The Imperial Age wrought many stories in Near, and brought some to wider knowledge, so that they would be repeated in all lands of the Empire and beyond. One loved by the people even after the Shadow is the romance of Andreth, whose songs are still sung today in the west.
Andreth was the daughter of Arni, a great Lord of vast appetites and greater domains. Unusual for the time, Andreth was a trobairiz, singer of songs and teller of stories. Her wit pleased Arni, who would elsewise been likely to forbid all contact with the outside world from a daughter he was preserving for fine marriage.
As a trobairiz Andreth was well-spoken and knowledgeable of all things of men, beasts and fair unseen. She carried herself proudly in court and dressed beautifully to accentuate her fair mien and lithe frame. It was justly said that her ways made her a fetching prize for whomever Arni would choose for her husband.
Nadir at the time was a one of the Elven-kind, creatures known for their fickleness, immortality and fearsome magic. He was a wellknown companion to travelers high and low, for Nadir was always moving, never still. He was seeking for something, it was said, and he left many a philosopher and scholar in ruin when they could not satisfy his thirst for knowledge.
Finally crossing the Wedge (a great bridge then built over two rivers it was), Nadir came to hear of fair Andreth of Hemmel and her wisdom. For reasons only known to himself Nadir then decided to match his wit against this woman.
Arriving at Hemmel, Nadir was well received by Arni, who had grown puissant in the highland wars, but sought supernatural might as well. There Nadir also saw Andreth, who could hardly match him in fairness, but could, would and did answer each and every one of his questions. However, more questions were raised, and not only for Nadir, but for wise Andreth as well.
After that first meeting Nadir would return to Hemmel several times. Each time Arni would court him in the hopes of allying himself with the fair folk; each time Nadir would demur, but in such a way that he would not offend the host. Arni, however, grew hungrier and badtempered over time.
Andreth, on the other hand, stayed amiable yet distant to oftvisiting Nadir. They sparred in words and sat long into the night over old books, yet neither did Nadir leave her weeping with her wisdom wanting, nor did she scare him away.
One time Nadir came back to Andreth with a gift of music: a harp of exquisite make, its strings of unbreakable steel. She looked upon it curiously before inquiring whether she was now to compete with the guest in song; matching strength against strength had been the reason of Nadir’s every visit in the past.
But no, Nadir exclaimed then: it was to be a courtship present, for he had decided to be in love with this woman whose demeanor would not leave him even in the farthest reaches of Near, and of whom he now dreamed, when he had suffered of dreams never before.
Nadir’s was not a fine amour, as Andreth came to learn: he would leave with no word and then return, sometimes against the knowledge of Arni, her father. In time, however, she came to expect his return and desire for their time together.
What’s more, each time Nadir returned, he brought her a miraculous present. These gifts were of Nadir’s craft, for he was a maker of things, an Elven smith. Each, he said, were in equal part of him and her, through his image of her. Each time Andreth would return the favor to his paramour, gifting him with a new song; these songs, she said, were in equal part of her and him, through her image of him.
In the meantime, Arni had grown still greater, becoming larger than other men. His patience was wearing thing even as his suspicions were fed by Andreth, who had become ever more distant to her tempestuous father.
As a mighty Lord growing mightier still Arni traveled far and wide; first on horseback, later by his own stride, or pulled in great carriages. He was away often, and thus could not ascertain for himself his suspicions concerning the elusive Nadir.
However, ultimately an opportunity came to him – or rather, he came to it, as Arni grew in determination and hired a magician to bewitch himself. Soon after, while traveling away from home, Arni had a dream of the elf on the escarpments of castle Hemmel. Fortified with his dream visitation, Arni knew to return home.
Surprising the two lovers at his castle made Arni furious, but also satisfied, as now he knew that he could always trust his instincts in the matters of men and the Elven kind. Nadir he threw into a dark oubliette, Andreth was locked away in a tower; Arni would think long and hard on their punishment.
As already established, Arni’s temper was awakened by the imagined slight to his honor. His rage doubled when he discovered the treasures of Nadir, and tripled when he discovered the songs written by his daughter; beautiful new things in the world, but not made for him.
Finally, unable to come to decision, Arni made one anyway: he had the elf brought forward and told Nadir that he would deface and slay Andreth himself should the elf seek escape by his arts. Then he had Andreth brought forward and gave the two a cunning choice: one would have to die to calm the giant’s temper, but the choice would have to be in their hands. In this way Arni bound Nadir’s Elven magic to his own purposes.
They say that later on Andreth and Nadir would live together in humility. To this day their progeny, considered Half-Elven, lives among men. They are much loved for their cunning craft and courteous manner, and the songs Andreth taught everybody to sing.
More important still for many is the seeking of treasures: men in Maldor swear up and down that they’ve seen the magical harp, the mask and other things made by Nadir, still glowing bright golden, still with wondrous powers, proof of his love for Andreth.