Live and Leave Dead

S01 — Session 21

1626, Sea Season

1626, Sea Season, Harmony week, Fireday

Dramatis Personae


As before, the log will be recounted with extracts from Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga, from The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia, The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun , The Death of Rajar, and NalaTiwrSaga. As with last time there will be extracts from the Sonnets to Varanis. Editorial commentary will be recorded [thus]. Both the {“D”} and “T” voice appear in this selection of extracts, and there is one brief excerpt from The Accounts of the Travels of Irillo Goldentongue.

[Greetings, everyone, to this, the penultimate lecture of this calendar year. I trust you have already begun your winter break reading? Excellent. Your groans are like a sort of music to my ears! Now, we move into an area in which there are surprisingly few extracts. Why is that? It may, of course, be due to limited survival, but even in intact and old manuscripts they rather skate over this ‘installment’. Why is this? What was the poet trying to avoid telling us? I think that will be a topic for discussion at the end of the lecture. Let us begin though, with the Sonnets to Varanis, and take it from there.]

It was on that midnight, dark and dreary
Varanis guarded her friends most weary
When as from nowhere1 See Wiermonken on this ‘as from nowhere’, implying it was an entirely manufactured alarm. As usual, I feel he is pushing the evidence to its breaking point, but it is still a subject for sometimes very heated discussion in the literature. something caught her eye
In the chamber, Irillo dead did lie!

Thus to action noble Saiciae lept
Who could slay members whilst they softly slept?
The word from Thane to Guardian woman sped
And in the search for danger then, she led!

{“And would a single one of them have appreciated how the trick was done? They would not!”}

[It would appear that Mellia was out of the palazzo by this time, for Nala was sent out, or went of her own accord, or possibly Tiwr’s]

When a road is rode
And attackers aloft burn
Does the flame burn rött?2 I have chosen to translate this word into German, as it matches both the meaning of the Praxian original, as meaning red, whilst also sharing its sound similarity to road and rode.

When Unicorn comes
To place of Fertile Healing
Who is luckier?

“THEM. Obviously.”

[Now, let us move on to where there is considerably more written from this timeframe. Various academics have suggested that this is due to the role of Serala being far more significant at this point, and her heroism greater. Alternatively, it may be due to more survival from The Lay of Serala, Lance of the Cold Sun than from the other sources, although cynics have suggested that there is clearly a degree of hyperbole on the part of the author of the Lays.]

Alone, as heroes do, the Lance rode forth, to guard the helpless weak
For she knew all too well what terrors might ‘gainst them sneak
Serala went to guard them, ‘gainst the evil works of the dread Lunar horde
Who sought to see their blood like fastest waters poured!

Serala doubtless, dauntless was, midst the canyons of the Town
For twas here she’d next go win a golden heroes crown!
For when a dozen Lunar knights beset her in an alley fell
She disarmed one, with swordplay bright, the others left no tales to tell

And thus, her pris’ner before her walked, towards her friend
But as we know the Lunar Beast serves many an evil end.
So as she trod her noble path back to her Nochet home
It chanced that ‘gainst her other, num’rous foes did roam.

And thus it was, in a nameless cobbled field of war
(Which the Lance would decorate with many a life’s blood’s gore)
An ambush came, against her noble valiant heart
And she struck back a blow, as is a heroes part.

A hundred foes, against her came, for such was all her fame
That less than that no longer’d face her name
And she struck once, four hundred yards or so
And their Captain sunk, transfixed with might blow!

At that, the others turned and helpless ‘gainst her fled
And she scorned to hunt the paths they’d led.
And companions to her aid did straightway hurry
Arriving then, to aid, with all un-needed fury

[It is possible this major battle was less extensive than suggested here, judging by the analogous point in Berra JarangsdottiHumaktisaga]

Seeing Serala Striking
Said Sword Swiftly,
“Fly Fearless Friend
Forth to Foes Fetch!”

Letting Lady Leap,
Led loyal lad
To where doughty door divided
Daylight from deadly deathdealing

[A clarification about the ‘Loyal Lad’ is made in reference to The Death of Rajar]

When Bison bashes
Doors divide like whether we
Wash with land water!

[Whilst Sonnets to Varanis says]

Called by Swordmaid, Lady of Wind Soaring
The power of the Air Lord in-pouring
Her flight was then to heal a deadly foe
And from him seek what ’twas she wish’d to know!

[This ‘What ’twas she wish’d to know’ is the only indication in these heroic poems at this time of what was almost inevitably some form of torture. That it was barely mentioned implies it was seen as necessary, but not the sort of thing that ‘heroes’ did, even in this age of barbarism, around the Hero Wars. We pick up with NalaTiwrSaga.]

When kept in the dark
What is best in life? Ask Sid!
He will lead you there.

[There is only one entry in The Accounts at this point, and it is unusually vague.]

Transaction with Serzeen
Mutually profitable.
Maturation of investment not yet known

[Clearly, I have left the most significant element until last, with this segment of the The Sonnets to Mellia, Sweetest of Healers, White Lady of Esrolia]

Wisely seeing past Onjur’s wilder schemes,
Sweet Mellia sought truth in her magic dreams .
With Goddess guiding, she went to her Priest
Who said, “You seek the ways? They are near least.

First to heal the questers soul as it strives.
To do what they tried, and return to lives.
Then to quest quite likewise the Hero plane
To gently, and kindly open a vein3 Clearly, a Chalana Arroy couldn’t do this themselves. .

[Now that we have heard these extracts, what conclusions may we make on the subject? What thoughts do people have? Lets open this to one of the ‘floor discussions’ the Dean loves so much.]

Chunky guy with rings on every finger: Do we have to have thoughts here? We’re clearly being asked not to by the surprising lack of discussion. Who are we to refuse?
Thin guy, also with many rings: We’re academics.
Chunky guy: Does that mean we should launch forth into folly? We can’t enforce our understanding here. We can only be instructed when there is instruction.
Thin guy, in sulky undertone: Or inference.

[Sir, You appear to mistake this for School. The purpose of University is to teach you to think for yourself, not to hang on my words. pause Although you should do so also.]

Spotty kid who has been voted out of the second row: Addressing the context for the poem, do we know that the thin spot, as it were, is not a deliberate attempt at suppression, rather than a niceness on the part of the author?

[An excellent question. And both of those opinions have been stated. Derzinsky is more of a fan of the conspiracy theory, rather than merely the politics of courtesy approach. ]

Young woman in black eyeliner: Why leap to the conclusion of there being violence in questioning, when Lhankor Mhy spells and the Truth Rune are so common? Isn’t coercion enough?
Older woman, identical black eyeliner: eyeroll

[I suspect because if honourable magic had been used, they would have said so.]

Girl with more plaits than clothes: Can we close the window here? And… uh… isn’t it the case that Varanis was in charge here, as a noble? Could the extra work given to other poems indicate an attempt to have their heroes escape from that yoke, rather than a negative in the Varanis corpus?

Visiting professor in black, feet up on table: *writes in notebook, absorbed*

[You must understand, Miss, that I have selected excerpts which are representative. I do expect you to have read more widely however. Might I propose you do so?]

Woman poured into dress: Sometimes you just don’t have evidence. This poem is said by the Sage Llewun to be an, and I quote, unholy union of three bastard parents, meaning that it’s made up of several poems by the same voice, or else three voices. Why can’t it just be that this bit’s not covered by any of the parts, or only covered by one?
Visiting professor in black: *smirks*

[Which poem? Remember, these are all extracts from longer different poems.]

Woman poured into dress: The Varanis. We’re asking why that’s short on detail, aren’t we? I thought that was the question.
Woman poured into dress: *looks confused*

[No… no, the question is why all of the poems are light in this area. We have indications in several poems of prisoners. But it gets terribly skated over, doesn’t it?]

Woman poured into dress: But you said Serala had more. I mean, a lot more.
Chunky guy in too many rings: Yes, but not about this part. We have a lot of heroism, and then a stop.

Visiting professor in black: *turns over page, thoughtfully*

[Precisely. A suspicious silence, into which we are entitled to read things.]

Girl who asks precisely one question each lesson: why can’t it be that the author preferred to dwell on the legendary armour of Varanis, in the passage that everyone knows, and thus skimped on everything else?

Weedy (sic) guy: hey, if I were woken up that far before dawn, I’d not say much, either. laughter

[I don’t think we can really presume that. The famous passage is famous for a good reason, of course, but the rest of the text goes on extensively past that.]

Woman not noticed heretofor, suddenly: So should we consider the Lay of Serala a very early instance of creative non-fiction as a genre?
*silence and lots of head turning*

[We could.]

Redhead with complicated life: Wait, were we supposed to read this before class today? Because I had a test in another class…

Sleepy student; Will we be getting out early today because holidays?
Voice from the back: Don’t ask him that. He’ll set us more reading.

Surprised youth a chair down from the Visiting Professor, after sound of paper ball being thrown: When you say you have saved the most important part – do you mean in respect of the main tale, or the question you have posed? And could it be both?
Visiting Professor: *innocent look*

[For the story, of course. But it’s an intriguing question, isn’t it? All of this is very irrelevant to the greater story, isn’t it? But then, as with Gawain and the Green Knight, if Gawain had hit the Green Knight with the Holly, rather than the axe, it would make a short poem.]

Guy with eyeliner: isn’t it strange how an illiterate and presumably innumerate Grazelander is so good at counting her enemies?
*more headturning and glares*
Long-haired woman with upright posture: Hey! Sure knows how to count horses in a herd. Lunars aren’t so different. Except in more bits.

[I shall not comment here on the fact her poem is called “The Lays of Serala.” by the coarse-minded.]

What Really Happened

Notable Moments and Quotes

Related Logs

  • 1
    See Wiermonken on this ‘as from nowhere’, implying it was an entirely manufactured alarm. As usual, I feel he is pushing the evidence to its breaking point, but it is still a subject for sometimes very heated discussion in the literature.
  • 2
    I have chosen to translate this word into German, as it matches both the meaning of the Praxian original, as meaning red, whilst also sharing its sound similarity to road and rode.
  • 3
    Clearly, a Chalana Arroy couldn’t do this themselves.