of the Seventh Mercenary Wars
As told originally by Ser Owen Godwinesson in the Red Book of Years
In those days,
The Black Falcon Mercenary Company and The Company of the White Wolves
jointly inhabited the mountainous regions of the far-flung lands of sun
and snow. They lived still for love of the fight and adventure. The Black Falcons had no quarrel with the White Wolves and often
traveled in concert with them on forays.
tradition, the two merry companies planned to meet in the Rædstan Weald
after midsummer for tests of arms. Many a year had passed since the
grim specter of war had haunted those two bands.
amongst the numbers of the Black Falcons were Ser Mælgrim Crouthur,
Lady Cynara deWakeley of Thorncomb, Herr Lance of the True Winds,
Thomas Phinney, Robert the Italian, Gregory the Brewer, and Bertrand
amongst those of the White Wolves Were Sir Ralamean of Ramsey, Sir
Flynn the Swift of Knightshire, Lady Faelan, Demian the Smith, Ceolmhor an
Lochard, Paul, Rowena, Haarold, and Aaron.
In the waning
days of winter, while rime still blanketed the Earth, a wisp of rumor began
to echo across the hills and glades of
the far-flung land of sun and snow and word reached the ears of the
mercenaries. Owen Cwiran was said to have been living in exile in the
dull, featureless wastes of the east; Stirrings were that he was
planning a return to Rædstan Weald to reclaim the captaincy of the
Company of the Mists, now known as the White Wolves.
throughout the numbers of the two companies as to the accuracy of these
reports; it was believed that lions in the realm of Gottland had fallen
upon Owen and devoured him. Naught came of the rumors though and many
moons passed without incident as spring passed into summer and the
festivities drew nigh.
arrived, the Black Falcons set out for the Rædstan Weald in order to honor
the traditions of their forbearers with tournament and merry-making. The cohort took rest at the Inn of the Golden Crescents, as was typical of
their yearly pilgrimage. There they found, already settled at the
mead-bench, the Company of the White Wolves captained by Ralamean of
Ramsey. Mælgrim embraced Ralamean at the glad reunion and after they
had supped, together they traveled along their path.
journeyed, Ralamean told Mælgrim of tidings he received while
at the inn. Once again word had come to him that Owen Cwiran was come
to the area and had been seen but days earlier at that very inn.
comrades-in-arms dispositions quickly changed from merry to morose, for
the company had no idea as to Owen's countenance or of his intentions. Fear was that Owen held still some anger in his heart for members of the
group whom he blamed for his exile; many believed that Owen would
gather his own band of war-hardened fighters to wreak his vengeance against
"Let us not be
in low spirits," spake Mælgrim, "for we are a hearty band of warriors
and surely a match for any that Owen could muster."
The company was
heartened by Mælgrim's words, but even he himself was wary of any
glade they passed through where they could be set upon in ambush. Still, the company arrived in the Rædstan Weald without incident and
the fellowship lightened their spirits once again.
arrival, the two companies set up camp, but as the White Wolves began to
break out their pavilions Mælgrim spoke, "Prithy, good fellows, while
we have no quarrel with you, might we still honor our traditions and
set ourselves in two different encampments so that we may re-enact the
battles of old?"
"But you have
surely chosen the finer location for your camp," argued Ralamean.
shall be welcome here at our encampment whenever we are at peace and we
will all feast here on the morrow," answered Mælgrim. "Raise your
camp and then return to this place and we shall hold the first
Satisfied, the Company
of the White Wolves went off to set up their camp in a secret
location. Once finished, they gathered their rebated weapons
for the tourney and returned to the Black Falcon's encampment. When they
arrived the tournament of sword was begun; the warriors chose their
favored weapons and met each other, one at a time, on the field.
sword-kindred fought with great skill and all proved themselves truly
worthy of the mercenaries' reputation for greatness with blades. In one battle Thomas brought down mighty blows upon Rob and caused a
break to his
nose. However, as the radiating sun settled in the west, only three
weary warriors remained; those three were Ralamean, Flynn, and
"The sky grows
dark," spake Flynn, "and I fear injury if we dare to continue this
contest into the night. We should retire for the evening and continue
this when the sun is full in the sky again." The other entrants agreed
and the two groups acquitted themselves to their lodgings.
wolves were heard on the hunt as most of the merry band slept in their
beds; Mælgrim, who stayed up late into the night planning events for the
following day, knew this to be a tiding of uncommon happenings in the
area, and as dawn drew near a hot wind blew in from the east. The day broke
clear and bright and, as the sun rose further
overhead, the two groups came together again to discuss the day's
When the issue
of the unfinished tournament was brought up, Mælgrim spoke, "I did not
sleep well last night. I was hoping that we might instead engage in
our planed melees and postpone the completion of the tournament until
tomorrow." The other two finalists agreed, and plans for the forest
battle were begun.
Just as the two
bands were about to layout the rules of battle, one of the mercenaries
arose, pointed east and shouted, "Look, a rider!"
turned to see a solitary figure upon a red steed; the man was clothed in
blue and carrying a spear supporting a blue banner emblazoned with a
white lion. The man's face was weather worn and he wore a beard thick
and dark. As he approached many of the group drew weapons as Mælgrim
stepped forward, hand on his sword pommel. As the man drew near,
Mælgrim sensed some recognition in the back of his mind, as did some
of the other mercenaries who had been with the two companies for long
commanded Mælgrim, "and name yourself and your purpose. For this
weald is for the Mercenaries of Shadow and Light at this time and has
been for many a year."
challenge the stranger replied, "Do you not recognize your
"Nay, I do not,
for all of my kindred you see here, gathered behind me."
stranger stepped down off of his horse and strode over to Mælgrim, "Well, I
recognize you Mælgrim Crouthur; the years have been kind and your face
is not scarred by time."
Mælgrim took a
hard look into the eyes of the stranger and the glimmer of recognition
grew in his mind, "Owen Cwiran! It is you! Five years has it been
since last I set eyes upon you. I had heard that you were devoured by
lions in Gottland."
"I have wandered
in the east for many years and I was set upon by wild beasts, but not
of the kind you think. The wastes of the east are a harsh climb and
men are forced to take what they can when they can. I was attacked by
robbers who called themselves the Lions; they wished to take me for all I
had. I was nearly overcome, but
I gave the whelps a taste of my steel that left a bitterness on their
tongues they shall not soon forget."
"It is well and
good," responded Mælgrim. "I have also heard that you return
to seek revenge on our band of mercenaries . . . though you do not come with
a company of your own."
"I am glad to
say that you have received false tidings in that regard," chuckled
Owen. "As you can see I have come alone; although my years in the
wastes of the east have granted me great skill in the arts of battle I
am certainly no match for such a band of war-worthy mercenaries."
"Then you mean
to return to our company? It is a joyous day indeed! Come and
your tankard and we will drink a toast," exclaimed Mælgrim, and
he embraced Owen as a brother, led him to the mead barrel, and both
companies drank a toast in Owen's honor.
When they had
finished, Mælgrim again spoke, "It is truly a great day that Ser Owen
Cwiran returns to our numbers."
"I do not go by
that name any longer," interrupted Owen. "While I was away in the
wastes, I learned of my true heritage and have taken the name Owen
"Then hail and
well met Owen Godwinesson," laughed Mælgrim. "Come and join my band of
warriors and fight alongside me as my brother-in-arms once again."
And with that, Owen was returned to his status as a Black Falcon.
Then talk turned
back to the business of the melees. Mælgrim stood on the table and
issued a charter containing the rules that were to be followed. The
text of this charter can be found in the appendixes of the Red Book of
Charter had been signed, Cynara arose and explained that she had hidden
a treasure somewhere in Rædstan Weald and that a series of five clues
would reveal a map, which would lead to the treasure. All the
warriors grew excited at the prospect of a treasure hunt and were
anxious to start the search. When Cynara passed out the
clues Owen, Thomas, and Bertrand went right to work on the riddles.
quickly deciphered several of the clues and went off to gather the map
pieces. While searching out the map pieces they were joined
by Rob, who told them that Mælgrim had been captured in an engagement
with the White Wolves.
decided to first collect the next clue, which was along the way,
and then to attempt a rescue of their
captain. As they were returning to camp to mount an offensive against
the White Wolves, they stumbled upon the enemy encampment. A scout of
the White Wolves espied them as they crept by and went to gather his
companions to assault the four but when the Wolves returned they found
that the lot had slipped through their fingers.
treasure seekers returned to camp they found that Mælgrim had worked
out his own ransom and no rescue attempt was necessary. They told each
other of their exploits and were heartened to learn they were
leading in the quest for the treasure.
It was then that
a messenger arrived bringing ill tidings. Raiders had sacked the
village where Rob had been born and he was needed straight away to see
after his aging parents. The company was saddened to see such a worthy
fighter lost, for now they were two men short of the other cohort. Even
though they lost a comrade, the Black Falcons went off to
pursue their quarry for the sport of battle. They found the White
Wolves waiting for them in the thick forest flanked by juniper and
crowded behind a wall of shields.
The beating of
sword on shield was so loud the clamor could be heard far and
wide; Mars himself wondered at the titanic clash. Blows rained in
from all sides upon the White Wolves until their captain Ralamean
called out, "HOLD! You have given us a goodly and true fight and my
soldiers are soundly defeated." And he offered his sword to his
opponent. With that, the Black Falcons rejoiced in their victory and
returned to camp.
After the battle,
both groups returned to the main encampment as dark and foreboding
clouds gathered in the west. Soon the sky let loose with a torrent
that could drown a muskrat and the fellowship decided to make their way
to the Inn of the Red Haired Maiden to take their repast in a dry
environ. While there, the two groups made plans for the upcoming
battles and discussed the clues that they had not yet unraveled.
they gathered themselves together for the next purposed melee, the
standard-bearer battle. Lance was chosen to carry the red banner of
the Black Falcons and Faelan was chosen to bear the standard of the White
Wolves. The Wolves, however, had lost their banner and were forced to
use a brown rag as their banner. When the two met at the appointed
battleground the Falcons made mockery of the lack-luster banner of the
Wolves. The ridicule presented to the White Wolves hardened their
resolve and when battle ensued they hewed a path through the Falcons
and forced Lance to surrender the banner. A bold cheer arose from the
victors as the Falcons despairingly slinked back to their encampment.
returned, the Falcons set their minds back to the task of solving the clues
that would lead to the treasure. They reexamined the three remaining
riddles and discovered that they had misread one and accidentally had
found the map piece from another clue. When they looked again at the
clue they had misread the answer became clear; within moments the
Black Falcons had the third clue.
While they were
copying down the map, Owen noticed some features that seemed to match
locations named in one of the remaining clues. They went and searched
the area where Owen believed the final piece to be, but found naught. While they were searching they heard the warning bell from their camp;
the White Wolves had gathered for an onslaught.
The pack quickly
returned to camp to defend the palisade that had been erected to
protect the banner. When the White Wolves moved in on the camp they
bombarded the Black Falcons with spears and arrows. The
Falcons responded in kind but so fierce was the assault that the
Falcons were soon brought down and the palisade fell.
engagement, the mercenaries gathered all in the Falcons camp to take
rest as they might. During that time, Cynarra decided that the search
for the treasure was taking too many hours and she offered help equally
to a representative of each faction. Each group asked two questions
and soon the groups were in pursuit of the map pieces once again. Thomas and Gregory went off to find one clue and the rest of the group,
having confirmed that Owen's assumption about the map was correct, set
back to searching for the final piece.
searching, it was discovered that the Falcon's simply had not gone far
enough down the path and Mælgrim discovered the final piece in a
hollow stump. Just then, three of the White Wolves emerged from a
thicket and set themselves upon Mælgrim.
first, "We are three and you are one, surely you are outmatched. Surrender now and save yourself a sound thrashing."
Mælgrim, fully aware that if he were captured he would have to give up
the final piece. "I would not surrender, I live for the fight. That
beside, we fight with rebated weapons and I have no fear of death."
Mælgrim swung madly with his sword and then turned and ran. In
pursuit were Flynn, Faelan, and Dameon. Flynn the Swift lived up to his
name as he quickly closed the gap on Mælgrim. Mælgrim felt Flynn hot
on his heels, stretched out his arm to grasp a small tree, swiveled
around and smote Flynn as he tried to adjust to the fleet actions of
Mælgrim. He then led the trio to Bertrand and Owen who readily helped
dispatch of them.
They then pieced
together the map pieces and revealed the location of the treasure. The
entire group armed themselves for battle and went off to retrieve the
treasure. Swiftly and silently they moved through the underbrush until
they found the treasure hanging high in the boughs of a tree. When
they returned to camp they divided the spoils and celebrated their
Unbeknownst to the Falcons, Faelan had been hiding in the shadows when the Falcons set off to retrieve the treasure. When she saw that the camp had been left unattended she crept in and began to rummage for any piece of intelligence that might gain her company an advantage. Attached to the underside of a table she discovered a map, which contained plans for an assault of the White Wolf encampment. So as not to be discovered, she copied down the information and replaced the document in the same fashion in which she discovered it. She then quickly fled that camp, unaware that the Falcons were returning, the treasure in their possession.
Then a break in
the melee was called and the mercenaries, dressed in their finest
clothes, joined for a feast. That evening roasted turkey legs, beef in
rich gravy, roasted potatoes, and all manor of delicacies were lain at
the table. Mead overflowed in their trenchers and joy overflowed in
their hearts. Adversaries from the day sat side by side and shared
tales of battles long since past and deeds done. Many a joke was told
that began, "So this fellow walks in to a pub."
Once the Feast
table was cleared the happy group moved to the fire circle where a
bardic was held. Pipes were played, lutes strummed, stories told, and
voices raised in song. More tales of brave feats were shared that
evening and when all was finished the pale moon had been in the sky for
At the end of the
merry making it was agreed that to honor the traditions of the
Mercenary Wars that a night battle should be staged. All agreed and
the White Wolves vanished into the night to make plans for the
It was then that
Owen, Gregory, Thomas, and Bertrand left to make an attempt at
capturing the standard of the White Wolves before they were prepared. They crept through the woods as quietly as leaves in the wind. As they
drew near to the encampment Thomas stepped on a twig and gave away his
hiding place. Then Owen and Gregory leapt out of hiding to aid their
comrade but were met by the entire force of White Wolves. The three
fought boldly but to no avail, the numerous blades that swept down
about their head and shoulders felled them. Bertrand stayed hidden in
the shadows however and crept ever closer to the standard where
eventually he was found out and, being alone, defeated.
to the encampment to tell the others of what had happened and to gather
reinforcements while Owen and Thomas stayed behind to attempt an
approach from a different direction. Little did they know that before
they had even arrived at the White Wolves camp the group had already
overwhelmed Mælgrim, Cynarra, and Lance and taken the banner of the
Black Falcons. With nothing left to guard, the entire Black Falcon
group assaulted the White Wolves encampment. As the engagement
continued Thomas and Owen crept closer and closer. They arrived at the
camp as the melee was ending and Thomas immediately leapt into the just
ended battle, where he was almost instantly slain.
Owen lay still
in the dark merely fifteen feet from the encampment waiting for the
numbers of the White Wolves to waver in their watch, still not aware
that the banner of the Black Falcons had already been stolen. He stayed unmoving for nearly
an hour. Many times he was certain he was caught, once even a member
of the Wolves came out to examine the perimeter, he stopped and poked
at Owen with his spear but Owen's cloak held true and kept him
concealed, even under such close scrutiny.
After a time it
became evident to Owen that the White Wolves had no intention of
slacking in their watchfulness. His leg and arm were now completely
numb and he decided to stand and face the enemy on his own. "If you
will allow me the chance of single combat, I will take each of you one
at a time."
"If you are
truly alone then it is well and good," replied Flynn.
"I shall have the
first go at him," exclaimed Faelan and she approached for the clash.
And then from
the shadows emerged Lance who said, "Very well, I see that you are
vigilant in your watch and there is no advantage to lurking in the shadows."
At that the
Wolves feared that more Falcons would soon emerge and went back on
their word as they all attacked Owen and Lance in concert. Lance was
defeated by Dameon as Flynn was felled while he and Faelan dispatched
Owen. From Flynn, Owen learned that the White Wolves had captured the
banners and thus Owen understood why they didn't seem to leave the
camp. So Lance and Owen returned to retire for the night and let the
White Wolves stare into the dark to protect their trophies.
In the minutes
before dawn the Black Falcons mustered themselves for a final, all-out
assault to regain their standard. They approached not in silence but
with weapons clamoring against armor and shield. The Wolves quickly
assumed positions around the banners as the clash began. Certainly
there would have been fatalities had not blunted weapons been
employed. The Falcons lost many of their number but managed to break
through the lines, waylay their opponents, and steal away with the
Back at the
Falcon camp, all knew that the Wolves would attempt to retrieve the
standards before the sun broke the horizon, the predetermined ending of
the night battle. The comrades at the camp quickly formed up inside
the palisade. The White Wolves rolled in like the tide onto the shore,
massed for battle. Owen had grabbed a bow and loosed several arrows. They bit into the enemy as several of the number dropped; then they
were upon the Palisade. It was not long before the stinging swords and
spears had dwindled the numbers of the Black Falcons. Fittingly,
Mælgrim and Owen alone were left holding back the onslaught; Owen
threw aside his bow and drew his sword. Standing side-by-side the
estranged compatriots mightily swung their bright blades, gnawing flesh
and breaking shield; but the assault proved too much for them, they
fell at the end of bitter spear and the Wolves reclaimed their prize.
As they scuttled
away with their loot in tow, the sun burst out from behind a layer of
clouds resting on the horizon; the night battle had ended.
concealed the true dawn," shouted one of the Falcons. "The battle is
ours! It was agreed that we would conclude as the sun peaked the
horizon and that must have been several minutes ago."
"Yes, that was
the contract," said another.
Mælgrim, "Who is to say when the dawn was when the mountains are
shrouded in cloud?"
"I agree. Besides, we lead in the contests to this point," chimed in Owen. "We
may yet still hold out hope of victory in the overall count."
"I have worked
the tally," replied Mælgrim, "and by my count we are locked in a tie, and
a tie it shall be. The Black Falcons and the White Wolves shall share
in the glory on the field this day; a fitting end to a well played
conference was called between the two assemblies to bring an official
end to hostilities. The two bands greeted each other as friends again
and sat side by side at the mead benches with trenchers full of mead. Tales of boldness and glory during the night grew as they passed among
the company until all had slain forty giants and seven dragons.
Then the call was
raised among the number to complete the unfinished business of the
tournament of sword. At that, Mælgrim rose to duel Ralamean. The
clash was thunderous, likened unto Hercules battling the great hydra. In the end it was Mælgrim who proved the better.
And then Flynn
strode forward saying, "Your task is not yet done. First you must face
me and then I, Ralamean."
And the two
charged at each other, clashing their sour steel and gnashing their
teeth. It was as though the Titans had returned to do battle for Mount
Olympus. Then misfortune struck it discords in the clash as Mælgrim
smote Flynn upon the hand and opened up a most grievous wound. Flynn
was forced to withdraw and, due to Mælgrim's previous defeat of
Ralamean, he was granted the victory by default.
Then Owen stood
and strung his old Yew stave and spake, "Long has it been since I have
stretched the bow against this cohort. I would have a chance to
reclaim my championship."
And those who
brought bow and had the want partook in the archery contest. First shot Mælgrim, "A fine flock I shall place in the target." And
he set to work loosing his quiver at the mark; a fine score was
He was bested
however by Flynn, who placed more arrows within the scoring areas of
the target. Several more archers attempted to best Flynn's fine score
but none could until Cynarra stepped to the line with only herself and
Owen to shoot. "I have practiced for this day. Long have I
waited to teach a lesson to Owen." And she placed her flight with such
skill that Flynn's mark was surpassed with ease.
"I see you have
all improved since last we faced off at bows," belted Owen with
confidence, "but I have had much practice in my absence and am more
skilled now than ever." And he strode to the line and placed all of
his arrows within the scoring zone of the target and bested all others.
Last came the
Champion's tournament, where the combatants had their choice of three
champions to duel. The Champions were those who had prevailed in the
previous year's contest; those three were Ralamean, Lance, and Flynn.
However, since Flynn was unable to fight, Faelan was chosen to stand in
his place. Many a battle of great repute was fought in those morning
hours. In the end it was Ralamean and Mælgrim left to fight each
other. They competed for time unending, it seemed to the lookers on,
until Ralamean proved his mettle the better and obtained the victory.
Then a ceremony
was held to signify the closing of the Seventh Mercenary Wars. Mælgrim stood and addressed the group, "as a gift to the fighter who
proved to be both great in skill and valor I offer this token." and he
produced a silver ring with an intricate design and handed it to Adam.
"To the victor
of the archery competition goes a fine quiver of arrows," said Mælgrim
and he held up a bunch of gray fletched arrows. "Owen, come and claim
"I have already
received my prize in that I have claimed victory in the competition,"
responded Owen. "And I already have a quiver overflowing with fine
arrows. Therefore, I would grant my prize to second place." And
Mælgrim handed the arrows to Cynarra, who accepted them graciously.
"And to the
victor of the Champion's tourney you may take your pick of these two,"
and Mælgrim held up in one hand a green and yellow cloak of silk with
gold sewn in at the hem; in the other hand he displayed a finely
knitted woolen blanket of midnight blue.
Of the two
Ralamean chose the blanket, "This shall keep me warm through the hard
winters of this land."
And Mælgrim was
left to claim the cloak, but instead of taking it for his own he turned
to Owen, "Since I did not truly win this prize, and you have offered
yours to my wife, I would that you should claim this excellent cloak
for yours. That beside, I expect I shall make as much use of the
arrows as she, for my quiver grows thin."
And Owen Gladly
accepted the gracious offering, "Now I shall need to have a tunic to
match; it is a fine garment that you give up."
Ceolmhor was asked to present herself in front of the company and
Mælgrim addressed her, "There are many attributes that make up a
person worthy of knighthood; chief amongst those is skill in battle. But skill in battle is not all that makes up a knight; there is also
valor, knowledge, and dedication. In these last three Ceolmhor is
truly rich and although her skill in battle is not that of many in our
brotherhood she is certainly most deserving of the rank. For these
reasons the brotherhood has determined to bestow upon you a
Knighthood of the Scroll. Kneel Ceolmhor an Lochard," and she did.
drew his sword and tapped her upon each shoulder. Then those that were
present of the order each gave Ceolmhor a buffet upon the head before
Mælgrim spoke again, "Now rise Lady Ceolmhor an Lochard, Knight of the
And there was
So it was that
the Seventh Mercenary Wars was ended. Hearken well and be content, for
my tale is well and truly done.
(here endeth the