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Tales of the Dark Horde
Many Tales Are Told Of The Great Dark Horde;
These Are But A Few

A Brother's Tale | Pennsic I: Before the Battle | How Many ..... | The Squire's Tale 1 | The Squire's Tale 2 | The Problem | Who Owns Pennsic War? | A Parable | The BoD | A Pennsic Story | Kingdomers | Tough Mongols | Mongols At The Gates | The Louse And The Flea | The Wedding | Little Subotai Pt. 1 | Two Wolves

A Brother's Tale

[This is an article from Cariadoc's Miscellany. The Miscellany is (c) Copyright 1988, 1990, 1992 David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook. For copying details, see the Miscellany Introduction.]

This is a tale of days long ago, and of matters that loom very small, it may be, in the affairs of great kingdoms. Yet to me it is of some moment, and it may be there is a lesson in it, even for these latter days. It is the tale of how I, who in my birth was given but one sister for sib, found for myself a brother, and that most strangely.

In those days I dwelt in my own lands in the Middle Kingdom, on the southern shore of the Tree Girt Sea. There chanced into the kingdom - - it is a matter on which many tales touch - - a wandering Mongol band. Between them and the Warriors of the Middle there was little love, for the Warriors of the Middle held the Sword Brothers of the Horde in scorn, thinking them poor foes unworthy of their steel, while to the Sword Brothers it seemed that the Warriors cared too much for victory and not enough for how it was won, and they believed, nor did they always scruple to say, that they themselves held closer to the codes befitting a warrior than did many a knight.

It chanced at a tourney, that same where Iriel of Brannoch was crowned King, and Andrew of Seldom Rest won the right to be his heir, that there were many melees, the Sword Brothers of the Horde fighting against the Warriors of the Middle, and they were in numbers greatly outmatched. Seeing which I lent to them my aid, which I think no man else in the Kingdom did, though little enough good it did them. And it may be that is part of my tale, and it may be not.

On another day was a tourney held in the Canton of the Three Hills, and to it came the horde, and the Warriors of the Middle, I among them. It had been proposed that in that tournament some fight in a fashion then new to the kingdom, holding matches by the blow, each man permitted to strike so many blows and no more, the winner judged by a panel of fair ladies. There came to me Yang, the spokesman of the Horde, and he proposed that we fight so, not one bout but five, with divers weapons. It seemed to me a brave thing that he did, for he was reputed more skillful with tongue than sword, and I was then young and in the fullness of my strength, and accounted a great warrior among my peers.

So we fought first with spear and shield, and he proved a fell foe, quick and skilled. Yet it chanced, in the noble fury of battle, that he struck the blows alloted to him, all five, and there remained to me yet one blow more. Thinking it no fit part of chivalry to chase about the field a foe who could do me no harm, I touched his shield with my spear point, and that was my fifth blow. I think no man saw it, save my foe alone. In the next match it chanced, through my carelessness or pride, that I struck all the allotted blows at him, and there remained one more to him, or it may be two; he touched my shield, and that was his blow. So the day went on. When our combats were done he filled a great cup, and offered it to me, and for what I spoke I make no excuse, for I was young then, and full of joy and pride to do battle with so noble a foe. The toast was "To Ourselves. There are damn few of us left." And we drank the toast, we two, from one cup.

It chanced another time, some weeks thereafter, that high feast and revelry was held in a great hall in my own lands, in the province of the Tree Girt Sea. There came Yang attired as a minstrel, and with him many of his folk. When the feasting was done he sang songs for the company, and last one of his making. It was called the ballad of the Griffin and Snake, for Yang bears on his shield for a sign a snake, red as blood. That song by fortune you may hear from his lips.

Think then that this is that high hall, all about a bright company, at their head Iriel, King of the Middle, garbed black as a raven, with a hauberk of rings overall, and by him Morna, robed green as grass, than whom few fairer Queens has any land known. There is a great stillness of all that company, and in it a voice clear as silver. The tale is of Griffin and Snake met in combat, each thinking the other but a weak foe. It tells how over the meeting blades each found in the foeman not skill alone that bringeth victory, but that also which he himself held dearer than any victory that skill may bring.

The song ceased. He called me forth into the hall, and to me gave a knife, and with it his oath of aid whenever and wherever I had need of it, and likewise I did for him. We have called each other brother since that day. His oath he repaid ere a year had passed, on a muddy hill, fighting at my side with a long spear against a foe that came and came and there was no end to them.

Pennsic I: Before the Battle

[This is also an article from Cariadoc's Miscellany. The Miscellany is (c) Copyright 1988, 1990, 1992 David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook. For copying details, see the Miscellany Introduction.]

It is the morning before battle; the King of the East sits enthroned, and to him comes the spokesman of the Dark Horde, his warriors about him:

Cariadoc: Welcome, Welcome most noble Yang. Have you come here with your valiant Sword Brothers to fight under the banner of the East against our common enemies of the Middle?

Yang: No.

(Brief Silence)

Cariadoc (slightly less enthusiastically): Forgive me, most noble and subtle Yang, by some called Silvertongue, Spokesman of the Dark Horde, if I misspoke. What I meant to ask was, have you come here to fight under your own banners, beside the East Kingdom as its allies, against our common enemies of The Great Dark Hordethe Middle?

Yang: No

(Longer Silence)

Cariadoc: Tell me then, oh most subtle and devious Yang, why have you come?

Yang: You may remember, Brother, that some while ago I promised you my aid if you had need of it. Well, Brother, today you have need of it.

GDH Postage Stamp
How Many ......

"How many Hordesmen does it take to sharpen a sword?"

"Three: One to sharpen the sword, and one to confuse the issue."

Little Subotai was sitting on a Pennsic bench munching on one candy bar after another. After the 6th one... a ch'agua on the bench across from him said, "Son, you know eating all that candy isn't good for you. It will give you acne, rot your teeth, make you fat."

Little Subotai replied, "My grandfather lived to be 107 years old."

The man asked, "Did your grandfather eat 6 candy bars at a time?"

Little Subotai answered, "No, he minded his own damned business!"

The Squire's Tale

Well, all have gone, it seems my turn at speech;
A story of past celebrations of this week
No story have I of dung-shared location,
Nor humorous exploit of the Mongol nation
No tales have I of peers from ages past
Nor do speak of feasts or many fine repasts
Rather I speak of a night..nay you..a -night-
A great tale of wine and of a great flight
"Well, speak you now," spoke Bob, "Or I will sleep"
For indeed, into his Fribble his visage did creep
The squire did then apoligise, they do so well.
Munching on a fry, his tale he did tell.

"Was my first war I remember so clear.
As twenty-seven was given the year,
so then twenty-two must be the number.
The time past good gentles should be to slumber
found me walking, nay I was drunk, t'was a lumber,
Amongst the good folk of the horde I did camp
The night was clear and quite free from the damp
We had been out for hours, for a goodly romp
And did find a party deep among the swamp
Not the Barony mind you, but rather the area at War
deep in the swamp, far from the Dogs of Gor
The hour grew quite late, our mood quite e-late
When my friend, a romance began at the gate
of the party we were in attendance to.
I, rather sleepy, back to camp wished to go
He bade me on with wine filled direction
and continued his discourse on his own erection
of a monument which was of his pride.
Off into the night did I so lumber forth
Vaguely remembering of a star that was north
Nay, north, not south as our ranger friends say
Besides, their tower I would have looked for, were it day
No, lumber did I, until a gate I did pass
A fine gate from the fine lands of Trimaris.
Marked well this gate for so it caught my eye
That my mind did drift until again I did spy
this gate looming before me. In my sotted glory
I guessed my brain had lingered long on story
and I bid myself to the path pay more mind
Imagine my face when again lo I did find
this self same gate before me. "Alas' I did cry
and endevor'd good gentles for a way to lul-a-bye
"Tis that way' they spoke and 'that way' I mov'd
My feet now sore, for they were sorely hooved
without sole of leather. Looked I for some cairn,
a landmark, a hill, a that a barn?
My mind did reel! the wrong way have come I
And back did I go, to find my lul-abye
Imagine my face now when again I did spy
That evil gate that had once caught my eye.
"Cursed am I' thought I, as this came to pass
When at once I did spot a trail hidden by grass.
At once this trail did I set my foot upon
Moving quickly I was sure, because soon came the dawn
and my sword was needed for the great melee
I did soon come upon many a surgeons house
Into which I crept, quiet like a drunken mouse
"I am in need of sleep, and have lost my way
I need direction, for soon it is day
Which way to mongol camp, please..before the sun"
To which they replied simply and graciously .... "which one?"
A groan let out I, and there almost died
I swear I was lost, to the point I almost cried
A kind gentle did tell to me of what and who
The truth that of mongols there are Classic and Moritu
"Ahh ... Classic!" 'spoke me for this name I had heard
And with new energy and the sweet song of a bird
did clamber up the road to the camp of my friends
And here good folk is where my tale now ends
Simply this wisdom will I give you tonight
Whether arts or service, or with sword do you fight,
Don't leave newbies at Pennsic alone in the night.

- by Batujin

The Problem ......

"The problem with Mongols is that there's never just one of them ....."

Batujin's "The Squire's Tale: Campfire Version"

I remember well my first Pennsic war. I was brand new into the SCA, having just gotten my fighter's card two months prior. My job was being stubborn, and even though I could not have the week off, I found I could go for the weekend. I had heard that it is a 5 hour drive to Pennsic from where I live .... but let me tell you .... this is a lie. With my cart loaded and passenger on board, we set out for war .... to make a peaceful five hour drive .... 5 hours .... bah! .... We met many strange beasts which waylayed us upon our journey. perhaps you have heard of some of these? Like the great Red-Bellied Flag Holder? Or the plentiful Construction Horse? .... needless to say .... we tarried enough to turn our 5 hour drive into a 9 hour drive.

We arrived at Pennsic at just past dark. Trolled in quickly, and this is where the fun began. I was supposed to meet a friend of mine, who was supposed to take us to where we were camping .... a place known to me as only 'Horde Camp'. I looked around a moment, and started to feel the bile of ill temper rising to my throat when I spied a familiar shape walk .... .er .... no .... lurching down the road. It seems my good friend had been judging a brewing contest all day .... and was in little humor to spy me as readily as I did him.

With quick hellos, we got into my wagon and proceeded to camp .... he offered to help me unload .... and indeed he did (he took the cooler out of the car and sat down on it .... standing only long enough to get some of the contents from within.)

When I was finally unpacked and set up, he told me of some parties we should attend that evening .... staying in camp was out of the question because I was now firmly out of beer. Batu was VERY drunk

Off we went into the night, and found many strange and wonderous sights. An animal, burned in effigy was my introduction to the Pennsic party circut. From there we went on .... .now mind you .... I am a newbie, and this was Pennsic at night .... -the only way I had seen pennsic- .... .my mouth hung open in wonder and delight .... and as an easy method to pour beer into my stomach. many parties we saw .... and many libations were consumed, when we happened across a wandering band of gypsys. They led us to their camp for another revel. As the hour grew late, I looked about and realised I was alone. I looked for my friend and found him chatting with a young lady. I asked for directions home .... since at this time, the sky was beginning to glow with the light of rosy-fingered dawn. He pointed to the distance and gave the best SCA directions I have ever heard:

"That way" ....

..... so I went .... that way.

I walked for some time, looking at the gates and the torches and feeling a sense of wonder that all who see Pennsic drunk at night feel. I spotted one gate in particular that amazed me .... the Great Gates of Trimaris .... .it was wonderous. I proceeded onward and went around a corner and up a hill and around another corner and there before me was .....

The Great Gates of Trimaris.

I exclaimed loudly .... "Oh phooey!" (ok ok .... maybe not phooey .... but this is family hour) and staggered stalwartly onward .... thinking maybe I had missed my turn.

I went around a corner and up a hill and around another corner and there in front of me was .....

The Great Gates of Trimaris.

I exclaimed loudly .... "Oh double phooey!" and proceeded onward .... .thinking maybe I really had missed my turn.

I went around a corner and up a hill and around a bush and there grinning in front of me was .....

The Great Gates of Trimaris.

This time I exclaimed "Oh s***" (ok - family hour is over)

I spied two gentles walking with fresh faces and asked perhaps if they knew the way to Horde Camp .... they pointed off and gave me better directions than I had been given ....

"That way" .... they said

and so I went 'that way'.

I went up a hill, around a corner and around another corner and there in front of me stood:

(no - not the gates ....)

The Barn!

I figured I did something wrong and turned back around the way I had come ..... and turned a corner and saw ....

The Great Gates of Trimaris !!!!

This time I did not exclaim .... I just turned red.

But .... fortune was with me .... even if she was spinning her wheel faster than normal, and as I trodded along in the same direction again .... I spied a path I had missed the times before. Up it I trudged (anything was better than walking around the previous way again.)

Soon I came to a large striped tent with a sign outside proclaiming that the Kurgens lived there. Now .... I remember my movies well and according to Highlander (a well-known Primary Source) .... the Kurgens were a steppe people .... and I thought .... hrmm .... Mongols are steppe people .... perhaps one can tell me the location of the other.

I entered and looked about, seeing beds .... and lights and folks in garb standing about drinking coffee .... I peeked outside again and re-read the sign ....

DOH! The Chirurgeons!!!!

I looked back in and repeated my earlier plea for directions while silently cursing the birds' newly found songs.

"Which way to Horde camp" .... spoke I.

the reply was not what I expected ....

"Which one?" .... they replied.

I cursed.

.... and must have looked confused, because one spoke up .... "Classic or Moritu?"

AHHH HA! "Classic" spoke I, trying not to sound too much like I was guessing .....

They gave me the same set of directions everyone else had .....

"That way." .....

Now I am not stupid .... I thought this time I would confirm the directions ....

"That way?" I asked.

"That way" .... they said.

Satisfied .... I trudged. Off. That way.

Now by some luck, this time Horde camp really was "that way" and within moments (including the pause to curse again at the birds) I mosey'd off to sleep ..... only to be awoked moments later for fighting.

Moral: Do NOT!! DO NOT!! Leave your newbies alone at Pennsic at night

Who Owns Pennsic War?

In Tales of the Midrealm Kings, Volume 1, by Finnvarr de Taahe (copyright 1982), page 43, is this tale of the Horde at Pennsic II: Wake Us Not

" one yet knew how many Horde warriors trained within its borders would fight for the East. The kings and queens held a long court in the torrid sun that afternoon (while sheltered under a pavilion themselves, of course) where Angus was knighted and Sean Rubuaru was made Master of Arms by the Eastern King, but that vital question remained unanswered. It was that evening, after the feast that Yang the Nauseating came before the thrones and that Finnvarr rose to invest him as his Royal Viceroy of the area west of the Debatable Lands, charged with their defense. Immediately Andrew popped up and likewise warranted Yang to defend that area known as Newt's Camp for the Middle. Yang was surprised, but gleefully and with mock solemnity announced that the Horde, charged with such heavy responsibility for keeping the peace, had little choice but to attack whoever broke it first, even if it meant fighting both sides at once..."

It might be useful to point out here that "Newt's Camp" was the site of Pennsic I, a private campground outside Waterford, PA (near Erie, PA). According to Finnvarr's account, the East appointed Yang to be guardian of the lands "West of the Debatable Lands" which would be the Shire of Afongara (West Virginia panhandle) or some part of Ohio, while the Middle appointed Yang the guardian of Newt's Camp, which would be in the Shire of Stormsport. Pennsic II was not held at Newt's Camp, but at a public park called St. Clair's Beach in Pittsburgh's South Hills. That park no longer exists, which could add some funny schtick to any discussion of it being under any SCA group's guardianship.

A Parable

Three Hordesmen and three Kingdomers are traveling by train to Pennsic. At the station, the three Kingdomers each buy tickets and watch as the three Hordesmen buy only a single ticket.

"How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?' asks a Kingdomer.

"Watch and you'll see," answers the Hordie.

They all board the train. The Kingdomers take their respective seats but all three Hordesmen cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, "ticket, please." The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.

The Kingdomers saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the War, the Kingdomers decide to copy the Hordesmen on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money, and all that).

When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the Hordesmen don't buy a ticket at all.

"How are you going to travel without a ticket says one perplexed Kingdomer.

"Watch and you'll see," answers a Hordie.

When they board the train the three Kingdomers cram into a restroom and the three Hordesmen cram into another one nearby. The train departs.

Shortly afterward, one of the Hordesmen leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the Kingdomers are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please..."

Hordesman: "The Board of Directors is like a flagon of kumiss".

Kingdomer: "Really? Why is the Board of Directors like a flagon of kumiss?"

Hordesman: "All right. All right!!! Have it your way! The Board of Directors isn't like a flagon of kumiss."

A Pennsic Story

The King was visiting a children's class at Pennsic, where they were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings.

The teacher asked the King if he would like to lead the class in the discussion of the word, "tragedy," so, His Illustrious Majesty asked the class for an example of a tragedy.

One little boy stood up and offered, "If my best friend, who lives next door, was playing in the street and a cart came along and ran over him, that would be a tragedy."

"No," said His Majesty, "That would be an accident."

A little girl stood up and said, "If a chartered bus carrying fifty people going to Lilies War drove off a cliff, killing everyone involved, that would be a tragedy."

"I'm afraid not," explained the Royal, "That's what we would call a GREAT LOSS."

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. The King searched the group. "Isn't there anyone who can give me an example of a tragedy?"

Finally, way in the back of the room, a small Mongol boy raised his hand. In a quiet voice, he said, "If the Royal Thrones, with the Crown and the BoD, were suddenly blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy."

"Fantastic," exclaimed the King, "That's right. And can you tell us WHY that would be a tragedy?"

"Well," said the boy, "Because it wouldn't be an accident and it certainly wouldn't be any great loss."


A knight and his men return to their castle after a long hard day of fighting.

"How are we faring?" asks the king.

"Sire," replies the knight, "I have been robbing and pillaging on your behalf all day, burning the towns of your enemies in the west."

"What?!" shrieks the king. "I don't have any enemies to the west!"

"Oh," says the knight. "Well, you do now."

Tough Mongols

A Hordesman went to the Doctor for a check up. The doctor came with the results and said, "You are in excellent shape for 55 year old man."

"Did I say I was 55?" said the Hordesman. "You mean you're not 55?' said the doctor. "No. I am 75," said the Hordesman.

"Good heavens. You are in remarkable shape. You must have incredible genes. Let me ask you this. How old was your father when he died?"

"Did I say my father was dead?"said the Hordesman. "You dont mean he is alive?" said the doctor. "He sure is. He is 98 and still dancing." said the Hordesman.

"Well let me ask you this, said the doctor. "How old was your grandfather when he died?"

"Did I say my grandfather was dead?"

"You dont mean he's alive, too?"

"Why he sure is. In fact, he is 127 and getting married tomorrow."

"Getting married! Why in the world would a 127 year old man want to get married?"

"Did I say he wanted to get married?"

Mongols At The Gates

One day the Seneshal was at his usual post at the EastRealm Gates when 40 Mongols appeared, ready to attend Court. Having never seen a Mongol at the gates before, (he hadn't been paying attention) the Seneshal was not sure what to do. So, he told the Horde to wait a minute while he went to talk to the King.

After being told the situation, the King thought for a minute and said, "Seneshal, go back and pick out the ten most honorable Mongols and let them in."

The Seneshal turned and started to go back when he noticed something. "Sire, they're gone, they're gone!" said the Seneshal.

"All 40 Mongols are gone?" the King asked.

"No," said the Seneshal, "The Gates! They're gone!"

The Louse and the Flea

A louse and a flea kept house together and were brewing beer in an eggshell when the louse fell in and was scalded. Then the flea began to scream as loud as he could, and the little door to the room asked, "Why are you screaming, flea?"

"Because louse has been scalded."

Then the door began to creak, and the little broom in the corner asked, "Why are you creaking, door?"

"Why shouldn't I creak?
Louse has just got scalded.
Flea is weeping."

Then the broom began to sweep in a frenzy, and when a little cart came driving by, it asked, "Why are you sweeping, broom?"

"Why shouldn't I sweep?
Louse has just got scalded.
Flea is weeping.
Door is creaking."

"Well, then I'm going to race around," said the cart, and it began racing around furiosly, and the dung heap, which it passed, asked, "Why are you racing around, cart?"

"Why shouldn't I race around?
Louse has jut got scalded.
Flea is weeping.
Door is creaking.
Broom is sweeping."

"Then I'm going to burn with fury," said the dung heap, and it began to burn in bright flames. Then a little tree nearby asked, "Why are you burning, dung heap?"

"Why shouldn't I burn?"
Louse has just got scalded.
Flea is weeping.
Door is creaking.
Broom is sweeping.
Cart is racing."

"Well, then I'm going to shake myself," said the tree, and it shook itself so hard that all its leaves began to fall. Then a maiden with a water jug came by and asked, "Tree, why are you shaking?"

"Why shouldn't I shake?
Louse has just been scalded.
Flea is weeping.
Door is creaking.
Broom is sweeping.
Cart is racing. Dung heap is burning."

"Well, then I'm going to break my water jug," said the maiden, and as she was breaking it, the spring from which the water came asked, "Maiden, why are you breaking the water jug?"

"Why shouldn't I break it?
Louse has just got scalded.
Flea is weeping.
Door is creaking.
Broom is sweeping.
Cart is racing.
Dung heap is burning.
Tree is shaking."

"Goodness gracious!" said the spring. "Then I'm going to flow," and it began to flow so violently that they were all drowned in the water--the maiden, the tree, the dung heap, the cart, the door, the flea, and the louse, every last one of them.

The Wedding

Three weeks after her wedding day, Joanna called the Khan. "John and I had a DREADFUL fight!" she wailed.

"Calm down, my child," said the short, red-headed despotic Welsh leader, "it's not half as bad as you think. Every marriage has to have its first fight!"

"I know, I know!" said Joanna. "But what am I going to do with the BODY?"

Two Wolves

An old Mongol Grandfather said to his grandson who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice:

"Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy."

"It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times."

He continued...

"It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. He saves all his energy for the right fight."

"But the other wolf, ahhh!"

"He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason."

"He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing."

"Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked ..."Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said ... "The one I feed."


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