Ulrich – An Old English Style Epic

Over on Twitter (you can follow me @steelstashwrit1. Been a while since I promoted that), an auther (@ulzaorith) I follow posted some amusing definitions of various literature styles. This got my mind working and I thought it might be fun to try some of those styles out, especially since I am waiting for beta readers to get to me.

The first style is Old English. This style has a fair amount of alliteration and a somewhat poetic feeling. It also has a lot of Vikings which made sense since Old England also had a lot of Vikings. The stories of Old English tend to fall into two camps, religous and epic. Hopefully, I managed to be just epic enough.

Amidst the austere landscape he sat, watching
and waiting as the sun slipped past the shore.
In the deepening darkness, his mind
sought refuge from the demons.
Thrice they had traveled to his home.
Thrice they have trespassed against his people.

Screams shattered the peace of Ulrich’s
meditations with their savage fury.
He rose to his feet and ran towards
The raucous din of battle. Light flashed.
Along the ground, green flame burned
and snaked its way towards the walls.

With a barbarous bellow, Ulrich lunged
at the closest demon to him, a meaty
paw shoved into the mage’s maw, choking
off the prayer of power it
attempted to cast. Ulrich tore the jaw
from the invader, blood bathing
his chest in a crimson coat. The throes
of death where loud, but they failed
to mask the mob surrounding him.

“Thane!” a voice from the crowd called.
“Surrender and save your life.
We demand only five bushels of grain
plus ten silver for the mage you slew.”

“I am Ulrich! Son of Ulfinn!
I am the champion of Tyr!
Thrice I have slain your kind. Thrice
I have killed Pictusing pirates.
Who are you to make demands of me?”

“I am Galan, who raided the
city of Celcamoth, who razed the
fortress of Alba. Your village
is nothing to me but supplies.
Do not barter your breath for bread.”

Ulrich sneered at the crowd before him.
“Bold words for one who hides
like a sheep in the flock when
facing the wolf. Wrestle me like a man!”

Galan stepped forth and dropped his
hammer to the ground. The earth
shook from its weight. “As you wish
Ulrich, son of Ulfinn. Die as you see fit.”

The two men circled and stalked, each
sizing the other, studying how
the other moved. When they embraced,
the clap of hand on flesh was thunder.
The two men stayed locked, frozen in
effort. The moon rose with silvery
light while neither man was able
to oppress their opponent’s strength,
each holding the other still.

Ulrich smiled suddenly, slipping an
arm low. Galan was caught by
surprise as he was lifted
into the air. With a mighty heave,
Ulrich threw the Pictusing
into the village wall ten
feet away. Dust and debris
drifted down. Ulrich ran forward and
straddled Galan.

His formidable forearm fell
onto Galan’s chest. The crack of bone
Broke through the falling stones.
Galan wheezed with weak effort
to seize Ulrich, but the harder
he struggled, the deeper forearm and
bone shards drove. With a spasm of
pain and a racking cough, the speck
of blood on pursed lips heralded the end.

Ulrich rose and turned to face
the remaining Pictusings.
“Go now, and tell of the fall
of Galan. A mighty mountain thrown
to the earth. Mourn his passing
at my hand. Warn your brethren
to leave this village alone.”

The Pictusings fled Tyr’s
favored fighter. Ulrich turned to
the village gates and entered as
the scriba came out to inventory
the fallen foe for Lord Caesarium’s tax.
The Romulean would see to the
administration while the Thane
would see to a bath.

Let me know your thoughts. You have any old epics you enjoy? Tell me below. And as always, I mustache you to stay fantastical.

Prince Phillip 002 – Setting the scene

The setting of a story is one of the most important aspects of storytelling that hides in the background. How do you go about selecting a setting for a fairy tale though? Be sure to read to find out how I chose the setting for Prince Phillip.

Setting is obviously an important part of any story. After all, it is the place in where your story is taking place. Of course, fantasy has an interesting advantage when it comes to setting. After all, many fantasy settings are the made up creations of the author. They are complete fabrications. That offers a certain level of freedom. You get the chance to borrow from multiple cultures and geographies, then mix and max them as needed to create something new.

Unfortunately, I had a slight restriction. I am retelling a fairy tale. That requires an actual environment. A real place. So how does one choose a real, earthly place?

I decided to go with the origins. Sleeping Beauty is a German fairy tale…well it might be French. There is no real clear answer, so I went with the Germans. Awesome! I’ve narrowed myself down to a single country. Germany is still pretty large though, so where to go from here? Well by choosing a single territory. Ok, technically two. Thuringia and East Thuringia. The Thuringian region has everything that I need. It has a couple cities, a few mountains, and, most importantly, the Thuringian Forest.

But physical location is not the only thing needed for a setting. After all, all stories take place in both a location and a time. Great. Now I need a time. When to set my story?

Luckily for me, some of the requirements of the tale easily eliminate many time periods. Prince Phillip is a fairy tale. That means Middle Ages. But like German is a large country, the Middle Ages is a long time period. What I needed was a time where relatively small regions could have their rulers claim to be king. That meant centralized national power was out, so we are looking early Holy Roman Empire. I also needed a time period where the fantasy elements would still be somewhat known, but not common.

Pre-empire felt too early, but I also couldn’t go too late. Charlemagne brought Christianity to a large portion of Germany by the sword in the 800s, but that is too early. I do want some classic feeling fantasy battles. I couldn’t go that early and have a realistic army fight. I also couldn’t wait too long because once Christianity was firmly established, it went hard with ridding the world of its pagan beliefs, so post-Crusades was also out. That pretty much left me with the early 11th century.

So there you have it. Prince Phillip takes place in the early 11th century in the Thuringian region. Does that mean I’m going to be draconian in my application of the time frame? Nah, it is a fantasy after all and there are some genre conventions and personal preferences I will probably use. But it is important to have a level of authenticity there. With a time and place for the setting, I can provide that authenticity.

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