A Tale from the Second Northshield Coronet
as told by the Bard of Nordskogen, Ld. Wilhelm Dichtermann
While in the employ of Their Excellencies Geoffrey and Anne, I travelled
with Their court to the lands of Korsvag, where Their Stellar Highnesses
had commanded a great tourney to take place, so that the rightful Heirs
to the throne of Northshield might make their claim in honorable combat.
My Baroness was among those seeking to claim the Stellar coronet, and I
had a duty both to patroness and homeland to honor her through my story
As the pagentry of the day drew to a close, and night began to fall
upon the land, I watched as a crowd hurried across the field toward the
fire pit. They were filled with excitement and anticipation, so I joined
the crowd and inquired what it was they were going to see with such enthusiasm.
"Gaius Niklos has challenged any and all to match his skill in
wrestling, and the lady of this shire has offered a golden horn to whomever
Now THIS was something to anticipate. I knew Gaius Niklos and of his
skill in wrestling. Many arenas in Nordskogen and surrounding lands had
been filled to capacity in order to see Niklos. It was not unheard of for
people to pay a full day's wages in denarri so that they might see Niklos
defeat opponents. I made my way with the crowd, knowing that a good evening's
entertainment had begun.
An area had been cleared so that the contestants would not hurt themselves
on the ground, and among much cheering, the young men threw themselves
at each other. Niklos, as expected, had easily dispatched of his first
opponent and was laughing happily as he watched the fray.
After a number of matches, the lady of the shire spoke to the crowd.
"We have but one contender left, and all the others have competed.
Is there no one else to challenge this worthy gentle?"
Now I, in my younger days, had aspired to be a wrestler, and had even
trained for a number of years to that end. Alas, I had not been blessed
with the skill and prowess needed to be the champion that Niklos was. However,
I felt my blood rush with the desire to compete once again. I stepped forward
and said, "I will challenge him."
As I prepared to face my opponent, my friend and fellow bard Owen Alun
stepped over to me. "You have spoken many times of your belief in
pacifism. How then can you participate in this violence and not stand contrary
to what you have said?"
"It is actually quite simple." I replied. "This is not
an act of violence. This is an honorable test of strength and skill. It
is neither mine or his intention to kill in this contest. Therefore, I
remain true to my faith."
I stepped out onto the field to face the challenge. My appearance surprised
a number of folk, including His Highness Dafydd whom I distinctly heard
ask, "Is that not the Bard of Nordskogen?"
Suffice it to say that I wrestle with words better that with men. I
was defeated honorably, but I had not had such merriment since the days
of my youth. I returned to the crowd to watch the remaining matches.
In the end, the two contestants left were Gaius Niklos and a young gentle
known only as John. John had caught my eye earlier when he had, with great
effort, defeated a giant of a man near twice his height and weight named
Cesius Wolf. While many wagers were being placed on Niklos, I was not convinced
that the choice of a winner was that simple.
Niklos and John circled each other cautiously, then rushed at each other,
each attempting to gain a quick advantage. Almost five minutes went by;
sometimes Niklos appeared to be in control, but John's speed and cunning
kept Niklos at bay. John even managed to gain an advantage, nearly turning
Niklos to his back, to the gasps of the crowd. Niklos, not wanting to dissapoint
the crowd, managed to roll through the pinning hold and regained control.
Eventually, Niklos's superior size and skill began to overpower young
John. Both men had been wrestling for nearly ten minutes at this point.
Niklos wrapped his arm underneath John's shoulder and around his neck,
then used his body weight to leverage poor John over to his back. Victory
seemed assured to Gaius Niklos.
But the the most amazing thing happened. John, unwilling to concede,
planted his feet and arched his back, lifting his shoulders from the ground.
Niklos's full weight now rested squarely on young John's skull. The cheers
of the crowd grew louder, as they sensed a victory soon. Certainly John
could not withstand the immense force pushing down on his head for long.
Seconds passed, then minutes, yet John would not yield.
Suddenly, Niklos released his hold on John and rolled off of John.
"I yield," Niklos announced to the crowd. We looked at each
other, puzzled. He yields, when certain victory is at hand?
"Any man who can do what this man has against me deserves victory."
And with that, Niklos presented the golden horn to young John. And we cheered,
for all was as it should have been.