Esverra, long-runner, orc-slayer, proud warrior,
carries the sword Angelfang.
Would you hear how she won it?
Esverra, blessed by the gods, called by dreams,
had a vision of an ancient barrow,
the final rest
on a king of old.
With a few stout comrades,
she searched for the tomb,
and found it in northern ruins,
all that was left of a forgotten kingdom,
lost to time and raiders.
The tomb was unsealed,
and her companions lamented,
fearing it long-since looted.
But Esverra god-talker urged them forward,
knowing a prize still waited within.
Niall, sharp-eyed, found a hidden passage,
containing closed crypts.
While her friends cheered, Esverra looked ahead,
knowing what she sought lay before her.
Howls of fear from the crypt-robbers,
as the dead awoke in anger
not to be swayed by prayer or apologies.
Steel and magic had killed these thanes before,
and steel and magic could do so again.
The revenants fought with weapons of old
some rusted, others still as new
as they day they were forged.
A calamity! Esverra’s sword broke
from the hammer-blow of an enraged shade.
If not for the spear of bold Trasha,
she might have fallen there.
Her comrades urged retreat,
wounded and tired,
and sorely afraid of the wrath of the dead.
But Esverra, daring, sought to venture
even the smallest bit farther
“If we touch nothing, perhaps they will take no further offense.”
Hearts pounding with fear,
they crept deeper into the tomb’s tunnels,
and they found what they had been led to,
the king of old’s unbroken tomb!
Gold and gems, statues of servants and horses,
ancient tapestries long gone to mold,
and upon a stone throne,
an ancient corpse,
clad in rusted mail and rotted robes,
holding a splendid sword with a black blade.
Esverra regarded the king’s corpse,
and sought to show her respect.
“It is the will of the gods that has guided me here,
surely they want that fine sword to be used.”
As she reached for the sword,
the old king’s bones rattled,
and he stood once more,
a time-eaten echo of his past pride.
“If you want my sword Angelfang,”
spoke the king’s corpse,
“you must win it from me!”
“I’ll happy fight you,”
said Esverra, ever-rash,
“but my own sword is broken.
It hardly seems fair.”
The skeleton grinned, as it must.
“How would you battle, then?
Let the gods not say
that I gave you a hopeless challenge.”
“Shall we wrestle, oh king?”
Said Esverra, clever-spoken.
“When all else fails,
a warrior still has the strength of their arms.”
The old king’s skull nodded,
and he lay Angelfang across his throne.
With clicking footsteps,
Esverra, daring thief, prayed for strength,
and met his charge.
Cunning Esverra had chosen wrestling well.
For the king was as strong as any living man,
and wise in battle,
but dry bones weigh little compared to flesh and blood.
“Should we aid her?”
Thought tricky Niall,
but as he turned to speak,
his tongue stilled with fear.
For behind them, as they watched Esverra contest with the king,
silently stood slain servants,
come to witness their king’s final battle as well.
They tossed and tumbled, a titanic tempest,
thrashing and tearing through tossed-aside treasures.
Bony hands gripped Esverra’s throat,
and ancient bones still had strength to choke.
Esverra, mighty-armed, drove the old king’s corpse
against pillar and wall,
seeking to shatter his bones,
but the king’s pride was mighty,
and his strength was its echo.
Bruised and bloodied,
hurting for breath,
unable to shake the king from her back,
Esverra, clever in desperation, dove backwards with all her might,
onto the dead king’s throne,
and the blade that lay upon it.
With a mighty crack,
his ancient bones gave way,
before his own sword’s blade,
and his skull fell past her shoulder, to the ground.
“I have no complaints,”
said the skull,
“take my sword Angelfang.
It has served me well in glorious battle,
perhaps it will do the same for you.”
The old king’s voice faced,
a final echo,
and his bones rattled no more.
Weary Esverra carried the sword,
its blade turned silver,
from the ancient tomb.