GUNHILD

Most of the tales attached to our ales
Mark the deeds of Dwarfen men,
But in case you think that’s all there is,
Read on and think again.

Hear then the story of Gunhild,
A beer beyond compare,
Of the bravest Dwarfen womenfolk
Named Kara and Geir.

It was in the ancient days,
When dwarves and trolls were at war.
The trolls would raid, the dwarves fight them off,
The trolls come back for me.

And so one day it came to pass,
That the dwarves rode out to fight
A mighty host of evil trolls
Who were threatening with all their might.

The womenfolk were left in charge,
Led by Kara, wife of the Thaine,
I said she was bold, though quite how bold
Shall shortly be explained.

With the Dwarfen army still away,
A messenger came to call,
Riding an exhausted horse
That was just about to fall.

After he’d got his breath back,
He pleaded for their aid
To fight a dreaded Fire Giant
That was carrying out a raid.

When told the dwarf men were away
And that no warriors were there,
The messenger fell down to his knees
And wept in great despair.

“We’re doomed!” he cried, “for none of us dare
Withstand this flaming foe.”
And then he fell down in a faint,
And to the healers he did go.

And troubled by what they had heard
From the messenger that night,
The women gave Kara their solemn word
That they go to fight.

They dressed themselves in armour,
Drew weapons stashed away,
Mounted their goats and horses
And ride out to the fray.

While the humans were shocked to see women
Coming to their aid
They lined up to join them in battle
And were no longer afraid.

For the Fire Giant was a fiercesome beast
Who’d killed a thousand men at least
With burning body and teeth of brass.
It could even blow smoke rings
Out of its armpits …

Despite brave Kara’s warning,
The rash men raced ahead
And one big breath from the Fire Giant
Left many of them dead.

Kara rebuked the survivors
And told them they should know
That only rune-forged weapons
Could slay so dire a foe.

“The only way to win,” she said,
“Is to make the monster grow higher.
The more wood he eats the more he grows
Till he dies by his own fire.”

And so they gathered all they could
And made a wooden trail
Of heaps of bone-dry timber
And hoped it wouldn’t fail.

Brave Kara ran out to the giant
And cried, “Go burn in hell!
You’re just a flamin’ idiot!”
(Which didn’t go down too well.)

The Fire Giant roared like a dragon
And started to give chase
Following Kara along the line
They’d laid out in that place.

And the Fire Giant ate and the Fire Giant grew
And kept getting bigger and bigger
And, silhouetted against the sky,
He cut a frightening figure.

And Kara ran and ran and ran
Faster than she’d ever run before.
The giant ate the last wood pile
And gave an almighty roar.

Then there was an explosion
When threw Kara into the air,
“Mother! Mother,” cried her daughter.
“Mother!” cried Geir.

Kara landed in a lake
And the giant disappeared
She’d saved the day and it cost her her life,
At least that’s what they feared.

Geir dived in after her
And there emerged a hand.
Geir grabbed it and held on tight
And dragged her mother to land.

The women were feasted as heroes
For they had saved the day,
But the next morning they took their leave
And set off on their way.

And as they reached their homeland
Their men were coming home too.
They gazed on their bruised and armoured women
And said, “Here’s a strange ‘ow d’yer do.”

And when they’d heard the whole story
Of what their wives had done,
They were not cross but very proud
And embraced them every one.

So two victories were celebrated
Around the fire that night:
The death of the dreadful Fire Giant
And the trolls being put to flight.

And word of the women’s victory,
Reached the ears of the Lord High King,
Who ordered an ale to be specially brewed,
To celebrate their daring.

And the humans sent jars of honey
To add to this most special brew.
It was called Gunhild, which means “war girl”
And very nice it is too.