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Lay of Aegrothond I: The Tale of Dagnir

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Posted (edited)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In the ancient, gnarled deepwood of Aegrothond, among elder stones which tell whispered tales of ages long past, a tome is laid upon a great pedestal- a volume of richly embossed leather, bound with fine golden clasps and bearing upon it the embossed seal of the Almenodrim, the great smith-elves of yore, and their seat.

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Resplendent it sits, this volume of elder times, open to a page of painted illumination- an artwork of great beauty, depicting a portrait-scene of a mali’laurir in cloak of crimson. Below it, as translated from the Elder Speech, is rendered the following text.
 

 

 

 

 

uzejZGq284ikzz1M2R8Pysz5iJEt7ltQJ-6Kf0ThUCO5bAbYgfXMpwXz3MowLpqj-S31-mGvAwAa2GlOAanTlIkgfyt02L0qC1tf46KGG17B4eaUZKCQpY-gF_tyZOvZ688wJg5w

 

The Tale of Dagnir

Which is the first part of the Lay of Aegrothond,

and the earliest story of the Almenodrim.

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       Among the tales of sorrow and ruin which come to us out of the elsewise forgotten years before the rising of the Moon, there are yet some in which the eldritch dolour is lifted, and a light is shown to endure even beneath its gloaming shadow. Of these histories perhaps the most stark is that of Sylvaen, and of the Almenodrim who were his progeny. It is told fully in the Lay of Aegrothond, the longest of all Elvish ballad-poems, which concerns in its majority the Parting of Kindreds and the many deeds, both fair and ill, of that family in the First Ages of the world. It is retold here in prose to lessen its length, for alike to all Elvish poetry it is prone to elaborate musings which are not conducive to the educational purposes of this text.

      The Lay begins in the ancient land of Malinor, wherein the great Eternal King kept his court and dwelt undying beneath evergreen boughs of yore; Malin was his name, which is honoured forever, and upon his brow was a crown unquestioned. His sons were as one, their ways unparted, for neither false prophets nor forces of earth and heaven could dislodge the keeping of blood which bound them hence. They loved well the trees and valleys of their realms, and delved in the deepest reaches of the forest to build their villages, being foremost among woodsmen. Among them, firstborn of the Father, walked Sylvaen Everflame, of whom this tale is told.

 

 

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       He was tall, and fair of face, and resembled in all ways his father save for his locks, which were of raven-dark hue, and for his gaze, which was of piercing grey akin to the sea-floes of ice in winter. While his kin walked the deep forests he took a different path, and instead traveled to far western reaches of the Kingdom, near-to the mountains which held some erstwhile manses of the young Dwarves. In that land he built his holding, which he named Almenor, and few citadels were fairer in that time, or in any time since. In that place of silver fountains he came to know Serinwe, who would come to be his wife- and together they reared the Seven Sons of oath and legend, who led their people to glory and tribulation in equal measure.

       Their names were Aegnor, Edrahil, Renarion, Muindir his twin, Ilurien, Vitras, and Erendriel who was youngest of all; and they themselves were fruitful, so that the pillared halls of their kin rang with the laughter of children which the Elves valued more highly than any treasure. This great family was known as the Almenodrim, and they are remembered thusly in many songs, most chiefly by their own descendants. In the days before the Curse they were greatly peopled, so that several distinct Houses sprung up among them- but each bore loyalty to the Everflame and wavered not from their path alongside the Seven, throughout all of their history.

       Of all the children of Malin Sylvaen was the greatest in forgecraft, and in the tempering of steel and the making of mail he and his descendants were never outmatched, save perhaps by the most great-skilled of the Dwarf-smiths of yore. The hauberks and plate of their forges did not rust, and did not sustain the tarnish of age and weather, shining new-burnished even after an age of wear. All of their works were highly treasured, for they were crafted with arts which were not known to other wrights, and have been forgotten. It must, too, be noted that steel was scarce more than a servant to them- and it was in the working of silver, gold, and precious gems that they truly excelled, ultimately peerless.

       Made in those elder days were some of the greatest and most beautiful treasures of all noble Elvendom, which were beloved of all the Elder Folk and held in regard even in the furthest reaches of the continent. Among them were the Necklace of Stars, and Mίr n’Ardhon, and of course the great carved gem Belethil which was lost, of which more shall be told in other tales. All which could be wrought by hammer and anvil they excelled in creating- but no weapons, for the sons of Malin had no need for them, save of course for spears of alder and bows of yew, which they used to hunt wild game. In those days there was no strife, and all Elvenkind dwelt in harmony and peace.

       But even as Sylvaen and the Almenodrim laboured with great zeal and saw no ending to their works, doom of an eldritch sort came to the halls of Almenor. It began, as such things are often wont to, with a falling star, which tore the heavens and fell burning from the firmament. A clash like thunder heralded its coming to the plane of Aos, and a great fire and clamour levelled the forest about its landing- for such was its heat in that time that all which came in contact with it was immolated entirely. With a roar of splitting earth a chasm was opened about it in that wilderness, and there it would have remained if not for the curious whim of fate.

 

 

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       It was Aegnor who found it, riding upon the great northern hills with his banners- and ever after for this reason he was oft-called by the name Elpharon, which means ‘star-finder’. Marveling at the desolation, he delved into the blackened cavern at its center- and though it burned his hands, he could not find the will to leave the glede-star behind. All marveled at it, and at its providence, for even the most experienced among them had not seen such ore. Concluding their businesses in those lands the Almenodrim brought it to their home, and though none could foresee it, sealed the fate of their House. For upon that metal lingered an evil which had no name, born of the darkness and vapour of primordial creation and forgotten by Gods and mortals both.

       At that time Sylvaen, being come to his full mastery and eminence, was filled with new intent and purpose- and growing bored in his lordship over forgecraft the great wright took great interest in the star-iron discovered by his eldest son. Many months after its arrival the metal did not lose its immense heat, and would burn those who laid hand upon it; Aegnor had failed to tame it, and it had scarred the reach of Muindir who was Sylvaen’s most promising student. So it was that at long last the father of the Seven came first to behold this curse of his family, and resolved to make something of it forthwith. But as he took up his hammer to strike upon the ore the smith beheld a great darkness which descended upon the great fires of his forge, alike unto a black grip which sought to take him in vice.

       And it spoke to him, this being, in a voice alien as the rubbing of coke on steel. “I have seen thee, Everflame, and all thy purposes and works are laid bare before me- but I deem them to be lesser far than those of thy Father, who is Malin. You shall fade, as leaves of autumn in the winter wind, and none shall know thy small name in posterity. As paupers thy sons will be, and grim fate shall find each among them in his time.”

       And the elf-prince was stricken by sudden doubt, for in his heart stirred a fear which had not been known to any in those blessed years; it was an evil not of this world, but rather of the one which had come before, and was never meant to linger. “By what vile sorceries dost thou speak unto me, creature of darkness, and what false poison dost thou pour upon my mind?” he cried out, and stepped back from the forge-fire which burned not yet so hot as the metal before him. “In skill of hand I have no single peer- all shall remember my works, and those of my sons, who shall be lords when I am gone.”

       But despite his remonstrance the creature of gloaming had seized upon the core weakness of his being, for though Sylvaen was foremost in cleverness and craft, his brilliant mind of metal and stone had become flawed in its vainglory, and in the obsession with legacy which was to haunt his line forever. “Stay thy despair, my child- for I sense a greatness in thy blood which shall surpass thy brethren,” the fallen star whispered, in tones of dulcet, layered upon with the cloy of paternal sweetness. “I will show thee much of that which thou knowest not, and change the path thou treadst- for great wisdom I see in thee, and a great promise also, which shall change the doom of the world in its stride. In my image thou shalt shape what none hath shaped before, and all shall know thy will, and fear it.”

       And though Sylvaen was not yet won over, his mind was curious- as all wrights he wished primarily to expand his art, and to craft ever-greater things until he had exhausted all possibilities of matter and shape. It occurred to him that to bind this star to his will would be the greatest achievement of his time, and a fine treasure in the vaults of Almenor; no creation had yet been beyond his ability in all his life, and no metal could give him pause at the height of his expertise. So it was that a fateful artificery began, which would last many days and many nights.

       Three times the smith began his work, and three times the metal defied his expert hand- for the spirit which perched upon it was possessed of its own design, and did not lend itself to mastery. For many hours they strove in the deeps of the Almenodrin forges, until the anvil of the wright glowed hot, and the smith himself was nearto spent. At last, putting forth all his lores and knowledge, the Everflame made corporeal the doom of his House- but it was not of his design, and the great shadow was upon it.

       So it came to pass that the first sword was born, and the Gods wept, for in the hand of Sylvaen it was destined to cause great pain and strife. The visage of the blade was as wrought iron, black and cruelly sharp, and it shone with a dull polish which caught and twisted the faces of those who would look into its surface; its guard was alike unto an umbel of upthrust thorns, and its hilt bound in pallid corded wire. Dagnir was its name, which was given to it by its creator, and harshly indeed did he lament its making; deep into Almenor he bade it be taken, and set inside a dark chamber to which no elf went willingly. And there Dagnir lingered, awaiting its fate.

       Sylvaen and the Seven soon forgot the star-stone in its entirety, and returned to their works of art and craft, growing more fruitful even than they had before. In those days the halls of Almenor were second only to the capital in populace, and greatly rich also, for they continued to trade with the Men and Dwarves who dwelt beyond the borders of the Greenwood. But the peaceful days of the First Ages were swiftly drawing to a close; and darkness festered in the far deeps of the world, marked by none save the delving Dwarrow-kind, who could not comprehend it. For Iblees’ work upon the Nether had been done, and the days trod ever-closer to the great war which would change the course of history forever.

 

[To be Continued]

 

 

 

 


This story has its genesis in the first part of 2014, when I first began playing an elf- and it’s the sort of tale that grows in the telling, as a great writer once said. The work is primarily mine, though I would be seriously remiss to exclude the contributions of my friend Cameron (Swgrclan) and of course my central inspiration Papa Tolkien, without whom none of us would have this hobby.
 

 

Edited by Fid

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