An extract from ‘Sesonsfin: A Tale from the Bronze Age’ by S D Anugyan.


It was getting colder now that Gwav approached, the days shorter. We needed to be at Shinyahal for when the light turned. Only a few of us would be present then, the rest would make their way to World’s End to prepare for Sesonsfin. The Shinyahal people did not want us all there over Gwav, they said they could not shelter so many. In the meantime, five hundred and twenty-seven people, fifty-eight horses, twenty-one dogs and three cows that the Sun People had brought, were leaving the World of Wheels when we encountered a series of obstacles.

The first we had been warned about by Tarow, and we encountered it the first night of our journey west. We had been hoping to avoid the Dragon Backs and stay low for ease. There would be water to traverse around the Isle of Apples when we got there, but rain had not fallen much recently and the low ways of the Cat should have been amenable to us.

Then some children who had been playing on the edge of the camp came running to their families, screaming. We thought wolves had claimed one of their number, but they were all there and it was not that.

They described a fierce army of warriors glowing with a strange light marching towards the forest. They were then scolded by their parents for straying so far away, and Brogh, Tarow, a group of warriors, Hok and I got on our horses quickly to go and see. The Moon was nearly full and the way clear through the trees.

We saw the light before reaching the edge of the forest, dismounted and proceeded cautiously, leaving the horses tethered in case they gave an alarm.

“It is as I warned,” Tarow stated as we all knelt under the last trees.

It was an army of about two hundred, on foot, patrolling the open ground. I couldn’t count them properly because the ones furthest were indistinct, as if wrapped in a glowing fog. Those nearer I could see very clearly, their armour and weapons bright, spears held high, faces trapped betwixt rage and cadaverous decay. The fierce light around them did battle with the silver rays from above. None of us had fear of death, but this was a prolonged enactment of it that chilled me to the bone. It felt unnatural.

“No women,” commented Brogh in a whisper.

“There might be,” Tarow said quietly, “further back. But it was men who did this. Magicians. There, in front, the handsome fellow with one eye, that’s my cousin Eryon. He died in a battle when I was very young. They were fighting a lot in those days, and not just our champions.”

The army was about fifty paces away from us now, heading away.

“Let’s go before they return,” said Tarow, “in case they see us.”

We retreated to the horses silently.

“Can they hurt us?” I asked Hok as we rode off, but it was Tarow who answered.
“They mess with your mind,” he said. “You don’t want any of them near you. You’ll die, taking your craziness to the next world. There’s a reason they were so effective. No one would go near them.”

“But the war’s been over a long time.”

“Not for them. It’s never over.”


Because of the dead army we decided to go south over the hills the next day. Though they couldn’t be seen in daylight – and we were moving in daylight now – that made it worse, the possibility of running into them without realising until it was too late. Besides, as we were to discover later, phantom warriors and flooded plains were not the only things with which to contend on the lower levels.

On that first afternoon in the hills, there was a commotion rippling along the procession behind us, and we halted to see. There was a rider approaching along the long lines of people, waving and shouting, from the back.

She arrived, threads of her grey hair having come loose and blowing in the wet wind. It was Aven, one of the elders from the Fox Tribe of the South.

“I apologise,” she addressed us, “for any delay. One of our people has gone to the other side.”

“That is hardly unusual,” Brogh snorted. “Many have moved on from this journey. The wayside is lined with wain’s corpses alone.”

“He was a leader, or elder,” said Hok, understanding quickly.

“Both,” she answered. “He was much loved. It was he who insisted the loudest in our clan we go on this journey. You may remember him. His name was Gwyns. He too saw the danger coming. We wish to leave his body with honours.”

“You may do so and catch up with us later,” Brogh said impatiently.

“Nay,” Hok answered, also impatiently but looking at Brogh, “this is a treacherous part of the journey, which is why we are together. It is also important to do the right thing. If we abandon our ways so easily, what is the point of what we are doing? Does anyone wish to go accompany him?”

“Nay,” she shook her head. “Our people do not follow that custom.”
“It is well.”

So it was we halted the entire procession to prepare the burial site. The Fox People brought the body and laid it near the Dragon’s Spine. His family broke his knife and other tools for which he had no more use – thus ensuring his spirit would not linger through accidental attachment, and that no robbers would be tempted – and laid them beside the empty vessel; also a miniature alder wheel which he had been carrying from the East, as a memento of the carts he had built and could not use on this journey, nor the next. With help from one of the men, Aven snapped the wheel in two and placed the pieces carefully by the grey wizened head. Standing back, she performed the first part of the ceremony, allowing the words to come to her.

“Gwyns of the Fox People, you are much loved, and that love permeates the veil which separates these two worlds. You shared your love in many ways, only one of which was with your skilled hands. It was you who saw the shift from the great sacred wheels to little wheels, and how they could carry the carts we no longer had to. It was you also who saw the wisdom in the Moon People’s scheme, and insisted we join their quest. As mist seems to separate people but does not, you appear to be away from us, but are not. Gwyns of the Fox People, we celebrate your life. We love and honour you.”

She kept it short because of the situation we were in. A few more of their people left tributes then we built the cairn around his curled form. With so many willing hands this did not take long either.

Hok was asked to give the concluding speech.

“Gwyns of the Foxes, we spake only thrice, but I know that wisdom which shone in you then, shines on now. So it is, your body is returned to the round womb of the Earth from which it came and may return still. We are born screaming as we are pressed into earth, yet we go quietly. What we build and do here are but the dark chaotic roots of what grows resplendent in the other world. It is the game of death and life of which we glimpse only a part and no more, and in that game you played your part with great decency and heart. So you give example to us all. Gwyns of the Fox People, you live on, beyond the duplicitous faces of those twin rogues, life and death.”

Players put their lurs to their mouths and blasted thrilling calls to the skies. Hok lifted his arms in the air, as did the rest of us, even those far away from the ceremony who couldn’t see or hear very much, and were already eating and drinking. Our voices rose gleefully into the sky as one.

Sensonsfin coverSesonsfin: A Tale from the Bronze Age
by S.D. Anugyan
Available as paperback and Kindle from and in your country
Paperback: ‎ 106 pages
ISBN-13: ‎ 979-8430155650
Dimensions: ‎ 14.81 x 0.61 x 21.01 cm

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After a long eclectic career, Anugyan is now a writer, Feng Shui consultant and explorer of higher dimensions.

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