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Thursday, June 26, 2014


During a conversation between friends in the early hours of the morning following Scott Roush's Shards [of Narsil] Hammer-in, I came to a realization. Listening to the words of the great literary masters such as Tolkien and Lewis and the genre they pioneered, my mind wandered towards the Norse Sagas which afforded them inspiration. As best I know, the last Saga was written in the 13th century, and even then they were but a translation of the oral traditions of a much older root (but of course there were modern translations and interpretations of the originals). In a modern world where such creations as trolls and dragons and giants are discounted as highly improbable, I have taken my own meaning to what could have been the true face behind such fantastical beings. In my own way, I have seen these things embodied in the world around me. Instead of writing about the soul nourishing transpirations of the trip (which undoubtedly would lose much of their zeal and excitement through the cold reflection seen through the internet) I have decided to tell the story through pictures and a saga of my own.

[written loosely in the málaháttr verse adapted for the modern tongue]

Awaken, awake, again to the shore
          'ere brethren beckon northward bound.
In Iron Horse with lung of thunder,
          gallop swift aside silent waters.
Night, tonight, by night we ride
          to steal the sun's great golden pride.
Cast in rocks with roots grown deep
          Ten thousand stars, trapped souls inside.

          Glistening waters waving green
                    to beckon travellers beneath worlds unseen.
          Between aspen and birch with billowing leaves
                    break the treelines to caverns untold.
          A cosmos buried beyond our path
                    born of the drowned and dying land.
          Wisps of colour concealed in the deep
                    whose glistening treasures hide and keep.

          Dusk to dawn the daylight comes
                    o're airy summer skies.
          Through the fire, feasting fiends
                    fly from darkened fetters unbound.
          Pale daemons drink the living blood
                    until the feast has gone.
          To Break of Day again the horses ride
                    with weary rider cast forward in time.

Beasts of the land and sky enthral
          a path through the wilderlands of old.
Yet too the earth holds its secrets close
          of design unthought by the simpler form.
A thread, a thought, astray they found
          the likeness of the winged fiend.
Not alone but brothered pair:
          Odin's thirsting steed in fields masked.

                     Brethren gather beneath the Rock of the Lake
                    for sharing of sagas sung to the hymn of steel.
          Faces found, of friends alike
                    young and old, yet in heart n'er forgotten.
          Sax and sword and spear and shield
                    of maker and maester of Ages gone.
          To the brotherhood long hours beckon night
                    with horn of mead and flame so bright.

          Out of the earth and clay arise
                    the trolls of flame and coal ground meal.
          A grin of delight shines in the foe's eye,
                    unwilling to share its long treasured hoard.
          Smoke billows blind from nostril and jaw;
                    no sign in sight of the treacherous fall.
          Flame against flame, earth against earth,
                    at last the laboured battle births.

          Sparks and cinders and shards escape
                    towards blistering heavens smote.
          Iron, iron, precious bloom,
                    whose power through centuries nurtures 'quest.
          Glowing in flame the earth, devours,
                    not hammer nor herald does might force yield.
          Again to the furnace the voices cry
                    to salvage the troll's treasured soul.

          Feasting beckons and embers flee
                    to the oaken table laden high.
          Meats, roast meats, smoked meats piled deep
                    beside cheese and bread and Kvasir's Mead.
          Shard-bread baked on blistering steel
                    and beast for the belly of smith's mighty bellow.
          Platter of birch and flask of horn
                    filled to rejoice and empty to mourn.

          Ring of steel, song and jubilation sound
                    as champions stand proud to their arms.
          Under summer sun the tournament triumphs;
                    'neath moonlight danger stalks.
          Sundered shields, shattered swords,
                    blood paints red the earth.
          The heavens fall and midnight wanes,
                    fair warriors amend and in oak halls rejoice.

          Hammer lifts and hammer falls
                    to the birth of creation's song.
          Iron moulds to the form of tool and blade
                    with ever the mark of whose hands were made.
          Soul into steel and heart into flame,
                    late hours burn with brothers side by side.
          Sunset, Moonrise, Moonset, Sunrise,
                    again dawns the day, in weary eye and merry mind.

                                        Grey dawn comes and company must part,
                                                  filled with the fond burden of joyous memory.
                                        Back through the woods, away to corners far
                                                  with sword in hand and fleet of foot.
                                        Lo! the journey beckons home
                                                  through rolling hill and misty shore.
                                        In hour late the twilight grows
                                                  until naught but starlight shines below.

                                        Safe so weary the steeds call end,
                                                  but not before longing for return begins.
                                        Upon the backs of eagles fly
                                                  into the blistered eastern sky.
                                        Aweigh fond friends I leave behind
                                                  to the world beyond of dream and song.
                                        To those long days remembered, never gone
                                                  Excitement dawns for the road anew.

                                        Mountain, forest, a cloudscape entwined
                                                  with flowing brethren of sand o're windswept dune.
                                        Racing under wing through hidden voids of worlds
                                                  trapped unseen 'tween the heavens and the earth.
                                        Ten thousand lights blaze stars on blackened ground 
                                                  in night aflame with life refused of passage 
                                                  into the sleep from which I yearn to wake.

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