Libations to the Blackcrown Prose in Rivendom | World Anvil

Libations to the Blackcrown

1 O mighty mountain of molten blood and ashen hair
2 Thou sacred heart of mine cherished home
3 Take thee this libation of blood and tears
4 Upon thy black and hallowed slopes   5 Grant this thine humble supplicant,
6 The strength of mighty Iðil,
7 The fire of vicious Magi,
8 And the endurance of placid Bragm   9 That this thine lowly servant,
10 Thy child of embers born
11 Might in my time of greatest need
12 Find a way back to mine home

This set of three stanzas is known as the "Libations to the Blackcrown," and is a fragment of the only known fantastical epic written before the age of the dwarvenholds. The author is unnamed, most likely because the epic has not survived to the modern day in its entirety, but extant fragments put together in what appears to be the most logical sequence implies that the story was about a man, of fire incarnate, who lost someone dear to him. The story, it is assumed, follows the tale of his journey, from his leaving his home at the base of the Blackcrown to his eventual return.   It is in fact unknown how the story ends, which has driven many a dwarven wordsmith to "finish" the story using their own best judgment as to how it should go. This has led to a variety of interpretations over the years. Many of which do not agree with one another, even going so far as to outright contradict one another. There is a period in the chronological history of the reinterpretations of the story where a number of authors insert mocking references to previous works that they do not agree with, indicating that for some time, the epic was the centre of a literary controversy.   Most notably, however, there is a very distinct line in the chronological history of these rewritings that shows the difference between pre-plague and post-plague erinindal society. Prior to the advent of the plague, almost every interpretation agrees that the man of fire is looking for his male lover, but after the plague, with the increase in popularity of the more conservative Sanctum faith, this interpretation quickly goes out of fashion. There are a handful of works that follow with the tradition, but post-plague, most relegate the relationship between the two main characters of the story to more of a deep friendship.   During the height of persecution against homosexuals some centuries after the plague, "Libations to the Blackcrown" became something of a password between homosexuals seeking friendship or relations by cover of night. "I am a friend to the Blackcrown," was used, euphemistically, to say that a person was homosexual. With the rise of KilAngar and the House of Ash and Embers, a penitent sect of the Sanctum faith, "Libations to the Blackcrown" became an anthem for those who fought for the right to live as they are, and the right to not be gathered up and burnt at the stake for being "sexually improper."

Cover image: Sandstorm by FlorentLlamas


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Jul 12, 2018 16:35 by Han

I like this a lot. I've not considered how prose could become metaphorical for sexuality - you've done that beautifully and without prejudice. A wonderfully political piece, this. Do you have a piece covering the plague? It doesn't seem to be linked here ;)

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Jul 12, 2018 18:00 by Malkuthe Highwind

Thanks so much! And yes, indeed, there's a piece covering the plague. I forgot to link it since I was looking for keywords and missed that one. It is now linked. :D. Here it is, if you were interested: The Wastrel's Reckoning.

Jul 12, 2018 17:21 by Tikal

Wow, that's a great spin! Now you have me thinking about my own. Great job! Very interested in knowing more about the House of Ash and Embers.

Jul 12, 2018 18:02 by Malkuthe Highwind

Thanks! :D. The House of Ash and Embers is a penitent sect of the Sanctum faith. Penitent because their doctrine revolves around reparations for those who were sentenced to death by the main body of the Sanctum faith for "sexual impropriety," among other things. Although tiny at first, the arrival of the Dominion and the subsequent dwindling of the Sanctum's political and social clout as a result of better education has made the House of Ash and Embers stronger.

Jul 12, 2018 17:24 by Kai

i enjoyed this article a lot! i liked how you covered the varying interpretations realistically, as i can definitely see how varying versions of the stanza could circulate with it being around for so long. and like han said before me, you did a good job tying it into your world's culture in regards to sexuality

Jul 12, 2018 18:05 by Malkuthe Highwind

Thank you! But this view of sexuality is not actually the norm for much of my world. It's just the erinin, with their Sanctum faith, that possess this notion, and in fact ever since the Dominion came to their lands, this viewpoint has been on the losing end of a culture war, resulting from aggressive education reform that is being pushed through on the back of considerable resources from the Dominion.

Jul 12, 2018 18:08 by Kai

oh, nice! thats very interesting actually! it sounds like you've put a lot of thought into your history.