NEPA Known World
Song of Halav
The Song of King Halav verbally recounts the early years of the Traldar people. Originally passed down through village priests and wandering bards, it purports to be the official history of the Traladarans. Thyatian philosophers have noted that this legend was not set down in a written form until 1400 years after the events supposedly occurred, and that the song has traditional elements of early civilizations discovering bronze and advanced weapons “brought by the Immortals.” As a result, these philosophers doubt the authenticity of this tale. More tradi¬tional Traladarans ignore these philosophers. The original song was presented in a Traladaran chant format, consist¬ing of eight lines of equal cadence, with the fourth and eighth lines rhyming. The Thyatian translation used in modern Karameikos is as follows:
“Once there were, a long time ago,
a people blessed by the Immortals.
The Traldar were given the Great Forest.”
“The Traldar lived simply and were happy,
they fished the sea and hunted the forest,
mostly they were fair and worshipped the Immortals.”
“Unknown to men, a darkness had gathered,
far to the west, the beastmen grew.
They were coming for spoils, for land, and for slaves.”
“The Immortals of the beastmen were matched
by those of the Traldar, they battled much
but neither side would yield, the battle was a draw.”
“As one, one both sides it became clear,”
to avoid annihilation there was only one way,
the battle would be decided by mortals!”
“To Lavv, a village of men, now lost,
The Immortals came to find those to lead.
They chose clever youths to teach their secrets.”
“Halav, Red-Hair, was the first to be chosen,
a maker of stone knives he was clever.
To make armour and arms of bronze he was taught.”
“Lovely Petra, Halav’s lover, was next in the line,
a maker of pottery and arts was she.
To make bows, to weave, and to heal did she learn.”
“Wild Zirchev was last, the Immortals to see,
a master hunter and trapper was he.
The secrets of forests and beasts was he taught.”
“The three, gathered by the Immortals, were told,
of the approach of the beastmen.
The three told their people, who refused to hear.”
“The King of Lavv had the three brought to him,
he scoffed, and laughed, dishonouring all.
Halav slew him with a stroke of his bronze sword.”
“King Halav, Queen Petra, and Zirchev the Hunter,
taught the people their secrets.
The villages joined and swelled into cities.”
“Halav became a great hero, a just and kind ruler,
his fairness became widely known.
To him came all cities, a mighty nation was born.”
“The tide of the beastmen then broke over them,
upon the bronze of their armour it broke.
The numberless horde had arrived, the war went on.”
“As the eternal battle raged on, it was said,
for every gleaming suit that was rent,
a dozen of their dark foes had gone down.”
“Then it happened, as the fates had required.
King Halav, in his bronze, found his great foe.
He was wolf-headed and twice the height of a man.”
“The axe of the beast met the bronze sword of Halav,
the echoes rang out and all stopped to watch.
The two warriors danced, wove, and struck.”
“For hours they fought, to the cheers of their soldiers,
both sides marvelled at the stamina shown.
Neither would yield and neither would fall.”
“When neither could raise their weapons or move,
a halt was called and both rested and drank.
Halav spoke well of his foe, who spoke well of Halav.”
“The two rose to fight, the tension was great,
they battled again, would it end this time?
The battle raged, then one final blow did they strike!”
“The two armies looked on, both clearly stunned,
the two leaders were dead, confusion reigned.
The beastmen faltered, the Traldars barely held.”
“As the beastmen retired, Petra met Zirchev,
together they bore Halav home to Lavv.
In Lavv the pyre burned, the people wept.”
“The three were seen no more by men,
Petra and Zirchev joined Halav.
The Immortals bore them away, to return again, some day…”
The conventional interpretation of the above lines is as follows:
At the start of it all, the Immortals created the world from a roiling, chaotic mass, then created animals and man, and for many years let man live in ignorance and bliss.
In ancient times, this land was the forest home of the Traldar, men and women favored by the Immortals and allowed to live amid such beauty.
The Immortals let the Traldar live happy, simple lives. The Traldar fished and hunted; the men spent most of their time sporting with one another and offering praise to the Immortals.
But the Immortals knew that the happiness of the Traldar was to end. From the land where the sun has perished [the west] a race of evil beast-men prepared to march through the easterly land in search of riches, prisoners, and more hospitable homelands.
The beast-men had their own Immortal sponsors equal in might to the early patrons of the Traldar, so only a great battle between man and beast-man would determine the fate of the two races.
The Immortals descended to Lavv, a Traldar village, to find clever youths and give them secrets they could use to defeat the beast-men.
They visited Halav Red-Hair a maker of stone knives, and taught him to forge weapons and armor of bronze. They also taught him arts of the sword and the strategy of warfare.
They visited Petra, a maker of pottery, and taught her the art of the bow, the craft of medicine, the use of the potter’s wheel, the spinning of flax, and the use of the loom.
They visited Zirchev, a huntsman and taught him how to tame and ride and fight from horses, how to train dogs to fight for their masters, how to walk silent as the cat, swim as the fish, see as the hawk.
Halav, Petra, and Zirchev went to the people of Lavv and told them what the beast-men intended. The king of Lavv laughed and tried to drive the trio away. Halav, using the bronze sword given to him by the Immortals, slew the king and assumed his crown.
In the years that followed, King Halav, Queen Petra, and the Huntsman Zirchev taught their secrets to the people of Lavv and brought all the other villages in Traldar lands under their sway. Villages grew into mighty cities, and Halav was renowned for his fairness and wisdom.
Eventually, the beast-men attacked in endless waves from the west. The Traldar in the glittering bronze armor stood against them. The irresistible force of the beast-men crashed into the unmovable wall of the Traldar, and war went on, seemingly, forever. Both sides lost great numbers of warriors; each Traldar fighter slew dozens of bestial enemies before being slain.
Finally, King Halav managed to find the King of the Beast-Men alone on a hilltop. The beast-king was twice the height of a man, with the head of a wolf and a hairy body that was foul beyond compare. It brought its great axe against the sword given Halav by the Immortals.
This was the final battle of man and beast-man. It raged on from dawn until noon, both kings growing so tired that each could barely wield his weapon. Each was resolute and unconquerable, and sure the other would fall.
Both proved right; King Halav and the King of the Beast-men perished upon one another’s weapons. Their armies looked upon one another, the beast-men now fearful because their king had perished, and Traldar resolutely raising their weapons and barred the beast-men from advancing.
The beast-men departed Traldar lands. Queen Petra and Zirchev took up Halav’s body and returned home. Great was the lamentation in Lavv when they arrived. But, during the ritual burning of Halav’s body that night, the Immortals visited, spiriting Halav, Petra, and Zirchev away.
There have been rumors (most believe them to be perpetuated by the Cult of Halav) which claim there are hidden or missing portions of the Song which detail more of King Halav’s adventures. One particularly interesting snippet concerns Arik, the main Immortal who supported the beastmen. In this part of the tale, known as the Vengeance of King Halav, Petra and Zirchev bind Arik to a secret place to prevent him from harrying mankind. Some scholars claim that this actually took place after the death of Halav yet before the ascension of the trio to Immortal status. Not much is known of Arik and no humanoid tribe is known to worship him today.