as Chronicled by Jehan de Pelham, esquire and servant of Sir VitusNow in these days there had been between the Midrealm Kingdom and the Kingdom of the East, much wonted bickering, which came to a peak each summer in August, for this was the time which men desired most to bring their summer campaigning to a conclusion before the management of their estates at harvest-tide, at a place which is called Cooper’s Lake, so chosen because of the many natural advantages for the congregation of men at arms which this place offers. Some say that this place is a paradise, and others that it is a festering bog, but this I cannot decide for so many things are sayd of it that it is perilous to hold too firmly to one opinion or another.
Now chroniclers will say this and that about whether the men at arms from the Midrealm, or whether the men at arms from the Eastrealm, which did the better of their fellows, in the meetings before this one from which this tale derives, but I have it on good authority, that of the first nine such meetings, the Midrealm held the field, and of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth such times those from the East drave the Midrealmers from the field.
Now during these meetings, in the course of doing them, it became known to the wise that negotiations with those kingdoms who entered into the affray were of prime importance, and that, like noblemen are wont to do, these other kings chose their alleygaunce on the herte which they felt for one king or another. At the time of which I speke, the Midrealm had not done well in winning the hertes and swords of their noble cousins, and this aided the efforts of the Eastrealm much.
At this time, the King was hight Eliahu, son of Itzhak, the first of this line, and the great-grandsire of that Duke who we know by the name Eliahu ben Itzhak. Now he was keen to show well his cousins the valour of his host, and to restore the martial pride of his realm, and also to restore fidelity and faith with the new western realm, which is Calontir, and which there was some small bickering in the making of. So to achieve this, the king, Eliahu, he soughten to negotiate to his best advantage the particulars of this wonted meeting in August, the thirteenth such bickering.
Now the king of the East, one Hasdrubal by name, was a good friend and royal cousin of the king, Eliahu, and this king of the East, he hosted the king of the Midrealm and the king Eliahu was eager to speke of matters martial, regarding this meeting in August, but the Eastrealm king, he would do no such hastily, but put him off saying that other matters consumed him, but that in no wise would the matter be left aside.
Now the king of the East had taken herbergage at the manor of the Lady Morgan Elandris, and it was there, when all other matters were laid to rest, and nothing more could interrupt matters of state, that the two kings came to agree that the same rule which had governed affairs in the last such meeting should be again obeyed, with provisions for battaile in the wooded places, and between picked champions, and over a bridge, and then in a field very wide and broad, and that the yeomen should also shoot to see which stock of men were the best bred and raised to do service to their armees.
Now I move forward of this time to the day before the feat of arms which I will tell you of, and the gathering of men at arms at Coopers Lake had been wel underwaye, for many men at arms and noble hosts loved much to congrete there for the good sport and fellawshippe which could be hadde before taking into hand the true purpose of their coming together.
It was misfortune that a plague of the dysenterie, which distempered the bowels of all who came, and some they said that an evil star had been seen bursting to the south in months past, and this was the cause, and others said that it was the blame of a purveyor of poultry victuals from South Oaken, and this I claim to be more likely, for the fowl of the taverner hight Sanders vexes me much, but physics were consulted, latrines were dug, ones for the well, and others for the sick, and guards were set to enforce the strict use of them, and other measures were taken, but it was no boot, and many were sickened to their deeth, and many others were weakened in their bowels so they could do no strong deeds, but only acquit themselves by the provenance of God.
Now in the midst of all of this sickness the king, Eliahu, he bade his noble cousins come close by him within his pavilliage, and be bedressed himself as befit a king, and he bade his loyal castellan and servants make ready all refreshments and victuals needed by this noble host, and they spake of matters martial perteyning to the conduct of the battailes to come. The time grew late, and torches were set afire, and no-one left until all matters were decided.
The firsten battaile was within the woods, and the way of doing it was like this: The Midrealm king had a banyour, who bare the arms of his realm, and when all the men at arms from both kings were arrayed and ready to do their devoir, a firecrake was sounded, and the host of the Midrealm they went within the wooded place, and put the banner into the earth, and set a defense about it, and this was all done within the space of the running of a small glass of sand, about half an hour of time. And then the firecrake was sounded again, and the king of the Eastrealm, he knew that this was the time for his host to set out against the Midrealm, and they entered within. And the men at arms of the king Hasdrubal they discovered the place of the Midrealm banyour, and they strave with the men at arms of the Midrealm, and cleft it from the hands of the banyour, and took possession of it, and the Midrealm could not recover it, but were reculed, and this striving happened in the space of about two hours, or the running of two glasses of fine sand.
Now the day was grete of heat and the air thick with a malevolent mist, and the king Eliahu for his striving was sore struck of it, and the physics they came and put cooling waters upon him, and he was so sore that he bade the duke, Laurelen, to see to the conduct of the battaille of the champions. Before this battaile began, the king Eliahu arose and bedressed himself again in the arms and armor of a man at arms, and foughten in this feat also, but it was no availle, for the host of the Eastrealm were strong of valour and took the field there again.
The king Eliahu he held a court that night of his cousins, and of all lords grete and lesser, and appeared in good heelth, but the chirurgeon, Mistress Merlume, knew the truth of it, and knew that the herte of the king was sore from his striving, and she counseled against his striving onward for fear that his herte should give way beneath his noble desire. Now the king he knew some craft of how to win the hertes of ladyes, as well as men, and he sayd to her that he must needs commaund the armee, and to do this he must arm himself as a man at arms should, but he sayd to her that he would do no such feat of arms by his own hand, but would instead smite with the swords of those dukes and barons and knights who broughten their retinues to serve him.
And so the armees of the two kings they were broughten together across from a river, and between them three bridges were set, over which the two hosts would contend. One was the width of a spear, and the second was the width of two spears, and the third was the width of three spears.
And across the center bridge came the king of the Eastrealm, and he spake with the king Eliahu and he asked him if he could use the sword of the Midrealm kings, Oathbinder, to bring a worthy man at arms into his estate of knighthood, for the Crown Prince, through some strange adventure, had the sword of the Eastrealm kings with him and could not be found—whether he was out on his own seeking some deed of arms or in some other adventure which is the habit of men of action, none can say. Now to this the king Eliahu was astonished, for this was passing strange, and required of the king Hasdrubal assurance that this man at arms was wel worthy of the accolade, for he would have no taint brought upon his talisman of rule, and the king Hasdrubal sayd that this was so, and it came to pass that a Sir Reynard the Brown of the Eastrealm was made a knight using the sword of the Midrealm Kings.
Now during the time that the king Hasdrubal made this man at arms a knight, the king Eliahu saw to the array of his host, which matter was complicated as all wel know who have studied feats of arms between hosts. Now a knight of Atlantia, who had taken estates in the Midrealm, he secured the service of a retinue of men from his home land, who are called the Marklanders, who for love of him chose to strive with him for the Middle Kingdom, but would not smite blows against their fellows from their homeland, and so they were put far apart from them in the line. It was agreed that of the numbers of men at arms who came to this striving, that for each five men at arms from the East, there were but three from the Middle. Because of this, the king Eliahu gave instruction that they should fight to hold ground, giving it slowly but causing the most harm possible, until a crucial point when a decisive blow could undo the Eastern host.
The horns blew and the armees advanced to the bridges. As commanded, the Midrealm host did not set foot upon the bridges, but instead awaited on the near side, and waited for the men at arms of the East to come on, and receive their welcome. By this stratagem, the Midrealm could better match the superior numbers of the East, and purchase the chance to seize victory from this meeting.
Now in all the times before this, when hosts had contendyd over bridges, the matter had been done before the pouring of one glass, but this striving went on, and when the battaile had come to last twyce as long as usual, the king Eliahu looked across and saw his cousin, the king Hasdrubal, wave his hand to a Captain who led the last reserves of his might into the affray, and then he bade his banyour follow him into the press. And by this the King Eliahu knew that his men at arms had served him well, and proved themselves worthy before the eyen of God and men, in a royal game of chess.
And these men they strave on, longer than any who live in these days would easily believe, but it is said to have been about three hours that these men strave. And men were hacked down, and wounded, and they bled upon the earth and upon one another, and men with struck off arms had their wounds stanched by the chirurgeons and broughten forth pavises for the aid of their fellows, and the arbalesters toiled without mercye, and spears lunged forth to strike deadly true, and always bright swords moved upwards and downwards, smiting off limb here, or darkening the vision of a man at arms there, and still there was no relief, nor advance. And at the end of this finally the men at arms of the east, on the smallest of the three bridges, they smote down the last men at arms of the Midrealm, and put their feet upon uncontested ground at last.
Now the time for the king Eliahu to prove his worth as a battle lord had come. He has sayd to the Mistress Merlume and the other physics, that he would not strive that day by himself, But it was all a stratagem to win their confidence, for when this king saw deeds set to be done, he would not stand by to be called Eliahu hangge-bakke, but it pleased him to push forward instead to smite a blow by his own hand. He ran forward to join his host in life or death, and the chirurgeons who attended him they reached out to restrain his royal person, and when this failed, they soughten to follow him onto the field of honor, but the kings of arms there forbade them, and so they abided, and the king advanced.
The king Eliahu arrived at the decisive point, and commanded those men at arms there to push for their lives, for he knew that if they did not smite down the men at arms across from them they would be slain by virtue of the men at arms of the east striking at them from two sides. Now from his encouragement, his men at arms pushed across, and so while the Eastrealm armee was across, so was the host of the Midrealm, and here the combat became confused.
he king Eliahu had been forced onto the center bridge by some men at arms of the East, and the two who stood beside him were hacked down. Now the king, he mustered up his royal presence, and he bade them to bring to him the most noble peer remaining on their side, for he wished to do a little bickering with him. And the Eastrealm men at arms they agreed to this, and sent a one of their number to seek out the king, Hasdrubal, or the prince, or if that fail some high duke. And while they soughten to obey the cousin of their king, some men at arms of the king Eliahu came behind them and pressed them sore, so that they turned their backs to the king. To this the king Eliahu was much pleased, and he saw no reason that he should wait overlong for the arrival of his cousin. And the king then pushed one of the men at arms from the side of the bridge so he sore drownded, and strake such blows upon three others that they bled to their deeth, and so he freed himself and rejoined his host.
And then the king brought his remaining force down upon the host of the king Hasdrubal, who some say was hurt almost to his deeth before this time, but some say he abided with his men to the last, but I cannot say, and the armee of the Midrealm they were victorious over the East, and held at the end the three bridges. Of those remaining upon their feet whole and unhurt, there were only an eight or so, and their names are all lost, except for Sir Trude, and the king Eliahu, though it would be good to know who those brothers at arms were at the last.
And those who lay upon their sides, for pain of their wounds, they rose them up and raised their swords as best they could, and called the name of the king as he was known as a boy, crying “E-li! E-li! E-li!” and the king he wept for love of his brothers at arms who gave so much of themselves that the Midrealm could wring victory from this grappling.
Now the rain began to come down from the heavens, and it washed the blood from arms and armor, and into the river and away, and all there knew some comfort from the eye of Phoebus who watched them pitilessly all through their striving, and the kings they took stock of their men at arms and readied themselves for the field battle to follow, which might well decide the matter between the kings.
In the meantime, messengers came with word that the yeomen of the Midrealm had proved to their fellows of the East that their shafts were the truer, and so there was no answer to the question as to who was the better that year, the East or the Middle—the battaile upon the felde would decide. But the rain came yet again harder, and the win set up a howling, and the king of the east, Hasdrubal he came him himself to the king Eliahu, and he sayd that between the foul weather, and the illness of many of his men at arms, and the perilous and long journee back to their demesnes, that he could strive no further, but that he would fain fight on rather than forfeit, but it would please him well if the king Eliahu would agree that both sides had acquitted themselves honorably and equally, and the king Eliahu he agreed to this, for it seemed sensible, and he considered wisely that after three years of unwonted defeat, a draw was most refreshing.
nd the king Eliahu he held a court and gave to the Kingdom of Calontir a banner commemorating their service at the battaile of the bridges, and then after this court, he fell into a deep and sound slumber and did not rise for fourteen hours, so sore was he of his wounds, but during his slumber, his servants took drink from his stores, and took it to the Captains and the lances who had served their king well. The bard of Markland cast forth a poem in the Norse style, and gave to the king the name Eliahu Meadgiver. And the Duke, John Bearkiller sayd that all of this that the king Eliahu did much repayred the reputation of the Midrealm.
And this concludes my telling of a feat of arms over three bridges in the year nineteen. If it be at fault in some matter either grete or small, then the chronicler begs correction, for it is best that all such deeds be written down truthfully.