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Such is the history of the first Mercenary Wars, as recorded in the Red Book of Shadows by Sir Maelgrim Cedaur o Lan Filan o Pouis. Parts of the text may be incomplete, due to some ambiguity of the original meaning of certain words.

" . . . and so it was that upon the ninth-and-twentieth day of the month of Mehefin, the Black Falcons answered the call of Baron Aelfric. Upon their journey across the northern reaches of England, they met with a mercenary company traveling in the same direction, by the name of the Mists.

Among the Black Falcon Mercenary Company were included Maelgrim Cedaur the Welshman; Owen Cwiran, called the Red Lion; Cynara Throncoomb, called the Grey Lynx; Lance of the True Waters; Ralamean of Ramsey, the Manxman; and Rhyse the Rat. Such were the numbers of the Black Falcons.

And among the Company of the Mists were included Daryoon y Darres; Malcom the Englishman; Flynn the Swordmaster; Ceolmhor an Lochard, called the Dark Unicorn; Farlin of the Woods; Cora the Shrew; and Rebecca Winedraught. Such were the numbers of the Company of the Mists.

And so upon their meeting, the two companies did jest and make merry. On their way to Caer Aelfric, they stopped at the King's Feast Inn. There did they meet with a friend of Maelgrim's: Treylane the Silver. Much did the mercenaries make mock of Treylane, and when they had finished, they left again.

Before reaching Car Aelfric, the two companies stopped at the Golden Crescent Inn, being the competitor of the King's Feast. There did the companies feast, except for Owen, who said 'This slop is none of mine; I'll away to better lodgings.' And so he did.

When the mercenaries had finished their mid-day meal, they traveled on to Caer Aelfric, which was called by the villeins in the area Raedstoen, which means "Red Rock" in the Old tongue."

At this point, the text seems to wander, and a "Lost Camp that is Found" is described as being in the woods surrounding Caer Aelfric. Maelgrim's purpose in including this description is unclear, but it might refer to some Welsh legend that would be commonly known among the Black Falcons at that time. Several pages later, the tale picks back up after Cynara has been made a cnicht (knight) and presented with several grey arrows, and Baron Aelfric cannot decide which company to hire. . .

" . . . said Aelfric 'Then I propose a tournament, in which all shall fight. And I even shall present unto the winners of each tournament a prize of their own.' This gladdened both companies greatly, for they had long been without practice. Soon the fields were set, and each tournament began.

The first among the tournaments was that of archery, for a company is only as good as its bowmen. Each mercenary shot twelve arrows at the target, but after all else had gone, Owen took his turn. 'See,' he said, 'how a true archer shoots.' So saying, he took his turn and fired all twelve arrows to the center of the target like Robin Hood himself.

For his prize, he took a black leather belt pouch, and said 'It is good, I am content now.'

'Well and good,' said Daryoon, 'but the main weapon of a mercenary is his spear. See how you fight with a real weapon.' So unto the field went the fighters again, and all took turns at casting their spears at a target. This time, it was Daryoon who claimed victory.

For his prize, Daryoon chose a new linen tunic of white to wear.

'That is fine,' said Maelgrim, 'But when the spear splinters in battle, one must rely on the sword.' Once again, all fighters took the field, each holding a weapon in both hands. The fighting was fierce, though all in chivalric sport. After much fierce battling, Maelgrim and Lance alone remained. Quick as a snake, Lance Two-Sword struck, and the round was his.

And for his prize, Lance claimed a pair of leather bracers, and said 'Good. I am well content.'

But many warrior complained that in battle, a two-handed sword is as good as two one-handed blades. They took to the fields yet again to test their skill, and Aelfric watched all with a falcon's eye. When Farlin of the Woods triumphed over all others, the afternoon was waning.

Farlin took as prize a black leather-bound tome in which to write.

Cynara, meanwhile, had taken her quarterstaff and begun to practice. Time and again, she defeated her challengers until she was proclaimed the champion of the quarterstaff fight. Maelgrim sought to redeem his defeat in the two-weapon tournament, and defeated all others in the use of sword and shield.

For their prizes, Cynara chose a new belt, fine in craftsmanship, and Maelgrim chose arrows to fill his quiver."

Again, Maelgrim begins to ramble here, and to describe the lush beauty of the Raedstoen area surrounding Caer Aelfric. There are many descriptions of native plants, and even sheet containing Maelgrim's practice in writing the Saxon runes. The thread of the tale is lost for several paragraphs before Maelgrim finds it again, and tells of the glorious feast that Baron Aelfric holds in honor of the mercenaries' arrival.

"From Cornwall came several small hens, and the table was piled high with them. To the high officers of the companies was served roasted goose, with orange sauce and garnish. Fine bread and cheese and wine were also on the table, as well as beef pies and blackberry cobbler.

The rough mercenaries were bedecked in their finest attire;

Owen Cwiran wore a shirt black as night under a tunic the color of the sky at deep evening, with gold sewn in the hem and sleeves. So did Maelgrim wear a black shirt, but this under a tunic the color the young forest, also with gold sewn into the threads. And Cynara wore a dress the color of wine and Lance of the True Waters wore a silken crimson surcoat over his black tunic ...

At this time, there was much feasting and merrymaking, and Rebecca did partake heavily of the wine. Said she, 'I'll have more of it,' and stole Daryoon's own chalice from beneath his very nose. Perhaps that was the start of it.

Daryoon demanded back his cup, and an argument broke out. Soon the two companies had split in opposition of one another, and spoke many words in anger. But Baron Aelfric came between them, and said, 'Nay, quarrel not. Come to the fire, and we shall have a song!'

When the fire was reached, it was discovered that Rhyse and Ralamean had thrown much kindling into it, and the flames roared to the top of the Baron's castle. 'Jesus Xristos!' spake Aelfric, and Owen and Maelgrim did soundly thrash the two fire-crazed fools.

Maelgrim Cedaur did draw out his lute and play the Round Battle Galliard and Rose, Rose in a round, with Ceolmhor on the recorder. Then did Ralamean draw forth his tambourine, and the three played Branle de Bourgeone.

Malcom did tell a lighthearted tale of a duchess who swallowed her own lute, and then did Daryoon sing a song that flowed like this:

If the ocean were whiskey and I were a duck,
I'd swim to the bottom and drink my way up.
But the ocean ent whisky, and I ent no duck,
So I now I will surely the young maidens all ---

You get the idea. This song caused another quarrel, and one of the company of the Mists was wounded.

'This means war!' shouted Daryoon, and the Company of the Mists departed."

Here, once again, the ceddor rambles a bit and speaks vastly of arming for the upcoming battle. As medieval scholars will do, he speaks much on the subject of the chants and charms said before the fighting. The tale picks up again at this point:

" . . . and so Lance was chosen to infiltrate the enemy camp and steal their flag, as a sign of contempt. But woe! he was ambushed in the darkness by Flynn, Farlin and Ceolmhor. Soon came redemption, though. The rest of the Black Falcons arrived and captured the three Mist mercenaries. Their ransom was much anticipated.

However, the three captives escaped under cover of night, and ran to warn their company. So it was that Rhyse and Ralamean chased ahead to look for the fled prisoners.

But woe! while Rhyse and Ralamean searched in far corners of the wood, the remaining Black Falcons were set upon by the whole Company of the Mists and defeated in combat. Their weapons were taken, and the Black Falcons were tied to a large tree.

However, the Company of the Mists failed to notice Maelgrim and Cynara standing close together and concealing a dagger. So it occurred that Maelgrim and Cynara cut the ropes binding them and the rest of the company.

Through the night, the Black Falcons and Company of the Mists searched for one another.

Finally, Owen Cwiran treacherously revealed the location of his own camp to the Company of the Mists, and the flags of the Black Falcons were stolen!

In the morning, Maelgrim and Cynara approached the Mists' camp to do battle and reclaim their flags, but a great anger rose between those of both companies, and they split into three groups.

And so the numbers of the first group were Maelgrim, Daryoon, Rebecca and Flynn.

And the numbers of the second group were Farlin, Cynara, Owen and Ralamean.

And the numbers of the third group were Rhyse, Cora, Lance and Ceolmhor.

So the three groups hunted one another through the Raedstoen woods surrounding Caer Aelfric. But it was Owen Cwiran's group that triumphed, and so the survivors of the Black Falcons fled to Norway to seek employment with King Harald Hardrada, and the Company of the Mists, with Owen Cwiran as its new leader, became Aelfric's personal guard.

And such ends the tale of the first Mercenary Wars."

Here, the Red Book of Shadows begins a chapter in which Maelgrim describes the Black Falcons' recuperation in Norway and their many battles . And the tale tells of the growing strength of Baron Aelfric. However, most of the pertinent information about the first Mercenary Wars is covered already. There is only one more note regarding the first Mercenary Wars, scrawled in the side margins of a later entry, in which Maelgrim's text says--in the Old English equivalent-- "It was a great time and a real bugger of a fight. Next time we'll kick their--" and the text breaks off abruptly.

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