Flying Turtle Flocking in Record Numbers – Goblins Fear for Lives

Lord Colyne Stewart, April fool’s Issue of the TankArd, 2003

This spring has seen a massive upswing in flying turtle populations, say rangers from Ardchreag.

“There’s always been a lot of turtles in the ‘chreag,” said a head ranger, “but never this many.”

The winged reptiles have been nesting in rooftops and church spires and their sheer weight has collapsed several buildings.

“First I thought it was cute to have one on my roof,” said a local resident. “But they kept coming. Soon I had dozens on my roof. Let me tell you, turtle guano stinks!”

There is another danger represented by increased flock size other than damage to masonry and piles of stinky turtle pooh. The food of choice for flying turtles is goblin, a diminutive cousin of the troll. Once numerous in Ardchreag goblins are now scarce as record numbers are being devoured by the turtle swarms.

“There is a great danger to the Septentrian goblin population, “ said a kingdom expert. “As those in Ardchreag dwindle, the turtles will increased their range. Soon these flying shellbacks will spread throughout the barony.”

Residents of Vest Yorvik have already launched an anti-turtle campaign. Armed with long poles topped with nets, residents take turns standing at strategic locations along their border.

“They have to get past Eoforwic first,” said one Vest Yorvikker, “but we’ll be ready if they do.”

Specialists from Skraeling Althing have suggested importing vorpal bunnies from their barony’s forests to prey on the turtles but Ardchreag’s officers have so far not taken them up on their offer.

The Flying Turtles of Ardchreag (Please Girls Completely)

By Thorfinna gra’feldr MKA Melanie Fischer Ó May 30th, 2002

Sung to the tune of The Log Driver’s Waltz

 

Should you ask any gentle from the High Cliffs around

What the funny round shapes in the sky with the wings are

They’re likely to tell you without much surprise

You’ve probably seen our winged turtles

 

Chorus:

For they go soaring high above the white flowers

That’s where the Ardchreag turtles like flying

O soaring high above the white flowers

In the land of the High Cliffs the turtles fly fleetly

 

Many a land lays claim to a beast

To lead them in war time as champions in battle

A bear and a boar a hare and still more

But none are as fine as winged turtles

 

Chorus

 

A coach may be grand to travel the land

Or you might like a wagon that’s pulled by a donkey

A horse is quite fine but its bound to the earth

And I’d rather fly on winged turtles

 

Chorus

 

If you happen to see lots of Chreaggers about

With their hands on their foreheads, their fingers a wigglin’

You may find it strange to be greeted this way

But that’s just the way of winged turtles

 

Chorus

The Ardchreag Rebellion of AS XXXVI

Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI

For the April Fool’s edition of the TankArd

It was on a misty morning that the army of Ardchreag gathered along the Cliffs. Many of the fighters, archers and scouts were young and newly trained, but all had been tested against the Troll hordes that crawled through their lands. Ogres also they had slain, and tri-headed serpents had fallen to their might. Their leaders were battle hardened and wise in the ways of war.

The time had come for rebellion.

Like a green wave they descended from the Bluffs, washing over forts and towns. Septentria rallied its fyrd to withstand the attack but found themselves sore pressed. The Canton of Greenhithe was turned into a churning morass of blood and mud as brave fighters on both sides battled relentlessly.

In the former no-man’s-land between the Chreag and Greenhithe, a final push was made. Septentria, led by the Baron-Gnome himself, had made camp somewhere deep within the brambles from which they would launch their attacks against the “chreagger rabble.” They thought themselves safe, but Ardchreag’s scouts infiltrated their camp, incapacitated their guards and allowed the Ardchreag horde to descend upon the unsuspecting fyrd.

Norse, Celts, Mongols, and the others of the Cliffs fell upon the unsuspecting Septentrians like a plague. The Bear put up a brave fight bu against the over whelming zeal of Ardchreag they stood no chance. Knowing it is better to live to fight another day, the Baron-Gnome fled through the the marshes of northern Ardchreag, evading patrols and slathering beasties local to the area, finally reaching and barricading themselves within the Royal City of Eoforwic. There they waited for reinforcements from Skeldergate to arrive.

The engineers of Ardchreag begun to cut down trees from which to build terrible machines of destruction. The Mongols brewed a potent poison that was stuffed into Troll heads and flung over the walls while the French taunted Septentria mercilously.

By the time the forces of Skeldergate arrived, nothing remained of the city but a smouldering ruin and a purple hat.

The King and the Queen were by this time extremely agitated by this fighting within their borders and gathered a force to quash the rebellion. This large force, led by Dukes and numbering many knights, made haste to track down the Chreagger Menace, and put their heads on pikes.

Ardchreag, being peopled by sly individuals, prepared a trap. A small force was sent out that lured the Royal army into a rock valley with high walls. The skirmishers then climbed up ropes to the heights, cutting them when done, as the main Ardchreag force came out behind the Royals. Their archers kep the Royals penned in as a large Ogre, that had been caged in the valley, was released to wreck havoc.

When the carnage was complete, and the Ogre was re-caged, Ardchreag marched on the capital. The Kingdom had sent emissaries to the Middle and Calontir to ask for assistance, but the Royalty knew it would not arrive int ime. Ardchreag made camp at the base of the castle and demanded parlay.

The King and Queen agreed, but only as a stalling tactic. They met the Ardchreag envoy at the porticullis, surrounded by guards. Ardchreag demanded that the Royals surrender the Kingdom to them, or face annihilation. The King and Queen hemmed and hahed and demurred and the Chreagger envoys knew they were being stalled.

And so the flying turtles, long thought to be nothing but myth, were called upon. The rotund, winged reptiles swooped down from the clouds and carried off the Royalty, taking them deep into conquered territory. The Ardchreag envoy then demanded to speak to the Prince and Princess.

The Heirs agreed to meet, and fearful for the safety of their parents, agreed to consider ardchreag’s terms. Finally, they said that they would submit the Kingdom to ardchreag, only if one of their number could defeat the Prince in single combat. If their champion failed, they would have to surrender their forces.

Ardchreag agreed, and sent out a giant from Germanis to fight in their name. The giant and the Prince fought bravely for hours, then for days, with neither of them claiming the victory. However, the giant finally made one fatal error and was subdued.

True to their word, Ardchrerag gave up their quest. They released their hostages, which included the King and Queen, the Baron-Gnome and numbers of knights and squires, and submitted themselves for punishment.

The Royalty were much impressed by this display, and by the compassion the Chreaggers had shown their hostages. The leaders of the rebellion were punished for propriety sake, but the Royals gave Ardchreag the next best thing to independence. They became the first Duchy of the Knowne World!

Long live the Earth-Pigs!

Training the Flying Turtles

Colyne Stewart, AS XXXVI

For the April Fool’s TankArd

To the fighters of Ardchreag, Greetings,

Our plans to incorporate the flying turtles native to our lands into our fighting force is progressing well. Many test flights have been made, with only a few fatalities. The turtles can fly very swiftly over short distances, or slowly over great. However, once the turtles tire they land and move at a pace slower than their land born relatives. This can be problematic when being chased by knights on horseback.

Feed for the beasts is also a bit problematic, as their number one choice is fresh goblin meat. Goblins are not as numerous in the Cliffs as Trolls or Ogres, and can be hard to find. If on turtleback when they see one however, the turtle becomes unresponsive and will not stop until it has chased down and devoured the beastly thing. Flying turtles will also eat aquatic vegetation, but it must be moist. Turtle Riders must carry a separate bladder of water for the sole purpose of wetting greens before feeding.

In mock battles the turtles handled themselves very well. They have proven quite capable of flying down and grabbing fighters right out of their saddle, as long as their descent is not too steep. Regrettably, Aesop Brown of the Scarlet Bluffs is no longer with us. Even more regrettable is the death of his turtle, who smashed its head into a boulder while swooping after a goblin. The goblin was drawn and quartered for this offense.

Caring for the young flying turtles has been proceeding almost without a problem, under the guidance of the Reptilian Aeronautic Team (or RAT). The young turtles are housed in a domed hut, full of moist sand, with a pool of water in its centre. Perches and treat poles hang from the ceiling. Here the turtles remain until they are three months old, at which time they are the size of large dogs. They are then moved to specially built barns where they will stay unto maturity, at which point they are bigger than horses.

During its youth, the turtle goes through vigorious training where its inborn hostility is curbed (or at least, trained to be unleashed only on certain targets). They get used to being handled and small conscripts (some of Dwarf or Gnome descent) are lucky enough to get to break them in.

Our Flying Turtle Squad was used to good effect in the Ardchreag Rebellion of XXXVI that led to our becoming a Duchy. Soon they will become an integral part of our army.

In Service,

The Knight Marshal

Adventures in Ardchreag

THL Edward Shaggyshanks, for the Baronial Septentrian Geographical Society (Colyne Stewart, 2005)

The sun beats down on my head as I stand atop the cragged edge of the cliff face. Far below me I can see ships traveling from ports in the far Royal Citie of Eoforwic towards Greenhithe-be-the-waeter. A light wind rustles the leaves in the trees behind me and carries the scent of baking bread from a far-off farm.

Beside me, Snori Fenrirsson leans upon his yew bow. His face is lined from years of exposure to the weather and his eyes perpetually squint in the sun. This archer and ranger is my guide throughout the canton of Ardchreag and, living up to local legend, he has gotten us lost.

Known on the Royal Rolls of Ealdormere officially as Ard Creag, this canton-upon-the-cliffs is in land once claimed by Eoforwic. Over ten years ago a group of archers who lived and plied their trade in the area began to petition for recognition as an independent group. In AS 27, this request was granted. This change to maps of the area is perhaps to blame for local residents becoming known for being prone to loosing their way. A motto sewn on the Ardchreag standard reads, “Don’t follow us, we’re lost too!” This tradition of being and getting lost has continued to this day as even that same standard was lost for a time in the wilds of Ramshaven.

And now Snori and I are lost.

We had set out from the Lincoln keep, which currently serves the canton as their town hall. The plan was to travel towards the nearby Royal Zoo, then angle south into what is known by locals to be troll territory. Many people within the kingdom, including His Majesty’s Minister of Forestry, denies the existence of trolls. Locals, however, swear they exist.

“We’ve had a rash of sightings lately,” Lord Eirik Andersen, former seneschal of Ardchreag, told me. “Sometimes they’ll wander into our keeps, or our camps, gobble up our food, and then take off back into the woods.”

The canton’s current knight marshal, Lord Wat of Sarum, has said that multiple hunting parties have been sent out to slay the troublesome brutes but all have returned empty handed.

It’s for a sighting of one of these trolls that Snori and I set out for.

We left Lincoln at about ten of the clock and our progress through the woods was rapid. It was once we angled off the King’s Roads that we became hopelessly turned about.

When I asked Snori if he knew which way we were going, he simply shrugged.

At one point we crested a ridge and saw before us a great meadow stippled with yellow dandelions. Munching on the grass was a herd of the massive green bison local to the area. We approached cautiously but the looming bovines seemed oblivious to our presence. Their fur was long and shaggy and most definitely coloured green. Local lore says its from eating the emerald grass of central Ardchreag, while others say it’s the water from Vahdkha—a watering hole—that makes them green. Humans who drink from the wells of Vahdkha have also been known to turn green, though they usually return to a more normal colouration after a few hours. Snori tells me of Lady Qandachin Bahar, a Mongolian, who felt an affinity for the bison. She was known to have consumed much of the water of Vahdkha in an effort to commune with the animals. The effort left Bahar feeling quite ill, and lately she has given up on Vahdkha all together, preferring to drink fermented milk instead.

*          *          *

Standing far above the rocky shore down below, I pull out my water flask. Out over the inland sea I spot a flock of winged turtles flying over the foaming waves. The rotund winged reptiles were first been discovered on the Ardchreag-Greenhithe border by Lord Ulvar van der Nederlanden. This was at a muster of Ealdormere’s military might in AS 27 or so. Now the turtles’ habitat has spread all over Ardchreag, though they are most populous about the cliffs as they build nests right in the cliff faces.

With green bison and flying turtles, how can anyone doubt the existence of trolls, I wondered.

Singing has always been popular in Ardchreag; they even had a choir for a very short time. Now many of its members are known as bardicly inclined. Snori proves this as he begins to sing, “Soaring, high above the white flowers, that’s where the Ardchreag turtles like flying…”

I sit back and listen as he finishes, punctuating each line by stamping his bow into the ground. When he’s done he looks over at me and smiles. “That was written by one of my kinfolk, Þorfinna gráfeldr, former baronial bard.” I nod as I stand up. The sun is just beginning to dip behind the trees at our back.

We begin to follow the cliff face westwards knowing that eventually we’ll hit the Greenhithe border. From there Snori is sure he can find his way to Drew’s End, Havencroft or Eirikstaadir, all of which are home to members of the canton who technically live in Greenhithe territory.

*          *          *

In AS 25 a group of people met in a bakery owned by Sir Timothy of Horton. It was there where talk of Ardchreag began. The orchestraters of this plan were (and I use their current titles): Baron Siegfried Brandbeorn, the Honourable Lord Raffe Scolemaystre, Lord Raedmund deArden and Lord Alan ate Highcliffs. It is perhaps these four that are represented by the four arrows on Ardchreag’s device, forming a compass.

The other main element of the device is a red mountain, to represent the Scarlet Bluffs that cuts across the canton. The cliffs are represented on the chief. (Laurel leavess are also represented, as they are on all geographic devices of the Society). The main colours are green and white. The green is probably representative of the earth, while the white is the sky.

*          *          *

Like any canton that exists for more than a few years, Ardchreag has had many people call it home. In a poll conducted in June AS 37, it was discovered that over the previous ten years 151 people had been listed on Ardchreag’s rolls. Some of these have gone on to be knights and laurels, while some have even ruled as King and Queen of Ealdormere.

Currently Ardchreag is a hotbed of baronialism. Many members are, or until recently were, members of the baronial army. A number of Septentria’s officers currently call Ardchreag home as well. The barony’s unofficial propaganda ministry is based in Ardchreag, with recruitment posters being the current project. In past years these posters were plastered wherever a surface could be found, including some warriors’ shields.

As well as being loyal to their barony, Chreaggers (as they sometimes call themselves) are also staunch Ealdormereans. Many of them make the journey to Pennsic whenever war threatens and for many years, Ardchreag held Ealdormere War Practice, where those heading south could practice their martial skills. There are many armoured fighters amongst the population, as well as archers and axe throwers, and a few cavalry members and scouts as well. (Of all the martial disciplines only fencing seems to be absent.) Many followers of these martial paths are members of the Cliffguard, a constabulary that patrols the roadways and byways of Ardchreag to protect the populace from danger. Archers and axe throwers make up the Yeoman of the White Arrow, a group that defends the canton with bow and axe. Armoured fighters take part in practices weekly. A number also travel to nearby practices in Petrea Thule, Eoforwic and Skeldergate. Many of Ardchreag’s fighters hold armouring workshops in an attempt to get fighters from within and without their borders into armour quickly.

No to leave their coastline undefended Laird Colyne Stewart has commissioned the construction of Ardchreag’s first naval vessel, called the Red Arrow. A navy is necessary to protect merchant and private vessels from the dread pirates Cap’n Widow and Cap’n Bloodfox.

Artisans are also well represented by steel workers, illuminators, calligraphers, scribes, carvers, bards, researchers, chefs, woodworkers, gamers, pewter casters and so on. At least one guild was born in Ardchreag, namely the Games Guild of Ealdormere, which counts members in at least six kingdoms so far. Chronicling is also popular in Ardchreag, and it has published numerous publications over the past few years (with more apparently in the works).

It is, from all accounts, a very busy place.

*          *          *

Cursing, Snori stumbles over a discarded beer mug.

We’re standing in a copse of trees where a small shrine has been erected to a local saint named Crispinus. Upon a small pile of rocks stands a rudely carved figure of a man in a dress, while scattered around the base of the shrine are empty mugs and goblets. I can smell the doughy scent of beer. Crispinus was a Chreagger renowned for his love of fine ale who, it is said, was carried bodily into the heavens. This happened some time after he had gone to bed dead after consuming copious amounts of liquor and had arisen in the morning alive. (This was, coincidently, the same time when Bayar tried to commune with green bison.) Some time before that Crispinus had passed himself off successfully as a woman—though a homely one from all accounts. Crispinus disappeared—taken to heaven, insist the faithful—just before he could be given the rank of Lord by Their Lupine Majesties. St. Crispinus’ Award of Arms is currently in the hands of Ardchreag’s historian who is hunting high and low for the saint, and many others are in search of his dress. In the meantime locals claim to see his face appearing in mugs of ale, and toasts are raised to his health in pubs throughout the canton.

From this shrine we know we are close to the border and that our ordeal will soon be behind us. It is now getting dark and Snori pulls out a torch, which he sets alight with his flint and steel. Before too much longer we hear an axe and follow the sound to a clearing. There we find two Scottish lads just finishing a day of chopping wood. Though my Gaelic is rusty I manage to tell them we are lost and they tell me that we have just crossed into Greenhithe territory. The smaller man, named Stephen, agrees to take me to the nearby port. We pass the time in relative silence, until finally we reach the docks.

I toss Stephen a coin and he tips me a salute before departing. I likewise hand Snori his pay (even if he did nothing but get us lost) and book passage aboard a ship for home. I didn’t see a troll, but I saw many other wonders and count myself content.