Excerpt from The True Chronicle History of King Halav
The True Chronicle History of King Halav of Traladara
by Avon Stratford, Bard of the Realm
ACT V SCENE III The Traladaran camp.
PETRA – Where is the king?
ZIRCHEV – The king himself is rode to view their battle.
MARILINEV – Of fighting beastmen they have full three score thousand.
SULESCU – There’s five to one; besides, they all are fresh.
KARAKEV – The Immortal’s arm strike with us! ‘tis a fearful odds.
The Immortal be wi’ you, princes all; I’ll to my charge: If we no more meet till we meet in heaven, Then, joyfully, my noble Lord of Zirchev, My dear Lady Petra, and my good Lord Sulescu, And my kind kinsman, warriors all, adieu!
ZIRCHEV – Farewell, good Karakev; and good luck go with thee!
SULESCU – Farewell, kind lord; fight valiantly to-day: And yet I do thee wrong to mind thee of it, For thou art framed of the firm truth of valour.
ZIRCHEV – He is full of valour as of kindness; Princely in both.
[Enter the KING]
MARILINEV – O that we now had here But one thousand of those men in Traladara That do no work to-day!
KING HALAV – What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Marilinev? No, my fair cousin: If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our realm loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
The Immortal’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Io, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; It yearns me not if men my colours wear; Such outward things dwell not in my desires: But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from Traladara: The Immortals’ peace! I would not lose so great an honour As one man more, methinks, would share from me For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Marilinev, through my host, That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his safe passage shall be made And obols for convoy put into his purse: We would not die in that man’s company That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the Feast of Ixion:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, And rouse him at the name of Ixion.
He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say ‘To-morrow is Bright Ixion:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Ixi’n’s day.’ Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words Halav the king, Zirchev of the Woods and Sulescu, Varos and Talemon, Karakev and fairest Petra, Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son; And Bright Ixion’s Day shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition:
And chieftains in Traladara now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Ixion’s day.
KARAKEV – My sovereign lord, bestow yourself with speed: The beastmen are fully in their battles set, And will with all expedience charge on us.
KING HALAV – All things are ready, if our minds be so.
MARILINEV – Perish the man whose mind is backward now!
KING HALAV – Thou dost not wish more help from Traladara, coz?
MARILINEV – The Immortals’ will! my liege, would you and I alone, Without more help, could fight this royal battle!
KING HALAV – Why, now thou hast unwish’d a thousand men; Which likes me better than to wish us one. You know your places: The Immortal be with you all!
[Tucket. Enter GRASHNARG THE BEASTMAN HERALD]
GRASHNARG – Once more I come to know of thee, King Halav, If for thy ransom thou wilt now compound, Before thy most assured overthrow:
For certainly thou art so near the gulf, Thou needs must be englutted. Besides, in mercy, The warlord desires thee thou wilt mind Thy followers of repentance; that their souls May make a peaceful and a sweet retire From off these fields, where, wretches, their poor bodies Must lie and fester afore they are devoured by us.
KING HALAV – Who hath sent thee now?
GRASHNARG – The Warlord of the North.
KING HALAV – I pray thee, bear my former answer back: Bid them achieve me and then eat my bones.
Good Immortals! why should they mock poor fellows thus?
The man that once did sell the lion’s skin While the beast lived, was killed with hunting him. A many of our bodies shall no doubt
Find native graves; upon the which, I trust, Shall witness live in bronze of this day’s work: And those that leave their valiant bones in Luln, Dying like men, though buried in your dunghills, They shall be famed; for there the sun shall greet them, And draw their honours reeking up to Heaven; Leaving their earthly parts to choke your clime, The smell whereof shall breed a plague in Luln.
Mark then abounding valour in our Traladaran, That being dead, like to the sling bullet’s grazing, Break out into a second course of mischief, Killing in relapse of mortality.
Let me speak proudly: tell your craven warlord We are but warriors for the working-day; Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch’d With rainy marching in the painful field; There’s not a piece of feather in our host—Good argument, I hope, we will not fly—And time hath worn us into slovenly:
But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim; And my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere night They’ll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck The thick new furs o’er the beastmen’s heads And turn them out of service. If they do this,- As, if the Immortals please, they shall,-my ransom then Will soon be levied. Herald, save thou thy labour; Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald: They shall have none, I swear, but these my joints; Which if they have as I will leave ‘em them, Shall yield them little, tell the warlord.
GRASHNARG – I shall, King Halav. And so fare thee well: Thou never shalt hear herald any more.