A Case for Necromancy
winner of the Bardic Competiton at the Feast of Rathkeale
My name is Duncan Conrad,
And I have a tale to tell,
Of the greatest shieldmen in the realms,
And the bridge on which they fell.
The sun was out, the month was June,
Two armies came to fight,
And by the time that sun did set,
We learned of Rathkeale's might.
I must confess, I had no doubt,
We'd reach the other side.
We'd beaten many foes that day,
And few of us had died.
But Rathkeale met us on the bridge,
And Artex wore a grin,
Both he and Lady Catherine knew
The strength they had within.
With archers and with pikes,
Knightly belts and steely eyes,
Rhiassan shields looked down on them,
But I will tell no lies.
Lord Artex gazed across the bridge,
He seemed to show no fear,
And when the Marshal called "Lay On,"
Young Gamling raised his spear.
With sword and shield, I took the left,
Sir Cedric took the right.
With Vinal and Sir Lucas,
We leapt into the fight.
Enrik Hawkins led the charge,
Against our shield wall,
And nearly every time they came,
One of them did fall.
When their bodies hit the ground,
Their garments bloody red,
Lady Catherine and Tobias,
Did heal and raise the dead.
It wasn't only living men,
Who rose to join the fight.
Soon we had to cut our way,
Through creatures of the night.
Lord Artex and Seraph had gone,
Where few would dare to tread.
Necromancers both, they could,
Command the living dead.
So now we hacked and cut and stabbed at,
Things which we despised.
And through it all they looked at us,
With cold and lifeless eyes.
Their rotting bodies shambled on,
Oblivious to pain,
As if their deadened senses knew,
They'd rise and fight again.
I knew the tide had surely turned,
When Machta's bloodied pike was gone.
My fellow knight died by my side,
And in her name, I battled on.
A Zombie horde swarmed over me,
I knew that I would surely die,
But as I went, I swear I saw,
A twinkle in my Catherine's eye.
For she and Artex, they had shown,
Beyond an idle boast,
That Rathkeale can protect the Realms,
When it matters most.
So if you are besieged some day,
And darkness is at hand,
No better ally can you find,
To help protect your land.
But if you turn and shy away,
From Necromantic aid,
You may find yourself a beaten man,
Tourtured, burned or flayed.
Aeston's Advice to Newbies: Revised
written by Aeston Stromgate
Newbies of the Realms, northerner and southerner alike... wear kneepads.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, kneepads would be it.
The long term benefits of kneepads are evident when witnessing the joints of the oldbies around you, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the carefree simplicity of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the carefree simplicity of your youth until it's is far in the past. But trust me, in eight years, you'll remember a time when your greatest challenge was not looking foolish in the single short tournament, and you'll recall in a way you can't really grasp now the greatness of the potential that you had yet to tap.
You DON'T look as foolish as you feel.
Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that your worry will accomplish nothing. Getting noticed by the people you look up to. Winning a tournament with all eyes on you. Being the guy makes the difference during a quest. These will all happen in their own time.
The worst action you can take is inaction.
Don't be reckless on other people's quests. Don't put up with people who are reckless on yours.
Don't waste your time with regrets. Sometimes you'll make the right move, sometimes you'll mess up. The battle against evil is an epic one, and you're not gonna lose it because of one bad choice.
Remember the times you saved the day, forget those times you missed that one crucial parry. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old awards, but never stop striving for new ones.
Laugh at yourself.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what to do with yourself. Some of the most successful people I have met didn't know what nation to join or what spells to take after their first year. Some of the greatest people in the realms still don't know.
Keep hydrated and eat salt.
Treat your weapons with respect and they will last longer.
Maybe you'll huck magic missiles; maybe you'll heal the injured. Maybe you'll mix potions; maybe you'll beseech the very gods themselves. Maybe you'll be a reliable tank; maybe people will look to you to lead them. Whatever you do, don't act too haughty with your abilities, don't act too humble either. Your skills are half luck. So are everybody else's.
Don't be in a hurry to become an oldbee. They may get more respect, but they get less too.
Listen to your leaders, even if you don't understand them.
Do not go fishing for complements. Expect to earn your laurels.
Get to know the people around you well. All adventurers retire, or leave, or pass on. It is impossible to know when.
Be nice to the newbies next to you. They are your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that heroes come and go, but there are a precious few you should get to know very well. Work hard to bridge the gaps between nation and goals, because the older you get, the more you'll appreciate someone who can fight faithfully by your side.
Hang out with all kinds of people, the assertive and the quiet, the self-righteous and the shady. Each of them have things to teach you. Be wary of learning too much.
Accept certain inalienable truths: You'll need magic to kill the monsters. People will draw lines in the sand. You, too, will become jaded. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, you could take down the monsters with your normal sword, people never had to choose loyalties, and newbies appreciated all the wonders around them.
Strive to do so, even when that time comes.
Don't expect anyone to make your choices for you. Your elders, lords, and friends will come forth with suggestions, commands, and guesses. But you have to walk your own path, in the end.
Go to fight practice, or you will never be as good as you want to be.
Be careful who's advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of taking up an old and rusty past, casting repair item on it, and selling it for more than it was ever worth.
But trust me on the kneepads.
at Feast of Rhiassa IV
The nights are long, the winter chill,
The wind screams out its cry.
We gather in the flickering light
To hear the tales of times gone by.
A Prince will speak, a tale he'll spin
Of noble deeds long turned to dust;
We'll freshly mourn for times gone past,
For history's glory lost to us.
Where has honor gone? Where the belt?
That singly hung from noble waist?
Where once the aim of mighty men
Was simply seen and easily traced.
Where the vision, brightly shining?
Where the path so clearly laid?
Where our purpose pure and shared,
In blood and friendship equally paid?
Where the hallowed, hollowed hills
Where we were want to quest or sing?
Where the mirth and merriment
That made the timbered woodlands ring?
Where the bard whose chanting voice
Would stir the hearts of better men?
Where the verse and where the rhyme?
We'll never hear their like again.
Gone the mead-hall, gone the cup
The fire there has long been dead
And moss and lichen gather now
Where rightful rulers ably led.
Gone the field of clashing steel,
Where rivals met with open hand.
Gone the grace and gone the skill;
Now lesser men defend our lands.
ur brightest days are long behind us
The trust I placed in you is spent
Naught remains of our finest hour
But these my words of sad lament.
I'll not deny those days of glory
Have left their mark upon us all.
I will deny we've heard the last
Of honor's brilliant clarion call.
For at this hearth in friendship clasped
I see the same, no more, no less.
True heroes of our past would know
Our glory's now! Not lost to us!
For here sits Honor on his bench
And there is Vision's steady gaze
And in this breast does Duty live
In all our souls bright purpose blaze!
For when we stand to face the dark
The Realm's true strength is shown:
We keep alive the only hope
This tattered world has lately known.
The old ways are reborn in us,
Our story's not yet ended.
So, this bard will fire your noble hearts
To keep our Realms defended!
A golden age's not golden
From within its subtle glow
And we should not forget that
Midst the bitter frost and snow.
Now Winter Nights Enlarge
Performed by Symir Anri at Feast of the Leviathan XII
Now winter nights enlarge
This number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o'erflow with wine,
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep's leaden spells remove.
This time doth well dispense
With lovers' long discourse;
Much speech hath some defense,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well:
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys
They shorten tedious nights.
Not To Yield
Recited by Aeston Stromgate at Feast of the Leviathan XIII
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads... you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
And it may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not...