The Ballad of the Battle Beneath the Earth

In a D&D game I was playing back in 2006, we had an epic session in which our paladin, Glothram Aethestar of Tyr, defeated the main antagonist of the game, Ideld the Deathless, singlehanded. It was a battle that took over three hours of real time to play out. No one expected Glothram to succeed. Few expected Glothram to live, actually, since he was facing Ideld without his holy weapon, without armour, and without his allies. But succeed he did. I went home and wrote this epic poem about the battle, which is one of the longest pieces I’ve ever written.

Incidentally, this piece, which was performed by my character up and down the length of the River Chionthar, led to a variety of complications for the characters, since the whole “Eye of the Sun” thing was supposed to be a secret. What can I say? I make life exciting.

The Ballad of the Battle Beneath the Earth
by Corrigan the Bard
June 2006

A paladin of Tyr stood bold
Before the doors of burnished gold.
Behind the doors there lay his prize,
A relic called the Sun’s own Eye.
About his neck, upon a chain,
He wore a pendant which could gain
The access to the hall within
For men whose lives were free from sin.
His name was Glothram Athelstar,
And he had travelled near and far
To stand before the burnished doors,
But now he knew he’d quest no more.
For here he stood, mere steps away,
He’d have his prize upon this day.
The Eye would help him best a foe,
Ideld the Deathless, witch of woe,
Who sought to bring all worldly lands
Beneath her rule, beneath her hand.

All day the man of Tyr had tread
Beneath the catacombs of dread,
Beneath the temple, through the door
Of Lathander, the morning-lord.
The hallways twisted, turned, and fell,
Till Glothram could not hear the knell
Of temple-bells for morning rites
To Lathander, the lord of light.
But still he followed, down and down,
His footfalls were the only sounds,
But still the warrior knew no fear,
But knew his goal must soon be near.
At length the passage rose again,
Though not up to the lands of men,
But up a twisting stair and hall
Until he knew if he should fall
That he would die beneath the ground
And never would his corpse be found.
But still he walked for hours more
Until he stood before the door
Of burnished gold, before his prize,
The relic called the Sun’s own Eye.
But just as Glothram reached the chain,
To take the key and entry gain,
There came the sound of slow applause,
And then a voice that gave him pause,
“My dearest paladin of Tyr,
How charming to have met you here.”
And Glothram knew the voice, and held,
It was the deathless witch, Ideld.

Glothram wore not mail nor chain,
For he had come for peaceful gain.
Nor yet did he have sword to hand,
He came here as a peaceful man.
A lowly dagger at his waist,
Was all the steel he had to face
The deathless witch whose tales abound,
Whose eyes could conquer king and crown.
But Glothram knew he could not yield,
Though he had only little steel.
He was a paladin of Tyr,
And so he pushed away his fear
And gripped his dagger in his grasp,
Prepared himself his righteous task.
He shut his eyes, for Glothram knew,
Her eyes would flash and he would rue
That ever had he met her gaze:
For he would fall beneath her sways.
And so he fought with his eyes closed,
And though he felt her strike a blow,
His dagger turned the thrust aside
And slashed at her upon the side
Of her lean face, and he drew blood,
She sucked her breath and said, “That’s good,
But could you hit me yet again?”
And then he felt a chilling pain
As her great sceptre struck his steel
It flew apart and he did reel.
She thrust him hard against the wall,
His eyes flew open from the fall.
But Glothram stood and charged her arm
That held the mace that did him harm,
He held on tight for his own life,
Though he could feel its pull of ice,
And though the witch began to pull,
The man of Tyr held to his goal,
And closed his teeth about her thumb,
And then he felt his mouth go numb:
Her skin was hard as marbled stone,
As hard as metal, hard as bone.
But still he held despite the pain,
And though Ideld tried yet again
To wrench him off with flame and word,
Still Glothram held on, undeterred.
And then at length with one great pull,
He tore the mace free from Ideld.
And as they stood the two locked eyes,
But though the deathless witch did try
To bend the warrior to her will,
The paladin of Tyr held still,
And would not let his will be turned,
But all of her advances spurned.
But neither was the warrior armed,
And none of his own godly charms
Could stop the witch-queen from task
Of getting back her sceptre’s haft.
She took slow steps towards the man,
Who held the sceptre in his hand,
And Glothram knew he had once chance
To stop the witch-queen’s slow advance.

He spun around before the door,
And grabbed the chain that he still wore,
And shoved the pendant in the lock,
The doors stood open, to his shock,
And there he saw beyond the door,
A ring in black upon the floor,
Carved all in runes, and glowing light,
And up above, another sight:
A half a dome, of silvered gold
And there suspended in its folds,
A ruby crystal he did spy,
And knew it was the Sun’s own Eye.
Glothram charged as doors stood wide,
And strove to reach the ring inside,
But from behind Ideld still stood,
Her eyes were hungry for his blood.
Her fingers cracked with fire green,
That struck at Glothram, sight unseen.
His clothing burned, he almost swooned,
But still he ran into the room
And stood within the ring of light,
Beneath the Eye of holy might.
But then he fell down to the floor;
The Deathless Witch strode through the door!
“Surrender now,” she told the man,
“For I will slay you while I can!”
But Glothram pulled himself aright,
Within the circle’s holy light.
“I won’t!” he cried, “And never could,
For I yet serve the force of good!
But you are evil’s servant still!”
And then there came a fearsome chill,
As from the far end of the room
A massive figure came to view.
‘Twas all in metal, red and black,
And bore a sword upon its back.
“Who disturbs this sacred shrine?”
And Glothram said, “The cause is mine.
For I am Glothram Athelstar,
And I have travelled very far
To stand beneath the Sun’s own Eye
And there to chant my battle-cry!”
“Glothram Athelstar,” it boomed,
“Why seek you out this sacred room?
What cause have you to seek the Eye
And there to chant your battle-cry?”
And Glothram said, “My cause is just,
And I will answer as I must.
For I am paladin of Tyr
And pressing cause has brought me here.
The Deathless Witch they call Ideld
Has many slain and many felled,
And seeks to Quell the golden Light
Of every man who’s just and right,
And only through the holy Eye
And shouting out my battle-cry
Can I defeat the Deathless Witch,
Whose heart is rendered black as pitch.
And so I claim by name of Tyr
The Eye that hangs above me here,
For Tyr is called by priests and sworn
To be Amanotaur reborn.
And so now here I place my claim
Before the gods of both these names.
Allow me leave to use the Eye,
And chant aloud my battle-cry!”

And then the Eye began to fall,
Descended in the sacred hall.
The Deathless Witch was filled with hate,
And threw her hands above her face,
And then sprung up a wall of flame;
She shouted out the construct’s name,
“Koliarut, go back to rest,
Your time has not yet come to test
The worth of warriors in the ring,
The gods they serve and cause they bring!”
And then she turned to Glothram’s face,
Though he still held the witches’ mace.
“I’ll kill you now,” she then avowed,
But Glothram courage was not bowed,
“You Lords of Law, pray give me strength!”
As blue-white light crept up the length,
Along the sceptre he still held
Which trapped the life-force of Ideld.
He felt it freeze along his flesh,
But still he drew a fearsome breath,
“I’ll never yeild!” the warrior roared,
As golden light streamed from the floor
And fought against Ideld’s own works.
And from behind the fire burst
The giant creature, black and red
And struck Ideld upon her head,
And threw her back into the wall
As though she were a child small.
She vanished and then reappeared
Her fire crackled and it seared
Again she came and still once more
Until the guard could take no more,
It fell upon the marble floor
And then stopped moving evermore.

But Glothram grabbed the witch’s mace
And thrust it up above his face,
He smashed it hard upon the Eye
With “Tyr!” his mighty battle-cry,
And crystal shattered, smashed and flew:
The sceptre’s end was broken through!
A black-grey swirl rushed out the top,
The many souls Ideld has stopped
Within the mace she held so dear,
They howled, then they disappeared.
The force had knocked the warrior back,
The broken mace flew from his grasp,
And though she screamed in blinding pain
Ideld took up the mace again
And spat a fearsome word of power,
Strong enough to smash a tower,
And spread her wings behind her back
And walked towards Glothram to attack,
“Kneel,” she said, but still he stood,
Her words of power were no good.
She seemed to age by years or more
With every step she took before,
And still the Sun’s own Eye came down
And nearly touched to Glothram’s crown.
Ideld drew near and in his reach,
And Glothram struck her in the teeth,
But still her skin was hard as stone,
As hard as marble, hard as bone,
And though he hit her twice and thrice,
She laughed at him with voice of ice,
“You cannot hurt me, man of Tyr,
My life is not embedded here;
Though you may strike with all your might,
You never will withdraw my life!”
And then her hands grew hooks of bone,
And cleaved at Glothram, hard as stone,
She ripped through flesh and skin and meat,
But Glothram still could not be beat,
Crying out for Tyr’s own might,
He glowed with shining holy light,
And wrenched the mace from her own grip
And thrust up with the broken tip
Until it touched the crystal orb,
Ideld fell prone upon the floor.
“Kneel!” she cried, her voice grew hoarse,
“You first!” said Glothram, firm of course.
The mace grew hot within his hand,
And shone like sunlight on the land,
And though the metal cracked and burned,
Still the warrior never turned,
But held the metal mace to task
Until he heard a mighty “crack!”
And then the metal was no more,
But broken pieces on the floor,
And there within his hands he held
The boney finger of Ideld.

And Glothram cracked the bones apart
And stared below him, pure of heart.
Ideld’s flesh burned, and loud she swore,
And crept upon the marble floor
Until she lay within the light
As downward came the Eye of might.
She looked up to the man of Tyr,
“Help me,” heard his straining ear.
But true of purpose Glothram stood,
“I serve a god whose cause is good,
His justice comes to all who sin,
As you are soon to find within.”
The Eye fell down upon her breast,
And nothing of the witch was left,
Save empty robes where she had lain
And broken mace that bore her stain.
And so shining light had felled
The once-thought deathless Queen Ideld.

As Glothram gathered relics all,
Amanotaur filled through the hall
With golden light that led the man
Up through the caverns, up to the land,
To stand beneath the shining sun
Before the place where he’d begun
His journey downward in the dark
At singing of the morning lark.
And now three white-robed priests stood by,
And when they saw, they gave a cry,
And Glothram placed before their feet,
The relics he had thought to keep.
He cheered when passing through the door,
“Ideld the Deathless is no more.”

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