Baba Yaga visits Castel Rouge Baba Yaga visits Castel Rouge

A Sport of Honor

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 and song.

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 wins!"

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.


Posted by: Wilhelm Dichterman on 10/13/2007

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