Laphavar ey ce Nostrelsayn (Laphavar and the Dawn-seeker)

This is an ancient epic poem from elven Kalimar, the oldest of the realms in Kalimar. It was penned at a time when the restless sea-elves were venturing further and further abroad across the seas in search of adventure and beauty. Laphavar was one such elf, and Nostrelsayn (Dawn-seeker) his ship. Like many he never returned from his voyaging, but these verses record what the elves left in Kalimar think may have befallen him…

 

O radiant Dawn, so ever and eternal fair,

O glorious mistress of the new-born splendour rare,

Where is your resting place of home that I might seek?

In the heavens-apt, or upon some noble peak?

I would that you would show your blesséd face to me, (5)

My vision to capture, and my heart to set free.

 

 

So if thou wilt not come unto me,

Your glory up-close mine eyes to see,

Then I must build ship and sail in search of thee.

Only the finest timbers will do, (10)

Sweet pitch and fine cloth for sails too,

All these to bear me hence, my blazing mistress to woo.

 

 

A labour of love it was, this fitting ship to build,

But soon enough she breathed, riding with ease upon the milky seas.

To catch the morning sun, her tapering bows did I guild, (15)

Then no more could I delay: farewell to Kalimar and her trees.

 

 

I had then but to trust Ocean’s flow,

No need for me to paddle or row.

I simply set my sail for the cradle east,

And readied mine eyes for the coming feast. (20)

The wind and waves, they did not deter,

Though the wrath of storms I would incur.

 



Yet Ocean would not let me freely by,

Beneath the stern and disapproving sky.

I was blown ruthlessly to strange seas, (25)

Where the humid clime I could not appease.

There all the stars were right full strange,

A marvel under which to range.

 

 

Then, under one grim and unrelenting sun,

A freak storm arose from which I tried to run; (30)

Though around me vicious tempest waves did blaze,

O’er head the sun shone hot through a sprayshot haze.

Lashed and burning, all at once, ever rising,

Upon great waves, towards the heavens contriving.

 

 

Next it was my unfortunate fate to be staring, (35)

Into a wide and tempestuous mouth baring;

O how it did shimmer and entice,

A cauldron of Oceanic vice.

To avoid this watery grave took all my skill

Wending my course away from its desire to kill. (40)

 

 

Had not then the waves had their fill of me?

I, the helpless sailor who could not flee.

Up now, higher than ever was I going,

Yea, upon a great wave of size surpassing.

Abandon me it did, on some high and lonely peak, (45)

Where anon, my ship balancing did shiver and creak.

 



From there I bore the sun’s full gaze,

Yea, baking under its strong rays.

By day my view to the world’s end stretchéd,

Till its wonders in my mind were etchéd. (50)

And by night strange lights did shine,

Under which Ocean spread all glim’ring fine.

 

 

Many days was I left upon that red-hued peak,

Always the same until the ground beneath began to creak.

A great earthquake tore asunder a floating tower, (55)

With a sound like thunder and awesome in power.

Floating out to sea this marvellous conveyance began to sink,

Bearing me gracefully down to the sea, a miracle, I think.

 

 

Though shaken I had to set my heart firm,

I would not waver nor from my quest turn; (60)

Eastward ever could be my only course,

To it I would hold with all my resource.

 

 

Presently there appeared the second land since leaving Kalimar,

And it was a glad sight after so long wandering afar.

Yet it was a strange place full of beasts with no head, (65)

Among whom I tarried to curiously tread.

 

 

I resolved myself to continue on but the next island came up soon,

And I marvelled to find it stranger still when above me it did loom.

Truly everything there was of a size immense: birds, beasts, flowers,

In all a strange evidence of the working of Prélan’s powers. (70)

Over me, the pebbles, much more the hills, rose like towers,

And long, with neck craned back, I wandered for hours and hours.

 

 

Strange then turned to beautiful upon reaching the end of the isles,

And glad I was of this paradise and some respite from my trials.

Twas a tranquil place, lulled by the sound of running streams, (75)

Lying under kindly stars, beyond the reach of dreams.

It was home to a great waterfall which led down to the Uttermost East,

But also to many maidens, fair and comely, who danced and sat at feast.

They pulled on my heart but I resolved to depart,

For the Dawn is fairer still and lies beyond this fall, (80)

In seas known to no map or chart.

 

 

Over the great waterfall Nostrelsayn sailed,

And the mighty depths of crashing water scaled.

My ship just barely survived the descent,

To sail onwards sustaining notch and dent. (85)

The seas here beyond the fall were burnished like a lake of copper,

And the sky, burnt by the sun’s nearness, was redder than is proper.



 

Held within these fiery seas was an island of gold,

More beautiful than any imagination could hold.

Each grain of sands on its beaches was a glim’ring shard, (90)

And gold too were the mighty cliffs, rising rich and hard.

Inland birds, beasts, flowers all in gold began,

And through them golden molten rivers ran.

Should I tarry here, to have my life in gilded glory reborn,

Or carry on and seek the much truer gold of the Dawn? (95)

This is no choice!

 



Once more I set out eastward, borne by the slightest breeze,

Verily I have ne’er sailed seas as placid as these,

So to keep going took all of my expertise.

The waters were also as hot as I have ever known, (100)

Causing some of Nostrelsayn’s timbers to hiss and groan,

Lest there be any doubt that we were approaching the Dawn’s throne.

 

 

My heartbeat quickened as the length of nights waned,

Could I be nearing the sun, my goal attained?

Then one blesséd morn there came a great heat; (105)

Unbearable but rooted to the deck were my feet.

Up came the sun in all her glory,

The greatest thing I’d heard of in song or story.

Filling my vision she rose up in splendour all arraigned,

And now forever with her my heart and soul remained. (110)

 

 

Having seen my Dawn up close my life’s goal was complete,

Was life now worth living with all my desires replete?

So I laid aside the lives of elves on Astrom below,

And joined the sun on her never-ending fiery flow.

I was burned as I took hold of her, before she could escape, (115)

But no matter! I am with my mistress,

And a whole new life for me will now take shape.

 

 

Grief to say, but Nostrelsayn was left behind,

Alas, but no longer would our paths be entwined.

If any hereafter should ask ‘what became of Laphavar the Kind?’ (120)

Let the lonely vigil of that faithful ship remind,

Of his passage to the sun from the outset designed.

This stalwart friend, to the Ocean was confined,

Pursuing a futile search, mourning and blind.

 

 

So endeth this tale of adventure and dare, (125)

Joy for Laphavar; but for Nostrelsayn despair.

Let Prélan each on their sundered roads sustain,

Till perhaps, after the breaking of the world,

They may meet again.

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