Wulfric and the Snow Elf, V. III

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III. The Son’s Challenge
(In which Wulfric sets out to kill an Ice Wraith.)

Years of peace passed by the kingdom
Many years passed since the Stranger
This year Wulfric, youngest king-son
Seeks to prove his worth with danger

Saarthal lay ‘neath blizzard-blankets
Outside hearth-walls raged the north wind
Warm within and brimmed with banquets
Cold without, the storm was wolf-skinned

“Swift they shine, last days of Sun’s Dawn*
Last days may I slay the ice-wraith
Help me now, oh day-bent monster
Hear my prayers, stars first through eighth

Stretch the days out ’till the storm breaks
Stretch the sky twixt Lord and Lover
Stretch my sleeves from blade to bent-branch
Stretch my mind twixt truth and wonder

Sneak we out, away from she-tears
Let us ask our fearsome father
Leave the safety of the Saarthal
Seek at last the hunt we hunger”

“Please, my son, have you no patience?
Leave you must with first clear dawning
Stay your slaying ’til the storm-break
Brave-deeds no one shall find wanting”

Wulfric heeded not the heart-words
Of his teacher, all-wise father
Fled on fleet-feet, youth upon him
Hearing only his fate-caller

Up the steep steps of the world-throat
Heart-spark shone too bright to shiver
Soon he found the ice-wreathed summit
Drew he shining man-forged silver

Ice-wraiths tore into his hork-cloak
Three throat-shouts he gave to stun them
Ice-wraiths shredded all his wolf-furs
Three sure slices they won from him

Blue-blood stained the snow around him
Now his heart drew heavy shivers
Without furs or cloak around him
Slid he down the frozen river

“Throat is deep, to slay the ice-wraiths
Spark is strong, to dare this weather
‘Twas no wraith that dealt my death-blow
‘Twas my young-heart, all too eager

Curse the four winds, curse Kyne’s weather
Curse my Shor-spark, skyward flying
Curse the lands not of my fathers
Curse this land where I lay dying”
Translator’s Notes: There is little to add to these passages. They are straightforward to translate and not unlike more modern epic poems. Wulfric’s final speech is missing or partly missing in all the oldest sources, but the fragments that exist largely agree with the first complete version.

*The original refers to, roughly, “Welcome Woman,” which I am taking to be The Lover and thus, Sun’s Dawn. The Atmoran calendar appears to be based on the major constellations, but their descriptions and order do not quite match the modern ones.

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