History of the Snowberg Army: Chapter 1

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The first year of the History of the Snowberg Army was presented with a framing verse written by in free verse by Toki Redbeard. Grim the Skald used this verse for his presentation of the second year. Therefore, I am putting both years into the same chapter, and using the framing verse for both years.

Last Summer, as it happens each year,
The Midrealm invaded our friends of old.
A scourge of war in times so dark,
That a call for help did travel East,
From where the Midrealm army stormed
In the noble land of Aethelmarc.

There were two barons in this Eastern land,
Their word fame great, I tell you more:
Baltasar Mondragon was a peer
By merit of tireless service to the Crown.
And Kai MacLain was an Eastern knight,
A fierce warrior and a friend to bards.

When these barons heard what fate befell
Their noble kin in Aethelmarc,
They called their warriors to their sides
And said to them ‘We ride this day
Through Aethelmarc to Border Marche,
The Pennsic battles to decide.’

Here begins Toki Redbeard’s chronicle of the Events of the 31st Pensic War, presented as a Norse Saga with framing verse at East Kingdom University in Anno Sociatatus 37:

It was a challenging year for the Army of Concordia and Bergental, Snowberg, as they called themselves. They were but a handful of men. Baltasar had been wounded badly, and could barely raise his axe, let alone swing it in battle. Nonetheless, he was determined to ride on the campaign in Aethelmarc. Master Thorvald who had led the men in previous campaigns, had left, for he was honored now to command a division of King Darius’ army of the East. It fell to Baron Sir Kai to lead the men.

The evening before the armies would meet, the Snowberg Barons stood in Baltasar’s camp, on a high slope of Mt Eislann and looked out over the woods and fields below, and looked over the fires of both armies. Kai said it was a pity that they were going to battle with so little of their former strength. This was the fewest men, they had fielded in all the years since Baltasar and the old Baron of Bergental, Tommaltach, had joined forces as Snowberg. But as both men knew, it was the courage of the men, and not the number of men that mattered most.

They sat down to play a game of chance. Part way through the game, a messenger from the king arrived. The messenger told them that king Darius had chosen to place the army on a wooded hill in the path of the Midrealm’s march the next morning. Snowberg would be placed at the far left flank of the army, near the Great Northern Army, and a small band of foreign allies. The army’s banner would be placed just behind them `you must not let the Midrealm break your line, or take that banner’.

At dawn, Baron Sir Kai led the troops into the woods to take up their place at the end of the line, next to the mercenaries from nearby Norseland. As much as had Baltasar wanted march into battle with them, he would stay out of combat and marshal the men. The fighting was fierce for Kai and the men of Snowberg that day. They were badly outnumbered, and were pressed upon hard, but they stood their ground. Kai fought with a spear and killed many. The battle wore on and some of the men fell, leaving only a handful. Still they killed many times their number, and Kai shouted encouragement to the Snowberg as he felled all who came within the length of his spear. No matter how many Midrealmers fell, more always took their places. After a time, Snowberg was on the verge of breaking. They were stretched out into a single line, with not enough men left to make their ranks deeper. Even then there were gaps in the line. The men who faced them were still arrayed 4 deep as the Mid threw their men at the flank in waves, trying to push through the last few desperate defenders. Snowberg was forced to give a precious few steps until no more than 60 paces and a battered line of men stood between the Midrealm army and the banner of the East.

Sir Kai turned his spear and used it as a bar against the backs of his men, telling them they could gave no more ground `here is where we stand’. They stood there and did not yield. They killed as many as they could. They were tired and fought only with courage for they had no strength left.

Had the Middle known how close Snowberg was to breaking, they might have pushed on, but they saw only bravery and a line that would not break. It was growing late in the day and Valharic, king of the Middle saw his own army growing weary. Valharic knew it was time to retire from the field.

The fighting continued that way all week. The small Snowberg unit fought in engagement after engagement, as the Midrealm kept probing Darius’ army for sign of weakness and finding none. Only once was the Eastern army thrown back, and never could the Midrealm shift the tides of battle to their favor.

In one battle, Baron Baltasar, unarmored, found himself far from the safety of the rear, but rather in the middle of the shifting fray. Arrows flew by him, and the swords swung by his head. Armored men fell on him and rolled over his back. He thought at that moment that his injuries would be better cared for if he were in the front line, wielding his beloved axe. Others also sacrificed safety and comfort working to support the army. It will always be remembered that they, along with skirmishers with fencing weapons, as well as archers, all did their part in the fight.

On the day of the last battle—and there would be one last battle, on the open field— Baron Sir Kai and the men of Snowberg were again on the left flank This day they were in the division commanded by their old friend and captain, Master Thorvald.

As the massive armies approached each other, Valharic ordered a large body of men to sweep around the right flank of the Eastern army, and crush it.

On Snowberg’s flank, the men pressed forward, fighting hard. They pushed deep into the Midrealm army, angling to the center of the fray. The Midrealmers began to fall and were pushed back. Sir Kai led his men as Snowberg’s flank pressed the Midrealm to the point of breaking. Many of the men of Snowberg died in that great charge. Sir Kai, leading the way, killed a man with a great sword, and then one with a poleaxe. A second poleaxeman, a huge knight from the Midrealm found a weakness in Sir Kai’s defense. He brought his weapon crashing in, cutting Sir Kai open. Snowberg was leaderless. They did the thing left to them; they pressed on in the direction that Kai had led them. They surged forward with the army, driving into the Midrealm hard until it broke before them. The great circling wing of Valharic’s army on the right flank was cut off by this sea of Easterners, with Snowberg at it’s flank, and became so many stragglers. The center of the Midrealm army quickly became meat for the carrion birds. A great cheer went up from the Eastern army. Valharic had nothing left to do but return to his kingdom with such army as he had left to him.

And when Snowberg had buried their dead, Baltasar led them on the long ride home, to Concordia and Bergental, dragging with them their wounded.

Here begins Grim the Skald’s chronicle of the events of the 32nd Pennsic War, presented as a Norse Saga with free verse sections at the War of the Roses in Anno Sociatatus 38:

It had been a particularly rainy year, and the roadways were treacherous with mud. The heat, too, was hard for our Northern-bred men to bear, but when the Snowberg Army arrived at the fields of Pennsic, they let out a roar, for the Great Steel Baron was fighting with them that day! For years his wounds forced him to coordinate from the camp and to aid with marshalling the troops, but it ill befit his nature to lead from anywhere but the fore.

Brave Baltasar hefted his axe
His eyes bright with eager fire,
Head gleaming in the August sun,
The battlefield’s delights would soon be his

The hickory switches were placed and the field of battle was set. Twice-Crowned Darius lead the Eastern Army with his Strategos Duke Sir Lucan. Against him was the King of the Mid-Realm, Pieter the Tall, a noble and clever enemy, but still quite new to the reins of power. Snowberg was charged with guarding the extreme right flank of the Eastern Army from Pieter’s forces.

The armies fought in forest and field
Banners waved and weapons clashed
But the Snowberg Army waited,
Guarded their flank nobly and well.
The prior year’s fight in the woods
Recalled great glory for Snowberg
But on these days they saw but little.

The Eastern Army won great victories, but while Snowberg’s duty was vital, they saw little direct battle until the Army was caught in the castle near Mount Eislinn. There, they endured a terrible siege.

The Eastern Army’s fortunes changed
At Mount Eislinn’s foot that day
The battle there was long and fierce
But the men were forced to yield
The castle to their Mid-Realm foes.
Still, blood was the coin that Pieter spent
For every stone of the castle’s floor
Three of Midrealm’s warriors fell.

After this setback, Mighty-thewed Darius rallied his troops. Gaining reinforcements from his southern allies, he developed a plan to retake the castle, and perhaps set King Pieter to rout once and for all.

So the order came down through Sir Lucan, the Snowberg Army was to follow in right behind the East’s berserks. Once the forward warriors broke the Mid-Realm’s line, Snowberg was to lead the Allies through and crush the enemy with the weight of the entire Eastern Army. Though Snowberg was not the head of the spear, they were to be the haft that drove the spearhead and carry the weapon through the body of the enemy.

Baron Kai gave the order to the men to never stop, no matter what their wounds or whatever stood before them. “Slay the enemy, step over their bodies, and sing their praises later!” he said.

Shoulder to shoulder with the South
Snowberg readied their swords and spears
They were a pack of hungry wolves
Set to avenge their kin who fell
At the foot of Eislinn Mountain
Kai had already forgotten
The defeat of the day before
So eager was he for battle.

There was a crash like thunder and the battle began, the Eastern Army plunged into the third gate, and the berserks stormed the red and white shield wall behind it. The center of the Mid realm line fell back, attempting to form a pocket in which to trap the Eastern army and assault it from all sides, but Snowberg broke through their flank and created a terrible opening through which the rest of the Eastern army poured through.

Shining-armed Angus with spear in hand
And swift-armed Yoshi led the fray
The dead were heaped in piles all around
As they fought their way to the Mid-Realm King
Their weapons smoking in their hands
As they closed in for the kill
Noble Pieter’s men fought fierce
But all their courage came to naught
Caught with their back ‘gainst the main gate
To their fore the hungry swords of the East
The Green Dragon bowed its head in defeat.
To Darius the castle fell
Far faster than to Pieter—
Where the Mid Kingdom seiged for days
For the East it was but hours only.
Those that remained of Snowberg watched
As King Pieter surrendered to
The Tyger of the Eastern Realm
And the Pennsic War was won.

Many of Snowberg fell that day, but this work stands as a testament to their honor. King Pieter was granted safe passage back to his Kingdom with the tattered remains of his Armies. The men of Bergentahl and Concordia gathered their wounded, packed up their tents, and departed for their beloved homelands.

Here ends the Snowberg Chronicles of the 32nd Pennsic War, and what follows is the concluding verse for both years:

They traveled home to their shires and farms,
Those who had fought for country and king,
And they often tell the stories of war,
Which always begin the very same way…
`I shall not sit, for there we were...’
And they know in the way that all warriors know
They will return to battle the very next year,
And year after year until the end of their days.
And when they have passed then their children shall go
To Cooper’s Lake, to drink beside fires,
And make war in the sun, in the woods and the fields
Against the Midrealm army
For lifetimes of Summers.

© 2003-2004 Michael Dixon and Dan Marsh

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