Cedric at the Wall

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Written by Grim the Skald in the Old Norse meter of Fornyrthislag. This is an account of the events of the Castle battle at the 34rd Pennsic War (A.S. 40.)

Their fortress stood with strong walls gaping
Battle engines had breached the keep-shell[1]
East-realm fighters faced an ocean[2]
A mighty force four-fold larger[3]

Harsh cry rang out came then the host
Mid-Realm boots made booming thunder
Men of Snowberg manned the first line
Well they knew their weird[4] was coming

Angus waited, his arms shining
Pole axe readied to reap the foe
He knew the gap must not be crossed
If keep should see its sunset next

Backing the first rank was brave Cedric
Weathered veteran of wars uncounted
He grimly smiled, gripped his iron,[5]
And lowered his glaive to greet the foe

Waves of foe-men foreword charged then
That pounding surf of swords and spears
Break-wall met them Dragon’s[6] rush stopped
A tide of foes turned off the causeway

A fearsome price paid men of Snowberg
Half of them fell in that first spear-clash[7]
Those still living struck back swiftly,
And pressed the foe, with a fearless charge

Angus leapt then lashing forward
His blade-keel cut[8] across shield-sea
A crashing blow beat him downward
Split asunder spar[9] and breastplate

Gravely wounded he watched the wave[10] crash
Time and again Tygers[11] were pounded
Crashing shield-surf[12] shook the East-Men
But yielded they only inches

A mighty swell swept then forward
Pushed the East’s line, parted shield-wall
Driven harshly, harried fighters
Braced against the broken fort side

Gleaming halberd hewed the foam’s[13] rush
Behind the line held by the foe
Tall and looming where turret met wall
Bold Cedric stood with brandished steel

Nimble-footed Finn fought beside him
And kept at bay the clash of spears
Cedric’s hewer [14] slashed o’er Finn’s shield
Sought the Dragons, sundered brain-forts [15]

Wounded Angus watched this tumult
Saw the foe-tide surge against them
The hard battlers blocked his vision
He feared Cedric fell that moment

Steel-torrent[16] thinned though strife raged on
A halberd still was held aloft
Finn’s hall-binder[17] blocked the draw-wands[18]
Where Cedric stood staves could not reach

While the tygers tore the shield-wall
Still the halberd hacked behind it
Cedric’s war-flash[19] fed the ravens[20]
Though his arms did ache from each swing

Then twice stronger struck the East’s foe
Battering clash drove back the keep-men
Powerful charge pushed the corner
Protector Finn fell from edge storm[21]

Then close was pressed pole-arm’s wielder
With bleeding hands he beat back foes
He used the wall to ward his flank
Though hard beset his hewer ne’er slept

Horn resounded round the fortress
Called to end the crashing war-tide
Cedric’s foe men fell back from him
Stalwart fighter stood unbeaten

Wounded were gathered given succor
Angus was found, aided to stand
Here are the words we heard him speak:

“Brave men have I seen in many a fight
Never as steadfast and strong as today
None with such courage as Cedric showed here

Well-inspired husband[22] and warrior true
He fought till the end with one hall-binder
Never let his deeds today be forgot!”

So spoke Angus so speaks the skald
Singing the word-fame of Cedric to all

©2005 Dan Marsh

Footnotes

  1. Norse poetry uses “Kennings,” phrase-based metaphors, to stand for words. Sometimes they will continue to use a Kenning along a certain theme throughout the poem – this is called “Allegory.” I used many ocean themes, in this case I am indicating the “shell” as the castle wall.
  2. An Allegory for a lot of men.
  3. The East Kingdom was badly outnumbered that year
  4. Fate
  5. A kenning for weapon. In this case, a halberd
  6. The Dragon is on the Mid-Realm’s arms, so I use it as a kenning for the Mid-realm soldiers.
  7. “Spear-clash” is a kenning for battle, I’m using it here to describe a part of one.
  8. This is an allegory, a ship’s keel “cuts” the waves.
  9. A staff, in this case a pole-axe
  10. An allegory for a charge.
  11. Just as I use Dragons for Mid-Realm soldiers, I also use Tygers for the East.
  12. Again, a “wave” of shields
  13. Allegory for the front line of the Mid-Realm charge, just as the “foam” appears on the top of the wave.
  14. A kenning for axe, in this case I mean his halberd
  15. A kenning for skulls
  16. A kenning for battle
  17. A kenning for shield, as they hung on the walls of long halls.
  18. A kenning for swords
  19. A kenning for a weapon
  20. A kenning for killing warriors in battle
  21. Yet another kenning for "battle," a subject dear to the Norse.
  22. I have been told that when Cedric announced his engagement, he stated that no woman was more inspiring than his intended, and he would stand at the Pennsic fort to fight anyone who thought otherwise
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