Words: Mikal Hrafspa (Mikal the Ram)
This little piece of bardic propaganda was written in a huff About three years ago, when I had been asked to the Thirtieth Feast that year to perform, and oh, by the way it costs seven dollars! (okay, so it might have been the Tenth Feast, a year earlier.) My long suffering companion and dear friend Baron Lord Cormac Mac Cumail, counseled me not to perform this particular tale at the feast. it wouldn't be politic.
Well, I'm not politic. but I'm not dumb, either! This has only been performed twice; once for royalty in a private setting, and once for bards in a circle at the Lilies War. (The royalty wasn't ours, as I said; I'm not dumb!) This does have a bit of real history though. Such ironic tales were common when bards wished to get the point across and not get their heads lopped off. Also, a bogie is a creature of Celtic mythology, and the tales they refer to are real stories.
GOOD GENTLES, IT has ever been my way to tell the truth in any situation, regardless of damage it might do to my own reputation. True, my heroic exploits, my grand feats of bravery, my truly awesome life history has proven daunting to some and inspired a host of imitators and detractors. But I do not wish to deceive any of you. However fantastical and wonderful my life may seem to be, it is not without those evils that plague the simplest of souls. In all humility, I cannot say otherwise!
Long have I dwelt on this "Emerald Isle", and in all this time I have been unable to reconcile the attitudes and activities of the Irish with those of a rational man. Truly, if any peoples of this known world may be reckoned mad, the Celtic races are among the first. One need only look to their choices of food and drink to see the truth in this!
One day I was summoned to share bread and ale with a noble of one of your finer houses. I felt honored and somewhat bound to go, as the noble in question had recognized my superior intellect and breeding. True, few tales are told of my exploits in this land, but I account that sheer ignorance, and therefore something to be overlooked in less civilized peoples. What I had not counted on was the depths of savagery the Irish were capable of.
Imagine my horror when my good host proposed to serve me entrails and other innards as a main dish! Likewise he offered beef soaked in brine to act as an appetizer! If Odin had intended for good beef to be served in salted waters, then cattle would have gills and swim with the dolphins and hipogriffs! I
scarce had recovered from the recitation of the repast when my host put forth a cup to pour some libation, perhaps to soften the impact it so obviously had on me.
I wondered at the small size of the cup, hardly one that could quench the thirst of a true son of the north like myself, but the eager attitude of my host prompted me to drink anyway. Perhaps he had no better offering.
The cup was filled with some form of liquid Irish fire! Yes, ''tis true good gentles! It choked and burned each inch of my gullet, decided to make a return trip, changed it's mind halfway, changed it again, and finally settled for roaming up and down my windpipe in the hopes of finding the most unpleasant place to reside. I knew I was poisoned!
I had not even cleared the tears from my eyes and prepared myself to meet my patron god, when he poured yet another cup for me. This I knew was the true spirit of these Irish. He had recognized me for the hero I am,and to make my death less painful and lingering, he poured more poison to kill me quicker! Ho wcould I refuse him? It was an act of true respect. Thus I drank five full cups of the noxious brew, to insure my speedy demise. It had it's salutary effect, for the room spun about me and I fell into darkness.
I was not, as you can see, done to death by this potent drink. For it seems that by some strange magic I had been transported outside of the house, and was laying face downwards in the dewy grasses. My belongings were all present, save some gold I had placed in my pouch. It is well known that gold is a sacred metal and therefore resistant to magics. Whatever mystic spell that had transported me could hardly have done so to the golden coins as well.
Thanking my gods for their protection, I began to gather myself to go when I heard a strange sound coming from the now dark woods to my right. It sounded like the strangulation of some great cat, attended by huge flies.All during this there was the weird chanting accompanied by some form of bowstring sounds from a cracked set of hunter's bows.
My lords and ladies, you know me. A puzzle such as this could not but draw my attention. Perhaps some giant fly assassins were murdering a huge religious cat who was praying for help! Anxious to see this wonderment I betook myself to the source of this cacophony.
You may well imagine the state of my mind when I saw two brown men, not two foot in height each, plucking wildly on a harp and chanting, while a similar small greenish wight blew into a set of pipes not unlike those so prized by these Irish and Scots. Of the harping, I may state that the bogies were poorly schooled and coarsely trained. Of the pipes I cannot rightly say, for even the best of players sounds to the civilized ear to be scraping live lion cubs against a rooftree in a high wind.
All around these minstrels whirled a multitude of spirits. Some were of the same height, some far smaller, like a doll one might give to a child, and one of their number was full ten feet tall.
I was astounded by the vulgarities and variations of the host around me. So much so that I did not notice when the largest one caught me by the collar until he had lifted me a good three feet off the ground.
"A human," he growled. "I've caught meself a human!" This was hardly the welcome I might have cherished, particularly when the chorus of "Manflesh, manflesh, we want manflesh!" began among the more toothy of my captors.
Perhaps there are those among you who know of my exploits and wonder as how a giant of merely ten feet could capture and intend to eat a hero such as myself. I must here admit; I was still suffering from the effects of the poison and my mystical transportation and was therefore not as heroic as I might have been under the circumstances.
I know it is hard to believe, but I began to feel the faint stirring of fear. Only the slightest fear. A mild nothing, you understand.
Once they had taken their fingers from their ears, where they had placed them to shut out my screams of terror,(but they were manly screams of terror), a very wrinkled gnome drug me aside, slapping me violently at every step.
"Ay now, you've nowt to do that fer," he told me. "Don't ye go a'wailin agin, aye?"
What could I do, save to answer in the affirmative. I was in the hands of foul creatures beyond the ken of man. Any second could be my last!
I was dragged before what I took to be the king of these monsters; a smallish, green wight of great age and impressive paunch. "Why d' ye come here?" he asked me. "No human has spied upon our revels in many a season. D' ye come t' take our gold? Answer quick, man, for we've time afore dawn t' boil ye for stew!"
Now it was certain, I must find some clever way to free myself. These beasts meant to eat me! In times such as these I find my most potent skill is that of my tounge, the prime weapon of the bard.
"I was lonely," quoth I, "being the most rejected of all peoples upon the earth. Your music brought me hither, in search of companions. Eat me if you must, but know that you do me a great service by ending a life so wretched."
This amazed the old king. "Y'are a man!" he said. "Long have I wandered, and longer still I've lived an' I've not seen a man so wretched as to wish me t' eat him!"
"Nay, you are wrong," I lied, as skillfully as I could. I am no man, but rather a bard, a most sorrowful creature, for we are misunderstood, shunned and unrecognized."
The mass of the monsters began to mumble amongst themselves. "No one can be more misunderstood or put upon than we!" cried the king. "We are the Bogies, the put-outs of the elven kingdom! No one wants us! I've a mind to eat you just for claiming to be more wretched than us!"
"Aye!" cried a brownie, swinging himself over towards me. "I worked two years in the house of a miller, asking only bread and butter for myopia. Then the ungrateful wretch left a suit of clothing for me! After two years!"
A small greenish man pushed past him. "I've seen worse than that! For three years I made shoes for the lazy cobbler of cork. Night after night I worked, then that lazy-bones had the nerve to ask my name! Ha! You would think he could have guessed it by then!"
"True! boomed the king. "Now human, all of the bogie kind has a tale like that! How can you claim to be any more wretched than we?"
"I am a bard," I told them. "Nothing is lower than that."
"Tell us how," commanded the king.
"Good gentle bogies," I began. "It is true you have given much and received very little in return. But I have been a bard all my life, and for it have been given nothing at all! Tales I have told, songs I have sung, poems I have recited, yet all the gentles of the court recall them not. Kings have fallen asleep in my performances! Nobles have laughed at my wit, but forgotten my name. True, I have been asked to spin tales for feasts, but I have had to pay to eat at them! Oh, I have heard people praise my tales, even ask for my talents to serve them, but my purse has grown no fatter, and my garb grows more ragged each year. Even the serving wench is praised and awarded. But my kind is forgot!"
"Not even bread and butter?" asked the brownie.
"Not even the crust!" quoth I, wiping a tear from my cheek with my sleeve."
All the company fell silent, wiping at eyes, and clearing throats uneasily. At length the king rose. "It is not meet that we kill one who is so wretched. Go your way, bard, and know that our fire is always open to ye! 'Tis a marvel that man has lived so long, makin' enemies of the bogies and the bards swell!"
And so good gentles, I made my way safely from the mystic camp, and at length have found myself here. Take heed of my warning: Treat well with the bogies and their kind. Do not fail to pay them and do not seek to treat them ill! True and awful justice can come of such behavior.
Of course, I lied about the ill treatment of bards. No one would mistreat a bard, or neglect to give them their fair honor...
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