Hail the King
The Beast from the East
The stark black steed with the steely blue eyes. “The Beast of the East” as he is often referred. Aldwyn stands at 16 hands and appears to be bred for royalty. It isn’t known how he came to be in the small village in Wessex, but it was clear he had not seen battle when he had been acquired by Lord Rhett on a raid. The charger tears across the earth with wild fury, and responds quickly to changing conditions. While travelling, Aldwyn possesses the grace of a show horse. As if he was empathetic with his master, he can sense the mood and intentions of others.
A few years from now…
As Aldwyn lay in the field in his final moments of breathing the crisp air, Eynon set his hand on his neck, and stroked him gently. He had served the Earl and the King for quite some time, but this was not the horse’s original home. No, Aldwyn’s story begins 8 years prior on the mainland in the country of Frankia.
Bred from the finest stock west of the Mediterranean, Aldwyn was created for war. His first two years were not with a breeder or a knight’s trainer, but rather a messenger and a young prince. The older Frankish messenger knew from experience what a fast horse needed. Coupled with the personal trainer of the young prince, the stallion was trained for speed, requiring a very skilled warrior to handle the momentum generated by such power. He was to be a gift to a King; Cerdic of Wessex. The training ended unceremoniously one day when the horse was brought to a vessel and began heading across the channel for Hantonne.
The arrival in Hantonne was quiet. While the city bustled with life, Aldwyn’s caretaker was directed north; King Cerdic was raiding a neighboring county. North the two went, intending to reach the king on his way back, but fate would not allow them to complete their task. In a small village near the road west towards Salisbury, the caretaker rested. His trip was uneventful, but he had pushed himself hard. It was here that the two should part company. During the early hours of the morn, a call to arms was heard along the perimeter; The Christian knights were attacking. The man dashed out of the house, and drew his short blade. This wasn’t his fight, but he didn’t speak Cymri and the rumors of their ruthlessness had reached far. In a moment, the hooves of twenty knights could be heard roiling like thunder into the town. They were the drums of death, beating away at anyone in their path.
“The Horse!” the caretaker exclaimed, feeling a sense of possibility. He began to run toward the stables down the dirt path.
“Almost there…” he thought to himself as he closed on the building. If he could just make it there, he knew Aldwyn could escape. No horse was faster. A few more feet, and he may have had a chance. The searing pain in his back left him numb. He blinked and felt time slow. He heard the neigh of the warrior’s horse behind him fading as the knight sought a new target. As his life blood trickled out of the gaping wound, he started at the magnificent horse. His vision grew as black as the stallion as the last breath exited his body, and he thought of the wife with child he left behind. After the calamity, one of the Cymri knights entered the stable, limping. He had suffered an injury when his charger fell to an arrow in his chest. Sir Rhett looked over the stallion and knew it was a prize. It might take a bit of training, but this charger was clearly bred for war.
“The beast from the east,” he murmured as he led the horse away from the stables. After retrieving his kit, he and the squire made their way with the rest of the Salisbury raiding party back home.
“He is spirited,” Ceith said looking at the horse in the field. “It will take about a year to train him for your command, but after…” he chuckled, “…he might be the finest in Salisbury. He hasn’t been to war yet though, and that is the true test.”
“Make it happen.” Rhett stated with a smile.
As the end of the training drew near, tragedy befell the house of Cholderton. Lord Rhett had fallen in an ambush by Saxons while escorting a merchant from Sarum. As the family mourned and awaited the return of his younger brother Eynon to assume the mantle of Lord of Cholderton, Aldwyn continued to receive care from Ceith. It wasn’t long after that Eynon returned home as lord, and Ceith introduced him to Aldwyn.
“You’ll have to be careful,” said Ceith, “he is a strong horse and will require much skill to handle in battle. I suggest you begin getting acquainted now.”
As Eynon looked over the charger, he stroked his neck and fed him a carrot. Aldwyn was well-behaved, and took to his new master with grace. Eynon rode and trained with the horse. Before long, the two would be called to track down some Saxon bandits and ride them down. Eynon nearly lost control when the horse tore across the field and up the hill. He had seen such fire in an animal. As they travelled, this would be the case for the next year. Aldwyn and Eynon had travelled to Cornwall and competed in a tourney for the King Mark, and from there the two made their way with fellow knights to Ireland, where they saved the young Prince Oengus. After returning home, the duo made their way north to war with King Arthur, the one true king. They braved the woods of the forest Sauvage, that tested the two relentlessly. Together they captured the Saxon general Badulf, and chased the remaining forces out of Malahaut.
Many more adventures would be had by the two, and Eynon would never forget them. His friend and companion had served him better than any other horse could have. He looked over the many scars on the side of his dying friend. With a tear in his eye, he pulled out his knife. Nye patted him on the shoulder.
“Goodbye, my friend. A new adventure awaits you.” Eynon said, as he quickly drew the blade across Aldwyn’s neck.