Blog Post New Entry

view:  full / summary

Why The Mercs Matter by Phillip Korista

Posted by gargoyle on August 18, 2012 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Why The Mercs Matter by Phillip Korista

·Last Spring, I joined a group called The Mercs, which my good friend Jodie Doster is a part of.  At first, I thought it was only a historical combat reenactment group, but in the following weeks, I learned much more.  The Mercs is not only about entertaining the public or sword fighting in the list; its like a second home, a safe haven, a tiny demographic in our times where there is such hate, such prejudice, and such stupidity in this nation.  Our tenants are those most noble, a code of honor and respect.  We do not tolerate discrimination against LGBT folks.  In fact, we welcome them.  Notions of race have no belonging either, nor do we tolerate discrimination against individuals with a rough past or those with a mental illness.  Indeed, we give those folks a network of support, an open ear, an open mind.  Many religions are represented in our close knit circle; Christianity, Native American beliefs, Islam, Agnostic, Buddhist, and others.  We honor the veterans of our nation, giving them the Merc salute at events.  A strong emphasis on work ethic is held, as well as the vital importance in one's job/education and family.  Finally, all members have a voice, and are encouraged to speak up as equals.  Conflicts are settled in an honest fashion.


I now wonder, what if there were millions, or perhaps billions of people who strove to follow such a path; a path of acceptance of others, an effort to learn from others, not shun them for their differences.  An open hand and heart for our fellow men, women, and creatures.  I think the world would be more peaceful, less hateful and bitter and spiteful.  As our nation reels in its cycle of inequity, selfishness, and isolation, we Mercs thrive due to our stances, due to our dedication and love.  I'm glad that I've found such an interesting, accepting, and open minded bunch.  And still we grow, and still we travel and spread our good will; recently we helped change a Vietnam veteran's life by giving him the salute and respect he deserves, and has for so long been denied.  In the end, we are not just a troop of entertainers; we are like a tribe of misfits trying to make a difference in this torn up world.  It helps me hold the notion that there is indeed a little hope, a little good, that is worth fighting for.  Thank you Mercs, for giving me a chance to be part of something special.


My Adventure in the Ottoman Empire-By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

Posted by Fillios Booksworth on August 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Chapter 1- An Inspiration in London

It was the year 1582, an I was but a young man.  During that year I had moved to London in the attic of a Bookseller's house, which fit me perfectly.  His name was Jonathan Richards, a most agreeable old sage with a long white beard and thick glass spectacles.  In other words, he looked to be an older version of myself.  My business in London was quite simple; the fame of a certain playwright, by the name of William Shakespeare, was growing, and I wanted to not only read copies of his plays, but see one performed, being an avid fan of theatre in my own right.

Jonathan was kind enough to lend me a fresh copy of Romeo and Juliet, and I read it cover to cover in a single night.  The use of English and all of its witty intricies was quite brilliant.  The story itself, being a tragic doomed love tale, was good, but fits the same framework of many other great plays, such as the plays of Sophocles.  There was a performance of this blockbuster at the Globe Theatre on Wednesday, and I was excited to go.  However, an unusaully cold week in which it snowed, rained, and hailed, ruined the chances and put me in a desultory mood.  And so my mind wandered to other areas of interest, pouring over books in my cooped up attic room, roaming over maps of the east.  As my eyes rested over the city of Istanbol, and the many lands of the Ottoman Empire, a new adventure, a new opportunity hit me like a maul to the head.  Why not travel there?  Oh, the many tales of the silks and spices, the many peoples of different races, the art of Islamic architecture and the rumors of the Sultan Mehmet III being a man of enlightenment, decided my fate.  Tommorow, I'd board a cargo ship across the channel, travel south through France, Island hop on the Mediterranean, and make my way to the famed capitol of splendor, Istanbol, jewel of the east.

The Merc March-Compiled by the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

Posted by Fillios Booksworth on August 1, 2012 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Merc March- Compiled by the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

This is the song that we Mercs sing when we are marching, whether to the front gate at Faires, or when we are entering battle.  I think it gets rather repetitive, however, I must admit that there are some very humorous verses.

The Mercs go marching one by one huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching one by one huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching one by one, the Merclings stop to suck their thumbs,

And we all go marching back, to camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching two by two huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching two by two huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching two by two, Puppy has found something to chew

And we all go marching back, to camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching three by three huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching three by three huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching three by three, Gargoyle get the heck down from that tree!

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching four by four, huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching four by four huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching four by four, the pomp is such a..Famil'y Show...eye sore,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty.

The Mercs go marching five by five huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching five by five huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching five by five, Roric stops to fall and die,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching six by six huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching six by six huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching six by six, we all beat eachother with big sticks

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching seven by seven huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching seven by seven huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching seven by seven, Fillios wrote his eulogy and went up to heaven,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching eight by eight huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching eight by eight huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching eight by eight, we all shoo patrons out the gate,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty,

The Mercs go marching nine by nine, huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching nine by nine huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching nine by nine, great idea, break out the wine,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching ten by ten huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching ten by ten huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching ten by ten, oh good god, we must do it again

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching eleven by eleven huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching eleven by eleven huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching eleven by eleven, Fillios is kicked out of heaven,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty

The Mercs go marching twelve by twelve huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching twelve by twelve huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching twelve by twelve, Roric puts armor on the wrong shelf,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty,

The Mercs go marching thirteen by thirteen huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching thirteen by thirteen huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching thirteen by thirteen, Troll ate someone's spleen,

And we alll go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty,

The Mercs go marching fourteen by fourteen huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching fourteen by fourteen huzzah, huzzah,

The Mercs go marching fourteen by fourteen, the end of day a great feeling,

And we all go marching back, to the camp, to get off of duty.


Gargoyle, Sir O'Dunne, And the Forming of the Mercs-By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

Posted by Fillios Booksworth on August 1, 2012 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Gargoyle, Sir O'Dunne, and the Forming of The Mercs-By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth.

Sir O'Dunne, a brave and loyal Knight, hails from Ireland, and has many acres of the King's Land which he protects.  For this service he lives in the great stone castle, which, of course, is called Castle O'Dunne.

Many battles he has fought, man to man, steel to steel, with glory and death hanging in the balance.  Indeed, he has seen so much combat that one wonders how he's survived this long.  Mostly its due to his vast knowledge of the blade, constantly training body and mind to be one with the sword, and the sword to be one with him.  However, I have found that some of his survivablility comes from the protection of the ancient being called Gargoyle, master of stone lore and earth lore, as well as a traveler through time and space. 

Gargoyle, in his vast wisdom which outreaches my own by miles, came up with the idea of selecting a force of warriors, artisans, apothecaries, armorers, and so forth, from many different ages, thus creating Sir O'Dunnes personal retinue, a company so skilled in so many areas that House O'Dunne would become supreme and known throughout the many lands.  And so the Mercs were formed.  We have traveled through many times and places, performing demonstrations to curious patrons, as well as fighting in many battles alongside our allies.  This is the nature of the Mercs, and a key to our unmatched success.

Notes on Jack Jack's Curious Behavior By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

Posted by Fillios Booksworth on July 26, 2012 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Notes on the Curious Behavior of Jack Jack, By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

In all of my travels throughout the many lands, and out of the many outlandish folks I've stumbled across, none are as enigmatic or demented as Jack Jack.  Now, Jack Jack has been a member of the Mercs for quite some time.  His hair is long, blond, usually done up in a pony tail, though other times hanging wildly down to his shoulders.  He is of short stature, with an Impish personality, always ready to cause mishchief at the various fairs we Mercs fight in.  During combat, a certain grin, half-mad in my opinion, distorts his features.  Jack Jack, on a good day, is also very good at charming the ladies, though he prefers to wander into the gypsy camp and enjoy the company of the beautiful belly dancers from the east.  However, there are times when Jack Jack becomes a completely different person.

The reader may be wondering why this man is called Jack Jack; after all, tis a bit redundant.  First and foremost, Jack Jack doesn't know his own origin, and thus possesed no last name.  Secondly, and most telling, is that a tenacious sickness plagues his disposition.  He indeed believes that he is two Jacks, one childish and charming, the other wild and occasionally violent.  Thus, sometimes Jack Jack is talking to the other Jack.  On a good day, where he doesn't flip his lid and randomly kick chickens and bite patrons, he is telling Jack to stop it, to go away.  Interestingly enough, he utilyzes a stuffed doll in order to project his other persona onto a face.  On a bad day, he acts as if his doll is telling him enough already, stop causing trouble, and of course, this only further fuels his mania.  Therefore, how can one possibly try to treat this illness?

I have several ideas, one of them being rather drastic.  Since he projects his second personality onto his toy, the toy should be destroyed in front of him while he is the "good" Jack, so his mind then knows that the other Jack is gone.  It could be destroyed by burining, or dressing it in "shiny" and feeding it to the Troll.  Either way, the doll must be totally gone, ashes, or bits of cloth in Troll dung (why did I go into such detail, yuck).  The only issue is that if Jack Jack were to revert to bad Jack Jack, his good Jack side would be destroyed, and we'd be stuck with a lunatic as unpredictable as a sudden gust of wind.  Thus, this should be used only as a last resort.

Another tactic is to use positive reinforcement on Jack Jack on his good days.  Praise the man highly for doing the good deeds, build a wall separating Jack and Jack (this Jack Jack business grows tiring, egads).  Its actually quite similar to training a dog to fetch or sit, or a child how to clean his/herself without help.

Thirdly, we could try to use Jack Jack's dichotomy against him in order to force him to realize his lunacy.  For instance, encourage him to always half dress, to take half steps, to eat only half a meal, and over time, Jack Jack will see how impractible his life style is.

Other than that, there is really nothing else that can be done for this most interesting character.

My Adventure in Florence and the Meeting of My Brother-By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

Posted by Fillios Booksworth on July 25, 2012 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

My Adventure in Florence, and how I me My Brother- By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

During happier times in my life I was traveling to many places around the world.  On my eighteenth year I had toured Italy.  In the markets of Venice I learned of the happenings in India from the spice traders.  In the small town of Accici I walked the paths and visited the fields which the great Saint Francis had taken in order to contemplate nature's beauty.  The list goes on, but nothing compares with my time spent in Florence, center of liberality and science.  I gazed at Michaelangelo's David, one of the great wonders of art, and feasted my eyes on the magnificent domed cathedral.

So immersed I was in the hub-bub of street musicians, artists up on high scaffolds, and philosophers that I barely heard a most strange name uttered; Aiden.  Now, the name in itself is not strange, for its popular in the many petty princedomes of Germania.  It was, however, unusual to hear a German name on the streets of Florence.  Thus, my gazed was drawn to the speaker, and saw that it was Luccio Da'Padua, an infamous banker who funded the Borgia family, who constantly schemed to control Florence by taking down the ruling Medici family.  The Medici were perhaps the greatest hope for modernity and knowledge in Europe.  They poured their funds into architecture, authors, painters, sculptors, masons and scientists.  More than likely, Luccio was up to no good, so I listened carefully to the conversation.

"So Aiden, you and your mercenary Landschnect band will do it?"  In a deep voice, Aiden, a towering with bright blond hair, said, "it will be done.  Not a single Medici rat will be spared.  Florence will be yours."

This I could not allow to transpire.  The destruction of the Medici could spell the doom of advanced thought.  So I elected to kill this mercenary now..  I allowed him to walk a few paces away, and then I followed, weaving through the throngs, my eyes focused on him alone.  As I moved to a gap in the crowd and came within striking distance, I pulled out my dagger, and thrusted for his lower left flank.  Fortunate for him, and unfortunately for me, my blade slid off a kidney belt, failing to pierce the studed leather.  This monster of a man whirled about, and cuffed me so hard that I saw stars.  The next thing I knew, I was sitting in a filthy alleyway, with Aiden crouched next to me.  I tried to rise, but it did no good, for every movement caused my head to throb.  The German smirked.

"As bad as it looks, we seem to be on the same side."

He offered me a wet cloth, and I pressed it to my head.  I was still puzzled.

"How are we on the same side?  You were making a deal with Luccio Da'Padua, to help those vile Borgias control Florence."

The mercenary smirked.

"That's where you are wrong.  I am a Medici agent...well, a temporary one.  There have been several attempts on Father Medici's life, and he wants the threat crushed once and for all.  My colleagues and I know that the Borgia will make their move tonight.  I'm to lead an attack on the house, where my friends await to slaughter them.  Do you understand?"

It was hard to weave these plots of intrigue together with a splitting headache, but I could understand.  But I still couldn't bring myself to trust Aiden's tale.

"How do I know you're telling the truth?"

The man stood to his full height with an exasperated sigh.

"That part is up to you.  Either way, you are but one man, and one man cannot turn this coming tide.  Maybe this will help?"

He reached into his script and withdrew a battered bronze plated spy glass.  Aiden held it for a moment, as if he weren't sure if he wanted to give it up.  But his doubt lasted but a moment.  He tossed it into my lap and left.  I took off my spectacles, wiped off the dusty lenses, and replaced them.  My eyes widened from surprise.  Inscribed on the bronze was the name Kirk.  I further examined it, its dents, its tarnished surface, and realized that this was my fathers.  When  I was a boy he allowed me to play with it.  I remember watching the trading galleys come and go, and gazing at the moon and stars.  For a second, I felt the slightest pang of homesickness.  Mother's herb garden, my collection of books and artifacts.  But then it faded, and the realization that a pivotal point in history was about to take place excited my mind.  As I brushed myself out and wandered back onto the streets, there was a question that haunted me.  How did Aiden come by my father's spyglass?

As the sun set in the city, I arrived at the Inn where I was staying.  The old keeper, Maria, brought out some pasta, bread, and wine.  I thanked her and gave her a gold piece, which certainly brightened her day.  When my hunger was slaked I went up the squeaky stairs to my room, the first on the left.  It had decent accomodations, including a window that looked out onto the amber-bathed city.  Shops were closing, and beggars wandered into the alleys, trying to find shelter.  If I hadn't bumped into Aiden, this would have been an ordinary day spent touring the city, and coming back at night to wine, dinner, the bed and my volume of Herodotus.  But anxiety pulled at my guts.  One man can't stop this tide...that's what Aiden said.  But I think differently.  No, this was no ordinary night in Florence.  This was a night of epic meaning.  I buckled on my rapier, put on my lucky hat, and headed down to the streets, and into the night's darkness.

The streets of Florence, at night, are fairly empty.  Gamblers and revelers took to the taverns, and women working in that most wide spread profession, waited on street corners.  In the silver moonlight, I paid them no heed.  I simply walked the streets, watching for that band of mercenaries.  After several hours, I thought it hopeless, and yet as I passed an alleyway, I could see a group of twenty men in loose formation from the corner of my eye.  This was it.  I ducked behind some crates, and waited for them to pass by.  Once they did, I silently followed.  By God, Fillios Booksworth wasn't going to miss out on history tonight!

After an hour of following the band of mercenaries, the great house of the Medici came into view.  Fountains and lush gardens surrounded the perimeter.  The structue itself was made of fine brick, and its windows had stained glass pictures of saints.  I heard Aiden's gruff voice give an order, most likely charge.  His men charged forward, making for the large bronze faced door, while he withdrew a whistle and blew.  All of a sudden, thirty warriors swathed in black silk and wielding scimitars and daggers, sprang from the gardens and charged into the mass of Borgia men.  So lithe they were, so nimble, that the mercenaries had little time to counter attack.  In seconds, seven went down.  Aiden himself, wielding a bastard sword, joined the fray.

"Oh, why not?"  I said.  I drew my rapier and entered the fray, skewering several of the assasins.  Soon, all of the Borgia men were sprawled on the ground, blood still seeping from their wounds.  Several of Aiden's men had been killed, and three slightly wounded.  Besides that, they had done very well.  While Aiden was checking the condition of his fighters, I went to him and patted him on the shoulder.

"You?  Here?  I thought you were just a scholar by the looks of you", he exclaimed in surprise.

"Ah, I have some life in me.  Who are these fellows in black?"

Aiden said something in what sounded like corrupted Arabic.  The black clothed warriors removed their veils, revealing that these were not men at all.

"These are Assassins, their leader is Magda of the Beduin people."

I was in shock twofold.  Magda, fellow Merc, had by coincidence picked up a contract with Aiden, and secondly, I had never seen such skilled fighters.  Other than Magda and Meave, these warriors had no rival, man or woman.  So I greeted Magda heartlily, for it had been several months since we'd seen eachother.

"So Magda, how do you end up here with this Aiden?"

The black haired woman sheathed her curved blade and spoke.

"Whenever you go off on your escapades, Fillios, Gargoyle sends a Merc to watch your back.  After all, you are the only one of us who can write our tales, who can preserve our memory."

This was the first time I'd heard this.  I felt glad that Gargoyle valued me that much, though a little peeved that he thought I couldn't handle myself.  However, I set the grudge aside, and turned to Aiden.  I withdrew the spyglass from my long coat's pocket.

"Now, Aiden, how did you come by this?"

The man smirked, enjoying the fact that he knew something a scholar didn't.

"My father left me and my mother when I was still a boy.  He gave me this to remember him by.  He said he was off to Greece to start afresh, what ever that's supposed to mean.  It happens that years later I served on a trading cog which made port in Athens.  And there I saw him, haggling with a merchant on the docks, accompanied by a beautiful Greek woman, his wife, I'd imagine.  And there was a boy, perhaps nine, holding the woman's hand, wearing an oversized hat with blue stripes.  Let me guess...your father gave you that hat before he left that day on the docks, making sail with that merchant to carry out another scam.  Tell me if I'm wrong?"

I was out of breath.  It all connected, it all made sense.  At nine my father left my mother and I, leaving enough money to support my mother and put me through academey.  Before he boarded, he had taken off his hat, and placed it upon my head fondly.  And then I had watched him sail off into the distance.

"This means that...that...", I couldn't finish my sentence.

"That we are half brothers?  Yes, brother."

I stood in shock.  Aiden came over and shook my hand with his iron hard grip.  "You are to return to the Mercs with Magda and Gargoyle in the morning.  I'm off to Holland.  My next contract is on a Man of War, help defeat the god awful Spanish.  But in a few years, I may consider joining your band.  But for now, its goodbye, brother."

We embraced, right outside the Medici household (no one inside had stirred, so quick was the combat).  As Aiden was about to leave with Magda's woman warriors flanking him, I yelled, "my name is Fillios!!!."

Aiden didn't turn back, nor did he wave.  It was enough that we knew of each other's existence.  But there was still that empty space inside of me that yearned to know more of my brother.

The Betrayal- By The Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth.

Posted by gargoyle on July 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The Betrayal- By The Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth.

My good brother (well, he was a fair man once) joined the Mercs a year after our meeting in Florence, Italy. He had served on a Dutch ship of war, and had crossed swords with the Spanish. Yet, he became a bit tired of the long, bloody feud, and Gargoyle, being the mystical, all knowing sort, spirited him away and dropped him right into camp.

We were all sitting by the fire, the evening sun setting the woods aglow, and a pot of stew, hanging over the fire, whetted our appetites. I greeted him heartily, as well as Magda, who was also involved in the saving of the Medici family. All was well between Aiden and I that evening, and indeed, for many months afterward. We fought together, bled together, and argued endlessly over issues of pride and accomplishments. In particular, my uncouth German half brother still denied that he was a Booksworth. He, being purely a warrior, wanted nothing to do with the world of wisdom and books. Perhaps this is what began the wedge which slowly drove us apart. However, upon a winter morning, in which the Mercs were traveling through France (not my favorite country) he seemed extremely distant. His spirit seemed to become as cold as the beastly winter winds. And so, when we all settled down to make camp in the fading light, I ventured over to his tent.

"Aiden, good brother, what is keeping you so distant from me? Are we not brothers, not only by blood but also by the sword?" Aiden was cleaning his armor in the darkest corner of the tent. His eyes held an intense uneasiness, as if his mind was racing like a mad steed.

"You are not my brother Fillios. You never have been. You thought that if we fought a few battles together we'd suddenly be friends? You are a fool Fillios. While you read and blabber on about nonsense, all I desire is to fight."

He turned his eyes to face mine. They were wild and angry. I wouldn't be surprised if Ares himself had possessed him.

"And fight you do brother. In our company there is always a fight, always honor!! You are speaking madness!"

Aiden lept up and grabbed me by the collar, raising me off my feet. "We might have been born brothers, but I sure as hell will not continue this facade of fellowship. You know why I'm doing this, you know why I hold such spite!"

I could only shrug.

"Because you, I can tell, was father's favorite. He sired me and left me when I was but a boy. My mother became a destitute wreck and died when I was but fifteen. No home, no family, I had to beg on the filthy ground in the most wild villages. And I here that you went to the Academy, in Athens of all places? You brag and flaunt your wisdom and your fancy clothes. All I have is a sword, nothing more. Oh, I saved your hide because Gargoyle needed you. And maybe, just maybe, you'd be a real man, a man like me. But over this year, I know you're just a no good bookworm!"

He slammed me down on the ground. I was utterly shocked. Aiden was like night and day.

"I'm no longer part of Sir O'Dunne's house! I go to Sir Bhodi!! He hires real warriors, not bookworms and trolls!!"

Aiden turned to storm away to the other Merc House. I chased after him, only to feel the sharp sting of a small dagger enter my left flank. Blood stained the snow, and I staggered. Aiden himself was stunned. He may have had a grudge against me, but deep inside there was some light. Maeve charged him, sword in hand.

"Get away from Fillios Aiden, or I'll cut you down now!" she snarled. Aiden, like a scorned dog, ran away to Bhodi's camp, which was only a mile distant. I collapsed in the snow. By then, Green Lady, skilled in herbs and salves, worked on my wound. It would heal, she told me in that calming voice of hers, but would always cause pain. I knew what she meant by that. The pain of betrayal, the bitterest of emotions, would haunt me forever. From that point onward, I knew that Aiden and I had become mortal enemies, and then onward, I've dreaded the inevitable battle in which our blades will meet.

The End.

How I Almost Lost My Manhood-By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth.

Posted by gargoyle on July 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

How I Almost Lost My Manhood-By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth.

Several months ago the Mercs and I traveled to perform at the Enchanted Lakes Faire, a realm which exists within the world of Faerie. With Gargoyle's magic and such, we easily crossed the barrier and entered this pleasant land. Lush, green forest surrounded a wide lake. Small fishing villages could be seen on the shore, and small sail boats wove about in the cool breeze. Near the lake, several bands had already set up camp. The venerable King Henry and his Royal Guard, as well as the Baron of the Black Rose, had both set up their pavilions of the finest cloth, and their banners flapped in the lake breeze.

Now, being Mercs, we had no such finery, but who needs it anyway? Tis just more baggage to carry. And so all of us went about setting up camp. Troll drove steaks into the ground with ease, Gargoyle started a camp fire in his peculiar manner, and our leader, Sir O'Duune, directed us. Jack Jack, well, one of the Jacks, decided to be helpful, though one would have to slap him every time he decided to talk to Jack. Oh, he's a confusing wreck to be sure! But with the help of Maeve, Magda, Roric, Sir Bhodi, Apprentice Aiden, and Lady Ash, the camp went up with ease. Soon, we were drinking and eating and making merry around the fire. Troll , as usual, tried to burn one of my books, but Green Lady stopped him in time. Thus, a good start to what looked to be a tremendous faire which began at morning.

Loudly the trumpets blared, announcing the coming of the patrons. The sky was unmarred by cloud, a deep blue roof. Hundreds of folk from all walks of life were allowed into the world of faerie, and oh how excited they were! As we were finishing our breakfast, we couldn't wait to start performing, especially for the more interesting patrons. Some were scholars like myself, others merchants, though most were ordinary folk, who had this day to put down the plow and leap into the hidden realm and be entertained. Its these simple, yet pleasant folk that I love to entertain. And so when our first show drew near, I donned my mail shirt, belted on my scimitar, and hefted my large, steel buckler. All the other Mercs went about arming themselves, and soon, all was ready. A colorful crowd, old and young, wealthy and poor, was seated beside our list. Gargoyle acted as our announcer, using his humorous insults and sarcasm to rile them up. Once we had finished stretching out, the matches began.

The ringing sound of blades slamming together is irresistible. As various Mercs fought, more patrons came to see, some having to stand for want of more seating. Troll yelled and stomped the earth, causing the very earth to shake. Magda, the Arab assassin, swung her blade in vicious arcs, while Roric smashed his blade against his knight, Sir Bhodi, both in full plate armor. All of these goings on, and I'm left out? Was it possible that I'd armored up for nothing? I shuddered to think so, though my heart warmed when Gargoyle called me out to fight Jack Jack.

Good heavens!! Jack Jack is a psychotic enigma, a man who has two personalities, one which he "controls" and the other which "talks" to him, and sometimes, sends him into a violent frenzy. Its when he reaches such a frenzy in which unpredictable things can happen. Case and point with what befell me. The fight started off normally. He bashed at my buckler with his broadsword, then switching to leg shots, while I swooped high with my scimitar, and then switched to a quick gut attack. I skimmed him, giving a wound, though this annoying imp was wearing mail. So our fight went on in the afternoon heat, and as the temperature increased, Jack, not the one Jack, the violent Jack, possessed Jack. Soon, he was whirling about, stabbing, slashing, hacking and howling. I tried my best to counter these attacks, but blocking an insane man's blows is like trying to dodge five arrows, all aimed at a different part of your body. And so a most unfortunate thing happened. One of his thrusts went below my guard, in between my legs, and nearly sliced off my...well, lets just call it phallus to be anatomically correct. I was fuming mad, but knew that to keep fighting would risk having my manhood sliced away by the psycho Jack. So I consented to my defeat, reluctantly shaking Jack's hand. That night, I checked if everything indeed was still there. Thank heave, not a scratch!!! I bite my thumb at you Jack Jack!!!


The Tale of the Mystic Dragonfly- By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

Posted by gargoyle on July 11, 2012 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (2)

The Tale of the Mystic Dragonfly- By the Esteemed Scholar Fillios Booksworth

Not to long ago at one of the many Faires we Mercs have performed in, we were taking a break, for the day had been roasting. And so we sat in a circle, talking and laughing under a great oak tree's shade. All seemed calm, all seemed at peace, and indeed, we realized that the wind was singing to us in her whisper, and the sun sparkled through the green leaves of the old oak, casting small, faded coins of light upon the lush grasses. A graceful buzzing sound, faint and constant, came nearer, until we could see that the sound came from he shimmering wings of a bright green dragonfly.

Amazingly, this Dragonfly did not dart by us like they normally do. Instead, it hovered next to us, its eyes peering into ours with purpose. After several minutes, it landed on the shoulder of Sir O'Dunne. A sense of contemplation, of understanding, could be felt between the man and creature. Perhaps they were conversing? I shall never truly know, but I cannot doubt the fact that there was something pleasantly unusual in this whole affair. If I had to guess, this Dragonfly was a spirit, or a messenger bringing news or good tidings. Unfortunately, Sir O'Dunne had no chance to find out. A villain had crept in, and with his hands, smashed the beautiful creature into nothingness. Sir O'Dunne, honorer of nature and all living things, was livid at such a random act of violence against a defenseless creature. His eyes alone conveyed the dark storm gathering in his mind, and the foolish lad sprinted away, still grasping the victim.

For some reason, the days immediately afterward were troubling. We had no doubt that a sacred messenger, bearer of some sort of tiding, had been killed before he could fulfill his quest. And yet, on the morning of our departure, a dragonfly flew down from the sky, green and shimmering, and landed on Sir O'Dunne's steed. Our great leader saw this, and his eyes filled with joy. Perhaps our messenger had returned from the realm of the dead, fate urging him back to life. And so Sir O'Dunne dashed to his friend, and listened carefully. According to Sir O'Dunne, who I put the utmost trust in, the Dragonfly told of years of prosperity, though, hard earned prosperity, was to come to our band of warriors. And so, before we mounted up and left for another location far away, we gave out a Merc Cheer. And so, whenever you see a green dragonfly hovering near, listen, do not shoo him away. He may just have something intriguing to tell you.

The End

How The Mercs Raided The Land of Castle McDonald - By the esteemed scholar Fillios Booksworth

Posted by gargoyle on June 24, 2012 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Several years ago, Sir O'Dunne and his protector, Gargoyle, summoned the Mercs back to Camp. We were currently part of King Henry's entourage, guarding thee exalted lords and ladies from assassins and bandits. The band, made up of the King and Queen, Knights and Squires, and all manner of smartly dressed attendants and maids, was ours to defend as we traveled to a tourney in the town of Curwood, Ireland. So we marched merrily, despite the constant rain and run ins with ruffians and bandits. However, our greatest trepidation was not caused by foul weather or the petty pick pocket, but by the dishonorable actions of one Lord McDonald. We had almost reached our destination, but our larder was running dangerously low. As we came within view of Castle McDonald, the good King sent his dashing son, Prince Fox, with an escort of four royal guards, to ask for food. When this party returned, something was amiss. Indeed, all four guardsmen had been shot dead by McDonald's archers, and the request, made by none other but the King himself, had been blatantly refused. It was a bloody miracle that Prince Fox escaped with his life.

King Henry was enraged, and upon that night called a council of war. All the Lords, along with their forces of Knights, Squires, and infantry, attended. Within the flickering torch light, King Henry spoke in his deep, noble voice.

"Good people, Lord McDonald has refused to aide a man of higher station. Not only this, but his archers have slain four of my finest knights, and my beloved son barely escaped with his life. Since we are low on provisions and have been treated with nothing other than malice and contempt, what say you to battle?"

All the lords agreed. After all, with the likes of Gargoyle and Troll on our side, the siege would be short lived. It was agreed that all forces would attack at dawn.

As predicted, it took little time to storm the castle. As the Mercs and other infantry assisted in the slaying of McDonald's soldiers outside the gate, Gargoyle unleashed from his loins an inferno of liquid fire. The enemy archers on the high walls were turned to mere ashes in minutes. No longer hampered by the arrows from above, all efforts were made against the great gate. All moved out of the way, yelling, "Make way for Troll, stand back, he smells foul, no need for any fainting just yet."

All who had shields banged their blades against them to create a ferocious and aggressive banter. Troll was riled up. Green Lady whispered the go ahead to her charge. Basically, Troll was given permission to devour all enemy soldiers and collect their shiny. Thus, trolled bellowed out, "Lunch and Shiny, Troll hungry, Troll want lunch, Troll want Shiny!!!"

And so the green skinned hulk of a man charged forth with his enormous blade, Thunder, and hacked through the gate with three cleaving swipes. The soldiers inside stood back, faces pale from fear. Troll grabbed two soldiers, smashed them together, and bit off their feet. He let loose a rumbling laugh as his prey screamed.

"Troll make McDonald sandwich, Troll happy!!!" With Toll in the lead, all of the forces poured in. I did some good work with my scimitar and buckler, as did all the Mercs. Maeve and Princess Rajnet spilled much man blood that day. Gargoyle roasted more morsels for Troll to enjoy. Soon, the horror of seeing their comrades made into sandwiches, and a flying flamethrower, was too much. The soldiers dropped their arms, and it took fifteen men to hold Troll back, and Green Lady had to teach him the concept of non-edible prisoners. King Henry strode proudly into the breach, and congratulated all the warriors.

"And now, where is Lord McDonald I wonder?"

It didn't take long to find the man, who had hid behind some barrels in the courtyard, soiling himself. When dragged before Henry, all laughed at his soiled hose. He quivered at the sight of Troll.

"What do you thing lads and lasses of the sword, should Troll have a little more lunch. Another McDonald sandwich?"

All of us laughed and cheered our approval. Troll rubbed his belly, and grunted, "McDonald in Troll belly, Lunch!!" And so the beast grabbed the lord, broke his spine over his knee, and ate him like a limp fish. Troll then said, "Troll made McNugget." All of us made merry, and drank much wine and danced to joyful music. For now our larder was full, the coffers were overfilled, and we were off to the Tourney. And so that is how the Castle of Lord McDonald was taken by force.

Medieval warfare pt 2

Posted by gargoyle on November 3, 2011 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Breakdowns in centralized states led to the rise of a number of groups that turned to large-scale pillage as a source of income. Most notably the Vikings (but also Arabs, Mongols and Magyars) raided significantly. As these groups were generally small and needed to move quickly, building fortifications was a good way to provide refuge and protection for the people and the wealth in the region.

These fortifications evolved over the course of the Middle Ages, the most important form being the castle, a structure which has become linked with the Medieval era to many. The castle served as a protected place for the local elites. Inside a castle they were protected from bands of raiders and could send mounted warriors to drive the raiders from the area, or to disrupt the efforts of larger armies to supply themselves in the region by gaining local superiority over foraging parties that would be impossible against the whole enemy host.

Fortifications were a very important part of warfare because they provided safety to the lord, his family, and his servants. They provided refuge from armies too large to face in open battle. The ability of the heavy cavalry to dominate a battle on an open field was useless against fortifications. Building siege engines was a time-consuming process, and could seldom be effectively done without preparations before the campaign. Many sieges could take months, if not years, to weaken or demoralize the defenders sufficiently. Fortifications were an excellent means of ensuring that the elite could not be easily dislodged from their lands - as Count Baldwin of Hainaut commented in 1184 on seeing enemy troops ravage his lands from the safety of his castle, "they can't take the land with them"

Siege warfare

In the Medieval period besieging armies used a wide variety of siege engines including: scaling ladders; battering rams; siege towers and various types of catapults such as the mangonel, onager, ballista, and trebuchet. Siege techniques also included mining in which tunnels were dug under a section of the wall and then rapidly collapsed to destabilize the wall's foundation

Advances in the prosecution of sieges encouraged the development of a variety of defensive counter-measures. In particular, medieval fortifications became progressively stronger — for example, the advent of the concentric castle from the period of the Crusades — and more dangerous to attackers — witness the increasing use of machicolations and murder-holes, as well the preparation of hot or incendiary substances. Arrow slits, concealed doors for sallies, and deep water wells were also integral to resisting siege at this time. Designers of castles paid particular attention to defending entrances, protecting gates with drawbridges, portcullises and barbicans. Wet animal skins were often draped over gates to retard fire. Moats and other water defenses, whether natural or augmented, were also vital to defenders.

In the Middle Ages, virtually all large cities had city walls — Dubrovnik in Dalmatia is an impressive and well-preserved example — and more important cities had citadels, forts or castles. Great effort was expended to ensure a good water supply inside the city in case of siege. In some cases, long tunnels were constructed to carry water into the city. Complex systems of underground tunnels were used for storage and communications in medieval cities like Tábor in Bohemia. Against these would be matched the mining skills of teams of trained sappers, who were sometimes employed by besieging armies.

Until the invention of gunpowder-based weapons (and the resulting higher-velocity projectiles), the balance of power and logistics definitely favored the defender. With the invention of gunpowder, the traditional methods of defense became less and less effective against a determined siege.

Medieval warfare

Posted by gargoyle on November 3, 2011 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Medieval warfare is the warfare of the Middle Ages. In Europe, technological, cultural, and social developments had forced a dramatic transformation in the character of warfare from antiquity, changing military tactics and the role of cavalry and artillery. In terms of fortification, the Middle Ages saw the emergence of the castle in Europe, which then spread to southwestern Asia.

Strategy and tactics

The experienced men leveled and tacticaly maneuvered the of medieval armies varied depending on the period and region. For larger battles, pre-battle planning typically consisted of a council of the war leaders, which could either be the general laying down a plan or a noisy debate between the different leaders, depending on how much authority the general possessed. Battlefield communications before the advent of strict lines of communication were naturally very difficult. Communication was done through musical signals, audible commands, messengers, or visual signals such as raising a standard banner or flag.

The infantry, including missile troops (such as archers), would typically be employed at the outset of the battle to break open infantry formations while the cavalry attempted to defeat its opposing number.if the cavalry met foot solders the pike men would get them. Perhaps the most important technological advancement for medieval warfare in Europe was the invention of the stirrup. It most likely came to Europe with the Avars in the 7th century, although it was not properly adopted by the major European powers until the 10th century AD

Once one side coaxed their opposing infantry into breaking formation, the cavalry would be deployed in attempt to exploit the loss of cohesion in the opposing infantry lines and begin slaying the infantrymen in the pandemonium. Once a break in the lines was exploited, the cavalry became instrumental to victory, causing further breakage in the lines and wreaking havoc amongst the infantrymen, as it is much easier to kill a man from the top of a horse than to stand on the ground and face a half-ton destrier (large warhorse) carrying an armed knight. However, until a significant break in the enemy infantry lines arose, the cavalry could not be used to much effect against infantry since horses are not easily harried into a wall of pikemen. Pure infantry conflicts would be lengthy and drawn-out.

Muzzle-loaded cannons were introduced to the battlefield in the later medieval period. However, their very poor rate of fire (which often meant that only one shot was fired in the course of an entire battle)[citation needed] and their inaccuracy made them more of a psychological force multiplier than an effective anti-personnel weapon.

Later on in medieval warfare, one handed cannons were introduced, the rate of fire improved only slightly, but the cannons became far easier to aim, largely because they were smaller and much closer to their wielder. Their users could be easily protected, because the cannons were lighter and could be moved far more quickly.


A hasty retreat could cause greater casualties than an organized withdrawal, because the fast cavalry of the winning side's rearguard would intercept the fleeing enemy while their infantry continued their attack[citation needed]. In most medieval battles, more soldiers were killed during the retreat than in battle, since mounted knights could quickly and easily dispatch the archers and infantry who were no longer protected by a line of pikes as they had been during the previous fighting


Posted by gargoyle on November 3, 2011 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

A mercenary is a warrior who fights for money,without concern for loyalty to national or ethnic identity. Long before standing armies, mercenaries would sell their services to the highest bidder, becoming valued professional soldiers.


Medieval Mercenaries

Posted by gargoyle on November 3, 2011 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

In medieval times, mercenary companies were extremelycommon. These soldiers would be hired as a complete unit, andfielded as such. The Genoese crossbowmen at theBattle of Crecy were such, as were the late-medievalItalian condotteri (literally "contractors").

Other examples of medieval mercenary companies included theVarangian Guard of Constantiople and so-called free-lancers: mounted horsemen with no fealty to a specificlord, literally a "free lance" who could be hired into service.

In period they were used to supplement (or substitute for) a kingdom's army -- their main drawback lay in the fact that, once the principle of fighting for money had been established, it was not long before the concept came along of changing sides in return for more money.

At one stage medieval Europe was lousy with mercenary companies, led by the like of Sir John Hawkwood or Roger di Flor, who had elevated their art from fighting for money (and spoils) to not despoiling a territory if they were given enough money to go elsewhere (qv Danegeld)

While highly sought after as skilled and disciplined warriors, theywere often reviled as being honorless hirelings. Mercenaries'value was increased by the fact that the feudal rule of "fortydays' military service" did not apply to them: they would be obliged to fight as long as they continued to be paid.


Welsh Rabbits and Hunted Hares

Posted by gargoyle on September 10, 2011 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Long, long ago, there was a good saint named David, who taught the

early Cymric or Welsh people better manners and many good things to

eat and ways of enjoying themselves.


Now the Welsh folks in speaking of their good teacher pronounced his

name Tafid and affectionately Taffy, and this came to be the usual

name for a person born in Wales. In our nurseries we all learned that

"Taffy was a Welshman," but it was their enemies who made a bad rhyme

about Taffy.


Wherever there were cows or goats, people could get milk. So they

always had what was necessary for a good meal, whether it were

breakfast, dinner or supper. Milk, cream, curds, whey and cheese

enriched the family table. Were not these enough?


But Saint David taught the people how to make a still more delicious

food out of cheese, and that this could be done without taking the

life of any creature.


Saint David showed the girls how to take cheese, slice and toast it

over the coals, or melt it in a skillet and pour it hot over toast or

biscuit. This gave the cheese a new and sweeter flavor. When spread on

bread, either plain, or browned over the fire, the result, in

combination, was a delicacy fit for a king, and equal to anything



The fame of this new addition to the British bill of fare spread near

and far. The English people, who had always been fond of rabbit pie,

and still eat thousands of Molly Cotton Tails every day, named it

"Welsh Rabbit," and thought it one of the best things to eat. In fact,

there are many people, who do not easily see a joke, who misunderstand

the fun, or who suppose the name to be either slang, or vulgar, or a

mistake, and who call it "rarebit." It is like "Cape Cod turkey"

(codfish), or "Bombay ducks" (dried fish), or "Irish plums" (potatoes)

and such funny cookery with fancy names.


Now up to this time, the rabbits and hares had been so hunted with the

aid of dogs, that there was hardly a chance of any of them surviving

the cruel slaughter.


In the year 604, the Prince of Powys was out hunting. The dogs started

a hare, and pursued it into a dense thicket. When the hunter with the

horn came up, a strange sight met his eyes. There he saw a lovely

maiden. She was kneeling on the ground and devoutly praying. Though

surprised at this, the prince was anxious to secure his game. He

hissed on the hounds and ordered the horn to be blown, for the dogs to

charge on their prey, expecting them to bring him the game at once.

Instead of this, though they were trained dogs and would fight even a

wolf, they slunk away howling, and frightened, as if in pain, while

the horn stuck fast to the lips of the blower and he was silent.

Meanwhile, the hare nestled under the maiden's dress and seemed not in

the least disturbed.


Amazed at this, the prince turned to the fair lady and asked:


"Who are you?"


She answered, "My mother named me Monacella. I have fled from Ireland,

where my father wished to marry me to one of his chief men, whom I did

not love. Under God's guidance, I came to this secret desert place,

where I have lived for fifteen years, without seeing the face of man."


To this, the prince in admiration replied: "O most worthy Melangell

[which is the way the Welsh pronounce Monacella], because, on account

of thy merits, it has pleased God to shelter and save this little,

wild hare, I, on my part, herewith present thee with this land, to be

for the service of God and an asylum for all men and women, who seek

thy protection. So long as they do not pollute this sanctuary, let

none, not even prince or chieftain, drag them forth."


The beautiful saint passed the rest of her life in this place. At

night, she slept on the bare rock. Many were the wonders wrought for

those who with pure hearts sought her refuge. The little wild hares

were under her special protection, and they are still called

"Melangell's Lambs."



Referenced from


For more welsh folklore from this site, go to


The Death of Cu Chulainn

Posted by gargoyle on July 17, 2011 at 5:57 PM Comments comments (0)

When Cu Chulainn�s foes came for the last time against him, his land was filled with smoke and flame, the weapons fell from their racks, and the day of his death drew nigh. The evil tidings were brought to him, and the maiden Leborcham bade him arise, though he was worn out with fighting in defence of the plain of Muirthemne, and Niam, wife of Conall the Victorious, also spoke to him; so he sprang to his arms, and flung his mantle around him; but the brooch fell and pierced his foot, forewarning him. Then he took his shield and ordered his charioteer Loeg to harness his horse, the Gray of Macha.


�I swear by the gods by whom my people swear,� said Loeg, �though the men of Conchobar�s province were around the Gray of Macha, they could not bring him to the chariot. I never refused thee till today. If thou wilt, come thou, and speak with the Gray himself.�


Cu Chulainn went to him. And thrice did the horse turn his left side to his master. On the night before, the Morrigu had broken the chariot, for she liked not Cu Chulainn�s going to the battle, for she knew that he would not come again to Emain, Macha. Then Cu Chulainn reproached his horse, saying that he was not wont to deal thus with his master.


Thereat the Gray of Macha came and let his big round tears of blood fall on Cu Chulainn�s feet. And then Cu Chulainn leaped into the chariot, and drove it suddenly southwards along the Road of Midluachar.


And Leborcham met him and besought him not to leave them; and the thrice fifty queens who were in Emain Macha and who loved him cried to him with a great cry. And when he turned his chariot to the right, they gave a scream of wailing and lamentation, and smote their hands, for they knew that he would not come to them again.


The house of his nurse that had fostered him was before him on the road. He used to go to it whenever he went driving past her southwards and from the south. And she kept for him always a vessel with drink therein. Now he drank a drink and fared forth, bidding his nurse farewell. Then he saw three Crones, blind of the left eye, before him on the road. They had cooked on spits of rowantree a dog with poisons and spells. And one of the things that Cu Chulainn was bound not to do, was going to a cooking-hearth and consuming the food. And another of the things that he must not do, was eating his namesake�s flesh. He sped on and was about to pass them, for he knew that they were not there for his good.


Then said a Crone to him: �Visit us, O Cu Chulainn.�


�I will not visit you in sooth,� said Cu Chulainn.


�The food is only a hound,� said she. �Were this a great cooking-hearth thou wouldst have visited us. But because what is here is little, thou comest not. Unseemly are the great who endure not the little and poor.�


Then he drew nigh to her, and the Crone gave him the shoulder�blade of the hound out of her left hand. And then Cu Chulainn ate it out of his left hand, and put it under his left thigh. The hand that took it and the thigh under which he put it were seized from trunk to end, so that the normal strength abode not in them.


Then he drove along the Road of Midluachar around Sliab Fuait; and his enemy Erc son of Cairbre saw him in his chariot, with his sword shining redly in his hand, and the light of valor hovering over him, and his three-hued hair like strings of golden thread over the edge of the anvil of some cunning craftsman.


�That man is coming towards us, O men of Erin!� said Erc; �await him.� So they made a fence of their linked shields, and at each corner Erc made them place two of their bravest feigning to fight each other, and a satirist with each of these pairs, and he told the satirists to ask Cu Chulainn for his spear, for the sons of Calatin had prophesied of his spear that a king would be slain by it, unless it were given when demanded. And he made the men of Erin utter a great cry. And Cu Chulainn rushed against them in his chariot, performing his three thunder-feats; and he plied his spear and sword; so that the halves of their heads and skulls and hands and feet, and their red bones were scattered broadcast throughout the plain of Muirthemne, in number like to the sands of the sea and stars of heaven and dewdrops of May, flakes of snow, hailstones, leaves in the forest, buttercups on Mag Breg, and grass under the hoofs of herds on a day in summer. And gray was the field with their brains after that onslaught and plying of weapons which Cu Chulainn dealt unto them.


Then he saw one of the pairs of warriors contending together, and the satirist called on him to intervene, and Cu Chulainn leaped at them, and with two blows of his fist dashed out their brains.


�That spear to me!� said the satirist.


�I swear what my people swear,� said Cu Chulainn, �thou dost not need it more than I do. The men of Erin are upon me here and I am attacking them.�


�I will revile thee if thou givest it not,� said the satirist.


�I have never yet been reviled because of my niggardliness or my churlishness.�


With that Cu Chulainn flung the spear at him with its handle foremost, and it passed through his head and killed nine on the other side of him.


And Cu Chulainn drove through the host, but Lugaid son of Cu Roi the spear.


�What will fall by this spear, O sons of Calatin?� asked Lugaid. �A king will fall by that spear,� said the sons of Calatin. Then Lugaid flung the spear at Cu Chulainn�s chariot, and it reached the charioteer, Loeg mac Riangabra, and all his bowels came forth on the cushion of the chariot.


Then said Loeg, �Bitterly have I been wounded,� etc. Thereafter Cu Chulainn drew out the spear, and Loeg bade him farewell. Then said Cu Chulainn: �Today I shall be warrior and I shall be charioteer also.�


Then he saw the second pair contending, and one of them said it was a shame for him not to intervene. And Cu Chulainn sprang upon them and dashed them into pieces against a rock.


�That spear to me, O Cu Chulainn!� said the satirist.


�I swear what my people swear, thou dost not need the spear more than I do. On my hand and my valor and my weapons it rests today to sweep the four provinces of Erin today from the plain of Muirthemne.�


�I will revile thee,� said the satirist.


�I am not bound to grant more than one request this day, and, moreover, I have already paid for my honor.�


�I will revile Ulster for thy default,� said the satirist. �Never yet has Ulster been reviled for my refusal nor for my churlishness. Though little of my life remains to me, Ulster shall not be reviled this day.�


Then Cu Chulainn cast his spear at him by the handle and it went through his head and killed nine behind him, and Cu Chulainn drove through the host even as he had done before.


Then Erc son of Cairbre took the spear. �What shall fall by this spear, O sons of Calatin?� said Erc son of Cairbre


�Not hard to say: a king falls by that spear,� said the sons of Calatin.


�I heard you say that a king would fall by the spear which Lugaid long since cast.�


�And that is true,� said the sons of Calatin. �Thereby fell the king of the charioteers of Erin, namely Cu Chulainn�s charioteer, Loeg mac Riangabra.�


Now Erc cast the spear at Cu Chulainn, and it lighted on his horse, the Gray of Macha. Cu Chulainn snatched out the spear. And each of them bade the other farewell. Thereat the Gray of


Macha left him with half the yoke under his neck and went into the Gray�s Linn in Sliab Fuait.


Thereupon Cu Chulainn again drove through the host and saw the third pair contending, and he intervened as he had done before, and the satirist demanded his spear and Cu Chulainn at first refused it.


�I will revile thee,� said the satirist.


�I have paid for my honor today. I am not bound to grant more than one request this day.�


�I will revile Ulster for thy fault.�


�I have paid for Ulster�s honor,� said Cu Chulainn.


�I will revile thy race,� said the satirist.


�Tidings that I have been defamed shall never reach the land I have not reached. For little there is of my life remaining.~~


So Cu Chulainn flung the spear to him, handle foremost, and it went through his head and through thrice nine other men.


��Tie grace with wrath, O Cu Chulainn,� said the satirist.


Then Cu Chulainn for the last time drove through the host, and Lugaid took the spear, and said:


�What will fall by this spear, O sons of Calatin?�


�I heard you say that a king would fall by the spear that Erc cast this morning.�


�That is true,� said they, �the king of the steeds of Erin fell by it, namely the Gray of Macha.�


Then Lugaid flung the spear and struck Cu Chulainn, and his bowels came forth on the cushion of the chariot, and his only horse, the Black Sainglenn, fled away, with half the yoke hanging to him, and left the chariot and his master, the king of the heroes of Erin, dying alone on the plain.


Then said Cu Chulainn, �I would fain go as far as that loch to drink a drink thereout.�


�We give thee leave,� said they, �provided that thou come to us again.�


�I will bid you come for me,� said Cu Chulainn, �if I cannot come myself.�


Then he gathered his bowels into his breast, and went forth to the loch.


And there he drank his drink, and washed himself, and came forth to die, calling on his foes to come to meet him.


Now a great mearing went westwards from the loch and his eye lit upon it, and he went to a pillar-stone which is in the plain, and he put his breast-girdle round it that he might not die seated nor lying down, but that he might die standing up. Then came the men all around him, but they durst not go to him, for they thought he was alive.


�It is a shame for you,� said Erc son of Cairbre, �not to take that man�s head in revenge for my father�s head which was taken by him.�


Then came the Gray of Macha to Cu Chulainn to protect him so long as his soul was in him and the �hero�s light� out of his forehead remained. And the Gray of Macha wrought three red route all around him. And fifty fell by his teeth and thirty by each of his hoofs. This is what he slew of the host. And hence is the saying, �Not keener were the victorious courses of the Gray of Macha after Cu Chulainn�s slaughter.�


And then came the battle goddess Morrigu and her sisters in the form of scald-crows and sat on his shoulder. �That pillar Is not wont to be under birds,� said Erc son of Cairbre.


Then Lugaid arranged Cu Chulainn�s hair over his shoulder, and cut off his head. And then fell the sword from Cu Chulainn�s hand, and smote off Lugaid�s right hand, which fell on the ground. And Cu Chulainn�s right hand was cut off in revenge for this. Lugaid and the hosts then marched away, carrying with them Cu Chulainn�s bead and his right hand, and they came to Tara, and there is the �Sick-bed� of his head and his right hand, and the full of the cover of his shield of mould.


From Tara they marched southwards to the river Liffey. But meanwhile the hosts of Ulster were hurrying to attack their foes, and Conall the Victorious, driving in front of them, met the Gray of Macha streaming with blood. Then Conall knew that Cu Chulainn had been slain. And he and the Gray of Macha sought Cu Chulainn�s body. They saw Cu Chulainn at the pillar-stone. Then went the Gray of Macha and laid his head on Cu Chulalnn�s breast And Conall said, �A heavy care to the Gray of Macha is that corpse.�


And Conall followed the hosts meditating vengeance, for he was bound to avenge Cu Chulainn. For there was a comrades� covenant between Cu Chulainn and Conall the Victorious, namely, that whichever of them was first killed should be avenged by the other. �And if I be the first killed,� Cu Chulainn had said, �how soon wilt thou avenge me?�


�The day on which thou shalt be slain,� said Conall, �I will avenge thee before that evening. And if I be slain,� said Conall, �how soon wilt thou avenge me?�


�Thy blood will not be cold on earth,� said Cu Chulainn, �before I shall avenge thee.� So Conall pursued Lugaid to the Liffey.


Then was Lugaid bathing. �Keep a lookout over the plain,� said he to his charioteer, �that no one come to us without being seen."


The charioteer looked. �One horseman is here coming to us,� said he, �and great are the speed and swiftness with which he comes. Thou wouldst deem that all the ravens of Erin were above him. Thou wouldst deem that flakes of snow were specking the plain before him.�


�Unbeloved is the horseman that comes there,� said Lugaid. �It is Conall the Victorious, mounted on the Dewy-Red. The birds thou sawest above him are the sods from that horse�s hoofs. The snow-flakes thou sawest specking the plain before him are the foam from that horse�s lips and from the curbs of his bridle. Look again,� said Lugaid, �what road is he coming?�


�He is coming to the ford,� said the charioteer, �the path that the hosts have taken.�


�Let that horse pass us,� said Lugaid. �We desire not to fight against him.� But when Conall reached the middle of the ford be spied Lugaid and his charioteer and went to them.


�Welcome is a debtor�s face!� said Conall. �He to whom he oweth debts demands them of him. I am thy creditor for the slaying of my comrade Cu Chulainn, and here I am suing thee for this.�


They then agreed to fight on the plain of Argetros, and there Conall wounded Lugaid with his javelin. Thence they went to a place called Ferta Lugdach.


�I wish,� said Lugaid, �to have the truth of men from thee.�


�What is that?� asked ConaIl the Victorious.


�That thou shouldst use only one hand against me, for one hand only have I."


�Thou shalt have it,� said Conall the Victorious.


So Conall�s hand was bound to his side with ropes. There for the space between two of the watches of the day they fought, and neither of them prevailed over the other. When Conall found that he prevailed not, he saw his steed the Dewy-Red by Lugaid. And the steed came to Lugaid and tore a piece out of his side.


�Woe is met� said Lugaid, �that is not the truth of men, O Conall.�


�I gave it only on my own behalf,� said Conall. �I gave it not on behalf of savage beasts and senseless things.�


�I know now,� said Lugaid, �that thou wilt not go till thou takest my head with thee, since we took Cu Chulainn�s head from him. So take,� said he, �my head in addition to thine own, and add my realm to thy realm, and my valor to thy valor. For I prefer that thou shouldst be the best hero in Erin.�


Thereat Conall the Victorious cut off Lugaid�s head. And Conall and his Ulstermen then returned to Emain Macha. That week they entered it not in triumph. But the soul of Cu Chulainn ap�peared there to the thrice fifty queens who had loved him, and they saw him floating in his phantom chariot over Emain Macha, and they heard him chant a mystic song of the coming of Christ and the Day of Doom.

The Tragic Death of Celtchar mac Uthechair

Posted by gargoyle on July 17, 2011 at 5:54 PM Comments comments (0)

1. Whence is the tragical death of Celtchar mac Uthechair? Not hard to tell. There was a famous man of the men of Ulster, even Blái the Hospitaller. He owned seven herds of cattle, seven score kine in each herd, and a plough-team with each herd. He also kept a guest-house. Now it was a geis for him that a woman should come in a company to his house without his sleeping with her, unless her husband were in her company. Then Brig Brethach, wife of Celtchar, went to his house. ‘Not good is what thou hast done, woman,’ said Blái the Hospitaller. ‘Thy coming to me as thou hast come is a geis to me.’ ‘it is a wretched man,’ said the woman, ‘that violates his own gessa.’ ‘Tis true. I am an old man, and more­over thou art inciting me,’ said he. That night he sleeps with her.


2. Celtchar came to know that; and he went to seek his wife. Blái the Hospitaller went until he was by the side of Conchobar in the royal house. Celtchar also went until he was on the floor of the royal house. There were Conchobar and Cáchulinn playing a game of fidchell; and Blái the Hospitaller’s chest was over the play-board between them. And Celtchar plants a spear through him so that it stuck in the wattle of the wall behind him, so that a drop (of blood) from the point of the spear fell upon the board.


3. ‘Forsooth, Cúchulinn!’ said Conchobar. ‘Indeed, then, Conchobar!’ said Cúchulinn. The board is measured from the drop hither and thither to know to which of them it was nearer. Now the drop was nearer to Conchobar, and it was the longer till revenge. Blái the Hospitaller, however, died. Celtchar escaped until he was in the land of the Déisi of Munster in the south.


4. ‘This is bad, O Conchobar!’ said the men of Ulster. ‘This means the ruin of the Déisi. It was enough that we should lose the man who has died, and let Celtchar come (back) to his land,’ said the men of Ulster. ‘Let him come, then,’ said Conchobar; ‘and let his son go for him, and let him be his safeguard.’ At that time with the men of Ulster a father’s crime was not laid upon his son, nor a son’s crime upon the father. So he went to summon him until he was in the south.


5. ‘Wherefore hast thou come, my son?’ said Celtchar. ‘That thou mayst come to thy land,’ said the lad. ‘What is my safeguard?’ ‘I,' said the lad. ‘True,’ said he. ‘Subtle is the treachery which the men of Ulster practise upon me, that I should go on my son’s guarantee.’ ‘Subtle shall be his name and the name of his offspring,’ said the druid. ‘Wait, lad,’ said Celtchar, ‘and I will go (with thee).’


6. This is done, and hence is Semuinea in the land of the Déisi.


7. However, this is the fine which was demanded for Blái the Hospitaller, to free them from the three worst pests that would come into Ulster in his time.


8. Then Conganchnes mac Dedad went to avenge his brother, even Curoi son of Daire mac Dedad, upon the men of Ulster. He devastated Ulster greatly. Spears or swords hurt him not, but sprang from him as from horn.


9. ‘Free us from this pest, O Celtchar!’ said Couchobar. ‘Surely I will,’ said Celtchar. And on a certain day he went to converse with the Horny-skin so that he beguiled him, promising to him his daughter, even Niam daughter of Celtchar, as well as a dinner for a hundred every afternoon to be supplied to him. Then the woman beguiled him, saying to him: ‘Tell me,’ she said, ‘how you may be killed.’ ‘Red-hot iron spits have to be thrust into my soles and through my shins.’ Then she told her father that he should have two large spits made, and a sleeping spell put upon them, and that he should gather a large host to himself. And so it was done. And they went on their bellies, and the spears were thrust into his soles with sledge-hammers and right through his marrow, so that he fell by him. And Celtchar cut off his head, over which a cairn was raised, viz, a stone was placed by every man that came there.


10. And this is the second pest, even the Dun Mouse, viz, a whelp which the son of the widow had found in the hollow of an oak, and which the widow had reared till it was big. At last then it turned upon the sheep of the widow; and it killed her kine, and her son, and killed herself, and then went to the Glen of the Great Sow. Every night it would devastate a liss in Ulster, and every day it lay asleep. ‘Free us from it, O Celtchar!’ said Conchobar. And Celtchar went into a wood and brought out a log of alder; and a hole was dug in it as long as his arms, and he boiled it in fragrant herbs and in honey and in grease until it was soft and tough. Celtchar went towards the cave in which the Dun Mouse used to sleep, and he enters the cave early before the Dun Mouse came after the slaughter. It came, and its snout raised high in the air at the smell of the wood. And Celtchar pushes the wood out through the cave towards it. The hound takes it in his jaws, and puts his teeth into it, and the teeth dave in the tough wood. Celtchar pulls the wood towards him; and the hound pulls at the other side; and Celtchar puts his arm along the log (inside) and took its heart out through its jaws so that he had it in his hand. And he took its head with him.


11. And that day, at the end of a year afterwards, cow-herds were by the side of the cairn of Horny-skin, and heard the squealing of whelps in the cairn. And they dug up the cairn and found three whelps in it, viz, a dun hound, and a hound with small spots, and a black hound. The hound with the small spots was given as a present to Mac Datho of Leinster; and for its sake multitudes of the men of Ireland fell in the house of Mac Datho, and Ailbe was the name of that hound. And it would be to Culand the smith that the dun hound was given, and the black hound was Celtchar’s own Dóelchú. It let no man take hold of it save Celtchar. Once upon a time Celtchar was not at home, and the hound was let out, and the people of his household could not catch it; and it turned among the cattle and the flocks, and at last it would destroy a living creature every night in Ulster.


12. ‘Free us from that pest, O Celtchar!’ said Conchobar. Celtchar went towards the glen in which the hound was, and a hundred warriors with him, and three times he calls the hound until they saw it coming towards them, making straight for Celtchar until it was licking his feet. ‘It is sad, indeed, what the hound does,’ said all. ‘I will no longer be incriminated for thy sake!’ said Celtchar, giving it a blow with the lúin of Celtchar, so that he brought out its heart, whereupon it died. ‘Woe!’ cried everybody. ‘‘Tis true,’ said he, as he raised the spear, when a drop of the hound’s blood ran along the spear and went through him to the ground, so that he died of it. And his lament was set up and his stone and tomb were raised there. So this is the Tragical Death of Blái the Hospitaller, and of Horny-skin, and of Celtchar the son of Uthechar. Finit.



Meyer, Kuno. Death-Tales of the Ulster Heroes.


The Boyhood Deeds of CuChulainn

Posted by gargoyle on July 17, 2011 at 5:51 PM Comments comments (0)

The Boyhood Deeds of CuChulainn

"This boy," said Fergus, " was reared in his father'sand his mother's house, by the seaside northwards in the plain of Muirthemene,where someone gave him an account of the macrad or "boy-corps"ofEmain Macha; how that Chochobar divides his day into three parts: the firstbeing devoted to watching the boy-corps at their sport, especially thatof hurling; the second to the playing of chess and draughts; the thirdto pleasurable consuming of meat and drink until drowsiness sets in, whichthen is promoted by the exertions of minstrels and musicians to indulgefavorable placidity of mind and disposition. And, for all that we are banishedfrom," continued Fergus "by my word I swear that neither in Irelandnor in Scotland is there a warrior like his (i.e., Conchobar's) counterpart.The little, lad then, as aforesaid, having heard of all this, one day toldhis mother that he was bent on a visit to Emain Macha to test the boy-corpsat their own sports. The objected that he was immature, and ought to waituntil some grown warrior or other, or some confidential of Conchobar'sshould in order to insure his safety, bind over the boy-corps to keep thepeace toward him. He told his mother that that was too long an outlook,that he could not wait, and that all she had to do was to set him a coursefor Emain Macha, since he did not know in which direction it lay.

"It is a weary way from here," said the mother, for betweenthee and it lies Sliab Fuait".

"Give me the bearings," said he; and she did so.

"Away he went then, taking with him his hurly of brass, his ballof silver, his throwing javelin, and his toy spear; with which equipmenthe fell to shortening the way for himself. He did it thus: with his hurlyhe would strike the ball and drive I a great distance; then he threw hisjavelin, lastly the spear. Which done, he would make a playful rush afterthem all, pick up the hurly, the ball and the javelin, while, before thespear's tip could touch the earth, he had caught the missile by the otherend.

" In due course Cu Chulainn reached Emain Macha, where he foundthe boy-corps, thrice fifty in number, hurling on the green and practicingmartial exercises with Conchobar's son Follamain at their head. The laddived right in among them and took a hand in the game. He got the ballbetween his legs and held it there, not suffering it to travel higher upthan his knees or lower down than his ankle-joints, and so making it impossiblefor them to get in a stroke or in any other way to touch it. In this mannerhe brought it along and sent it home over the goal. In utter amazementthe whole corps looked on; but Follamain Mac Conchobar cried:"Goodnow, boys, all together meet this youngster as he deserves, and kill him;because it is taboo to have such a one join himself to you and interferein your game, without first having had the civility to procure your guaranteethat his life should be respected. Together then and at once attack himand avenge violation of your taboo; for we know that he is the son of somepetty Ulster warrior, such as without safe-conduct is not accustomed tointrude in to your play".

"The whole of them assailed Cu Chulainn, and simultaneously senttheir hurlies at his head; he, however, parried all the hundred and fiftyand was unharmed. The same with the balls, which he fended off with fists,fore-arms, and palms alone. Their thrice fifty toy spears he received inhis little shield, and still was unhurt. In turn now, CuChulainn went amongthem, and laid low fifty of the best: five more of them," said Fergus,"Came past the spot where myself and Conchobar sat at chess-play,with the young lad close in their wake.

"Hold, my little fellow", said Conchobar, "I see thisis no gentle game thou playest with the boy-corps."

"And good cause I have too," cried Cu Chulainn:"aftercoming out of a far land to them, I have not had a guest's reception."

"How now, little one, said the king, "knowest thou not theboy-corps" conditions: that a newcomer must have them bound by theirhonor to respect his life?"

"I know it not", said the boy, "otherwise I had conformed,and taken measures beforehand."

"Tis well," said the king: "Take it now upon yourselvesto let the boy go safe."

"We do," the boy -corps answered.

"They resumed play; Cu Chulainn did as he would with them, andagain laid out fifty of them on the ground. Their fathers deemed they couldnot but be dead. No such thing, however; it was merely that with his blowsand pushes and repeated charges, he so terrified them that they took tothe grass.

"What on earth is he at with them now?" asked Conchobar.

"I swear by my gods," said CuChulainn, "that until theyin their turn come under my protection and guarantee, I will not lightenmy hand from off them."

"This they did at once. Now," said Fergus in conclusion, "Isubmit, that a youngster who did all this when he was just five years old,needs not to excite our wonder because, now being turned of seventeen years,he in this Cattle-Raid of Cooley cut a four-pronged pole and the rest,and that he should have killed a man, or two, or three men, or even, asindeed he has done, four."

Conchobar's son Cormac Conlonges spoke now, saying. " In the yearafter that, the same little boy did another deed."

"And what was that?" Ailill asked.

"Well," continued Cormac, " in Ulster there was a goodsmith and artificer, by the name of Culann. He prepared a banquet for Conchobar,and traveled to Emain Macha to bid him to it. He begged Conchobar to bringwith him only a moderate number of warriors because neither land nor domainhad he, but merely the product of his hammer, of his anvil, and of histongs. Conchobar promised that he would bring no more than a small company.Culann returned home to make his last preparations, Conchobar remainingin Emain Macha until the meeting broke up and the day came to a close.Then the king put on his light convenient traveling garb, and betook himto the green in order to bid the boy-corps, farewell before he started.There, however, he saw a curious sight. One hundred and fifty youths atone end of the green ,and at the other, a single one and he was takingthe goal against the crowd of them. Again, when they played the hole-gameand it was their turn to aim at the hole, it being his to defend it, hestopped all thrice fifty balls just at the edge of the hole, so that notone went in; when the defense was theirs and it was his turn to shoot,he would hole the entire set without missing one. When the game was totear one another's clothes off, he would have the mantles off them all,while the full number could not even pull out his brooch. When it was toupset each other, he would knock over the hundred and fifty and they couldnot stretch him on the ground. All which when Chonchobar had witnessed,he said: "I congratulate the land into which the little boy has come;were his full-grown deeds to prove consonant with his boyish exploits,he would indeed be of some solid use."

"To this doubtful expression Fergus objected, saying to Conchobar,"That is not justly said; for according as the little boy grows, soalso will his deeds increase with him."

"Have the child called to us," said the king," that hemay come with us to share the banquet,"

"I cannot go thither just non," said the boy.

"How so? Asked Conchobar.

"The boy-corps have not yet had enough of play."

"It would be too long for us to wait until they had,' said theking

"Wait not at all; I will follow after you."

"But, young one, knowest thou the way?"

"I will follow the trail of the company, of the horses, and thechariot's tracks."

"Thereupon Conchobar started ; eventually he reached Culann's house,was received in becoming fashion, fresh rushes were laid, and they fellto the banquet. Presently the smith said to Conchobar, "Good now,O king, has any one promised that this night he would follow the to thisdwelling.?"

"No, not one," answered Conchobar (quite forgetting the littleboy); but wherefore do you ask?"

" It is only that I have an excellent ban-dog from which when hischain is taken off no one may dare to be near him; for saving myself heknows not any man, and in him resides the strength of an hundred"

"Conchobar said, "Loose him then, and let him guard this palace"

So Culann did; the dog made the circuit of his country, then took uphis usual position whence to watch the house, and there he couched withhis head on his paws. Surely an extraordinary, cruel, fearce and savagedog was he.

"As for the boy-corps, until it was time to separate, they continuedin Emain Macha; then they dispersed, and each one to his parent's house,or to his nurse's, or to his guardian's. But the little fellow, trustingto the trail, as aforesaid, struck out for Culann's house. With his cluband his ball he shortened the way for himself as he went. So soon as everhe came to the green of Culann's fort the ban-dog became aware of him andgave tongue in such a way as to be heard throughout all the countryside;not was it to carve the boy decently as for a feast that he was binded,but at one gulp to swallow him down. The child was without all reasonablemeans of defense; therefore as the dog charged at him openjawed he threwhis playing ball down his throat with great force, which mortally punishedthe creature's inwards. Cu Chulainn siezed him by the hind legs and bangedhim against a rock to such purpose that he strewed all the ground in brokenfragments.

"The whole company within had heard the ban-dog's challenge, atthe sound of which Conchobar said, "Tis no good luck has brought uson our present trip."

"Your meaning?" asked the others.

"I mean that the little boy, my sister Dechtire's son, Setantamac Sualtach, had promised to come after me; and he even now must be killedby the ban-dog"

"To a man the heroes rose; and though the fort's doors were thrownopen, they stormed over the ramparts

to seek him. Speedy as they were, yet did Fergus outstrip them; he pickedup the boy, hoisted him on his shoulder, and carried him to Conchobar.Culann himself had come out, and there he saw his ban dog lie in scrapsand pieces; which was a heart's vexation to him. He went back indoors andsaid, "Thy father and thy mother are welcome both, but most unwelcomethou."

"Why, what hast thou against the little fellow?" asked Conchobar.

"It was no good luck that inspired me to make my feast for thee,O Conchobar; my dog now being gone, my substance is but substance wasted;my livelihood, a means of living set all astray." Little boy ",hecontinued "that was a good member of my family thou tookest from me:a safeguard of raiment, of flocks, and of herds."

"Be not angered thereat," said the child;" for in thismatter myself will pronounce a just award."

"And what might that be?" inquired Conchobar.

"The little boy replied,"If in all Ireland there be a whelpof that dog's breed, by me he shall be nurtured till he be fit for actionas was his sire. In the meantime I, O Culann, myself will do the a ban-dog'sservice, in guarding of thy cattle and substance and stronghold."

"Well hast thou made the award," said Conchobar; and Cathbadthe druid, chiming in, declared that not in his own person could he havedone it better, and that henceforth the boy must bear the name Cu Chulainn,"Culan's Hound." The youngster, however, objected; "I likemy own name better: Setanta mac Sualtech"

"Say not so," Cathbad remonstrated; "for all men in theworld shall have their mouths full of that name."

"The boy answered that on those terms the name would be well pleasingto him, and in this way it came to pass that it stuck to him. Now the littlefellow," continued Cormac Conlonges the narrator of all this, "whowhen just touching six years of age slew the dog which even a great companydid not dare to approach, it were not reasonable to be astonished thoughthe same at seventeen should come to the border of the province, and killa man, or two or three, or four, on the Cattle-Raid of Cooley."

Another exiled Ulsterman, Fiacha mac Firaba, taking up the recital,said that in the very year following that adventure of the dog, the littleboy had performed a third exploit.

"And what was that?" Ailill asked.

"Why it was Cathbad the druid," continued Fiacha, " whoto the north-east of Eamain Macha taught his pupils, there being with himeight from among the students of his art. When one of them questioned himas to what purpose that day was more especially favorable,Cathbad toldhim that any stripling who on that day should for the first time assumearms and armor, the name of such an one forever would surpass those ofall Ireland's youths besides. His life, however, must be fleeting, short.The boy was some distance away on the south side of Emain Macha; neverthelesshe heard Cathbad's speech. He put off his playing suit and laid aside hisimplements of sport; then he entered Conchobar's sleeping house and said,"All good be thine, O king."

"Conchobar answered, " Little boy, what is thy request?"

"I desire to take arms."

"And who prompted thee to that?"

"Cathbad the druid," answered the boy.

"Thou shalt not be denied." Said the king, and forthwith gavehim two spears with sword and shield. The boy supped and brandished theweapons and in the process broke them all to shivers and splinters. INshort, whereas in Emain Macha Conchobar had seventeen weapon-equipment'sready for the boy-corp's service--since whenever one of them took arms,Conchobar it was who invested him with the outfit and brought him luckin the using of it-the boy made fragments of them all. Which done, he said"O my master, O Conchobar, these arms are not good; they suffice menot." Thereupon the king gave him his own two spears, his own sword,and his own shield. IN every possible way the boy tested them; he evenbent them point to hilt and head to butt, yet never broke them: they enduredhim. "These arms are good", said he, "and worthy of me.Fair fall the land and the region which for its king has him whose armsand armor are these."

"Just then it was that Cathbad the druid came into the house andwondering asked," Is the little boy assuming arms?"

"Ay, indeed," said the king.

"It is not his mother's son we would care to see assume them onthis day," said the druid.

"How now," asked the king,"was it not thyself that promptedhim?"

"Not I , of a surety."

"Brat," cried the king. "What meanest thou by tellingme that it was so, wherein thou hast lied to me?"

"O king, be not wroth," the boy pleaded; "for he it wasthat prompted me when he instructed his other pupils. For when they askedhim what special virtue lay in this day, he told them that the name ofwhatsoever youth should therein for the first time take arms, would topthe fame of all the other Erin's men; nor thereby should he suffer resultingdisadvantage, save that his life must be fleeting, short."

"And it is true for me,"said Cathbad;"noble and famousindeed thou shalt be, but transitory ,soon gone."

"Little care I," said Cu Chulainn, "nor though I werebut one day or one night in being so long as after me the history of myselfand doings may endure."

"Then said Cathbad again "Well then, get into a chariot, boyand proceed to test in thine own person whether mine utterance be true."

"So Cu Chulainn mounted a chariot; in divers ways he tried itsstrength, and reduced it to fragments. He mounted a second with the sameresult. In brief whereas in Emain Macha for the boy corp's service Conchoborhad seventeen chariots, in like wise the little fellow smashed them all;then he said, "These chariots of thine, O Conchobar, are no good atall, nor worthy of me."

"Where is Iubar mac Riangabra?" cried Conchobar.

"Here I am ," He answered.

"Prepare my own chariot and harness my own horses for him there"

"The driver did his will, Cu Chulainn mounted, tested the chariot,and it endured him. " This chariot is good, " he said, "and my worthy match"

"Good now, little boy," said Iubar, "let the horses beturned out to grass."

" Too early for that yet, Iubar; drive on and round Emain Macha."

"Let the horses go out to graze."

"To early yet, Iubar; drive ahead, that the boy-corps may giveme salutation on this- first day of my taking arms."

"They came to the place where the boy-corps was, and the cry ofthem resounded, " These are arms that thou hast taken."

"The very thing indeed," he said.

"They wished him success in spoil- winning and in first-slayingbut expressed regret that he was weaned away from them and their sports.Cu Chulainn assured them that it was not so, but that it was somethingin the nature of a charm that had caused him to take arms on this day ofall others. Again Iubar pressed him to have the horses taken out, and againthe boy refused. He questioned the driver, " Whither leads this greatroad here running by us?" Iubar answered that it ran to Ath an Foraire( the Look-out Ford) in Sliamb Fuait. IN answer to further questions withwhich he plied the charioteer, Cu Chulainn learned that the ford had thatname from the fact that daily there some prime warrior of the Ulstermenkept watch and ward to see that no foreign champion came to molest them,it being his duty to do single combat on behalf of his whole province .Shouldpoets and musicians be coming away from Ulster dissatisfied with theirtreatment, it was his duty, acting for the whole province , to solace themwith gold and other gifts. On he other hand, did poets and musicians enterhis province, his duty was to see that they had safe-conduct up to Conchobar'sbed-side. This sentinel's praise then would be the theme of the first pieces,in diverse forms of verse, the poets would rehearse upon arriving in EmainMacha.

"Cu Chulainn inquired whether Iubar knew who it was that on thisparticular day mounted guard. " I know it well," the charioteerreplied; it is Conall mac Amergin, surnamed Cernach (the Victorious) Ireland'spre-eminent warrior. "

"Onward to that ford, then, driver!" cried the boy.

"Sure enough at the water's edge they came upon Conall, who receivedthem with, "And is it arms that you have taken today, little boy?"

"It is indeed,"Iubar answered for him.

"May his arms bring him triumph and victory and drawing of firstblood,"said Conall. "The only thing is that in my judgment thouhast prematurely assumed them, seeing that as yet thou art not fit forexploits.."

"For all answer the boy said "And what dost thou here, Conall?"

"On behalf of the province I keep watch and ward. "

"Come," said the youngster. " for this day let me takethe duty."

"Never say it, " replied Conall, " for as yet thou artnot up to coping with a real fighting man."

"Then will I go down to the shallows of Loc Echtra, to see whetherI may draw blood on either friend or foe."

"And I ,said Conall, "will go to protect thee and to safeguard,so that thou wilt not run into dangers on the border."

"Nay " said Cu Chulainn. "Come not".

" I will so, Conall insisted, "for were I to permit thee allalone to frequent the border, the Ulstermen would avenge it on me".

"Conall had his chariot made ready and his horses harnessed; hestarted on his errand of protection and soon overtook Cu Chulainn, whohad cut the matter short and had gone on before. They now being abreast,the boy deemed that, in event of opportunity to do some deed of mortaldaring, Conall would never allow him to execute it. From the ground thereforehe picked up a stone about the size of his fist, and took very carefulaim at Conall's chariot-yoke. He broke it in two, the vehicle came down,and Conall was hurled prone, so falling that his mouth was brought overone shoulder.

"What's all this, boy?"

"It was I: in order to see whether my marksmanship was good andwhether there was in me the material of a good warrior."

"Poison take both thy shot and thyself as well; and though thyhead should fall as a prize to some foe over yonder, yet never a foot furtherwill I budge to save thee!"

"The very think I crave of thee, " said the boy;"andI do this in this particular manner because to you Ulstermen it is tabooto persist after violence is done to you." With that Conall went backto his post at the ford.

"As for the little boy, southwards he went his way to the shallowsof Loch Echtra, and until the day's end abode there. Then spoke Iubar:"If to thee we might venture to say so much little one, I should bemore than rejoiced that we made instant return to Emain Macha. For alreadyfor some time the carving has been going on there; and whereas there thouhas thine appointed place kept till thou come--between

Chonchobar's knees--

I on the contrary can do nothing but join the messengers and jestersof his house, to fit in where I may for which reason I judge it now fittingthat I were back in time to scramble with them."

"Cu Chulainn ordered him to harness the chariot; which being done,they drove off, and Cu Chulainn inquired the name of a mountain that hesaw. He learned that it was Sliab Morne, and further asked the meaningof the white cairn which appeared on a summit. It was Finnchairn; the boythought it inviting and ordered the driver to take him thither. Iubar expressedgreat reluctance and Cu Chulainn said, "Thou art a lazy loon, consideringthat this is my first adventure quest and this is thy first trip with me."

"And if it is, " said Iubar, "and if I ever reach EmainMacha for ever and for ever may it be my last!"

" Good now, driver," said the boy when they were on the topof the hillock; " in all directions point out to me the topographyof Ulster, a country in which I know not my way about." The charioteerfrom that position pointed out the hills and the plain lands and the strongholdsof the province.

"Tis well, O driver; and what now is yon well-defined glen seamedplain before us to the southward?"

"That is the plain of Bray (Mag Breg)."

"Proceed then and instruct me concerning the strongholds and fortsof that plain," Then Iubar pointed out to him Tara and Tailltiu, Clettyand Knowth and the brug of Angus mac Oc on the Boyne and the strongholdof Nechtan Sceine's sons.

"Are those sons of Nechtan of whom it is said that the number ofUlstermen now alive exceeds not the number of them fallen by their hands?'

"The same," said Iubar.

"Away with us then to the stronghold of Neectan's sons."

"Woe waits on such a speech; and whoseoever he be that goes thereI will not be the one."

"Cu Chulainn said, "Alive or dead, thither shalt thou go,however."

"Alive I go then ,and dead I shall be left there."

They made their way to the stronghold, and the little boy dismountedupon the green, a green with this particular feature; in its center stooda pillar stone, encircled with an iron collar, test of heroic accomplishment;for it bore graven writing to the effect that any man (if only he wereone that carried arms ) who should enter on this green,must hold it tabooto him to depart from it without challenging to single combat some of thedwellers In the stronghold. The little boy read the Ogam, threw his armsaround the stone to start it, and eventually pitched it, collar and allinto the water close at hand.

"In my poor opinion" ventured, Iubar " it is no betterso than it was before; and I well know that this time at all events thouwilt find the object of they search: a prompt and violent death."

"Good, good, O driver , spread me now the chariot-coverings thatI may sleep a little while."

"Alas that one should speak so; for a land of foemen and not offriends is this."

"Iubar obeyed, and on the green at once the little fellow fellasleep. Just then it was that Foioll mac Nechtain issued forth, and, atthe sight of the chariot, called out, " Driver do not unharness thosehorses!" Iubar made answer that he still held the reins in his hand-as sign that he was not about to unharness them.

"What horses are these?"

"Conchobar's two piebalds."

"Even such at sight I took them to be, " said Foill; "and who has brought them into these borders?'

"A young bit of a little boyo; one who for luck has taken armsto-day ,and for the purpose of showing off his form and fashion has comeinto the borders."

"Never let it thrive with him" said Foill; " were itsure that he is capable of action, it is dead in place of alive that hewould go back to Emain Macha."

"Indeed he is not capable, nor could it be rightly imputed to him:this is but the seventh year since his birth." Here the little onelifted his face from the ground; not only that but his whole body to hisfeet, blushed deep at the affront which he had overheard and said, "Ay,I am fit for action!"

"But Foill rejoined, " I rather would incline to hold thatthou are not."

"Thou shat know what to hold in this matter, only let us repairto the ford: but first, go fetch thy weapons; in cowardly guise thou artcome hither, for no drivers nor messengers nor folk unarmed slay I. "Foill rushed headlong for his weapons, and Iubar advised the boy that hemust be careful with him. Cu Chulainn asked the reason, and was told thatthe man was Foill mac Nechtain Scene, invulnerable to either point or edgeof any kind.

"Not to me should such a think be spoken." He replied, "for I will take in hand my special feat: the tempered and refined ironball, which shall land in his forehead's midst and backwards through hisskull shall carry out his brain, so leaving his head traversed with a fairconduit for the air." With that, out came Foill ma Cechtain again;the little lad grasped his ball, hurled it with the exact effect foretoldand he took Foills' head.

"Out of the stronghold now the second son emerged on the green,whose name was Tuachall mac Nechtain, and he said, "Belike thou artinclined to boast of that much". Cu CuChulainn replied that the fallof a single warrior was for him no matter of boast, and Tuachall told himthat in that case he should not boast at all, because straightway he wouldperish by his hand. "Then make haste for thy weapons, " saidthe boy, " for in cowardly guise thou comest hither. "

"Away went Tuachall; Iubar repeated his admonitions. "Whois that?" asked the boy. He was told not only that he was a son ofNechtan but also that he must be slain by the first, stroke or shot orother attempt of whatsoever sort, or not at all; and this because of theextraordinary activity and skill which in front of weapon's points he displayedto avoid them. Again Cu Chulainn objected that such language ought notbe addressed to him. Said he, " I will take in my hand Conchobar'sgreat spear, the Venomous; it shall pierce the shield over his breast ,and after holing the heart within him, shall break three ribs in his sidethat is farthest from me." This also the boy performed, and took thevictim's head before his body touched the ground.

" Now came out the youngest of the sons, Fiannle mac Nechtain,and said, " But simpletons they were with whom thou hast had to do."Cu Chulainn asked him what he meant, and Fainnle invited him to come awaydown and out upon the water where his foot would not touch bottom, himselfon the instant darting to the ford. Still Iubar warned the boy to be onhis guard. " how is that then?" said Cu Chulainn.

"Because that is Fiannle mac Nechtain; and the reason why he bearsthat name is that it were a f`ainnle (swallow) or a weasel, even so forswiftness he travels on the water's surface, nor can the whole world'sswimmers attempt to cope with him. "

"Not to me ought such a thing be said, " objected the boyagain : for thou knowest the river which we have in Emain Macha, the Callan:well, when the boy-corps break off from their sports and plunge into itto swim, on either shoulder I take a lad of them, on either palm another,nor in the transit across that water ever wet as much as my ankles.

"Then he and Fainnle entered the ford and there wrestled. The youngsterclasped his arms around him and got him just flush with the water; thenhe dealt him a stroke with Conchobar's sword and took his head, lettingthe body go with the current. To finish up, CuChulainn entered the strongholdand harried it;

then he and Iubar fired it and left it burning brightly, then turnedabout to retrace their steps through Sliab Fuait, not forgetting to carrywith them the heads of Nechtan Sceine's sons.

"Soon they saw in front of them a heard of deer, and the boy soughtto know what were those numerous and restless cattle.

Iubar explained that they were not cattle, but a heard of wild deerthat kept in the dark glens of Sliab Fuait. He being urged to goad thehorses in their direction,did so; but the king's fat horses could not attainto join company with the hard-conditioned deer. Cu Chulainn dismountedtherefore and by sheer running and mere speed captured in the moor twostages of greatest bulk, which he made fast to the chariot with thongs.Still they held a course For Emain Macha, and by-and by, when nearing it,perceived a certain flock of whitest swans which used to congregate fromrocks and islands of the sea and for feeding's sake, infest the country.Cu Chulainn questioned further, and wished to know which was the rarerthing: to bring some of them back to Emain Macha alive, or to bring themdead. Iubar did not hesitate to say that bringing them back living wouldbe the more creditable by far; "for", said he, "you mayfind plenty to bring them in dead; perhaps not one to bring them in living."

" Into his sling Cu Chulainn laid a little stone, and with it ata cast brought down eight swans of the number. Again he loaded this timewith a larger stone, and now brought down sixteen. " Driver, bringalong the birds," he said.

"But Iubar hesitated. I hardly can do that."

"And why not?"asked the boy.

"Because if I quit my present position, the horse's speed and theaction being what they are, the chariot wheels will cut me into pieces;or else the stag's antlers will pierce and otherwise wound me."

"No true warrior art thou Iubar; but come, the horses I will gazeupon with such a look that they shall not break their regulation pace;as for the gaze that I will bend upon the stags, they will stoop theirheads for awe."

"At this Iubar ventured down and retrieved the swans, which withmore of the thongs and ropes he secured to the chariot. IN this mannerthey covered the rest of the way to Emain Macha.

"Lebocham, daughter of Aed and messenger to the king perceivedthem now and cried, "A solitary chariot-fighter draws near to theenow, O Conchobar, and terribly he comes! The chariot is graced with thebleeding heads of his enemies; beautiful white birds he has which in thechariot bear him company, and still unbroken stags bound and tethered tothe same. Indeed if measures are not taken to receive him prudently, thebest of the Ulstermen must fall by his hand."

"I know that little chariot-fighter," Conchobar said: "thelittle boy, my sister's son, who this very day went to the border. Surelyhe will have reddened his hand; and should his fury not be timely met,all Emain Macha's young men will perish by him. "

"At last they hit upon a method to abate his manly rage (the resultof having shed blood), and it was this: Emain Mach's women all (six scoreand ten in number) bared their bosoms, and without subterfuge of any kindtrooped out to meet him ( their maneuver being based on Cu Chulainn's well-knownmodesty, which, like all his other qualities, was excessive). The littlefellow leaned his head against the rail of the chariot and shut them fromhis sight. Then was the desired moment; all unawares he was seized, andsoused in a vat of cold water ready for the purpose. In this very vesselthe heat generated by his immersion was such that the staves and hoopsflew asunder instantly. IN a second vat the water escaped ( by boilingover); in yet a third the water was still hotter than one could bear. Bythis time, however, the little boy's fury had died down in him; from crownto sole he blushed a beautiful pink red all over, and they clad him inhis festive clothes. Thus his natural form and feature were restored tohim.

" A beautiful boy indeed was that: seven toes to each foot he had,and to either hand as many fingers; his eyes were bright with seven pupilsapiece, each one of which glittered with seven gem like sparkles. On eithercheek he had four moles: a blue, a crimson, a green, and a yellow one.Between one ear and the other he had fifty clear-yellow long tresses thatwere as the yellow wax o bees, or like a brooch of white gold as it glintsin the sun unobscured. He wore a green mantle silver-clasped upon his breast,a gold-thread shirt. The small boy took his place between Conchobar's knees,and the king began to stroke his hair. Now the stripling who by the timeseven years were completed since his birth, had done such deeds: had destroyedthe champions by whom two-thirds of the Ulstermen had fallen unavenged,--Ihold," said Fiachna mac Firabl, the narrator, "that there isscant room for wonder though at seventeen he comes to the border, and killsa man, aye, two or three, or four, all in the Cattle Raid of Cooley."



Hull,Eleanor,Standish Hayes O' Grady trans.,The CuchullinSaga,(London 1898),pp.135-154.

Ed.,LL,II 282-294

Gregory,Lady Agusta

Cross,Tom Peete and Clark Harris Slover, Ancient IrishTales, Figgis,Dublin, Barnes and Noble, 1969.

Kinsella, Thomas, The Tain, Oxford

The Birth of Cu Chulainn

Posted by gargoyle on July 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM Comments comments (0)

Dechtire, the sister of King Conchobar of Ulster, went, along with fifty other maidens, upon an elopement without the knowledge of the Ulstermen and Conchobar. No track nor trace of them was found, and the Ulstermen were seeking them to the end of three years.


Dechtire and her attendant maidens came then in the form of a bird-flock to the plain about Emain Macha, and destroyed the vegetation, so that they did not leave even the roots of the grass in the ground there. That thing was a great cause of vexation to the Ulstermen. They accordingly harnessed nine chariots for the hunting of the birds, for bird hunting was a custom of theirs. Among the hunting party were Conchobar and Fergus mac Roig and Amergin and Blai the Hospitaller and Bricriu.


The birds went before them southward across Sliab Fuait, over the Ford of Lethan and the Ford of Garach, and over the Plain of Gossa between the men of Ross and the men of Arda. Night then overtook them and the bird-flock escaped; so they unharnessed their chariots. Fergus went in search of a lodging, and he came upon a small new house, wherein be found a married couple. They welcomed him and offered him food, but he would not accept their hospitality because his companions were still abroad without shelter.


�Come thou with thy companions into the house, and welcome to you all,� said they. Fergus thereupon went out to his companions and brought them all in, both men and horses, so that they were all in the house (which bad suddenly become large and magnificent).


Then Bricriu went out, and he heard Cnu Deroil. He heard the sound of the wistful fairy music, but he did not know what it meant. He went toward the sound until he came upon a great, fair, adorned house before him. He approached the door, and, on looking in, beheld the master of the house.


�Come in, O Bricriu,� said he; �why standest thou outside?�


�Welcome indeed,� said a woman who stood beside the master of the house.


Bricriu regarded the handsome, noble-looking warrior, and asked, �Why does the woman also welcome us?�


�It is on her account that I welcome thee,� said the man; �is anyone lacking to you in Emain?�


�There is indeed,� replied Bricriu; �fifty maidens have been lost to us for the space of three years.�


�Wouldst thou recognize them if thou sawest them?� asked the man.


�I might not recognize them,� said Bricriu; �the lapse of three years or sickness of three years may perhaps cause ignorance or lack of recognition on my part.�


�Nevertheless, try to recognize them,� said the man. �The fifty maidens whom you seek are here in the house, and the chief of them is she who is here by my side. Dechtire is her name, and it is they who came in the form of the bird-flock to Emain Macha in order to induce the Ulstermen to come hither.�


The woman gave a purple, bordered mantle to Bricriu, and he went back thereafter to his companions. While returning to his company, Bricriu thought to himself as follows: �These fifty maidens who are lacking to Conchobar-to find them would be to flatter him. Therefore I will conceal from him that I have found his sister with her attendants; I will only say that I have found a house and a company of lovely women therein.�


When Bricriu arrived, Conchobar asked him the news.


�What is that to thee?� asked Bricriu. �I came upon a magnificent house; therein I saw a queen radiant and noble, dear and lovable; a company of women fair and pure; a household generous and shining.�


�Off with you to the house,� commanded Conchobar. �The master of that house is a subject of mine, for it is in my land he dwells. Let his wife come and sleep with me to-night.�


No one was found who would go upon this errand except Fergus. He went and spoke his message, and he was welcomed and the woman came with him. She complained to Fergus that the pains of childbirth were upon her. Then Fergus said to Conchobar that a respite should be granted to her. Thereupon the company lay down beside each other and slept. When they awoke in the morn�ing, they saw a little boy in the fold of Conchobar�s cloak.


�Take the child to thee,� said Conchobar to his sister Finnchoem. When Finnchoem looked at the little boy beside Conchobar, she said, �My heart loves this boy so that he is the same with me as my own son Conall.�


�There is indeed little difference between them,� said Bricriu; �that child is the son of thine own sister Dechtire. She it is, who, with her fifty maidens, has been absent from Emain for three years and is now here.�


(The mysterious stranger who was with Dechtire was Lug Long-Arm, of the Tuatha De Danann. The little child was named Setanta until he slew the hound of Culann the smith, after which be was known as Cu Chulainn [Hound of Culann].)


Are You Thinking of Becoming An Elf????

Posted by gargoyle on July 13, 2011 at 11:42 PM Comments comments (1)

well i thought this would be a good place for us to post various things since i have heard from several other people interested in Elfdom... (is that a word? well it is now!) i will continue as more sites are discovered!


i know its D&D but it has good persona pointers


find a name