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Bardic Arts

West - An Tir War, A.S. 37
Leah Raedaelf of Pagham
AS XXXVII (2002)

In the heat, Hell's hunters came, wood and rise hiding their strength.
Their several bands crossed the border scenting the spoils of war.
They rallied to their royalty's call, and raided now the land of their birth.
Hearts hardened to lose old loyalties, they heeded only the call to arms.
Their sovereign in safety would remain, still healing his wounds
From other fierce battles. Foemen to us he would send
With Nicholaus, once our noble lord, newly An Tir's heir, to lead them.
Many nights round bardic fires his songs filled Oertha's darkness.
Stars shone in his eyes as he shared the tales of home.
Alyssia, his loved lady, was left to pray for his return.
Through the woods the warriors came, drawing nigh-- the Western host.
Within the castle, our princes waited, all preparation now complete.
Cynagua and the Mists stood strong, steeled against the former sibling's threat.
Earl Alden, watching from the castle wall sounded the first warning.
His deep horn was heard and heard again as swords and helms were taken up.
No swift strike would avail the northmen, no sleeping defenders to surprise.
An Tir followed Nicholaus, sent against the friends they knew of old,
And before the fortress walls challenge was given, fierce words to fire hearts.
Thorfinn, three ways the prince of Western lands, threw his attack out against An Tir.
Strong were the hearts of the warriors, men and women well-versed in war-craft,
As the armored lines of foemen forced each other back under the sun.
Across the dry fields they fought, both Princes sought the flaw in Their foe's defense.
Many great warriors fell on each side as Nicholaus strove to surround the western force.
His true men wedged between twin threats, Thorfinn turned to his thanes.
Then did Gemini and Mari, with Samson's strength, stem the foes' advance.
Steven, ferocious in the very face of death, marshaled the forces of his side,
And Elina, Princess, His heart's match, inspired Her men to hold their ground.
Now only slowly would one flank fade, falling back, drawing the enemy forward,
While still further the other flank advanced, so that the field turned against the northern fighters.
In place of victory, An Tir found the fate that they had intended for their foes.
Thorfinn recalled His troops, granting them respite, giving the northerners retreat.
Returned to their stronghold, the Western forces rested behind walls built to resist attack.
But still seeking war-craft's goal, An Tir set themselves against the castle.
Nowhere could they find a breach, no road but the bridge was open.
Mighty were the men who barred that crossing and many were the tales told that night
As thrice in the heat of the day the remaining raiders tried the crossing.
Greatly did each man, each sword, each spear earn word-fame in that fray.
Gadsson's axe, leaving his hand only in death, gained fate's gift of fame, as
Frederick, ever ferocious in battle, took it up to replace his spear, fallen with his foes.
The fearsome press of fighting forced him back beneath the great war shield.
Burdened by the bodies of those he had slain, the broad shield bore down upon him.
Then no longer could he stand, still none would he let past him to gain the castle's gates.
Nicholaus, with no success in assault, withdrew His forces to set siege instead.
But no reprieve would Thorfinn grant him now, His war bands raged to be released once more.
Mighty was the sound of the West as they marched out to meet their foes.
An Tir rallied around their Prince once again, drove desperately toward the arrayed host,
But great was the strength of the West, no ground could An Tir gain now.
Into the forest the defenders forced their foes, and under the trees' shadows they ended that flight.
Dark ran the blood across the dry ground as our northern sons returned their life-gift to our land.
No sun will shine again upon their brows, no soft breeze nor gentle stream will soothe them.
Back from the depths of the wood, An Tir's banner was brought to Thorfinn.
No pursuit could burden its bearer, for no-one of An Tir remained to claim their own.

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