"Wake now, wake now!
War is kindled!
Now helm to head,
The hand to the sword
Wake now ,warriors,
To wide Valhol
Ways lie open."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The New Lay of Gudrun
[Note: This story is set in the early to mid 6th century AD]
This tale is true, and mine.
They call me many things. Some call me a crownless queen; others, less wise, a king. I am of the Changing Ones, born between two lives and two worlds, and among my people I shall be the last of those. Only the wild folk beyond the Sea of Amber, half-mad petty kings who never tasted Roman blood, now remember our people's gods; only they still revere the names of Godan who wanders between the worlds, of Donar who guards and guides us, of Tyvaz Atta who rules the eternal blue sky; and so even the Goths of the Sunless Sea will turn out their Changing Ones.
I was born in a sea of grass with a bow in my hand. I am wyrdworker and wife of Godan. My blood is the blood of kings; my father was Roderik, and his father was Theodrik, and his father was Ermanrik; I am cousin to that Theodrik that sat on a throne in Rome, and the Theodrik that stood against the thundering horses of Attila, and Fritigern who drew first blood against the Romans I would also call my cousin.
They call me the Far Traveller. I am a daughter of the Sunless Sea, but I have ridden the Khazar steppes that birthed Attila and the ocean of grass that made him strong; I have led my warband into the rising sun, from Cimmeria and the Sunless Sea into the Graveyard of Empires and unto the very Gates of Alexander before the far Indus. Though my father's House is sundered, I was beloved in the service of Khushnavaz, Shah of the Yeda; I was dustrider, deathrider, priestess, singer, and lover, to my Shah and my Shah'bnah.
But that, too, is gone. The great hall of my fathers is burned to ashes on the shores of a Sunless Sea, and my Shah's red blood is spilled upon that dust that has tasted the blood of so many thousands.
I am Alarika, daughter of Roderik, son of Theodrik, son of Ermanrik, son of Godrik, son of Wulfrik, son of Godan, of the Cimmerian Goths, and this tale is true, and mine. I write in the Greek letters, for in this land only I can read the letters of my fathers; but I write in the tongue of my fathers, that that at least may last beyond my death. I sit on the poet's chair and speak my tale before all the gods: Before my own, before Godan whom I love, and Donar, and Tyvaz; before Tengri of the Huns and Gokturks; before Radagast and Perun of the Slavs; before Iesu of the Romans; and before Mithras and Ahura Mazda that my Shah loved so well.
I will tell you of the Graveyard of Empires.