Online:Songs of the Return

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Songs of the Return
Parts of the traditional legend of Ysgramor and his Five Hundred Companions

Volume 5

It came to pass that our great lord Ysgramor, the Harbinger of us all, sat before an encampment fire. The crews of the Jorrvaskr, the Fallowfire, and the Kaal Kaaz bade him eat, and boast, and drink. For the boon members of the Five Hundred Companions were abroad in the land. Stories were told, hearts won and lost, and always the smell of roasting meat hung in the air. The greatest of us all beckoned every warrior to his side, and spoke the tale of Wuuthrad's forging.

Every Mer the Harbinger slew died at Wuuthrad's bite. All through the long campaign, the only weapon that would fit in the Harbinger's hand was the mighty Wuuthrad. As he told it, the most legendary of axes was forged in the darkest of nights.

It was the Night of Tears. Ysgramor sat staring out across the waters. He rode upon the last ship in his fleet, fleeing Tamriel for the shores of Atmora. From that vantage point, he watched as Saarthal—the first city—burned. A swollen sky poured rain upon the flames and upon the sea. And the greatest of us all wept bitter tears.

So great was the grief of the Harbinger that, instead of salty sorrow, Ysgramor wept tears of purest ebony. His eldest, Yngol, collected the tears in a stein and held his father in a warm embrace. He poured mead down the Harbinger's great throat, wrapped furs around the Harbinger's great shoulders, and slung the Harbinger into a great hammock below decks.

Then he set to work. For Yngol, eldest son to the Harbinger of us all, was the greatest smith our people have ever known. There, on the sea, Yngol set to work with his tools. He used lightning to heat the Night's Tears, the ocean's swell to cool them, and always his hammer-blows rang in concert with the rising wind.

When Ysgramor awoke the next morning, Yngol presented him with a mighty axe, hewn from the sorrow that had laid him low just the night before. And the Harbinger of us all embraced his son. He cried out in joy, sadness, and rage. And there on the deck of the last ship from Saarthal, Ysgramor named his axe Wuuthrad, which means "Storm's Tears" in the language of Atmora.

It was then, in telling the tale, that Ysgramor paused. The Harbinger of us all called out to lost Yngol, who had been with the crew of the Harakk in the Storm of Seperation. For his son, his eldest and greatest joy, was with him always. He who had bound the storm's tears, he said, rode with him always in the days of the noble and honored Five Hundred.

Volume 27

At last Sinmur was brought to bay. Ysgramor, Harbinger of us all, boldly led the remaining Companions into the final battle. Many a brave Companion had already fallen to the giants. Stalwart Valdur and Sly Hakra, long may their spirits be honored, fell assaulting the wily half-giant. Many others now trod the blessed pathways to Sovngarde. With all his kin slain, only Sinmur still defied the greatest among us.

The axe Wuuthrad, dripping with the gore of a hundred dead giants, gleamed in the darkness of Sinmur's barrow. Ysgramor strode forward, halting his followers with a gesture. With another he dared Sinmur to face him in mortal combat. The giant-kin proved willing, roaring his defiance and leaping to battle. His massive, iron-bound club swung forward to crush. Our Lord Ysgramor stepped aside and the club shattered the stone a pace from his side. Wuuthrad sang a blood song as it chopped into the club, breaking it asunder as if made from straw.

Sinmur howled his rage and hurled the stub of his once-fearsome weapon at Our Lord Ysgramor's head. He grappled Ysgramor, seeking to squeeze life away. A roar of laughter was the answer the monster received. Ysgramor's forehead and knee delivered two mighty blows. Sinmur screeched and fell to his knees before our lord.

A song of death and delight keened from Wuuthrad as Ysgramor buried it deep in the giant-kin's skull. A splatter of gore and a death rattle came from Sinmur as Ysgramor gave a victory yell. The Companions cheered mightily as Wuuthrad waved overhead. The depredations of the giant and his vile kin were at last ended. And the legend of Ysgramor, Harbinger of us all, grew mightily that day.

Volume 49

With the Circle of Captains' decree that each ship's crew should go forth of its own accord, making its own legend, the crew of the Fallowfire rejoiced. They yearned to bring the fear of Men to new lands of the Mer that had not yet been put to the sword. They took to heart their Lord Ysgramor's words to "Give no quarter. Show no kindness."

A pyre upon the shore was raised for the Fallowfire. The ashes of their beloved vessel fell upon the waters and drifted toward Atmora, cutting all ties with their homeland. Led by Captain Gurilda Sharktooth, the crew of the Fallowfire turned their backs to the sea and strode inland.

South they traveled, seeking lands untrammeled by others of Ysgramor's crews. South and south they went, sowing the blood vengeance demanded by Ysgramor. No Mer escaped their axes once seen, no settlement remained unburnt in their path. Truly the Fallowfires brought their lord's wrath to bear upon the treacherous Elves. As they journeyed, so the terror of them grew among the Mer.

Gurilda led her crew to the foothills of a lofty range of mountains. These they named Ysgramor's Teeth and long they sought a pass through them. When finally a way was found, the crew crossed over and into a new land. "The Rift" they called this region, for it was riven by deep canyons and swift-flowing rivers. In the name of Fallowfire, their lost Companions, and Yngol, they scoured the land, burning Mer villages and putting all they encountered to the axe.

Finally, the Mer offered battle. The cowardly Elves gathered in great numbers high atop a rocky hill, daring Gurilda's Companions to attack. And so they did. Challenges were offered, brave deeds were done, and heroes made. Battle raged through the day and as the sun touched the peaks of the western mountains, the Mer broke and fled. Gurilda lay dying, pierced by a multitude of weapons, but lived until sunset. Her spirit ascended to Sovngarde knowing her crew was victorious.

That day, the dominion of Elves over the Rift was ended. The Companions claimed the land in the name of Ysgramor, Harbinger of us all, and made it free to all Nords. To honor their dead, the Companions labored long, delving into the hillside to craft a tomb. Gurilda was buried there, with all her weapons and armor. There too were placed the remains of Bergitte the Toothless and Kajord Eagle-Eye, laid alongside Gurilda as they had fallen in battle, defending their captain. Others of the honored dead were entombed as well. A mighty cairn of stone was erected around the tomb entrance, to forever mark the grave.

Vikord One-Ear, long Gurilda's first mate but now captain, gazed long upon the hills rising about them and the valleys at their feet. This was a land he could love, where his people could prosper and grow. He decreed the crew's wandering at an end and caused a great hall to be built on the battle site. Thus was Fallowstone Hall created, in homage to the ship that carried them to these shores. From this time, the days of the Companions of the Rift are counted. Never may their glory fade!