[Book] Talhjolde (series)

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[Book] Talhjolde (series)

Post by Tristior » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:59 pm

A collection of Nordic fables. They are the primary representation of Atmoran totemism in contemporary Nordic culture.

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Post by Tristior » Mon Jul 08, 2019 1:00 pm

Talhjolde, Hvals Bol
In slipping shadows the weeping Whale waits
Dripping dappled in dark cast by master’s walls
Great guts groan with turbulent tumult
For into love the breathless beast is swept

Three times she was spied along the sighing shore
Autumnal in her crackling raiment, her knowing Lady Harvest [1]
Her daunting husband demanding his death
If Whale would woo Lord Winter’s wife.

Like fighting twins of old, love and fear take over
Wreaking writhing anguish until Whale wishes unbalance
To tip the painful scales and find love or fear the victor
Better one and consequence than torment until the end

A hoot on high and flapping feathers announce another
As scheming Snake takes roost upon the hangman’s branch
Seeming to Whale’s wet eyes as wise as old and amiable Owl [2]
Saying “Solutions, say? Smiling Snake can save you.”

“See this coin? A simple kiss upon your lips and thus
“Your pain will disappear. One side severs love,
“The other fear.” The coin hasty Whale did snatch
And declaring “I care not which!” did kiss and fall down dead

As sneaky Snake shed his wings, he shook his scaly head
Saying “See how stupid are these of warm blood,
Who are so eager to slip their shackled states
They could not scent a thousand poisoned coins.” [3]

[1] “Knowing”, here, is a Nordic term roughly equivalent to “cognomen” or “sobriquet”.
[2] Snake, the totem of Orkey, is here taking the form of Owl, the totem of an old analogue to Julianos.
[3] Poisoned coins appear surprisingly often in older Nordic folktales. Possibly a king or great warrior was killed by such means.

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Post by Tristior » Tue Jul 09, 2019 5:45 am

Talhjolde, The Talhjolde Companion

The Talhjolde, or Song-Stories, represent the strongest link between contemporary Tamrielic society and the Atmoran Nords of so many eras past. This collection has been curated by the Imperial University’s Committee for the Transposition of Indigenous Oral Traditions, and serves to keep alive in the minds of both academics and the general public the roots of our culture and shared history.

In this companion to the Talhjolde, different scholars will offer their learned understanding of each tale’s origins, meaning and significance. It is important to remember, of course, that these are neither the original Nordic tales nor a serviceable representation of Atmoran totemic religion; they do, however, serve to illustrate the ways in which our mannish origins retain their significance in Tamrielic culture to this day.

I. Hvals Bol (Whale’s Sorrow) - Hakan at-Hatan, Folkloric Linguistics
There are some odd anachronisms in the language used in this piece. For example, the “fighting twins of old” indubitably refer to the Shield-Thanes of Shor, Tsun and the lesser-known Stuhn (regarded as having left the Nordic pantheon to become Stendarr). However, the Whale in question is the totem of Stuhn, and so there is a strange paradox in likening Whale’s emotions to his future representation. This is of course entirely typical of Nordic storytelling, but should highlight to the reader the limitations of applying these modern translations to Mythic Era Atmora.

II. Allfathirs Beit (Allfather’s Riddle) - Elvyra Aumilie, Indigenous Oral Traditions
Riddle-contests and feats of cleverness are very popular in the Nordic oral tradition, and this is exemplary of the genre. Although the character of the “Allfather” or “All-Maker” has either departed mainland Nordic storytelling or been folded into the character of Shor, here we see them as distinct and conflicting characters. In particular, the Fox (Shor’s totem) is rebuked for his cleverness at the end, when this kind of wily glory-seeking is most commonly depicted as unambiguous heroism.

III. Modiskva Bern (The Angry Bear) - Batul gra-Brok, Metaphysical History
The presence of an Adversary in this story has interesting metaphysical implications. I am unaware of many Nordic traditions that have retained this character, barring the most malicious interpretations of Alduin, and it is a concept that challenges traditionally-understood Nordic metaphysics. In particular, it proposes a firm end for Nirn, one that contradicts the kalpic cycle and the existence of a Sovngarde-like reality outside of Mundus.

IV. Horsk Olf (Wise Wolf) - Johannes Silvanus, Indigenous Oral Traditions
This really is an excellent example of Atmoran and early Nordic songwriting, and it is very exciting to be able to include it in this collection. A few adjustments have been made to ensure rhymes and a consistent meter, but otherwise the spirit of the original song has been captured. The Frost Maiden is one of many archetypes from Atmoran poetry, like Lord Winter or Lady Harvest, whose role has been supplanted by individual heroes of later Nordic storytelling - not a great loss to some, but I personally miss the timeless quality of these characters.

V. Aliga Beit (The Same Question) - Basil al-Taneth, Tamrielic Migration Studies
The title here is a play on words that translates well - it is the “same question” in that it is a question of “sameness”, rather than a repetition of some unspoken but pre-existing enquiry. The moral of the tale - that familiarity is forged and not inherently imbued - has particular significance for the late Atmoran period, when shifts in climate were forcing disparate Nordic peoples into uneasy coexistence. One should not, however, mistake the answer to this “same question” to be one that Nordic thought has applied freely to the races of Tamriel, as the bloody history of conquest and subjugation post-Atmora demonstrates.

VI. Ovaldung Orm (The Snake of Chaos) - Dagny of the Tower, Skaldic Studies
Even southerners will generally be familiar with the outline of this story, as it has entered popular mythology and spread through Legion postings and court appointments. It’s not known when Orcs were introduced as the victims of Fox’s clever thinking, and there is surprisingly little record of conflict between Orcs and early Tamrielic Nords until the Battle of Dragon Wall in 1E660, but it seems likely to have been introduced by skalds from south-eastern Skyrim who had chafed against the predations of Velothi Mountain Orcs in the First Era.

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Post by Tristior » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:15 am

Talhjolde, Modiskva Bern

The Hawk is mighty and has the greatest wings
Uncommonly loyal and fiercest in battle
Her snow-blown hird are never overcome

The Moth is the source [1] of all laughter and joy
Her reward is for those who outlast the fray
Mead and song are her gift to Men

The Bear is most thoughtless of all beasts
Though strong his cloak is thin as rime [2]
No other is ever truly friend to he

On crooked road the three beasts stalk towards the sky
Fearing only the journey’s end
When from below the hunger-dream called Adversary speaks:

“Little morsels, you tempt me cruelly so
Which of you will climb into my mouth
And while away the time until the Burning?”

The Hawk speaks first, in thunderclap voice
“The valor I bring bestows dignity on Men
The cost to sate you would be too high”

The Moth speaks next, dripping mead from dusty lips
“None could bear the wait for death without me
My pleasure cannot be for you alone”

The Bear does not speak, but salivates and gnashes
And pulls his skin tightly across his shoulders
He roars with unrestrained fury and hate

With a laugh and smile as sharp as glass, the Adversary
Says “A hungry stomach has no ears, so Bear alone shall live
It is only anger that will be found until the end of time”

[1] Literally, a “fresh-running cleft”. A mountain spring.
[2] Compare “thin-skinned”.

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Post by Tristior » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:27 am

Talhjolde, Horsk Olf
"I look upon this mighty view
It nestles firm against my heart
Of all that rests beneath Sky's blue
I yearn but for my matching part"

So spoke the Maid so icy fair
Who yet did go without a [spouse] [1]
But when her suitors gathered there
Not one showed worth to offer vows

The Clouds could blot away the Sun
But Wind could blow away the Clouds
The Mountain barred the Wind's fair run
And Sun's bright light left Mountain cowed [2]

She sighed and wished the one for her
When wolfish voice said at her side
"Frost Maid, so fair, do not despair
On one a maid need not decide"

"The fight of life will often sting
And love will help you see it through
So marry each for what they bring
And forge your clan from [this] mighty view"

[1] The original Nordic word does not have an exact translation, but "spouse" is its closest equivalent.
[2] In the original, this line conveys a sense of smothering or drowning.

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Post by roerich » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:09 am

Fantastic work!

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Post by Tristior » Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:14 am

Talhjolde, Allfathirs Beit

The Maker of the world did ask [1]
His congregated flocks
"Which of you is cleverest:
Man or snake or fox?"

Stepp'd forward spoke the Woodland Man
Who'd walked the darkest trails
"I know the way through all the hells
Where Nordic courage fails"

Then slithered forth the sloughing Snake
Who shed dark truths like skin
"I can tell you where to find
Six-angl'd runes within"

Last trotted out the wily Fox
A toothy grin he flashed
“I have the clev’rest skill of all
I’ll leave those two abashed”

“For you see, our All-Maker
I think that you will find
The wise words that each other spoke
Were really words of mine”

“I learned to throw my cunning voice
Into another’s mouth
And in there took their words for mine
My vict’ry’s beyond doubt”

“You are a wordy little Fox”
The mighty father mused
“But laying claims to all these words?
My patience you’ve abused”

He'd thought himself the cleverest
His tail with pride unfurled
But then the Fox was banished forth
And set to roam the world

[1] Although there is reason to believe that the proto-Nords of Atmora may have believed in a single "All-Maker" of the world, and even brought this belief in some form with them to Tamriel, this theology has not survived until the present day.

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