The Ballad of the Heroes of Stormwatch - Part I of XI
Author's Note: (Feel free to skip this bit if you like and proceed directly to the poetry)
In early 2012, our group switched from a GURPS campaign based in a world called Arvellia, in a town called Stormwatch, to a Harn campaign, based in Rethem. Somehow, the two campaigns are in the same continuity - Stormwatch, a town that shouldn't exist in Harn, now exists in the same place as the city of Tormau. It's complicated.
Anyway, before we switched to the new campaign, I had done recaps of the events of each weekly session, to catch up those who hadn't been there, or hadn't been paying attention. In the old campaign, my character was a diplomat and bureaucrat from another plane of existence (when he wasn't kicking ass as a ridiculously powerful battle-mage), so those recaps had been in the style of reports sent to his home plane to justify his remaining there.
My new character was a pious knight, big on chivalry, glory, honour, etc. The same recap format wouldn't work, so I decided to change things up and do the recaps as songs that my character was writing about himself, a self-aggrandizing epic ballad he was ghost-writing to tell the world about the awesome deeds he'd done.
I only got these recaps done for 11 sessions before I just ran out of time, interest, and energy to do them. I did manage to complete them up to a good stopping point - the winter of our first year (when we'd be sitting around and training for three months in-game).
A word of warning - these are written from the perspective of Sir Styfan, who, while honest, has a rather higher opinion of himself than he does of other people (especially his companions on this quest, since he doesn't approve of the gods that they worship). Nothing in these recaps is exactly false, but bear in mind that certain facts may have been minimized or blown out of proportion to make himself look better. For instance, he claims that he is wearing cheap, home-made armour because it allows him to avoid drawing attention to himself and those he is trying to protect, in contrast to their fancy robes. In truth, he just can't afford good armour.
Disclaimers: I do not own the world of Harn, or that of Arvellia, and I did not come up with this campaign, other than creating Sir Styfan and writing this poetry to describe events that happened in-game. The full text is well over 5,000 words; I don't know if posting this in pieces to come in the word limit is acceptable. If it is, and there is demand for me to do so, I'll post another piece every 2 days until I run out. I present, without further ado,
The Ballad of Sir Styfan the Heroes of Stormwatch
Throughout the town of Kadorol
The desp'rate plea rang forth,
That sought a noble warrior
To guide their priesthood north.
"The clerics go to Stormwatch Keep,
To Baron Conleth's land,
To teach the restless peasants of
Larani's guiding hand.
“We seek a man to brave our foes,
And take them without harm,
Past Agrik's sword, and Naveh's maw,
And Morgath's grasping arm."
Most knights were chained to border keeps
To watch the north and guard,
For danger e'er in Rethem lurked
From Agrik's wrathful horde.
Such peril was a favor that
The priesthood should not ask,
But one man took upon himself
This hazard-laden task.
Sir Styfan volunteered his arm,
To shelter with his might
Larani's pious servants who
Shined forth their goddess' light.
They sent him to the border lands
For to prepare a path,
So that the preachers might not face
The evil gods' foul wrath.
A few days hence the group did meet
Upon a forest trail:
The priests were cloth'd in robes of gold,
The knight in homemade mail.
The holy men saw Styfan there,
And did begin to scoff.
Sir Styfan did, in turn advise
They take those garments off.
"For in Golotha there doth dwell
Our enemies of old,
As well as thugs who'd break your neck
And steal your cloth of gold,
"But if you dress in modest cloth,
And call me by 'Ormond,'
We'll find no ills 'twixt here and there
Where fine robes can be donned."
In sackcloth then the padres dressed,
And through Golotha walked.
To Stormwatch soon they found a ship
In harbor waiting docked.
With menace ever at their backs
They sail'd upon the tide,
And soon Sir Seamus, steward true
Did stand at clerics' side.
With danger faced and overcome
Disguises could be low’red:
The priests presented, with their praise,
Sir Styfan to the Lord.
Sir Seamus welcomed Styfan there,
And had them tell the tale,
Of how he had escorted them
With bravery and guile.
The Steward looked him up and down
Appraising his new knight,
And quickly projects came to mind
To suit Sir Styfan’s might
“I have a task for you,” he mused,
“Your worthiness to show.
A merchant train is heading south,
As escort you should go.”
Sir Styfan to the Steward spoke,
“I want some men with me,
A herder, hunter, tracker too.”
The Steward said, “Take three.”
The knight did search along the wall
The labourers did build,
He found three good enough that his
Positions could be filled.
The peasants Styfan picked to join
Were plainly Conleth’s best,
Though this says little of the three,
And more about the rest.
The herdsman that he picked was one
Logmar of Failthri called,
He seemed quite grateful to be done
Building the Baron's wall.
The trapper was a giant man
Named Njorthur of Orbaal,
'Twere better if a twin were found
For Njorthur's mouth was foul.
The hunter was a huntress and
Ulfari was her name;
Upon her face was writ a scar,
Perhaps some secret shame.
He bade them fetch their gear and meet
So that he could inspect them all
With expert soldier’s eye.
The three assembled with what arms
And armour that they had,
And when they saw Sir Styfan’s scowl
They knew they’d made him mad.
The herdsman carried ball and chain,
The trapper had poleax,
These weapons were chivalric make.
They claimed, “‘Twere on the racks.”
The hunter held a longbow close,
‘Twas made for killing men.
She said, “I hunt just game, sir knight”
And Styfan frowned again.
He straightened and prepared to give
A lecture on their gear,
Yet in that moment, from afar
Loud cries did reach his ear.
A hoard of barb’rous louts did close
The town they wished to sack.
Sir Styfan gave the order to
Quite swiftly drive them back.
The four did stand against those brutes,
And quickly turned the tide.
With weapons bloody, soon they found,
All those they faced had died.
When Styfan saw the way they fought
He told them with a frown
That they could keep their weapons odd,
If hidden when in town.
Sir Conleth grew enraged at the
Attack upon his land,
And found out from a captured foe
Bedenes sent the band.
The Baron ordered all to arms
To smash Bedenes flat.
Lord Dasen asked if he might join
Into this great combat.
Sir Styfan’s job had now been changed,
He guarded now no wares;
The army headed north to war,
With food and swords and spears.
Upon the forest trail they strode,
Their eyes kept open wide,
They scanned the wood for hidden foes
While treading at carts' side.
'Twas not long 'fore the ambush came,
Bedenes' first defense:
A squad of seven infantry
To slow the carts' advance.
The first was hit and staggered back.
From Njorthur's awful blow:
The spear struck true into his face
And slew him with one throw.
The other six did gather 'round
And two-on-one did fight,
Ulfari stood upon the cart
To sting with arrows' bite.
Sir Styfan met one with his sword,
And with a clanging sound,
He tore the club from owner's hand
And spun it to the ground.
Ulfari's arrow impaled one
In place of greatest pain,
The soldier fell in agony
And did not stand again.
With ball and chain and poleax grim,
Logmar and Njorthur struck,
And soon their foes were lying dead
Or fleeing, cluck cluck cluck.
The final foe Sir Styfan cleaved,
With great blow from his sword.
The battle done, they all were cleaned,
Took up their watchful guard.
END CANTO I