Monday, December 19, 2011

The Tale of Holfgar's Howe

Holfgar’s Howe
Many years gone the northman, Holfgar road the waves of the Deep Quiet plundering towns and villages; Holfgar proved the terror of the Inner Sea for many years. In his raids he gathered a small army of stalwart followers and they amassed a treasure worth a King’s envy. In time Holfgar built himself a kingdom upon the southern slopes of the Holmgrad Mountains, his wooden hall stood a hundred feet long and 40 feet high; fashioned of timbers as thick as a giant’s leg. There he settled his men and they made merry after each raid.

In time Holfgar’s power waxed great and he took to wife the daughter of a King of Trondheim, Barahul by name. Upon the birth of his son, Dan, Holfgar made himself lord of all the lands between the Stovnet and Nosejuen Rivers, which men called the Gresselrun, and he took for himself the title of King and his Kingdom he named the Holfmark. It was a boisterous land, filled with men of violent nature and built upon the conquests of many raids. Much drink and boasting went on, fighting amongst his thanes was common and Holfgar encouraged it all.

During the third year of his reign, amidst a feast that shook the great hall, one of Holfgar’s closest Thanes, Earagon, boasted to a visiting dignitary that his lord was the greatest swimmer the world had ever seen and that if need pressed he could swim from his hall overlooking the sea to the Isle of the Neidelung. Now truth be told this isle lay over 40 leagues out to sea, that being over 100 miles as the fish might swim. The act being doubted and the strength of his lord questioned many blades the men razed until the King himself, more in bed with drink than reason, shouted that such a swim was like a dip for him and he would prove it to any man who dared doubt. Barahul, horrified at the boasting attempted to calm her lord’s rash temper but to no avail. Stripping to his dagger and a loin cloth the King dove from the cliff beneath his hall and vanished into the turbulent waters of the Inner Sea.

He was never seen again.

 Several weeks passed and those in the hall looked for their Master’s return, but their drunken boasts soon turned to bouts of anger and fights erupted. Over them all Barahul brooded, bereft of her husband and her son’s father she raged a hate upon all those in the hall. After many more days, when all had given up hope and many began to squabble over who would take the mantle of Kingship, she called for a feast. “Let all those who loved Holfgar in life, honor his memory with a feast. Though not you Earagon, you brought his life to an untimely end. When next you boast, boast of your own prowess not another’s.”

All in the hall readily agreed, and gathered again in the Great Hall; all that is but for Earagon who they drove out into the cold. In the hall Barahul delivered each and every one a draught of mead. “Drink my Lords. Taste the generosity of your King’s wife.” So they did and toasted the fallen King as well. But unbeknownst to them the drink she gave them she poisoned with a sleeping draught so that within a few hours all in the hall had swooned and slept a deep slumber.

Barahul left the hall then and called upon the earth gods to deliver to her a mountain of dirt to cover the hall and make a tomb for all those within. Angletor, the master of earth, heard her pleas and came in answer. “What would you give me for weregild to bury this hall of your king and husband.”

“My life is passed now and I have no love of it. Take me as your bride if you will.” And so the lord of earth and rock moved a small mountain of earth to cover the Great Hall and make of it a Howe wherein the men of Hrothgar’s hall were entombed. “May you all rot until your Lord and King returns. But you Earagon, take your Lord’s son far from this place and keep him until such time as he may make his own path in the world.” And she gave over to him Dan, her son, for she knew so great was his Earagon’s guilt that he would do this last service for his lost King.

So the Great Howe of Hrothgar came to be, overlooking the northern shores of the Inner Sea, though Hrothgar himself never lay his head within his own tomb.

Though it is said, by those who dare the Isle of Neidelung that there dwells there a shade of great body and strength and he rages against the sea and curses all those who would boast of it.

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