Friday, February 5, 2010

"Tale of Manaeth"

This is an excerpt from Ch. 5 of "Tale of Manaeth" by Philip Campbell. Find out more at

At morn upon the rising of the golden sun, the five lords of Elabaea, Naross of Asylia, Arrax of Paros, Amyntas of Kerion, Hadrior, son-in-law of Ioclus and Garba of Cadarasia sent for a herald and said, "Go and fetch the lady Manaeth and bring her hither. Tell her maidens to wash and anoint her and have her made beautiful, and have her bring with her the shield and spear of Ioclus." The herald went unto the tent of Manaeth and told her maidens, "The lords summon Manaeth to their counsel, but first let her be bathed, anointed and made beautiful, for something great is about to happen." The maids did as they were commanded, and waking lady Manaeth they bathed, cleansed and anointed her with oil. Then Manaeth arrayed herself in a splendid gown of green and was wrapped in a white cloak of ermine, and on her head she wore a silver tiara that was delicate and finely wrought. In one hand she clasped the mighty spear of Ioclus her father, and upon her back she slung his great shield of beaten bronze. Then she came forth from her tent, and her train of maidens with her, and walked through the camp to the meeting place of the five lords. And as she walked, the men of Elabaea emerged from their tents as well, and followed behind her, so that all the company of Elabaea was gathered together about her.

When she approached the meeting place of the five lords, she greeted them pleasantly and would have made familiar with them, but they rose and stood before her solemnly, and she perceived that something was amiss and said, "What is this my lords? Is there more grave news?" But Naross spoke boldly and said, "Lady Manaeth, thou blessed among women of Asylia, come and claim the throne of thy father. Take up his scepter and rule this land in might against our cruel foes. Be our queen in peace and war, and we will pledge troth to thee, to fight for thee and serve thee all thy days as our queen and rightful heir to the house of Ioclus." Then all the men of war gathered around her shouted their assent and clashed their spears and shields.

When Manaeth understood that they purposed to make her queen, her knees trembled and she pleaded with the lords with great cries, begging that she was not worthy for such an undertaking, that as recently as two days ago she had been lost hopelessly in the wilderness, that she had left her family alone and been allowed to live while they suffered death. With many such sayings and a great many tears she protested, but Naross said, "Lady Manaeth, these things were all by providence, that you should be given to us as our ruler in this dire hour. Resign yourself to your fate." When Naross had said this, Manaeth ceased her weeping and assented to all that they proposed and consented to be made Queen of Asylia.

Then horns were blown and all of the men of war assembled on the hill, near where Manaeth and the lords stood. Then seven of the stongest men were brought forth, and they bore Manaeth aloft, sitting her upon the shield of Ioclus her father. Naross took the spear of Ioclus in hand, and began a procession from that spot up to the Stone of Cruachan, which crested the hill about five hundred paces from where they stood. Behind Naross processed Arrax, then Hadrior, then Garba and lastly Amyntas, who walked before Manaeth. Then was carried Manaeth, daughter of Ioclus and heir to the rulership of Asylia. Before her came maidens of great beauty who danced and sung sweet melodies of Asylia in the spring, and behind her marched a solemn column of a thousand warriors, all battle hardened and keen with spear and sword. As they approached the hill, the men began to chant one of the solemn hymns of Asylia, ancient and sonorous, praising the virtues of just lordship and invoking the blessing of heaven upon the young queen...

When the procession reached the Stone of Cruachan, Manaeth removed her shoes and stepped forth from the shield, standing aloft upon the stone, so that she was above all the other lords and men upon the hill top. Then Naross came forth and recited in verse all of the great deeds of the house of Manaeth, from the very beginning unto that day, and all the assembly stood silent with great reverence. And what did Naross sing of that autumn morn? First he sung of the wanderings of Laban in the ancient days, he who came forth out of the east with his kin and established a kingdom in the west, in Elabaea, which is named from Laban. The whole genealogy was recited, how Laban begat four sons who scattered and settled the west, and how it was his grandson, Anrothan, who wed the beautiful maiden Cyréa, and brought forth the Asylian people... Finally the song came down to Manaeth's own day, and of the glories of Ioclus her father in war and peace, how he had slain many Epidymians and killed the great boar of Gihon. When Naross reached the end of his song, he added a new verse, praising the valor of Manaeth and her slaying of the traitor Gygas atop the slopes of Lissus. When the song had ended, everybody stood silent.

Then Manaeth was handed the spear of Ioclus and the mighty shield which she had been born upon, and she took these up in her hands and held them aloft to the winds, invoking their aid in battle. After this she said, "Men of Asylia, never has it been known in the days of our fathers unto our most distant ancestors that a queen has ruled the people of our land. What the lords have done this day in proclaiming me is something new in Asylia, but something that will confound our enemies and bring crashing victory to our cause, though it come at the cost of much spilt blood." Then she decreed that henceforth she should no longer be known as Manaeth, but by the name Manissa, which means "Maid of Asylia." Then all of the men there assembled clashed their spears to their shields and cried out as one, "Hail Manissa, Queen of Asylia! We will serve thee forever!" As they cried, Manissa stood tall upon the stone and seemed to grow in stature and grandeur, so that even Arrax was fearful of her might. And the sun fell and lighted upon her, so that she seemed at that moment to become exceedingly beautiful and glorious, like one of the Mighty Ones of old. And many of the men there bowed their faces to the ground and said, "The beauty of Orianna and Osseia lives in Manissa, and the might of Manx and Orix her forebears!" Never had Manissa appeared so fearsome or beautiful as that day she stood upon the Stone of Cruachan when the Asylians proclaimed her queen.

After all this, Manissa came down from the stone and the whole assembly, lords and common soldiers, had a great feast in honor of the young queen. Then as night fell, Manissa retired to her tent to speak of stratagems with the five lords. And on that night it was decided by them to continue in the plans of Ioclus and make savage war upon Maruda, to utterly drive the men of Caeylon from the land and destroy the oppressive stronghold of Danath Hered. When they had resolved upon this course they drank and made many oaths of loyalty and then retired late after darkness fell. And the shrill winds of autumn night were upon the land.

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