Bog's World

Altogether elsewhere

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How to Sound Like an Ilin

The everyday speech of the people of the empire is littered with quasi-allegorical references to a shared past. Obviously this is one of the ways in which people from Alvorn, Eagles Reach, Ard Rhassë and Pinath[1] can make themselves understood. Usage of some forms of expression implies sympathy with the ethos that gave rise to the expression, further drawing the speakers closer though shared cultural references, values and goals.

Laru’s Sword

When he received his divine mission from Corellion, Feanor was told that he would need a sword, the might of which was unseen since the elder days. With that, a star fell from the sky and smote the œarth. Feanor recovered the star, which had boiled in a pool and come to rest on the bottom as a hot black rock.

He took the rock to the Carach Angren to be made into a sword. They took the rock and bade Feanor wait. He sat under a tree, patiently waiting, for thirteen years. On the first day of the year of the Unicorn, the Carach Angren returned and gave him his sword, with this advice. That it would cut a swathe through his enemies, bringing death to all who opposed him, but that it should not be used against the inhabitants of the abyss, against whom it no power.

The sword was named ‘fire brand’ in the language of the people of Hyboria, far to the south where the stars were strange and waters drain widdershins. They were people reviled for their consorting with demons. The sword’s inscription read “Captured by Tarumbar, I burn for freedom. Feanor of Arbolt caused me to be made.”

Sure enough through five centuries the flaming sword of Laru was victorious. Eventually the Dagor Tarsil was joined and Laru found himself fighting the Demon Lord Demogorgon. Anxious ever to heed the advice of the Carach Angren, Feanor grasped the nine tailed banner of the Celebrinoth and engaged the enemy. One of the heads of Demogorgon bit at the banner and it’s jaws snapped the standard from Feanor’s hand. But the Demon Lord had bitten off more than he could chew and the stave was blocking the jaws of one of it’s heads. The other head was angered and still the demon came on, growing as it advanced, and casting down Feanor’s ilin with it’s writhing tentacles. Swiftly, and faced with no other choice, Feanor thrust the sword, to the hilts, into the breast of the Demon Lord.

Touching another demon released the demon in the sword. The weapon was unmade. The released demon was inside Demogorgon and the two entities, in the same body, strove against each other. Feanor seized his chance and bore the demon into the Tarsil.

To this day the expression ‘Laru’s sword[2] ’ is used to mean something of incomparable value but with a limited life.

The Raven’s Staff

Dulacaborn Ario was one of the most powerful magi of the elder days. But even he bowed his head to Cuiathelei Scròfa, the Raven. As a symbol of his allegiance, he had presented the Raven with a staff of a wood as black as coal and harder than iron[3] .

Both of them were present at the Dagor Rhassë. Each led a part of the spell that would break the world. In the event the effort was too much for the assembled magi and many were drained or broken by their efforts. Dulcaborn and Cuiathelei were two who had surrendered their essence to the ritual to make it work.

A portion of the spirit of Cuiathelei went in part into his staff. After the battle, Laru’s brother took up the staff and discovered that it was now the most potent of wands. And yet he was sad, for his friends and mentors were gone and he would rather have the teachings of the Raven than wield such power without his guidance.

So to this day, a ‘Raven’s staff[4] ’ is a valuable or useful object, gained only at a cost so great it balances or outweighs the utility of the object.

The White Fiend’s Song

Elecar, the first Carach Angren, was wed to Morwen Gûl. After they had begun their family in exile they began to fall out. She would cast spells of harm at Elecar and eventually he drowned her, far away from their children. She haunted the area for many an age, and the sound of her singing drew many travellers to their doom. Eventually it was recognised that anyone who heard her song was in mortal danger and the area was shunned.

To this day talking of ‘The White Fiend’s Song[5] ’ is to speak of something so beautiful that it inspires desire in the beholder. But the object of veneration is ultimately harmful to the desiree.

A Prince’s Wealth or As Rich as the Prince’s City

Hurin and Turgon Càma were princes of Urnst. In their youth they were given great wealth, upon which they built, becoming rich beyond the measure of their peers. They launched an expedition to conquer new lands outside the empire and were initially successful. However, although the lands they settled eventually became part of the empire, the Princes were killed during fighting in the jungle. The wondrous metropolis they had built was lost to the jungle and remains a city of the dead. This not only temporarily decapitated the new states but also jeopardised the succession in Urnst.

The meaning of “A Prince’s Wealth” or “As Rich as the Prince’s City” is that riches may not be the answer to a problem. Too much money is likely to lead an individual into great trouble. Moreover, that this trouble might not stop with them, but also affect others. The examples of third parties hurt by the prince’s wealth in the anecdote are the ruling house of Urnst and the people of the wondrous city.

Mabber’s Horse

Mabber Ynr is famous for leading his clan in a forlorn charge at the Dagor Tarsil. His action, deliberately sacrificing his clan, did not win the battle but did save a large portion of the army from being wiped out. The selfless bravery of Clan Ynr was celebrated for many years. Mabber himself was a skilled veteran, a valiant warrior whose experience and leadership kept a small core of his clan alive during that awful battle. At the very moment when it seemed that danger had passed, Mabber’s horse, that had borne him undaunted through many battles, slipped in the mud and bore him to the ground. Bravely the horse tried to rise again and struggled to it’s knees. As it did so it brought Mabber within reach of his foes and they were riven from Mabber’s shoulder to bottom of the horses’ girth.

“Mabber’s horse” is one who tries their very best but in the end, fails.

The Eternal Dance or The Dance of the Lady and the Handmaiden

Œrth has two moons. The larger, white moon, Selene, orbits œrth. The smaller, azure moon, Veluna, orbits Selene. Nearly all recognised religions in the Flannaess and many more beyond refer to these celestial bodies as the lady and the handmaiden. The Lady makes her stately way across the heavens and is attended by her handmaiden, who must attend her every need.

The timeless movement of the moons is known as ‘the eternal dance’ or ‘the dance of the lady and the handmaiden’. To refer to these in some way is to allude to the passage of time. ie ‘one more circuit of the hall’ (another month) ‘once around the lady’ (a week) ‘the next dance’ (the new year).

Summer Home of the Reavers or Alu ait-Azib

Before the coming of the empire, the Baklunish of the middle kingdoms were subject to predatory raids by the elves of Arbolt in their longships. Fast and overwhelming, these raids would leach the wealth of the middle kingdoms every summer, from the time when the waters of the seas beyond Ekbir were safe until the weather cut Arbolt off again in the autumn.

So to be in ‘the summer home of the reavers’ is to be in enemy territory, as the elves were, spending their summers in the middle kingdoms. Often the Celebrinoth would get ready to go to ‘Alu ait-azib’ when they began their campaigns in the Howling Hills, Nyrond or the Pomarj. It can still heard today when folk speak of going into the desert of Udas or the jungle of Teddin. It is not the same as ‘wvyern’s lair’ where one may enter and then leave again within a few heart beats or a day. To go to ‘Alu ait-azib’ is to be there for an extended period.

From Alvorn to Eagle’s Reach

Alvorn is at the extreme NW of the Flannaess. Eagle’s Reach is at the extreme SE of imperial Teddin. It would take an ordinary person well over a year to make the journey from one place to the other. Both places are well outside the Flanne Basin and most of the people of the empire have only a hazy image of what they imagine each place to be like.

So for something to be from Alvorn to Eagle’s Reach could imply that either it’s something everyone must know, because it must be common even in those places. Or that that knowledge is local and will not be known by anyone from any distance away. The dichotomy of meaning for this phrase has to interpreted by viewing it in the context in which it was used, the dual meaning itself does not have any geographical bias.

[1] Alvorn is at the extreme NW of the Flannaess. Eagle’s Reach is at the extreme SE of imperial Teddin. Ard Rhassë is northern most of the central Flanne lordships. Pinath is the extreme SW state of Udas.
[2] Laru’s Sword’ is also an old military slang term for one of the Perranic wooden forts.
[3] This is a Dyr wood stave from Dulacaborn’s pre-war sojourn in the Impassode Is.
[4] This item became known to the Celebrinoth as ‘Aldu Chuthek’ a corruption of ‘Alu Cuiathelei’ (Baklunish and Sindarin – ‘Cuiathelei the elf’, where ‘elf’ also means reaver and wizard).
[5] The ‘wail’ of the Banshee

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