The Ballad of Gilgamesh – from Kris’s Archives

As told by Kris the Bard at the Fisherman’s Arms, Two Rivers, Year of Creation 50506

 

The Avenue of Heroes

The Avenue of Heroes at Melasurej

The times they were tough in days of yore

The hounds of hell were at the door

We were in the middle of the 30 years’ war

When a boy was born in Erech

 

He was born into a family poor

His father went to fight the war

His mother left with no choice but to whore

To survive in the town of Erech

 

He was a small and puny boy

His childhood yielded little joy

Neglected and bullied, little food and no toys

He grew up on the streets of Erech

 

Wiry and tough as he learned how to fight

Wherever trouble was he was a common sight

His reputation was to stand for right

He matured on the streets of Erech

 

Then one fateful night a rich man he spied

Raping the woman he would take for his bride

In his hands the rich man died

Murder on the streets of Erech

 

As fast as he could from the town he fled

For the friends of the man would soon have him dead

His flying feet to the Buranan led

Never more to set foot in Erech

 

The mighty river has never been crossed

Except by an elf-friend, many lives it had cost

Braving its torrents all had been lost

And never returned to Erech

 

With the hounds on his heels and the river in sight

He had but two choices, jump in or fight

Two ways to die, but which one was right

For the youth who had fled from Erech

 

He plunged into the water and knew he would drown

As the eddies and currents dragged him deep down

The men on the river bank left with a frown

And returned empty-handed to Erech

 

And so the youth died, or so everyone thought

A tragic young life that had all come to nought

He’d ne’er be the Hero that everyone sought

Young Gil who’d been born in Erech

 

But Gil didn’t die in the river that day

Washed up on the bank near the forest he lay

A forest forbidden, elven and fae

No place for a human from Erech

 

Nothing is written on what happened that day

The elves I have questioned have nothing to say

To enter the forest a price he would pay

That young refugee from Erech

 

What things that he saw, we never will know

But two days later from Elvenhome he’d go

With new purpose, new name and so

Was reborn Gilgamesh of Erech.

****

Something happened in the Forbidden Forest, where no human would normally be allowed to enter. Gilgamesh never spoke of it and the elves have always treated it with the greatest secrecy. We can only guess.

Whatever it was, the young man Gil who entered the Forbidden Forest came out two days later as a very changed Gilgamesh – Everlasting Hero.

Around this time the political situation in FirstWorld was becoming rapidly worse. Adapa sat down and negotiated with Gadiel and determined to do nothing. Six years later Adapa realised his folly when Gadiel’s forces attacked First Delve and Elvenhome. Had Gadiel himself been present it is likely that the attacks would have succeeded. However the dwarves repelled the attack on First Delve despite being grossly outnumbered. Suicide Pass was given its name because Gadiel’s forces chose suicide and cast themselves to death rather than to return as failures and face the Dark God’s wrath. Elvenhome was less defensible and would have fallen but for the valiant efforts of a number of wizards. The Great Sage Bedwyr fell in its defence. The Fall of Bedwyr is an heroic tale for telling another day.

Although the enemy was repelled, it returned within two years this time with Gadiel at its head. There seemed to be no hope.

Then out of the west came Gilgamesh. During the preceding few years, since his visit to Elvenhome, he had been travelling with his companion Enkidu having many adventures. He had travelled outside of normal time and space, visiting the Gods in Limbo. He sought immortality, but the Gods refused him. Gilgamesh and Enkidu had many adventures, which are also for telling another day. They arrived back in FirstWorld at the time of its greatest need.

In YoC 7001 the elven lords had directed their smiths to create a powerful sword to be a symbol of Law. The great black sword Excalibur was created from meteorite iron and was used by a number of minor heroes and one or two early incarnations of the Everlasting Hero to fight for the cause.

In YoC 7134 the delving dwarves discovered the Blood Ruby and adopted it as the symbol of Chaos.

After the fall of Bedwyr his apprentice, the minor wizard Manfred without the support of the Great Sages, sought a way to defeat Gadiel realising that it would only be a matter of time before there was a renewed attack. He petitioned the elves and the dwarves to create a powerful weapon and received little resistance because both races feared for their future. In a great ceremony the King Beneath the Mountain, Darian son of Dail son of Dallin and the King of the Elves, Endymion, brought together the symbols of their cultures and handed them over to the elven smiths.

Two smiths worked through the night to join the Jewel and the Sword and just as the sun was rising they completed their task. The great sword Fleischaker was born and immediately took its first soul as one smith killed the other. The second smith then threw himself on the sword, whether through guilt or simply because he couldn’t control the sword is not known. Manfred found them at dawn and realised that they had created a weapon that could only be controlled by a Hero. He worked with the elves and dwarves to create the magic scabbard Vasek, which could give a measure of control over Fleischaker. It was reported that several elves and dwarves died before Fleischaker was sheathed.

And Gilgamesh arrived, unbidden, and took up Fleischaker and tamed it, becoming one with the Sword.  Many scholars call Gilgamesh the first true incarnation of the Everlasting Hero, because he was the first to form a trinity with the black sword and the red jewel. Manfred was vindicated.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu travelled again, taking Fleischaker and increasing the Sword’s strength in an orgy of killing. A number of legends were created during this time and their truth cannot be verified. It is thought that Gilgamesh petitioned the Gods again for immortality and one Goddess offered it if he became her consort. He rejected her advances and began his journey back to FirstWorld. Angry because of his spurning, the Goddess cursed him. The curse was that he would kill his best friend and die just as he thought he was receiving what he most sought.

On the road to Elannort, Gilgamesh and Enkidu were set upon by a gang of ruffians while sleeping in the middle of the night. Gilgamesh fought in the darkness in the glow of the Blood Ruby and slew the gang. As dawn rose, he found that he had also killed Enkidu. It would not be the first time that Fleischaker caused collateral damage.

A distraught Gilgamesh arrived just in time to fight Gadiel’s army. His thirst for revenge fuelled the Sword’s hunger and they single-handedly destroyed the attacking army in unprecedented slaughter. It is said that the River Buranan ran red with the blood of Gadiel’s army.

In the middle of the Battle Plain surrounded by the corpses of Gadiel’s army, Gilgamesh and Gadiel met face to face. Gilgamesh carried Fleischaker; Gadiel carried a non-descript blade. The year was 11,146. That’s 39,360 years ago. The only living person who watched that battle and what followed is Manfred the Magician. He was a minor wizard then but is the Leader of the Wise today. He alone knows what damage that Sword can cause and how untrustworthy Gadiel is.

****

The Sword was carried by the Hero that day

The host of Gadiel was made to pay

For Enkidu’s death, some would say

For the sake of the Balance, come what may

 

The battle plain ran with the dead ones’ blood

Into the river, to cause a red flood

That passed by the bank where a wizard stood

And wondered who was evil and who was good

 

At long long last they all were dead

Until only one stood, it is said

He removed the cowl that hid his head

And to the Hero he was led

 

‘Talk to me Gilgamesh’, Gadiel said, ‘Why?

We are so very similar you and I.

There’s really no reason why either should die.

Believe me, for I have no reason to lie.’

 

But Gilgamesh refused to believe a word

And from Vasek he drew the Sword

Quick to strike but Gadiel swerved

‘Then the Hero must die,’ were the words that he heard

 

Though both had great power, they were evenly matched

After hours of fighting neither was scratched

And Gadiel, now a new plan he hatched

For the Hero he would have to be dispatched

 

A day and a night they fought to a draw

Less like a battle and more like a war

Until they both fell exhausted to the floor

And Gadiel, finally, his chance he saw

 

‘See, we are equals,’ the Dark God espoused

‘I sheath my sword on my honour,’ he fervently vowed

‘You are the one that stands out from the crowd

And rewarded you’ll be,’ to the Hero he bowed

 

‘For I know what you seek, despite all of your might,

Join with me now and let’s end this fight,

For I have the power as well as the sight,

To grant immortality as is your right.’

 

Gilgamesh was deceived by the Dark God’s cruel lies

Fleischaker he sheathed and awaited his prize

But alas, all that was heard were the Hero’s death cries

His still-beating heart in the God’s hand it lies

 

Gilgamesh spoke some words as his heart he did spy

Cursing the Dark God, before he did die

No Hero again be deceived by His lie

He swore on the Sword with his last earthly cry

 

Gadiel laughed aloud at his victory sweet

Conquest of FirstWorld he now would complete

He snatched up the Sword that lay at his feet

And knew that at last his fate he would meet

 

But Fate had a twist that the God had not known

The seeds of defeat in victory sown

For he had not the power, the Sword for to own

Only the Hero can call it his own.

 

And just like the elven smiths once before

The Sword turned on the one who held it in awe

The Sword sought to kill Him with maximum gore

He had won the battle but lost the war

 

But the God had no soul for the Ruby to keep

And the Sword howled loud in anguish so deep

Yet the life force itself it managed to reap

And send Gadiel to an eon of sleep

 

Yet somehow He stumbled away from the field

Clutching the Sword he refused to yield

Using the mountains and Northland as shields

Until once again his power he would wield.

 

The wise missed their chance to finish him off. Gadiel fled Battle Plain somehow hanging on the Fleischaker despite the Sword sucking out his life force. He fled into the mountains and at some point he was forced to abandon the Sword. He hid himself away from the world and began the long healing process. It would be 39,000 years before he began his new conquest of the multiverse. When he went to sleep it was a universe; when he woke up it was a multiverse.

Fleischaker lay lost and frozen in a glacier and Vasek was lost buried in the Battle Plain. Servants of Witch Queen Freda of Dishley would find the Sword and Eshe of Erech would find Vasek. The knowledge came together at the 777th and final Council of the Wise held in YoC 50506 at Melasurej. A new incarnation of Gilgamesh, Simon Redhead was also there. The hope is that the new Hero will recover Fleischaker and use it to finally defeat Gadiel. We live in interesting times.

Kris the Bard YoC 50506

Read about it all in the four volumes of the FirstWorld Saga, available here. Volume 1, Quest for Knowledge may be downloaded for free.