Wednesday 2 October 2013

Ascendancy of the Guilds (A Guild’s Day Festival – Kingdom A&S, November 15, 2003)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

As I sat at my workbench, shifting piles of tafl pieces into the proper counts, I first heard news of the Guild’s Day Festival. A herald paused in the square outside the door of the Games Guild’s warehouse and I stepped out into the sunlight to hear her better. She spoke at length of a gathering of the guilds of Ealdormere, all under one roof, all to come and display their wares and showcase their skills. As well, artisans from throughout the land would come and have their efforts studied and gain knowledge from those most noble members of the Order of the Laurel. As well, a series of tournaments were declared, in which each guild could field three champions. These champions would compete in the lists in a token tournament, in which the team with the greatest number of tokens at its end would be named the Ascendant Guild of the day.

Back into the dim light of the warehouse I retreated, walking past clouds of bone dust and wood chips as guild members laboured to produce gaming materials for the guild. In my study I sat down at my desk and wrote a missive to the Honourable Lady Arnora Dunestan who was organizing this grand event. I told her that the Games Guild of Ealdormere would be most pleased to partake of the festival, and that we would surely field a full team of champions.

After sending off my missive with a page I left the warehouse in charge of my lady and went in search of the Honourable Lord Richard Larmer. For as well as the token tournament, there would be a tournament of beauty that day, and there are few in this kingdom whose armour is as beauteous as his.

His Honourable Lordship was receptive to the idea of representing the Guild when I stressed that one of the guild’s activities was the playing of chess (a he felt game all noble personages should be skilled at).

Since the Games Guild is comprised of those who enjoy playing and crafting games from throughout the kingdom, I then hitched up my wagon and traveled outside the boundaries of my barony to find my other two champions. The second I found on a wharf in the shire of Bastille du Lac. He seemed distracted with news of a certain pirate’s activity in the vicinity, but Sir Evander MacLachlin agreed to wear the guild’s favour at the festival. The third I found in an inn, having just finished a hardy day in the lists. Iron Aaron, his Excellency Count Sir Aaron Worganson, agreed to be the guild’s third champion.

Now having secured the guild’s champions, I began to plan their tokens and gifts of gratitude. In this endeavour I had much help from my lady Thorfinna gra’feldr and His Excellency of Septentria, Corwyn Galbraith. Between us we gathered three sets of tokens: large wooden chess men for Larmer, playing cards painted on leather for Evander and backgammon pieces carved from vegetable ivory for Aaron. To thank them for representing the guild, we found a set of wooden chess men for Larmer, a marble nine-man-morris board for Evander and a set of vegetable ivory, horn and antler dice for Aaron.

When the day of the festival finally arrived, Thorfinna, Lord Eirik Andersen and I traveled to Ramshaven in the very large wagon of Sir Evander. When we arrived we found that most of the guilds had been set up in one room, while a few (including us) were in a second. At first we were dismayed that we were not sitting with the other guilds, but we quickly realized that we were actually in a very good position. For the lists field ended up being set up only a few feet from us, promising us a good view of the tournaments. Also, food and drink was only allowed in our room, which made watering and feeding our fighters easy. Thorfinna discovered that behind us there was a ledge that could be extended from the wall, so we ended up with more than ample storage space for us, our champions and many members of other guilds as well.

Spreading our wares and books about games on our table, I put our champions tokens into three bags. While doing so Larmer and Aaron both arrived, and all three champions began to armour (several other guild champions were already fully armoured and standing by the lists waiting for the fun to begin).

The format of the token tourney was then explained. It would be challenged based, with fighters challenging each other to combat, in a manner agreed to between them. For example, one fighter could challenge a second to best two out of three, while fighter three could challenge fighter four to first landed blow. The winner would then receive a token from his opponents collection. Once all of a fighter’s tokens were gone, they were out of the tournament, which had a set time limit. As an added treat, His Highness of the Middle Kingdom, Sir Felix, and his squire Serjant Lucien, were representing a guild upon the field of honour.

I watched as many of the battles as I could while answering questions of those who walked to our table interested in our wares. I can report that the fighting was chivalrous and that many glorious feats of arms were preformed that day. One such feat concerned the Honourable Lord Richard Larmer, who faced His Highness Felix in a best two out of three challenge, and emerged victorious.

When the tournament was over I was approached by the Honourable Lady Arnora, who told us that our guild had won the day, and also that Sir Aaron had won the most tokens of any fighter on the field. As such, we were to sit at a special table above the salt during feast.

The Champion of Ramshaven, Lord Almos, then faced His Majesty Ealdormere’s champion, Sir Evander. Several bouts were fought in various weapon forms with Almos emerging victorious in the end.

Following this, the tournament of beauty was held, with fighting over a barrier. His Excellency Ramshaven, Konrad Matthias Jaeger, had given rings crafted by Sir Vali inn svartr fleikingr to Her Excellency Ramshaven, Alyce de Sheppey, Her Excellency Adrielle Kerrec and His Highness Sir Felix to distribute to fighters who had inspired them. Adrielle gave her ring to Serjant Lucien, His Highness gave his to Sir Nigel McFarlane, and Her Excellency Ramshaven gave hers to Larmer. As well, Lord Lucien was given a chaplet of roses as the over all best fighter of the day.

Having been manning the Games Guild’s table, and delivering copies of the Ursus, meant that I could not get out and see as much of the event as I might have wished. I did see a large group sitting about the Brewers and Vintners Guild sampling each other’s wares and giving each other pointers, and I saw several Pentathlon entries that left my jaw dropping on the floor. However, I will have to leave it to other chroniclers to describe the various arts and sciences displays and entries.

At feast we invited two guests to sit with us, being Baron Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn (who had fought for the Bowyers and Fletchers Guild) and Lady Katherine Rowberd, who had won Pent at the previous year’s kingdom arts and sciences competition. The feast was sumptuous, so sumptuous that a pair of Excellencies raided Thorfinna’s crème brulee while she was singing to Her Majesty Susanna the Unyielding. And with the kind attentions of several servers were given so much food that we all walked away popping at the seams.

Court followed, but being comatose from so much food (yummy lamb) and having left my parchment in the wagon, I did not record a list of all those recognized that night. I can however report that the winner of this year’s Pentathlon was Lady Asa Gormsdottir, from the Royal Citie of Eoforwic. Wassail Asa!

After court much time was spent in good company until the whickers of our horses finally drew us to our wagon and the long ride home.

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