"Truth in the heart."
"Strength in the arm."
"Honesty in speech."
The Celtic Code of Chivalry, imposed by the Druids, according to St. Patrick
We are the Fir Áraig, litterally "Men of Bond", or Oath. We are arachta, oath-friends, bound to each other and our pay master by the strength of our oath and bond, our word is true as is our claidh, our blades. We are cró, we are diberg, we are in fian. Warband and comnáma to the highest bidder, to whom we pledge our solid uist, our oath. We welcome unto our fold any who would accept the oath in bondage and the trials that accompany the Fir Áraig - Goidíl, Gall-Goidíl, Albannaich and Lochlannach, both Dubgaill and Finngaill, and we question not our brave díbergachta's beliefs - be him Christian or of the geinti, the heathens. Our banner is the Finn Fíadh, the White Stag, a noble creature woven deep into the lore of our ancestors. A creature as noble and gallant as any found. It is the animal of the aes sídhe, the fairy folk, and as such we treat it with apprieciation and respect befitting of such an auspicious beast.
Our long fhada, vessal, is In Muirbran, the Sea-Raven, and her prow has carved paths from Eriu through the Irish Sea to the Suðreyar and the Norðreyjar where our oath and service has been bought by toísech, jarl and rí alike. Through these lord's and their battles our, dear, Fir Áraig have been coined as "In Gráscar", "The Rabble", but we embrace this epithet with pride and without shame!
We are the Fir Áraig, "Men of Bond", and our oath is true.
Ulric the Dour, son of the Bard...
Born and raised in the firth that harbours the deep sea-loch of Cromba, in the Pict-founded parish of Cille Tigerna. Ualraig was raised in a melting pot of emalgimating cultures, Brythonic, Gaelic and Norse, with the Viking-founded town of Tingvall close by, he learnt and enthralled himself in these cultures he was able to build himself the foundations he would need to live and wander the Norse-Celt of the Laithlinn, Northern Alba, and Eriu. Growing up he followed his father, Sitric, a bard, a fil or a skald depending on who asked, learning of the brutal politics and power-struggles of the region he called his home and his world. Soon, it came the time were he would carve his own path, offering his blade to any Jarl or Toisech who would buy it. Accompaning his sword, which would embrace the metal like the scabbard, was his oath to which led him to the Northern Isles of Orkneyjar and Hetlandensis, were the Jarldom is now ruled by the brothers Paul Thorfinnsson and Erlend Thorfinnsson whose grandfather Christianised the Orkneyjar and fought at Clontarf against Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig. To the Western Isles and the Kingdom of the Isles and Mann, Ualraig in Dúr travelled also, where the Kingship and overlordship has many hands in these past years that all is unclear and bathed in the grey vail of the sea and blood spilt by Gael, Gall-Goidil and Albannach alike...T'was his coming to Dyflin, or Duiblinn would make his name... That, though, is a story for another time.
Fintan the Pious...
Fintan was born to simple farmhand’s family in little village in central Ireland northern Éile, in Northern Mhuman. He learnt fast and well the wonders of the seasons and the growing of crops, but he soon took interest in more divine matters and he left his old life to become a monk. He left his home village and headed to the eastern coast to adapt principles of goodwill and humbleness in sacred monastery east of the town Nás nRí. Few years after the beginning of his new life, a nearby village was raided by some Vikings. Even though the villagers were not his kin, he had grown fond of the people and he was enraged about their ill-fate. He left the Christian principle of love and forgiveness to help the common people in fight against outsiders.
Soon after his departure, he heard tales about a small, wandering warband and its leader Ualraig in Dúr. He offered his sword to him and humble man as he was; he took Ualraig as his lord even though he is not of noble birth. And so Fintan the Pious fights for his people and for his faith alongside his brothers.
Odhrán of Belfast...
From the small, insignificant village of Belfast, came Odhrán, son of Aodhan, a cattle farmer and Duibhghiolla, daughter of a Southern merchant. With his childhood drawing to an end it seemed that his profession would be that of a farmer, but in 1055 would lose what little cattle he had in a foolish game of chess, leaving his family entirely vulnerable. Odhrán sought to solve this problem by joining the military force of the Ulaid, ensuring that whatever meagre pay he recieved was given to his family. It would take Odhrán four years of service until his father was again able to purchase cattle and it was at this time in 1059 AD, that he would resign from his service in the Ulaid force. However, the simple and mundane life of a farmer was no longer for Odhrán and by 1061 AD he was again searching for a military force which would lead him to the adventurous life of the battlefield.
He travelled South to the great city of Duiblinn, where he met Ualraig in Dúr, his future warband leader, in a tavern. After a lot of talking and drinking of mead, Odhrán became fully convinced that he should join Fir Áraig and the rest is yet to come...
Røgnvaldr the One-eyed... Síthmaith the Hospitable...
The Battle of Éafanheall
This is the tale from the eyes of Ualraig as an actual character. The tale is more of less based on the Third Round of the Éafanheall event, with some degree of tweeking. It is far from finished and is very much a WIP.
It began, the war-thunder. The Vikingr's ears were filled with the rour and rythmic beatings as the Engle slammed weapon upon sheild and any space of of the tall pallisade they could find. Ualraig in Dúr rested his sheild by his foot and drew a deep breath as he gazed at the impressive Éafanheall settlement, he dondered his gaze from one tower to the next. Ualraig pushed the flat of his hand against his thigh to steady it, as if he were not griped by nerves enough he had been given charge of the aðrir by the Jarl - Thorkell Erlingar.
The thunder and insults of the Engle was peirced suddenly by the low and deep call of a horn and his perifery was distracted savagley by the swift glare of white - Erlingar's flag was on the move. Ualraig looked about his men, some he knew like his own warband Fir Áraig, and those he did not like those of the Aðrir. Upon finding Fintan in Cráibdech he noded and no words needed to be spoke. Fintan placed his sheild in Cormag in Garbhan's hand and strolled infront of us, his hands swiftly outlined the Holy Trinity and his mouth echoed a quiet prayer before falling on one knee to place soil upon his tounge. Some in the warband repeated the sign of the cross, most though grasped their amulets of Mjölnir. Ualraig allowed Fintan to gather his equipment then swept an arm forward.
"Keep close! Sheilds up!" He called over his shoulder before the jolting thud of an arrow throw itself into his sheild.
Ualraig slowed his step and allowed the warband to continue.
"Where is my banner-man?" Searched for the man chosen to bare the warband's rags, a man who called himself only "The Hermit". Seeing him Ualraig wrapped a hand around The Hermit's arm. "Stay with me! Keep the cloth up!"
Looking over the rim of the sheild that now formed his horizon he saw the walls of Éafanheall and noted the warband's pace was quicker than he had expected. Ualraig thrust an arm towards the ladders towhich men flocked to raise them against the impressive pallisade before them, the rest throw their bodies against the wall. He strafed against the wall before coming to the warband's bowman, a man who's breath and hair reaked of a sweet smelling odour - a pouch of exotic leaves hung from his belt.
"Keep their heads down!" He called to be heard over the din of the battle-thunder. The sheild-bashing was now accompanied hand-in-hand with insults Ualraig could not understand.
Fintan and Cormag held sheilds over Sumarliðr Ljótsson who unwisely chosen to use a two-handed-axe alone, though in one hand the Norse-Gael fondled a stone at which a brow quirked eye into Ualraig's brow. With a deep groan the ladders were raised, dust and splinters of wood fell atop the warband. This would be far from easy, Ualraig thought, his and his warband's task was to get atop this section of the pallisade. To the centre of the wall lay the gates at which the warband of Jarl Bjorn and others, would throw themselves at untill the timbers fell. Further down still, was the third attack on the walls. The plan was simple but it was not easy with such defenders, feirce fighting-men were the Engle.
"Tiosech!" Cried a voice. "Toisech Ualraig!"
"Jarl Ualraig!" cried another. Ualraig rallied himself from his thoughts and saw Ruaidrí na Luimneach standing at the foot of the ladder. "The gates are down and Jarl Thorkell is in the frey! Climb the ladder!" He looked to and fro before seeing he was the only man not yet on the ladder, even The Hermit was half way up the rungs.
At the top of the ladders fought Bludgar whose sheild was thrown violently into the face of an enemy, while on the other ladder stood Jorund whose cloak whipped in the gust. Sumarliðr Ljótsson had already found footing atop the walls, his feet parted each side of a lifeless body. Before he was aware Ualraig planted a boot onto the walls and took stock of the situation.
The defenders that had been fighting on this section of pallisade snarled and threw insults over their sheilds as we closed on them. The warband was cautious, there are few things in battle more dangerous than trapped and desperate men.
"Throw down your weapons!" One of Ualraig's men called. "Throw them down and lower your sheilds!"
"Never!" Replied a voice in accented Norse.
There was no time to reply as the defenders throw themselves against the Vikingr, the stench of their breath clung heavily to Ualraig's nose as he pushed on. It was a quick affair, with the defenders falling quickly but no less bravely. He drew himself up and looked around, taking note of the large enclosure of Éafanheall allowing his men a moment of respite, a second wind would be needed he thought as he gazed at the winding path that led up a steep slope to the Engle cheif's longhouse.
It began, the war-thunder. The Engle's had withdrawn to the top of the slop and had began their war-thunder once again. The Vikingr gathered at the bottom of the slope and rallied themselves for the tough upward struggle. Ualraig could see the centre of the foe-men's line was made up of sheild's baring a green cross upon a white feild, they seemed the most battle-ready. Jarl Thorkell Erlingar stood at the front of our lines and adressed the Vikingr host, though what he said could be hardly heared by Fir Áraig or the Aðrir for they stood to the rear of the fighting-host.
"What is so important that he needs to say it now? I would rather leave talking to the poets rather than give the Sasanaich time to recover!" Said Cormag in Irish, his Toisech shrugged.
Jarl Bjorn's warband swept forward their red sheilds tightly locked as they approached the enemy waiting atop the hill. The rest of the host follow suit, Jarl Thorkell Erlingar in the centre with Fir Áraig and the Aðrir to the rear. Some men's sheild's hung limply at their side, tired from the fighting, their legs heavy as they trudged up the hill. With no warning the Engle broke formation and turned to run, they fell from sight as they disopeared over the brow of the hill. At the top of the hill lay a large area of flat ground where large buildings of wood had been built. Men were cautious, wary of ambush and hidden dangers, but before them lay the Engle's plan, a bridge. The bridge was narrow and no barrier was there to stop any who strayed too far left or right, they would funnel us in, whence our numbers would counter for little. Tired and wishing to see battle's end, the Vikingr host rushed on, over the bridge and threw themselves upon the defenders. There savage fighting occured, those at the back pushed on and the Engle would have to push against the enitre wait of the Vikingr host. Foe-men and ally fell, beaten down and then savagley trampled beneathe the feet of his comrades. The strench of sweat and musck filled the nostrils, the clash of weapons and sheilds and the cries of the desperate and the dying rang loudly. The press of tightly packed bodies crushing those infront and below, making some men to be gripped by fear and panic. The breath of men being driven out of their chest as they are urged by their comrades to push on. That push was grow less and less untill the wall of the Engle's sheilds broke and the Vikingr swept through like water. The defenders fled before the oncoming attackers, flying up the procarious steps that led of the longhouse.
There, before the doors of Éafanheall's longhouse, above which flew a flag of twin steeds, was the final death-blow given to the brave defenders of Éafanheall.
"The Manx Normans"
A more immersive, historical and RP'ish take upon the Fir Áraig Vs Le Armée Du Batard clan match.
In 1920 a group of Archaeologists funded by the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England discovered a Irish missionary convent on the Isle of Man, less than 10 miles North of Douglas. Within the area of this convent was the usual sights and findings associated with a Celtic Christian site and with the usual influances from the Norse-Gaelic peoples of the area. Only one item was found to be unusual. A scripture written in Old Irish and Gaelic was found tattered and forgotten, however written in the margin, crammed in and only just readable was
"The Normanz have left. 1065"
Curiousity arose as common themes were found in many more findings around the site hinting to the existance of atleast a small group of Normanz on the Isle of Man. With no other resources or findings with any other suggestion to the presence of none-natives on the Isle, the project was soon dropped.
In 1983 when a new exavation project was made for the "identification and preservation of the Manx Runestones" a curious discovery was made. A Norman-style helm was found, beside of which sat the weak remains of a kite sheild. Not a day later the same group discovered the remains of ten bodies, from further investigation it was noted that these ten males died from wounds suffered in conflict. Amongst the Norman helm and sheild, were swords used by warriors and armies on the continent, not within the Gaelic and Norse-Gaelic world, as well as the more common finds from battles from this part of the world. The excavation-leader brought his evidence to historians at many Universities throughout England and Scotland, uncluding Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh. Perplexed and confused by the findings, the historians and other officials came to radical conclusions. That a Norman trade ship had been blown well off course. That a Norse-Gael longship held Norman captives who had found a chance to escape, though this was quickly put aside with the presance of Norman war-gear. Some thought that it may have been a Norman scout-ship of sorts used in early September in 1066 as a prelimerie investigation of England's North-Western shores before the Norman Invasion. The only conclusion that can be made is that these so called "Manx Normans" did not flee the Isle, instead finding their doom upon the Isle of Man.
However, with no further evidance to support any claims, the evidence was soon put aside and forgotten about my historian and archeologists alike.
Poems by Fintan the Pious
Oh brothers, look at that beautiful village
It would be real shame somebody to loot it and pillage
I see how you stand valiantly in our boats
So ready your wills, chainmails, helmets and shouts
Odin has sent his blessing and look how fly the ravens
We will bring glory and honor to his name, Oh pity the cravens
We will embrace gladly the thrill of battle and gore
Ready we shall be for the battle-maidens who we so adore
Our foes shall be send to their forgotten ancestors
And we shall drink, dine and feast wiht our creators
This is the song of our beloved, dear battles
so you wretched maids; get back to your kettles
This is the tale of the battled, full grown men,
greybeards and beardless boys in the warriors den
In a grim late-summer morning
The boats are filled with husbands
With sons, leaving the women mourning
Beside the sea, which holds them with caring hands
Their lives are poor, pitiful and short
Men must find the honor in the foreign land
So they ready the ships to leave the port
Glory they shall find in bloodied salty sand
Their dreams shall be fed to carrion birds
Only ancestors and unborn sons shall remember those
When Death guides them like earthly herds
Through the fiery plains where smoke burns the nose
Songs will be made about their deeds to glorify
To justify their deaths so living can sleep in peace
Not dreaming about the past where the lie
Became the truth, the singing bird the autumn leaves
The gods see the bravery of mortal men
And the grim destiny they brought upon themselves
And still the gods play against the Amen
Moving their pieces, until they become fictional like elves
And the men die to honor dying gods
But the new world will remember them as legends
Greeting the past ghosts with modest nods
And still they bow their heads to reach the heavens
At the eve of the battle-nights
They sang the chant to the heights
Of the gods and northern lights
And so they called the help to come
But the answer was just to carry on
And fight till the deed was done
And the bodies were filled with holes
And so left the freed valiant souls
Without coming back to their waiting homes
And so weave the Norns
At their well in the valley of thorns
Till the bulls lose their horns
And mighty dead shall rise
And with their own eyes
They see; it was nothing but lies
I used to ride with my friend Willie
Until the weather got so chilly
That his ponys hoofs got frozen
And he was not chosen
To be leader the next round
Instead we got some wild hound
To lead us to victory and glory
And he surely wasn't riding a pony
I once met a certain grizzled officer
And I didn't need to address him as her
His name was Mr. Hotpants
And he had very soft hands
When he picked the manly flower
And put it to his blond hair
He had travelled far and wide
And he never had to hide
As he was so f*cking manly
That he once beat some Stanley
I once heard that Chuck Norris
Has a poster of a man, BoB that is
It was just of his beard
And that's only when I heard
How frikkin' epic Hotpants is
I felt that I should be called ms.
One part of him
Makes me real sick
It can get very thick
It really needs a lick
It can't sustain a kick
It's the dream of every chick
We shouldn't refer it as a "stick"
And some people call it as *ick
So that was just a epic tale
Of a man who hugs Saxton Hale
And who shoot fire
Out of his chesthair
In the summer morning
I said to my darling
To look at the she-hare
To look at it's fiery hair
It's the sign that somewhere near
There's something we can't yet hear
It's the danger we all should fear
It's the killer of all fun
The grim hunter of joy
It's the cloak of the sun
Master of every ploy
Alone shall it be
In it's eternal misery
And so shall the pale mare ride
And there's no place to hide
So darling, let's wait it to come
And all sorrow shall be gone
He's the friend we all know
And who we wish never to meet
He's no mans sole foe
As long as the heart has a beat
Let's greet him with glee
So we all shall to see
The pale eternal grin
Which knows all our sin
Oh hear me brothers
Why are we fighting eachother?
What's the point in this slaughter
Gold has no meaning
What's wrong with your hearing?
Let's live to honor some other thing
Let's dethrone these false kings
Till the whole world sings
For the glory of coming springs
So lay down your arm
So there will be no more harm
And we can return to our family farm
I see you don't understand
In the way you cut your kins hand
And there's no mind for me to command
The blood shall be shed
We all shall lose the head
Till there's no more death
And so shall the brave man weep
When the wound is cut deep
How are we supposed to keep
From falling to eternal sleep
The climb is so steep
It's only one tiny leap
From light to darkness deep[/font]
A special and grandious thank you to Éadríc Fyrninga for his help with the development of Fir Áraig and to Poor Smiley for his awsome development of the our (beautiful) banners and sheild designs!
Fir Áraig - [Feer Aw-raych, (-ch like Loch)] Old Irish, "Men of Bond".
Fer Áraig - [Feer Aw-raych], Old Irish, "Man of Bond" - the denonym used by the Fir Áraig.
Arachta - [Aw-rock-tuh] Old Irish, oath-friends.
Claidh - [Klade] Old Irish, sword, blade.
Cró - [Crow] Old Irish, mercenary bodyguards.
Diberg - [dee-bare-guh]Old Irish, A small semi-independant warband.
In Fian - [In fin]Old Irish, A small wandering warband. More used to denote to the famous Fianna in Irish Mythology.
Comnáma - [Kom-nah-mah]Old Irish, interchangabley - allies, mercenaries or vassals.
Uist - [Oo-eest]Old Irish, an oath.
Lochlannaich - [Loch-lann-aich] Old Irish, "Fjord-dwellers", the Vikingr. Often used with dub meaning black or finn meaning white infront of Lochlannaich to differentiate between the Norse and Danes respectively. This word is also attested to mean Scandanavians from geographical Scotland. Also used is Dubgaill for the Danes and Finngaill for Norse.
Laithlinn - [Leeth-lin] Old Irish, Scandanavian Scotland.
Dibergachta- [Dee-bare-guk-tuh]Old Irish, members of a diberga (Warband).
Geinti - [geen-tuh]Old Irish, Vikings of Ireland before they adopted Christianity, or any heathen.
Finn Fíadh - [Fin Fee-a] Old Irish, literally "White Wild", the banner of the Fir Áraig, in this case meaning the "White Stag". Fiadh in Scottish and Irish mythology was the Otherworld were the Spirit of Wild creatures - namely Deer - came from. Also, were Elves and Fairies dwelt. In Irish and Highland mythology, Deer were led by a bean sí ([Ba-en Shee]) a female spirit considered a bringer of death or messages from the Otherworld. Brythonic Celts (Both Wales and Scotland, including England) had similar dieties. Ancient Conitnental Celts, such as the "Gauls" believed in Cernunnos, known as the "Horned One", bore Deer antlers on his head.
In Muirbran - [In Mew-er-brah-N]Old Irish, 'The Sea-Raven' the longboat of Fir Áraig.
Ériu - [E-r-u] Old Irish, for the Isle of Ireland - from the matron Godess of Ireland.
Suðreyjar - [Soother-a-u-yar] Old Norse, 'Southern Isles', the Hebridies in oposed to the Northern Isles.
Norðreyjar - [Norther-a-u-yar] Old Norse, 'Northern Isles - Orkney and Shetland, who's earldom controlled Northern Scotland.
Toísech- [twee-sek] Old Irish, "comander" or "cheif".
Jarl - [Yarl] Old Norse, 'cheiftan'
Rí - [Ree] Old Irish, a King.
In Gráscar - [Grah-sker] Old Irish, a rabble - often used for ill deciplined levies.