Friday, 17 August 2012

The Hunting of the Demon-Boar of Bawlawks

 

 In the fifth year after the events previously chronicled, in the history of our Monastery of Bawlawks, be it known that there appeared from out of the depths of the Forbidden Forest a most fearsome Demon indeed.

In shape this Demon was like unto a gigantic Boar; a Boar, though, of stature hitherto unknown, even as unto a Knight’s Charger at the shoulder; and he had tusks great as swords and curved as sickles, and hooves round as our blessed Monastery’s golden dinner-plates.

This Demon-Boar laid waste to the countryside, coming out of the Darkness of Night unto villages and the common Folk, and driving them from their homes; and in the countryside for leagues around there was neither Peasant nor Workingman to be seen.

Then rose the Blessed Abbot of the Monastery, and raising his Holy hand, cursed the Demon-Boar with a Curse most Fearsome, and commanded him to return forthwith from the Hell from which he had sprung.

But the Demon heeded him not; and coming even unto the lands of the Monastery, destroyed the fields and the Crops, and chased the Villeins off the Monastery’s Farms; and then great was the consternation indeed.

“For,” saith the Blessed Abbot then, “this vile Creature of Darkness hath with his fell deeds made sure to Destroy the Income of the Monastery, first by chasing the Tithe-payers from their Lands, and now by ruining the Monastery’s own farms. We shall hold, forthwith, a Holy Mass to request the Lord to strike him down.”

And so a great and holy Mass was held, with incense and chanting, and the assembled Monks beseeched the Lord to bring down the Wrath of Heaven on the Demon-Beast; and thereafter all awaited the Divine Vengeance.

But instead came the Boar with redoubled energies; and that very night he visited the Monastery’s best Orchard, whose apples were reserved to make the Cider that filled the Cellar’s great vats the year round, and sank gurgling down monastic Throats at the close of every day. Famous was that Orchard, and many the Men and Boys who had known the flogger’s lash for tasting of the Fruit that was reserved for the Lord’s Monks, and for the Monks alone. But scant heed paid the Demon-Boar to that divine Sanction, and destroyed it all, root and branch, in but one night, and trampled the fallen Fruit into the Ground besides, so that it was only fit to be thrown away.

Then grew even the Serving-Wenches fearful, and closed their thighs tight, and would grant the Monks no admission; for, said they, that it was the Day of Judgment that was coming nigh.

And when it had become clear that the Mass had failed as the Curse had failed before it, the Abbot grew wroth at the weak Faith of the Monks, and saith unto them, “Had but you the faith like unto the smallest Crumb of Cake on the floor of the Dining Hall, such would not have come to pass; but ye are fearful and weak, and the Lord hath not thought your prayers worth the Answering.” And the Monks hung their heads and looked shamed indeed.

Then sent the Holy Abbot runners out to seek a Hunter, fearless and bold; a Hunter who would, in his strength and vigour, strike the Demon-Boar dead and restore the Monastery’s fortunes. And many lands these runners visited, and to many Hunters they spoke, but none was able and willing to come to the Monastery’s succour.

But then rose up Sir Basil the Bold, greatest Knight in the land, who counted the Monastery of Bockless as his spiritual Master. Great was this Sir Basil, and he had on his Crest of Arms a Boar Rampant, for long hath his Fathers the courage and fierceness of the Boar. And Sir Basil was a true scion of his Fathers, and came handily to the Aid of the Monastery in its Hour of need, and brought a score of his men-at-arms besides.

Then these Men, Knight and Vassals, rode through the Night, and even at Dawn were at the Monastery’s gates. And a short time later the Knight stood in the presence of the Blessed Abbot himself.

Long they spake, and nobody knows of what they talked; but came Sir Basil from the august presence, smiling and exalted; and the comeliest of the Serving Wenches was dispatched to his quarters, under threat of being wed forthwith to mad old Sam the Shepherd if she did not obey. And likewise other Serving Wenches attended the needs of the men-at-arms, and the good Wine of the Cellars flowed copiously, but – alas – not for the Monks’ delectation.

So the Knight and his Men dwelt at the Monastery and awaited the Demon-Boars’ coming, and the Night came, and another Day.

And then came unto the ears of the Monks news, that the Boar had been spotted only a league away, in the Woods not far from the Village of W_____, and the Abbot sent forth the Knight Sir Basil and his Men to destroy the Brute, a Task on which they embarked reluctantly, taking leave of the Serving Wenches with it seemeth less than full enthusiasm. But the Abbot blessed their Holy Task, and made sure to arrange for special Prayers to be offered, and the Monks went down all on their Knees to utter the holy Words.

And so it was that the Hunters, led by Sir Basil the Bold on his great Charger, were approaching the Woods not far from the village already mentioned, and great was the havoc that met their eyes, that the Demon-Boar had wrought. And loud were the Promises of Vengeance that the Knight and his Men made, which they would exact on the Beast of Hell, and brandished their weapons high in the Air.

Meanwhile the Demon-Boar had been lurking in the Wood, and having seen the Hunters, his great Mane grew shaggy with Fury, and his eyes red with Bloodlust; and with a roar even as of Thunder on the Mountains, he rushed with gaping Mouth out of the Wood, and hurled himself on the men who had come to kill him.

And the brave knight Sir Basil flinched not, but ran the Brute through with his sharp long Lance; but the Demon-Boar neither died nor even halted, but instead threw himself along the shaft of the Lance and up at his Enemy. And so, reaching the Knight and his Charger, he hurled them both over with his monstrous Head and great hooked Tusks, and with a twist of his mouth dispatched the bold Sir Basil to his eternal reward.

Then was Confusion and fear rife in the ranks of the men-at arms; and, throwing down their pikes and swords, they sought safety in precipitous escape, but Safety found they not; for the Demon-Boar chased them down and destroyed them one by one, crushing out their ignoble Lives under his Hooves, and only one of them escaped to tell the Tale.

And then was Fear at last come unto the Monastery; and it was felt that perhaps the Holy place must be abandoned to the Devil, for none of the Efforts seemed to suffice against the Beast.

But then was it known that Red Rufus, a Godless heathen of the most villainous stripe, hath put together a band of Men to hunt the Demon-Brute down, albeit for their own base Motives; and these, in a crowd, were proceeding to the Wood to destroy the Boar where he lay sore from his Wound.

And at last came they where the Boar lay, with the Lance still piercing him through and through; and when he saw them, he rose and rushed on them with fearful Snorts and Grunts, though he was bleeding copiously on the Ground. For Brave was the Demon-Boar, for though he was sore Wounded; but such bravery is come out of the Fires of Hell, and the Faithful should regard it not.

These men of Red Rufus hath with them Spears, but with cross-pieces hammered into them; and when the Boar rushed on them,  and they ran the Demon-Boar through with these, the Brute could not swarm up the Shaft to the Man, as he hath so cruelly done with the noble late Knight. And in his Agony he overthrew and uprooted great Trees with his sickle tusks and immense Snout, but the men he could not reach; and they gathered round him and stabbed at his flanks, and at last one of the Spears found his foul Heart.

Then it was that the ruffian Red Rufus took axes and swords, and cut the Beast’s immense Head off its foul Carcass; and in a cart he brought it unto the Monastery, saying it was proof the common Man could do what the Knight of the Lord could not; but, knowing his vile Nature, the Abbot knew him to be but an agent of Satan, and paid him no Heed.

And then the Holy Abbot had the Head brought into the Monastery, and hoisted onto the wall of the Great Hall, there to be mounted as a Symbol of the eternal Victory of Good over Evil; but of the men who had hunted the Beast, knowing their evil Ways, entry or blessing he allowed them not.

And then the Abbot stood below the mounted head of the Demon-Boar, and made a Sermon to the Monks; a Sermon on Good and Evil and on the Nature of Things, and of Faith and Persistence in the Face of Adversity; for, surely, he said, was it not for the Prayers of the Faithful, and most especially the Abbot himself, the Demon-Boar should surely never have been defeated. It was a Sermon of such Power and Beauty that the Monks all bowed their heads on their breasts in awe; and verily, some were so overcome that they appeared to be sleeping.

And then there was a cracking in the wall, and the Head of the Demon-Boar fell, and crushed the Life out of the body of the Holy Abbot; and sent his Blessed Soul winging on its Way; and thereat there was great Lamentation, and forthwith Petitions that the Most Holy Abbot should forthwith be proclaimed a Saint, so that his Miracles could be manifest to all Men.

And, verily, it true that a few of the Monks swore afterwards that they heard a deep voice laughing.


Copyright B Purkayastha 2010/12
 

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