Monday, March 18, 2013

The Tale of Torinern

Here's a poem I wrote in high school (probably 2007?) that I recently dusted off and decided to put up here. Thanks to Dad for the suggestion of sharing it here, and to Mom for helping me edit it way back then.
                                         The Tale of Torinern

In the ancient days, ere the elder war,
When the seas were one and the lands were four,
When Eeteryth and Mortigerth
Still stood like stones near Carlinn’s Door,
Ere the Sword was forged or the Crown was made,
Ere the great green forests began to fade,
Tall Torinern did walk the earth
With eyes like fire on the edge of a blade.

Long o’er the lands of Valtalith
He roamed with Quellnir, strong elf-smith.
Far and wide and long he’d roam
Before he made Uthov his home.

Coast! Coast! Uthov by the sea,
Coast! Coast! Beyond the last tree,
Your keening winds blew others aside,
But called Tall Torinern, so long free.
Your waves that turned the Army of Ghath
And would have turned Ceithon from his path,
They drew the Warrior to your tide,
For he was wont to match your wrath.

On Uthov’s coast a tower he builded.
Tall, and tall, and tall again.
Its lofty peak with gold he gilded.
Its gate-doors one; its windows ten.

Torinern, Boldest, why did ye linger,
In Uthov build the tower of Thinger,
So near the sea, the cold dark sea,
So near the rock, the Warning Finger?
Why built ye there, so high, and higher?
Why knew ye not, that pride’s hot fire,

Is drowned deep by the cold dark sea?
You were warned not to name the prophet “liar”.
On Uthov’s coast a tower he builded.
Tall, and tall, and tall again.
Its lofty peak with gold he gilded.
Its gates-doors one; its windows ten.

When the Thinger was done many men he invited
To a feast at his tower, but they were affrighted.
“Go not through his gates!” they whispered around.
“The shadow of doom on that tower’s alighted.”
Torinern, in a rage, he called them all yellow.
In the village nearby they then heard him bellow,
And they wondered and feared at the darkling sound,
But that did not bring to him one guest-fellow.

Torinern, Torinern, why such madness?
Heeding no warning the prophet gave ye?
Starting in pride, you have ended in sadness.
Why did ye build there, so close to the Sea?

The suns of summer had sailed on past,
A ship, pushed by time, so marvelous fast,
On into autumn where crimson leaves fall,
And Torinern, Sar’s Bane, was bound to the mast.
For Time, it stands still only now and again,
And Warrior and Tower, the wonders of Men,
Were swept into chill, as bitter as gall,
And down came dark Winter from cold Neeinen.

Down came the snow, and the Thinger surrounded,
The waters did rage and new tide-pools were founded
And dark ice crept round the stone base of the tower.
The crash of the Sea, like a battle horn sounded.
Winter had come and allied with the Main.
To pull down the Thinger it seemed they were fain,
But Torinern resisted with all of his power,
‘Gainst flood and ‘gainst chill and ‘gainst dark icy rain.

Many are the tales that now have been told,
Of Torinern’s fight with the Sea and the cold,
But the battle was years and years ago,
And the memory is dimmed of the bards who are old.
So here now is written, lest all should forget,
How the Sea and the Warrior in battle first met,
And never had Torinern faced such a foe,
And ne’er has the Sea faced a mightier yet.

The wind swept about the Thinger in rage,
And Torinern paced like a beast in a cage.
As the cold icy waters surged ‘bout his strong bield
He forgot, he forgot, the words of the sage:
“Tall Torinern, heed me, as one who did roam,
I’d take ye for fool had ye fear of the foam,
But put not away your great shining shield,
Nor e’er by the Sea make tower or home.”

The words of the prophet were not just his own,
And a fool is the man who sets tower or throne,
‘Gainst the will of the One who is King of the Sea.
Listen, O nobles, your lifeblood’s a loan.
The words of the prophet, they came from far higher,
They came from the One who rules ocean and fire,
But Torinern scoffed and he laughed carelessly,
And thought not of those who might carry his bier.

Torinern, Torinern, why such madness?
Heeding no warning the prophet gave ye?
Starting in pride, you have ended in sadness.
Why did ye build there, so close to the Sea?

Up came the Sea like a host all in sable,
To test if to topple the Thinger ‘twas able.
No house of goblins was that mighty tower,
But has ever the Wild Sea been tied in a stable?
Torinern the warrior drew forth his bright sword,
The blade he had taken from dark dragon’s horde,
And careless of wave and of wind and of shower,
A challenge, a challenge, to grim Sea he roared:

“Hear me, O Sea! What man named ye Strong?
The fool should be hung for speaking the wrong.
I challenge ye now to loose all your ire.
Let’s see if the truth lives up to the song!”
And with words like to these he bolted his gate,
And dared the vast Sea to tell him his fate.
In the heart of his tower he kindled a fire,
That was like to the blaze of the Hall of Narsate.

The fire burned fiercely, so hot and so and bright,
That the stars in the sky looked far down from the night,
To see what made smoke thickly pour from the Thinger,
To see what great fire so rivaled their light.
But Torinern now, looking out from his keep,
Saw what he had sown he was certain to reap.
A wave like a giant leapt o’er Warning Finger
And no elf or swift monkey could match such a leap.

Now crashed down the wave and full flooded the tower.
With a rush and a roar it drowned the bright fire.
And the stars up above were blinded by smoke,
While Torinern, soaking, did cough and did choke.

But up sprang he again and his wrath burned the brighter.
For no cold nor no wet had yet daunted the Fighter.
But never before had he faced such a gale:
‘Gainst the Sea Undivided no sword could prevail.

The great storm wave drew back and the Thinger still stood,
But the fire was doused and all wet was the wood,
Yet Tall Torinern laughed in the face of the Sea,
And he would have laughed louder if louder he could.
He waved his bright sword, from the dragon-horde taken,
Its blade was a-drippin’ but its steel unshaken.
He roared at the ocean, “Why, coward, you flee!
Bring forth all your might and your slave the foul Kraken!”

The warrior’s loud pride-words, they echoed about.
The Sea waited a moment as if in grave doubt,
Then drew back, as if stung, from the rocks of the shore,
Then drew back from the shore like a river in drought.
Tall Torinern, gleeful, triumphantly shouted,
“Where are ye now, waves? The Sea I have routed!”
But heedless was he of the creak of the door,
And if he had heard it, his words might have doubted.

All in a moment the gates burst asunder.
The tower was shaken by rolling of thunder,
And Torinern blinded by fierce lightning flash,
As the Sea came again, like a pirate for plunder.
In through the wreck of the once mighty door.
In until water had drowned the stone floor.
In came the Sea, with a terrible crash.
In came the Sea, with a terrible roar.

Yet Torinern, blinded and deafened, still stood,
Like of old he had done by the edge of Dark Wood.
And with shield in his left hand, and sword in his right,
He dared the Wild Sea for to do as it would.
But the Sea threw him down, passing like unto dead,
And the great helm was broken from off of his head.
He rose and the Sea he still struggled to fight,
And roared like a beast that’s been wounded and bled.

Wave after wave, they crashed into the tower.
The Sea had unleashed all the depth of its power,
And the stones of the Thinger began now to groan,
But Torinern still from the Sea would not cower.
Stern he had been and yet strong was his will,
Though ‘round him, his tower, the water did fill,
The fey light of battle still in his eyes shone.
Tall Torinern Bold was not easy to kill.

But still on came the Waves like a host never ending,
And the gate of the Thinger was far beyond mending,
As the Sea poured with wrath into Torinern’s bield.
All its might and its power the Ocean was sending.
Of all Storms that have punished and racked Uthov’s coast,
The one that destroyed, marred and ruined the most,
Was this rage at this man who refused now to yield,
This man who stood daring to bellow and boast.

The Thinger was built as no tower before,
But only so much could it take and no more.
And now pillars and columns so marvelous strong,
Were threat’ning, were threat’ning to follow the door.
The stones made a noise like a beast, caught in death,
Like a beast giving voice to its last heaving breath,
And the Thinger down-falling like swift cut off song,
Was seen from afar by Lord Ornor of Neth.

Down fell in ruin the mighty proud Thinger,
And in falling it toppled the grim Warning Finger.
Both fell together, crashed into the Sea,
But, Torinern, Torinern, what then of ye?

None know how the warrior escaped from the tower,
None know what befell him in that darkling hour,
When Thinger and sea-rock both fell into ruin,
But all know that the warrior was killed not so soon.

Up leapt Torinern, bright eyes flaming!
Up leapt Torinern, vengeance claiming:
‘Gainst the Sea that had thrown down his tower of pride,
‘Gainst the Sea Undivided, the Unbroken Tide.

Lord Ornor of Neth, from afar looking out,
Though beholding and wond’ring what doom was about,
Could not hear what was said by the shape on the sand,
Could not hear, in the thunder, the challenging shout:
“Vengeance I claim for the tower of Thinger!
Torinern ever in Uthov shall linger,
‘Til Sea is defeated, and crushed by my hand,
And avenged are my tower and Old Warning Finger!”

Then Torinern, Boldest, made such a great leap,
It carried him up to his chest in the Deep,
And swinging his sword at the waves he did slash,
Retribution, he thought, for the fall of his keep.
The waves threw him back, but still onwards he came,
And Torinern’s onslaught is wreathed now in fame.
Onwards, and onwards, full rasher than rash,
Flung back many times, he fought onwards the same.

And whether his challenge was heard by the Sea,
And the sting of barbed words thrown far too hastily,
To the wind and the water most speedily went,
And from his dark chains the foul Kraken set free,
Or whether, more simply, the splash that he made,
As he thrashed in the Sea with the moon on his blade,
Awakened the monster, the slimy sea serpent,
One way or another, It came, so ‘tis said.

Up surging in anger, up surging in foam,
Like a wave overshadowing some tiny home,
Came the Kraken aroused from his long years of sleep,
Came the Worro aroused from his lair in the Deep.

Huge and tremendous like giant sea snake,
It reared up its head and it roared to the sky,
But Torinern, fearless, to Kraken he spake,
First of all men to give Worro reply.

“Is this the great Worro?” in laughter he said,
“Is this the foul Beast of whom all are in dread?
A snake! A snake! A snake of the Sea!
A snake, I don’t doubt, with no teeth in his head!”
A moment, a moment, the monster was still,
The echoes of mirth in its ears ringing shrill.
Then it opened its mouth for the warrior to see.
And daggers a thousand shone ready to kill.

Then all in a moment the warrior knew fear,
In terror stood he who once broke Kaion’s spear.
The water he felt now all cold round his throat,
And remembered, profoundly, the words of the seer.
The prophet of God had forewarned him of doom,
He saw it now coming as dust sees a broom.
The Sea all around him did stink like a moat,
And the Serpent above him all monstrous did loom.

Fear came upon him like swift rising tide.
The waves crashed around him on every side,
And he knew, and he knew, though he hated to say,
What a fool he had been to say God’s prophet lied.
But now, even now, he refused to despair,
But looked on the night sky and thought it was fair,
And called on the God he had scorned for a Way,
And lifted his sword and met Worro’s foul stare.

The Worro, astonished, came down like black hate,
His jaws opened wide like the doorways of fate,
And twisting wrapped Torinern up in his coils;
Ne’er yet had his rage been e’er known to abate.
Then swift down they went: Bold Warrior and Beast,
The Kraken preparing itself for a feast.
But Torinern knew he was not done with his toils,
And remembered his fight on the Field of the East.

Together they went to the Deep of the Deep,
And ever around them foamed waters did seep,
As they plunged and they sunk, ever fighting like mad,
But the Warrior repenting, forgiven, was glad.

The Sea closed around them, the gate of a tomb.
The Sea roared about them, a herald of doom.
They sunk to the deeps to the lair of the Worro,
And from the dark depths came the Kraken’s foul fume.
Blood came there too, as the morning sun rose.
The men of the village, with fingers to nose,
Lamented the fall of the warrior with sorrow,
And Gorthan’s fair daughter let fall a red rose.

But Ornor of Neth although old had keen sight,
And different, withal, he read signs of the fight.
And looking o’er water, revealed by dawn’s light,
“Too much blood there is here,” in his wisdom he said,
“For Torinern Boldest alone to be dead.
Look ye, oh, look ye! The water is red.”

Now far and now wide the grim tale swiftly ran,
Of the fall of the Thinger, the wonder of Man,
And the fight of the Sea and its thrall the foul Worro
With Torinern, Champion of bright Orlidan.
Wherever the tale of battle is told,
The hearers do mourn for Tall Torinern Bold,
But for death of the Kraken-beast no one does sorrow,
For wont it was ever to sink ships of old.
The bard is now silent, the saga is o’er,
The hounds now are chewing the bones on the floor,
Guests weary, but happy, and filled with brown ale,
Take leave of the great hall, depart by the door.
Now lean close to me, let me speak in your ear.

I am old and my words some young someone must hear.
The Saga is over, but not finished, the Tale.
For the warrior lived on yet for many a year!

What! You now say, and you start from my side.
What! You now say, and no wonderment hide,
You think that too long I have sat by the fire,
But I am one true bard who never has lied.
Go, if you wish, and you’ll never hear more,
Of when seas they were one and the lands, they were four,
But a fool would you be if you called me a liar,
For I am a master of all the old lore.

The blood of the Worro, it made the Sea red,
For Torinern’s sword-blade had pierced its foul head,
But up from the Sea-depths Tall Torinern swam,
The Serpent, alone, of the two, was now dead.
Impossible! Say you, but I say ‘tis true.
Long after the Sea had gone back to God’s blue,
A wave tossed a man on the beachhead of Gyam.
And who that man was, I’ve no need to tell you.

Now come, in your mind-eye, where my words will lead,
Past the plains of Quar-thoorah, where horses do feed,
Past the hills of Narsate, rolling green like the Sea,
Past the Mountains of Corgor, and the Lake of the Reed.
And there where the Sea bends around to the south,
(Quiet, young fellow! Put hand to your mouth!)
Now follow with ear and I’ll tell what you’ll see,
If you come to the lands of harsh Swayar past Gouth.

In Swayar stand mountains so marvelous tall,
They’ve stood there unchanging since Xear did fall.
A cave, like a mouth, dark beneath them now lies,
A cave, ‘neath the tallest rock mountain of all.
And there in that cave live a tribe, wild and strong,
A tribe that ne’er yet has been heard of in song,

Among them’s a man who has fire in his eyes,
Yes, among them’s a man with a sword bright and long.

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