Let me set the scene: the early hours in a quaint tavern, candles and shining yes
A couple more words and they part ways outside the tavern, off into the pre-dawn azure with bird song and moonlight as their guides. And I know this seems, dear readers, like it would be found in the pages of a fantasy novel, but this in fact happened to me. It remains one of my formative experiences in larp, that I'm reminded of each time I reach into my shoulderbag and brush past that tasting cling that they may witness something singular if they stay in their seats a little longer. A bard weaves a song that pulls everyone in, and lets them go only when they realize the senselessness of war.
In unspoken agreement, it's the last song of the evening, and the audience rises with bits of chatter left inside. A woman in plain dress approaches the bard and gifts her a tasting cup in thanks for her songs and passion. With a genuine smile, the bard accepts and aloud recalls the last time she sang for this woman, as monarch of their lands. The woman smiles, admitting she didn't think she'd be noticed without her regalia, but the bard chuckles and says there's no mistaking her noble and kind features.
A couple more words and they part ways outside the tavern, off into the pre-dawn azure with bird song and moonlight as their guides. And I know this seems, dear readers, like it would be found in the pages of a fantasy novel, but this in fact happened to me. It remains one of my formative experiences in larp, that I'm reminded of each time I reach into my shoulderbag and brush past that tasting cup.
Fast forward to that winter, when the call for the next royal bard came out. I took that inspiration and molded Green Fields of France to have period content from the Battle of Towton in the War of the Roses, 1460--decidedly one of the bloodiest battles of the time. I delved into the research of death rituals, names, topography and geography and flora local to the battle site, and even the local memorials. The effort earned me the Sylvan Bard honors in the next competition, and gave me the pleasure of serving under two of my favorite SCAdians through part of the pandemic. All because of singing it once, at the right time.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Listen to Towton's Creek on YouTube
Well, how do you, young William Blythe?
Do you mind if I sit here upon your hillside
And rest for a while ‘neath the warm summer sun?
I’ve been walking all day, and I’m nearly done.
I hear from the stories you were but a lad,
Sixteen short summers were all that you had.
Well, I hope your last breath was full, sweet, and clean.
Oh William Blythe, was it so obscene?
chorus (after every two verses)
Did they beat the drum slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did your family know that they lowered you down?
Did a priest say the Lord’s Prayer above you?
Did your village cry for their love of you?
Did you leave ‘ere a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In that faithful heart, is your memory enshrined?
And though you died back near ten years before,
Does the thought of your smile still make them want more?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Lost and forgotten with just time to blame?
Carved into letters at the base of this cross,
A date worn and weathered and covered in moss.
The sun, how it shines on this field and my skin,
The small bluebells dance in the warm summer wind.
No blood in the meadow, the cow creek flows clean,
No arrows, no swords, no dying screams.
In the sons and the fathers that lay by your side,
This silent stone cross will never show pride.
‘Twas by our blind indifference to our fellow man
That a whole generation was butchered and damned.
Now I can’t help but wonder, poor William Blythe,
Was the crown you fought for worth all of these lives?
Did they really believe that the fighting would cease?
Did they really believe when their Duke promised peace?
For the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying was all done in vain.
For, William Blythe, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again and again.
(after last chorus)
Will they beat the drum slowly? Will they play the fife lowly? Will I be the last soldier they put in the ground?
Tell me: why did they ever decide
That we win when enough of the others have died?
Oh, how do you do, young William Blythe?
Do you mind if they lay me at your side?