This page contains ballads sung by minstrels and bards all over Santharia,
recounting of old legends and tales, of romance, of battles, of hopes and
tragedies of heroes, of betrayal or friendship... Come, take a glass of dwarven
ale and hear what stories our bards have in store for you...
The ancient Erpheronian tale of the fabled and
feared, gruesome and grisly black knight was picked up in his ballad of
the same title by Manthria's famous poet Monsonius. In it he tells us of
the demise of the one they all thought to be invincible, even immortal -
maybe there wasn't so much truth in that legend after all?
Come and dance, my graceful children, dance,
dance around the black knight's fiery lance!
All his ghastly life he rode with her to battle,
pierced friend'n foe - now himself he's bony rattle,
he drove his weapon right here into the earth -
pray, Soulgryph: See to judge the vile man's worth!
Gather around, my friends, rejoice, let's feast!
The wicked grimace... at last its grin has ceased!
Oh yes, he had so many masters, killed with glee,
did the gruesomest deeds, grabbed bloody fees.
Greed and lust, death and demons of the night,
yield to this day, the Injèrá shines so bright.
Behold the flame around that lance, see its intent!
How it creeps and winds, how it enjoys to reinvent!
Can you sense the magic living inside this thing?
Once a blazing sceptre, swung by the iron king -
yet now it does flicker, the fire begins to fail,
the lance looks dead, shrouded mere in bluish veil.
Hey and hooray! Swift, priests, tend to the felled,
as far too long their final word has been withheld.
The fiend lies still, never he will move again,
this seals his fate, end of the shadow's reign.
May the priests in death restore what once was lost,
remind the soul of lines so shamelessly were crossed.
But enough. Spare some blessings, and leave me be!
Let the proud victor step closer, just let him see
the one final thing he has sworn that he must do,
that very last thing - go, go, let him through!
Away with you, food aplenty wants to be prepared!
The black knight's slain - go, spread that word!
And now... Allow me to approach, darkest of foes,
lying pinned to the ground, as the lowest of lows,
fallen, spread out, pierced clean like a leaf,
rest assured, the final encounter - I make it brief.
For now the time has come to pull off your mask -
yet I feel my hand trembling fulfilling the task...
My friends, trust me: There's no reason to believe
what those foolish folks claim: That to bereave
the villain of his mask is wrong - or so they say,
it only bringeth death, destruction, doom, decay.
Ha! Through my hand the black knight had to die,
I've well earned to look into the evil eye!
On then, let's reveal the truth behind that visor,
lo and behold - one moment, then we'll all be wiser!
But how... Why... What dirty trick I'm being played?
Where's that grimace? The lack of it finds me betrayed,
empty is the helmet, dark, blacker than the night,
where are thou gone, thou horrid master of fright?
But wait! What's that? Something in the helmet stirs...
A strange faint light, a flicker there, a flash occurs,
and as I bend down to look, fascinated, I draw nearer:
Show yourself! Crawl out there, let me see you clearer!
Indeed, from the shadow rises, aye, I now can see
- a face: The knight? No, just a reflection, it is... me.
And in each my fearful eyes winds this fiery tongue,
amazed I feel, shaking - yet lively, vigorous and young.
There's a chill, a shriek, and all those lights are gone,
darkness I see, stars, moon, and then the break of dawn.
I breathe, get up, tear from the earth the heavy lance,
to command my trusty flames: Kiss the steel and - dance!
OF THE HEADLESS
This Nybelmarian traveller’s ballad is often heard,
in various different forms and fragments, sung on merchant wagons and inns
throughout Nybelmar. It originates with rumours and myths prevalent among
those few traders who have to brave the passage across the desert
wasteland known as “the Bucket” to the north of the dreaded Venlaken
Enclave. It seems to describe a hiveling formed of pikewing moths, a rare
apparition at best, but unheard of this far north of the marshes and
jungle with which the moths are associated. That said, among hivelings
abnormality is something of a norm, so there might be some substance to
Pikewing moths are only rarely recorded to take hiveling form, partly
because they are dangerous carnivorous insects in their own right, and
accordingly rare. What little is recorded of pikewing hivelings suggests
that, like many hivelings made of dangerous creatures, the hiveling itself
is arguably less hazardous than pikewing moths usually are - hence the
rather macabre denouement to this tale. The ballad also features mentions
of other hazards associated with travelling too close to the Venlaken
Enclave, such as the dream tempter apparition, mad dancing fairies, and
In dust the Daran river flows
And weaves through wasted lands,
And those who wander there well know
The madness in its sands.
Alone in all the yawning Bucket
A single traveller strays.
Wandering lost and far from friends
For days and lonely days.
He cannot even find the river
And fears he may have crossed it
And if it’s true he’s crossed the line
His poor brief life, he’s lost it.
For over the creeping Daran river
Or thereabouts, at least,
There lurks the land of Venlaken
Where only flies can feast.
Where only dead things hold their way,
And skeletons live like kings,
And bones grow from the ground like trees,
And the blackened unicorn sings.
It is a land of sickness
In soul and flesh and mind,
The traveller shudders, fearing what
His wandering feet might find.
One night he dreamed of Love herself
Her face all smiles and light,
And waking, felt less like himself
Than he thought perhaps he might.
He dreamed the same night after night
In smiles she drank his heart,
Devouring piece by painful piece,
With all her cursed art.
By day he found he scarce could stand
And could not find his way;
The malice of the Bucket wastes
Turns memories to clay.
Beset by tempting wights by night
And thirst and fear by day,
He lay down in the deathly dust
And wished to fade away.
He could not tell how long he lay,
But by and by a sound
Of rustling wings like breaking strings
Rose up from all around.
“Perhaps,” he said, “you are a Lost One
Come to hunt the living?
I’ve not much life in me, I think
But what there is I’m giving.”
The apparition did not speak
But drew itself together
A figure made from pikewing moths
With wings of painted leather.
The moths were hundreds, tightly swarmed
As strong and firm as flesh
But shifting always, breaking apart
To build its form afresh.
He cringed away with fearful eyes
And dared not ask its name;
A tremor in its movements
Spoke of madness and of shame.
It stood and started over him
And soon he saw with dread:
The eerie figure made of moths
Lacked a mothy head.
At last he found the strength to speak,
Though fear clawed at his throat
He bid it speak and tell its name
If it could sound the notes.
Of course it could not speak to him;
It had no mouth or tongue.
But in the rustling of the wings
It seemed faint words were sung.
It paced and gestured round him flying
And seemed to build a voice
From feverish murm’ring thrill of wings-
He listened, had no choice.
“I am more lost than you are, sir
More lost than any wight
The only things I have are these;
My tale, and your own sad plight.
“The first I can do naught but tell
The second may be elsewise
But can a maddened ghost foretell
Where mortal fortune lies?
“I lost a treasure; one of six
I dropped it in the deep
I put my head inside because
I thought then I might sleep.
“It was a box of willow wood
And still I hear it weeping
Drowned with my mind, and yet I find
I’m mad for never sleeping.
“You shift and scowl, you think I stray
From reason in my tale
And that is true, or at the least
As true as desert sails.
“The box was one of six, I said
And now I say again.
Two boxes for the start and end
For why and how and when.
“They were both lost so long ago
Or might have never been.
They were the first and last of what
Was told by the four between.
“Four boxes carved with ancient words
And holding things inside
A whistle, a flint, a knife, a bell
Keys to where ancients hide.
“They were our treasures and our burden
And we would bear them always
But always is a longer time
Than any moth-life stays.
“I’ve died by inches since the first
At first I did not heed it
But when war stole our minds away
The loss seemed but to feed it.
“I want to sleep, to die, to fade
But when I do, I wake
A mind in a box that should hold a bell
In a broken-mirror lake.
“I lost the bell when I first came here
Stolen by dancing fae
Who mocked me for my sanity
And now I’m mad as they.
“They gave me back my voice though,
Or near as I can tell.
I used to have a bell-like voice
Or was that not the bell?
“I cannot say, it makes no sense
My mind is far away
Lying with my voice, the bell
In the box where it must stay.”
The moth-made-form grew still at that
And the wings sang low and sweet
And he took its hands and wordless he
Was set upon his feet.
He followed its flight from day to night
By night it swarmed around him
And kept away the dreaming face
That in smiles had all but drowned him.
One day the moth-ghost pointed out
Across the dusty plain,
And said “A day that way and you
Might find your way again.”
“But don’t look back as you go on,
Stepping over Oblivion’s Call
Something stirs in every life
And I cannot recall...”
The traveller stepped away but when
The moth-ghost spoke no more
He paused and asked “Cannot recall?
Recall what? And what for?”
He stayed, not looking back, but still
There followed no reply
So turning, smiling bright, he said
“Thank you, and goodbye.”
“Thank you, and goodbye”, he said
But then he said no more
For where the moth-form once had been
Wild pikewings swarm and roar.
Dreams are fearsome things, it’s true
And ghosts and desert wastes
But little stands up ‘gainst a moth
With such carnivorous tastes.
OF THE ANTISLAR)
This song is sung by the people of Antislar to call
upon the 6th Century hero Daerdhum, who liberated the Plains of Antislar
and the city of Antis during the Second Orcish War in 578 a.S. It recounts
how after the war, the hero Dhaerdum continued to battle the Remusians,
vowing to not stop until the barbarians were completely driven out of
formerly held Antislar lands. Fearing a renewed war, the King of the
Antislar people, Burkess, negotiated a deal with the Remusians to betray
Daerdhum and deliver him to the Ice Tribe. Daerdhum was taken back to
Remusiat, the capital city of the Remusians, and executed by "splitting"
where the victim is tied upside down, legs apart, and the executioner uses
a sword to cut the victim in half from "groin to gullet".
The song gained popularity during the Third Orcish War in 814 a.S. It
remains popular today, and is often sung by children. It serves as a
reminder that Daerdhum is said to return when his people will need him
Daerdhum was a hero,
A tragic figure also
He fought for us
He bled for us
Betrayed out in the snow
Brukess was the King
A ruthless ugly thing
Betrayed the man
Our Hero man
Left our people yearning
Given to the Ice men
His fate decided then
He died out there
Alone out there
Away from all his clansmen
But when our lands are barren
We’ll call upon the chosen
He will return
To take his turn
And kill all the Remusian
The following poem is a tale of the events that led
to Southern Sarvonia's Kyranian tribe becoming the Helcrani that exist
today. The time period is approx. 800 b.S, during the Age of Blood. The
piece is an artistic representation of the assassination of Tacunija, heir
to the Goltherrhim regency, by Kyranian rogues. Upon Tacunija's death, he
cursed the tribe of his killers (the Kyranians) to an existance of turmoil
and conflict. In response to this, the Kyranians became known as the
Helcrani, or "Firedamned", in reference to the curse and the symbolic
explosion of the volcano Hèckra.
On Hèckra's slopes, a princeling elf
Of peaceful, loving kind
Had met demise unwarranted,
And left this world behind.
Life force drained
From body weak
By time cut short,
And rosy cheeks
Bereft of cheery hue;
And from pale lips
Was uttered forth
A curse that would ring true.
A curse of quarrel, strife, and feud
On all the ilk and kin
Of those who'd spilt his noble blood;
Thus sorrow did begin.
Three flames from Heckra sealed the pact,
And thrice would it return
To haunt the mournful Firedamned
In flames that ever burned.
The moon and stars are bright tonight, shine well
across my way,
And here is comfort in the dark, though night has waned the day.
I journey by the forest deep, but three leagues now from town,
And it seems that the heavens wear the moon disk as a crown.
The birches sway and sing to me within the growing breeze,
And something in their flurried song puts all my soul at ease.
Their bodies, black as nightbird’s wing, despite their slender scars
Move elegantly in the dark, beneath the icy stars.
And here the winds grow furious, and howl like a beast
And here the dark seems full of demons hungry for the feast,
And suddenly the torrent clouds throw shadow on my way
And every sound’s a predator, to which I am the prey.
Yet then, out from the churning wood, I hear a voice sweet
And all the sounds of evil hush, and all the beasts retreat.
The wind still blows with fury yet seems muted in the sight
Of some fair maiden singing back the demons and the fright.
Her voice melts away the fear, sets comfort in my soul
And every fragment of my heart, in her eyes now is whole.
I must have known her all my life, for always she’s been there
Just watching me as I’ve gone by, and whispering through the air.
I’ve known of her, I felt her there, in ever rock and stream
I’ve heard her voice - she’s
come to me in every pleasant dream.
And every zephyr through the trees has been her longing sighs.
See now she reaches out for me, with both her arms and eyes.
Her face, so beautiful and pale, her body, small and light
It seems she turns back to the wood, to vanish in the night.
“Don’t go, my love,” I call to her, and leave the dusty route.
She’s mine, my own, my love, the one I cannot do without.
“I’m coming now, my shadow maid, my empress of the night
I’ve heard thee dancing in the wood, with bells and wisps of light,
With lips as red as teki dyes, and eyes as bright as fire
I’ve heard thee calling softly through the whispering nightly choir.”
And when the shadow falls across her countenance so fair,
And mingles in the dabbled brilliance of her silken hair,
And when the call of glitras grace the blackness of the night,
I learn of all the light in shade, and all the shade in light.
following ballad was sung by the famous Masterbard
Judith of Bardavos in the
Pig-and-Whistle Tavern in Bardavos and her performance is
described in detail below.)
Judith catches the innkeeper's fleeting expression, and
tilts her head with a wry smile and a whispered comment for the man: “Ah, we
must please our customers before ourselves, not so, Master Jokhoff?” A bit of
butter makes every pot smoother – the old peasant proverb runs through her head
as she gives him a last flash of emeraude eyes before turning to the room. Her
trained voice easily cuts through the clutter of noise and clink of tankards.
“You would hear of war and glory, battle and thrill, in a town of peace and
refuge? A sanctuary through the scrolls of history, famed from the icy Imliths
to sandy Strata? Now, you don’t make it easy for a simple minstrel, good folk…”
She pauses, her brow furrowed in seeming perplexity. “…But I’ll sing you a song
from the Siege of Bardavos then, a good two thousand years agone, in the days
when we were Thaehavos city…and may it open your ears along with your throats!”
The lute rings a sharp chord, catching the last gossips in mid-chew, and
Judith’s alto begins, pitched low to request rather than compel quiet.
“There was a battle
In the south,
And northern elves were ready,
To come down from
The forests wild
And blood their swords at Strata…”
The melody is simple, repetitive, a minor chant that
carries the story along. Beneath the warm burr of her voice the lute plucks out
single notes like the drum of horse hooves, or the strike of swords.
Did bar their way,
The walls could be no higher,
And so they set
The town to siege
With elven arrows fired…”
It is not the stirring call to arms the tavern might
have expected… but the heart speeds its beat to match the lute pace, and the
hair rises on the arms as the chant continues; the double pulse at the end of
each half-stanza is a sinking sigh, an anvil strike, a dying breath, an arrow
dropping from its arc.
“‘Ah woe is me,’
The good Thane cried,
‘For Thaehavos, my city,
Shall surely fall
To hunger’s grip,
And all my people dying…’
Then out there stood
A group of lads,
Their wisdom teeth yet cutting,
With seven harps
Upon their backs,
That they aside were setting.
‘Though we be boys,
Despise us not!
Although we be but singers,
No soldiers - yet,
We offer up
Our voices for our city…
Across the desert
We shall fare
As man may be, most speedy,
We’ll brave the wilds,
To bring you aid,
And beg the swords of Strata!’”
Here the bard pauses in her singing, keeping her
fingers flicking out the plaintive notes of the harmony. The strings chime and
whine together, as if wind howled in a sudden gust past the rooftrees. Her eyes
narrow, and she continues, lowering her tone and raising her intensity together
as she hisses the next stanza…
“A span of days
Of burning sun,
And sand that sought their slaughter,
The seven minstrel
Lads pressed on,
The Ráhaz-Dáth against them!
Oh mothers of
Your children here are dying,
It matters not
To Queprur’s hand,
By sun or elven arrow…
Yet from the north
Three lads struck through,
Burnt to the bone and fainting,
To see the gold
Of Strata glow
Beneath their feet so paining.
And from the south
Three armies came,
To beat the elven warriors
Back to the verge
With nought but blood behind them…”
Green eyes glow like cats’ in the firelight, and the
bard drops her voice to a croon, slowing and drawing into a diminishing sigh of
notes, the last like a cool breath in the fire-warmed air of the quiet tavern.
“There was a battle…
In the south…
And aye it cost them dearly…
As every battle
Has its cost -
No matter who the winner…”
Eghana Hedynn was the first female Captain of the Guards of
Voldar (631 b.S.-626
She was the daughter of the
Helcrani mercenary Turgeon Hedynn and
Fehvan Branoch; a member of the house of Branoch (Voldarian
Ruling Council) and Councillor. A well-trained
guard, and determined headstrong girl, Eghana was
constantly trying to defy what was said of her. From birth to death she was a
fiery girl whose strength should not be doubted because of her sex.
The men tried to push her and
shove her away,
But she pushed harder and trained every day.
Forced to wear dresses and put on court thrills,
But'd rather have corslets, bucklers, and drills,
Swords, and truncheons, and armour and kills.
Killing and killing but forcing a grin,
The old Captain died with wrinkles aplenty,
Old as a bone, with Eghana still hunting,
The next one was picked, but died not in battle,
Riding out early as drunk has horned cattle,
Dying with swagger, and falling from saddle.
Slashing and clashing but forcing a grin,
Placed on the list, she moved up with a flash,
Passing the top without even a clash.
Still prodded and poked, and spit at and fie,
She stood, and ignored, and kept her head high,
Just stood there and took, though no one knows why.
Dodging and guarding but forcing a grin,
There were rumors and whispers and tidings of war,
She planned and prepared, and waited for more.
At last it arrived and she rode into fray,
Black horse and armor, and all in display,
Charging in anger at the gold and the grey.
Rushing and crushing but forcing a grin,
Her horse got the point of Centoraurion spear,
And she fell in a roll yet still showed no fear.
Still undaunted even when when the enemy swordsman arrived,
They fought to the death and so each of them died.
All her men heard it, and then all her men cried.
Lying and dying but forcing a grin,
"I was too good to be refused," said she in a smirk,
As she listened and listened, as they told of her work.
Her neck ceased its hold and her eyes rolled to white,
The guards cried and in her stead rose up and to fight,
They won hollow victory praising her might,
And bore her to tomb upraised in torchlight.
We bore her to tomb upraised in torchlight.
OF THE QUALLIAN
ballad describing the breaking-off of the Quallian.
Translated from the Styrásh
by Bard Judith,
from the oral recounting of the
Ylfferhim elf Avennía Asaiá,
known to humans as “Wren”.)
Ah, Thaehelvíl, why did you take
Our Quallian from the forest whole?
The birds of the Zeiphyrian bitterly weep;
Where shall we sing our songs?
The Aieryn rose, the wanderer
Above her beat its banks to clay.
The golden leaves were tossed and torn,
The beasts all hid their heads.
In Avénni'modía’s passion there
The wind and water worked their will.
The bladed rain that severed us
Gave Ylfferhim their home.
(musical bridge, followed by 'refrain')
O blessed land, Cál'artanhé,
Your streams and mosses sing to us.
O Quallian, wood of golden leaves,
So dear to elven hearts.
There Mahood Euwen spread their crowns
And Cloewen blossom pinkly fair,
The Adlemir in glory grow,
Their branches Avá’s hymns.
And there the sýs'neán feeds and runs,
The great-eyed white deer dance for joy,
Round Vallaris and Drwsyl’s trunks.
The river leaps with fish.
Bright fragment of a lovely wood
Is Quallian, elven maiden slim.
In baián rich and emeralds green
She’s decked herself for love.
(musical bridge, followed by 'refrain')
O blessed land, Cál'artanhé,
Your streams and mosses sing to us.
O Quallian, wood of golden leaves,
So dear to elven hearts.
Eight came to this place,
At the end of the War of Chosen
Seven remained in centuries after
Waiting for the resurrection of their master
Many a legend goes about these creatures
About what they have as special features
For changing of shape and form they can
Be anything known to common men
They kept on guard at day and night
Defending his castle with all their might
With ferocious steel and blazing fire
They slowly built a small empire
A city arose, mysterious and dark
Full of intrigues and mystical marks
Many came and many more went
But never did the strong walls bend
For no enemy, strong or smart
Did crush the Seven at the heart
Of their power, their very strength
No one succeeded in the end.
OF THE ORCS
In this land, there is a fear,
If you're not careful, it does draw near.
There are no tales of a greater foe,
If one exists I do not know.
With an awful fury it rapes the land,
It does it’s work like no man can.
The orcs, the orcs,
They outnumber my men,
They attack our fort,
One man against ten!
The fight rages on for days and days,
The orcs, they come, wave upon wave,
My men grow tired, they grow weak,
The orcs keep coming, it's blood they seek,
If not for the sun, we’d get no rest,
For in the cool of night, orcs fight best.
On the fourth full day, of gross bloodshed,
Our prayers were answered, help finally did arrive.
As the units showed, all the cowardly orcs fled.
But this prayer was forsaken, for few men survived.
The curse of the orcs is a vicious one,
They kill everything, they don’t spare none.
But man will conquer, they will win,
For to give up hope, is a mortal sin.
To arms, to arms
The dragon comes!
To arms, my friends!
Protect what runs!
Under burning sky will the battle be fought
By power and will, magic and steel
Shall the fate of Merinde be wrought!
The last defence, by Avin commanded
He, the last lord, himself so demanded
To secure the future, and have peace at last
Yet, even he could not undo the past.
Every last man defending stands tall
By fire and hatred, darkness and light
As the battle draws near, they fall!
The dragon calls forth a terrible sight:
Undeads and horrors of magical might
Forth they charge, dreadful their greed
The powerful magic strikes with deceit.
Avin, the Lord, blows his enchanted horn
Wizardry, might and draconian blight
All is dispelled from the sworn!
But the terrible magic is soon cast anew
And the men of the defence are scarcely, a few
The end is nearing, yet Avin, not fearing
Blindly goes on, through the enemy tearing!
Soon Avin is left, his mind set, but not clear
Eternal flame, yet all the same:
Avin goes on, defying fear!
In rage and hatred, with an icy voice
Avin does not give the dragon a choice
Reminding him of the ancient kings
The empty threat vengefully rings...
Yet the dragon calls magic of corruptive lies
Bespelling, repelling and luring
Whatever Avin tries!
Soon, courage faltered; Avin was spelled
And tightly by the dragon's magic held
He began to believe the lies of the beast
Soon, the dragon Nagir would feast!
But a powerful call resounded clear:
Ancient kings, or the distant winds
Destroying the spell and removing the fear!
Still filled with rage, Avin could see
That all would be lost, if he was to flee
His spear flew soundly towards the beast
At last, Merinde would have peace...
But lightning struck Avin where he stood
Might and light, united in fight
Now the earth holds Avin's blood!
Nothing was left on the merciless shore
The battle was ended, the land defended
Yet, Merinde was no more...
Treasures grasped in dead man’s fingers,
Within his stagnant grave so lingers,
In the ice-pure waters beyond the shore;
His voice is silenced forever more.
With billowed sails and steady way
The Agenstorn had seized the sunny days,
And with its treasures and crew aboard,
Set its path to its home and lord.
But Baveras may be cold as stone,
And wished not for the treasures to be shown
To arrogant women, pompous men,
And would not let the ship return again.
Under Cold Baveras’s strict command
Grothar led clouds in a steady band.
Above the ship these cloud did form
And with a clap of thunder, began to storm.
The threat’ning waves began their raids,
And rain fell sharp as silver blades.
The winds the once proud canvas tore,
Sky echoing with thunder's roar.
And the ship sunk down to the ocean depths.
And a hundred men there found their deaths.
A cold smile graced the Goddess’ face;
The Agenstorn had found its resting place.
Years have passed but none do know
What lies with the ship that sits below.
None know of the treasure that there lingers
Grasped within a dead man’s fingers.
OF MARTIN SWIFTSWORD
Martin Swiftsword (1521-1561
a.S.), initially son of a wandering merchant for whom
he worked as a guard, was
mainly responsible for the founding of the so-called
which developed from a rebel group he led. He taught and
ed the forces who
founded the guild from the lands of the Kuglimz to the Eyelian Kingdom,
where he also found his death.
The sun shone upon the shore
the sand glittered like many diamonds
and the bite in the air
foretold of a mighty force
a force of destruction.
In the hills unseen were camped many rebels
A trap set to surround the enemy.
Their eyes shining like so many fires
a single man stood at their head
ready to lead and ready to die.
And so begins the story of
Martin surveyed the land
and even as he heard the clang of armour
the enemy rounded the bend.
The hearts of the rebels
beat as one to the lead of Martin's.
Upon the air a tenseness rose
and the hills turned bright as the sun
as many a sword reflected her rays.
Surrounded they were
the enemy numerous
and so began
the final battle.
The rebels’ swords flicked in and out
slick with blood
as many an enemy was slain
but not without loss
The enemies’ numbers like waves
crashing over the rebels.
For hours the tide
came in and out
redder and redder each time
and the final battle still in the fighting.
Martin Swiftsword stood
a great figure amidst the battle
and lent hope to the remaining rebels.
And though they fought a losing battle
they fought with unending vigor.
Finally Martin drew his sword
the fabled Toroc
which fueled the fires in his eyes
and with the strength of the rested
Martin waded into the enemies.
Still the battle raged on
an unending cycle
the soldiers began to slow
and no one could fight on.
From the darkness a horn was heard
and the enemy retreated
And so passed the first day of the final battle.
The night was not a restful one
dappled with fires and moans
and talk among the rebels of how well they had fought
but the air rang with whetstones
as they awaited the dawn.
came over the hills.
A mighty cry was heard
and amidst the enemy horde
a monstrous demon appeared.
Nor had the enemy commander
been idle during the long night
If you defeat my champion
we shall surrender
so said the enemy commander with scorn.
Martin looked upon the demon.
Three times his height
with massive clawed feet
crunching the ground as it paced
and pustuled black skin over its body.
It had wings, large wings
like those of a bat
seeming only to weigh it down
in fact barely able
to support their own weight.
Its face was pure evil
a mighty piglike face
cracked in half
with a gruesome sneer.
All was observed in the moment
in which Martin drew his sword Toroc.
The enemy laughed
for few thought he could best
a beast such as this
and so began the end of the final battle.
For days it seemed
though only minutes in truth
they circled and paced
watched for a weakness
each sensing a formidable strength.
The demon moved first
with a mighty sweep of a clawed hand
to rip at the hero’s head.
Martin jumped back
the points raking his hair
and so began the fight.
Slashing and whirling
Toroc flashed through the air
slashing and whirling
the demonic claws cut only wind
To the edge of the bluff they staggered
the demon kicked out
and its claws raked Martin’s chest.
His forces cried in horror
as he fell to his knees.
Martin’s sword became a staff
to bring him back to his feet
as he retreated toward the edge.
The demon sensed his final victory
slowly walked forward
to strike the final blow.
Its claws shone brightly against the sun.
Martin spread his arms as in prayer
the blood free-flowing on his chest
as the blow came down he fell forward
the demon unable to stop its deadly course
wings weighing it down
stumbled towards the edge
Martin sprang to his feet
his sword full thrusting through the foul back.
from men’s eyes.
The demon vanished
into deadly smoke.
Martin turned to the enemy forces
and accepted the surrender.
Martin walked back to his tent
where he fell and remained.
And so ended the final battle.
So ended the man named
In windy hills when the moon is full, and the jeweled
stars are bright,
They tell the tale of the Minstrel-Mage, who fiddles out the night.
If you’ve not heard, why, sit you down, and a log on the fire throw,
‘Tis a song to be sung when the beasts are in, and out you need not go.
Are the sawis safe, and the cow-folk penned? Then listen well to me,
For a doleful tale of magic made, false love, and mystery.
(pause for a riff of music)
There was a goatherd in the west, and a lean long lad was he,
With an eye for the spells and an ear for the songs, as anyone might see.
Yet no free hand for the girls he had, though they clustered at his heel,
Only the one slim silver lass, with a laugh like a spring bell’s peal.
And he sang new songs on a fiddle old, and his voice and hers would chime,
With enchantment woven through the notes, and love in every line.
But a line of a tune, and a wave of a rune, and the sparks would round him fly,
And mischief followed on his heels, till the goats began to die.
(pause for another riff of music)
“This Power’s strong in the lad,” said they, “ it’s in his blood and soul.
So let him serve some mighty mage until he learns control!”
To Ximax did they pay good gold, and there he spent his days,
A-studying with the wizards great and learning Xeuá’s ways.
But ne’er a note could cross his lips, and the fiddle gathered dust,
As he scrived his spells and he learned his tomes, as every student must.
And quickly did he learn the arts of raising up the Power,
Until the time of Summoning, to face the mighty Tower,
At the gate he stopped, with a face like stone, and down his staff he laid,
“A mage I never here shall be, until my songs I’ve played.”
From the Tower he strode, with his cloak unfurled, and the Power crackling grim,
And a flash of light was the very last that Ximax saw of him.
(pause, for a dramatic riff of music)
To Santhala our tale must go; forget the goatherd boy -
Where in seven years to nobles’ ears came the whispers soft and coy,
Of a long lean bard with an icy brow, and fingers deft to play,
On a violin fair strung with silver hair, of notes that rang most fey.
And every woman in the town would sigh for a word from the bard,
But the minstrel’s face, though he sang of love, was set and cold and hard.
Much gold from the nobles’ coffers came, his music to compel.
And the ladies swore that when he played, the violin would bespell,
With a wisp of smoke, and a spray of sparks, it sang under his chin,
Of power denied and love decried, of fate and grace, and sin.
(yet another dramatic pause, and musical accompaniment)
Upon the stage the Minstrel-Mage would gravely make his stand,
A crimson sash round his narrow hips, and lace draped o’er each hand,
His hair backswept in an ebon queue, and his fingers lean and white,
He’d raise his magic violin, and play through the dark of the night.
And every night, the Power came, with light and dancing flame
To tune upon the instrument, and thrill through his long lean frame.
Every night save at full moon – for then he’d leave the hall,
To wander with his violin outside the city wall.
On hill and dale round Santhala his figure grim would stride,
And his bow drawn taut on the silver strings, till the music fairly cried,
With silver lace under whitened face, and his black hair flowing free,
Like the granthers’ tales of the Dark-kin elves, or some ancient Mhorashty.
(eerie ripple of music, and a pause)
T’was on such a night, when the moon was full, and the wind blew off the hills,
When the City Watch saw him coming back, and the gusts brought music rills,
With a wild ring, each sparkling string brought Power answering back,
And the magic flames danced around his head and marked his footprints’ track.
And the guardsmen swore no ale they’d had, but this they would avow,
And I heard from them the tale they oathed, and I’ll tell it to you now.
In the flames a face of lovely grace, and a woman’s voice that wailed,
“You were gone so long, and the nights were cold….” And then the magic failed.
The fire was real, and the fiddle burned, and the crimson sash alight,
The Minstrel-Mage a columned flame that lit the icy night.
(music ripples and dies away…)
In Ximax’s halls is a tower room, and a staff is locked away,
And in Santhala is a silver string, that never more shall play,
But still they say of a windy night, when the moon comes from her rest,
That the jeweled stars see the Minstrel-Mage, with his fiddle at his breast.
The Minstrel-Mage of Santhala.
Picture drawn by Fiorellina.
by various team members