits will be lost. Therefore, do not do this thing.”
Yin heard, that his words were wise. She agreed to wait with the Ancient Challenge until after the raid. Of this, nothing more is to be told.
Now; we sailed until we saw the wall, behind which Those-We-Raid lived. And these are the orders Our Leader gave: Our Yin and some brave warriors would climb over this wall in secret, and cause chaos and confusion. Our Naia and Our Korr and some brave warriors would rush in through the gates. Harkon and Our Heroes would follow. And lastly, all of Our Warriors would descend upon Those-We-Raid, and destroy them. It was a cunning plan.
Now, Yin and some brave warriors climbed over the wall in secret. There, they slew Their Second Captain and Their Third Captain and their men. And much chaos and confusion happened. Then Our Naia and Our Korr rushed in through the gate, and Our Heroes followed, and Our Warriors descended upon Those-We-Raid.
Of the battle is to be told: Those-We-Raid had nowhere to run, and therefore they turned and fought. And they were destroyed. And eight of Our People died, and these were their names: Naia, Gonu, Ria, Mei, Loni, Parr, Samu, and Dorr.
Now, three sacrifices were captured alive: A woman, a one-legged man, and a child. These, Our Heroes – who wore their turtle armours and could not move as quickly – stood watch over, while Our People looted the camp. And many treasures were therein, and many delicious things, and much flour and rice. It was good.
Now Our Heroes presented the sacrifices before Jorst; and Our People built a pyre, and Our Shaman blessed it, and wore the face of Jorst and spoke strange words and made magic. And this was pleasing to Jorst, who blessed Us. All our dead warriors went to His Hall, borne along by the sacrificed slaves.
Now is to be told that on our trek along the river, Dyvim had found a barrel of whiskey. Whiskey is a type of drink, that Those-We-Raid make, it is like mead but different. Our Second Captain Varro took this barrel, and opened it, and shared it with Our Heroes. It made them sleep sweetly!
Now is to be told, that Harkon came to Our Leader, and this is what he said:
“It is time for you to turn north, back to the Third White River.”
And Our Leader nodded and said: “You are wise, Harkon. Our boats cannot carry more loot; we must turn back to Linowan lands, before the leaves turn amber and the salmon swim upstream.”
“But our home is West,” said Harkon, “Therefore we must leave, and go on foot. It is a long ways to walk, but your ships have taken us far! To go this trek on foot will only wear our legs down to the ankles.”
And Thracia blessed him, and took her map and read it, and said: “Some ways west of here is a place where Liars gather. If you take your loot and give it to them, they will be as your loyal slaves, for Liars are a greedy and shameless sort.”
Harkon saw, that this was wise.
Now! Was not Yin going to eat the Red Death, and challenge Kara to do likewise? Yes! But here is what happened: Before Yin could eat the Red Death, Dyvim came to Kara. Now, Dyvim was a brave and righteous man, he had fought well in the battle, and he said these words:
“Kara! In this battle, I killed five men. But Yin killed twice as many! She is a greater warrior than I, and therefore, she has earned her womanhood. No longer shall you call her your girl!”
Kara, who was inflamed with desire for Yin, tried to argue. But Dyvim had the ear of Our Shaman, and he went to her, and he told her about Yin’s deeds, and Our Shaman said: Yin is no longer a girl, and therefore may sleep with whom she pleases. And thus thanks to Dyvim’s righteous witness, Yin became a woman!
When Yin heard this, she was delighted. But a dark thought also nested in her heart, and this was her thought: Now I am a woman, and may take for myself a girl or boy. Leesa shall be the one!
Now, listener – by Our Ways, Leesa was a girl, and therefore her marriage before Jorst should not count. But it is the case with the strange Westerners, that they sometimes marry children before they even know how to hunt! It is a strange and disgusting habit, but one that all Westerners follow, even these three heroes. Therefore Dyvim counted Leesa as his wife. So when Yin came before Leesa and said: “You shall be my girl, and I shall teach you and love you and protect you, and in return I will taste of your flesh”, Dyvim said: “No!”
“She is no woman!” protested Yin, “Therefore she isn’t your wife!”
“I am a Westerner!” said Dyvim, “Among our people there is no law that says: You shall not marry children!”
And all good Linowan spat and were disgusted. But Dyvim was a hero, and none dared oppose him.
“Then,” said Yin, full of rage and desire, “I will break your balls so that you cannot bear fruit, and your marriage shall be nothing!”
And she flew at Dyvim. Dyvim was a big man, handsome, manly, with a big beard and no scars. But Yin did not know the meaning of fear! And so she punched and kicked at Dyvim with her great strength, and left bruises upon his thick wooden skin! Dyvim thought in his heart: This warrior is truly fierce! If I do not fight back with my full strength, she will break my body!
Now Dyvim grabbed Yin by the hair, and her nose met his knee! There came a sound as of a fish being split in half, and blood and teeth came from Yin’s face. Dyvim’s strength was so great, he had broken her in an instant! Down on the ground fell Yin, and up stood Dyvim all covered in bruises. His rib had been broken by Yin’s fierce strength!
Now Dyvim took Leesa to his side, and said: “She is my wife!” And none dared oppose him.
Our Shaman took care of Yin.
Now Harkon came out, and he saw smoke in the distance, and he thought in his heart: That must be were the Liars gather! And therefore he came to Dyvim and Leesa, and he spoke to them in their own strange tongue. Then he turned before Our People and spoke:
“Good Linowan!” he said, “You are brave and noble people, the finest in Creation! Jorst blesses you and keeps you! But soon, the leaves of Linowan lands will turn amber, and the salmon will swim upstream, and where shall they go if not you are there to catch them? You must turn north, home to your families, and therefore we must part ways.”
And Our People cried and felt grief, but they knew that it was so. Our Second Captain Varro, who loved Harkon a great deal, came forth, and said: You may come with us to Linowan lands, and watch the leaves turn amber and eat salmon! But Harkon said: We are Westerners, who have our own ways. We must go to the Endless Water, and watch the grass turn yellow and eat pigs. Farewell!
And so, Harkon took their loot and split it evenly with Dyvim and Leesa, and away from us they walked toward the great grey smoke. There, they met Liars who became their slaves, and these they took back to the Endless Water. And their feet were worn down to the ankles, and they said: Jorst bless and keep the Linowan, for without them we would not have knees!
But Our Leader found a great blue river, and its waters led north. And hear me when I say: It was the Fourth Blue River! And upon it we sailed, unto the Fourth Blue River Clan, and they greeted us as guests. We stayed with them as the year ended, and when the new year began, we ate salmon and watched the leaves turn yellow. And when winter came, our ships turned north unto the Third White River.
Of this, there is nothing more to be told.