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    • The Epic of Grudenwald

      Once upon a time, there was a prosperous shining city upon a hill run by a beloved country Squire. Though he had been born ages ago of lowly rank, the boy who would become Squire constantly rose above his station in life through his hard work and ingenuity. While many thought he could never be more than a simple cook like his father, Squire Jack designed cities and towers, planned great festivals and horse races. He grew wealthy from shrewd trading at a very young age, and was soon made condottiere of this shining city. He chose able administrators and gave out free seat cushions to all, and was beloved by both noble and peasant alike. Sadly, age would eventually overtake him, and just before a great edifice was completed in his honor, he slipped off into that good night.
      "What now?" the people wondered. He had left behind a son, a kind and gentle soul, but none thought him capable of guiding their fair city.
      "Pick me!" the evil leprechaun shouted out. "I have seen a rainbow, and I know how to find the pot of gold at the other end."

      It seemed like an absurd proposition, but the leprechaun used the black arts to deceive them all and place himself upon the throne. To run his kingdom as he saw fit, he hired an unemployed eunuch named Casterato. The bug-eyed brute went to the far corners of all the kingdoms with the city's gold to enlist the services of aging mercenaries.

      Of course, there was no pot of gold - ne'er a soul caught even a glimpse of a rainbow, so the leprechaun had to levy more onerous taxes to pay for his collections of miscreants. Eventually the populace became so impoverished they were left with nothing for sustenance but rancid beer from the Valley of Fifa, and stale peanuts. Eventually, the peasants revolted. Unable to storm the castle (the leprechaun had destroyed all the forest region around his private castle in order to provide himself with ample warning of potential attacks), the peasants threw sackcloths over their heads and threatened to withhold taxes.

      Sensing a need for a change in appearances, the leprechaun brought in the Old Man of the Mountain, as well as a new court jester, the witch Brucehilde. But the Man of the Mountain had no real magic at all - it had all been an illusion created by the intoxicants now legally available. He tried to play upon the naivete of the masses, promising magic from both the witch Brucehilde and also his new eunuch, Witch Hazelett.

      Realizing the deception could not endure much longer, the Man of the Mountain emptied all the city's coffers and went deep into debt to buy a magical beast - half man, half lion, and wings of gold. It was the elusive Gryphon. Most had thought it was merely a mythical creature. The mere sight of the beast froze enemy attackers where they stood, terrified of what he might do next.

      Tragically, such success proved to be ephemeral. Wounded in battle, all the armies of the land ascertained that the beast was in truth mortal, and they mercilessly stormed the city's defenses. Most were astonished at how weak the city's defenses had become. Witch Hazelett had made the walls look bigger with mirrors, and obscured gaping holes with plumes of smoke. He had never even bothered to fortify the walls, and the corners were collapsing.

      The Man of the Mountain fled the onslaught. The coven of witches Brucehilde and Hazelett blamed him entirely for the city's demise. Witch Hazelett even claimed he had been confined to a dungeon with his nether regions soaking in a tank of rabid lobsters when the collapse occurred. Brucehilde assured all that the next year's harvest would be bountiful, and all would be right in the land. There was still one great hope left for the city to return to its previous era of prosperity - bring in the services of Grudenwald, the simple minded younger brother of the deposed King John.

      Grudenwald reassured all he had a plan. No longer would the Gryphon beast roam the battlefield. Instead, he must direct troop movements from the city's watchtower. When the Gryphon complained, Grudenwald reprimanded him. "You spend far to much time with that mystical book of faces, or learning to tweet as though you were a sparrow. The Monday Night is dark and full of terrors, but all you want to be is the Lord of Likes."

      The witches Brucehilde and Hazelett did nothing to strengthen the city's defenses, save for building bigger mirrors and blowing out more smoke. Time and again, all defensive plans and preparations were laid to waste. As another battle season passed, the leprechaun realized his grip on power was diminishing. He brought in an admiral from a distant shore and begged for his aid.

      The admiral saw the sorry state of affairs and thought to himself "I picked a bad week to give up drinking."

      "You need more local conscripts and fewer mercenaries," he chastised. "And enough with the mirrors - they crack at the first sign of battle. Who designed such nonsense, with walls only 3 feet high yet four feet deep, eroded corners, and no areas of safety?" Hearing such rumblings, Witch Hazelett put on her finest dress and fled the city, and the witch Brucehilde immediately announced she would only be concerned in the future with agricultural matters.

      Grudenwald, meanwhile, insisted his plans had been right all along, but had simply not been executed properly. Not wanting to deal too harshly with the brother of a former king, the Admiral allowed Grudenwald to maintain his station.

      Grudenwald then went out to seek a new minister of defense. He soon came across a berry farmer, an average Joseph who pledged to marry his niece Nelly. "Oh no," Grudenwald thought. "He wants to use our friendship and family ties to become a part of the court. If only a better man than this man of berries did marry Nelly." Alas, none else wanted the job, and the man of berries whose only lot in life was to marry Nelly was put in charge of defense.

      The admiral then approached the leprechaun privately. "The Grudenwald and his men will never bring this city peace and prosperity, no matter how many fresh horses I bring them."

      "What do you suggest?" the leprechaun snorted back.

      "I will begin an alliance with the Turks," the Admiral explained. "Their Janissaries are experts at assassination. If no new conquests are made and the city's defenses fall again, the Turk will come for them all."
      This article was originally published in forum thread: The Epic of Grudenwald started by Riggotoni View original post
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