When the king from Camelot announced a New Age, in Gothburg the folks were busy planning a war. King Erik the Battle- Axe found a war always sharpened his axe and his faculties. His wrist was indefatigable in mowing down armies by dozen and his trusty shield kept him from all harm. You see his aunt lovely Gisella was a witch who had made him mighty. His magic shield and axe of course enhanced his daring. Lady Gisella spent her days weaving spells as ladies in Camelot went on their embroidery that decked the kings halls and palace chambers with beauty and grace.
One morning King Erik felt miserable. His hands as strong as oak didn’t have anything to do. So he sent word to Lady Gisella. She remembered the dream she had just before the dawn broke. Now her nephew was asking for war.”It is war then!’ She knew her dream never lied. She dressed herself in haste and went to the map room. At random she unrolled the map of the kingdom lying beneath the kingdom Gothburg. She jabbed her finger as if moved by her own vision and it was on the marsh people of Krepits. Instantly King Erik got up and sent his wolfhounds to their handler and made preparations for the war. Thus on a fine morning he set out from his palace set high on a crag.
The army set off in highly elated state. Every varlet got a weeks ration and enough to drink and gamble in the inns they passed through. After that it was up to them to fend for themselves looting peaceful burghers or begging. The lowborn of course made fine cut-purses and tricksters even when they were demobbed. King Erik and nobles went on a single file through a village where the Squire Cut n’ Thrust was up and about. He had stepped from his cottage before his wife Greta was up. His babe lay in her arms.
The squire wanted to bring water from across a stream and fill the huge casks he had for the family and cattle. The king and his retinue didn’t like him to hold up their onward progress. The squire tried to break a few skulls of the nobles who were furious with him. They had provoked him by kicking his wooden pail around beating with the flat side of their broadswords. He defended hmiself as best as he could. In the end he was handcuffed and taken along. The young king was hardy in his physical endurance. He called the squire who impressed him with his pluck. He asked him to lift his battle axe in one sweep.
“Squire Cut’n Thrust didn’t think it was much of a challenge. So he laid his hand on the axe and swung it as though it were a feather and brought it on the noble Baron Mastiff Ears. He had lately insulted his low birth and spat on him. Now he was in his sight. The axe seemed to have a life of its own. It was almost grazed the chainmail of another before the king caught hold of his wrist. “Stop!”said the king,”You have proved you are my knight at arms.”The squire wasn’t interested. He only wanted to please his king and go home to his Greta.
“Who is Greta?”asked the king in amazement. He could not think any one could be more interested in anything other than the honor and wealth he could grant. Squire Cut ‘n Thrust explained and the king could understand it was love that he honored most. “Well you never had the chance to enjoy being my comrade in arms.” In the end he asked why he was called Cut’n Thrust.
The squire gave a weak smile and said,”The way I feed my cattle. I cut the straw and thrust it for them. I get my exercise and the cattle get a stomachful to eat. Of course for the king such Arcadian pleasures sounded so boring. King Erik for the first time made a right choice. He discovered one whose skill in a fight and personal courage was unmatched.
At last the army came to a forest overlooking the marshes. Krepits were unaware of battle coming so soon .
As he stood besides King Erik the Battle Axe he murmured, ‘O Greta, I do this for you.”He sighed and felt the sword presented to him by his king.
Meanwhile the k ing was outlining the strategy. He heard and said it was doomed to fail. The general who drew up the plan was aghast. Only the king pacified the old soldier from exploding. He asked the squire to explain and he said the terrain did not help the horses. “Marshes are treacherous sire!”He suggested him to draw the enemy into the mound on the south. “Only we keep our reserves hiding behind” . He was sure the enemy will be too surprised to resist. King Erik got the idea. The War Council came up with a new plan.
Then the Krepits were quickly routed. At the end of the slaughter the king knighted the squire and asked, “Are you a wizard?”
No, sire “said Knight Gareth of Goslings who was a squire an hour ago. He said he thought as a Krepit and the rest was easy.
King Erik stood there stunned. All he could murmur was ” Not a wizard . Wait till Lady Gisella hears this.”
(To Be Cont’d)