Chronicle 3 PRIESTS,DRAGONS, CRUSADES

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                    the heft and the edge                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     26/5/2017 wkj fantasy
 

 

 

 

 

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AN EPISODIC HISTORY OF ASTERANOR

The count of years here follows the standard used in The Chronicle of Errensea where  dates are counted from the occasion of the Second Foundation of the Collegium Magi.  Dates prior to this event are commonly given as xxxxAF (Antare Fundatum); dates following this event are given as xxxxPF (Postare Fundatum). Dates Postare Fundatum are accurate; dates Antare Fundatum become less reliable the further we journey into the past.

PRIESTS, DRAGONS AND CRUSADES

1030 – 1020

AF

Tumboll 2

Division among the Masachean Priesthood. The Black Magi of Lusk had introduced what they claimed to be the True Blood of the God and established the Blood Rite into the standard state religion throughout all of Kyrussea. They claimed also to be able to communicate directly with the Black God Ah’remmon.  The High Priest in Nai’vedya condemned the Magi of Lusk as blasphemers. The common religion of Masachea had become noticeably less bloody over the years; sacrifice of humans was no longer tolerated. Oddly the Apian notion of God Father and Creator had by this time leached back into the Masachean Church. The practises of the so called Blood Magi – the most abhorrent of which was the bleeding and sacrifice of young children, and the subsequent consumption of their blood by certain powerful and extraordinarily long lived Magi – now seemed shameful and even criminal. Adherents of the Blood Rite, come to the capital in search of converts to their doctrines, were banished from Persepolis and forbidden to further evangelise their beliefs. Some of the banished returned to Lusk; some travelled to Lindis where freedom of worship was guaranteed; but others, acting upon information gained from the arcane work done in Kyrussea, travelled to the Riversea and the so far uninhabited Island of Tumboll. It is still the subject of some debate why the island had been shunned by the Medes, Elamites and other tribal people of central Asteranor. Upon Tumboll these Blood Magi now began the building of a great temple to their Dark God. Some mystery to this day surrounds the foundation of this temple but neither the Taprod nor the great ones of the recent war will reveal to us the truth of the matter. It may be a matter of some interest that Tumboll is currently under the control of the High Council. 940AF saw the completion of The Temple of The God Present.

 

1020 –
418

 

AF
PF

MAP  NE

 

 

 

 

Lusk 3
Lusk 1

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The Isolationism of the Masacheans. Rather as the Great Peace brought order to the tribal regions for a long count of years, so did the expulsion of the Blood Magi appear to remove any desire for change among Masacheans. As had the ancient Apians, the Masacheans withdrew within their own borders and entered a static period of peace. The one difference being that though society was static, the institutes of learning in Zorost, Hyrcana, Nai’vedya and the Paragadae drove forward the development of science and engineering to new heights.

In Lusk the Blood Magi continued their studies into the nature and the accessibility of their Dark God. They continued too in their practises of the Blood Sacrifice and the Blood Rite. The victims of this religious observance were in the most part descendents of that people called the Halfi. Oddly many of the Halfi were happy with this state of affairs and indeed many of them became quite as powerful as their Masachean masters. Some were themselves practitioners of the Rite if eschewing the excesses of Sacrifice.

There were a number however who came to resent their subjugation and many of these without permission departed from Kyrussea and took up a travelling life throughout Masachea and coming even into the Apian Peninsula to find labour in the fields. Periodically they were moved on, or driven out, often they were accused of criminality (generally in regard to theft of property) but more disturbingly they were occasionally accused of child stealing. Some historians have now suggested that far from leaving Kyrussea willingly some of these travelling Halfi were sent out into Masachea by the Blood Magi with the specific purpose of acquiring young blood. How many children were carried off to Lusk year after year cannot be known but it is notable that the Masachean population did not increase at all during this period.

 

618

AF

MAP   NW

Flight of the Jorlaise and Costeros. Disease spread though the Jorlian and Matagordan regions of Aegarde. This seemed to coincide with an increase in temperature and the arrival of a plague of black-winged bloodsucking insects (very much like overlarge midges) that had previously been found only among the bulidzhani lands of the peninsula. (Descendents of the Herskerhavs had claimed for themselves all the most fertile land of the peninsula but had granted the bulidzhanis, in return for their labour, the humid, swamp infested region of the south-western coastline.) This disease killed many people every summer for several years until a delegation of Magi from Lindis was sent to help. Convinced the disease was carried by the insects themselves they invented a spell to destroy the biggest part of them.

But fearful for their children, at the height of the sickness, a large group of several thousands of Jorlaise and Costeros set-out, determined to find for themselves somewhere less hot and less dangerous. It may be that the success of the Cymrais in living with the dragons of the north, now widely reported, encouraged these adventurers to believe they could achieve the same. It may also be the case that the lure of the wild horses and great herds of cattle in that region proved too great a temptation. And so the land we now call Valdesia was colonised by the Costeros people of Matagorda and Drafasia was colonised by the emigrant Jorlaise.

In their intention to develop the herds these representatives of mankind would ultimately put themselves in a situation of competition with the dragons.

 

540

AF

Dragons 3
Dragons 1

MAP   NW

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First Dragon War. The emigrant Jorlaise had named themselves Drafasian, their adopted land Drafasia, after their leader Orlande Drafas. He founded the settlement of Eszola on the upper reaches, had they known it, of the River Rine, and named it in memory of the Jorlian village of his birth. But that was all they took from the past: this was a high prairie they had come to and not anything like the gentle forestlands of the south.  It was a cold hard place in winter and a wild and windy place even in the heat of summer. Without sufficient timber they had a difficult time in the building of new homes. Without the help of the Kellestanis who taught them the skill of making hide and turf yurts they might not have survived at all. They followed at first the Kellestani way of following the herds of wild cattle wherever the seasons took them. At this time the herds were many and vast and the Kellestani did not begrudge the newcomers their tithe.

But this was not the life Drafas wanted for his people. He wanted Eszola to become a city they could be proud of. And so while the Drafasians for half of the year did as the Kellestani in following the herds, they dedicated the rest of their time to domesticating the more amenable short horns and sent-off logging expeditions into the foothills of the Dedicae. The growth of the town and the corralling of the cattle soon came to the attention of the dragons. The first dragons to notice this practice seemingly welcomed the opportunity to kill a large number of kine at once and then feast at their leisure. The Drafasians, naturally enough, were terrified of the dragons and could think of nothing to do against them, counting their losses as inevitable. It was the habit of the dragons to hunt in small groups. They appeared in the Drafasian skies only sporadically and so it might be that several months went by with no sighting and then perhaps three hunting parties might succeed each other within the same week.  The Kellestanis raised their voices now to condemn the Drafasians even though the dragons rarely strayed so far east as to give them trouble. They had long been used to seeing dragons only rarely but now they feared an increase in numbers . Of course this was not the case. The presence of the herds gathered in one place attracted all their attention where previously each hunting party would have travelled far and wide.

Nothing was done until, after many years of this predation, the wizards of the Drafasians discerned a decline in the size of the wild herds. The wizard Auguste Malachi, whose mind turned readily to solutions in questions of engineering, set himself to the invention of a weapon they could use to deter the dragons. By form it was a gigantic crossbow and that perhaps was no great advance but it was in finding the right materials that he showed his prowess. The bow must be both powerful and fast for dragons are not slow. The purchase of iron ore, the hiring of Medean smiths, the working of the vast boughs of Ridderswood transported with great difficulty more than a thousand miles from the southern forest: a massive enterprise but ultimately successful.

Ten dragon bows were made at this time. The first dragons they shot screamed for a week. The great mistake the Drafasians made was in staking out their corpses as deterrence to further predation. The first war between the dragons and mankind was swift and one sided. Eszola was burned to the ground. And half of the Drafasians were burned too.

 

331

AF

Dragons 4
Dragons 2

MAP   NW

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Second Dragon War. This second war was equally a matter of revenge though on the other side. It was no easy task to rebuild after such a calamity. Their corrals were gone, their cattle scattered, the hard-won fields at the site of the burned town were scorched and poisoned making agriculture impossible. The Drafasians must return to the semi nomadic life they had thought to leave behind. A hundred years passed before they were strong enough to resume their designs. But in all that time anger drove them on. Though it might take 500 years the Drafasians had sworn that one day they would avenge their loss.

Their lives were difficult. It was clear they could not gather their cattle as they had before for surely the Dragons would come again. And that must not happen until Drafasia was ready to face them. And so while women and children worked hard to make a home of their Villenovel the men spent much of the year travelling the prairie once more. The dragons reverting to their traditional practises came and went taking cattle as they wished, though in no great quantity, and were content to ignore the men following the herds .

Auguste Malachi, seeing the destruction of his mighty Dragonbows and the death of so many of his people took himself on a long journey. He purposed to find new weapons for as the Drafasian people had sworn vengeance so too had Auguste. He travelled East and came by degrees into the land of Kyrussea.

His return to Drafasia in 335 AF provided the impetus for the second war.  He brought with him a great deal of knowledge about the dragons and with weapons more subtle and more powerful and in greater number than he expected to need. He came back to them also with more than one reason to make war with the dragons of the Dedicae. 

The Costeros people, now named Lagados for they made their major settlement on the shores of Lago Docielo, the lake of the sky, had learned to live alongside the dragons of the Dedicae in peace. Though they too domesticated cattle they did this on a piecemeal basis, keeping herds small.  If ever a Ladgado lost his herd to the dragons the rest of the people gave each from their own small herds to make up for the loss.  And the horses, the great love of the Lagados, they let roam free no more at risk now than in previous times. If they took horses and broke them for the use of man then these were kept in small numbers. When the Drafasians asked for access through their lands so that they might come against the Dragonreeks the Lagados were quick to refuse them seeing only disaster in such a venture.

The Drafasians considered strongly the notion of driving on through the Lake region without consent but decided against – not willing to fight men in their quest to kill dragons. Instead Malachi was asked to arm Villenovel, and to set traps for hunting dragons in a much more organised fashion than in the First Dragon War. And this time he had smaller bows with him, but made of a metal that came from Kyrussea that was like iron and yet black and with more resilience than sprung boughs.  And the spears they launched were made of the same material though tempered into a hardness unseen before.

Malachi’s strategy this time was not a matter of deterrence. They would not kill dragons as a warning to the rest. They would kill every dragon that came to Drafasia until there were none left to trouble them. And then Auguste Malachi would send messages of great tidings to the Blood Magi of Lusk, and all would change.

But Malachi had no real idea of the combined power of the Dragons. By the time the Drafasians had killed nearly thirty of the beasts outright, the dragons strangely susceptible to something in the darts that clipped
them, and the Drafasians rejoicing and revelling in the destruction of their enemy, the dragons had already made a decision to show their full strength. In the First Dragon War forty dragons by themselves had brought Drafasia low. Now four hundred dragons appeared in the morning sky of June 17th, 331 AF. They swept over Drafasia burning every dwelling of man, poisoning every field so that nothing would grow in a generation, and they smashed the city of Villenovel to splinters before they burned it to the ground.

The Drafasians tried to fight back and none was more dedicated to this task than Auguste Malachi; by himself he killed five dragons, his bowmen killing another twenty. But a group of dragons had marked where their enemy stood and conspired to attack him all together.

Until this point the whole of mankind for some reason counted the dragons only as beasts of Asteranor, as if they were cattle or horse.  Until now it was not known that Dragons spoke their own language but could equally speak with men if they wished.  It was a great shock to the Drafasians still living when the dragons paraded the captured wizard before them and one of them spoke in the mind of everyone present. His words were reported thus:

“Be not fooled by your petty jealousy, and be not governed by men like unto this Blood Wizard. We smell the evil in him. We feel the abomination in his weapons. We will suffer none of his sort to live. We ask you whence he came?”

There was silence at this question and not because there were none willing to give up this information but because Malachi had not revealed to the Drafasians where he had been to gather so many years to himself, or where he had come by these strange weapons.  And Malachi himself would speak nothing to the dragons.

“Be silent then for evermore,” said the dragon, “Your poison, wizard, has destroyed my brothers and sisters. My poison now will destroy you.” And with that he spat an ichor at the man which dissolved the skin from his flesh and the flesh from his bones and his bones into nothingness on the ruined fields of Villenovel.

“Hear you, men of the plain, do no more step beyond your right. There is an order in this world which you would spoil through envy and greed. Be assured that if ever again you take this path of violence to my kind there will be none left alive to make report of your defeat, even unto the last child. Hear my words! I am Dagraeda, I have spoken.”

The people of Drafasia sank to their knees in supplication but Dagraeda paid them no more heed and rose into the sky with his kind and returned to the Reeks.

And he was the only dragon to be known by name through all of Asteranor’s past. But in the future more would become known – this was not the last Dragon War.

                

246

AF

MAP   SE

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Magramedus’ Crusades. Masachea aside, the religious observance of the people of Asteranor is not much mentioned herein. In general this is because religion outside Masachea had been no great driver of events. Most people believed in the God of the Just as the King of Creation, sometimes known as the Bright God, by name Ohr’mazd, Ahura Mazda, Urmaz. He was held to be the better of the twin sons of The Father, a creator God mostly known as Zurvan. But daily worship outside Masachea reckoned nothing to this trinity and was predicated upon local gods or nature gods.

 A new text in production (the Dorkin Company, Astoril) entitled THE GODS AND THEIR POWERS will attempt “an encyclopaedic  presentation unrivalled upon Asteranor.” May I point the more considered reader to a volume by Recto Raulas and published by the Collegiate Press, Errensea: The Pantheon: Outmoded, Outlived, Outcast  where he will find information balanced by a critical appreciation totally alien to the sensationalist offerings of the Dorkin editorial team.

Twice only in the recorded history of the Medean Region has worship of one of these “Local Gods” been a cause of unrest.  Prince Maordig Hollanick (b.246) was left an orphan: his mother died in childbirth, his father, twelve years after, drowned in a boating accident on the River Misium. On her deathbed, Maordig’s birth-bed, his mother cried out a plea to the great god Tarwennu, protector of the Medes. “Take my life for his, father of our people, and for every day he lives he will be thy greatest servant.” Oddly enough the boy survived the birth and his father, in all gratitude, brought him up to believe that not only was he destined to be the greatest of Tarwennu’s priests but also that Tarwennu must surely be the greatest of all Gods. There was feebleness in the father brought on no doubt by the death of his wife so young. Maordig was surrounded by monks for all his young life and upon the death of his father (some said by suicide rather than accident) the boy, now technically King, was taken in by the Order of Tarwennu and trained as a priest.

When he gained his throne proper at the age of sixteen Maordig looked at the world beyond his borders and found it a heathen place of foreign and inferior gods and was angry that the Great Medean God should be so ignored. And by parallel logic it was an insult that the true believers, the true children of the Great God, the Medes, were no longer held as rulers, in Tarwennu’s name, of all the peoples of Asteranor.

It was not long before he enforced a rule of worship upon his people; not long after that that he looked to the sins of his neighbours and sent out his soldiers to spread the right word; and when the people of the better part of what was once the Kingdom of Medea had been gathered into his flock, then it was that he decided to change his own name to Magramedus and the name of the Great God’s country would be Magramedea. In reality this God’s Country was never extensive. Magramedus’ habit was to send in his soldiery, with priests alongside them, to subdue resistance and appoint new devout leaders to enforce the rule. But then the soldiers and priests would move on or return to Ecbator, Magramedus’ seat of power. Naturally, in many regions, it was common for the new devout leaders to be overthrown just as soon as the soldiers were engaged elsewhere. Magramedea was never an empire. The Gothaenic tribes laughed at him; the Issakari did their best to ignore him. But his forays certainly caused trouble and it is true that the Parisi region at least came under his control.

 

225

AF

River’s Twist 2

MAP   SW

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Magramedus and the taking of River’s Twist.  Magramedus, in his early twenties became bored with Tarwennu. A succession of women were brought to his attention for as King of the Medes at least his duty must be to produce an heir. He never married but sexual adventures certainly made less of a priest of the man. His attention was also turned to wealth. He was never poor but he became aware that his crown was by no means the richest. The Masacheans were a force too far beyond him to consider a target, the Anshanis were protected by an alliance with the Gothae and Belgae. But the Issakari were grown fat on a thousand years of trade with Aegarde across the River. And there at the edge of the River, nestled in that circle of land within the river’s twist was the fabulously rich city of Vuelta. Medean trade with Aegarde was not so great, but great or no it had to pass through the Twist, and the Issakari at the gates of Vuelta demanded tolls and taxes from both the greatest and the least. 

It was a temptation beyond his endurance. Not for Magramedus the more subtle coercion and deal making of the Medes in the years before the Great Peace was made. Instead, with significant violence his armies rampaged through the Sullin region, broke down the gates of Vuelta and took it for their king. Magramedus’ first act was to erect the gates once more and re-establish the flow of the income he so desired.

After some strong words by the good Aegardeans of Matagorda, and a robust response to those words from Magramedus (a threat to close the border completely) things settled down for a short period. The Issakari meekly accepted their fate.

 

224 – 218

AF

MAP   SW

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The Hueccan Migration and the Vengeance of the King. Less than a year after the taking of Vuelta, Magramedus found himself bored once more.  And insulted too on a daily basis by the sheer arrogance of the Aegardeans. He counted it an affront for them to talk so proudly of their nation: so rich, so peaceful, so strong and free from all oppression. And they continued to avow their friendship with the Issakari.

Magramedus decided to teach them a lesson.  He saw that it could be no easy thing for the Aegardean King in Garassa to quickly come to the aid of the people of Matagorda no matter that he had many armies to call upon. Magramedus first mistake was to believe that difficulty any real obstacle to the Aegardean determination to protect their nation. The second mistake was to allow (or indeed encourage) his raiders to range so far and wide through Matagorda. Their aggression carried them almost as far east as the Jorlian region and as far north as the Hašen Cordillera. So ferocious was the attack upon the Huecca that some nine hundred people turned refugee and set off to safety through the Blanc Agua pass. And even in flight they were harried. The greater part of these refugees continued their journey in fear of their lives and made for Hocha’s Knife and the great plateau.

In the east of the plateau the Gothae were by now well established if not populous; a scattered people could be found to the north gradually working the land into a place worth the living. Even after five thousand years the plateau was a difficult place. And so at first there was no cause of dispute between the Gothae and the newly come Hueccans.

The King in Garassa, Actis 1st brought with him an army of 10,000 soldiers when he came to oust the Medes from Matagorda. Over extended but laden with loot the Medes fled before him. Many of them crossed the  River and gained the safety of Vuelta. Actis encamped his forces and sealed the border. Until there was a resolution and the Medes paid back what they had stolen the trade route through Vuelta would be closed.

 

217

AF

MAP   SW

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The Toll of the Knife and the War of the Plateau. This action in Matagorda was Actis’ first engagement and he found that he liked such adventure. With the closing of Vuelta the obvious alternative for trade was a route over the river at Anshan, across the plateau to the Knife and thereby onto roads through the Central Forest. The Gothae took it upon themselves in agreement with the Anshanis to control this route. The Hueccans naturally enough thought they had a right to some of the revenue also and they set a toll of breathtaking proportions for use of the ropeway down through the Knife. Representatives of the Gothae were sent to parley with the Hueccans but they went well armed. The Hueccans with the memory of their suffering at the hands of the Medes had no mind to suffer the same from the Gothae. A parley became a fight and the fight became deadly and only by weight of numbers did the Hueccans prevail with most of the Gothae killed. The Toll of the Knife massacre provoked a predictable response. The incident became a cause, and the cause attracted Gothae even from beyond the Riversea to swell the ranks of the Plateau Gothae. Seeing disaster heading their way, one half of the Hueccans made their way northwards once more crossing through the Saddle and on into the area now known as The Skirt nestled under the high cliffs. The Hueccans that remained were under great threat.

Actis, even after six years, had maintained still a great force of over 15000 soldiers in Matagorda to keep safe the borders. Cognisant of the growing trouble on the plateau he ordered 10,000 of those into action. Travelling eastwards himself with another army of 8000 men Actis was already making for the Saddle; the 10,000 from the Matagordan contingent took the more difficult though speedier route up through the Knife.

The War of the Plateau raged for three weeks with the Aegardeans driving the much depleted Gothaen forces back onto the ships that had brought them across the River and those that were left behind were captured, hobbled and eventually ejected from the Plateau and from Aegarde via the now re-opened city of Vuelta. It was opened because the 5000 remaining Matagordan troops had been sent to cross the shallows and take the city for Aegarde.

 

216 – 83

AF

Thibes 3
Thibes 1

MAP  
SE
NE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Second
Foundation

The Sack of Thibes and The Years of Chaos. The four Gothaenic tribes of the Gothae, Syggynae, Greuthae and Belgae, remembering the old alliance that had brought The Great Peace to the world, for a brief period held together in the face of the new Medean aggression and the subsequent displacement of the Gothae from the plateau.  The Issakari of the Sullin Part, encouraged by now frequent Aegardean advances against the Medes, embarked upon an encroachment of Medean territories in their own right. The northern stronghold and capital city of Ecbator was too well defended to come against but the Farsi regions and people were poorly organized and ill defended by their overlords. Jealous of the learning and influence of the Collegium and Library of Thibes they first attacked the coastal region hoping to make a base in the southern towns or in the city of Pulonia; annexation of Thibes would inevitably follow. The Issakari leader was no great general or gamer. He presumed that Thibes could be taken quietly, and without much bloodshed or destruction. He reckoned without the ambition of the displaced Plateau Gothae to carve out for themselves a new land.  The Medes trusting in the strength of their fortifications left large tracts of the Hurgal Reaches uninhabited. In the spring months of the year 189 AF the Gothae understanding the direction of the Issakari plan pre-empted their move northwards by themselves moving south to the very gates of Thibes. Those very gates were closed and defended by a determined militia. Thibes found an uncomfortable month of survival for itself but the end came when the Issakari attempted to complete their plan. A diabolical agreement between the two attacking forces concerning the division of the Farsi territories and equal rights to the city and all within it, led to a combined and deadly attack. The Issakari kept close to the agreed plan; the Gothae, as was their wont in battle, berserked their way through the City and then, reinforced by their brother tribes set themselves to attacking the Issakari also. The outcome was the defeat of the town militia, an Issakari retreat to Pulonia, the massacre of the scholars, the subjugation of the chattels and the rape of the Library. It is thankful that even the Gothae could see a value in the many thousands of manuscripts were it only a financial value. Every text was packed up and taken back into the Gothaen heartlands and stored against the time they could be sold on to whichever of the other Collegia decided to abandon their morals for the greater good of learning.

Were we to describe every incident that followed in the wars succeeding this event, this Chronicle would be anything but brief.  Let us say that the following one hundred and fifty years was a time of expansions, retreats, incursions, alliances, betrayals and savagery.

In 79 AF Anshan finally fell to the hordes of Medes; in 66AF the walls of Ecbator were undermined by Syggynae engineers, (with the help it seems of several travelling wizards claiming to be exiles of Masachea.)  The destruction of all major settlements carried on apace and though survivors would ever start anew, the fabric of the tribal regions was torn to shreds. People retreated into small communities, increasingly avoided any thought or mention of tribal allegiance and muddled through as best they could. The wizardly strangers, seemingly satisfied with their work, moved on into Aegarde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilf Kelleher Jones
A Song of Ages