A Bardic Apology

Words: Mikal Hrafspa (Mikal the Ram)
This tale was written to honor Count Syr Valens of Flatrock, patron of mine. He was known for his deer hide armour and his rust colored helm, as well as for his skill in battle. It was presented at Crown Tourney at Lost Moor, when Tomeekee won the crown.

HAVE MERCY UPON me, oh dread King. For no doubt you have heard the tales of late. I come to admit my guilt and to seek the mercy you are so richly known for. The common folk have brought to you wild tales of a haired warrior dressed in animal hides that assaults helpless women upon the highways of late. Spare the good Count Syr Valens your anger, for as you shall see he is not totally to blame.

I have always admired the good Count, and wished dearly to emulate my hero. It came to me that if I, a common bard of no great standing, could win some small honor by pretending his greatness, I could then begin to garner rewards of my own by unmasking myself. Knowing the honor with which he is regarded, I felt it would take a week or two to gain such renown. With this masterful plan, I set about to make myself the very image of the dashing Valens.

First I set out to find a helm like my idol's. I searched every armory and fair and at length found one rusting in the midden heap outside an abandoned castle. It was close to his, but needed a month or two in the moat to achieve the very colorful appearance of his own.

Then I set out to find the deer with which to model armor like his. I was told he hunted the stags himself, and I intended to remake myself in his very image. So I ventured into the forest to slay a beast.

Much to my surprise I happened upon one of the deer immediately. Oh, such a struggle it was, my king! I fought long and hard and took many a grievous wound from the monster. Imagine my surprise to find the creature did not in the least resemble what I had been told. True it was grey, but it was possessed of no antlers at all! Perhaps it was the wrong season for such displays. But even though it possessed a small white tail, it also possessed huge feet in the rear and long ears upon its head that gave it a comical appearance, not at all in agreement with the description I had heard. This I decided was a case of misinformation perpetrated by the Heralds to make the beast more suited to the presentation as a device for shields.

What was worse, it was hardly possessing enough skin to make a goodly glove, let alone armor such as the Count doth wear. I was forced to slay twenty of the beasts to create a suitable covering. The good Count Syr Valens must surely have depopulated whole forests to thus clothe himself over the years.

Seeing the thinness of the hides I realized that tanning them would render them useless as armor. So I sewed them together raw. The drying of the hides in the sun made them give off a most marvelous odor, and I began to see just how tough Valens must be. If he could withstand the air of this armor it is little wonder that his opponents flee the field at his approach!

I then looked to my Count's hair. My own short, curly head could not match the long and full locks of my idol, yet I hit upon a plan. Finding two pale horses on a field, I availed myself of their tails. Knotting these upon my head and donning the armor and helm, and possessing myself of a goodly stout stick, I seemed the very model of Syr Valens! Now, I thought, I am ready to seek adventure!

My plan, my Liege, was to place myself upon the highway and to challenge any and all knights that passed by to combat. This I felt would best get the legend of the wild haired warrior to the Royal ear, without endangering my secret being found out. But as you know, the Barony has a reputation to be wet and stormy in this season. For days I stood in the mud of the roadway waiting for a passing combat. Oh how the skies poured scorn upon my endeavors. The armor I had made grew stiff and gained a rank even greater than the station I hoped to acquire. The locks I had donned hung low upon my face, and I felt a loss of purpose come over me. You must imagine my sorrow at this sorry condition I found myself in. Surely, I consoled myself, my hero had suffered this as well in his early years.

I had almost given up, when I perceived a figure wrapped in a cloak approaching. Here, I thought, is my chance to begin the long and hard journey to greatness. I stepped out to confront the foe, shouting my battle cry. Imagine my embarrassment when I perceived it was no warrior I faced, but a grandmother, hunched over her stick and plodding slowly in the rain. I was horrified at my mistake! How could anyone in their right mind take advantage of a grandmother by offering her battle? I made up my mind to aid her by escorting her to the nearest inn. From such humble good deeds much honor may come.

But as I approached she cried out. "Away varlet," she shouted. "You'll not ravish me!" And she began to lay about her with the stick most skillfully. I was sore beset, my King. Never was a noble more humbled. A hundred, nay a thousand blows I received 'ere she ceased her tirade.

When at length she was satisfied, she then berated me. "Tell the rest of your Huscarl friends I will give them the same!" And so off she went.

Your Majesty, I am sure that this tale has come to your ear by now. I wish to throw myself on your mercy. I did not mean to terrify the helpless old women of the kingdom. But above all I wish to clear the name of the Count Syr Valens. You may have heard he was terrorizing the ladies of the kingdom, and I wish to tell you that this time, it was not his fault!

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