There are few, if any, chapels dedicated to Yandrick the Wag, the rustic saint of herdsmen (especially swineherds). Despite this, he is honored by many among the peasantry. Their comic tales of how he humiliated oppressive nobles and hypocritical churchmen are told around the hearth fires every winter.
For many years, the Church was reluctant to recognize the sanctity of this irreverent holy man, but after tales of his miracles were presented by the peasants of dozens of villages, the hierarchy was forced to acknowledge the evidence and canonize the “Saint of the Pig Bells”. In the decades that followed his canonization, many a pompous churchman or pedantic theologian has been heard grumbling cynically about the puckish saint’s taste in miracles.
The Life of Waggish Yandrick
Yandrick was an orphan, one of many children who lost their families in the plagues that marked the final years of the Bandit Wars. The disease that had taken his parents left him crippled, with withered legs that could barely support his weight. Taken in by the local sexton, young Yandrick was set to work keeping the villagers’ pigs, tottering into the forest daily so that the swine could feed on the acorns and brush of the woodland.
Abused and mocked by the other children of the village, the small orphan spent much of his time with the animals. He could often be seen in the forest, studying the plants and befriending the wild creatures, with the village’s hogs surrounding him as if they were guarding him. The children that teased and beat poor Yandrick so cruelly often discovered strange mishaps befell them: Mice ate holes in their shoes, squirrels nested in the thatch above their beds, or pigs shouldered them into muddy streams. Yandrick never seemed to be around when these mishaps occurred, but the village children blamed him and persecuted him all the worse.
This abuse ended the year that the Burning Ague hit the village. Even though the villagers had treated him cruelly, Yandrick helped them with the strange gifts he had been granted. Wild pigs brought him healing herbs and roots to soothe those suffering from the Ague. It was later said that he was responsible for calling a miraculous horde of swine that saved the village from rampaging brigands. When famine threatened, Yandrick led people into the forest to dig for underground mushrooms hidden from others’ sight. Yandrick forgave the villagers their slights, and they came to love the solitary swineherd. Although he still preferred the solitude of the forest, it became common to see him at the temple, earnestly reading the holy texts and commentaries.
The adolescent Yandrick became well known for helping those in need, but the otherwise pious youth also grew infamous for the low-brow jests he played upon the pompous and self-important. Tricking a greedy knight into seeking treasures in the bottom of a marl-pit, persuading a lecherous friar and his foolish paramour to exchange their clothing with a pair of pompous nuns, and convincing a pedantic scholar that great wisdom could be gained if one questioned fish in the town square were among the least offensive of his japes.
Eventually, Yandrick took holy vows and retreated into the solitude of the forests as a wandering anchorite. He traveled the land, sharing his faith and encouraging others to fight against injustice, not by taking up arms, but by duping the cruel and humiliating the proud.
As an old man, Yandrick continued his humorous assaults against the cruel and mighty, until he was eventually slain by an enraged knight, Sir Reywold, the Lord de Fonella. According to the legend, the pompous man was infuriated by the prankish saint’s convincing him to don “The Cloak of the Phoenix”, which had encrusted him with a layer of hot tar and feathers. The slain saint’s body was carried into the forest by a herd of massive pigs and was never seen again.
The Fall of the Sable Company
A Miracle of Saint Yandrick
Yandrick is not only known as the patron saint of herdsmen. He is also believed to lend his benevolence to vagabonds and turncoats, and is often invoked by those who fear punishment for disloyal deeds. If asked, those seeking his intervention often cite the well-known tale of the Sable Company.
In the Winter of the Harvest Star, after the Bandit Wars had been concluded, plague and misery stalked the land. “Free Companies” of unemployed mercenaries haunted the wild lands as bandits and extorted from the already-meager lives of the villagers. Few of these companies were as infamous as the “Sable Company” of Ludhovic Malatesta. These relentless brigands ravaged village after village, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Eventually, their rampage carried them to Saubridge, the tiny hamlet where Saint Yandrick lived. Most of the villagers fled their approach, but the young saint chose not to flee as the others had. Instead, he hobbled to meet the approaching column of masterless soldiers as they crossed the covered wooden bridge at the village’s edge. The cruel men laughed when the crippled boy offered them all the pork they wanted, if only they turned back. They told him that they would take all his pork, and everything else his village had as well. Their laughter turned to cries of shock as dozens of massive swine appeared in response to the jingling bells of the swineherd’s staff. Huge beasts, nearly eight feet at the shoulder, the unnatural boars surged forward toward the brigands.
Panic seized the men at the uncanny sight. Those who had left the bridge already found their way blocked by their fellows, while scores more were within the wooden structure, unable to see what was happening. When dozens of the huge pigs slammed into the bridge, the raiders were trapped within as it collapsed into the icy river below.
A handful of brigands remained. Faced with the swineherd’s guardian pigs, they repented of their banditry, forswore their allegiance to the Sable Company and repudiated their loyalty to Ludhovic Malatesta. When he demanded they return (He had survived the debacle at the bridge, being a firm believer in leading from the rear), the penitent men instead reported to a local monastery, becoming the original members of what later became know as the “Repentant Brethren”, one of the land’s more formidable bands of monastic warriors.
The Heretical Sects
Occasional heresies have sprung up around Yandrick as well. The most unusual of these involved a band of rebellious peasants known as the “Pyg Snatchers”. These uneducated folk decided that swine were holy and should be kept in the land’s temples. They were notorious for stealing the swine of those who they deemed unworthy, generally looting any other wealth they could find at the same time. Edsel the Awkward, warped leader of the unruly band, killed himself rather than face the vengeful knights of several local lords. His “holy pigs” were confiscated and returned to their owners.
Relics of Saint Yandrick
Numerous relics of Saint Yandrick have appeared in the decades since the holy man’s mysterious death. The most popular of these are the “Holy Skulls of Yandrick”, of which there are at least a dozen. The owners of these bony remnants each claim theirs to be the true and original skull of Yandrick, and each is reputed to have holy powers, ranging from healing the afflicted to summoning wild boars. Official church doctrine claims that these skulls exist by “miraculous multiplication”, but rumors tell that several of the skulls were originally given to poor villagers by an extremely old man with withered legs and a swineherd’s staff. Sold to wealthy churchmen and nobles, the money raised going to aid the impoverished villages.
Some cynical theologians and historians, unable to find any noble house named “de Fonella”, suspect that the skulls may all indeed have belonged to the blessed Saint Yandrick.
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CodexDire Swine ( Lifeforms ) Fauna - Forest/ Jungle
The earth holds the fool and holds the wise,
endures that good and bad dwell (upon her);
she keeps company with the boar,
gives herself up to the wild hog.
The Atharva Veda
Order of the Holy Swine ( Systems ) Mystical - General
Deep forests hide many secrets, and traditions older and stranger than civilization itself.