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Album: Track 3 on Starfire Burning Upon the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule
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known as Zyrashana the Witch-Queen, had been cutting a swath through the
Eastern Kingdoms since high summer the preceding year. Empowering her troops
with great sorceries, she had s een all opposition fall before the ravening
swords of her forces since the first bloody campaign; the invasion of the
ancient and noble realm of Delania. The aftermath of the final battle had seen
the systematic slaughter of the Delanian royal family, an d the torture and
execution of all those who had been loyal to their banner. During the ensuing
months, more kingdoms and satrapies toppled before the might of Zyrashana's
legions, commanded by the fearsome and unswervingly loyal battle-lord Talus
Ebonfy re, a man of sublime brutality whom many beleived to be possessed by a
demon-spirit from the dark realms. Emboldened by their victories and the
expansion of their queen's dark dominion, the hordes of Mytos K'unn began the
incursion into the lands of the Northern Tribes, beginning with the grim and
brooding territories south of the Snow Kingdoms... the rugged homelands of the
warlike clans which had been recently united into a strong realm by the
powerful warrior-king Caylen-Tor, a man known to his allie s and enemies alike
as the Wolf of the North. Thinking the barbaric tribesmen little threat, the
Witch-Queen intends a largely unopposed march throught their lands to strike
at the wealthy and fertile realms beyond the Mountain Kingdoms to the west...
bu t Caylen-Tor has vowed that a searing torrent of blood and steel shall meet
all those who deign to enter unwelcome or drive their standard unbidden into
his land... As grim winter slowly yields to spring, the armies of Mytos K'unn
begin their march northwards, and news of the advance of the Witch-Queen's
forces into Blackhelm Vale, the valley known for centuries as the Gate to the
Northlands, soon reaches the highla nd stronghold of Caylen-Tor. Grimly taking
up his sword and spear and donning the woad of war, he vows that Zyrashana
shall pay in blood for every league she has dared venture in his sacred lands.
Scouts soon return with the information that the enemy is camped at the base
of the valley, preparing to march with th dawn. The court shamans forsee
rivers of blood and untold carnage, and great battlespells are woven as
Caylen-Tor leads his vastly outnumbered Northlander warriors to the misty,
moon-swathed e xpanse that is Blackhelm Vale. Legends say that the blood of
many kings has been spilled on the dark earth of the valley over the
generations, and Caylen-Tor promises to his grim gods that the earth will once
again drink deep this night. With his army si lent and brooding beneath the
moon, he knows that whatever the outcome, this night shall see a legend of war
written in blood and the deaths of men... a legend none shall soon forget...
[The War Testament of Caylen-Tor (On the Night of the Bloodying of Swords):]
O' grim gods of battle, empower us this night...
Anoint us with the crimson rain, feed our steel with slaughter...
Let every blow be a killing blow, grant us victory, or a warrior's death.
Come, moon-fogs, Descend to cloak our numbers, the heady scent of battle
My ash-hafted spear feels good in my hands, girt 'round with spells (our flesh
gloriously) woad anointed,
Ravens awaiting slaughter soar high above, blood-worms bloat on red carnage,
I'll carve the moon-wheel in their flesh, as havoc churns the heather!
A swirling mantle of mist-magic swathes us, powerful spells woven by the
fen-witches of the great mere... Deep night and moon-mist shall be our allies
as we surge into the fray! At my bidding, the fog clears for a brief moment,
and I gaze down upon the v alley to behold the army of the Witch-Queen...
great tents arrayed upon the heather, powerful steeds tethered, the light from
countless burning brands illumining the night, many warriors standing, weapons
in hand... aye, all sword fodder.
Entwined in war-fogs...
Entwined by war-spells...
Blessed in blood as raven-saters, slake the thirst of steel burning bright,
Reap the harvest of spilled entrails, we'll return with many heads this night.
The death-ravening black fury fills me,
The spatter of hot blood seet on my lips,
This yard of steel sings a deadly song in my grasp!
Cleaving bodies left and right, a head falls with each swing of my blade,
A storm of shafts screaming form yew-bows, (through their armoured ranks we
shall) carve a path with steel, a blood-drenched swath!
And the thirst of the earth shall be slaked with blood at the fields of
A staggering sea of crimson, a towering mountain of ravaged flesh,
All enraptured by the searing kiss of steel,
All surfeit from supping deep of the grim chalice of battle...
Brooding gods of the north, display to these outlander thralls thine ire,
Envenom our blades with the death-kiss of a thousand serpents,
Unfetter the dread war-wolves within us,
That their claws may rend, and their jaws may be reddened.
The bloodying is at hand!
My spear hammers into the chest of a warrior, and bright blood erupts
from his lips as he falls to the heather. I turn aside a vicious swordthrust
and my own blade snakes out to cleave the neck of the attacker, shearing
through his veins in a shower of d ark red. An enemy blade opens my shoulder
to the bone, but I sweep my axe out in a deadly arc, its iron head rending
armour and biting deep into flesh. Talus Ebonfyre's abdomen yawns open and he
staggers back as his intestines spew forth in a pulsing mas s. I sunder his
head with another blow as he falls and his skull yields to spill its steaming
contents to the earth. As I watch, a writhing, shadowy form rises from the
smitten corpse of the Witch-Queen's warlord and flees howling into the
night... I vau lt to the saddle of a riderless black war-horse and seize the
banner of Mytos-K'unn... for every one of us that has fallen, we have taken
five of the enemy screaming with us... the battle is ours!
Bright moon, gleam o'er moor and heather, wood and vale, deep fen and
lake, Grim mountains crowned with snows, great rings of stones, black 'neath
the stars, The storms extol our ancient glory, great mounds feed us, power
from the sacred earth. With faith and steel we walk our shadowed paths, our
blood runs as fire, swords blessed by sorcery.
Wolves of the north, raise thine steel to the skies, revel in the pride of
Let our victory-song ride the winds of this blood-gorged eve,
For on this night of red swords we have wrought a legend,
Forged in the fires of our rage, and tempered with the spilled blood of the
O' grim gods of battle, empower us this night and always,
Anoint us with the crimson rain, forever feed our steel with slaughter...
Let every blow be a killing blow, grant us eternal victory, 'til we die a
And so did Caylen-Tor turn the armies of Mytos K'unn back from the
frontiers of his northern kingdom. Those enemy soldiers who fled the field as
the mist lifted and their banner fell, are hunted down and brought to their
knees before the king. Summoning a surviving warrior Mytos K'unn, Caylen-Tor
gives unto him two gifts with which to return to his queen; one is the fallen,
sundered banner of Mytos K'unn, the other is the cloven head of Talus
Ebonfyre. The king's words ring out over the blood-drenched m oor: "Take this
message back to your queen... if ever again she deigns to strike against my
people, the slaughter this night will seem as naught compared to the havoc I
shall visit upon her then." When news of the defeat and the fearsome message
of Cayle n-Tor reached Mytos K'unn, Zyrashana's spells of regal dominance
waned, and her many courtiers and councillors, liberated from the imposition
of subservience, plotted against their queen, 'til soon she was driven from
the great royal palace by her own el ite guard, her throne seized by an
ambitious baron who had won the favour of the nobles and mages of the realm.
Evading inprisonment and surviving only by her mastery of spellcraft,
Zyrashana fled to the satrapies of the east, and nothing more was seen or
heard of her for some considerable time...
[Music: Jonny Maudling]
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