Saturday, 12 March 2011

A Fairy Tale and Three Dwarven Treasures

Skirvir and the Truth Telling Lyre 
A long-time ago, in the hall of the Dweorgas King Yngvi, there lived a young artisan called Skirvir. He was apprenticed to the King’s master-maker; a sour and ill-tempered fellow called Alþófr.
Skirvir was a pleasant soul born with a love of wonder and magic. He wanted nothing more than to learn, and to craft beautiful treasures to please his king.
Alþófr was a sullen and lazy teacher, but year by year, secret by secret he learnt his craft until one day Alþófr told him he must make something special to present to the king.
Skirvir set about the task. He collected the webs of a thousand spiders. Cunningly he weaved them with a thread made of silver, silver forged in Dragon’s blood, and made a fine cloak.
When Alþófr saw it he bemoaned Skirvir’s lack of skill, but his eyes burnt with greed and envy. He demanded that Skirvir tell him what it did, so Skirvir explained that when the king wore the cloak of webs no matter how high he climbed, he would never fall or tumble from cliff face, ridge, or rock. More than that; if he offered the cloak to a guest, that guest would never be able to leave the Dweorgas king’s realm until the king asked for the cloak to be returned.
Alþófr took the cloak to present to the king. When he returned he was wrathful. He told Skirvir the king was displeased with the work and this reflected badly on Alþófr as a teacher. For that he beat poor Skirvir. However, when Skirvir saw the king he was always wearing the cloak of webs, and looked proud of his new treasure.
Riftrenge: The cloak of webs is a thing of true beauty. Delicate and ephemeral it glitters silver and scarlet due to the filigree of spider web dressed in silver, coloured with dragon blood.
Despite its delicate appearance it cannot be damaged or destroyed by anything but the most powerful magic; though it offers no protection to the person wearing it. They could be blasted to ash by dragon fire and only the cloak would remain.
Anyone who wears the cloak can climb anywhere and anything, traverse any narrow crossing, path or way and never fear that they will fall. It doesn’t help with the climb though. If offered to a guest that guest will never be able to leave the home of the cloak’s owner until the owner asks for it back. And the owner must ask for it. Those trapped by the cloak of webs cannot give it back, discard it, or offer it to anyone else.
Current Location/Owner: The cloak is still in the realm of the Dweorgas. It is currently worn by an outlaw who tried to steal the secret of Rune magic from the Dweorgas. The current king Nýraðr takes great joy describing all the ways he might execute him; secure in the knowledge that although the thief is free to roam the Dweorgas realm he may never leave as long as he wears the cloak of webs.
Determined to do better Skirvir set about making another gift for the king. Knowing that love and hate were two sides of the same shilling; Skirvir set to think on those things the king loved and hated most. It struck him that of all the things king Yngvi loved hunting the vile Nihtgenga was the foremost, and there was nothing he loathed more than an oath breaker.
The goblin Nihtgenga were once friends of the Dweorgas, but they broke and oath to the king and betrayed and slew many of his kin. Worse than this, before that time no Dweorgas had ever broken an oath. Now the poison of the Nihtgenga, and their treachery, had spread. Dweorgas were breaking their oaths to the king.
Skirvir knew of certain lichen that illuminated some of the lower caves. He took it and forged it into a sword made of dragon bone and iron; all the time whispering to the sword: telling it of the treachery of the Nihtgenga and the evil of oath breaking.
When he had finished he had created a wondrous weapon. A steel sword tinged with ivory and patterned with lichen green filigree. Near Nihtgenga it would glow bright green and if an oath anyone broke an oath within hearing it would fly from its scabbard, like a thing alive, and behead the oath breaker.
Alþófr grunted when he saw the weapon as if in displeasure but his hands betrayed him for he snatched it up greedily.
Unable to contain himself, Skirvir could not wait and so followed Alþófr to the king’s hall where he hid in the shadows at the back of the hall.
The king was overjoyed with the sword, and bestowed much praise, and many jewels upon Alþófr.
Skirvir was elated. This time the king liked his creation. He was crestfallen when he heard Alþófr claim credit for the sword. At least he had pleased the king and would not be beaten. He ran back to the workshop, but when Alþófr returned he told Skirvir the king liked the sword less than the cloak. He beat Skirvir even more savagely than before and threatened to have him banished if his next gift did not please the king.   
Áþbricedóm: The sword known as the oath breakers doom is a normal Dweorg Dragon tooth sword, but the blade is patterned with a moss-like green threading. The blade glows a dull green if a Nihtgenga is within a mile. It grows brighter the nearer it gets to goblins. If anyone is proven to be an oath breaker Áþbricedóm will fly through the air with supernatural speed and decapitate them. No Saving Throw, no defence, no mercy.
Current owner/Location:  It has been a generation since the Áþbricedóm was lost during a raid against the Nihtgenga of the western mountains. Some believe it is now in the possession of the Goblin king; others that it is simply lost somewhere in their territory.
Knowing exactly what he would craft next Skirvir set to work. He travelled to the lands of men. There he traded all he owned in exchange for wood. All, but for one gem encrusted necklace which he traded for seven strands of hair from an Eorðwerod queen called Bebba; a queen famed for knowing a lie when she heard one.  
He worked the wood into a Lyre, stained it with varnish made from the ground down shell of a dragon, made pegs of silver, cunningly coated queen Bebba’s hairs with gold, and strung them on the Lyre. Finally he set it to a tuning that only the most gifted of Scopas could fathom.   
When Alþófr saw the harp, greed glittered in his pig like eyes, he clenched and unclenched his hands, hands that twitched and itched in their desire to hold and possess the Lyre. With an avaricious grin on his face he told Skirvir it was badly made and the king would not be pleased.
Once more Skirvir followed his false-hearted master to the king’s hall and watched from the shadows.
The king was mightily pleased with the Lyre. “
“You have outdone yourself this time,” said king Yngvi.
“Who built the Lyre?” Skirvir shouted from the shadows.
The king looked displeased at such rudeness. The crowd chattered among themselves excitedly at such goings-on. Alþófr’s face was red with rage.
“I built it of course,” Alþófr said.
The strings of the Lyre vibrated and thrummed and then in a beautiful lilting voice it sang out two sweet notes that sounded the words . . .
“He lies.”
A hush descended on the hall. The king looked at Alþófr. “Who built the Lyre, Alþófr?” Yngvi asked.
“I did,” Alþófr said. With no hint of shame he raised his voice high and clear. “It is my creation, sire.”
“Lies, lies, lies,” sang the Lyre.
Skirvir stepped out of the shadows and stood before his king. “I crafted the Lyre, my lord,” he said. “The cloak, and the sword too.”
Everyone in the hall looked to the Lyre. It remained silent. The king looked at Alþófr.
“Can you not see!” Alþófr said. “It is a trick, a mark of jealousy, he has bewitched my lyre.”
“Lies, lies, lies” sang the Lyre once more; this time with a light mocking tone that drew sniggers from the crowd.
The king turned to Skirvir. “Explain,” he said.
“My lord I crafted them for you,” Skirvir said. “Each time Alþófr presented them as his own crafting, took your praise and treasure, then returned to me and beat.” He showed the king the marks of his beating. “Worst of all he told me you were displeased with my work.”
The crowd were outraged. The king’s gaze turned on Alþófr. A cold, hard gaze. Behind him his guards put hand to hilt.
“He is the liar!” Alþófr shouted.
“Lies,” sang the Lyre.
“I built the Lyre,” Alþófr said.
“Lies,” sang the Lyre.
Alþófr pointed at Skirvir. “I built it and he bewitched it!”
“Lies, Lies,” sang the Lyre.
“By my oath,” shouted Alþófr in ddesperation He held up his hand. “I swear I created the Lyre with my own two hands, I swear it.”
Once more the Lyre’s strings hummed and thrummed. “Lies,” it sang.
The king’s sword Áþbricedóm, the oath breakers doom, flew from its scabbard, twirled through the air, and beheaded Alþófr. Before his head hit the floor Áþbricedóm was back in the scabbard.
The king looked at Skirvir and smiled. “I believe you will make a fine master-maker,” he said.
All the jewels and riches that had been Alþófr’s were given to Skirvir; more too. He lived out his days happy and contented crafting many wondrous and magical treasures for his king.
Se Sóþcwide Hearpa: The Truth Telling Lyre is a superbly crafted seven string Lyre. It is decorated with draconic designs, and strung with golden strings. If tuned correctly (INT Check or Saving Throw) it will sing out the word ‘lies’ every time a lie is uttered in its presence. Other than that magical gift it is a superior instrument in all respects, and when played by a master Scop can quiet the rowdiest of mead hall crowds.
Current Location/Owner: The Truth Telling Lyre was gifted to the Kings of Westlund Seaxe and is in the hall of their current king now. However, the power of its magic is long since forgotten because the last two Westlund Scops lacked the skill to tune it correctly.


  1. I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Medieval Madness Award.

    Go to and pick up your award.

  2. Hey, Dierdra thanks for poping by, taking the time to read and comment, and thanks for the Medieval Madness. Cheers!

  3. Man! Redwald is blowing my mind!

  4. Wow, you're a master! This could easily pass off for real folk lore or good research material for writers.

    Enjoy your weekend! I'm a new follower! ;)

    ♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

  5. Ragnorakk, glad you're liking it, and thanks for letting me know. Much appreciated. By the way where is your avatar pic from?

  6. Elizabeth, cheers. Good of you to say so. I was hoping it would work as a fairytale.