The Valour of Bran Torc

By Lady Lowry ferch Gwynwynwyn ap Llewelyn, AoA

'Twas eight quatrains the Bard from the Eastern islands sang, on the floor of the feast hall of the King, to Bran Torc Dubh Mac Brude. This is the beginning of the tale.

Bran Torc Dubh MacBrude set out from his homeland, in Morden Vale in the Kingdom of Lochac, to cross the emerald inner seas as he greatly desired to discover if the Eastern Isles of which he had heard tell were truly blessed. The Bards had described a land beautiful and gracious, a land of many lakes and limpid pools glistening beneath chill southern skies with rich tilth lands and steep, green clad mountains, and with wondrous cities, rich and prosperous.

When, after much travail, he finally reached the port of Ildhafn, in the northernmost of those Eastern Isles, he was confirmed in his belief in the beauty of the Islands and their inhabitants.

As his sojourn in the port continued, he heard tell of a great Tourney that was to be held, at which the King himself would be present, this Tourney to decide the King’s successor. Bran Torc, being a brave, handsome youth, determined to try his strength of arms against the greatest of the Kingdom who were gathering for the Tourney.

Arriving at the Tourney field he observed, not only the pageantry and might of those he would soon face in the Lists, but the beauty and wit of their fair ladies, and gave thanks that he and his own lady should be counted among such an illustrious throng on this auspicious occasion.

Having fought his best, with honour and valour, Bran Torc approached the victor, his one time opponent, and clasping him arm to arm, congratulated him on his winning to the Royal Succession. Then did Baron Stephen Aldred and his lady, Mistress Mathilde, Baron Bran Torc Dubh Mac Brude, Baron Blaeney and Kitan von Falkensburg go in together to the Court.

There the King presented to all the Court the new Crown Prince and Princess, to much acclaim. Then, to his amaze, did the Heralds call upon the Baron Bran Torc Dubh Mac Brude to attend upon the King.

Kneeling before his liege, King Draco, and his liege lady, Queen Serena, he received upon his brow the Wreath of Valour and the King’s Bards did proclaim before all the Court, these quatrains:

Bran Torc Dubh MacBrudh
The Lochac crown pursued,
Fared he forth upon the List,
With courage and valour imbued.

Across his gules and sable shield
Henri faced he in the field,
Defeated him with well placed blows,
To von Beck's squire death did deal.

A sinister wolf, grenade in paw
Legged, then tried to kill the boar,
Bran Torc at bay - more dangerous he -
Left Luan lying in his gore.

Brave Bran Torc then faced a mighty foe,
A Wyrm, with glittering scales all aglow,
Fought he hard, and fought he well,
But Torum the Hasty brought him low.

Twa' brave Scots next did meet
One brave Baron kept his feet.
Bran Torc the leg of Callum took
And sent him then, the Lord to meet.

Next he met a slim young knave,
As chivalrous as Bran Torc was brave.
The pair, well matched, fought on and on
Til Bran Torc the death blow to Kitan gave.

Then Bran Torc, valiant, brave and true
In the List his bane did view -
Stephen Aldred, soon to reign
Gave him his death, this day to rue.

In the List this day, thou didst not balk
Henceforth when o’er this earth you walk
Wear upon your brow this Wreath
That all may of your Valour talk.

At these words, all those there in the Feast Hall did raise their voices to acclaim Bran Torc for his daring, bravery and valour.

Following on these deeds, sated with glory and with travel, the young Baron, Bran Torc Dubh Mac Brude set out upon the homeward journey and returned to his own place and to his Lady, Mistress Eleanor of Caithness, to give into the hands of her, whose favour he had carried next his heart all the long time of his journeying - the Wreath of Valour, which evermore would add lustre to his name.

Lochac Crown Paens, A.S. 39