Wulfric and the Snow Elf, V. I

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This is the poetic epic of Ysgramor’s youngest son, Wulfric. While the authenticity of the story is uncertain, fragments have been found in contexts that leave no doubt of a late First Era origin for the earliest written versions. The grammar and word use in the early version also leave no doubt of its Old Atmoran origins, with many passages essentially the same in Old Atmoran and Proto-Nedic. Of course, those who favor a more modern origin of the epic also reject the University of Gwylim’s centuries-long efforts to reconstruct these languages.

This translation draws heavily on more recent versions where the oldest are incomplete. I attempted to render this great epic into the modern Imperial dialect while maintaining the rhythm and power of the original.

I am unworthy of such a task. There are far too many verses where I could not match to the original’s brilliant and near-perfect meter, alliteration, and rhyme. I fear this is but a pale shadow.

Your Humble Translator,

Cassolar Draebo

I. In the King’s Court
(In which the Stranger arrives and dares Ysgramor to slay an ice wraith.)

Strong Ysgramor, scalp-snow shining
Wisest father, brawny manner
Raised before him hands in greeting
Stood before his sturdy banner

“In my hall, all men are welcome
Safe in Saarthal, shall men slumber
Let us sit and strum the war-drums
Share we breaths as sworn sword-brothers

Blessed are we with Saarthal’s bounty
Here give glory for these green-gifts
Dirt-rows, ore-beats, notch-nocks, bronze-trees,
Freely pass your fat palm’s snow-drift

Here in my hall, all men equal
Live by drake-words, live by wisdom
Here the star-eye melts the crystals
New laws free of ancient dictum*

Here hold fast in hearty feasting
Here hear calls of hammer-clanking,
Triumph-talking, bare-breast-beating
Men of war like gore-moons’ waxing

Here grow strong and growl in anger
Shor’s old birthright now fae-stolen
Eat and drink and sing with laughter
Life-law chains that shall be broken”*

Wise Ysgramor in his chamber
Sat before his sturdy banner
All men sat except the Stranger
Stood in challenge from his corner

Man-shaped thing yet still familiar
Man-shaped thing all bald and bare-skinned
Man-shaped but with skin of silver
Snow-skin untouched by the north-wind

The Stranger:
“King, oh man, oh bearded wonder
Came you here to cry or conquer?
Shall we fear your shout of thunder?
Dare you hunt, oh dragon hunter?”

“Feel your heat, a forge’s fire
Hear your words, like wolves of winter
But my Shor-spark burns still brighter
Elf I name you, snow-skinned Falmer!”

The Stranger:
“Come I now to call out challenge
North-men are you great or gelded?
This I ask — to slay an ice-wraith
This I dare — or are you timid?”

“Ask you, dare you, hear my answer
Ice-wraith’s doom now lies upon it
See my hands hand-down my saucer
See my hands now holding Ysgrit**

I, by frost-fall, brave the ice-wraith
By my shout the wraith lies stricken
Soon it lies in Shor’s deep embrace
Before sun-dusk, foes lie beaten”
Translator’s Notes: This is a standard introduction for Nord poetry, both of this era and later ones, but there are some interesting differences. For one, the emphasis is always on odd syllables instead of even ones, as in later works. Secondly, while Shor is mentioned here and many times through the entire work, other gods are only rarely mentioned. This general trend in the few surviving First Era works has led some to speculate that the settlers from Atmora were religious zealots or from a cult of Shor.

*These two verses are especially difficult and uncertain.

**Much like Wuuthrad and Khaalthe, scholars argue over whether Ysgrit is a weapon (and whether a bow, spear, axe, or something else), a favored servant, or a technique.

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