Twelfth Night at the Inn
Nordskogen, January 12 XXV
Elli Lutemaker

Long ago, in the days when Caradoc and Bridget were Baron and Baroness Nordskogen, we held a Tavern Brawl. The theme was a celebration at an inn; the centerpiece was the Brawl, and a poem to be written about the Brawl. Shana the Fierce, in keeping with the theme, had brought a barrel of lemonade, to refresh the crowd and the combattants.

The fighters gathered in the list-field, each armed with dagger and mace. The daggers were daggers, and killed; the maces represented bottles., and stunned. A fighter hit on the head with a mace fell, and lay still for perhaps twenty seconds before being able to rejoin the affray. (Time and age have me, and memory fails for the exact length of time.) After two solid blows the bottle was deemed smashed, and thrown away as useless. A fighter could regain use of a mace by picking one up from the floor, to serve as a fresh bottle. Last fighter standing was the victor.

After a while, there were no fighters standing. Where, then, the victory?

But one had been merely stunned. He regained consciousness, promptly applied the dagger to all the other fighters on the floor (lest they, also, be lying doggo) and seized the win. And I wrote the beginnings of this poem:

In the hostel, bravos jostle
By the bar comes angry cry.
Daggers flash out, goblets splash out
Gouts of rotgut in the eye.

Flailing flagons flogging noggins,
Jolting brains beneath jugged hair;
Victim staggered, quickly daggered,
Liver lanced within its lair.

Silence soon upon the room:
Dazd drunkards drink no more.
Losers lying, sprawled and dying,
Face upon the bar-room floor.

One man stands up, holding brass cup;
Sees a barmaid's barrel there.
Fresh from brewer. He speaks to her:
"Who says bar-fights should be fair?

"Give me strong ale, give me wassail,
Give me gin to drink their doom.
For they stunned me, thought they'd done me,
But I bide within this room!

"They are dead now, spirits fled now;
Wit this well if you'd grow old.
Keep your eye out, til they die out:
Beer and foes are best when cold."