Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fist Fight



William was enconsultating with a man, Ness knew not who he was. She elbowed him aside and raised a finger wagging up unto the Duke! “Now, tells’t me, Lord, what have thast done to rectify this grave offense against the house of Mortimer?!”

Men upon the drilling-grounds began to stop and stare thereat the spectacle. But Nesta could not feel their eyes upon her, for her cheeks had reddened up to welt from fear and insult ‘gainst her fair eld homeland wrought. Umber lost?

William said to her but naught. He met her gaze a moment, like him looking at a thing of nary but significance. A midge; a gnat; some fowl yet be dressed to cook.

“Lord, by what license dost thou yield my homeland and my right?” She did attempt again. But once again, with but a glance, he put the little woman in her place, upon a shelf perhaps, with toys at once outgrown. And once again, he turned to his companion and began to consultate.

She grabbed his riding jacket, made from worsted wool, maroon and gold, and  pulled, and tore it at the seam. The host assembled on the grounds let out a gasp in common then!

“Tells’t me, Lord William, you, you Bastard Duke, and make it good for all these men to hear it: By what right dost take thee up to rule above all Normandy?”

This by now hads’t won attentiveness from all the men, they drilling in the bailey. And won William’s mind as well.

He looked down at his sleeve, seam torn, held in her little manalet. He looked then at his other hand – his left. He flexed his fingers, as if working in a newly glove. And suddenly, made fist of it and struck Dame Nesta right across the mouth!

She reeled and hit the dirt. Her teeth were loose and nose had sprought!

“The left makes up the right, you scion of a house of faggot prigs. Arms and sword-craft, you - you glos poutonnier.[1] Mind your place, or I shall put you in it, little girl.”

She heaved upon the ground before assembled men.

Nesta tasted blood, and wiped some on her sleeve. Copper in the air spurred on her baser need. William turned away, reviewing all his men and shook out his left hand a bit in show so all who didn’t see should know what happened there. But just as he had brought his mind back to the consultation that he had, Nesta leapt upon his back and dug her fingers in his face about his cheek! She screeched, and knocked off his bycocket with a head-butt to his brain! Almost did she take him from his feet, she’d sprung with such ferocity!

He grabbed her off and growled, howled loud, so every man and woman in the castle heard the sound. Held her struggling within his iron hands above his head, and dashed her to the ground before him, right upon her back! She rolled and spun!

She turned up on her hands and knees, but then the Duke laid leather boot beneath her ribs, and something cracked. She prone upon her back collapsed. Ere, Nesta was now spent of her attack and could she breathe but nacht.

He slowly trod the several feet between the two and looked down at her, heaving at the stress and pain of mortal combat they betwain. Again, Duke William looked down at his broken sleeve, and tucked it in until the seamstress made it right again.

He stepped quite pointedly upon her pretty ankle. Once again, she at his mercy there.

“I yield, my Duke!” She coughed through broken lip. And off he stepped.

He bent low, hands on knees, and put his nose quite close to hers. He grabbed her by the nape, and lifted up her head a ways. And then he whispered in her ear, “Not what I shall do to keep your land. But what you shall do. What by right have you to rule that Umberland?” He dropped her head again, and crashed it to the dingy ground.

William called across the yard, “Take care of this. Put her into the donjon, there to flop it off.” He said some other things as men approached the scene, but Nesta couldn’t hear, nor see neh more.





[1] Fat scoundrel

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Longchamp's Soliloquy

Napoliyun du Longchamp




LONGCHAMP


It is among the animals and plants
Upon the Earth, and dirt and pestilence;
And pestilent doth make the men who on
The land do longwise gashes meant to make.

Behind the ox, ten grooves each Spring, for far-
ther than the grooves an ox cannot his plough
To goodly bring. And rather he, the far-
mer, then play bones with Fate for fate of ox

And for his fam'ly's weal doth make, he stops
The ox, and pauses, in fair sunshine or foul rain,
And turns the beast about and then they
Do depart again.

                         Ten times in one arpent,
The grooves within his Mother Earth dost Ev'-
ry peasant make; ten rows for planting, and
Then do his fam'ly members tuck the seeds
And under do they go.

                                  The seeds to sleep,
And in so slumbering, push do they
With fingers down, and touch the thing which gives
Us gain within The hallowed Globe there what's
beneath this place.

                             And after three-score years,
The man doth follow aft the oxen and
Make grooves, and plant the seeds, and then repeat
It, does he pass to sweet relief, and ne'er
Has he re-act the dreary thing. Adieu!


LONGCHAMP

The second of the three, mark: You,
Dear Nesta, as the world can plainly see,
Have done the second part of this, the sal-
ly from the part beginning, and ye to
The part which endeth all.

                                                  This part, I mean
To say, is that of steel and ringèd iron,
Aback of horses, bred to carry us
To valor; and then to our end. Take up
A banner, Nesta! That, though you high
-Born, and you ver’ly clever, have ye but
A single choice if ye intend to leave
To fated History your voice, like eld the sa-
gas of our ancestors did do.

                                                      It is
By sword, and not as other chance for you,
By cursèd cloth. The crown comes hard upon
The head of those do win it from a low-
ly state, but stowed with strain it comes by those
Betray the cornerstone of rulership:
Nobility. Ye noble or a beggar, Nesta dam?
Methinks the former-


NESTA

                                          -And you’d better!

LONGCHAMP

                                                                              Third.

The third life’s path that Man can take, in this
Time through the dreary-vast, is by the cloth,
And pray for those whose souls would otherwise
Be lost. A life perhaps the better than
The one of many peasants, but still on
the narr’ and rapid straits to sluggish mis-
ery, inferior to those high-ups
Above the salt in Mother Church it be.

I did’st know a man who, rather let
He let his passion run amok, and make
For trouble infangthief and honor lost
Without, did still ensconce himself within
The sill and cloister of a monastery
On a hill, and ne’er did he r’appear.

For six and thirty years, an elder man,
His passion spent. And had he spent those years
In earnest passion for repent. Repent
-eth for me too, this man did do. Wore he
The sackcloth and applied the ashes too,
And he did nary speak to anyone
Unless good custom did it shew to them.

But naught he taketh feast on sumptuare,
Nor use he excess flavorments, nor salt.
But naught he take in recess with the men
At sport and play within the common room
Or court. But naught did he raise up his voice
In happy-frain, but only with the dirge,
His voice uplift remain.

And all this did
He do, give he his life to God anew,
and never misery eschew, for his
Bald passion other might endanger vir
-tue, reputation, of his fam and hearth!

So which be worse, the worsening of life
For virtue, or the missing man, nay, lad,
From family a-gathered round their perch
A-dreadful mourning he who lives but from
Them separates, for honor due?

In mine own case, did I put in the ground
Each of my sisters, young and eld, and two
My goodly brothers, they both eld of me,
And mother and my pa. Each did I give
A plot from our inheritance, in kind
For each the other, side-by-side, as life
They passionate would be, sleep in sleepy
sap-André’s fair Val aux Clercs stone chap-
elry.

          With windows made for they of paint-ed
glass, installed so that their mornings and
Their eventides are pretty, like shewed in
Our vineyard that they knew’d in times long past.

But for my passionate dear sir, his name
Roosts, stayeth sacrèd in me now, for now
I wish not his pellation say, and so
Dishonor lineage and hearth he wished
To hide it from, I do so keep it near
To me in all our years apart, and nar
Did he escape from this, my sacrèd
for him heart.

And those three are the thrace good pathways three
To sweet oblivion, oublitted every
Man in History, but precious few.

And though the sainted Church and St. Marié
Just down the lane a ways, I have to been good
To patron for the years, and done
My works and days for Her, I can’t abide
A God who would’st call what we had shared
‘Abomination,’ and did cleave him from
His good vocation and from mine, the flow-
er of our youth, sublime, and dwellest there
In cloister nary-fair, a vulture under
Roost.



Saturday, July 28, 2018

Some Thoughts By My Son

My son is thinking about running a pirates campaign using our Mythical Journeys system.

R. Matey

THIS IS SO COOL because he's never wanted to run a game before! He ran one session years ago and didn't like it.

But Mythical Journeys is so laid back that it almost insists upon people wanting to pick it up and play.

Here are some ideas he's brainstormed:

Magic guns with ammunition with poison, or ice, or fire or whatever

Pirate class kind of like the 3.5e Ranger, where you can choose whether to be really good at shooting sidearms, or really good at using swords (or be a generalist and be adequate with both).

Necromancer pirates and Necromantic magic items.

Armor classes based on something other than platemail, for instance, because it's too heavy to wear at sea.

Monsters including the British Navy and monsters inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the Assassin's Creed pirate game.

Exploration of islands at sea.


Before my last big hard drive crash, I had a ton of great resources for generating instant island inhabitants, but I don't have that any more. Maybe Chris Tamm has some? Or maybe in Mazes & Minotaurs. It seems like there might be something in M&M.



Sunday, July 22, 2018

Lions Red and Gold Sample Chapter


I was asked to provide a sample chapter and rather than run it out on that platform, I'm running it out here. Some folks have had a chance to read it, but others have not. Here is the first chapter of my novel.

Lions Red and Gold


William the Conqueror and his Norman crest. The lions signify the territories of Upper and Lower Normandy, which he united through diplomacy and force during his youth. When he conquered England, he added a third lion.

It's really begging for someone to put a word balloon coming from his mouth containing something cheeky, isn't it?



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

I’m in Love with a Terrible Sport

That famous etching

Nobody plays baseball because they like playing baseball. They play because they are contractually obligated to play. It’s a kind of punishment. That’s why they have to put a wall around the field - to keep the players from running away.

It's also why they have to pay such exorbitant salaries: to attract people who would put themselves through the wringer like this. It's no wonder that major league baseball and various vitamin supplements have gone hand in hand since the olden days.

These poor sods get dressed in an underground dungeon dug out of the ground. They don’t even get to see the sun unless they’re on the field! They get driven around on a special bus, like prisoners.

It is a boring, horrible life.

But there are some perks to being a baseball player that bear mentioning.

You get to

  • spit on the floor, 
  • scratch yourself in front of thousands of people, 
  • smack butts,
  • generally act like a chimpanzee right out in front of lots of people - sometimes as many of 5500 or 6000 people will show up to a game (more in Boston and New York), 
  • and eat snacks all the way through the game!

Someone does your laundry for you and you get to dress up in a lot of different accessories. Gloves, mainly. Fielding, batting, base-stealing... all kinds of gloves. You get to wear makeup under your eyes. You get flip-up sunglasses. You get to wear a hard hat and a soft hat (sometimes both at once.) You play in a nice button-down shirt tucked into your pants (with a belt), socks and stirrups (what other activity requires two pair of socks?) and polished shoes. 

Polished. Shoes. 

Just like most activities, this act of collective self-flagellation gets better as you get drunker, so they sell lots of beer. But only for 7/9ths of the game for some reason. How children put up with this, I’ll never know. Cough syrup maybe. 



As you can clearly see. she drinks the beer while the filthy baseball is still inside it. That beer cost her like $13, and she can't have another one until they finally let her back out into polite society. She's not even playing and she's turned into a freaking savage!

It is a sport that is literally better to read about in the newspaper than it is to watch.

And yet...

And yet...




Monday, July 16, 2018

Harald and Elisiv


Elisiv

Harald grew like Yggdrasil in these good seasons there at court and then away at war. And took he interest in strengthening the bonds between his homeland and this land of Yaroslav’s. Yaroslav’s young daughter, Elisiv, was but a darling bud of nine upon the year of ‘34, and nary fit for marriage would she be. However, Harald courted her as courtiers would do, to woo the princess for her pretty blossom-time, when seasons come for kneeling fools, and rings, and babes in Spring. They cloistered up in courtyard, walked they by the compass, hand in hand through curtilage of castle court. Counseled up his cortege to them dote upon her like her ladies waiting, but for him report. Homage did he pay, and fair he gifted her to sway. He always did her keep him company when he at court, and wrote her little pretties and sent gifts back to her while he were abroad. Bench and bar did she attend and think upon him, and ere they heady were her thoughts of him, as she approachethed turning ten. So finally, whenceupon her birthday anniverse, he knelt and begged her hand, and did she well agree! So trothed were Harald Sigurdsson Hardrade, and Elisiv, she of Kiev!

She would not fit to marriage though, for still within her pretty dotage and her childhood would shew. Harald went he on campaign and well again took up his men, and this time went to Byzantine. And this were ’34.

For four years Harald learned the ways of Russian war. He was a goodly student. Also did he learn the Eastern forms of Christianity and knew then of their struggle ‘gainst the Turks. By anno domini 1034, Harald earned the rank of Captain, even though he had not learned the Slavic tongue. Communicated he unto his troops by whistle and by semaphore. This was the custom of the Russian southlands where a myriad of peoples were united for the purposes of war.

Sojourn

He and his close companions from the North decided then to travel east to Conastantinopolis. His skill in arms and horsemanship therein afforded him to rank of General of the new Vangarian Guardsmen, who were personal escorts to the Emperor himself. Harald kept within his heart his failing to protect his King, his dear half-brother, and did pledge to Jesus and the Emperor that he would die, and not sing that refrain.

Local Byzantine soldiers had no loyalty to King, nor God, but only to the coin. Therefore their treachery made them most worthless to the Norseman. Called he then to Viking brothers of the North, likewise in exile, to attend him there, within the Eastern Rome, for there was coin and glory to be had. He built Vangary to a fearsome fighting force and ever after would the fame of it be due to Viking warriors, the fiercest of the world.

From 1035 until 1042, Vangarians, numbered near six thousand, did engage around the Middle Sea, in Sicily, Bulgaria, and in the Holy Land. Harald met and slew a hundred different kinds of fighting men and caroused he with one hundred different women. He grew rich from plunder, and his men did love him so.

In ’39, sent he a caravan, chaperoned and bulwarked versus any highway robber, back to Yaroslav and Elisiv, to keep it safe from Eastern treachery. Wise Yaroslav did keep his treasure safe within the vault, for he foresaw that Harald would return, and with him great assemblages of knights. It was at this time Harald was first called by Hardrada, roughly said, which means “stern council of the realm.” For ere, he rode ahead of Emperors of Byzant-way, or after when the Emperor’s decrees were poorly-heeded. And his Vangar and his Turcopoles would see the message through, and all resistance was defeated.

While in Constantin, he did become involved in making Emperors. Among his people, Witan men (the wise) were always chosen to elect the tribal king. He saw no reason not to broach this custom with the locals. and his Vangarians would make his arguments hold true. So politics of this, the Byzant lands, did learn Hadrade from roughly ’39 to ’42. What he learned within those years is might and gold make difference up in dynasty succession, a lesson he took well to in the coming years: money and aggression.

Return to Kiev

And then until 1042, he served to make and break the Emperors of ere the Byzantines though his own sword and stately guile. Also did he ride upon the Inland Sea of Empire Old in good Antiquity. And amassed he up some great amount of treasure, he and of his men as well, and shipped it back to Yaroslav and Elisiv for their good keeping fast. Eight years did he and his good men they ride, and were the arm of Emperors of Constantine they be. Even did some men of his take up the Moorish faith, and bring their treasures and their wisdom back to Rus’s, when their return did made.

A Russian Dream by Aramisdream

The Winter of late ‘42 in stately old Kiev was one of wondrous good fortune and good promise for the people. Elisiv was given to Prince Harald Sigurdsson in Kiev’s own Great Cathedral. Yaroslav provided up a feast for every man and wife and child in the city and the countryside. A village up entire carved the craftsmen out of blocks of ice, including of a river running red with spiced wine and courtiers themselves as gondoliers! For three full days and nights did all Kiev and Novogrod and all the people in between, they celebrate the union of Norwegian sword and Kievan sheathe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Riding with William


June 24, 1066

On Sunday, here high summer in fair Normandy, the cock would crow quite early on, for brave Apollo roused the world as early now as ever in the year. But even earlier than cocks and suns, the Duke would rise. He needn’t sleep as much by half as other men require. He roused some of his men with heavy footfalls through the barracks. When he stood above Dame Ness, he woke her with a little kick. A gentle little thing, but ere enough to rise her humors up. And up with them was she.

“Time to tack the horses.”

“It early…? Or it late…? Pa…?” She was insensate at this hour. “Oh! My lord! ‘Tis you!” She scrambled to her feet and then she bowed to him, as stepped upon the filthy floor. “My shoes!” She fell akimbo once again and donned her riding boots of high, hard leather made.

“Stables,” said Duke William, as he’d already made way back toward the steeds, their tack, and hay.

Dawn broke. William rode a palfrey of some sixteen hands; no larger mount had Nesta ever seen in all her thirteen years. It took a steady heel to keep her own mount up to his. Her own was thirteen hands; a full pied shorter at the withers, and the length made difference in the speed. But Nesta kicked and kept her horse, a brute himself, near side of his.

Horseback Stroll by Leonid Afremov

“I keep losing ships. The blinking ships are sinking. Sinking.”

“Sinking, Lord? Are we at war?”

"Harbor. In the harbor, shipwrecks. Worthless shipwrecks, and they cost some great amount of money! Whacht, well I could have the harbor littered with old rubbish ships, and that for nearly free.”

“Why sinking?”

“Ask the shipwrights why. They say the boats need seasoning a year. But we ain’t got a year. We ‘ad neh year in January. Now it’s June, and still we haven’t got a year. The one thing Cousin Odo in’t be buyin’ us is time.”

“Why a year, milord?” Nesta’s mount was laboring, even though they were less than a league outside of town.

“And with the ships, my men. We got men morely macilent a’mer[1] nigh every day. The good ones going down with all these blinking worthless ships. But it won’t matter. Nay. We have the papal banner now.”

“The men who do remain will be emboldened by God’s truly sanction, lord.”

He looked at her askance. “They told me you were clever. But I find you thick and simple. What’s this about God? I said the Papiality.”  

And with this, he took his horse down to a trot, and dreweth out the syllables in dour downadmonishment, “They will embolden for the resource what they take. Money. Aid from Rome in men and in materièl and money from it come. We’re not be gone to England for the gold and for the women. Not this time.

“Land, Ness. We’re going for the land. We’re going to stay.” He cast his eyes to Occident; toward the pretty bird, this Angle’s Land, set in the sea of sapphire up around it, and the little dam did after him.

“Land,” said Nesta.

He leaned in closer to her ear. “By the way, Harold seized Northumberland and gift it to his brother. Of land? You’re right out y’self.”




[1] Lost at sea