Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Troll Hunt

Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI (2002)
For the April Fool’s TankArd

Every year the inhabitants of the Cliffs gather together to engage in a Troll hunt. Trolls are quite numerous in the wilds of Ardchreag, in the brambles, the marshes, the rocky quarries and the stinking bogs. Trolls grow larger the longer they live, starting out the size of a wolf terrier. The oldest Trolls loom over the heads of men on horseback.

To keep the Troll population at a manageable size, the Chreaggers engaged in a Troll hunt each New Year’s Day. The entire populace gathered at the canton keep, splitting themselves into teams.

Several of the shorter people were made flushers under the leadership of Colyne. The flushers would act as bait, drawing out the Trolls, and leading them back to where the archers waited. These included Raffe Scolemaystre, Ivanna the Oblivious, Iolanda de Albornoz and Emperor Bobo.

If the Troll was too large to be taken down by arrows the fighters of the canton would rush it from either side. Thorfinna gra’feldr, Siegfried Brandbjorn, Volodymyr “Vlad” Blahuciak, Brandt das Lederwerker and many others had sharpened their spears, swords and pikes in anticipation.

Things went exactly as planned, with the Chreaggers bagging twenty-two Trolls in four hours. The only mishap was when Berend van der Eych, the canton’s executioner, cut his hand while lopping off the last Troll’s head. (Some Trolls are strong enough that they will not stay dead unless their heads are removed.) Luckily, Fursto was nearby to patch him up.

Then things went really bad. One of the flushers, Stephen Scrymgeour, interrupted a large troll busily devouring the carcass of a bear. The monster was instantly on its feet and threw Stephen through the air, sending him crashing into an oak. The Troll, easily twice the height of Wulfgang Donnerfaust and three times as wide, strode quickly towards the hunters. The archers loosed shaft after shaft but they broke on the beast’s thick skin.

Gunther Katzkin, Eanor of Amberhall, Siegfried and Vlad rushed the Troll and halted its progress momentarily. But then it caught Gunther up in its giant hand and used him to club his compatriots into unconsciousness.

Brandt and Kenric rallied the remaining fighters around them and rushed the Troll as it chased after the archers. It knocked them aside one after the other and gave voice to a triumphant roar that made the blood of those that heard it run cold.

Then Piero remembered reading once that a Troll’s most vulnerable spot was behind its knees. He shouted this out as the Troll lumbered after him. Thorfinna lashed out with her blade as the beast ran past her, connecting solidly with the back of its left knee. Howling with pain the Troll dropped to the ground and thrashed about while Colyne, Crispinus and Elspeth threw nets about its body. Soon it lay as fully trussed as a Yuletide goose.

The triumphant Chreaggers took the beast back tot heir keep and locked it within a specially made cage, built by Melchior, Brandt, Gunther and Berend. No matter how the Troll raged it could not break free.

And so a great feast was held, the Troll was presented to Their Excellencies of Septentria to do with as they pleased, and all those on the Cliffs had a wondrous New Year’s Day.

Except Stephen. Who is dead.

Missive from the Knight Marshal

Colyne Stewart, AS XXXVI (2003)
For the April Fool’s TankArd

To the fighters of Ardchreag, Greetings,

Our plans to incorporate the flying turtles native to our lands into our fighting force is progressing well. Many test flights have been made, with only a few fatalities. The turtles can fly very swiftly over short distances, or slowly over great. However, once the turtles tire they land and move at a pace slower than their land born relatives. This can be problematic when being chased by knights on horseback.

Feed for the beasts is also a bit problematic, as their number one choice is fresh goblin meat. Goblins are not as numerous in the Cliffs as Trolls or Ogres, and can be hard to find. If on turtleback when they see one however, the turtle becomes unresponsive and will not stop until it has chased down and devoured the beastly thing. Flying turtles will also eat aquatic vegetation, but it must be moist. Turtle Riders must carry a separate bladder of water for the sole purpose of wetting greens before feeding.

In mock battles the turtles handled themselves very well. They have proven quite capable of flying down and grabbing fighters right out of their saddle, as long as their descent is not too steep. Regrettably, Aesop Brown of the Scarlet Bluffs is no longer with us. Even more regrettable is the death of his turtle, who smashed its head into a boulder while swooping after a goblin. The goblin was drawn and quartered for this offense.

Caring for the young flying turtles has been proceeding almost without a problem, under the guidance of the Reptilian Aeronautic Team (or RAT). The young turtles are housed in a domed hut, full of moist sand, with a pool of water in its centre. Perches and treat poles hang from the ceiling. Here the turtles remain until they are three months old, at which time they are the size of large dogs. They are then moved to specially built barns where they will stay unto maturity, at which point they are bigger than horses.

During its youth, the turtle goes through vigorious training where its inborn hostility is curbed (or at least, trained to be unleashed only on certain targets). They get used to being handled and small conscripts (some of Dwarf or Gnome descent) are lucky enough to get to break them in.

Our Flying Turtle Squad was used to good effect in the Ardchreag Rebellion of XXXVI that led to our becoming a Duchy. Soon they will become an integral part of our army.

In Service,

The Knight Marshal

The Knighting of Eirik Andersen

Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI (2003)
For the April Fool’s TankArd

It was a stormy day when our Seneschal, now Emperor, Bobo took the field. He was to hold it against all comers as proof that he was worthy to wear the white belt. At first Eirik was confident, his mouth spewing forth ironic barbs and quips. He leaned casually against a column, a sword dangling from his hand, chewing on licorice and talking to the ladies.

Then Colyne, called Meinfretr by the Norse, tapped him on the shoulder and Eirik’s ready grin slipped from his face. He looked in the direction that Colyne was pointing with his thumb, and saw a long line of armoured fighters waiting patiently. They were all looking at him and laughing, some giggling with anticipation, some actually hopping up and down in glee. Siegfried was there, his sword wrapped in a scarf with Eirik’s name written upon it. Sir Berus, the Kingdom Earl Marshal, was also in line, holding an ‘experimental’ great weapon covered with many wicked looking points and claws. (As Berus was found of saying, as Earl Marshal he could pretty much use any thing as a weapon, as long as it was ‘experimental’.) Beyond them stood Sir Evander, most of House Hrogn, the entire populace of Ardchreag and verily many people of the kingdom. Many, in fact, had traveled from kingdoms afar to take part in the mashie-pow.

Grinning, Colyne left Eirik and took his own place in line, fist tightening and relaxing on his hilt. On a noose hanging from his basket hilt was a small stuffed monkey.

When the marshals walked on to the field, Eirik’s nerves failed him. The line numbered over a hundred strong, and he had no wish to let that many folk take a crack at him. He turned to flee but Duchess Eanor was waiting. She grabbed his arm and marched him on to the Lists.

What then followed was a brutal scene unequaled in Ealdormere’s history. Blow after blow rained down on Eirik’s head, limbs and body. Swords, cudgels, maces, axes, spears and even the occasional rubber chicken knocked him to and fro until finally he lay flat on the ground. His shield sat by his side, cracked in three pieces. When he was pulled to his feet again he left behind an imprint that has become a holy relic to all those who worship the wise crack.

As he regained his feet, thankful that his ordeal was over, he saw the giant, Wulfgang Donnerfaust, running to the field. He was waving his sword and shouting that he had just authorized, and was ready for his turn.

Screaming in horror, Eirik ran into the trees. The Emperor of Ardchreag has not been seen in weeks now, and likely won’t reemerge until his Austmannaskelfir Legions have managed to capture Wulfgang. To date, fourteen have perished in the attempt.

The First Annual Miss High Cliffs Competition

Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI (2003)
For the April Fool’s TankArd

Yes, the news was true. Too many people on the Cliffs found their lives empty and meaningless without complete strangers thinking they were pretty, so it was agreed to hold the first Ardchreag Beauty Pageant.

The entire populace of the canton gathered along the cliffs one fine spring morning, waiting to see their fellow Chreaggers strut their stuff. They were hoping for a good show, and they weren’t disappointed.

First was Thorfinna, dressed in the hide of a walrus she had ripped off herself. She juggled some throwing axes and wanted to split an apple while it sat on her husband’s head, but Colyne could not be found.

Next was Mahault, clad in Elizabethan garb so extravagant people had to strain their eyes to see her within it. For her performance, she correctly pointed out what period garb everyone in the audience was wearing. You could see by the twinkle in her eye she had noticed many flaws, but she was too kind to point them out.

Iolanda, or should I say Qadachin, was next, draped in her plaid Mongolian tunic. Everyone’s stomach churned as she downed quart after quart of fermented milk, followed by chasers of Green Bison vodka.

Many more followed: The belly dancer Michaela with her hips jingling; Eanor, riding on horseback while reciting corpora; Elisabetta who cooked up a storm; Jean-Margaret; Ivanna; and many more.

Then a mystery contestant walked out on stage. She was a strange looking figure, tall and almost skeletal, with long lanky arms and bony knees. Her hair was red-brown and tied back in a ponytail; her face obscured by a feathered mask. She wore a plain green dress and bug black boots. Slowly, she began to dance and she held everyone’s eyes prisoner. She moved with a grace like no other and completely captivated the audience. When she was done their was thunderous applause. The MC, Duke Sir Finvarr, ridden in especially for the occasion, proclaimed the mystery woman the winner and bade her reveal herself.

With a demur smile she pulled off her face. The audience gasped as they all saw that she was not a she. She was a he. She was Crispinus Spellar, former Ardchreag Chatelaine and now Chronicler of Septentria.

Somewhere in the back Colyne screamed (having flash backs of Ealdormere War Practice and a certain lap dance he had received), thus giving away his hiding place to Thorfinna, who was still carrying an axe and an apple.

As Finvarr crooned, “There he is, Miss High Cliffs,” Crispinus bowed to the crowd, jumped off the stage and got himself a bottle of mead.

“Life is good,” he said, unaware that the female members of the canton were creeping up behind him, fury burning in their eyes for he had profaned the deep and resounding spirituality of a beauty pageant.

After the commotion was over, Crispinus was hung from a crow’s cage at the crossroads in northeast Ardchreag. Small children would throw rocks at him while ghosts and trolls had a good laugh at his expense.

The moral of the story? Beauty pageants are damn stupid.

Excerpt from Garderobes of Ealdormere, by Colyne Stewart

Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI (2003)
For the April Fool’s TankArd

The latrines of the northern reaches of our fair kingdom are not as primitive as many of us lowlanders believe. I have visited many of them, and have found them all to be of excellent quality, with the possible exception of one.

I know that many have complained of the facilities of Bonfield, that frozen bowl of the north, but I have found them to be every bit as modern as those that serve at Ealdormere War Practice here in my home canton of Ardchreag. Wooden walls that block most of the wind, a roof (!), and a wooden seat that leaves but few splinters. These are all good things.

However, I feel I must condemn the privies of the little known Shire of Scheißehaus, which is located north of the Barony of Skraeling Althing. I have been to one event in that snowy realm, which was called Wurstliebe. The latrines consisted of a row of holes in the bottom of a trench running along the back of the event site. There was no shade from the sun which reflected off the snow, blinding the eyes as people tried to aim directly for a hole so as not to soil their shoes. No shade also meant we were drenched by intermittent blasts of ice-cold rain. And, as the main focus of the event was spicy sausage and ale, well, the latrines were always busy, and the lines were long.

Still, I have encountered such primitive conditions here in the south where we deem ourselves more civilised than our northern cousins. I am, as are most, accustomed to the chamber pot, but when at a local Lord’s keep I was asked to
I think that’s enough of that. — The Editor

The Ardchreag Rebellion of AS XXXVI

Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI (2003)
For the April Fool’s edition of the TankArd

It was on a misty morning that the army of Ardchreag gathered along the Cliffs. Many of the fighters, archers and scouts were young and newly trained, but all had been tested against the Troll hordes that crawled through their lands. Ogres also they had slain, and tri-headed serpents had fallen to their might. Their leaders were battle hardened and wise in the ways of war.

The time had come for rebellion.

Like a green wave they descended from the Bluffs, washing over forts and towns. Septentria rallied its fyrd to withstand the attack but found themselves sore pressed. The Canton of Greenhithe was turned into a churning morass of blood and mud as brave fighters on both sides battled relentlessly.

In the former no-man’s-land between the Chreag and Greenhithe, a final push was made. Septentria, led by the Baron-Gnome himself, had made camp somewhere deep within the brambles from which they would launch their attacks against the “chreagger rabble.” They thought themselves safe, but Ardchreag’s scouts infiltrated their camp, incapacitated their guards and allowed the Ardchreag horde to descend upon the unsuspecting fyrd.

Norse, Celts, Mongols, and the others of the Cliffs fell upon the unsuspecting Septentrians like a plague. The Bear put up a brave fight bu against the over whelming zeal of Ardchreag they stood no chance. Knowing it is better to live to fight another day, the Baron-Gnome fled through the the marshes of northern Ardchreag, evading patrols and slathering beasties local to the area, finally reaching and barricading themselves within the Royal City of Eoforwic. There they waited for reinforcements from Skeldergate to arrive.

The engineers of Ardchreag begun to cut down trees from which to build terrible machines of destruction. The Mongols brewed a potent poison that was stuffed into Troll heads and flung over the walls while the French taunted Septentria mercilously.

By the time the forces of Skeldergate arrived, nothing remained of the city but a smouldering ruin and a purple hat.

The King and the Queen were by this time extremely agitated by this fighting within their borders and gathered a force to quash the rebellion. This large force, led by Dukes and numbering many knights, made haste to track down the Chreagger Menace, and put their heads on pikes.

Ardchreag, being peopled by sly individuals, prepared a trap. A small force was sent out that lured the Royal army into a rock valley with high walls. The skirmishers then climbed up ropes to the heights, cutting them when done, as the main Ardchreag force came out behind the Royals. Their archers kep the Royals penned in as a large Ogre, that had been caged in the valley, was released to wreck havoc.

When the carnage was complete, and the Ogre was re-caged, Ardchreag marched on the capital. The Kingdom had sent emissaries to the Middle and Calontir to ask for assistance, but the Royalty knew it would not arrive int ime. Ardchreag made camp at the base of the castle and demanded parlay.

The King and Queen agreed, but only as a stalling tactic. They met the Ardchreag envoy at the porticullis, surrounded by guards. Ardchreag demanded that the Royals surrender the Kingdom to them, or face annihilation. The King and Queen hemmed and hahed and demurred and the Chreagger envoys knew they were being stalled.

And so the flying turtles, long thought to be nothing but myth, were called upon. The rotund, winged reptiles swooped down from the clouds and carried off the Royalty, taking them deep into conquered territory. The Ardchreag envoy then demanded to speak to the Prince and Princess.

The Heirs agreed to meet, and fearful for the safety of their parents, agreed to consider ardchreag’s terms. Finally, they said that they would submit the Kingdom to ardchreag, only if one of their number could defeat the Prince in single combat. If their champion failed, they would have to surrender their forces.

Ardchreag agreed, and sent out a giant from Germanis to fight in their name. The giant and the Prince fought bravely for hours, then for days, with neither of them claiming the victory. However, the giant finally made one fatal error and was subdued.

True to their word, Ardchrerag gave up their quest. They released their hostages, which included the King and Queen, the Baron-Gnome and numbers of knights and squires, and submitted themselves for punishment.

The Royalty were much impressed by this display, and by the compassion the Chreaggers had shown their hostages. The leaders of the rebellion were punished for propriety sake, but the Royals gave Ardchreag the next best thing to independence. They became the first Duchy of the Knowne World!

Long live the Earth-Pigs!

Articles from the 2003 April Fool’s issue of the TankArd

By Colyne Stewart

p33r ph33r Causes Riot

The Barony of Rochambeau, normally a quiet and oft-overlooked corner of Ealdormere, has recently been the scene of one of the worst arts and sciences related riots in the history of the Knowne World.

Sources claim that at the barony’s quarter-annual A&S competition one of the Laurels present began screaming, “Ph33r my l33t skillz!” while whacking people over the head with a duo-tang of documentation for his display on Aztec chocolate drinks.

The violence apparently began when a member of the populace wondered aloud if the Aztecs were in period.

A member of the chivalry, the respected Sir Gynne the Barber, attempted to restrain the unnamed Laurel, who rubbed Aztec suicide peppers in his eyes. Gynne’s squires replied by pouring hot chocolate down the Laurel’s pants and the violence erupted in earnest.

After four hours, bruised and battered Pelicans managed to restore order. Most of the A&S entries had been destroyed in the riot. The unnamed Aztec Laurel, his cheetah skin cape stained with chocolate, ran off with the prize—a Viking ear spoon.

Farthingale Fluster – Elizabethans lazier than before thought, says expert

Eoforwic archaeologists recently unearthed evidence that once and for all answers the question “Why would women wear such gigantic underwear?”

THL Jocelyn Farfanoose led a team who discovered the grave of a woman they have dubbed Lucia. “Lucia was a noble woman from 15th Century England,” explains Farfanoose. “She was found under the bed of one of the citie’s founding members, but he plumb forgot she was there!”

Under Lucia’s farthingale was found a second body, with twisted, hunched shoulders.

“From this evidence, and from the obvious withering of Lucia’s legs, we can conclusively say that Elizabethan women hid small porters under their undies and rode on their shoulders,” said an expert.

Journals found buried with Lucia support this claim and clearly show small men carrying aristocratic ladies on their backs.

“The men would have to be very small,” said another expert. “Say, a little taller than Colyne.”

Colyne could not be reached for comment.

Constables Crush Scroll Forging Ring – Man Buys Peerage Online

Jido Mu-hung is a Laurel, at least according to his scroll, a scroll he bought on e-bay.

“I did a search on e-bay one day,” explains Jido, “and there it was—a peerage scroll. It was only $20 bucks too!” Jido’s scroll arrived two weeks later, complete with official seal but with the name of the recipient removed.

“I just filled in my name and viola! I was a Laurel!”

Meridian constables were alerted to the scam when Jido attended his next event. Jido, who has only been a member of the Society for a year, raised some eyebrows when he walked into Meridies Crown Tournament wearing a cape covered in Laurels and a Laurelate medallion.

“The medallion was only $5 more!” gushed Jido.

Tracking Jido’s method of payment—dumping a sack with the money behind a tree in a park—constables found the deviant responsible for the forged scroll.

Leon Ducot, last seen in Ruantallon impersonating a Duke, was found with a pile of scroll blanks and what looked to be a replica of the Meridian College of Arms official seal.

“He’d craved it out of a potato,” said a constable. “And potatoes aren’t period.”

Celts not Crazy – Plaid ain’t Bad

Celts all over the Knowne World, long discriminated against because of their pattern of preference, have finally had the last laugh.

“I always knew plaid was great,” said one such Celt. “I just never knew it was this great!”

Research carried out by the Sprigganstone Gaelic University, located somewhere in Drachenwald, has proved that plaid makes people virile.

“Ever wonder why many of the Celtic people wore kilts or went without pants?” asked a bare legged researcher.

“People of Celtic origin are randy and full of sexual energy and it’s all because of the plaid,” said a textile Laurel. “Tests have been done on other patterned fabric and none of them are as virile as plaid.”

“We knew there must have been a reason they wore it,” said a Renaissance lord. “It couldn’t have been for fashion sense.”

Saint’s Face Seen in Beer – Crispinus Sighted at Local Alehouse

Before a crowd of witnesses the face of St. Cirpsinus, patron saint of alcohol and cross-dressing, appeared in the foam in a cup of beer at the Jaunty Troll Pub.

“I was just sitting there, ready to blow the head of my beer,” said a bar patron, “when suddenly in the foam I see these two dark eyes looking out at me. I set the beer down and I clearly see the face of a man.”

“It was the face of St. Crispinus,” said the alehouse owner. “Sure as Green Bison vomit in the woods, it was.”

Eventually the beer went flat and the face disappeared as the foam evaporated.

“It was a sign from heaven to stay and have another draft,” said the patron who had first glimpsed the saint’s foamy features.

“I’m not a religious fellow,” said the patron’s friend, “but I recognize a miracle when I see one.”

It is reported by reliable sources that the pub did record business that night as every patron bought tankard after tankard of ale, beer and bitter in the hopes of seeing Crispinus appear again.

“Maybe this time in a dress,” said a winking patron.

Pointy Ears Seen at Local Event – Autocrat Denies Involvement

Participants in a local event were shocked last weekend when a group of individuals with pointed ears walked on site.

“At first we thought they were from the sci-fi convention next door,” said one such shocked participant, “but then we noticed the tight green leggings and then we knew.”

When asked what he knew, the participant refused to comment.

The autocrat of the event was more forthcoming.

“It’s them elves,” he said morosely. “Ever since the Lord of the Rings movies came out they’ve been popping up at events again. It’s like a plague. How can a personally reasonable person, one who usually wears perfect Flemish fish-wife garb show up in public with pointed ears. It’s shocking.”

Upon checking the paperwork at troll this reporter found that the autocrat had let the elves on site and even offered them a discount.

The autocrat could not be found again to comment but an elf wearing the same set of garb was seen fleeing the scene.

More on this story as events progress.


Aries Mar 21 – Apr 20
You should not have eaten that strange fish course at feast yesterday. Noting locations of public bathrooms a priority today.

Taurus Apr 21 – May 20
A belt could be in your near future. Or not.

Gemini May 21 – June 21
If you are a Peer, you will be in a meeting tomorrow. If you are not a Peer, you will be wondering what they are meeting about.

Cancer June 22 – July 22
You will inspire a bard today, for good or ill.

Leo July 23 – Aug 22
Chances to win tourneys high this month, but then so am I.

Virgo Aug 23 – Sept 22
A windfall of cookies may be coming your way, but beware the nuts involved.

Libra Sept 23 – Oct 23
At your next camping event your immediate neighbours will be Satan worshipping, Conan-esque sadomasochists. They will complain about you.

Scorpio Oct 24 – Nov 22
A certain household has you under surveillance, but I’m not telling which one.

Sagittarius Nov 23 – Dec 21
Do not go down to the woods today or you’re in for a big surprise.

Capricorn Dec 22 – Jan 20
The Mongols are coming…and they know your name.

Aquarius Jan 21 – Feb 19
You will be embroiled in an argument over who would play you in a movie about the SCA.

Pisces Feb 20 – Mar 20
You will be forced to write horoscopes for April Fools issue of your local newsletter. Sucker.

Flying Turtle Flocking in Record Numbers – Goblins Fear for Lives

This spring has seen a massive upswing in flying turtle populations, say rangers from Ardchreag.

“There’s always been a lot of turtles in the ‘chreag,” said a head ranger, “but never this many.”

The winged reptiles have been nesting in rooftops and church spires and their sheer weight has collapsed several buildings.

“First I thought it was cute to have one on my roof,” said a local resident. “But they kept coming. Soon I had dozens on my roof. Let me tell you, turtle guano stinks!”

There is another danger represented by increased flock size other than damage to masonry and piles of stinky turtle pooh. The food of choice for flying turtles is goblin, a diminutive cousin of the troll. Once numerous in Ardchreag goblins are now scarce as record numbers are being devoured by the turtle swarms.

“There is a great danger to the Septentrian goblin population, “ said a kingdom expert. “As those in Ardchreag dwindle, the turtles will increased their range. Soon these flying shellbacks will spread throughout the barony.”

Residents of Vest Yorvik have already launched an anti-turtle campaign. Armed with long poles topped with nets, residents take turns standing at strategic locations along their border.

“They have to get past Eoforwic first,” said one Vest Yorvikker, “but we’ll be ready if they do.”

Specialists from Skraeling Althing have suggested importing vorpal bunnies from their barony’s forests to prey on the turtles but Ardchreag’s officers have so far not taken them up on their offer.

Brother Thomas’ Cryptogram

qoisu dep sief vjot cyv dep auy

Answer: Piero can read this but can you

Key: The vowels were exchanged for the next vowel (including y), then the same was done with consonants. A=E, B=C, C=D, D=F, E=I, F=G, G=H, H=J, I=O, J=K, K=L, L=M, N=P, O=U, P=Q, Q=R, R=S, S=T, T=V, U=Y, V=W, W=X, X=Z, Y=A, Z=B

Wulfgang’s Head Speaks Out

Little known to many, Herr Wulfgang Donnerfaust has a secret.

“It’s…like this: my head is detachable,” said the German lord during a closed press conference. “It happened in Eoforwic last year. I found myself put in the stocks and then lead to a backroom where I was decapitated. For some reason that no chirurgeon can explain I didn’t die.”

Rather, Wulfgang has lived and gone on to be squire to a former Khan.

“It’s…weird,” he says. “For the most part I still feel normal but sometimes a good head shot on the field will knock my cranium clear off my shoulders. It’s kind of embarrassing, especially on a crowded field. Sometimes my head ends up getting kicked all over the place while I’m trying to find it.”

Several Mongols in attendance snickered at this statement. One of them later told this reporter, “We kick his head around on purpose. We call it wulfkashi.”

Wulfgang, called Uncle Vulfy by some and “Holy sh*t that big guy!” by others, is looking forward to the future.

“It’s…not something I’m letting hold me back,” he says bravely. “Me and my big head are going places.”

Invasion of the BOD Snatchers! – SCA Directors Replaced by Pod People

At the last gathering of the SCA Board of Directors a terrible discovery was made.

“I noticed that the Duke to my left had a fern sticking out of his cuff,” said an Honourable Lady from the Central Kingdom. “He kept drinking a lot of water too.”

Several members of the BOD were absent or late in attending the meeting, and many of those who did attend seemed to be in a daze.

“They all seemed to have a lot of plant matter on their persons,” said our Central Kingdom source. “Flowers on lapels, leaves sticking out of pockets. I thought at first it was some spring fertility thing.”

Finally asking her fellows what was going on, our source said, “They all stopped talking, pointed at me and let out this shrill cry. I was terrified!”

Running for her life, THL raced to the basement.

“That’s where I found them,” she said. “The pods. They had one for me too! I could see a replica of myself within the verdant growth!”

After making these revelations known by screaming them at the crowds at Gulf Wars, THL was taken by chirurgeons for recuperation at a remote asylum in the Outlands.

“You’re next!” she screamed as she was dragged off. “First the BOD, then the Knowne World!”

Bear’s Blue Banger Banned

Heralds and pursuivants across Ealdormere were called to a close door symposium recently where new heraldic laws were handed down. One of them has Septentrians up in arms – literally.

“This is an outrage,” spewed one Septentrian olde pharte. “We’ve always done this, they can’t stop us!”

Special heraldic constables have been scouring the barony looking for all traces of what many Septentrians fondly refer to as ‘blue yarbles.’

“You see,” said a former baroness of Septentria, “Back in the day the genitals of the Septentrian bear were coloured blue. This was a completely medieval practice. Medieval heralds would ‘arm’ arms and colour their teeth, claws and, yes, their genitals blue.”

But no more says new Ealdormerean Heraldic Law number 1138, which states: that no heraldry shall make any bearer of other heraldry feel emasculated by any means.

“We’ve had complaints,” said a representative of the College of Heralds. “Seems some of those who have arms or devices that don’t feature reproductive organs feel threatened by seeing giant cobalt blue yarbles displayed everywhere.”

When it was pointed out that this was an historic Septentrian practice and wasn’t really done anymore the representative just winked and refused to speak on the subject anymore.

Many Septentrians were noted to be filled with anger and grief as banners and tabards were seized, the offending members painted white.

“There’s more to this than meets the eye,” said one Septentrian bard. “I’ll be getting to the bottom of this!”

Heralds have no said that animal’s bottoms cannot be coloured either.

Adventures in Ardchreag

THL Edward Shaggyshanks, for the Baronial Septentrian Geographical Society
(Colyne Stewart, 2005)

The sun beats down on my head as I stand atop the cragged edge of the cliff face. Far below me I can see ships traveling from ports in the far Royal Citie of Eoforwic towards Greenhithe-be-the-waeter. A light wind rustles the leaves in the trees behind me and carries the scent of baking bread from a far-off farm.

Beside me, Snori Fenrirsson leans upon his yew bow. His face is lined from years of exposure to the weather and his eyes perpetually squint in the sun. This archer and ranger is my guide throughout the canton of Ardchreag and, living up to local legend, he has gotten us lost.

Known on the Royal Rolls of Ealdormere officially as Ard Creag, this canton-upon-the-cliffs is in land once claimed by Eoforwic. Over ten years ago a group of archers who lived and plied their trade in the area began to petition for recognition as an independent group. In AS 27, this request was granted. This change to maps of the area is perhaps to blame for local residents becoming known for being prone to loosing their way. A motto sewn on the Ardchreag standard reads, “Don’t follow us, we’re lost too!” This tradition of being and getting lost has continued to this day as even that same standard was lost for a time in the wilds of Ramshaven.

And now Snori and I are lost.

We had set out from the Lincoln keep, which currently serves the canton as their town hall. The plan was to travel towards the nearby Royal Zoo, then angle south into what is known by locals to be troll territory. Many people within the kingdom, including His Majesty’s Minister of Forestry, denies the existence of trolls. Locals, however, swear they exist.

“We’ve had a rash of sightings lately,” Lord Eirik Andersen, former seneschal of Ardchreag, told me. “Sometimes they’ll wander into our keeps, or our camps, gobble up our food, and then take off back into the woods.”

The canton’s current knight marshal, Lord Wat of Sarum, has said that multiple hunting parties have been sent out to slay the troublesome brutes but all have returned empty handed.

It’s for a sighting of one of these trolls that Snori and I set out for.

We left Lincoln at about ten of the clock and our progress through the woods was rapid. It was once we angled off the King’s Roads that we became hopelessly turned about.

When I asked Snori if he knew which way we were going, he simply shrugged.

At one point we crested a ridge and saw before us a great meadow stippled with yellow dandelions. Munching on the grass was a herd of the massive green bison local to the area. We approached cautiously but the looming bovines seemed oblivious to our presence. Their fur was long and shaggy and most definitely coloured green. Local lore says its from eating the emerald grass of central Ardchreag, while others say it’s the water from Vahdkha—a watering hole—that makes them green. Humans who drink from the wells of Vahdkha have also been known to turn green, though they usually return to a more normal colouration after a few hours. Snori tells me of Lady Qandachin Bahar, a Mongolian, who felt an affinity for the bison. She was known to have consumed much of the water of Vahdkha in an effort to commune with the animals. The effort left Bahar feeling quite ill, and lately she has given up on Vahdkha all together, preferring to drink fermented milk instead.

*          *          *

Standing far above the rocky shore down below, I pull out my water flask. Out over the inland sea I spot a flock of winged turtles flying over the foaming waves. The rotund winged reptiles were first been discovered on the Ardchreag-Greenhithe border by Lord Ulvar van der Nederlanden. This was at a muster of Ealdormere’s military might in AS 27 or so. Now the turtles’ habitat has spread all over Ardchreag, though they are most populous about the cliffs as they build nests right in the cliff faces.

With green bison and flying turtles, how can anyone doubt the existence of trolls, I wondered.

Singing has always been popular in Ardchreag; they even had a choir for a very short time. Now many of its members are known as bardicly inclined. Snori proves this as he begins to sing, “Soaring, high above the white flowers, that’s where the Ardchreag turtles like flying…”

I sit back and listen as he finishes, punctuating each line by stamping his bow into the ground. When he’s done he looks over at me and smiles. “That was written by one of my kinfolk, Þorfinna gráfeldr, former baronial bard.” I nod as I stand up. The sun is just beginning to dip behind the trees at our back.

We begin to follow the cliff face westwards knowing that eventually we’ll hit the Greenhithe border. From there Snori is sure he can find his way to Drew’s End, Havencroft or Eirikstaadir, all of which are home to members of the canton who technically live in Greenhithe territory.

*          *          *

In AS 25 a group of people met in a bakery owned by Sir Timothy of Horton. It was there where talk of Ardchreag began. The orchestraters of this plan were (and I use their current titles): Baron Siegfried Brandbeorn, the Honourable Lord Raffe Scolemaystre, Lord Raedmund deArden and Lord Alan ate Highcliffs. It is perhaps these four that are represented by the four arrows on Ardchreag’s device, forming a compass.

The other main element of the device is a red mountain, to represent the Scarlet Bluffs that cuts across the canton. The cliffs are represented on the chief. (Laurel leavess are also represented, as they are on all geographic devices of the Society). The main colours are green and white. The green is probably representative of the earth, while the white is the sky.

*          *          *

Like any canton that exists for more than a few years, Ardchreag has had many people call it home. In a poll conducted in June AS 37, it was discovered that over the previous ten years 151 people had been listed on Ardchreag’s rolls. Some of these have gone on to be knights and laurels, while some have even ruled as King and Queen of Ealdormere.

Currently Ardchreag is a hotbed of baronialism. Many members are, or until recently were, members of the baronial army. A number of Septentria’s officers currently call Ardchreag home as well. The barony’s unofficial propaganda ministry is based in Ardchreag, with recruitment posters being the current project. In past years these posters were plastered wherever a surface could be found, including some warriors’ shields.

As well as being loyal to their barony, Chreaggers (as they sometimes call themselves) are also staunch Ealdormereans. Many of them make the journey to Pennsic whenever war threatens and for many years, Ardchreag held Ealdormere War Practice, where those heading south could practice their martial skills. There are many armoured fighters amongst the population, as well as archers and axe throwers, and a few cavalry members and scouts as well. (Of all the martial disciplines only fencing seems to be absent.) Many followers of these martial paths are members of the Cliffguard, a constabulary that patrols the roadways and byways of Ardchreag to protect the populace from danger. Archers and axe throwers make up the Yeoman of the White Arrow, a group that defends the canton with bow and axe. Armoured fighters take part in practices weekly. A number also travel to nearby practices in Petrea Thule, Eoforwic and Skeldergate. Many of Ardchreag’s fighters hold armouring workshops in an attempt to get fighters from within and without their borders into armour quickly.

No to leave their coastline undefended Laird Colyne Stewart has commissioned the construction of Ardchreag’s first naval vessel, called the Red Arrow. A navy is necessary to protect merchant and private vessels from the dread pirates Cap’n Widow and Cap’n Bloodfox.

Artisans are also well represented by steel workers, illuminators, calligraphers, scribes, carvers, bards, researchers, chefs, woodworkers, gamers, pewter casters and so on. At least one guild was born in Ardchreag, namely the Games Guild of Ealdormere, which counts members in at least six kingdoms so far. Chronicling is also popular in Ardchreag, and it has published numerous publications over the past few years (with more apparently in the works).

It is, from all accounts, a very busy place.

*          *          *

Cursing, Snori stumbles over a discarded beer mug.

We’re standing in a copse of trees where a small shrine has been erected to a local saint named Crispinus. Upon a small pile of rocks stands a rudely carved figure of a man in a dress, while scattered around the base of the shrine are empty mugs and goblets. I can smell the doughy scent of beer. Crispinus was a Chreagger renowned for his love of fine ale who, it is said, was carried bodily into the heavens. This happened some time after he had gone to bed dead after consuming copious amounts of liquor and had arisen in the morning alive. (This was, coincidently, the same time when Bayar tried to commune with green bison.) Some time before that Crispinus had passed himself off successfully as a woman—though a homely one from all accounts. Crispinus disappeared—taken to heaven, insist the faithful—just before he could be given the rank of Lord by Their Lupine Majesties. St. Crispinus’ Award of Arms is currently in the hands of Ardchreag’s historian who is hunting high and low for the saint, and many others are in search of his dress. In the meantime locals claim to see his face appearing in mugs of ale, and toasts are raised to his health in pubs throughout the canton.

From this shrine we know we are close to the border and that our ordeal will soon be behind us. It is now getting dark and Snori pulls out a torch, which he sets alight with his flint and steel. Before too much longer we hear an axe and follow the sound to a clearing. There we find two Scottish lads just finishing a day of chopping wood. Though my Gaelic is rusty I manage to tell them we are lost and they tell me that we have just crossed into Greenhithe territory. The smaller man, named Stephen, agrees to take me to the nearby port. We pass the time in relative silence, until finally we reach the docks.

I toss Stephen a coin and he tips me a salute before departing. I likewise hand Snori his pay (even if he did nothing but get us lost) and book passage aboard a ship for home. I didn’t see a troll, but I saw many other wonders and count myself content.

Wulfgang’s Surprise

Colyne Stewart, January AS XXXVI (2002)

It was on an unusually warm winter day that members of Ardchreag’s populace traveled to the canton of Skeldergate, to the inn owned by Berus Jarl and his Lady, Countess Marion. Upon arriving we found tables laid and awaiting us, while the appetizing smells of meat on a stick wafted from the kitchens where Streonwald and Etian could be heard bellowing. We claimed a table in front of the Thrones of Ealdormere, spreading out our crafts and gear. Berend worked on his tablet woven belt, while Eirik and Colyne poured over notes. Thorfinna disappeared into the vault of children where she was later found happily colouring.

As I returned from the merchants, my arms laden with goods, I heard the sounds of commotion. A fight had broken out! I ran to my table to find some of my companions under attack! Eirik and Wulfgang were in the centre of a swarm of ruffians, brandishing axes and swords. I made a move to join them, then saw that there was no need. Eirik is quite handy with a blade, and was cutting down his foes with impunity. Wulfgang, finding himself pressed by a huge man bearing a bar stool in has hands, proceeded to chase his assailant about the hall, before finally chopping him to the floor.

When it was over, when the tables had been righted, the blood cleaned, and the ale pored, an exhausted but beaming Wulfgang sat at our table.

“Did you see me?” he asked. “Did you see me chase that guy?”

We responded yes. Then we added that his attacker had been no mere ‘guy’.

“Who was it?” he asked.

“Berus,” we said.

His jaw dropped.

“The Kingdom Earl Marshal,” we went on.

The jaw dropped lower.

Sir Berus,” we added.

All present then laughed long and hard at the expression on the face of a man who is usually jokingly referred to as a man who has none.

I just wonder, once Wulfgang has all his armour together, and first walks onto the lists, will Berus remember him?

(Based on actual events during the boffer battles at Berus’ Bar Room Brawl IV.)

Wulfgang’s Progress

Colyne Stewart, January AS XXXVI (2002)

Wulfgang is a wanderer, a traveler. Anyone that has met him can tell you so. From the pilgrim’s staff, hung with tokens, clasped in his calloused hands, to the dust on his boots, all of his appearance proclaims him to be a traveler.

Before Wulfgang found his way to Ardchreag he would wander from place to place, meeting new people, partaking in new experiences, but never staying anywhere for long. One day, he found himself following a dirt trail that led towards the great lake that separates Ealdormere from its parent Kingdom of the Middle. Along this path he met a man heading in the opposite direction. As he drew near the stranger’s garb declared him to be a man of importance, though Wulfgang did not recognize his device.

When they came face to face, Wulfgang hailed the man, who grew enraged.

“How dare you speak to me!” he thundered. “You will address me as Your Royal Majesty Duke Sir Master Master, and speak only when spoken to! Now kneel and do me homage!”

Now Wulfgang knew the man to be Peer Fear, and he laid his staff against a tree, picking up a spoke from a wagon wheel lying by the road. With this weapon Wulfgang chased Peer Fear through trees, up hills and down valleys, beating him severely, until finally the man crawled away whimpering.

Collecting his staff, Wulfgang continued on his way. Soon he met a beautiful woman sitting in a throne by the side of the road. Her clothes were resplendent, and her throne was studded with jewels. Sacks of gold lay spilled at her feet, and a pile of scrolls sat on a plinth to her left.

“Hail traveler,” she called to Wulfgang as he approached. “I greet you, and wish you well.” She held out a ringed hand which Wulfgang kissed. She then asked him to fetch her an apple from a tree a good distance away. Wulfgang was about to accept her task when she added, “If you do, I’ll give you a scroll.” She then began to recite a list of chores for him to do, and the rewards he would get for doing so, and Wulfgang realized that this was Promise of Reward.

Wulfgang went to the tree and found a wormy windfall apple which he brought back to the lady. “This,” he said, “is what you get when you only do something for the reward.” He left her as she sat rigid in her throne, sputtering in anger.

Walking on, he met another woman, this one dressed in an exquisite gown who, once he had drawn near, began to criticize his clothes, his hair, his staff, and all other aspects of his appearance. And Wulfgang knew at once that he faced Authenticity’s evil offspring Intolerance. Calmly he asked her if that was a watch he saw poking out from under her sleeve, at which point Intolerance turned bright red and exploded.

Humming a tune, Wulfgang’s feet carried him farther along the trail where he found an old man mired in a bog, his load spilling from his back. Without a second thought Wulfgang waded into the mud and helped the man extricate himself. Once freed he sat the old man on a large rock and went back for the man’s load.

When he had gathered all the man’s belonging, and repacked them in his sack, the old man placed his gnarled hand on Wulfgang’s shoulder.

“My name is Commoner,” he said, “and the load you help me carry are my troubles. By your aid I know you, for you are Chivalry and Courtesy, the true aim of all who live in these lands.”

The man’s words pleased Wulfgang more than any other reward could, and the two of them walked on, carrying the bundle between them.

The Great Wolves of Ealdormere

By Colyne Stewart (MKA Todd Fischer)
AS XXXV (2001)

Long ago, when the northlands were naught but wild expanses of field and snowy forest, when the people were fractured into separate clans and tribes and fought with each other, when the Dragon from the South roamed our woods with impunity, lived the Great Wolves. These Great Wolves were lord of the forest, glade and glen, huge beasts larger than a bear, with thick pelts and paws the size of a man's head. Of all things in the north, only the Great Wolves struck fear in the Dragon from the South, and he took great pains to avoid them.

The greatest of the Great Wolves were a mated pair, called Gar and Weyra. Gar, the male, had a coat of smoke grey, with fierce yellow eyes and a scar across his back. He was the strongest of the males, the alpha, and had won many victories.

The female, Weyra, had fur like newly fallen snow, with eyes the colour of a crisp winter sky. She was gentle and compassionate, but as fierce as her mate when the need arose.

For many years the Great Wolves and the humans of the northlands lived in peace with each other, though the humans kept fighting amongst themselves, a thing that filled the Wolves’ hearts
with sorrow. And all the while the Dragon of the South preyed upon them all.

Among the Great Wolves there had long been a prophecy, that one day two members of their kin, though not of their kin, would lead them alongside the men and women of the north into battle to drive the Dragon from their land.        

And so it came to pass that one Twelfth Night, as Gar and Weyra ran through the woods, they came upon a scene of slaughter.

A family of northmen lay scattered about a smoking fire, their bodies shredded by great claws, their gifts to each other smashed to pieces.

A noise from a toppled tent reached their sensitive ears.  Within the tent, they found two young humans, a male and a female, clinging one to the other and crying in fear.        

Taking pity on them, Gar and Weyra adopted the young humans as their pups. They called the boy Clave, and the girl Bisret, though humans would later call them by other names.

In the years that passed, Clave and Bisret lived as Wolves, learning to hunt, to track, to fight, and to respect life.

Gar and Weyra loved their odd pups but knew, deep in their hearts, that their adopted children yearned to know others of their true heritage. And so they took them, silently, to watch the tribes and clans of the north.

When Clave and Bisret saw other beings like themselves, beasts who walked on two legs, they were filled with joy. But Weyra, with sad eyes, bade them watch on. And soon they saw the clans and tribes wage war amongst themselves.

Then they took Clave and Bisret to see the den of the Dragon of the South, where he encroached on the lands of the north. There they saw him torture and kill northlanders and knew, deep within their beings, why they had been spared by fate so many years ago.

They must drive away the Dragon.

The following Yule, Clave and Bisret called on all the tribes and clans of the north to a moot. And they came. Those who followed the bear, and those who followed the ram, and the hare, and all the others. All came, for all had heard of the two raised of Great Wolves. All had heard of Clave, of his powers of arms, of his justice and righteousness, for Clave was second amongst the Great Wolves to only Gar in power. And all had heard of Bisret, and her strength and love of those born in the north, and knew she was second amongst the Wolves to only Weyra in compassion.

There, in a great circle of pine trees, the people of the northlands talked, and all were swayed by Bisret's heartfelt pleas to set aside hostilities, and to love each other as siblings. And all were swayed by Clave's proud words, and united behind him as a single force to drive the Dragon of the South from their lands. And the Great Wolves came from out of the trees to fight alongside them.

That Twelfth Night, twenty years since Clave and Bisret's family had been murdered most foully, the Great Army of the north marched on the forces of the Dragon of the South. But the Dragon had learned of their plans, and his army was ready to meet them. Worse, he knew that the Great Wolves were on the march, and had called to him famed hunters from a far off country, hunters who had killed kappa in the Marches, and wyverns in Drachenwald. Nothing frightened them, no animal or beast alive, and they set  a trap for Gar and Bisret.

The Dragon called them out for single combat. He would fight with Gar on a snowy plain, called Lythredd, while Weyra stood second. For his own second,  the Dragon chose the strongest of the hunters.

Gar and Weyra met them on the plain, while their armies watched. The Dragon of the South danced about Gar, refusing to engage him, and instead luring him towards the trap. For the hunters had found  a large hole in the earth, and had placed great spikes of banded wood within it, and covered it with reeds, and covered the reeds with snow. When Gar's heavy foot fell on the reeds, he crashed into the pit, and, at that same moment, the hunters rose from hiding, armed with bows. As Weyra ran to the edge of the pit she became impaled with arrows and fell herself into the hole.

And, knowing their leaders had died through treachery, all the Great Wolves howled in sorrow and fell lifeless themselves into the snow.

The Dragon of the South was now sure of his victory, but he did his enemies discredit. Rather than flee the field, the people of the north rallied behind Clave and Bisret. So too did all the animals of the north: the bear and fox, the badger and squirrel, the raven and jay. For they had loved Gar and Weyra and would avenge their death.

In the face of such a determined foe, the Dragon of the South knew his cause was lost, and retreated back to his own lands, losing fully a third of his army as he ran, including his hired hunters, who fell to Clave's own sword.

And then, with their lands free from tyranny, the tribes and clans and even all the animals swore fealty to Clave and Bisret. As the oath was sworn, the spirits of the Great Wolves joined with them; Gar with Clave, Weyra with Bisret, and other Wolves with all who swore fealty. From that day forward, the Wolves lived within all those born in the northlands, the lands that would one day become Ealdormere. They still reside within us, if we but listen.

And even unto today, the Great Howl, let loose at the moment of the Great Wolves' passing, can still be heard on cold, clear, winter nights, by all those of true Ealdormeran birth.

Dedicated to the rulers of Ealdormere,
Past, Present and Future.