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Click the button above for pictures from 'Treasures of his Kingdom' care of Esther Macallum-Stewart.

The following is the intro to the event. It was written by Ken Mackriell, head ref and organiser of the event. I have been meaning to publish it for a while. It's one of the best intros to an event that I've ever read, and well worth a read. It contains an epic poem that we had to follow over the course of the weekend to work out how to beat the bad guys that we ran into. I hope you enjoy readin it as much as I did.

Into The Wilderness: Introduction To The Treasures Of His Kingdom

The sun is thin and cold this far North.

Some of you had been north into the hinterland, the haunted wasteland of rock and forest that had been passed over by the warring armies of Tethic and Melnibone. Some of you had ventured into the unmapped regions beyond the abandoned forts and fragile frontier trading posts, and had seen the eerie ruins and standing stones. Some of you even served at some of the major engagements of the war. You shed blood at Ebon Bridge, battled Arioch at Broxton, lost friends at the massacre of Fort Spear, and when it was all over you found yourself unemployed, abandoned and penniless on the frontier.

Some of the party you travel with say they went eight days north into the uncharted forest, the furthest any Human has been, to find an old book buried in the foundations of a long abandoned Gideon retreat. The book, some kind of poem, will lead you all to the riches of a long dead kingdom, so says Kelly, your patron.

Most of you set out north from Aldoís Trading Post fourteen days ago, burdened with provisions that Kelly had paid a ludicrous price for. Now, in the trackless wilderness, your packs are fast growing light.

The party reached the half abandoned Fort Spear on the first morning, and Kelly cautiously tried to seek out any out of luck levy or desperate sell-swords to fill out the party from the ranks of bitter and half starved soldiers and frontiersmen. By the time you left Fort Spear at midday your number was thirteen paid hands, with Kelly making fourteen, each to be paid one Mark a day, and a fair share of the treasure at the end of the road for the survivors. An offer you couldnít refuse.

By the following morning you had cleared the last of the pickets and had entered the wilderness. Since that grey dawn you have not seen another human soul.

Your companions are a mixed band of toughs, holy men, thieves, scouts, glory seekers and treasure hunters, with bookish Kelly of Gideon leading the way. The veterans of the first expedition explain that they originally went north with Kellyís partner, Seamus, to find the book. Somehow they were followed, and Seamus captured, but the book stayed with the party, and Kelly promised them all a fair share of the treasure that the poem mentions if they help him get it, and Seamus, home.

What Kelly didnít mention is that youíre not just going to find a grave and rob it, youíre going in to the territory of some very unusual Orcs to do it. Itís explained that these Orcs are smart, can work metal and are well organised, even literate. They even call themselves an Empire, the Ungash Empire, that theyíre getting organised and killing their own kind if they stand in their way.

Inwardly, some of you scoff at the ludicrous notion of an Orcish Empire, but the first burned out Orcish village seven days from the frontier makes you think again. Itís too far north to be the work of humans, as far as you know you are pioneers. The next morning, there is more wood smoke smudging the horizon to the west, and a grey pillar further to the north.

Even the Northerners in the party, two men and a woman, are growing restless this far from anything they recognise as human. On day eleven the forest clears, and you skirt the foot of a great green burial mound, the carved stone of itís opening covered with moss, the blackness within makes you all shudder. You camp far from it, on the banks of a great shallow river that cuts through the raw stone of the landscape.

You all huddle together under cloaks and blankets, close to the small fire you have allowed yourself and hungrily devour the roasted fowl birds that Maraan brought down with his bow. Kelly is stroking his beard, trying to decipher the meaning of the poem, reading by candlelight.

Svena the Norsewoman says that she knows something of sagas, and asks to hear the poem. The rest of the party, anxious to be distracted from the cold and looking to gain an insight in to why they have come so far north all concur: You all want to hear it. Kelly reluctantly agrees, and recites the lay called The Treasures Of His Kingdom:

Daffydís History of Valandar (Vercingetorix)

In the Green Hollow,
the King lay downAnd sixteen Knights
And sixteen brands
And one brand for the King.

Each true to his eternal name he wielded:
Ela, Finias shining
Ole, Gorias blinding
Sef, Durias shading
Conn, Corias awakening
To the first Treasure they did pledge.

Each true to his eternal name he wielded:
Ret, Lorias dawning
Lef, Gwinias dusking
Vant, Linias wintering
Asi, Burias sewing
To the second Treasure they did pledge.

Each true to his eternal name he wielded:
Jen, Surias cleaving
Os, Yurias adjoining
Pol, Aurias balancing
Defr, Irias barring
To the third Treasure they did pledge.

Each true to his eternal name he wielded:
Isa, Cerrias nurturing
Osa, Lantias serving
Efa, Ennias burying
Ifar, Annias birthing
To the fourth Treasure they did pledge.

In the Green Hollow, the King lay down
And sixteen Knights
And sixteen brands
And one brand for the King.

A staff of Holly, green from Cilgwri
A stone of granite, blue from Rhenfre
A grey owl of Cwm Cowldd, to watch his bier
A white maid of Cwm Fochno, to weep at his passing
Eyes open to the arc of years turning
Yet unknown to the King is dawning or gloaming
Valandar sleeps without waking
Awakes without sleeping
Cold as the gold upon which he is laying
Warm as the red blood which his brand bathes in
Valandar, Turanias ruling
To all Treasures he did pledge.

Each true to his eternal name
Stood sixteen knights with sixteen brands
All red cloaked by the foeman
In the shallows of river at the slowing of the day

Each true to his eternal name did stand
Shields splintered, upon a bridge of foes
Laid low by those severing blows
That no mans arm could stay

And Lo! Did Sef still hold aloft
The blackened pole that was the lance
That Malfas son Morgryn bore
Who fell to Osa: Great was the joy
When the reaver Captain fell
And to the shaft, itís colours undiminished
The banner wove of maidenís hair
Red as the shoals in which the Knights waded
And on itís field, in gold the Owl of Gideon
That was the wisdom of the King

Upon the gloom wrapped western banks
The last light of an aging year
Did bleed upon the scarlet shroud
Of dying autumnís blazing crown
And in the darkness, within the shadow
The White Stag of Morgryn, wrought of silver
The Raven of Sigvarth, the Land Waster
The Wolf of Harald, red muzzled slayer
The Thegns of Tethic, The red handed ealdormen
Had come to the river to lay the king low

Gold had been promised, gold had been taken
Rings for the women, torcs for the housecarls
Slaves for the fields, taken his Treasures
By Morgryn, the traitor, brother of Valandar
Ussias wielding, Twin of Turanias
The foesword, the black sword, the widow maker,
In the red hand of Morgryn Oathbreaker
Come to the river to take the last Treasure
And cool hot blood in revenge for his son

And sixteen Knights
And sixteen brands
And one brand for the King
All stood, on their face sun shining
At the close of the day, long hair flowing
Brand unsheathing, horn call blowing
Their time upon them, their enemies calling
Their voices raising, songs exalting
One Treasure left, the others stolen
They cried aloud, their hard blows falling
The river choked, the river roaring
Thrice repelled the wolves of Morgryn

And sixteen Knights
And sixteen brands
And one brand for the King
As he struck, Valandar weeping
Cursed his brother for the red hewing
That had stolen the light from the eyes of his people
And fed the fat raven on the Treasures Of His Kingdom

Raise the banners, into red foam ploughing
Across a causeway of fallen came the red earldormen
Harald came first, red beard flaming
Arms heavy with gold, his bright axe falling
Os he took first, through his warboard splintering
Lef he took next, his Foe Of Swords failing
Vant he slew, though Linias felled him
He fell full slain and on his back marching
Came hard handed Sigvarth, Hrolmnjr shining
Curses calling, ruin promising
He broke sure Ennias and Efa fell after
The fourth Knight fell to dam the river

Twelve Knights
And twelve brands
And one brand for the King
Stood hard in the shallows about the Kingís banner
With Sigvarth came Hengist, with bones of the mountain
Said to be Troll-born, a hard handed slayer
Not fearing came Asi, Burias wielding
Laying steel to slow Hengist to dishearten their champion
And when the Troll-born came upon Asi fresh cuts bleeding
Upon the wet causeway of wolf-feeding men
He slipped Hengistís hammer and struck out for his eggs
Unmanning the champion, not taking his life
But letting him fall and build the bridge higher
Hengist took until moonrise to die

Emboldened by Asi, the Knights pressed harder
Seeking to drive the Land Waster to shore
But Sigvarth took Ole, then Ela then Conn
To their middle they stood, in the red water
Until his foot slipping, Sigvarth faltered
And swift Sef, Durias shading
Bore the Land Waster under the foam
Churned was the water, in the sunís last shining
Neither arose from that black burn

Eight Knights
And Eight brands
And one brand for the King
Their sword arms heavy, around them the dead
No strength for challenges, nor cursing nor calling
Burdened by grief for friends that have fallen
As the last light failed them, stood the valiant
And Morgryn came upon them

Fresh the Betrayer, un-notched his brand
His sword-net unstained, his buckler well polished
Led the White Stag into the water
Bloated with corpses numbering hundreds
Reeking of death, the crying of carrion
Was song to Morgryn, the sweetest of verses
Lost was his son, his life and his light
And the cost would be a kingdom

There in the evening, first stars awakening
Moon arising, cold sky glowing
Vallandar called Morgryn and bade him to council
They met in the river, their cold eyes shining
Brands upon shoulders, banners behind them
In parlay they met, for the last time living
Vallandar asked Morgryn for the time until morning
To take his slain soldiers to lay under turf

A good grave to lay them in, a peaceful death
Away from the river where their souls would not rest
Morgryn, sneering, all denied him
ĎAs cold ash is my son lying
No good earth and cloth-of-gold winds him
On the far bank, un-honoured youíll find him
Your kingdomís heir, your brotherís one offspring
The slaying continues, may the world be in mourning!í

Vallandar stood, all hope leaving
ĎYou wished my Kingdom, here is itís ruin
This doom you proclaim, I too am in mourning
The fair time we founded, misery banishing
Plenty proclaiming, in justice reigning
These fair things have come to their ending
Let this day be my last for I would not see
The horrors youíve let becomeí

The brothers turned, to their own lines returning
Valandar called Osa, bade him to listen
A grave he must find them, for the rest of their bones
They would hold until dawning, when the cold light touched them
Their barrow prepared, Osa would lead them
Into Green Hollow, the heart of His kingdom
To lay with the Treasures, their time was upon them

Proud Osa denied him, refusing to leave him
Too many had died for to quit the field now
Valandar did speak then, and Osa did harken
Another sword well wielded would not save the King
ĎThe Knights that have fallen, more blood will not raise them
Have no hurry to join them, do not wish death
Seek us a byre, a place for our resting
Our time is passing and Morgrynís begun
Osa, loyal Osa, our deeds will outlive us
Our summer is over, our winter is here
Of this Kingdom, our Kingdom, let him claim lordship
Itís Treasures with us to Green Hollow we takeí

Proud Osa did leave them, bitter was the parting
On his back falling the jeers of his foes
Valandar did scorn them for the cowards they were
ĎThis loyal Knight leaves us to prepare our long resting
Already has Malfas fallen to his brand
Which of you still living can name a great champion
That you have bested with your own right hand?
Morgrynís maggot-folk, cease your jeering
What glory you win will be hollow indeed

Harken Morgryn! My own living brother
Who of these dogs will serve you in death?
Which of this rabble will lay you in honour?
None sayís I, for know them I do
They are Crows, black feathered
They pick at your bones
They strip at your sinews
No rest shall you know
They are piebald Magpies, your wealth they will pick at
And take to their nests your glittering jewels
These reavers, these slayers, these beasts from the South
I curse them! I curse you! Though today Iíll be fallen
I repose in Green Hollow, no sleep will you know
Bitter eternity, weíll spend it together
You awakening and I abed
The price of your treachery: To witness a Kingdom
Welded from four become empty again
Barren the land your sword hand inherits
And all itís Treasures to my death I will takeí

Morgryn stood forth, brand unsheathing
Shield abandoned, black hair bared
ĎA curse from the cursed, to you my dear brother
No fear have I for after my death
No son stands aside me to lay down my body
No care I have for the kingdoms youíve left
What good are your Treasures now Malfas has fallen?
What good is a kingdom with no one to rule?
Let the black raven take my cold body
And the greedy magpie thieve all my jewels
What I seek is ruin, and a red hereafter
An end to everything you strove to build

So damn you, dear brother, no rest for Valandar
No Maid shall be singing, no Owl be watching,
No Holly, No Stone: Iíll savage them all
No one will know you, or the tale of your works
The heart of your Knights nor the law of your rule
Iíll curse you a worse fate then lingering darkness
Iíll cut you from memory, erase you from stone
Iíll murder your kingdom, Iíll hide your name
The water forgets you! The woods cannot know you!
The stone cannot speak you! The kingdom forgets!
When you fall, as you must, by my brand dear brother
When you die, then so shall your name!í

The last words then spoken, the moon was full risen
Hengist expired, his rattling sound
Was a clear calling, a carrion horn blowing
The herald of Sil-tek, a song of red ending

What to tell of that last meeting?
How savage the sound? How long the blows fell?
Great indeed was the melee, long the swords sounded
Before the moon reached her zenith, Valandar was dead

He sleeps in Green Hollow, through dawning and gloaming
Yet unknown the arc of long years turning
Valandar is sleeping, Morgryn is waking
Malfas unquiet, Osa a-watching
A Maid with no grave song, an old Owl knowing
A staff of Green Holly, with old age bending
A stone of Blue Granite, brought from the mountain
A spiral path to the heart of his Kingdom
In Green Hollow the King lay down
And sixteen Knights
And Sixteen brands
And The Treasures Of His Kingdom

When Kelly had finished you sat in silence, watching the fire, lost in your own thoughts. The gloom of the forest seemed oppressive, the moan of wind through the river valley carried the sounds of mournful voices and distant battles from long ago.

Joshua Nails is the first to break the silence, asking how old the poem is. Kelly explains that the poem in its native tongue, Keltoi, as written by Daffydd of Gideon, is about seven hundred years old. The translation in to Tethic made by brother Cedric of Gideon is about four hundred years old.

Kai asks how long ago all of this took place. Kelly closes his eyes and thinks. He and Seamus, he replies finally, after amassing as much evidence as they could from the Library of Gideon in Port Elia, estimate the events in the poem to have taken place around two thousand years ago.

An uncomfortable silence descends again.

What I want to know is; if itís a poem, why doesnít it fuckiní rhyme? Says Cormac. This time, no one laughs. That night everyoneís sleep is troubled.

Your path winds through the forests for two more days, and you begin to notice the shapes of what could be ruins on the hillsides. You follow a straight road for a few miles before it ends in a river, which you are forced to ford three cold miles east. The low hills you pass, covered with trees, look more and more like barrows, and the Northerners mutter and hurry away from them, their hands on their swords.

You camp in a hollow on the evening of day thirteen. Kelly is nervous and refuses you a fire, so you spend a cold night on the damp ground. What little sleep you get that night is riddled with dark dreams, disturbing dreams that echo the poem, dreams of a red river and bright swords.

You are grateful of the cold light of day fourteen. You eat a meagre breakfast under frost-rimmed trees and look at each other warily. Kelly seems to be oblivious to the dark mood that has settled on you since crossing the river a few days ago.

By your estimation, based on the terrain and the speed youíve been moving at, you think youíre just shy of two hundred miles north of the frontier. Kelly tells you that the village that Brother Daffydd completed his history can be no more than a single days march down the valley, maybe less. Itís almost over, he tells you, soon we can go home rich men and women.

You roll up your blankets, shaking out the frost, and shoulder your packs. The tall dark haired mystic who has kept his own council throughout your journey now draws his sword, checking the edge, and stares hard into the forest. Some instinct for the supernatural in him has stirred. You all follow suit.

ĎWhatís the name of this village, Kelly?í He asks, blue eyes narrowing.

ĎY Pentre Ar Y Bethí replies Kelly, Ď It means The Village On The Mound.í

ĎNo it doesnít,í whispers Cormack, ĎMy parents taught me a little Keltoi. It means The Village On The Graveí.

The Norse heft their weapons, the primeval dread of the supernatural rising in them. They fear no man, but what if what you will face is no man.

Maraan smiles thinly and nocks an arrow.

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