The True-Told Tale of Hallin, PT. 1

Know then, O Prince, that after the Ra Gada had swept across Hammerfell, driving all the tusk-folk before it, a time of peace befell whereupon the people who were once Yokudans were able to lay down the sword and take up the shovel and trowel. And for three spans of a person’s life all the Redguards did delve and build, and many were the Great Works that were erected above the sands. And few did study the Way of the Sword, for all were constructing monuments to the greatness of our people.

Now east of the Alik’r and south of the Pass of Bangkorai the ever-laudable Queen Ojwa did cause to have built a city of splendor, all white stone and fluted columns, and the city was named Ojwambu, after its thrice-eminent monarch. And its streets and broad avenues were replete with houses and halls devoted to all the arts, both mercantile and inspirational. The people strolled the streets bedecked in fine garments and bedizened with bright jewels, and partaking of delicate viands and hearkening to tunes both rousing and restful. And all was pleasing thereby.

In an unconsidered corner in the shadow of the walls stood the city’s Hall of the Virtues of War, and there did the worthy Hallin, being the Last of the Ansei, teach such of Ojwambu’s youth as were yet so inclined the Way of the Sword. Now these youths were few, and though they suffered raillery and unkind badinage from their peers, they found the aging Hallin an inspiration nonetheless, and learned the Way of the Sword until they became true Redguard warriors. And this was well, as you shall see.

For in the mountain range called Dragon’s-Tail the tusk-folk still lurked, beating their breasts and rending their ragged garments in rage and grievance against the Redguards. And among them was a great Goblin Warlord who had escaped the Curse of Divad through a chicanery, and thus had not been diminished. This giant Goblin was possessed of both slyness and sinew, and long he worked among the tribes of Dragon’s-Tail, until one day he awoke to find himself Warlord of all the tusk-folk therein. And his name was Mahgzoor Rockhand. So Mahgzoor raised his great blade Bone-Hewer, and roared in a mighty voice like an earthquake, and declared that the day of vengeance at last was at hand.

Then Mahgzoor led his Endwise Army down from the Dragon’s-Tail, and it swept into Hammerfell like a great sandstorm, and none could stand before it. The people of the Fallen Waste fled before the fury of the tusk-folk, and many and many were those who sought refuge behind the walls of Ojwambu, until the city was overfilled thereby. The citizens cried out in distress and apprehension, saying, “Who will fight for us, O Queen Ojwa? For we have become artisans and pleasance-wrights, and have forgotten the Way of the Sword.”

And Queen Ojwa spake, saying, “Are there none among us who remember the Way of the Sword?” Then venerable Hallin stepped forward and bowed before his monarch, saying, “I remember the Way of the Sword, O My Queen, or at least as much as I may, for I am the Last Ansei. What I can do, I shall.”

Hallin’s students then stepped forward as well, and laid their swords at the feet of their queen. But the thrice-eminent Ojwa was dismayed by their fewness, and spake distraught, saying, “How shall we repel the Endwise Army with so few blades? For the tusk-folk are as numberless as the sand in the dunes.”

But Hallin was nowise deterred, and said boldly, “Take heart, O Illustrious Majesty. For your people are Redguards, which means they come easily to the Way of the Sword, and once they have their hands once again on the hilts of blades, and learn to quote once more from the Book of Circles, they will be a match for any folk in all the round world, be they ever so numberless.”

“Be that as it may, venerable Ansei,” replied Queen Ojwa, “but even Redguards need time to learn the Way of the Sword, and of time we have but little.”

“Then you must have more. Finding you a store of time shall be my task, the culmination of the work of my life, and I swear upon Onsi’s bright blade you shall have it.” And he drew his blade, yea, even in the presence of the queen, and swore an oath upon the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Blade. And behold, Hallin seemed to grow to the stature of a giant, and a light shone from his blade’s sharp edge, and all were obliged to avert their gaze.

Yet when they were able to look once more, they saw naught but the venerable Hallin, smiling and sheathing his blade. And the Last Ansei raised his hands, as if to embrace all the people of Ojwambu, and said, “Fellow Redguards, to you I bequeath the knowledge of the Book of Circles, which we have guarded long and well, that you may be equal to all threats whatsoever. These my students shall teach you their learning, and in good time you will all know once more the Way of the Sword.”

He turned then to Queen Ojwa and said, “Now lead your people, O Mighty Monarch, for that is what you do best. Take them to the west, and spread the word of the Way of the Sword, that Hammerfell might make itself ready for the Endwise Army. I shall abide here in your city, which I and the other Ansei shall defend so long as we may, until our people are ready to fight for themselves.”

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