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The Fanes' saga - The events underlying the legend

The end of the kingdom


Ey-de-Net’s figure, the young Hercules well depicted as wavering and constantly in doubt, might just be a literary character, or be borrowed from other legends. We might even venture claiming that the core of the story would hold, a way or another, even if he were completely removed from it, and that attributing the young princess a fiancé (who necessarily had to be a foreigner) is an easy-to-be-expected development. But this holds true as much for reality as for the literary fiction!

Ey-de-Net, openly accused of treason by Spina, had no intention to come back home defeated. Moreover, this time he had looked at Dolasilla, and believed that making actual acquaintance with her was definitely worthwhile. Therefore, he looked for a way to get in touch with the Fanes' king: he soon found who was able to address him at his not-too-secret mistress, and through her he had the chance to meet the king himself.
The king was in trouble. Dolasilla had not been wounded very seriously, and would heal; but he was trapped in the pinch between his restless warriors, who urged taking immediate and terrible vengeance upon the Lastoieres, and the fearsome retaliation by the Palaeo-Venetics, who would severely punish the Fanes if they had dared breaking the truce conditions he had agreed with the Caiutes. Therefore, the king was definitely interested in introducing an ally of his among the Fanes. By the way, Dolasilla had reached the age to get married, and Ey-de-Net might prove as fit as politically precious as a candidate to that role also.
So they agreed that Ey-de-Net would have a very heavy bronze shield built for him: Dolasilla’s wounding had shown, in effect, that the girl would get into serious trouble, if their enemies had begun answering arrows with arrows. The shield was to be delivered to the king, and the herculean Ey-de-Net, pretending to be passing by, would easily demonstrate being the only man capable of carrying it around. The king would assign him the job of shield-carrier; later, things would follow their route.

As we already observed, the legend makes up such a mess about this shield that we are strongly induced to believe to be dealing with the difficult reconstruction of an incompletely known real event, better than with a full of gaps and ill-conceived fictional invention. This remark might support Ey-de-Net’s credibility as a character who, at least in his general outline, really existed.

All this was done. Dolasilla recovered from her wound and Ey-de-Net took his place at her side, albeit with some more grumbling by the Fanes warriors: but nobody would dare confronting him in a duel.
At this point, however, there were no more valid reasons not to resume raiding, as the Fanes warriors insistently claimed. After [maybe] the first few raids were directed North, the king was unable to avoid that the usual Lastoieres were targeted again.
In the meanwhile, Ey-de-Net had succeeded in conquering Dolasilla’s heart. For some time, the king perhaps pretended contrasting their marriage, to avoid his political manoeuvre to be revealed as such, then he consented, apparently unwillingly. Dolasilla declared she had no intention to fight again, and the king took this as an excuse to suspend all war operations.

From this moment on, our reconstruction of the “facts” must by necessity be stretched farther than just re-interpreting what the legend recounts, because the storytellers themselves obviously were no longer able to retrace its events coherently and exhaustively. While on one hand this circumstance again induces to suspect that the narrated events are no sheer fiction, on the other hand it compels to devise (mostly arbitrarily) a course of the events that has a credible logical consistence and at the same time allows to justify the different and often contradictory statements that the legend suggests on the matter. We should remember, by the way, that we have different variants of this part of the legend: a further clue that it may be the reconstruction of the same events according to different and differently informed witnesses.

At this point something must have happened, maybe a new crushing raid by rebel Fanes warriors, that raised the most serious worry of the tribes allied with the Palaeo-Venetics. Now resolute to stop it once for all, they travelled down to the remote towns in the plain that were the political heart of the Palaeo-Venetic nation, to obtain that the Fanes be exemplary punished. Maybe Spina-de-Mul himself played a role in this mission also. In any case, the central authority of the Palaeo-Venetic confederation ordered that a large army be collected, under the command of a well-proven and skilled general. All settlements in the area were requested to contribute with a party of their troops.
The Caiutes’ king, accused of having awaited too long and not having adequately protected his allies, exposed his reasons and obtained that the Fanes be proposed a last alternative to destruction: if they accepted joining the Palaeo-Venetic protectorate and renounced their obnoxious lifestyle, he would grant them the rights of exploiting an important mine and teach them the art of metalworking, so that they would become a rich people without any further need for looting their neighbours.
The Fanes king, when presented with this ultimatum, was quite eager to accept it.
When he exposed it to his warriors, however, the proposal triggered the revolt that had been latent since long. None of them could believe that an army capable of defeating them could exist. None of them could accept bending to a foreign domination. None of them had any intention to put an end to his happy raider’s life and miserably toil as a miner. The king was openly accused of having betrayed his people and, to convince the queen, the story of his Caiute mistress was also thrown in his face. In the night, the king was silently eliminated, and nobody ever knew what had happened to him. Ey-de-Net hardly succeeded to escape, and quickly reached the place where he and his betrothed had agreed to meet again in case of a riot.
Dolasilla, however, was long unable to get free from the warriors’ siege, who requested her to take up arms again and lead them into battle instead of her father. When she was left alone, only after having been compelled to consent, she hurried to their agreed meeting place, but it was too late: Ey-de-Net, having been told that she wouldn’t come to their appointment any longer, because she preferred challenging her destiny and remaining among the Fanes as a queen, better than facing an uncertain and obscure future together with him, had gone away out of hope, never to come back. The girl was left with no other choice but fighting, for victory or death: the overwhelming enemy army was already encamped on the borders.
It seems that a new attempt to come to an agreement took place before the battle. The Palaeo-Venetics offered the Fanes some territory in exchange for renouncing to their aggressive policy: but the warriors had no interest at all in lands different from their highland pastures, and only wanted to fight; the queen’s opinion was no longer an issue.
The Fanes entered the decisive battle without any overall strategic guidance. It seems that they attacked by night and by surprise and daring succeeded in gaining an important initial advantage. Later on, however, sunrise came. Dolasilla, who was wearing her old amour, now rusty, led them again in their traditional crashing charge, but the better armed and skilled enemies largely outnumbered them. Their commander had organized a line of bowmen: as soon as there was light enough to shoot, they opened large gaps in the Fanes’ ranks, and finally Dolasilla herself fell under their arrows. The Fanes, their morale broken, as it can happen to those who believe being invincible and all of a sudden see themselves defeated, were utterly and unescapably routed.
The robust stronghold on the Cunturines gave shelter to the few survivors, but it was soon clear that it had to be abandoned too, as they were too few to defend it any longer. The queen herself remembered how the Fanes had succeeeded to survive in the remote past, against even stronger enemies: hiding in the holes of the mountain, like marmots do: that symbol – her own symbol – they never should have relinquished.
Only very few Fanes could escape anyway. The enemies were spreading over the plateaus, destroying everything with fire, and eventually they encircled the largest group of the fugitives. The last, fierce battle ended up in a general massacre, women and children included.

The Palaeo-Venetics, people of the plains, were not interested at all in the Fanes’ highlands. Instead of occupying them, after the slaughter they retired and never came back. The tiny group of Fanes survivors for some time nurtured the hope to be able restoring their kingdom to its full greatness of the past, a greatness that grew greater and greater every time a new generation told their grandchildren about it. Winters however were becoming colder and colder as time went by, and eventually the last of the Fanes were compelled to climb down into the valleys, mixing with the farmers of the new race who had settled there in the meantime.
But the remembrance of that short, intense season of glory, of the archer girl and of the traitor king, was destined to live on forever.


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