Jason Malone
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The Song of Erianwen

The Song of Erianwen

Feb 19, 2024

This poem is a musical rendition of a popular legend originating in Lakeland, the strange country to the east of Ardonn. It is a song that would be heard in the halls of Ardonn’s nobility, or in the many inns and taverns dotted throughout the kingdom. Here is the song in its entirety.

In days long past, in the Land of Lakes,
where streams always teem with ducks and drakes.
Where ‘tis said fairies first came to be,
and where many are the ash and oak tree.

In those woods long ago did the fair
Erianwen dance, her pale feet bare,
in the grove of the ancient grotto,
where never does fall a flake of snow.

There Erianwen was free to be free,
unburdened by shoes, by clothes, carefree.
The young maiden danced ‘mongst the willows
where gently the wind always blows.

Till sundown young Erianwen danced,
“A few moments more, I have,” she chanced.
So dance she did, as twilight did fall,
o’er the grove while the Fae to Wen did call.

Meantime her kin, a noble family,
worried with fear, “Oh where could she be?”
They waited and waited through night till dawn,
when Erianwen’s Da sounded his horn.

Off went the hunt! Swift like the wind!
“We must find the girl, Erianwen!”
Her brother went too, brave Erian,
with five-dozen of the finest hunstmen.

Like thunder were the hooves and barks
of the hounds of Lakeland’s best patriarchs.
They rode with haste for Erian’s twin
but find her they could not ‘fore the light dimmed.

“Lost,” the lord declared. “My girl is lost!”
He ordered her found, whatever the cost.
A Godsman came – one of the Gifted.
“The shroud that hides your girl can be lifted.

For a price,” he said. The lord said he’d pay,
then the Godsman said, “She’s gone with the Fae.”
When her twin heard this he knew where to go,
so he told the Godsman of the grotto.

“A twin, a twin!” the Godsman did cry,
for the love twixt twins gods never deny.
“Hope there still is, for sweet Erianwen,
if Erian goes to the Twilit Kingdom.

“Taking with him a root of rowan
at twilight must go forth Erian
to the Otherworld, where fairies dwell.
There shall he find the Fae-King’s citadel.”

So to the grotto Erian fared
that night. All for his twin he would have dared.
With sword at hip, and courage in heart,
our man for the Otherworld did depart.

The woods seemed to watch his every step.
Stalked by unseen wights as they crept.
Yet the hero pressed on, undaunted,
though hidden beasts snarled and ravens taunted.

To the grove of the Goddess of Deer
with the grotto Erian came near,
then a chorus of laughter and song
echoed through the woods before long.

Erian then entered the grove
as the last light faded. There glowed
a dim glow from inside the grotto.
To that light our hero knew he must go.

It was quick, it happened so fast,
when he crossed into the Land of the Ghast
through the narrow door in the cave,
to where all go once they enter the grave.

‘Twas the realm of the fairies, that place.
The home of a once-mighty race.
Ghosts of the Old Folk, Children of Edan,
Once fallen, now broken, as is Man.

It was much like his world, thought Erian,
though a sense of unease caught the twin.
The trees were too dark, the water too bright,
and an eery silence embraced the night.

Then he heard it again, that song so sweet.
He followed it hoping the King he’d meet.
For the Kingdom of Fairies had his twin
caught in the rapture of music and sin.

Led by laughter and plucking of strings
Erian sought fair Erianwen.
He wandered for days, through woods, o’er streams,
till at last he saw a thing out of dreams.

A fortress, a fortress for kings!
Built by an Edin, those three mighty rings!
One upon another, touching the sky,
a sight seen only by few mortal eyes.

Erian entered the mighty gateway
and walked the road to the King of the Fae.
The watchful eyes of the fairy-folk hid
for to greet him was by the King forbid.

He followed the lights to the fort’s heart
where the keep’s stout doors for him did part.
When Erian entered that vast chamber
there before him loomed the Throne of Amber.

Atop that throne, that majestic seat,
sat the King Erian had vowed to meet.
Though Lord of Fairies, a Fae he was not,
for naught but an Edin could rule that motte.

“Welcome, famed twin, of thee I’ve heard much.
For the bunny I keep in my hutch
thou hast come. Thy twin – Erianwen!
So pretty is she when she twirls and spins.”

The King thus spake from on his throne
as he gazed down at he who should have known
that to free his sister from that realm
the Fae-Lord Erian must overwhelm.

“Release her,” cried he. “Or meet my bright blade
forged in the sunlight on a Highwarmth’s day.”
The Edin laughed. “Release her I will,
if thou passest three tests to prove thy skill.”

Erian bowed. “I’ll face your tests.”
Then the King stood, and puffed out his chest.
He strode down the steps of his amber chair
and Erian felt just a spark of fear.

“My tests shall show thy strength, wits, and wisdom.
But shouldst thou fail, I keep Erianwen.”
So Erian followed the King,
praying they wouldn’t be too challenging.

A glorious arena he entered,
and there faced a beast tormented.
“The test,” said the King. “Of arm and blade.”
The fearsome beast at our hero then bayed.

Dripping were its fangs, and sharp its claws,
its hide was thick, it had three great maws.
Blood stained its snouts from whence foul breath came.
So horrid it was, the Fae feared its name.

Erian charged, his sword in hand,
determined to drench with its blood the sand.
He sliced and he stabbed at the beast’s tough skin
in vain – how could the brave Erian win?

He dodged and he ducked away from its paws
which swiped with vicious, venomous claws.
He rolled and he leapt from horrible bites
as he fought to kill this hideous wight.

Slay it he did! With mightiest labour.
He hacked at its necks with spiteful fervour.
One after another those cruel heads fell.
The King applauded. “My, boy, thou didst well.”

On to the next test Erian went.
“Three riddles I’ll ask, with thy consent,”
the King said. The first of asked questions three,
“Canst thou name my race, I ask of thee?”

“Not fairy you are,” said Erian.
“But Child of the Gods – of bold Edan!”
The King then grinned, and asked him then,
“Who are the burden of Gods and Men?”

Erian knew they were called the Thorns
(they whose creation all life mourns).
He gave his answer, the King then smiled.
“And who was the maiden their lord defiled?”

The hero’s heart leapt, for he knew the tales
of Gods and their wars, with which bards regaled
their lords and ladies within their halls.
“The Queen of the Stars, seen when night-time falls!”

The King then bowed, and spoke to Erian,
“Two tests thou hast passed, now there is one.”
He showed the man-twin two strange women,
and said to him, “One is Erianwen.

The other a foul witch, hideous crone.
Thy sister transformed she’s made her own.
Choose wisely, young man, thou hast but one chance
to save thy twin, or for me she will dance.”

Erian knew he must slay the witch
who had his sister in chains like a bitch.
But which one was she, he could not tell
for his twin was under a wicked spell.

One woman was ugly, old, and wretched.
Her skin was shriveled, her hair knotted.
The other was handsome, purest beauty,
never had he seen a maid so pretty.

The bonny one smiled, and made his heart warm,
then the lad reasoned the hag took that form
and made poor Wen ugly, broken, and bent.
So towards the fair one Erian went.

He drew his sword, the King did laugh,
then without pause plunged his blade through her heart.
A pain surged through him, the maiden fell,
the old crone vanished along with the spell.

The maiden changed into Erianwen!
She fell to her knees before her doomed twin.
The Fae-Master laughed, “My, what a fool.”
As Wen’s warm blood round their feet did pool.

“Thy reason was true – in your world at least.
But here in the Faelands all lies cease.
The true nature of souls is here betrayed,
thus the witch was a hag, the girl a maid.”

Erian wailed, he cursed the Gods
(a fools thing to do, then, by all odds).
His sister lay down with tears in her eyes,
then forgave Erian for being unwise.

“You could not have known,” said his twin.
“I’d have done the same, dear Erian.
I’m glad you could come to see me before
I go off with the Fae forevermore.”

Erianwen smiled, as did Erian,
Then faded the warmth from her eyes and skin.
And it is said, as poor Wen bled,
her brother rose seas with the tears he shed.

Though not for her end did he lament
(which all mortals face once we’re spent),
but for the passing of his twin’s sweet smile
as she sailed for the fairy-folk’s isle.

Hence her warm laughter Erian
would ne’er hear ‘mongst oaks and birches again.
And sing by the ancient grotto she’d ne’er
for the fair Erianwen does dance, dance, dance with the fairies forever.

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