12 August 2007

The Lay of Ironfist

Time for another chapter from the Tales of the Wyrm. Some day soon I’ll post the class description for the Brotherhood of the Wyrm, so you’ll know what these tales are all about.

One important note: while this tale, the Lay of Ironfist, appears in the Varata Lohikäärmeta as the Fourth Rune, the PCs also heard it performed live, in the Gane’s Tankard Tavern in Ganesford, shortly after the Battle of the Broken Temple. The performer was none other than the author himself, Harwéac Hargóin, the Master Chanter of Non-Delvin, one of Ironfist’s former adventuring colleagues. Hargoin, of course, is now ancient even by Dwarven standards, and his appearance at Ganesford was supposedly part of a “farewell tour”.

Editorial note: This song is translated from the original version, which of course is sung, a capella except for traditional stone and hide tambours, in the speech of the Deeprealm. In some places, more than one translation is possible for a given word or phrase; in these cases, both have been included in parentheses. I offer my apologies for the crudity of the translation; Babelfish doesn’t do Dwarven. In partial apology, I have included the first stanza in the original, followed by the translation of the entire poem.

* * * * *

Léoð ymbe Isenfýst
(“The Lay of Ironfist”)

Taken from the Ǽfenléoð Hargóinna, the “Evensongs of Hargoin”
By Harwéac Hargóin, Gamolfeax-láruw Dweorga, Master Chanter of the Dwarves

Ic áwrecan ymbe æðeling;
æðeling isengrǽg, ísenheard
Isenfýst, carlmann, gástberend, gumþegen,
Isenfýst, ceorlmann, guma Ekhanni
I-Esu yrfeweard, I-Esu gástsunu,
Isenfýst, gígantmæcg,
ǽgðer fréond, gebróðra mé.

I sing of a hero;
A hero iron-gray, iron-hard
Ironfist, a man, a man of great (spirit/destiny), a warrior
Ironfist, a freeman, a (war)lord of Ekhan
A child of Esu, a (spiritual son/true descendant) of Esu
Ironfist, a son of giants,
and also a friend and a brother to me.

I sing of a battle, a (hard fight/slaughter), a clash of spears;
Of glory won in battle, of wounds given by the long sword.
A tall man, sword-bearer, bearer of honour
Who came from the south, steel-coated, steel-guarded
Bearer of a glaive giant-forged
And a heart forged by Esu as though in the snows
Of the Northlands he never saw.

In the depths of the Deeprealm,
At the Gates of the Burrow of Bowrnléoch,
The forces of darkness assembled; in shadow
They (schemed/plotted) the demise of the
Children of Lagu.
The hammer-falls silenced; the forge-fires failed
Not for lack of (fire/fuel), but lack of (fire/heart),
Did the Children of Lagu tremble, for the first time,
In darkness.

Then out from the shadow sprang shadow eternal
Cold shadows; hell-shadows; (spirit) shadows of evil
Blood spilled on the stone, and all hands
Loosed hammers, loosed darts
Upon the fell foemen.
First to fall was Ulfrican, Forgemaster,
(Spiritual son/true descendant) of Barraj, axe-wielder
Whose hands blessed the children;
Off were his hands hewn, and thereafter (crowned/adorned)
The pale brow of the king of the darkness.

Forth sprang Ven Porwenna, bright light of Harad
Long laboured she in the dark depths of the Underfolk
Tending the aged; with bright light and (invocation/divine magic)
She fell on dark foemen, and so fell in turn,
And pillowed her fair head on a mountain of (gutted corpses/fallen foes)
And Ygrak, (wild warrior/berserker) of Kelva fell there beside her
Avenged and avenging the death of his beloved,
His great hands crushing the throats of the enemy,
His great axe sinking and drinking deep,
He swam to the next world and his heart’s desire
Through a river of foeheartsblood.

At the last stood Ironfist, spirit-son of Esu,
Bright sword carrying the light of the Lantern
Into the Earthdepths.
Before the Pillars of Barraj
And the Throne of the Deeprealm
He strove with the Spellweaver,
Darkskinned and whitehaired, fell of hand
Weilding a white staff.
And from him, Ironfist struck hand and arm,
And clove his skull open;
And the bone-white staff, the white staff of nightmares,
Fell to the stone; a trophy of battle
Taken, cherished by the Underfolk, beside the cleft skull
Of Spellweaver the Thrice-cursed.
But Ironfist fell also, wounded with many wounds; and him they bore up
To a couch of fine furs, the bed of a hero,
And hot fires, and ice-cold mead,
And many songs
To honour his iron with all of the (honours accorded by/praises due the saviour of)
the folk of the Stonedark.

Ironfist left them
Alone in the Deeprealm, bearing with him
Naught but scars and thanks.
Remembered in song and story so long as the darkness lasts
For courage and tales outlive the living
Borne down the long tale of years.
Thus the brave live forever, the tale of their deeds sung
With the banking of fires and broaching of (ale) casks
And so it will be in the Deeprealm
Until at the end the world breaks,
And Lagu banks the forgefires
Of heaven one last time,
And Barraj calls back his own,
To fight the great fight
Of world’s gloaming.*

* * * * *

* According to Dwarven legend, the souls of the Dwarves are forged individually by Barraj, and are only on loan. When Anuru is broken at the last by Ana and Uru in preparation for the final battle between the Powers, Barraj will call home the souls of all Dwarves, living and dead, to fight at his side against the Uruqua. Dwarves who were diligent and courageous in life will have the honour of standing at the forefront of the Legions of Barraj; and their names will be written in the stars and the stones of other worlds, there to live forever.