Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Battles at the Bath (Pikeman's Pleasure, June 5, 2004)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

The pennons flutter overhead in the breeze that blows off the waters at Cynred's Bath. The good baron was not in attendance at the annual tournaments held that day by the watercourse that has taken his name, but many of the warriors present laugh as they relate tales of Cynred and his habit of tumbling into the waves. They sit and stand on an island surrounded by a tributary of a small goose ridden lake, at the base of a short waterfall. Though a breeze does blow, it is not cool, and the sun is warm upon their heads. On the shore of the lake, on a rise above them, spreads a small sea of pavilions and shades, under which lounge lords and ladies of the realm. Around the curve of the body of water, stretch the thrown weapons and archery ranges, already crowded with axe wielders and archers.

Upon the island a fighter stands with a spear. His name is Lord Berend van der Eych, and he is of the house of De Taahe. Under the watchful eyes of several marshals he spars with a second fighter. The marshals gather and converse, and then nod. Berend is now authorized in spear.

Eventually all of the warriors are present, and the tournaments begin. The first is a Warlord Tourney, held on the bridge than connects the island with the mainland. The first two warriors to battle are Her Excellency Ramshaven, Alyce de Sheppey, and the young Scottish squire, Laird Colyne Stewart (called by the list minister 'Alice' and 'Cain' respectively). Her Excellency wins the bout, and becomes the first Warlord of the day. Once all the pairs have fought, these teams of two battle, until all the warriors are divided into two teams. The first, holding the island, are led by Baron Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn.

The second force is holding the mainland.. For the last battle the object is not to slay all those on the opposing side, but to get one fighter off the bridge onto the land claimed by the opposing side. Siegfried deploys his team defensively, with four fighters on the bridge, two held back as reserves, and four on the shoreline with poles and spears. The mainland forces elect to place all their fighters upon the bridge in an effort to storm right through Siegfried's line. This gambit would likely have paid off, if Lord Etienne du Naval, holder of the Sword of the Company of the White Hart, had not been part of that line. Turning his pole arm sideways, the hulking warrior pushes forward against his shieldmen, stopping the other side's charge and even pushing them back. Slowly, inexorably, the mainland’s fighters are slain or forced backwards until Siegfried's forces have claimed the shore.

The next tournament is counted blows, with spears. Sir Nigel MacFarlane eventually emerges as the victor of this long fought tournament.

Following is a counted blows tournament with polearms. As with the spears, the fighting is long and hard. Duke Sir Edouard Beausoliel is the day's polearm champion.

The Baron and Baroness of Septentria, Corwyn and Domhnail Galbraith, call for all to pay head, as Their White Bear Fian are to take the field. Colyne Stewart is to once again face His Excellency Ramshaven, Konrad Matthias Jager von Dubrau, in the lists for admittance to the Fian's ranks. Unlike his first attempt, Colyne fares much better, and it comes down to one blow. The challenge is a best two out of three. Konrad wins the first bout, Colyne the second. In the third, both warriors have been legged and armed (though this chronicler would point out that Konrad had given up his arm as a point of honour). The final blow is struck by Konrad, and the laird is laid out upon the ground. When it is over, it was remarked that Colyne has failed in his attempt, but Konrad loudly proclaims that he has not failed. He indeed would not fail until he stopped trying and came no more upon the lists to challenge himself and the order. The rumour is that Konrad and Colyne may again cross swords upon a Fian list at Ealdormere War Practice.

Two more tournaments are to follow. The first is a counted blow buckler tournament. This is won by Sir Nigel MacFarlane. The second is a bastard sword tourney, with Baron Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn emerging as the champion.

With the battles done, some of the warriors continue to spar, whilst others begin the laborious task of taking off their armour. Perhaps if they hurry they might still have a chance to loose a shaft or two.

Hurry they must, for court is to be held soon. A Royal and a Baronial pavilion are set up on the shore of the lake, and many move their own shades closer so that they might sit in comfort when attending upon the words of Their Majesties and Their Excellencies. The courts are brief, but many good gentles are recognized for their good deeds in various disciplines.

With court completed, those present hurry into the hall, for the feast has been prepared by THL Melusine de la Rose, who is renowned for her culinary skill. Truly, many remark that it was one of the best meals they have ever eaten.

During the meal, the prizes for the day's tournaments are awarded. These are wooden chests, hand crafted by Lord Augustyn of Thule, and are truly breath taking to behold.
Also during the meal, the fate of Misha is to be decided. Misha, a local inhabit of Petrea Thule, has been accused of stealing a horse. People are called forth to defend or condemn poor Misha, and in the end, the words of Lady Mahault van der Eych are found most compelling by Their Majesties. (In truth, by His Majesty, who is not feeling lenient to one who had likely stolen—not just a horse—but a nobleman's horse.) As Misha is led away by a hooded executioner, Mahault is presented with an engraved flask filled with scotch.

As usual at Pikeman's, dancing follows the feast, and laughter carries late into the night.


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