THE TALE OF MUNGO NAPIER
entle ladies and noble lords, I am known as Mungo Napier, the Archer of Mallard Lodge, and this brief story is from my adventurous life. Read on, and you shall know all you are wont to know.
I was born into our valiant Clan Napier at Kilmahew, our chief's castle west of Glasgow, in the year of our Lord 1473. My given name, Mungo, is shared with Glasgow's founder and patron saint, more properly known as St. Kentigern. I enjoy direct descent from Sir Donald le Nae Peer, the founder of Clan Napier, and am also a close relative of our current chief. Being the youngest son in a long line of youngest sons, I was unfortunately left far removed from inheritance, power or title, but in my breast beats a Scottish knight's heart.
My worthy father had taken service as steward over the Bishop of Glasgow's lands. While still a lad, my father oft bade me ride with him and his men as they went about their duties. What boy would not snatch a chance to skip his lessons and ride with his father's men? I learned many useful things, not the least of which was archery. Indeed, it was my father's battle-scarred groom, the fugitive Welshman Owain ap Dewi, who made my first bow and taught me its use. By the time of my youth, I was already counted a skilled archer, and also had learned somewhat of the sword.
I bethought to become a man-at-arms like my older brothers, and perhaps win knighthood by acts of valour like Sir Donald who was knighted upon the battle field while but still a youth. My good mother had other ideas and marked me for a life in the church. In my thirteenth year, I was snatched away to Hamilton College on Glasgow's High Street to study Latin, Latin, and more Latin. My preceptors taught me well, but they saw I had no calling to the priesthood. I had a tendency to mischief and pranks, so to keep me out of trouble the faculty allowed me to practice shooting at the butts after my lessons. There was only one thing which could keep me from my bow: the library and its wonderful books. While the other lads bloodied each other at foot ball on the green, I could oft be found in the library reading some huge tome of history by a flickering candle. When I reached my majority, my teachers gave me their blessings, along with sighs of relief, and released me upon the world.
My father's master, the great Robert Blackadder, now raised to Archbishop of Glasgow, kindly arranged a position for me as clerk to Sir Oliver Sinclair, Baron of Roslin. Upon learning of my skill at archery, Sir Oliver placed me in charge of training his tenants and servants with the longbow. In time, his archers were among the best in the Scottish Lowlands. He then gave me the honour of caring for Roslin Castle's famous collection of manuscripts. Sir Oliver tasked me with purchasing new books, which included dealings with a seller from the distant Shire of Isenfir in the Kingdom of Atlantia.
It was there at Roslin Castle that I wooed and won my sweetheart, My Lady Sarah Sinclair, Sir Oliver's distant kinswoman and ward. We met at the butts, and she matched me arrow for arrow, but it was Cupid's arrows which pierced our hearts. With Sir Oliver's blessing, we were wed in nearby Roslin Chapel.
Sir Oliver wished to purchase a rare illuminated psalter and other manuscripts from Baron Dosso del Brachetto of far-off Isenfir, and chose me as his agent. Accompanied by Lady Sarah, our few servants, and a small escort of men-at-arms, we departed Roslin for Atlantia in the spring of 1497. After a journey of many weeks, we chanced upon Baron Dosso himself and his party upon Isenfir's high road. They were outnumbered and at bay before a score of murderous robbers. The brigands were thrown into terror when our shafts began to fall among them. The Baron and his supporters rallied and smote mightily upon the knaves with their swords, while I and the men of our escort pressed the bandits from the rear with deadly steel. Sarah and our servants kept the thieves from gaining the forest with a hail of arrows. By our shafts that day, Lady Sarah and I each sent three of the rogues back to their Maker for His judgment.
Baron Dosso was most grateful for our timely arrival and succor. He bade us to dwell in your fair shire, and gave unto us the manor of Mallard Lodge and its fee. Sir Oliver, pleased with his new books and the ties Lady Sarah and I had forged with Baron Dosso, gratefully released me from his service to return and begin a new life in Isenfir.
This, good friends, is how we two Scots came to dwell in your noble company. There will be, through Grace, many more adventures to add to this tale.