She was “The Eye from the North” and on this day, she graced the battlefield with the men.
Her body was frail; she used a cane to walk. One leg had half-transformed into one of the crow. It was a sacrifice to gain her omnipresence.
For us, the North-Men, we looked to her for information. Her left eye, seemingly useless, was connected. The eyes of the crows, anywhere and everywhere, relayed their sights to her directly. She was monstrous, hideous, and refused to define herself in any other light.
But it was for the North-Men. For a crow, enemy troop movements were easy to spot.
She even gave us private information about the lords and kings to the south. Proclaiming they were ordained by the “true” god, they would engage in pleasures of the flesh that would disgust even the old ones.
She would laugh as she told me the stories. Her oily hair fell over her face. The candlelight seemed to avoid her in the tent.
On this occasion she read the bones, the tea, and the stars. She communed with the eye and found nothing. No new information had come in, save for the message she received from the reading over two weeks ago.
“You will not fail.”
I joined her in the walk to the front-lines. The general joined us, along with all the officers.
There was no way around this battle. Their numbers were far stronger than ours, and they had the benefit of the wind, the weather, and morale.
The officers’ armor clanged as they walked. Only the general spoke up.
“This message, can we translate it to anyone else? It says “you” will not fail. Does this only mean, you?” his voice was bitter, and full of hateful slowness.
“The messages are sometimes not meant to be understood,” her voice cracked like a squawk.
The officers shoved past the dumbfounded soldiers, all staring at The Eye.
“We need your guidance! What can the crows tell us!? Is there…” he lowered his voice and got closer to the old woman, “is there an advantage here?”
She laughed, and it was full of hoarse dismissal.
“One cannot do the same thing for too long. Otherwise one’s enemies will grow accustomed to it. Anything can be predicted.”
The officers looked at each other. Their faces wore the look of exasperation.
“Do you mean to tell me that we will lose this battle? No more with the riddles! Tell me!”
She stopped, tucked her cane under arm and parted her oily, tangled hair to look at the general face to face. Her face had grown even more hideous, the eye taking over her face over the course of decades. The black web of something otherworldly now reached all the way to the opposite ear.
“You told me you wished to regain the clan’s honor with the blood of the enemy. Whether we lose this battle or not, you regain the honor you sought,” The Eye said with a smirk.
The General stood up straight after hearing this. His giant stature dwarfed the woman, and he gazed downward with contempt.
I was fearful that he might striker her. I moved towards her. As her caretaker it was my duty to take the blows meant for her.
The giant of a man turned his glance to me, and waved me away with a gesture and a nod.
There would be no blows.
“What do I tell the men?” he asked her.
“Tell them what you wish. But I have reached the limits of my power,” she coughed, parting from the group.
The general found a spot, observing the army of united tribes, and eager, zealous cultists.
“I know we will not fail, today,” he bellowed, “For whether we burn the homes of these dogs, or die with valor on the fields of battle. Our story lives on, and we walk the path of honor and truth.”
He unsheathed his sword, and raised it to the sky.
The men cheered as though victory was assured. The clanged their axes and spears against their shields.
But I turned to match the gaze of The Eye, to the horde opposite the valley.
They lined the horizon. Their banners were raised high. Through their countless embarrassing losses they had united. We had united the kingdoms of the south against us.
In death we are victorious.