Tuesday, 8 October 2013


A Tale of Ealdormere at the Nineteenth Pennsic War

By Master Hector of the Black Height


Draw you closer, come the nearer
Hear the tales now, tell the story
Tell of David, deer-shanked regent
Northern knight, well-known and famed
Tell of valour, tell of triumph
Tell of lovely lady near him
Let Tangwystl's tales ring also
Princess puissant, gracious one


Forth they came that fabled day
To a tourney long expected
List of legend, arms of valour
Sought to seize the wolf's fair lair
Long the line of heroes ventured
Seeking sight of storied day
Talymar did view the victor
Eliahu hastened North
Stood by sweet Queen Ariake
And Tadashi, old sea-otter
Watched the granite-cleft come crashing
Watched Sir David stand alone
Did declare him Prince of Northlands
Raised his lady to rare honour
First of foremost for that land


Tell the story of their travels
Strode the hills of Skraeling Althing
Did declare their fine cup-bearer
Sweet lady Sarra, first of Otters
Gilded cup for golden lady
Chosen champion of the arts
Hear them named in gracious Northwoods
White wolves there at last revealed
Saw the deeds of splendid valour
Comar's crowning did inspire
Saw the Prince pluck forth his champion
Kicked the glaive that Cordigan caught
Slew the pair with foot's fleet motion
Quick as Princess conquered hearts
Heard the heads of noble Midrealm
Call North jewel in dragon crown


Heard the howls from Yngvar's fiefdom
Saw the two swords draw the death-cuts
Left the field with blood as fallow
Carbuncle-splatter on green grass
Stood as Dag did join the white wolf
Prince by Prince at dragon list
Heard high herald, Artair named
Cried the Southlands for Sea's admiral
Padraig stood, his steel at hand
Æthelmearc did all then see him
Elder man of Ealdormere
Saw the seats, serene North's regents
One did blossom, bore a rose
Hearts did melt before mere flower


Hear the deeds of noble white wolves
Knelt before King Comar's throne
Doe's grace did descend onto them
Heard the cheers of their proud people
Then sought shelter at the Melee
Meadow's murky nights of song
There they did treat with brave Thorgrim
Sang rare praises of Rozakii
Gave them gifts of arms and flowers
Earned their honour, won their hearts
Praise for travel to Pont d'Azur
Wild the whims of David's Princess
Gone then to fair Starleaf Gate
Not as conqueror, but kind fellows
North wolves both, and by all known


Elspeth's play they saw in Eoforwic
Heard the hammers of the smiths
Saw the merchants, sent stones slinging
Boarded boats that first of times
Fled the South for Flaming Skies
Led the search for brave new lands
Sang sweet songs to win new hearts
All the while the war-fires kindled
Rumours rolled 'cross Inland Sea
Told of tygers roaring loudly
Dealing scorn on dragon fine
Blazing brands set on the skyline
Signals of sore times to come
Heard the heralds cry the great hall
War words whipped across the woods
Saw the sea-side's great old maple
Once more watched the call fan forth


Tell of wild wolves and brave warriors
Drawn to Southland sought by Kings
Tell of David, deer-shanked regent
Fair foe-slayer, bane in battle
And Tangwystl, Princess proud
Ever at her husband's side
Hear the tales of triumphs won
Hear the baleful cries of bloodshed
Hear the heroes names be spoken
Count the cost of glory done


Sailed the wolf fleet, swift the longships
Prows set South, crossed Inland Sea
Proud flotilla, course fair reckoned
Aimed to beach in Æthelmearc
Horizon hewn by pirate raiders
Wily southmen, windward wise
Sails cast wide, carbuncles painted
Yngvar's fleet dared come and close


Shouted deer-shanked, daring admiral
Told his crews off to their boats
Dragonships and doughty small craft
Met the pirates face to face
Wolf-fleet met the Southron menace
Longships lunged 'midst the line
Small boats bobbed beyond the spear-kiss
Slipped inside to blood the blades
Boots did crash aboard decks foreign
Osis led wolves o'er the side
Finnvarr sent ships flying onward
Grappled with the groaning timbers
Smote the Southron like sad flowers
Harvest past, the petals scattered


Cordigan, the crafty champion
Met the might of Æthelmearc
Drew he Gwailor, Prince's great sword
Gregor's gift, as yet blood-bare
Loosed the champion, lopped heads flying
Falcon-keen the flashing steel
Marshall strode the decks, death-bringer
Salt-foam mixed with ruddy froth
Slipped from seas the winged serpent
Rozak warship, steered to slaughter
Thorgrim, khagan, crafty captain
Man of honour, lord beloved
Set his standards on the foe's deck
Rozakii rending pirates proud
Padraig did his daring deeds
Battle-joy did coax his keening
Blade well blooded, trophies taken
Well that day did Southron see
Trinovantia's time of triumph
Feared the fierce crew of their ship
Smote they well the Southron pirates


Waves washed over faces pale
Yngvar's ships, in sad disorder
Limped away for harbours loath
Sylvan sailors lost and slain
Widows would their weeping do
Wash the decks with their salt-water
Offer orphans bloodstained keepsakes
Southron sons to raise new sails
Memories drear of day unsettled
As Ealdormere did draw to shore
Leapt from longships, beached the boats
Gained the shore, aground in far lands
Set to strike South, Comar's will


Came the armies, all campaigning
Caravans all close beside
Sentries set to sound their calls
Northmen came South for great Northman
Comar's levies in their lines
Serving King at Prince's call
Came the ladies, love must follow
Servants to their Princess sweet
Came they all to serve and strengthen
Fireside smiles to mask sweet sorrow
Proud their hearts, but pained beside
Fearful for the dawn's awakening
Blood-red sun o'er sanguine fields


Came the nightfall, called the Northmen
Wolves together, wild and free
Faeringolds in freehold open
Cheered the children of the trillium
Sang the old songs, told gay stories
Danced wild dances just for joy
Welcomed all to feast most fair
One last night of joy and laughter
Time to treasure in days ahead
Lucius led the welcome chorus
Song well-met for merry hearts


Dawn's approach restored men's mettle
Women armed beside bold men
All marched forward, fair songs cheering
Mighty rank on noble row
Scarlet banner borne before
Closed the distance, sought to conquer
Then to hurdle hundred yards
Feathered shafts to flay the Eastrealm
Batter bailey and high wall
Lined archers, lords and ladies
Drew the bow string, set the trigger
Prods bent back, the yew-staves straining
Prince and Princess in the line


Arlo sent his shafts toward them
As did Alfred, wise in years
Odd did watch the fletching flashing
Saw the foeman flinch and fall
Came Tangwystl to the ramparts
Shot she six bolts toward the tower
Saw six Eastmen fall past merlons
Earned a kenning, called far-striker
Red the soil around sad keep
Hayley Green hied arrows foe-wards
Ricard rent the tyger's ranks
Ragnar stood in second bow-line
Honoured Catherine, let her forward
Reynard led the lines full well
Wolves fangs flying, shafts sent sunward
At behest of Dragon bold
Honoured be the hundred archers
Cleft the clouds at Comar's call


Sortied squires and men at arms
Challenged champions 'neath the walls
Stood the wild wolves with proud dragons
Ceallach honed his axe, shield-splitter
Crooned the Gregor's battle-keen
Sworn to bear Tangwystl's baldric
Bodyguard to trillium's blossom
Taymar stood, marine 'midst landsmen
Wolf set baying by the blood-scent
Garth did fearless face the sortie
As did Aeden, laughing greybeard
'Neath the gaze of North's true monarch
Once again would Gwailor gleam
In the hands of canny Cordigan
David's chosen, Northern champion
Close beside the rugged Raasey
Sylard's skillful shield-companion
Captain of the clans' broad shields


Surged sides together wildly
Beside the tower, arrow-torn
Met two bands of brothers beltless
Hard beside the sick and slain
Green grass red with broadhead's blood-prize
Gore-slicked boots of bonny fighters
Fallen foes last dour defiance
In the blood of battered Southron
Wolves did howl their wild lament
Surged the Southron, swept the North's line
Wolf-pack parted, wolves too few
Fell too many, finest gone
Wounds did take their toll most dear
Comar's chosen met their moment
Saw the sanguine curtain fall
Last of all was lonely Eadgar
Saw his steel-companions stilled
Stood the taller, struck the firmer
Last to fall, the brave wolf-fighter
Sold his life and saved North's honour
Many did his praises hear
From the lips of battered foes
Came the keening of our women
Gathered up the grimly slain
Carried off King Comar's pride
Loud Queen Lisa's lamentations
Some were swooned from wounds and buffets
They would stand again that day
Some were wept o'er, washed with sorrow
Fallen in those far, grim fields


Forth went knights who well knew battle
Sworn to slay their liege-lord's foe
In those ranks stood North's proud regent
Parfait knight, his lady's pride
Closed the dragon with the tyger
Wolf-fangs snapping firm on flesh
David did his glaive wield fiercely
Took fine trophies, belts of white
Comar's champions could not vanquish
Once again the tide did turn
Fell first one, and then another
Stalwarts of the ill-starred King
Comar's pack cast down, though costly
Midrealm's price dear paid in blood
Last to stand beneath King's banner
Were proud Palymar, brock of Southland
Of the line that spawned the trillium
Beside brave Moonwulf, wild war-singer
Legend-maker, proud last ranger
And with them, his glaive star-gleaming
Stood braw David, polearm singing
Prince between this storied pair
Having slain his Southron equal
And the father fast struck down
Stood North's regent, deer-shanked David
One against attacking three
Stood 'midst Palymar and Moonwulf
Lofty men, to make new legends
As they faced East, and fell


Raced forward did retainers
Bore the North-wolf to his bed
There Tamarra tended softly
Nursed his wounds and wiped his brow
As his lady wept, heart heavy
For the Prince did bear wounds bloody
Yet his heart, for love of lady
And for duty's burthen dear
Roared like North-wind, battle ready
Gave him mettle, met his will's end
Bound and bandaged he did rise
Clad in armour, called his guards forth
Bade them bear him to the battle
For the foe was on the field


Rank on rank the shields assembled
File on file the spears stood to
Raised again the scarlet standard
Trefoil flower waved again
Poised beside the gold and purple
Calontir came to their side
Whipped to wildness by the war-songs
Did two races reach the field
Shared the songs of North and Southlands
Verse and verse their voices raised
Led by mighty Moor Tomeeki
First of falcons, Saracen sage
Queen Fiona close beside him,
Clad in cuirass and in plate
Standing in the shieldwall storied
At the head of huscarls grim
Falcons flew to field of slaughter
Wolves beside them, baying loud
Seen by tyger, caused it tremble
Two blood allies, bred to fight
Standing side by side once more
Fell into the lines of fables
Saw the dragon's pride sweep hence
Watched the left flank leap cross war-field
Swept the wing, and war began


There stood David, drearily wounded
Formed his guards, grim-sworn to die
Followed regent fleet of foot
Told to tarry Eastern shields
Early did foe meet Ealdormere
Their North Army met true Northmen
Sought a Prince slipped through the line
Brunt well borne by scarlet shieldmen
Aeden stood the test right truly
Grimwulf gave the line its anchor
Tarver let his gyns go silent
Slew with blade, not with ballista
Routledge stood his rank in battle
Rory's drum did fill the din
Thorgrim's clans did stand and die
Serpent's hiss did split the foemen
Bought time for the Falcon's square
Cennedi supped on sweet conquest
Won his nickname, the Duke-slayer
Left sad Sheridan in the dust
Stood beside them brave Bjarki
Seven years his spear sipped blood
Seven years hied he with Eastrealm
Honour called, he answered well
Eight times did his honour beckon
Eight times did he face a foe
Eighth time stood he 'midst the Midrealm
Torn from East by sweet Tangwystl
Honour called, but heart cried louder
Supped his spear beside wolves, kin


Then did David slip line's shackles
Flew towards flanks, and danced his dance
Formed his guardsmen, gathered shield-friends
Menaced many an Eastern flank
Set the tyger wildly scurrying
Made a maelstrom on the field
Drew attention from dear allies
Adrielle bold banner waved
Ieuen's own pride, brave standard-bearer
Tiberius bode as David's buckler
Sing the tales of David's shield
Feared no foe, feared but for David
Stood odds awesome, hero honoured
Watched all woeful fall of Mongol
Tai Chen Wu did tumble earthward
Chamberlain of dear domain
Feared as fighter, wild with prowess
Struck down like Achilles ancient
Felled by foot-smite of opponent
Slain before his song began
No fair swing could fell such valour
Treachery must take its toll
Bought his blood-price, drew his death-fee
Left in weeds an Eastern widow
Long did women weep that fore-noon
Mongol mourned as wasted life
Stood beside our Prince bold Baldric
Seven swans his fabled charge
Chased the chosen Northern Regent
Stood as shield in guard's stout wall
There stood Princess' sweet sword-wielder
Bess the bold, Tangwystl's own
Swung her sword in strokes of beauty
Slew as trillium's petal proud
Also stood the maid Madinia
Princess' lady, Prince's reaper
Followed she her Prince, as proper
Servant to her mistress' man
Danced did David, led the tyger
Steered them clear of Calontir
Cordigan did flay his foemen
Met the motley tyger-whelps


Then came time of bloody trial
Dancing ceased, drear contest come
Broke the guard away beside him
Save Tiberius, Prince's shield arm
Stood rare Rozak with the white wolf
Saw his banner flutter, fallen
Pushed ahead did doughty David
Wild with frenzy on the field
Six men grasped grim Prince's banner
David struck at six, alone
Three did David's buckler batter
Tiberius torn from him, hard pressed
David rained his rugged sword-blows
Struck he was in gallant struggle
Felled again by foes' fair fighting
Twice now fallen, sank in swoon
Left alone, his banner lost
Brought at last Prince back to senses
Rose past piles of shattered men
Found around him fell his banner
Tribute left by tyger's own
Stumbled David, weak and weary
Found he lady there to look
Brought her banner, won through glory
Ringed were they by guardsmen rare
None would gaze upon great lovers
Turned all outwards, tears free-flowing
None may know what passed in circle
Came men from Confederation
Joined the circle, five feared foemen
Elders honoured, gazed to groundward
Praised our Prince and Princess dear


Then the tyger, trim and hungry
Scattered scaly dragon's men
Wandered David and his dear ones
Into forest, field and glade
Calontir did grasp the high ground
David did his arms assemble
Sworn again to save Tomeeki
Bought the banner time to fly
David did his guard then gather
Elizabeth did eager stand
Came the foeman, hot and harried
Dusted by the dirty fields
Crouched on hill crest were the wolfpack
Finnvarr faced them with the line
Lanced with Aeden, laughing greybeard
Commanders canny on the hill
Fell upon the famished tyger
Struck their column, keened in triumph
Then withdrew, whipped line together
Threw them once more, at the flank
Keen command of ragged war-band
Never has such noble deed
Rang in saga and in story
Twice fought fighters, bought in blood
Tell of Terrance, sing of Skraelings
Redcoats rugged, feared of foemen
Twice they did the blood-price buy


David led the gallant guardsmen
Harried he the tyger's columns
Buying time Tomeeki sought
Fell the banner, fell fair falcons
Scattered wolves into the woods
Ran the race again with David
Fleet of foot and stout of heart
Osis stood beside the Prince
Maximilian, woodsman, wolf's-eye
Sweet the blows he threw before
Scouted swiftly for Prince David
Sought the truth, clear situation
Hied in haste to say his rede
Ran like lope of lonely wolf-pup
Skirted foes and scouted well
David did companions gather
Once more did he dare to dance
Struck the column, sent men crashing
Tried they truly, still they fell
Feared foe-slayer bit with broadsword
Ran them ragged through the brush
Elizabeth did fling wounds from her
Pain denied, prowess bold
Gathered guards as Princess' champion
Took command as consort's sword
Led the line back to the battle
From the front she faced the foe
Grouped with Gunnar, sage Norselander
Viking honoured, vision fierce
Led the line once more with laughter
Songs Bess sang, all followed true
Swung away from paltry sallies
Saw the banner, sought King's prize


Charged the hill-slope, hied to battle
Faced house Bloodguard, brave East shieldmen
Northern line did lash and strike
Bore the baldric Anthea gave
Struck the East with wolves' wild strength
Sang the foes praise for the battle
Pressed them back, bore well the fighting
Fey Cospatric fell, wounds forward
Tore the line, then Tuchux charged
Wild the frenzy of weird allies
Clan-cries rang, as gaps they found
Saw the tyger's column tremble
Wolf and clansman gained the crest
Dag did see the Ealdormerans
Watched the wolves and marveled more
Then the battle's din drew silent
Banner trapped, time run fast out
Eastrealm did retire as vanquished
There did foemen, armed and honoured
Leave behind the prize long sought
Banner taken, but returned
Trapped by wolves' blood, time well bought


Trekked back to the draw-bridge fighting
Marched MacQueen midst Northern men
Ladies there bore beverage well
Wended Walays through the wolf-press
Drink delivered to her Princess
Slaked the thirst of bonny David
Served them well she did that day
Likewise did Vittoria duty
As she had done days before
She and Edward, eager helper
Served the Coronet so well
Scribes and servants, ever working
Averylle, sweet Coronet's comfort
Whispered words to soothe Tangwystl
Heard all there the sweet harp music
Rose Rhiannon to her laurels
Cast sweet spell o'er all who heard
There keened Katerina, heart-broke
Felt for fallen pangs of loss
Like the Pelican, breast bloody
She who nursed the noble Northrealm
Came to camp of bold Melita
Greystanes' father, Giacomo
Heard glad tidings of sons' safety
Christopher still hale and whole
Slew he several, did Doge honour
Sweet Francesca and dear daughter
Fed the fighters once again
Ivarr banked the blazing cookfires
Frezenghelli fed them all


Then came time to storm the castle
Came the time to cross to keep
Pushed the fords and filled the bridges
Forward now to face East's might
Surged King Comar's subjects forward
Strove to seize the fords and spans
There was King's great keep assembled
Frederick, servant fine did work
Served his Prince and served King Comar
Shadowdancers at his side
Scouts became as gallant sappers
Ericson did every task
In drear combat made a curtain
As the Dragon King designed


Banks soon bloody, ravens feasting
Fallen floating in the moat
Drowned was Rory, grand duke-slayer
Gallant leap made, lost from bridge
Bess did bear the brunt as leader
Raasey stood close to her side
Kaffa did the spear point blood-slake
Shared with husband, greybeard bold
Edmond faced the foe with valour
Nott did stand and never falter
Ælfwyne did as duty bade him
Left the East lines, heart his honour
Finnvarr forced a few to fall
Hero's bridge renamed for Northmen
Long will legends sing that time
Gallant Bess heard King's command
Stood in place, her honour foremost
Others might make wild attackers
Wolves do fight in packs aye proud
David slew foes standing foremost
Glaive did give out mighty blows
Then the press did close 'round white wolf
Trapped by friends, his freedom lost
Could not move as spear-point pierced him
Gallant Prince did swoon and slip
Thrice had wolf blood run in ribbons
Thrice did David feel his wounds


David could not count the triumph
Could not hear the cries of joy
Missed the mass as it went charging
Took the tyger's battered tower
There fought Roak of Rozakii
Grimwulf too, they gathered flags
Two together stormed the bailey
Edmond spurred the swordsmen on
Fell the banner by broad bridges
Roak seized standard proud
Thorgrim's men once more did duty
Proud the serpent's mighty sting
Bridges fallen, fords dead-choked
Yet not triumph, cost to tell


Bore they David to his sick bed
Christian carried him away
Comar's squire, his heart bought over
Trapped by sweet Tangwystl's gaze
Princess' tears once more fell freely
All did mourn the mighty Prince
Comar did bring Queen to tend him
Lisa did do what she could
Yet there was no knowledge useful
No sweet succor, no revival
Comar quit the costly field
Sent his army slowly homeward
Mourning for a mighty Prince


He was stilled, but not yet slain
For the heart that beat within him
Like a legend, cannot die
He was not the Prince of people
His was not a reign o'er race
His heart spanned the snowy Northlands
He had grasped the great Wolf's powers
Bore they North sole sleeping warrior
Bore his sick-bed to the shore
Sailed him, admiral, o'er his searealm
Now he rests beside the breakers
Hied to hall by Inland Sea
There sweet lady lies beside him
Tangwystl let her heart sleep too
Never has such love been seen
Never will her heart be stilled
There she rests, waits time and tide
When the North may once more need them
He will wake then, at her side
So the North stands, wolves all-puissant
Long the legends, foes great fear
Rue the day of David's wakening
Wolves will pack in Ealdormere
Waeshael the North, still strong and free
Waeshael white wolves, all glory be


Here ends a tale told for delight
The North lives on; let wolf fangs bite

(copyright Arthur McLean 1991-2000)

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