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Great peril awaits us beyond the Black River
Summoned by the beating of drums
Our number is few and our errand is dire
We do what must be done

At the bidding of the high priest
The tribes gather for war
Evil sorcery is unleashed
Upon the opposite shore

Make your stand with great hound
The frontier is lost
Black waters lie before you
Together you cross

Take heart!
Do not fear
Though you know
Your death nears

We shall build you a cairn beyond the Black River
Where no one will disturb you rest
There you shall lay in your helm and your harness
With your sword across your breast

Now take a quick moment to answer this question
As the ferry approaches the shore
Will you have the coin to pay for your passage
And the courage to take up the oar?

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  • U
    UnregisteredJun 13, 2014 at 3:25 am
    The song is a direct reference to the classic Conan of Cimmeria short story by Robert E. Howard, titled Beyond the Black River. In it, Conan and a young companion (a scout from a local fort of Aquilonian settlers) venture beyond the Black River into the lands of the Picts, where a mad high priest is drawing all the tribes together. This sorcerer intends to use black magic and savage armies to strike deep into civilized lands to reclaim them. Conan puts paid to the priest, and to his monstrous minions, but by the end of the novella the young ally, a brave but ultimately lesser man, has died alongside his hound. The song clearly is addressed to this character, given reference to his cairn and dog, and the final verse almost certainly uses the black river to stand in for the river Styx or some similar barrier to the Underworld.

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