By Cadfan ap Morgan
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They are many who say that knighthood’s flower
Belongs to a vanished, golden hour;
That Honor and Valour our age have forsaken,
That Chivalry sleeps, and will never awaken.
So say the masses – believe them not!
The Chevalier lives, and the grail is still sought!
A noble few still keep the Dream,
Hold Grace and Courage in high esteem,
Their hearts and minds to this cause bequeath,
And fealty owe to the Laurel Wreath.
Of this valiant host, full many abide
In a bountiful Kingdom, great and wide;
Forests of pine, and windswept plains
And mountains tall doth its borders contain.
A land where all keep company
With Courtesy, Honor and Chivalry.
Where warriors clash ‘midst the trumpets blare
Or gallantly court their ladies fair.
Where so many a noble deed is done,
‘Twould never know darkness, were Valour the sun!
A land where Bravery, Wisdom and Wit
With Courage and Courtliness all are met.
Yea, all that we love finds its avatar
In ANSTEORRA, the Land of the Star!
In the Fourteenth Year of the Laurel’s Age
There lived a monarch, noble and sage;
King Theo of Mightrinwood was his name
And he ruled ATENVELDT, to its glory and fame!
Fearsome he was in the battle-strife
Defending his kingdom with heart and life;
Nor less was he famed for his counsel wise:
Both baron and scholar his words did prize.
So with Solomon’s wit, and a warrior’s hand,
And a father’s love he ruled his land.
Until one day, near the Lammas-tide
To ANSTEORRA King Theo did ride
A knightly contest of arms to see
At the Tournament of Chivalry.
And his nobles assembled throughout the land,
Knight and Baron and Castellan,
To STARGATE’s towers they made their way
To join their King on the tournament-day.
Chief among them was his vassal dear;
Prince Simonn of Amber, stalwart Chevalier!
And Princess Tessa, of radiant face,
Did honor Stargate with her beauty and grace.
Grandly the barony welcomed the two:
From tower and turret the banners flew,
And a score of trumpets resounded clear
As monarch and viceroy both rode near.
Joyfully met were the royal pair,
The King and the Prince, on that morning fair.
Two nobler peers there never were seen:
Tall they were, and of lordly mien,
Strong of limb and sage of mind –
Worthier rulers ye might not find.
And when the heralds did loudly cry
That the start of the lists was drawing nigh,
The Crown and the Coronet, side by side
In the shade of a pine tree did preside
Over the nobles assembled there,
And the combat they saw was without compare!
In gleaming mail were the warriors dressed,
On every helm a gilded crest,
An embroidered surcoat each noble wore,
And an oaken shield before him bore.
Time and again the heralds’ cry
Brought forth two nobles, their strengths to try.
They saluted the Coronet and Crown before
And the ladies whose favors they gallantly bore,
Then faced each other across the round
‘Til the marshal’s cry of “Lay on!” did sound.
Then two bright blades on high would flash
And sword met sword with a ringing clash!
The warriors traded stroke for stroke
To the noble sound of steel on oak.
None did belie their gentle birth:
With sword and shield they proved their worth!
Mighty the blows that were taken and given,
Helms were cratered, shields were riven,
Blades were broken, and mail was rent,
Vambrace and rerbarce were battered and bent.
Many a sword was notched, I trow,
For there was no want of a downright blow!
Time and again the sparks did fly
As the gentry for Honor and Glory did vie.
But none were so valiant, in word and deed,
More faithful and true to the Laurel’s creed
Or showed more courage and skill in the fray
Than the Ansteorrans did that day.
The combatants were many, and noble to see,
The flower of Aten Chivalry,
A constellation of heroes withal –
Yet the Sable Star outshone them all!
King Theo watched, and marked him well
How the Ansteorrans did excel
In keeping the word of their knightly vow,
And he thought upon it, with furrowed brow.
So passed the day, as the lists were done,
And the revels began ere set of sun,
Lords and Ladies betook them all
In splendid array, to the feasting hall.
Grand was the banquet that autumn night.
With the King and the Prince, ‘twas a glorious sight;
A thousand candles burned bright and clear
As the gentry feasted, and made good cheer.
But then, in the midst of their revelry
A hush fell over the company
As King Theo arose from his golden throne
And bespake the Prince, in a royal tone:
“Oft have I heard of thy people’s fame:
In the farthest lands they have won acclaim,
But today they showed such valor, in sooth,
That the stories pale beside the truth.
My Knights and Barons your prowess have praised,
E’en so, this tournament leaves me amazed;
Ne’er saw I so many a gallant feat!
To reward such virtue were always meet.
Prince Simonn, as chief of your people, now speak”
For ANSTEORRA, what boon would you seek?
Come, ask in her name what you’d have of me:
Silver, or stallions of Araby,
Talents of gold, or serpentine –
Be it mine to give, it will surely be thine.”
From velvet cushion Prince Simonn arose,
Nobly and wisely his words he chose:
“Fair Sire, thy praise were ample reward;
‘Tis a vassal’s duty to serve his lord,
And if aught we have done has pleased you well
Then in honor and fame the reward will tell.
But it is yor command that I make a choice,
To ask for a boon with my people’s voice.
So be it: My Liege, though this Circlet I wear
Hath been ever my joy and honor to bear,
‘Tis my people’s wish, King Theo, that we
Be no longer a Principality.
The Black Star a Coronet now does grace,
But a kingly Crown is its rightful place.
Let this land that I love stand sovereign and free;
Lord, ANSTEORRA a kingdom should be!”
A mighty tumult filled the hall,
Awed and amazed were the nobles all.
Some shouted acclaim for their noble Viceroy,
Embraced one another, or wept for joy.
From some came murmurs of doubt, instead.
“Prince Simonn hath grown too bold,” they said,
“No good will come of such reckless pride!”
But on Theo’s reply, they all did bide.
King Theo kept him silent and still;
Answered his Prince neither good nor ill
While his peers and counselors around him drew;
Theo consulted his retinue.
Brief was their whispered debate, and then
They withdrew, and the King sat alone again.
Long and deeply he mused within.
Twisting his beard upon lip and chin,
And when at last he raised his head
His subjects hearkened, with hope and dread.
Thus the fateful words he spake:
“Prince Simonn, for mine and my people’s sake
You have labored long, and right loyally;
I have no vassal better than thee.
To part with thee were a grievous pain –
Yet methinks a greater prize we gain:
None can contain the Lion’s rage
Nor the noble Eagle long encage
So ANSTEORRA must take her place
‘Midst other nations, and nobly grace
The company of Kingdoms, aye,
The Black Star one day shall shine on high.
But for now, Prince Simonn, hear me well:
Send forth thine heralds, this news to tell.
All nobles, sound of limb and mind
Through the length and breadth of this land of thine
Should prepare themselves for a tournament day
In Bryn Gwlad, on the Twelfth of May.
To choose a King ye shall gather there,
By right of arms, in combat fair,
Then the status of Kingdom shall I grant thee –
Hear me all! It is my decree.
Such has thine honor and valor won:
So let it be written; so let it be done!”