Baldor The Hapless

- Ben Hur

Down from the dark years Dwimorberg Door
is spoken of softly in shadowed lore.
Many is the mournful melody and lay
telling of the Dead that guard the way.
Valor little aids those who venture that road
for homeless souls rule the haunted abode
and terror soon masters the trespasser's will;
he feels the fullness of fear and falls still.

This is but one of the tales of that threshold
which few, in folly, have affected to cross.
One there was who would walk that road:
Baldor son of Brego, brave and bold,
heir to the throne and honor of Rohan.
Yet a hero’s high lineage and hardiness great
are but little avail against lurking assailants
of unearthly form as the dread mountain’s folk.

Now when Eorlingas from the endless North plains
rode up the river of the rambling Snowbourn,
seeking strong places of refuge in straits,
both Baldor and Brego came before Dimholt’s Door
by ascending the stair of the Hold most steep.
And there on the threshold sat a battered man
once tall and kingly, now withered as stone,
gnarled and bent as to be aged beyond guess.

Yea, stone they thought him and would pass thence by,
for moved he not, nor made any word,
till they sought to pass him and inspect the place.
Then a voice rasped out, venting as from the ground,
which to their amaze spoke man’s western tongue.
Then they halted, looked at him, and saw he lived still,
yet he did not look at them but leered ever on,
and intoned in speech of intense mystery:

“The way is shut. The way is shut.
'Twas made by the Dead, and the Dead men keep it,
till the time should come. The way is shut.”
Then Baldor bewildered bade the man to reply:
“And when will that time be, worthy lord?”
No answer in return did he ever receive,
for the old man died in that fated hour
and fell on his face, the last of his folk.

Father and son then returned from the foray
to the place where their people had prepared a camp,
and the King spoke forth to his spirited marshals:
“My heart forewarns me to enter is folly,
for I deem that the dead defend that hall;
by what dreadful curse I dare not dispute.
Thus let us leave this land with all haste
to seek for safer sanctuaries.”

So the marshals put behind them this puzzling event
as did Baldor’s brothers, Aldor and Eofor,
yet Baldor himself heeded little the warning
and silently mused on the mysterious mansion
which seemed to him to hold secrets sublime.
The seed of this thought festered long in his soul,
and long did he brood on what lay beyond
in the Paths of the Dead, as the place was soon deemed.

The Riders came to calmer parts of Calenardhon
and there did they settle and build their fair land.
Then the Home of the Horse-lords heightened in power,
known for it’s prowess in perilous battle
against hoards of Darkness harrying free homes.
With the wealth won in war was a royal house welded,
just-war’s spoils displayed in fine jewels
and gold overflowing in glorious splendor.

Thus was Meduseld crafted for it’s king,
unmatched in majesty by the Men of Mundburg.
In Edoras the Great Hall was lengthily edified,
it’s radiance mounting with each passing month
till at last ‘twas completed by competent hands.
Then a fulsome feast in the hall was affirmed:
errand-riders rode to each lord of rank,
announcing the news of the nearing dedication.

From every mark and fold came men
of mighty stature and marvelous renown
both in battle and at the board.
They came from every cot and commune
bearing tokens of troth and fealty.
The hall soon rang with raucous joy
the mirth and mead of militant men
flowing over in peaceful fervor.

Yet a shadow fell on the assembled folk,
a hush in the hall was hastily heard,
as Baldor Brego’s son did raise
a vigorous voice to unveil a verdict.
All grew silent in uncertain thought,
wondering what the warrior’s words would bring.
And Brego directly sat down in dismay;
his back, ever straight, was abruptly bent.

So spoke the youth in resonant speech:
“Ever in council are we constantly cautioned
to avoid a vale we never viewed;
to flee in fear truly unfounded.
But it is my fashion to unflinchingly face
all doubt and debate with determination.
So, solemn at heart, I hereby vow
to tread the Paths, tranquil in soul.”

With that he drained his destined cup,
accepting his sentence with resolute decision.
Swiftly he strode from the silent hall,
leaving his lord to languish in woe
at the sudden resolve of his son in this matter.
In the Eastfold Eofor flayed many foes,
while Aldor in the West waged wearysome war,
and so the father fought fear off alone.

Then Baldor immediately mustered his war-gear.
He placed bright mail upon his person;
he fastened a helm upon his head,
with flowing red crest upon it’s crown.
His hauberk was gilded in gold and garnets;
his belt was rich with gold refined.
Then into his sheath he slid a sword
of wondrous make, a warrior’s weapon.

The king’s son mounted a steed of merit,
and up it reared wildly, restless for release,
then they sped from the stalls and out the stockade,
Edoras the lofty wept for it’s lord.
Never shall simbelmynë blossom in the shadows
beyond the dreaded door of Dimholt;
never shall his body be at peace in burial,
for the darkness claims the dead forever.

There in Dunharrow Baldor met death,
but not by mortal marks or means.
The whispering words of wayward wraiths
drove his mind mad with nightmarish panic.
He ached to accost an actual adversary,
yet the foes that he yearned for evaded his fury,
so at last he stabbed his sword at the stones;
blade fell to the floor and lord followed after.

So passed Baldor in the bowels of Dwimorberg.
Through all the long years he has lain in that lair,
bereft of the birthright that belonged to him.
Brego his father soon afterwards fell;
he died of despair, or so it is deemed.
Aldor the Old took up the office,
he ruled for long as Riddermark’s king.
Yet here in the hall is The Hapless still known.