The Woe Begotten Tale of the Sad Fate of Prince Cedric

by: George A. Yesthal

The fog that rolled off the moor was as cold and dank as the humour in Ulerick’s soul. Never had a man seemed more beaten and dejected; sick at heart was he. He slogged through the sodden peat and loam that, in some places comprised a calf-deep morass that further served to suck out of him the will to put one foot in front of the other. His mission had been a costly success, having cost well over half their number; hearty and brave warriors all. Not the least of them being his own blood cousin, the prince. The manner of their deaths would ever haunt his dreams and trouble too his waking hours. As he trudged forth amidst these memories he paused, hand covering his mouth as his gorge arose in his throat.

“Art thou unwell, good Ulerick?”, A strong and grizzled hand squeezed his broad shoulder. At his elbow stood his long-time comrade, Gurth, the look of concern all too plain on his scarred visage.

“Alas, Gurth my friend, yea. As well as one may be who is saddled and laden with the burden of weight which my sad news must hie forth to the ear of noble King Atling. The prince, son of his royal loins, torn from us and rent asunder by the hands of a monster so hideous and foul as to poison the very ground it stalks. Woe that I live and he is gone. I fear the eloquence fails me that be wanting for these ill tiding’s bestowal. And see, brave Gurth, the mead hall yonder beckons as a wraith through the mist e’en anow.” As they both watched, the fog thinned revealing the stately Hall of King Atling.

“Tis sure, my friend, that I do not envy thee in thy task one jot.” said Gurth releasing Ulerick’s shoulder to remove his helm. “Notwithstanding the unfortunate weight of it, however, I will stand at thy side as thy second, albeit mine own will pales as well.”

Ulerick managed a wan smile and said “ Alas, no, brave soul. Sure it is that I couldst beg not a stouter brick than thee to buoy me, but this lot is my own and would not share it with one I loved half so much as thee.” He patted Gurth’s muscled chest and turned to slog down the gentle slope to the fortified town of Shiresbourgh. Soon the beleaguered band of warriors stood before the portcullis seeking entry.

After the proper greetings and identification at the barbican the gate was raised admitting Ulerick and his ragged troupe. Gurth asked once more, “Are you sure I cannot be…” Ulerick stanched his inquiry with a staying hand upon his forearm saying, “I’m sure. Tend to the wounded and see that the families of the dead are justly tithed and compensated.” With that, Ulerick walked off to the mead hall of King Atling with such a stride as belied the weakness he felt in his knees.

At the wide iron-bound oaken door of the hall Ulerick drew his sword and pounded three times with the pommel. The portal swung wide as the stationed man at arms shot the bolt and Ulerick strode through with a feigned purpose which he was in no way certain he actually felt. As he traversed the length of the hall toward the raised dais at the far end, he slowed his step allowing his eyes to adjust to the dimness of the smoky atmosphere. When he recognized the huge form of Atling settling onto the throne, he quickened his pace, presently prostrating himself at the foot of the dais.

Atling’s brow furrowed as he spoke through mustaches so long and bushy that his mouth was indeed, completely hidden from view. “What nonsense is this, nephew, that finds thee hugging the flags like a low-born scullery maid? Art thou bedeviled or ill? Come, thou art of noble birth; arise and purport thyself accordingly.” As he rose from his vaunted seat and descended the dais. Ulerick raised to one knee and kissed the hand of the king, saying around a lump in his throat, “Alas, my liege, the tidings I bear are dire indeed.”

Atling pulled his hand away and gazed toward the ponderous door as the guard there snapped to attention. “Pray, whither be thy cousin, Prince Cedric? Why does he tarry so?” He conveyed to the doorman with merely a gesture, his wish to have the door opened. Presently the man obeyed, the light from without revealing an empty doorway and courtyard beyond.

Ulerick, after long mute moments arose to his feet and finally finding voice to utter that which he so dreaded to speak announced, “Dead and gone from us, my lord. Gave his noble life and limb that the monster, Grizzlocke should be vanquished and is no more. Would that it could have been Ulerick of Hayden to take his place.” Now the tears flowed freely down his cheeks.

Atling waved his hand, signaling that the door be closed and returned to his throne. As he lowered his towering frame to the sound of the slammed door echoing through the hall, he gazed long at Ulerick and said, “Well, I never really liked him anyway. So, how’s your mom?”

The Woe Begotten Tale of the Sad Fate of Prince Cedric

George Yesthal

Brodheadsville, United States

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Artist's Description

Something amusing in the Old English style

Artwork Comments

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  • George Yesthal
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