The manuscript that follows is taken from but a single source, stored at Windsong Abbey. It is impossible to verify the authorship of “Fafnheir’s Lament”; the book in which it is contained also includes a bestiary and various tales of monster-hunting. If authentic, the lament—written in Skald—must have been copied and recopied many times over its ten-thousand-year history, potentially introducing scribal errors. Translation was further complicated when a fire broke out at the abbey centuries ago; an anonymous librarian saved the book, but not before the manuscript was singed along one edge. The damage was not extensive, but enough to make many passages difficult to read and some phrases entirely indecipherable. The edition presented here represents the best efforts of the abbey’s staff.
So, fresh from the First World I came, Fafnheir,
Burdened and brandishing the eggs of my brood.
Boldly I’d taken the blood of my brother
And the price, my penance, was the exile’s path.
Now on Golarion I gazed, greedily,
For glory and gold was mine to gather.
From mountains where men rode upon mammoths
To the Obari Ocean, none could oppose me.
Warriors and would-be kings both went
Groaning with grief into my gullet.
I felt certain Fafnheir was fiercest,
First among foes, now and forever.
That was good killing.
But fat on the fear of fools, I forgot
The fickle future of fortune’s wheel.
For although the life of a linnorm is long,
And time toughens us like an oaken tree,
No royal or regent is allowed to rule
Longer than the law of cruel fate allows.
Your might won’t matter, is what I am meaning,
When you gaze upon a god and grasp
The golden age of your glory is gone.
Heed my history, and hew
To the wisdom which I have won.
Listen to the lament of the first linnorm.
Millennia ago by mortal measure,
Veiled villains seeking vengeance
Summoned the Starstone from the depths of space.
But Acavna of Azlant, bride of Amaznen
Made a magnificent shield of the moon.
She shattered the Starstone into shards
And some souls were spared.
But gone was the glory of ancient Golarion,
And men became cowards crouching in caves.
Into this apocalyptic air I ascended
To witness what wonder remained in the world.
I sojourned south, taking the swan’s road,
And all that my eye encompassed was empty.
Fewer folk than you have fingers
Lived in that lonely desolate land.
But as I approached the antipodes by air
Stalwart survivors began to be seen,
Sheltering in the shade of Mwangi’s shield.
Here were heroes a linnorm could hunt,
So down I descended, hungry for dinner.
The trees were towering torches
Blazing below me, their light blinding.
Under that kindling canopy were helpless kin-folk,
Mortal men and elves, Mualijae
Caught in a barbarous burning.
Time had taught them the meaning of terror,
For a dreadful dragon had chosen today
To descend and deal devastation.
But the fear that filled them wasn’t for Fafnheir,
And my blood boiled as I wondered what bastard
Had the craft and the courage to steal my kill.
Then I drew near to dread Dahak,
Dealer of death and desolation.
Then the father of linnorms felt fear
For the Age of Ashes had arrived.
Illustration by Ksenia Kozhevnikova from from Lost Omens The Mwangi Expanse.
Dark is the day I first saw Dahak
Feasting on fools who howled as they fled.
Spells and spears he shattered for sport,
Shields splintered, they perished in shame.
Blades that breached him were, by his blood,
Melted to mist like ice in a meadow.
A Mualijae maid raised her voice in mourning
And the greedy one paused, engrossed by her grief.
She sang of centuries filled with sorrow
How Starstone survivors became food for the slaughter.
But the monster was unmoved by her music;
Sky swallowed the smoke.
Many are the deaths that delvers discover
When they dare their descent into the depths:
A poisonous point in the depths of a pit,
Or their corpse consumed by gelatinous cube,
Or reduced to dust, disintegrated,
Or by the relentless reach of a mummy’s rot,
Their strength sapped as they’re turned to stone
By the sudden stare of a medusa’s snakes,
Or mauled by a minotaur lost in a maze,
Or by a bear with the brow of an owl disemboweled.
But lo, this litany now must be lengthened,
Expanding the examples of exsanguination,
For dungeon delvers have new ways to die:
Caught and cut by the dragon god’s claws
Or by his bite sent to the Great Beyond.
A swipe of his tail scatters them stumbling,
Beaten by the buffet of his batlike wings.
And finally flames hot as a furnace
Brightly furious forth from him fly.
The fearful fools caught in that fire
Are fried in a flash by that perilous flood.
Lament for the linnorm who has boasted his last.
Long is his life, but brief is his legacy.
Shunted and shamed, by Dahak overshadowed,
To caves in the crags Fafnheir will crawl.
From that darkness I’ll dare not emerge. Day’s
Luminous light on the father of linnorms
Shall not shine. And my shimmering scales
Will henceforth be hidden, this for my hubris.
Wanderers into my web will be welcomed,
As I break my fast on their brittle bone-house.
But never again by noon or night
Will I hunt heroes, as was my habit.
About The Author
Jason Tondro develops Adventure Paths for the Pathfinder and Starfinder RPGs. A former college professor, he taught literature, writing, film, and comics & graphic novels before joining Paizo as an editor in March 2018. He is the author of the Arthur Lives! RPG; look for him on Twitter @doctorcomics. He lives in Seattle with his two dogs.
About Windsong Testaments
On the northern reaches of Varisia’s Lost Coast stands Windsong Abbey, a forum for interfaith discussion tended by priests of nearly twenty faiths and led by a legacy of Masked Abbesses. At the dawn of the Age of Lost Omens, Windsong Abbey suffered as its faithful fought and fled, but today it has begun to recover. A new Masked Abbess guides a new flock within, and the Windsong Testaments—parables about the gods themselves—are once again being recorded within the abbey’s walls. Some of these Testaments are presented here as Golarion’s myths and fables. Some parts may be true. Other parts are certainly false. Which ones are which is left to the faithful to decide.