Thursday, 10 October 2013

Colyne’s SCA Diary 2002

January 2002

The year started off with a bang for both Thorfinna and I as we traveled to the neighbouring Royal City of Eoforwic for Septentrian 12th Night.

Gallstones and Flatulent Fish
Event Report: Septentrian 12th Night

Colyne Stewart

Ugh. I woke up on January 12th not feeling so well. In fact, if 12th Night hadn’t been that day, if the Septentrian Performing Arts Troupe (of which I am a member) was not performing that day, I likely would have spent it in bed. However, I managed to lurch out of bed and donned Thorfinna’s garb, while she put on mine, and we traveled the monumental ten minutes from our keep to the event hall.
            The site was actually the same as our first event ever (almost ten months to the day before), and the garb I was wearing was the garb Thorfinna had worn to that event. We remembered it as being small, and were happy to find that Ardchreag had been granted a small corner by the stage to create a mini-presence. This corner became one of the most populated and busy areas of the event, next to the Baronial presence across the hall. Ardchreag was well represented that day with over twenty Chreaggers in attendance. One of our newest canton-members, David of Ardchreag, plopped himself down on the floor and worked on his incredible chain mail coif, proving to us all again what a great catch he was.
            We all kind of took the morning easy, wandering about, sitting on our butts, talking and socializing. As we sat eating our lunch I enquired of the time and discovered that it was already fifteen after one. The Troupe was performing at 1:45! We had to get ready! That’s when we discovered that one of the principle characters had not arrived. As a quarter to one came and passed, we decided as a Troupe to delay the play until our event Snowed Inn in February. We later discovered that our sick Troupe-mate had called the event staff to let us know he was sick and unable to attend but the message did not reach us until well after three o’clock.
            The phallic-shaped Nose of Shame wound its way through the populace, gracing the necks or heads of many Chreaggers including, but not limited to, Wulfgang, Crispinus, Eirik, Thorfinna, Mort, Eanor and myself. Sheik Valizan was seen with it down his tight white pants at one point.
            One new Chreagger in particular caused quite a splash, namely Gunter who came dressed as a Roman in a white toga that revealed much. Many Ladies were heard to remark that he was very easy on their eyes. He came armed with a cat-o’-nine-tails, though it was remarked that he should have a feather and then he could have been a vomitorium worker. He chuckled at the idea as he casually whipped people as they passed by.
            Having discovered that we could pay to have people assassinated, Wulfgang and I decided to off our Seneschal, Eirik Andersen. When we went up to pay we discovered that he had already been targeted five times! Still, we paid again, upping it to six. Later, as we all sat in our corner, a conga-line approached, led by the bard Garraed. As they went past Eirik they each slapped a sticker on him that read, “You have been killed by the peasant army”. Money well spent!
            The Fool’s court began around two, and it was hard to hear what all was going on. Iolanda, dressed as the Green Bison, took part in the Foolish Competitions, but was sadly eliminated. Wulfgang was caught with the Fish of Flatulence, and had to spend some time in the stocks.
            Baronial and Kingdom court began fourish, with representatives of each canton lining up to present their taxes. Now, I’m going to editorialize a bit here. The hall that this event took place in is not the best acoustically, and it made matters worse that some people sat in the back and made a fair bit of noise. However, all the people yelling “Quiet!” and shushing them just made matters worse. Nobody listens to people shushing them. It just ticks them off. Finally, the Queen took matters into her own hands, stood up, and told the good gentles in the rear of the hall to either be quiet or go outside. Wassail! So folks, please leave it to the peers or Royalty to quiet the hall. Remember that every time you yell “Quiet!” or shush that you’re doing it in somebody’s ear right beside who is trying to listen just as much as you are. Anyway, back to the report.
            All the cantons in attendance, presented a spear with a canton banner fluttering from its length, and a container of soil from our lands. (Our spear was eight feet long, while all the others were six. I heard it jokingly muttered that our Seneschal was compensating for something.) Skeldergate, though in attendance, had no spear or soil to present. Their Seneschal, Aenas Oakhammer, was called before them and chastised for forgetting their taxes. However, to great howls of laughter, Etienne, a fellow Skeldergater, came to his rescue by bearing into court the branch of an evergreen and a handful of topsoil he had scavenged from outside.
            When it came time to present an award to the winner of the day’s Arts and Sciences competition it was, of course, our own Mahault van der Eych. Wassail!
            The Horn of Wessex, which Eirik Andersen has been in possession of for the past year and a day, was then presented to Aenas Oakhammer for all his work for the Barony. The Baroness went to fill the horn with brew from House Mjollnr (our mercenary band from Pennsic) to find that Eirik had kept the horn well-stocked. So she swigged back the ale herself.
            The Baron and Baroness began to hand out Bear’s Claws and Bear’s Hearts and just as I was preparing to go outside for a bit of air (and quiet), my head jerked up as Thorfinna and I were called before Their Excellencies. It seems that they had recently had their Baronial Bard “stolen” by Their Royal Majesties, and the position was now vacant. They asked if we would consider filling it. Still not quite believing it was happening, we said it would be our honour. We were charged by the Baroness to come up with a song to be sung at the Baron’s expense, over the matter of his extra wives.
            We retook our seats (both of us trembling) and Kingdom Court began. Awards were being handed out when my name was again called. Totally incredulous, I kneeled before the Queen and King and received my Award of Arms for my work with the Games Guild of Ealdormere, and “that Chronicling stuff,” as the Queen put it. (When I first stepped up, Gaerwen asked if they were about to steal their Bard, again!)
            I’m sure Court went on for a while after that, but I don’t remember. I was in a bit of a daze. As canton-mates came up to congratulate me it turned out they all knew before hand! (I can’t believe you guys all knew and kept it secret!)
            They began to set up for feast, and Thorfinna and I decided we’d try to get seats and were lucky enough to find two available. As we all set up our feast gear we found that the table was smaller than on the sign-up sheet, so Normand went and grabbed a small table from somewhere and stuck it on the end. And little Joshua, the smallest Chreagger, and tiniest person in attendance that day, caused quite a stir as the autocrats did not want his stroller in the hall as they feared it would be a “tripping hazard”. Things were finally settled by Gailiana, who had a round table placed in the center of the hall, where Jennifer and Joshua could sit with her, Brandt and Kyle.
            During feast the Baroness showed us the reliquary that the Galbraiths had made to house her gallstone and a piece of Cynred’s beard. As the story goes, demons attacked our lands and Gaerwen passed a magic stone that Cynred, using a slingshot made from his facial hair, used to beat off the vile creatures.
            Unfortunately the feast was not to Thorfinna or my tastes, and one of the dishes actually made me sick. (Please note that this is not a fault of the feastocrat. Those of you who know me know I have a stomach disorder and one of the spices did not agree with me. As Eirik said, it wouldn’t be an event if I didn’t earn my nickname of ‘Colon’.)
            We stayed a bit longer and talked with departing Chreaggers before heading upstairs to the bardic circle. I was forced to excuse myself for a few moments (damn stomach!) and missed Thorfinna singing her song ‘Armour Up!’ Not to be quieted, the demons in my gut forced us to take our leave and we went home form what had been, all in all, a great day.

By January 14 I had replaced my plastic elbows with steel, but still needed a damn new gorget. Both of us were still working on new legs, and I still hadn’t finished my new shield. I was planning on making it out of a 2 x 4" sheet of 11 mm poplar.
Ardchreag had its first fight practice in almost a year at this time. (It was more of an unofficial pickup fight more than anything else, with some pell work thrown in.) We both felt a bit awkward in armour for the first time in five months, but we soon got most of our old groove back. We each got a new bruise, and I got to work in his new elbows.
At the end of January we headed back to Skeldergate (our home away from home) to sip some ale and tell some tales.

A Brawl for All
Event Report: Berus’ Bar Room Brawl IV

Colyne Stewart, Jan 2002

It was with a weary head that I traveled to Skeldergate, for the night before had been spent in consultation with our beloved Seneschal, pouring over documents and Flemish paintings1 in an effort to put together a primer for newcomers to our glorious Society. Said Seneschal, Thorfinna and I arrived at Berus and Marion’s tavern at the tenth hour of the day, finding that many had arrived before us. Even still we managed to procure a table by the Royal Thrones of Ealdormere.
            From this vantage spot we watched many activities. Berend worked on tablet weaving, while Mahault did some braiding on a tail for a small pair of shears. The fighters gathered at one end of the tavern, eventually erupting into a brawl (coincidentally enough). Others fought with foil, and still others with boffers (for the full story on that, see Wulfgang’s Progress).
            Normand, who spent most of his day with visitors from Rising Waters, wandered by and told us that Baron Tankred was selling off a large quantity of armour. Leaping to our feet, members of our canton bought a pair of knees, a set of arms, and a helm. I also got myself a very nice box to store my games in.
            We took to wandering the hall, and Baron Cynred grabbed Thorfinna and I and took us to meet two Laurels visiting from the Middle Kingdom. Mistress Morganna and Master Huigin are two of the most interesting people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. To make our pleasure at meeting them greater, Cynred, who calls Morganna ‘Mom’, made us repeat, “Mom taught Ealdormere how to sing.” These two Laurels are originally from the populace of Calontir, now its own kingdom, but formerly a Principality of the Middle. When Calontir began the push for self-rule they met with heavy resistance from the Middle, so when Ealdormere went through the same problems, Calontir threw us their support. When that glorious day arrived, three people traveled from Calontir to Ealdormere to witness the birth of our Northern Kingdom. Morganna and Huigin were two of those people. Thorfinna later heard Morganna tell a tale, and she said it was an incredible experience.
            Time was spent with one of our own bards as well, Master Hector, who also calls Morganna ‘Mom’. He gave us a talk on the responsibilities of being the Bards of Septentria, and gave us the ring of office. He also told us several tales and poems.
            Most of the Chreaggers then departed for home, but a few of us remained for court. We were quite glad we had, as Thorfinna was awarded her Award of Arms. We also witnessed an AoA being granted to a youngster of twelve years, whose scroll had been illuminated by her own mother. The tears of the populace flew freely, the most deserving young woman clutching to a leaky eyed Queen.
            Gathering our treasures together we then set off for the Cliffs, truly glad to have been guests of the Tavern.
1) Flemish painting is slang for photograph.

February 2002

Work was still progressing on our new legs. They were mostly fitted by this point, but they needed some adjusting. Thorfinna was given a new helm, so she gave hers away. She should have tried it on first. The new helm didn’t fit at all, so she had to find another.  Construction finally begun on my new heater and Thorfinna had begun to paint her round.
            This month found our Canton hard at work again as we prepared to host a pas d’armes:

Singing in the Rain, I Mean Snow, I Mean…
Event Report: Snowed Inn

Colyne Stewart

On a drizzly Saturn Day morning, the Canton of Ardchreag gathered at our Inn. For later that day the populace of the Kingdom of Ealdormere were to arrive for a day of tourneys, games and merriment. The Inn was to have renowned guests that day, for not only were Their Royal Majesties to attend, but Their Excellencies Septentria, Ben Dunfirth, Skraeling Althing and Rising Waters were expected, as were knights and other champions traveling from foreign kingdoms. A Pas d’armes was planned for that day, a glorious tournament full of pomp and pageantry.
            So the Chreaggers fell to work, preparing the Inn. Ivanna set up a corner for children’s activities, while Vlad and I set up the Lists. Elisabetta and Crispinus set to work preparing lunch while Iolanda and Michaela began supper. The Gatekeeper Mahault and her half-Giant assistant Wulfgang took up their positions by the door, Wulfgang wearing a sign about his neck that read ‘Troll Komplaynt Dept’. (Wulfgang’s true heritage is a matter of much speculation amongst the scholars on the Cliffs.)
            The Games Guild spread its wares about the hall, and as the people arrived, they quickly took to these seats. Many engaged in a game of Glic that lasted for eight hours. Jean-Margaret set up an Arts and Sciences competition table in the rear of the hall, where many skilled artisans displayed their wares. Beside her, Gailana sold tickets for a penny raffle and a silent auction that raised much gold for the kingdom.
            Though plagued by a cold, I sat at my post at the List table, signing in fighters and recording their challenges. When Baron Cynred signed in, he insisted that I bite his membership and fighting cards to insure that they were genuine. Thorfinna was approached by the Pas team led by Sir Evander MacLachlan, and asked to act as their Herald. She willingly consented, though she had never heralded in public before. I had an excellent seat as both teams marched in. The Company of the White Heart was led by Richard Larimer, who held the Septentrian reliquary to his chest. Many brave and noble fighters took the field that day, including Baron Brand of Ben Dunfirth, Baron Sir Menken Brecken of Skraeling Althing and our Canton’s own Brandt das Lederwerker (who had authorized in Great Weapon earlier that morning). The two Pas teams sent out their captains, who fought one on one, Larimer emerging as the victor. Both teams then set upon each other in force until their differences were resolved. Upon that happy note the teams held the field against all comers, including Baron Cynred, His Royal Majesty Aaron and Chreagger Elspeth.
            When the fighting was completed, Wulfgang was dragged from his position at the door, had a shield strapped to his arm and was sent out to continue his habit of battling Peers by getting a lesson in sword and shield by the King. (Later that day, he would face Cynred with boffer weapons.)
            Wulfgang had a very full day indeed. Master Hector, who bought a complaint from him, began to heckle the poor giant as Wulfgang found his tongue-tied. When finally he blurted, “Well, how can you expect me to think with all that plaid in front of me!” Hector was no longer listening. Tut, tut. He also found himself under attack by three nefarious Chreaggers who assaulted him with baguettes during supper. Sadly, he succumbed to his wounds. Happily, he miraculously revived enough to run about with a boffer and bash many good gentles that night.
            When the fighting was done, and the List polls safely put away, it was time for the Septentrian Performing Arts Troupe to go on. Sickness had stopped the performance at Septentrian 12th Night, and my sickness almost cancelled it again. We pressed on, and the play went off well, with the hall stopping all activity to watch, and to interact, as it went on. Much frivolity was created by our bumbling acting, and that is all we could have asked for.
            Supper began with a laugh as Colyne got Wulfgang to walk the length of the head table, both ways, while bowing to each set of five Peers that sat there. After poor Wulfgang had retaken his seat, Thorfinna and I stood up to sing for the hall. It was the first time I had performed in public, and I think it nicely showed why I’m not a signing bard. Still, folks laughed, and that was the intent.
            When our most excellent supper was over court was held. During kingdom court many Chreaggers were awarded Arts and Sciences prizes, and Mahault and Berend were both granted their Award of Arms. This was greeted by thunderous applause.
            Also during court our Canton and its populace were praised by King, Queen, Baron and Baroness. I have never heard such an outpouring of public praise before. It made me very proud to hail from the Cliffs.
            After court there were many activities. There was the boffer fighting I already mentioned, as well as a chess tournament. There was even some Eastern dancing and drumming which all enjoyed (except for one spode who was rude enough to actually complain to them of the noise they were making). The chess players battled long into the night until finally Stroenwald Wulfesbana won the day.
            At midnight the Inn closed its doors, and the populace of Ardchreag returned to their homes, worn and weary but happy in a job well done. Many thanks must go out to all those who helped that day, including our autocrats Eirik and Thorfinna, Berend (who ran many errands), Lachlan (who served as servocrat) and many, many others.

Nick West Jr. of Petra Thule was the over-all gambling champion of the day and won some nifty prizes donated by the Canton. He had easily three to four times as much coin as the runner-up.

March 2002

At this time Ardchreag was going gungho on armouring, having two armouring nights a week. Thorfinna built her new legs, but still wanted to tinker with them. I began working on new legs and (with Berend van der Eych's invaluable assistance) had gotten some articulate metal knees put together. We both had a new gorget and Thorfinna had a new helm that she customized to fit her. Thorfinna also bought Baron Tankred's arms and customized them to fit. Armouring was going well!
As well, my heater was now complete. It was a 24" x 26" flat heater with a metal handle and a leather arm strap. After using it twice I decided I was going to take Berus' suggestion next time I made a shield, which is to use two buckled straps. This way, your hand and arm are not taking any strain from holding up the shield. The shield was edged with 3/4" All Round steel strapping and 1/2" heater hose, held on with white twine. Its painted with my device, and is fibreglassed, but I didn't use enough hardener and it took two weeks to dry! (The cold outside on the balcony where it had to sit likely didn't help either.)
Finally, after almost a year of training, Thorfinna and I felt it was time to try to authorize in sword and shield:

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’,
or, Cynred Dishes out the Thumps
Event Report: Northern War College

Colyne Stewart

For one reason or another, Thorfinna and I had been putting off getting authorized in armoured combat. First we got sick, then we got busy, then I didn’t like my gorget, and so on. This went on until this March, two months after my original authorization goal (Berus’ Bar Room Brawl in January). Finally I said to myself, “Just get it done.” So this Wednesday past (March 13) we went to Skeldergate and Berus (with the assistance of Streonwald and Eogan) ran us through a practice authorization process.
            We were both nervous for days leading up to the practice, but once it started we were fine. Our standard sword and shield work was still good (Thorfinna’s is very good), though our off-hand was not great (mine is worse). Thorfinna found fighting on her knees difficult, while I seem to be getting pretty good at it. We both walked away from the practice exhausted, but confident we could pass. (I also walked away with a bruise in my right armpit and a fist-sized one on my left hip. My tendonitis was bothering my elbows as well. Usually when they act up I take a few weeks off to rest them, but I didn’t want to push back my deadline again.)
            The night before War College I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t nerves, it was one of my frequent bouts of insomnia. So Saturday morning when we headed out I was tired and groggy.
            We were one of the first people to arrive, and seeing Baron Cynred, asked him if he would fight us in our authorizations. (You must fight someone you have never fought before.) He agreed, which made us both happy, as it would mean more to fight our Baron than anyone else I can think of.
            We immediately suited up and were the first people in armour. I was practically bouncing up and down in anticipation.
            Finally we moved into the gym and Sir Ed the Red inspected our armour. Mine passed fine, but there was a gap between Thorfinna’s helmet and her gorget. Luckily, Earl Syr David had some thick leather which he used to block up the holes.
            Then Ed said, “Colyne, are you ready?” and I stepped into the middle of the gym. Ed and the other two marshals (Berus and Streonwald, coincidentally enough) were off to the left, Cynred in front of me. To the right, all along the wall, was a score of fighters, including knights and Barons. Most important though, was the presence of Mahault, Berend, Wulfgang and Jean-Margaret who had come out to support us. It meant a lot to have friends there rooting for us.
            The first part of the authorization was sparring, calling out all blows but not acting them out. So if I got hit in the head, I said, “Good head,” but didn’t have to drop dead. This is to make sure that I am accepting blows that I should be, and not hitting my opponent too hard. I did alright, though Cynred hit me more often than I hit him.
            Then we both dropped to our knees and continued sparring. In this we were, as I recall, fairly even. Already though my lack of rest was showing. I was getting very tired and my elbows were throbbing.
            Next we fought off-hand. I had to put my right hand behind my back and fight with my left. This is to make sure that you can block and throw with your off-hand, and not bring out your other hand to defend yourself on instinct. I had no strength in my left arm anymore, and Cynred kept getting past my guard. He hit me once in the side of the knee (an accident, as knees are not legal shots) and three times on top of the bruise Eogan had given me on Wednesday! This almost dropped me to the floor. Ed called for a break and I walked about for a bit, Baron Sir Vali calling me over to offer advice and encouragement. When we joined again I was still lethargic, and Cynred tried to goad me, to see if I’d get frustrated and angry. (If you loose your temper during an authorization, you fail, as you have proven that you are not safe.) I threw a few clumsy shots, maintaining my calm (really, I was too tired to loose my temper, even if I was angry). Ed told me that my off-hand needed work, but it was good enough.
            As I switched back to my normal gear for the last part of the test, Wulfgang told me that my hand was bleeding. I looked down and saw blood freely flowing off my left hand. I grunted, then thrust it into my shield-gauntlet and walked back out onto the field. (The half-gauntlets I was wearing are made out of plastic, and have no give, so my knuckles had rubbed themselves raw.)
            As I stood waiting to fight Cynred in a simulation tournament round, Berus came over and asked me what my SCA name was. I looked at him funny and said, “Colyne.” Apparently everyone had always called me Colyne when he was around, so he thought it was my mundane name. He walked back to the other marshals and I guessed I was probably going to authorize.
            Sir Ed then ran us through a Tourney opening as we bowed to the Crown (in this case, Sarnac Ba’adur), our inspiration (my sweet Thorfinna), and each other. Cynred and I then met in a flurry of blows, both of us legging each other at the same time. We dropped to our knees and our swords flew again and suddenly he cried, “Yes!” and fell dead.
            We climbed to our feet, patted each other on the back, congratulating each other on a fight well fought as Streonwold announced that I had authorized. All the other fighters present were kind enough to applaud.
            (Berend later told me that it was the first time he had ever seen two Dwarves fight.)
            Thorfinna went next and she made me look like an ox. She flew threw her authorization in minutes. Unfortunately she didn’t kill Cynred in the Tourney round, but she easily passed, and her shield work was praised by many. (When Cynred killed her at the end, she had to demonstrate how to die defensively. That is, to make sure your ankles aren’t crossed, and to curl into a foetal position, covering your body with your shield.)
            I did something then that was kind of jocky, but I dabbed blood from my knuckles (both hands were bleeding now) onto her tunic and my tabard.
            I was too tired and sore to really feel relief or jubilation and even now am filled with a feeling of disbelief. I gathered my things, managing to whack the Prince in the elbow with the door on my way out of the gym. (When I later saw him carrying a giant Hercules club I was glad he didn’t carry a grudge.)
            I stripped off my armour and changed, finding that my hip bruise was now the size of my extended hand and deep black, and had a smaller cousin lower down; another spotted the side of my knee.
            After the other authorizations were done, the fighters went to classes and a fighters moot, while we Chreaggers went out into the sun. Mahault had brought her armour so she and Thorfinna sparred while the rest of us lounged and talked.
            While we were outside Brandt arrived and someone (I think it was Mahault) said we should pretend I didn’t pass. So instinctively I threw the water bottle in my hand against the wall and stomped inside.
            As Brandt joined the group he asked what was wrong and was told that I hadn’t authorized because I had lost my temper. Apparently, Brandt’s face fell in and he chased me down, patting my back and consoling me, telling me there was always next time.
            I couldn’t help smiling as I told him everyone was joking. His face went blank for a second, then, as I said I had passed, a great smile broke out as he crushed me in a hug.
            We spent the rest of the early afternoon hanging out together, Brandt joining in the sparring.
            By the time the other fighters came outside, Thorfinna was spent and we went home and slept and slept.
            We’re still sleeping.
            It was tough, but one more hurdle has been crossed. (I just have to get my shield work as good as Thorfinna’s, so I don’t get hit on that hip anymore!)

On March 23,at Badin Plaid in Vest Yorvik, both Thorfinna and I swore to the Isengesitha, the fyrd (army) of Septentria. We had the honour of swearing in with Seonag nicThomais, who had that day been made Septentrian armoured Combat Champion.

A Champion for Septentria

Colyne Stewart, March AS XXXVI

When my Lady and I joined the SCA just over a year ago we knew we wanted to fight. We talked with the fighters in our canton and traveled to Skeldergate as well. We found many brave fighters willing to talk to us and to teach us. But we wondered, were there no female fighters? For we had only met one female fighter, and did not see her again for a very long time.
Then we met Lady Seonag nicThomais. She was small in stature (looking even smaller standing next to her friend Streonwold) but we could tell right away she was large of heart. For a year we have listened to her teachings and we have watched her fight.
At Murder Melee I remember standing under the Septentrian sun shade and seeing her there, not with Streonwold as I had come to expect. It was then I learned she was Isengesitha, a member of the army of Septentria, and she did herself and her Baron proud that day.
At Pennsic too she fought for us, though I could see her only briefly in the sea of spears and shields. It was at War that I learned of her sense of humour, as she came to visit the Ardchreag encampment with Myrgwyn the serpent.
 And when the Baron and the Baroness called for a new Baronial Champion, this good gentle was one of those who answered the call. She fought long, she fought hard, she fought against all those who came to the field.
When the battles were over she went to the Baron and Baroness and expounded on the virtues of her opponents, which included a young lad who had authorized that very day.
At court she and the others were summoned to stand in a line before the Thrones. The Baron stood behind each in turn, placing his hands on their shoulders, and praised their skill, spirit and integrity. The choice, he said, had been difficult, but in the end they chose Lady Seonag. Rhys ap Bledri, the former Champion, removed the Champion’s Collar from about his neck and placed it around hers.
When the Baron then called for those who wished to renew their vow to the Isengesitha, or those wishing to swear for the first time, my Lady and I had the privilege to do so with Seonag. We knelt, one to either side of her, while we three swore ourselves to Septentria’s defense.
Truly, Septentria is honoured to have Lady Seonag nicThomais as its Champion.
Wassail Septentria!
Wassail Seonag!
May you make the Bear proud.

At this event I told my first story, “The Tale of the Badger Broccan,” for which I was given a bracelet by Gaerwen.

April 2002

At the beginning of April a group of us set out from the Cliffs to the Ravenhill estate in the Shire of Flaming Sky:

Quest for the Holy Pail
Event Report: Humour Us!

Colyne Stewart, April AS XXXVI

A small group of pilgrims gathered on the edge of Greenhithe the first Friday of April. Thorfinna and I drove our wagon to the keep of Eirik Andersen, where we were soon joined by three of the four van der Eychs. Together we prepared to set out and brave the long and breezy journey to the northern reaches of our northern lands. For we went to the Ravenhill Farm in the depths of the Shire of Flaming Sky, the home of Finvarr De Taahe and Ragni of Amberhall, the mother and step-father of our own Duchess Eanor. The weather at times seemed to be against us, as some of the humours attacked us. The air was cold, and blew with much ferocity. The rain, hail and snow pelted our wagons, and the earth twisted under our wheels. The only element to be missed was fire, and indeed, we could have used some heat that day.
            Ironically, the father north we drew, the better the weather became, and soon the only snow we saw had been on the ground for weeks already. The sun soon set completely, and we pulled into the Ravenhill property in pitch blackness. There we found many other pilgrims, including Viscount Sir Ed the Red and Viscountess Rylyn, Sir Mordain, His Majesty Aaron, Sheik Valizan and upwards of twenty others. With Eanor, Gunther and Heloise the Ardchreag contingent numbered nine, and we had our own room at the farm. We stayed up late into the night talking, drinking and making merry, all the while the dogs leapt about us, the children laughed and the cats watched all with haughty eyes.
            All awoke early the next morning, and a pleasant few hours before the event were spent in conversation. We then loaded our wagons and wound our way to the event site, which was housed in the depths of a roomy church. I had brought my armour, so immediately set about putting it on. I was excited, for I had not fought at an event before, except to authorize, and I had new knees and a new arm to try out. I was disappointed to find that the arm hindered my movement a bit, but Thorfinna and Gun made a few adjustments that made it work much better. I fought with Sir Ed as we waited for the event to start, and he said I had improved since he had authorized me at War College, being much more aggressive. (Words which made me rather happy). However, my legs were a disappointment, as they were too long and did not sit right. Two of the straps also snapped on them, so I did not take part in the tourney that day. However, I did take part in the Quest for the Holy Grail.
            Along with Thorfinna acting as my Bard, Berend as my Squire and Mahault as my Horse, we set out. We were competing against teams led by Sir Mordain, Sir Ed, Sir Menken, His Majesty Aaron and Robert the Blue. First, I had to fight youth and battle young Graham, son of Richard Larmer, and the youngest fighter present. He is a skilled opponent and in our contest of counted blows he emerged victorious. I then proceeded onto the stage where I fought the venerable and skilled Duke Sir Finvarr who portrayed the Dark Knight of the Soul. Against this most excellent fighter I managed to hold my own, and he considered himself satisfied with our combat when I hit him a ringing blow to the head. I was awarded a taper and then my company walked into the serpent’s lair. There I found a terrible serpent (played by Gun, who wielded a bastard sword), which I awoke by slamming my sword against my shield. He sprung to his feet and began to circle me, his tongue (sword) flickering about me as he told me that I had to strike his heart before I could move on. Not having a thrusting tip, I felt a twinge of despair, for it would be difficult to strike a telling blow to an opponent’s chest without one. Still, I met the beast without fear and after only half a minute or so I dropped the beast to the floor. I then awarded me with one of its claws.
            Our company was then questioned by Valizan, who asked us questions of protocol and history. I made good answers all, though not all exactly to his satisfaction. Still, he let us through the portal he guarded. We then found ourselves in Duchess Eanor’s party room, where we had food and drink and were encouraged to flirt and dance. Once all six teams had arrived and danced (which is tiring work in full armour), Tim the Not-So-Enchanting sorcerer arrived and we had to beg Eanor’s permission to leave and follow him to the final part of the quest. As Robert got down on one knee and began a very courteous appeal, Sir Menken began to hop up and down and plead, “Your Grave, can I go?” The others followed Menken’s example and a laughing Duchess granted us permission to leave, saying she was sure that we Chreaggers would do her proud.
            Tim took us to the lair of a vorpal rabbit, the guardian of the Holy Pail. We then learned that the rabbit, a citizen of Skraeling Althing, had not been able to attend the event, and instead had sent a Ram from the south wearing a Hare Piece. We six warriors were told to arm ourselves with only a sword and gather in front of the lair, which was surrounded by bits and pieces of bloody armour. When we were all ready the beast lunged from its cave and danced through the air, trying to evade our blades. Some of us were bit by the thing and were forced to go back to the resurrection point, where our bards sung us back to life. I am not sure who actually hit the killing blow that scattered the Ram-not-Rabbit’s guts all over the floor, but it was Robert the Blue that pulled the Pail from its body.
            It was then I discovered my second broken strap and I stripped myself of my armour as it was actually causing me discomfort (I have a tear in my shin to remember the event by). The tourney then commenced, pitching belted fighters against unbelted. Anyone one present could challenge either Sir Ed, Sir Finvarr, Sir Menken or Sir Mordain to duel, to a count of ten blows. Berend was enlisted to count the blows for the side of the Chivalry. Much could be learned just from watching these skilled fighters battle, but the lure of cards eventually stole me away as a game of the Great Dalmuti sprang up.
            We later hung about in the party room, some of us sleeping, some of us talking, some of us shopping. Feast was then called and we were treated to one of the best feasts I have ever had (its only competition being the Galbraith’s feast after Aaron and Rustique’s Crown). This was well explained when I discovered that the feastocrats were Finvarr and Ragni; Ragni being a Laurel in cooking! We had four full removes, featuring lamb, ham, beef, soups, vegetables, breads and many other fine foods. Each remove was tied into one of the four humours and its corresponding elements in some way. The dessert for the last remove (fire) was sorbet, covered with meringue, sitting on an almond crust that had me drooling for more.
            Many of the bards from the Quest sung songs celebrating the feats of their fighters during the meal. Martin Bildner serenaded the room, and a local gentle played melodious tunes upon a flute.
            Court was held a half hour later, the seats being arranged in a fashion resembling parliament. This led to many cries of “Here, here!” and the thumping of chairs and stomping on the floor whenever something happened. Court was short, but not quite short enough. When Robert the Blue was awarded his glass goblet for retrieving the Holy Pail of Auntie Auk, he snuck in his company who sang a long song of his exploits between their laughter and gaffes, while he tried to hum along by saying, “Frum. Frum. Frum.” Much hilarity ensued, especially when a small one from the back of the room screamed at us that that “was enough!”
            We left the hall not long after, heading back to the farm for another night of conversation (though I went to bed long before most of the others). Likewise, Thorfinna and I slept latest, and only Eirik stood between us and a wallorin’1. We awoke to a breakfast primarily prepared by Berend and ate our fill of eggs, toast, hash browns and bacon.
            Snow was in the forecast so we set out before noon and arrived home at four in the afternoon. If this is any indicator of what northern events are like, I think I shall be traveling there more in the future!


1.         To wake someone up, rudely and unexpectedly, usually after they've been up rather late the night before.

On April 20, at Caer Draeth's Spring Tune Up and Commissariat Fundraiser, in the Canton of Caer Draeth, the Games Guild was given two tables to cover in games. The day was blustery, the hall cold, and the Guild members drowsy. The Guild did not push itself, but games were played, and people were introduced to Glic and Tafl for the first time. I armoured up but the blistering cold caused me great pain in my wrists and I didn’t fight a single bout. I was pretty annoyed about that, as I wanted to take part in the fighting classes.
By the 25th I found that the new straps on my legs were holding up, but then the right leg didn't hang quite right. I had to decide weither to take off the knee and rebuild the whole leg. I learned to live with it the way it was. Thorfinna's legs still weren't working and much cursing could be heard while both of us tried to get the damn things to work right! On a good note the wardoors are done. This time we made sure to fibreglass the shields before painting it (the fibreglass turned most of the white on my heater yellow). We used 2 x 4' 11mm popular, edged with 2/4" All Round steel strapping and a black garden hose, held on with white twine. We hoped that after all the work we put into them they wouldn’t fall apart the first time they saw action!
During the cours of April I was a very busy Chronicler. I had the privilege and honour to edit the fourth volume of the Cry of the Wolf Series for the Bardic College of Ealdormere which was entitled ‘Our Stories.’ Also around April, I put the final touches on a booklet for newcomers to the SCA, specifically those who were playing in our canton. It met with an enthusiastic response and I have heard from many newcomers and Chatelaines who have read it and think it is a useful resource. (Which pleases me, as that was the intent.)
Near the end of the month it was time for the Line of the North to extend itself once again, as a new King and Queen would lead the Wolves of Ealdormere:

Homorri for Ealdormere
Event Report: Coronation of Sarnac and Joliecia

Colyne Stewart

News had been coming for months that our King and Queen, brave Aaron and gentle Rustique, would have to leave us on a quest, and many of the people of Ardchreag traveled far to Rising Waters to see them set off. It was a glorious day for traveling, and it was good. Their Majesties held their final court where special awards were given and gifts received. Baron Foote, pushing before him a monstrous cart hung with bells, told all how Aaron must leave us to fulfill a wise woman’s predictions. For their true love to remain, Aaron and Rustique must abdicate the Thrones, and set off together to return the empties (handily strung on a string by the good Foote). Their was much cheering for the newly non-Royals, and they were pelted with many frogs (for Aaron was a Frog Prince when first he won Crown Tourney). As they left the keep Sir Has was heard to remark, “Preslee has left the building.”
            Sarnac Ba’adur was then called to claim the Crown of Ealdormere and keep our lands safe from invaders. His Lady wife was heralded into court by drummers and dancers and much fanfare. Together they recited their pledge to protect Ealdormere and serve her people and it was well said. They then called forth the Great Officers, Barons, and the members of the three Great Peerage Orders: Chivalry, Laurel and Pelican.
            When Baron Brand of Ben Dunfirth took his oath of fealty he presented Sarnac with a bag containing the heads of our enemies. Sarnac gave these heads to the keeping of Master Hector, biding him place them on pikes so that all the enemies of Ealdormere could see the fate that awaited them. Master Hector, the ever-subtle, then shook the bag at Caesar, King of the Middle Kingdom, who was in attendance with members of his Legions. The crowd chuckled as we realized that the whispers were likely true, that we would fight with the East this year, should peace between the Middle and East prove impossible.
            And indeed, at the evening court, it was declared that there would be War, and that Ealdormere would fight for the East. So Chreaggers prepare thyselves. Whether you fight with Kingdom, Baronial or Household armies, patch your armour and sharpen your swords. Soon the Wolves of the North shall sweep South and devour all who would oppose us.
            Generals were chosen to lead us, one of whom comes from our own lands, Her Grace, Duchess Eanor of Amberhall, who was also named as our new Khan’s Champion.
            And so the Line of the North is secured.

May 2002

The beginning of May found we from the Cliffs very, very busy.

A Day in the Woods
Demo Report: Beaver Troup, May 4, 2002

Colyne Stewart

Ardchreag had been invited to put on a demonstration of our chivalric fighters by the leaders of a young child’s association within the borders of Greenhithe. Ardchreag, with Greenhithe’s blessing and assistance, set out on a sunny Saturn Day morn. In attendance were Mahault van der Eych, Berend van der Eych, Teah van der Eych, Thorfinna gra’feldr, myself, Brandt das Lederwerker, Ivanna the Oblivious, Ivanna’s son Joe, Eirik Andersen, Iolanda de Albornoz, William the Younger, Sancho the Adequate and Aldred and Wulfwyn from Greenhithe. Mahault, Berend, Thorfinna, Colyne and Brandt suited up and sparred for over an hour in the woods of Camp Samac (not Camp Sarnac, as I was calling it) while we awaited the Beavers. The Beavers, who were partaking in a Medieval themed weekend long camping trip, were on a quest, walking through the woods in search of a treasure chest. Ahead of them suddenly they could hear the sounds of combat. A score of excited youngsters ran out of the wood to see Ardchreag’s fighters in action. Brandt sat them down in a row and explained about our armour and how our mode of combat was run. Eirik then began to herald the battles. The Beavers would call out who they wanted to battle (“Red and Black!” “Green and White!”) and then cheer their chosen champions on to victory! The unarmoured SCAdians were also called on to battle with boffers. As a finale, Berend and Mahault faced off against Thorfinna and I, with Brandt prepared to come in to replace the first fighter to fall. Happily, this chronicler can report that he and his Lady emerged victorious, though it was a hard earned win. Wassail to all Ardchreag’s fighters!
            The Beavers then invited us back to their cabin. As the fighters removed their armour, Eirik, Aldred and Wulfwyn taught the Beavers the SCA Maltese Bransle. Eirik and Sancho then set up a boffer field for the kids. Songs were sung, armour bits were tried on, the Holy Grail was uncovered, and there was much merriment.

The very next day we were at it again:

Baronial Fight Practice
May 5, 2002

Colyne Stewart

On May 5th, Ardchreag was honoured to host a Baronial Fight Practice at Thompson Park in Scarborough. Fighters and fencers came from Petrea Thule, Eoforwic, Greenhithe territory, and Ardchreag. Many good gentles who do not fight sat and talked and sung songs and sewed and spun. It was a very good opportunity for people from across the Barony to meet in a laid-back friendly environment. All told there were approximately sixteen people in attendance.
            While the fencers fought there was some one-on-one armoured combat, followed by shield wall drills. Thorfinna, a good gentle named Will, and I formed a shield wall while Baron Cynred, Tiberius (of Petrea Thule) and Druss (Squire to Sir David) poked, prodded and pulled at us. (I commented that all the experienced fighters were with spears, and all the newbies with shields. The Baron laughed and said, “Welcome to Pennsic!”) When it was over, we were told that if all the shield men in Ealdomere could fight as cohesively as us three our Kingdom would be in good shape. (The more experienced fighters then looked at each other and japed that all that would mean was that House Darkyard would be sicked on us.)
            The practice lasted for two hours though it was another hour before all packed up their carts for the rides home. If this is an indicator of Baronial Fight Practices I hope they continue to be held on a regular basis so that all those in the Barony can get together outside of an event. It is good.

Then, on the Monday, I fought at an Ardchreag Fight Practice. That turned out to be too much for my tendonitis, which cut the Monday practice short and made me wear an arm brace for two days. To try and combat the strain in my arms, I replaced my lanyard with two very short lanyards, one tied to the top of his basket hilt, the other to the bottom. This should help me hold my sword, allowing my grip to be looser and should theoretically ease up my arm pain. It took five months before I would test it as I found myself too busy to fight except in a shield wall (where I used a different sword).
I finally went to the doctor on the 29th because my arms were still incredibly sore. I found out that I've got a strange kind of tennis elbow / carpel tunnel syndrome in both arms and elbows. (Not from fighting, but from typing at work.) I was put on anti-inflammatories called Vioxx and sent to see a Physiotherapist. He didn't think I had to give up fighting (thank god) but that I would have to do stretching and strengthening exercises for my arms and wrists. I was also advised to become more ergonomic at home and at work (neither of which can afford to). So, in short, I could still fight but I'd have to learn to live with the pain. Physiotherapy is an option, but I couldn't afford it. My only hope was that the exercises would be enough.
Around this time I developed my persona’s motto: vulpes cum lupo stat. This is Latin for ‘the fox stands with the wolf.’ The fox is my heraldic beast, and the motto stresses my loyalty to my kingdom.

June 2002

As a result of my injuries I could not fight at Pikeman’s Pleasure at the beginning of June, but Thorfinna waded into battle:

The Seven Deadly Sins
Event Report: Pikeman’s Pleasure

Ah, Pikeman’s Pleasure: one of my favourite SCA events. Also, the anniversary of my first SCA sunburn. This year I had just the thing to combat the burning, searing sun: a hat. Yes, I’m a smart one all right.
            Ardchreag’s populace turned out in force and set up two pavilions along the lovely river that ran through the event site. Still we had not enough room to house everyone. Those from the Chreag included: Thorfinna and myself, Berend, Mahault and Teah van der Eych, Gailana, Brandt and little Kyle, Iolanda, Olyfia, Ivanna, Wulfgang, Jean-Margaret, Tarian, Vlad, Siegfried, Kenric, Tatiiana, Eirik and others that I’m likely forgetting. With us were four friends from down Greenhithe way: Misty, Wulfwyn, Aldred and Colin. (Strange to meet someone who’s mundane name is my SCA name. Colin’s middle name was Stewart.)
            The wind that day gusted and swelled like a mad creature and the van der Eych pavilion could not take the buffeting. Eirik’s and ours survived the day though ours kept blowing out of its supports (we have to get some better pegs). Whenever a particularly harsh gust of wind blew everyone grabbed a leg of one of the tents to ensure they didn’t blow away. (Kind of like what happened at War Practice last year.)
            Thorfinna took part in the Warlord Battle and ended up on Earl Syr David’s team by the end of it. (For those, like myself, who have never seen a Warlord Battle before, it is run thusly: two opponents face off. The victor is the Warlord, the other is their vassal. This team of two faces a similar team of two. The victorious Warlord now takes the other two as vassals. This continues until everyone is on two teams.) Thorfinna learned how to use her shield to good effect against Vlad’s spear as he battled her Warlord, under the gentle words of Earl Sir David. )”Push his spear, Thorfinna! Get in there! Block!” Earl Syr David led his team down to the river to face Sir Evander MacLachlan’s more experienced team. With Evander stood His Highness Roak, Duke Sir Finvarr, His Excellency Sir Menken, Sir Mordain, Aaron Jarl, Baron Siegfried and others equally skilled. Now, Earl Syr David’s team was a good one, but many were still newer fighters. Still, he led them into glorious battle and they won almost as many engagements as their enemy. Still, in the end, it was Sir Evander who emerged victorious. Wassail Evander!
            While the bridge battles raged, Berend and Iolanda shot the bow, Ivanna worked on a new Septentrian tabard and much conversation was had.
            Later that day a Seven Deadly Sins Tournament has held, where a knight took on the part of each deadly sin. As there were only six knights on hand, Siegfried also portrayed a sin—that of Envy. My, how we all laughed to hear that. Eirik almost fell off his chair.
            When the battles were all over, it was discovered that Cynred had not fallen in the water. For many years past he had always fallen in, giving the shallow river under the bridge the name of Cynred’s Bath. To rectify matters, Cynred walked upstream and flung himself into the water as it cascaded down a short falls and into a pool before the bridge. Not to let his Baron take a plunge he wouldn’t Stroenwald Wulfesbanna accompanied him. Both were still in full armour. I missed the plunge but as I was walking past the pong suddenly saw Stroenwald break the surface, quickly followed by the Baron.
            At Baronial Court I was ensnared to ensure that the Baronial banner did not fly away and was given a Septentrian baldric to wear and a Septentrian patch as token. Kirstiken, former entourage of Countess Rustique and now entourage of Her Highness Arlette, gave us all chocolate as well. Seonag, wearing her Champion’s collar, and Eirik stood behind the Thrones with Petrea Thule’s Seneschal Keja and Tiberius while we awaited the arrival of the herald, Stroenwald. Apparently, the bath hadn’t been good enough for him and he was in the shower. I suggested they have him herald court in a towel. Gaerwen engaged the crowd in conversation and Cynred regaled us with “Born on the List Field” until finally a calm, cool and casual Stroenwald strode up the hill. One young man had his Lady called up into court where he proposed to her! Many awards were handed out, though court had to get up and physically move inside as many of the Thuligans who were so awarded were inside working. Amongst the awards Melchior and Eileen were awarded Bear’s Hearts and Vlad was given a Bear’s Claw. Tempus Peregrinator was also given a Bear’s Claw and the Title of Officer of Misinformation for his efforts in confusing our southron neighbours with tales of Wallpaper Festivals, moose hatcheries and the like. When the call came for those who wanted to swear to the Isengesitha, Mahault van der Eych swore as a Scout.
            Wulfgang and Jen-Margaret were invited to sit at head table during feast at Their Excellencies side.
            While we feasted there was much entertainment. Earl Syr David had six roses, which he would give to those who stood and pontificated on the loveliness of their Ladies. I of course stood and won my Thorfinna a rose. (David had previously given Gailana a rose.)
            Keja then called on all to come up and sing bawdy songs. Thorfinna, having written one only a few weeks past, was able to fulfill her obligation of opening a Septentrian hall, and sing a bawdy song at one and the same time. Although many fine songs and tales were told, at the end of the night Thorfinna’s was chosen as best and she received a CD entitled, “The Art of the Bawdy Song.”
            Thorfinna later went to head table and told them a tale of her love for Septentria, which got quite an emotional reaction. Their Highnesses gave her a ring as token of her tale, and Gaerwen gave unto her a Septentrian patch and belt favour.
            After dinner Eirik gathered up as many Chreaggers as he could find for group photographs. Thorfinna, Mahault, Gaerwen and I linked arms and sang, “We’re off to see the Wizard,” as we skipped from one location to another. As we all crammed on the bridge we hoped it would take the weight of so much camaraderie.
            People began to hitch up their wagons as rain began to fall, and we eventually followed suit. When asked on my way out the door if I had enjoyed myself I laughed. It was one of the best events I have yet been to. For that I will always have a special place in my heart for Petrea Thule.

After the event I wrote a short bit about Cynred in the creek for The Ursus (Septentria’s newsletter):

Cynred Takes His Yearly Bath

Colyne Stewart

It was a fine sunny day in Petrea Thule, though the wind did guts harshly at times. We had come from across the Kingdom to celebrate the Pleasure’s of the Pikemen and, as usual, this was done by having many bridge battles. For those who have never been lucky enough to go to a Pikeman’s, a small river runs through the event site, which goes over a small water fall, swirls through a pond and then splits into two shallow channels to run around a lozenge-shaped island. From the shore to the island is a small bridge, and it is upon this bridge that the fighters battle.
            This year the teams were led by Earl Syr David and Sir Evander after each won at the Warlord Tourney. The two groups met amid a flash of pikes, the darting of swords, the clang of shields and the call of “Havoc!” as Dusty tore through the ranks and died gloriously to allow his pikemen free shots at his attackers.
            When all the fighting was over and done it was discovered that His Excellency Thegn Cynred Broccan, our exalted Baron of Septentria, had not fallen into the water. For years past he has done this, earning the shallows the name of Cynred’s Bath. This even with Tiberius and Roak giving him the occasional good-natured prod from behind. And so, not being one to break tradition lightly, Cynred walked up to the falls and threw himself in. Streonwald Wulfesbanna of Caer Draeth, and Septentrian Herald, not being one to let his Baron face a challenge alone, likewise plunged intro the water. Both were still in full armour.
            There was much laughing and cat calling as the two sodden warriors pulled themselves from the murk. Eirik Andersen, Seneschal of Ardchreag, could be heard muttering, “Think of all those poor fish.”
            And so our Baron is squeaky clean…for another year at least.

On June 17, I was given a hand embroidered version of my AoA scroll by the very talented Mahault van der Eych. Each pictoral element and every colour had a meaning. I was very touched.
Both wardoors saw action mid-month in the ten-man-melee at Murder Melee XIX. Neither of them fell apart and they faced charges by (amongst others) the Hrogn, the Marines and the Rozakii so they must be ok. Around the border of min, in Norse runes, I had written: Fodder for my King and Baron. Thorfinna’s shield, which was red but did not yet have the Septentrian Bear on it, was given a charge by Baroness Gaerwen. Eirik Andersen had made up “We want you in the Septentrian Army’ posters, featuring a pointing, glowering Thegn Cynred. The Baroness taped one of these posters to Thorfinna’s shield and sent her into battle. Cynred’s likeness must have power as it survived the day, only slightly torn in places.

Septentria’s Perfect Day
Colyne Stewart, June AS XXXVII

The sun shone though the clouds threatened rain as the armed might of Septentria gathered on the field. The call had gone out for fighters and the fighters had responded.
            From the Isengesitha came Tormod, Seonag, Angus, Brandt, Thorfinna and myself. With us were Brother Henrik, Robert the Blue, Father Will and Ragnarr. Under the spear of Thegn Cynred we took the field in name of the bear.
            We met the charge of many foe-friends that day: Rozakii, Hrogn, Marines, Ramshaven, Galbraith, Ben Dunfirth, Ealdormere, Trinovantia Nova. Each charge bleeds into each in my memory, as my wardoor smashed into their lines. At times I pushed; at times I was pushed. Once I was thrown against a fallen comrade, turned, twisted and knocked to the ground, wrenching my knee. I sat one battle, the reentered the shieldwall.
            Septentria fought bravely, Septentria fought well. Septentria emerged with a perfect score.
            We lost every battle.
            When it was over there was no bitterness, no recrimination. Everyone laughed, shook hands, clasped shoulders and praised each other’s skills.
            Cynred told us that though we lost we had done Septentria proud. We had fought as one, we had fought for the Bear, and we had had fun.
            Our Thegn is wise. As our non-Isen friends were awarded tokens we Gesitha cheered.
            It was a good day to be Septentrian.

It was around this time that I began to write poems to honour those who I thought deserved recognition. One of the first was for Eogan and Kersteken of Skeldergate:

For Eogan and Kersteken of the Perpetual Entourage

Colyne Stewart, June AS XXXVII (mka Todd Fischer June 2002)

Fair maid and Lord of Skeldergate
Were led to us by happy fate
Honoured we to have them met
At Pikeman’s feast our bodies set

Eogan of the white, blue and black
With a red sword has learned to hack
Fighter forged in Pennsic fire
Now his name on scroll of honour

Kersteken of Art and Science
Also dabbler in finance
An officer with drive and wile
Lady of true wit and style

Both in service to Wolfen Crown
Following King and Queen around
Shadows for Rustique and Aaron
One month off was all they shared in

They now in service are again
To Arlette Queen and Roak King
And in their loyal hand and sword
True love of Northern lands are stored

Our kingdom richer once they came
As honour falls upon their names
We are the ones who always gain
When they assist with Lupine reign

And so a toast I do propose
While golden mead within me glows
To Kersteken and Eogan, friends
Whom I’ll admire ‘til world’s end

So help the Queen and help the King
But try to promise us one thing
When you find you are the Royals
Please do not entourage yourselves!

July 2002

Once again Ardchreag hosted War Practice, and this time Thorfinna was co-autocrat. I was deputy Troll and was in charge of gaming. The Games Guild had its own tent (which it shared with the Arts and Sciences classes) and the gaming was so popular that people asked it to go all weekend long next year! This year the weather was hot, so hot that fighting was cancelled one day. This didn’t stop our friends Berend, Mahault and Wulfgang from authorizing in sword and shield. Many awards were given to members of our canton that weekend, including a Bear’s Heart for the group as a whole.
            At the bardic circle I promised Lady Ivanna the Oblivious a token for her bardic endeavours, which she was to pass on in a year and a day to someone who inspires her. (The token was a worked bracelet that fits in nicely with her Russian garb.)
            For Berend and Mahault I wrote the following:

For the van der Eychs, Upon the Occasion of their Authorizations
Colyne Stewart, July AS XXXVII

On sunny day of blasting heat
Two fighters came to prove their worth
In armour made by their own hand
Their faces shining bright with mirth

For long her training for this day
Hard hitting pell-poles for their crimes
He, whom Aaron thought a Duke
Had been in armour but three times

Both raised their swords in a salute
Both bravely fought and whirled and spun
Both brought their weapons crashing down
Upon the head of laughing Gun

Two new fighters for the Isen
Both born in Glory, shaped that day
To Berend and Mahault the fierce!
Great praises do I herein say.

This month found me madly chronicling again. In 2002, Ardchreag celebrated its 10th anniversary. To mark the occasion, I put together a year book called ‘ArdX’ detailing the history of the canton, their past events, populace members, officers and much more. This was done with the help of many other people including, but not limited to: Eirik Andersen, Mahault van der Eych, Thorfinna gra'feldr and Master Hector of the Black Heights. Home sick again one day I decided to collect my bardic offerings up to that point in a book I called ‘Cry of the Colyne’.
I wrote a poem about Streonwald in July, as he has been a very strong presence in the SCA for me. He is chivalrous, knowledgeable and kind. His behaviour is that that all in the Society are meant to strain for.

For Hlaford Streonwald Wulfesbana
Colyne Stewart, July AS XXXVII

Within a field of black and white
There stands a man of lordly height
Tabard as yellow as the sun
His hands on axe-shaft nimbly run
Tobacco stick between his teeth
And crowned in smoke like Yuletide wreath
The Wolf and Rose upon his chest
Beating heart within his breast
His hands are taped; his hair is bound
He is a loyal Berus-hound
Knight-Lord calls him unto the Lists
He strides forth boldly, flexing wrists
The sun glints off of helm and shield
As Households meet upon the field
The Marshal’s stick bobs in the air
As forces charge and show no fear
Yellow veteran hews with axe
Felling foemen whose shields were lax
Being smart ‘midst the fray
He wins to fight another day
Fighter and craftsman of renown
A Herald being duty bound
Adept of the blacksmithing art
And bearer of a Maiden’s Heart
So to Streonwald cheers and wassail
While I do here end this my tale.

I also wrote two poems to honour two of the greatest Houses of Ealdormere (at least, two of the greatest that I had come into contact with). The first, House De Taahe, had many members from my Canton, and the second, House Hrogn, was based in Skeldergate.

To House De Taahe
Colyne Stewart, July AS XXXVII

Shining stars on sky-blue field
De Taahe standards fly
To the for of battles fought
As steel rings on steel
Flashing spears and blazing shield
Upon the field of battle
And swords of honour held in
Hands of grace within
The Tourney Lists
An ancient House with long, proud history
As Finvarr stepped from boat to shore
White belt glowing in the sun
To settle in our northern land and
Gather to him men and women
Of renown, living legends like unto him
Their House exemplifies grace, courtesy, and love
The values we are meant to have
And as my De Taahe general leads my
Kingdom south to War
I watch her stride in scarlet surcoat
Plumed hat shading sun-warmed face
Sword at hip awaiting battle
Her Grace, highborn daughter and
Life-long campaigner who herself
Is living legend
And beside me as I march in
Red-white tabard
Come the Stars of De Taahe
The red and yellow boar, tusks of glory
The silver sheen of helm and spear
One a Sheriff of the Thule, long
Hair blowing, proud eagle spread
Across his shield
Two spearmen next, one short, one tall
The first a former Champion
The other a Herald-who-is-not
With them others of the Greater House
All arrayed for War
And as I gaze upon the blue and gold company
I am proud they fight for Ealdormere.

For House Hrogn
Colyne Stewart, July AS XXXVII

A pack of wolves, fur black and white
Dost with our oe pick up our fight
Norseman scions who spill the blood
Of Eald’mere’s foemen in a flood
They are Loyal, and Strong and Proud
With heads held high and necks unbowed.

They enter in the dance of death
And battle ‘til their dying breath
The blood of Kings runs in their veins
And Honour on their tabards stains
They are the Quick, the Brave, the Free
Bearers of Eald’mere’s destiny.

I was a busy bee this month. Here’s one I wrote for all those who took time out to work with Thorfinna and I as we were training to fight.

For my Teachers
Colyne Stewart, July AS XXXVII

One year it took, to make my armour,
To train, to authorize
And the help of many came to me
Along the way.
But there were five who stood out
Who taught me how to fight
(or rather how to die)
how to face a charge, throw a blow
and take one.
First was Berus, Jarl and Knight,
Fresh from his reign as King
Who took two newbies under his wing
Taught without pushing, hit without thrashing.
From whom we learned our basics
Then Eanor, Duchess, who taught us
Tactics and enforced out throws.
Then the fighters of Skeldergate, too long to list,
But chief amongst them
Streonwald, Hlaford, who took me aside,
Adjusted my shot,
And finally got me to use my hips.
Then Kenric, Squire, who improved my stance
And got me throwing combos.
Finally, Brandt, leather-Lord,
One of our first, but listed last
As his training time was greatest
Nights spent in his yard, throwing at pells,
Days spent in the shieldwall while he poked and prodded.
I only hope that they know how much their time has meant to us
And that any glory that I win,
I lay at their feet.
To my teachers
And Thanks.

Next, for TRM Aaron and Rustique, ruler-friends:

For Ron and Rusti
Colyne Stewart, July AS XXXVII

A quiet couple almost unknown to me
Walked and bowed before the King
Amidst fluttering flags and boastful Heralds
That spring day in Ardchreag.
Clasping hands Rustique the Serving
Watched as Aaron strapped on armour
And stepped out onto the Lists of Honour
Hours passed as worthy gentles battled on to prove their worth and loyalty
To Lupine Crown and Northron Land
In the end two brave fighters took the field
And flurried blows flew
Sword on sword and shield on shield
Then a pause, blows struck discussed and
One falls, leaving Aaron standing, sweating.
Rustique and Aaron then made Heirs
Traveled widely, spreading joy
Inspiring all in ways of War and of Peace.
Aaron showed me how to dies in the shieldwall
And Rustique’s hand signed charter for my Guild.
Others I saw also inspired by them
Fighters, sailors, artisans and bards.
In Greyfells Rustique confronted Knights
And conjured forth her Prince of Frogs
Then they wore the Lupine Crowns
King Aaron Preslee, Queen Rustique de Sorde
Who strode with pride and honour
Past we on bended knee
Born of common folk, now Royal,
Noble brows creased with concern
And mouths curved to smiles.
And in rare moments when concerns of State did not press
They sat with us
Rustique, on floor, playing with children
Aaron, with feet on table
Caught in moments of relaxation
That made us love them even more.
Duties done, now Jarl and Countess
Have new duties, ungrudgingly performed.
And if they grace again our Thrones
Fealty will I swear to them
Two true Lights of the North.

Sometime during this month (I believe it was this month) Wulfgang Donnerfaust gave us leather circle tokens tot hank us for being so supportive of him since he joined the SCA.
At the end of July Thorfinna and I moved out of what was technically Skeldergate territory and moved into a manor called Drew’s End in what is technically Greenhithe territory. Though we respect both these Cantons, we still considered ourselves to be Chreaggers. Helping us in our move was Berend, Mahault, Brandt, Galiana, Eirik Andersen and Tarian verch Gadarn (the world’s only belly dancing gypsy). To thank them all for their help I wrote a poem (gosh, what a surprise).

Moving “House”
Colyne Stewart, July AS XXXVII

For Berend, Brandt, Eirik, Galiana and Mahault

Eighteen months ago we had never met
And yesterday I saw you all
In the dining room of our new house
In the kitchen, on the porch
Glasses in hands, smiling and laughing
After many hours of hard work
Sweating, lugging, under burning sun
Now mingling with our parents and brothers
And I came to a realization

Though we do not have a name, nor device, nor charter of ideals
We are a House: a House of Spirit, a House of Friends
And what is more
A House of Family.

August 2002

In August I took over the position of Baronial Chronicler of Septentria from Crispinus Spellar.
We once again traveled to Pennsic War. This we we had duties to perform. We were the Ursine Bards of Septentria, so we had bardic duties. We were members of the Isengesitha so we had martial duties. I was Baronial Chronicler so I had chronicling duties. We once again got our Kamikaze headbands and went to many excellent bardic circles, including ones featuring the newly returned Sigurd (of ancient fame). We went to reading by Master Hector and to Garraed Galbraith’s vigil and Laureling. Many of the evnts of this War ended up in my verse, and I shall include them below.
At Septentrian court at War both Throfinna and I were given Bear's Claws for our martial contributions (acting as a guard for Ealdormere Royal, taking part in training with the Northern Army and fighting in two war-point battles even though we were plagued with a stomach flu). I was also given the byname 'Wordsmith' by Streonwald Wulfesbana in recognition of my bardic pursuits.
We finally put our wardoors to a true test of our war doors as they survived their three days of fighting. In the last minutes of the Hadrian's Wall battle (when we were toast) Thorfinna's shield was carried back into the fray by Isen-brother Gunnar, while mine graced the arm of Thegn Cynred. The Cynred poster on Thorfinna’s shield survived this as well though it is very, very tattered.
We took part in the Ealdormere/Northern Army training on the second Monday as well as the Hadrian's Wall and Field Battle. For the training I was in the pink army, under the command of Kaylah the Cheerful, while Mel fought for Master Hector in the Yellow Army. We did alright but the heat was intense and the stomach flu was bad. We only lasted three engagements. We skipped the woods battle but fought all through the Hadrian's Wall battle except for the last five minutes (which stretched out for seventeen minutes). We were ready to go back in but our shields and swords had been loaned to Gunnar and Cynred (as related above). I was well looked after by Alaani of House Mjolnir during this battle. (House Mjolnir being a mercenary house aligned with my Barony.) The battle was fierce and I was killed many times as I was sent on charge after charge into a breech. On the field battle I lasted past the first hold, which was my aim. Unfortunately, my group (the Ealdormerean Baronies) got caught in a kill pocket and we were struck down. Still, we did our jobs.
To thank Alaani I walked all the way up from the Ardchreag camp (as far south as you can be) to the House Mjolnir camp (which is as far north as you can be). She wasn’t there so I left a ring with one of the Mlojnir to give to her. This was the second token I’ve handed out. On the last Friday she and an escort came down to see us and sat under our shelter and sang with us.
I got my own token at War as Eanor of Amberhall handed out pieces of amber to those who had been true friends to her during a very trying War. It was an extremely nice gesture.

Ealdormere’s Muster in the Rain
(Opening Ceremonies, Pennsic War XXXI)
Colyne Stewart, Aug XXXVII

A drop of rain can’t stop our flood
Our voices raised against the thunder
A mustering line hundreds strong
Too strong to ever break asunder

We walk the hill awash in mud
First to arrive upon the field
Clothes hang damp but not our spirits
With fortitude our folk are dealed

“Court’s now indoors!” the heralds cry
And so we march the long way back
Singing still our joyous refrains
The howling of our wolfen pack

Within the barn dark puddles pool
As we lift wooden rafters high
Our bards to lead us in our song
That makes the hardy weep and cry

We are the land that always sings
And prouder I could never be
To come from northern Ealdormere
To be a Wolf that’s strong and free

For Eanor of Amberhall, Khan’s Champion and General of Ealdormere
(Pennsic XXXI)
Colyne Stewart, Aug XXXVII

From Halls of Amber strides a Rose
A Duchess filled with poise and grace
A Champion with sword of steel
Khan’s duty etched upon her face

Stands before the scarlet flag
With Laurel wings and floating Crown
Of Death an angel for the Mid
Who called her righteous fury down

In the barren woods she led our troops
East forces flitting through the trees
All banners three fell to Her Grace
The Dragon beat down to its knees

Her work thought done by another
But Golden Bee does not complain
She led us for love of duty
And not for any praise or fame

She strides throughout our northern land
She duty-bound to serve us all
Our Kingdom gifted to be home
To fair Eanor of Amberhall

For House Mjolnir and the Barony of Septentria
(Pennsic XXXI)
Colyne Stewart, Aug. AS XXXVII

From the south come northern men
Norse fighters wearing leather black
With arms of strength and hearts of courage
Who fought with us upon the field.
Randwulf, Cynred, brothers now in arms.
The red hammer and the white bear
Led us into War.
With booty bought, with honour kept,
Comrades in and out of battle.
While rain poured we sat and sang
With Alaani of the Cliffs and Olaf of the twisted back,
But when horns called, rain or no,
We came in tabards red and armour brown.
Standing side by side
Giving no ground
Fighting as cousins
Fighting like brothers
To the last man we stood
Mjolnir and Septentria.
In our hearts are courage
In our hearts are strength
We will take the day.

For Wat of Sarum
(Pennsic XXXI)
Colyne Stewart, Aug. AS XXXVII

From the Cliffs of Ardchreag
Comes Wat of Sarum
His white robes stained red
With his life’s blood
And that of his enemies.
Not expected at War he came
And stood with the Isen.
White bear roaring on his chest,
He fought in every battle
Partook in every melee,
Fought with bravery and courage
And a ready smile.
On the bridge he was THE might of Septentria
Fighting on his own for us all,
Fighting with the strength of seven men.
All this, and more, he did for us.
All this he did, though he was not oath-sworn.
When War was done Wat was called to court,
He swore as Isengesitha,
Was given an armband by Cynred,
Given a Bear’s Claw by Gaerwen.
Wat, the bravest of us all.

Mahault at Hadrian’s Wall
(Pennsic XXXI)
Colyne Stewart, Aug. AS XXXVII

At Hadrian’s Wall forces met
With great shields locked and long swords set
Columns marched quickly tot heir death
With beaded sweat and hitching breath.
Iron Companions all in red
Were by Thegn Cynred boldly led
Into the breaches thick with flies
Feasting upon those that had died.
As War Doors smashed into the foe
A wave of armoured fighters flowed
And then Mahault, Isen-sister,
Was lifted, turned, foot all twisted,
Surrounded by Atlantians
Who yelled to her above the din
“Are you injured? Show us no fear,”
All bending close so she could hear
And lifting her upon her shield
Like a Queen carried from the field.
Caught now by the Dragon enemy
She found they held no enmity
As they watered her and fed her
Gave her hugs instead of murder.
A Midlands Duke then came to stare
To see what caused such ruckus there.
He introduced himself and claimed
He was more known than Finnvarr’s fame
To which Mahault did bold retort,
“I know Finnvarr, but of you naught.”
A chastised Duke then slunk away
And though his side would win the day
Mahault returned to Eald’mere earth
With this tale to cause us much mirth,

To Garraed Galbraith upon the Occasion of his Vigil for the Order of the Laurel
(Pennsic XXXI)
Colyne Stewart, Aug. AS XXXVII

A belt snaps in the air
A voice rises up in song
And I am swept away
In words that shape my spirit,
In words that shape my Kingdom.
This bard whose voice comes like rolling thunder
Who swells my heart with pride
Who sings in hall and field,
In sun and rain,
He is an inspiration to me
As a bard
(without him my pen would be silent)
And as an Ealdormerean.
Our Kingdom owes him debts unpayable
As the Wolves give voice to all his songs.
This scholar-bard,
Singer-writer, Honourable Lord,
More worthy to be Olagh than any other.
Never stop writing
Never stop singing
Long let your voice rise in the North.

At Bonfield in September, Sir Menken and Dame Eleanor were having a Stag and Doe to celebrate their engagement. As Thorfinna and I were not going to be able to go, I wrote them this poem:

For Sir Menken Brechen and Dame Eleanor Cadfan, Their Excellencies Skraeling Althing, Upon the Occasion of Their Engagement

Colyne Stewart, August XXXVII

The northern land is far and vast
Its culture rooted in the past
Proud heritage, traditions bold
Clasped to their hearts the Skraeling hold

But champions the Hares did need
Those great in legend, thought and deed
They sent out searchers, man and hound
‘Til defenders finally were found

He brace knight, also Pelican
Armoured up a great hill he ran
A graceful fighter, quick of shot
Who with dark trolls and ogres fought

She a Laurel, known for casting
Now joins Menken for a fasting
She strong of will and strong of mind
Her work a treasure I do find

Together they defend the north
Together will they travel forth
With Dame and Knight the Skrael be free
Marching to their true destiny

At War Cynred and Gaerwen publicly stated their intent to step down as Baron and Baroness of Septentria. On the 24th we officially sent in our intent to run as Cynred and Gaerwen’s successors. Some may think we were overstepping ourselves in doing so, as we had only been in the SCA for about 19 months by this time. However, we only did this after a long, long talk (we, and many others, had known this announcement was coming for months) and consultation with many, many people. Though we knew we would likely be cut from the long list, we felt we owed it to those who thought she should run to run.

Greetings unto Their Royal Majesties of Ealdormere, Their Royal Hignesses of Ealdormere and Their Excellencies of Septentria from Laird Colyne Stewart and Lady Thorfinna gra'feldr,
            This missive is to announce our intention of running for the position of Baron and Baroness of Septentria. My Lady and I have thought long and hard about this decision and have finally decided that we will indeed throw our hat into the ring. Many people have come to us and told us that we should run for the position, and after consulting with them and with people who have held the position before, we felt we could do no less than what we were asked.
            It is true that we have both only been in the SCA for less than two years at this point, but in that time we have been extremely active. Both my Lady and I currently serve as the Baronial Bards of Septentria, and I am Septentria's Chronicler as well. At a Canton level my Lady serves as Ardchreag's Pursuivant and Quarter Master while I served as Chronicler for a year, and am currently the Deputy Seneschal. I also have Deputy Web Minister duties on the Septentrian webpage (Bardic, Septentrian Performing Arts Troupe and Chronicler pages) and the Bardic College of Ealdormere page. Both Thorfinna and I are members of this fine College as well.
            As a resource to newcomers to the SCA I developed an indepth webpage ( and wrote 'Welcome to the Highcliffs!", an SCA newcomers' handbook available on our canton's website as a pdf document. I also put together ArdX, a tenth anniversary yearbook of the Canton of Ardchreag, and edited Cry of the Wolf IV.
            Together, and along with Crispinus Spellar (no longer active), we founded the Septentrian Performing Arts Troupe, which has members from many of the Cantons within Septentria. Together we wrote and performed an original play at Snowed Inn in February of 2002. I also founded the Games Guild of Ealdormere, a guild for medieval games enthusiasts, which has spread beyond our borders and now contains members from many different kingdoms. I also serve as the Guild's Chronicler, producing 'Games, Period', our twice-yearly periodical.
            As bards we have tirelessly written about the folk of our Barony and our Kingdom at large, performing at many bardic circles within Ealdormere. Thorfinna also sang at Pennsic War this year (an event we have attended twice now). I was given the byname "Wordsmith" at Septentria court this War in recognition of my own bardic pursuits.
            At events Thorfinna has served twice as co-Autocrat and as Troll, while I have also done Troll and ran the List tables at Snowed Inn 2002.
            We are both authorized in sword and shield and are members of Septentria's fyrd (army). Together with our Isengesitha brothers and sisters we fought many battles at War this year, including the training with the Northern Army, despite both suffering with a stomach flu. For this we were recognized by being given Bear's Claws by our Baron and Baroness. Along with our fellow Septentrians we took turns guarding Ealdormere Royal on the second Monday of War this year.
            In the Arts and Sciences Thorfinna researches and makes early period garb, casts pewter, does leather and horn work and does much research into heraldry. I am interested in bestiaries, medieval tournaments, persona research and gaming. Most of my creative A&S projects tend to be bardic (I have written nine articles, two miscellaneous pieces, one play, twenty-two poems, twenty-one short stories and four songs in my first eighteen months.) We are also both armourers, and have made almost every part of our kits by hand (the exceptions being our helms and our knee and elbow cops). We made our first pieces of armour (pauldrons) under the guidance of Sir Edward the Red after we had been in the SCA for a month. We also made the infamous "I am SCAnadian" t-shirts.
            It takes more than enthusiasm, talents and pastimes to hold a Coronet, however. This we realize. We, and those who urged us to put forward our names, feel we have the traits necissary to serve the Barony. We are fair, tolerant and inclusive. We have friends in all the Cantons of Septentria and travel widely within our Barony and our Kingdom. If our names are unfamilar to you, our faces likey aren't. (Sarnac Khan, I am the gentle who accidently whacked you in the elbow with a door at Winter War this year. Did you ever read that slip of paper I gave you afterwards?)
            I hope that you will seriously consider our application, but if we must be cut for someone of more experience, we will understand. We do not do this thing for personal gain. We only do it to serve. If the Barony decides someone else could serve it better, we will listen to the Barony's words and gladly serve those who are chosen as successors to Cynred and Gaerwen. (Though anyone following them has very large shoes to fill.)
            Many thanks.
            In Service,
Colyne Stewart and Thorfinna gra'feldr

I also began researching Septentrian History for a 25th anniversary publication (which would be May 2003).

Near the end of the month I received the following email from the Baroness in response to my poem ‘Septentria at War’:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sarah Hughes" <>
To: "Todd Fischer" <>
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2002 5:06 PM
Subject: Re: Pennsic Poem 5
> Holy moly, you're prolific.  Here I am catching up on email and I keep
> reading all these kind words and tears are streaming down my face.
> You can see where our pride in the Barony comes from. 
> There will definitely be a time and place for all to hear these words.
> Thank you great Bard.
> Gaerwen

September 2002

Received a response to my House Mjolnir poem by one of its Jarls:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alaani" <>
To: "Imelod" <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 10:58 PM
Subject: Fw: Re: For House Mjolnir and the Barony of Septentria
> Colyne...
> I passed your poem on to House Mjolnir. The following was the response I got
> back from one of the House Jarls (one of the leaders of the lesser houses
> that create the greater house of Mjolnir). I thought you would appreciate
> it.
> Alaani
> ----- Original Message -----
> Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 9:21 AM
> Subject: RE: Fw: For House Mjolnir and the Barony of Septentria
> > in my opinion, we have received no better booty than this.
> >
> > llallogan

To which Thegn Cynred replied:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ken Cook" <>
To: "Todd Fischer" <>; "Gaerwen of Trafford" <>
Cc: "Master Hector" <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 04, 2002 6:33 PM
Subject: Re: Re: For House Mjolnir and the Barony of Septentria
> Ilallogan wrote............
> > > > in my opinion, we have received no better booty that this.
> > > >
> > > > llallogan
> And folks wonder why I would rather be Baron of Septentria rather than King
> of Ealdormere! What need have I of a Kingdom when the people of Septentria
> are recognized for their hospitality and generosity by those outside the
> Kingdom whom they have served and honoured.
> Cynred

I’m going to get a swelled head if this continues.

It was during this month, as I was researching Septentrian history, that I came to the realization that I should have been keeping an SCA journal. Luckily, I had written so much that it was not difficult to piece the first eighteen months together. What has been read tot his point was a reconstruction from my webpages, event reports and poems and stories. What will come next will be more complete and accurate as I strive to detail the events in my SCAdian life.
            To start, on the 6th I received an email from the Trillium Herald that my name and device had passed, and were now registered with the College of Arms. I was very happy to hear that! Thorfinna’s device did not pass for a very odd reason (apparently the Heralds don’t feel that black contrasts enough with white) and her name is still pending. She’s not too upset over the device as she wanted to tweek it anyway.
            This same day I got an email from Master Hector of the Black Height which almost made me cry. It read:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hector of the Black Height" <>
Sent: Friday, September 06, 2002 9:10 PM
Subject: In response

> Milord Colyne:
> Please forgive my delay in responding; it's been a busy few days. I will
> discuss your specific poems in another message.
> "Three lessons are plain to me..."
> Good. It's important to look at our art and the effect it has, to learn from
> it and to drive on thereafter.
> "First, the word of a Bard has power, sometimes more than s/he may
> realize..."
> A valuable lesson indeed. To use Justinian Clarus' highest word of praise,
> "Truth".
> "...this poem, inked to thank a group of fighters and their support staff,
> may help strengthen already strong ties with this House..."
> That's a fringe benefit, and a splendid one, that falls out of the first
> lesson.
> "Second, words know no boundaries...though they do not come from the same
> land as I, they respond to the words..."
> Not one of the major lessons I saw, frankly, but an entirely valid one.
> "...I cannot readily think of a third..."
> It's all a question of how you look at life. And in my case, I'm a
> sententious son-of-a-dog and love to preach at people (ask any of my
> long-suffering kin) so my mind picks up these sorts of things. Navel-gazing,
> like poetry, improves with practice.
> "I also think my first and second are kind of the same..."
> Not entirely. The first lesson you saw is about the very real power you
> wield. The second is about the ability of the receiver to receive. Different
> directions of information flow entirely, o Voice of the Bear. Information,
> like water, flows. Be sensitive to that flow and you'll be able to harness
> its power far more effectively.
> Now it's my turn. Let's go back to first principles and look at the message
> from Mjolnir that kicked off this exercise:
> "in my opinion, we have received no better booty that this. Llallogan"
> What a spectacular tribute to what you did, how you did it and even why. And
> thus these lessons leap to my mind.
> First, one of these Mjolnir mercenaries, who have received some pretty nifty
> gifts from Septentria, likes your words best of all their booty.
> People forget the value of word-fame. What you do as one of the two Bards of
> Septentria includes the creation of valuable gifts in service of your
> patrons and the Barony.
> So what?
> We need bards in service to the mighty. The mighty of our lands need bardic
> service to create truly magnificent gifts in aid of the war effort and other
> diplomatic initiatives, before and after the fact. And believe me, a selling
> point in SCA diplomacy is word-fame. The Qon used it all spring and summer.
> Examples like this get trotted out to potential allies. 'This is what we do.
> Join us and we will give you word-fame too.' Poetry in particular is
> portable in our web-connected society. It's a gift that travels widely,
> quickly and well.
> We need to remember that poetry and prose are art, just as calligraphy,
> embroidery, gold-smithing and anything else you'd care to mention. Again, a
> poet's raw materials are cheap in terms of cash. That's a real advantage to
> leaders who want to achieve gold-and-rubies results on a brass-and-plastic
> budget. That's one big reason why I encourage all the high and mighty to
> patronize bards, poets, and whatever. Such patronage is a cost-effective
> approach to the exercise of a medieval style of nobility.
> Patronage encourages an artist to actually do his or her art -- which leads
> to practice, which usually leads to better artistic quality, especially when
> the art is practiced in a co-operative and knowledgeable environment such as
> ours.
> Patronage encourages the creation of art that in turn is injected into our
> living culture. It's an authentic medieval practice. It supports the
> prestige of the offices (the Crown, the Barony, even the Peerage and Royal
> Peerage) which in turn reinforces our group culture. And again, it does all
> these wonderful things and costs pennies. We live in the real world most of
> the week; cash cost is a real factor.
> People crave word-fame. This is a period phenomenon. This also is
> psychologically positive. Your words affirmed the value of what Mjolnir
> does. This is an important part of the didactic quality of bardic arts. By
> praising certain behaviours we encourage those behaviours, both in those
> praised and in others who hear the praise. Thus do we reinforce the positive
> aspects of our culture. Thus do the bards shape the game.
> The SCA ultimately is artificial. As an artificial social construct, how do
> we as members know what is and isn't appropriate conduct? Given the SCA's
> theme, we draw upon cultural archetypes from literature, mass media and our
> childhood memories of King Arthur stories. As participants we observe the
> behaviour of those around us at our first events (examples matter!). And,
> being children of the age of mass media, we listen. If people within the
> population pf the social construct sing us songs and tell praise tales of
> chivalry, courtesy and honour, we soon will come to the conclusion that
> chivalry, courtesy and honour are Good Things in this place. Thus we are
> given role models to emulate.
> The root word of "poetry", as I recall, is the Greek word "poaea" which
> means "making". In mechanical, literary terms the poetic impulse is purely
> creative (as opposed to the mimetic or didactic impulses). In the grand and
> glorious sweep of things, o Voice of the Bear, bardic arts are poetic,
> creative. We help create the SCA with our words and images. We hand people
> ideas and say 'try these.' That is the power of the bard; in the broadest
> terms possible, we can shape others' games.
> That is why it's so vital for us as the bardic community to get out there,
> especially among new people. We have a great opportunity and a profound
> ability to hand new people positive images. We can and do portray the SCA in
> its best light. I've said this for some years now; if I didn't haul out the
> tale, who'd tell the little children about Moonwulf's charge? Somebody had
> better, or we'll forget that amazing example of SCA ethics in action. And
> that would diminish the game.
> We must not allow the game to diminish. We must preserve our cultural
> heritage, for that cultural heritage is the root and foundation of whatever
> successes we have achieved in our Barony and Kingdom. Why do you think
> Ealdormere works, Milord Colyne? Why do you think we brush up against people
> from all over the Known World who walk away changed, who maintain
> friendships from thousands of miles away, who return here again and again?
> Why do we play the best flavour of the great game in all the Known World? In
> part it's because we use bardic arts to create and maintain a vital, active,
> supportive and extremely positive culture (as the High Lady Gwerydd reminded
> me recently).
> You said that this wonderful episode pointed out that "words know no
> boundaries". You're right, and that's a critical insight. But I think it's
> more than that also. It's more than just words. Concepts are understood
> universally (if not practiced universally, sad to say). We preach a game
> centred on respect, on co-operation and pride in ourselves and in each
> other. Listen to the words we sing:
> "With our children as our future and our legends as our pride"
> "My sword has won battles, my bow has won honour"
> "You are true and destined King and my sword is by your side"
> "Bow to the Crown and bow to the throne"
> "For as long as one still stands, the North shall rise"
> "Our power we extol; we are a river"
> That's the party line, Milord, and more besides. That's what we teach our
> children it is to be Ealdormere. That's what we tell newbies. That's what we
> remind each other around the fire. That's what we scream into the faces of
> our foes on the field as we break them, and as they break us. Pride.
> Respect. Celebration. Power. That is what we preach.
> And then we practice it, and we achieve glory.
> This is cultural engineering. We are building something magnificent and
> Mjolnir now is being sucked into that vortex of self-sustaining splendour,
> in no small part thanks to your words.
> As a final lesson, art matters. Art matters a lot. Art is a major venue for
> generosity within our culture. Why are Corwyn and Domnhail Galbraith so
> amazingly generous? Because they are two of the most switched-on artists you
> will ever meet. They love to make art, to try new things, to learn, to get
> better at what they do. If they kept all their art they'd not have room to
> move in their house. So they give it away.
> So do our amazing, wonderful, devoted and inspiring scribes.
> In their own way, so do our chirurgeons.
> So do our group marshals who coach baby fighters.
> So do our bards, every time they open their mouths.
> The list goes on and on.
> Your words weren't a Corwyn and Domnhail drinking horn or a bottle of
> Galbraith mead. They weren't an Ed the Red repeating crossbow or a Ranulf
> basket-hilt. They weren't a Mistress Bri coronet or a Foote the Potter
> dinner service. They were your words, and they were better than all those
> magnificent things, according to a guy in a far land who'll never forget how
> Ealdormere says thank-you. We forget just how valuable a few minutes'
> scribbling can be to a reader or listener who finds something in your
> message. That recipient can find word-fame and immortality. Or affirmation.
> Or permission. Those all are profound gifts, perhaps permission most of all.
> It's about generosity, Milord. Your words have given a great gift to those
> who found riches in unexpected places. They have taught a great lesson to
> foreigners. They confirm the fundamental worth of our culture, for what you
> have done is so clearly, utterly consistent with the ethics that underlie
> Ealdormere.
> And finally, from an entirely petty and personal perspective, your words and
> their effect inspire me, challenge me and humble me. I think we need to talk
> about the use of period form and metre, you and I, but nobody needs speak to
> you about honesty and raw power. It's obvious you've got those sorted out.
> eachuinn
> Post scriptum: I am sending a copy of this message to my grand-daughter the
> Septentrian Arts and Sciences officer. She needs to see what's happening in
> the arts within the Barony.
> I also am sending a copy to the King's Bard. She needs to see what results
> you're achieving, in order to best reinforce the College and thus the
> Kingdom.
> And finally, I am sending copies to our Baron and my daughter our Baroness.
> They need to see what you are accomplishing; that too is part of patronage.
> emgd

The next day was Greenhithe’s event a Day in the Country:

I Coulda Used Some Apple Sauce, When I Had Brand for Dinner
Event Report: A Day in the Country II (TankArd version)
Colyne Stewart, Sep AS XXXVII

On a pleasant sunny day, Thorfinna and I drove from our new keep in Greenhithe territory to the Disputed Border where the Ealdormerean army had so recently met before marching south to War. There the members of Greenithe were having a feast to celebrate the completion of the harvest and to celebrate life before the cold snows come.
            We set up our shade where two months earlier we had camped and were soon joined by others from the Cliffs: Eirik Andersen, Berend, Mahault, Rhiannon and Teah van der Eych, Brandy das Lederwerker, Raffe Scholemaystre, Fursto de Robnye, Ivanna the Oblivious, Siegfried Brandbeorn, Qadanchin Bayar and newcomer Louis Reyes. To our left was the fencing field, to our right Vest Yorvik. In front of us was laid out the List field, and across from it was the Eoforwic contingent. Our glorious Baroness this day sat with Vest Yorvik and it was in their presence that a small Baronial Court was later held.
            The fighters that day numbered six, being Brandt, Lady Isotta, Lady Dwynen, Aldred Ravenshagh, Lord Tormod and Berend. They were split into two teams, and were moved on a playing board by the two highest ranking Ladies in attendance (one of whom was Gaerwen). When two pieces met they had to battle, the loosing piece removing itself from the board. Many games of this were played until the Baronesses considered themselves satisfied. At the end of the day Brandt das Lederwerker was given a drinking horn as fighter of the day, and Tormod had authorized in great sword.
            A call had gone forth that this day would see a fencing tournament to decide the Fencing Champion for Septentria. Four good gentles met on the field and fought long and hard. Lord Gareth of Eoforwic, that Royal City’s Sheriff, did win the tourney, though the winner of Septentrian Championship Tournies are not always those selected to actually be the Champion. When court was called all four fencers were called forth and Gaerwen delayed the announcement of her choice while the fencers fidgeted and bobbed on their feet and pleaded with her to name her choice. Finally, Gaerwen announced that Gareth, winner of the tourney, would indeed be the Champion. He was given a gorgeous cape of office to wear to proclaim his station. Wassail!
            Thrown weapons were also in evidence that day thanks to Gunnar Truthsinger of Skeldergate. When it was time to eat, and for court, it was very hard to pull the thrown weapon enthusiast away, especially Gunnar and Thorfinna.
            Those who did not fight, fence or throw spent the afternoon in pleasant conversation, sharing drinks and wandering from one shade to another. A haggling contest, an Arts and Sciences table and merchants also helped pass the time.
            Many personal baronial tokens were awarded during court. At courts end, Serion d’Ivri was sworn as the newest member of the Isengesitha.
            Master Hector arrived at a fortuitous time, just as the call went out that it was time to eat! The main coarse was a pig roasted on a spit, which had been turned all day by various attendees and event staff. In honour of our friends in Ben Dunfirth the boar was called Brand, though I cannot seem to recall just who made that suggestion. With the pork there was stuffing, roast potatoes and corn on the cob. It was truly a grand feast with none going away hungry. Lemon water was served to drink and for dessert pears in a raisin-rhubarb sauce was served to many cries of joy.
            When the foodstuffs had been cleared away Eirik Andersen lit a fire (this time not lighting himself in the process) and those good gentles who still remained sat down for one of the most intimate and enjoyable bardic circles I have yet been to. As Ursine Bard I opened the circle with my poem ‘Septentria at War’, for which Lady Isotta presented me with a ring that had been given to her by Aeneas Oakhammer in recognition of her own bardic talents. This ring is now in my trust until such time as I see another whose talents inspire me. Other performers included Master Hector (of course), Thorfinna, Brian Goodheart, Lady Isotta, William the Younger, Ivanna the Oblivious and Gunnar Truthsinger. Even Raffe got up and told a tale. Brian engaged us in one bardic art that is not oft performed in the SCA: that of the riddle.
            During the circle we were treated to a true display of nature’s beauty as the northern lights blazed across the night sky. It was a remarkable event and I could not help but think that the spirits were looking down on us in approval of all the words of praise that flowed from the bards that night. Words of praise for Septentria, and for those that call it home.

At the end of the night, as were prepared to leave the fire, Hector called Thorfinna and I to his side. He asked us if we had put our names forth to be the next Baron and Baroness of Septentria, and we said we had. This pleased him, as he said we could do it. In his words, we blazed scarlet. He went on at great length about the qualities he feels a Baron and Baroness should have, all qualities, he assured us, that we had. We were both awed by this and did not really know what to say.
            That Monday was an Ardchreag meeting, and I decided to fight since I hadn’t on Saturday (plus Wulfgang asked me to). However, after my first bout with Graeme (recently of Greenhithe, of Skeldergate before that) my wrist was inflamed with pain. I managed to fight Thorfinna’s brother Joe and Wat of Sarum before I called it quits. I was still going to fight with Wulfgang but he could see I was in pain so he told me to stop. Both Isotta and Aurelia were worried (I must have looked terrible). So I stopped.
            Kenric wants to work with me on my equipment as he has wrist problems too. We’re going to look at making me a floating elbow cop (I think my leather and steel arm is constricting my movement) and maybe a thinner half gauntlet. Vlad and Sieggy suggested a bigger basket hilt, and maybe a different weapon form. Vlad suggested spear, while Dafydd pontificated on the effectiveness of maces. I will likely try all these options, as well as doing my exercises more regularly.
            When I got home the following email was in my in box:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Heite" <>
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 9:31 PM
Subject: Hello, my name is Eric
> Hello, my name is Eric, and i am a new Bard, i have
> seen several songs and stories from your website, and
> would like to sing these, and read the stories.  I was
> wondering if i go to you for this ok, or who should i
> go through?   Thank you
> eric

In a Live Journal post, Eirik Andersen (a different Eirik than above) had this to say about our running for Baron and Baroness (though he did not name us):

One of the things Septentria desperately needs right now is a Baron and Baroness who will LEAD us, and get us off our asses.
The baronial candidates I've heard that are running are interesting to say the least. I do have a favorite pick, but I think a small number of people fear that because they are fairly new to the SCA they don't "get it", which is about as far from the truth as possible.
I don't see time period as significant, as they've done more for the barony in this short period than some of the candidates who I know are running have ever done. They are inspired and inspiring, and are what we need.

On the 11th (the one year anniversary of 9-11) we went back to Skeldergate. We hadn’t been in about six months as we were busy at that point saving money and packing for our move to Greenhithe territory. I didn’t fight, as my carpel tunnel syndrome was still inflamed, and Thorfinna didn’t fight as we had not slept well the night before and she was exhausted. Still, we got to see a lot of friends we hadn’t seen in a while, some of whom thought we were never coming back! Nothing could have been farther from the truth. We both considered (and still do consider) Skeldergate our home away from home.
I pushed copies of the Ursi (to no avail) but did give a free copy to Corwyn Galbraith and Tormod of Kirk Andreas (the Seneschals of Skeldergate and Vest Yorvik). These are ‘canton copies’ that they can pass amongst their populace in an effort to increase circulation.
            While we were there I went over to Berus and Marian to give them a photo I had taken of Berus at Sarnac and Joliecia’s Coronation. Sarnac pointed at me, said, “Stay there,” and ran off. I looked at Marian, she looked at me, we shrugged. I wandered over to congratulate Dohmnaill Galbraith on being squired to Master Worgan when Berus reappeared bearing an aluminum wardoor. “I liked that poem you wrote us,” he said. And he handed me the shield. This shield, made by his hands, is of a kin to those used by House Hrogn and House Galbraith. I am now the only person not in those two Houses to own one of these shields. I will bear it with pride.
            When Master Hector heard about my new shield he wrote a poem in its honour:

From: "Hector of the Black Height" <>
To: <>
Subject: Try this
Date: Thursday, September 12, 2002 10:18 PM

Milord Colyne:

“...Berus reappeared bearing an aluminum wardoor. ‘I liked that poem you
wrote us,’ he said. And he handed me the shield.”

I guess you made a difference in somebody’s game, eh?

How are you going to decorate your new shield? Maybe some runes? As this
text's designed for runes I haven’t punctuated it.

Word-won am I
War-words my making
Wise words my motive
With words well-crafted
For words well-crafted.

Word-won am I
Words won with glory
Once won, gift given
Well won, gift giving
What won wins yet

Word-won am I
One gift free given
One gift rich ringing
One gift truth telling
One gift foe greeting

Word-won am I
One word then many
One word my nature
One word my duty
One word my honour

Word-won am I

Very cool. I plan on painting this poem around the edge of my new wardoor in Germanic runes.

On the 14th we held a house warming party which with many SCAdians in attendance. Marian of Heatherdale hinted that Master Hector had been talking to her about me a lot recently. I told her how he had tasked me to write a Shakespearian sonnet. Isotta was asked to sing ‘Raedmund’s Lullaby” to Teah and Rhiannon van der Eych, which my new neighbour Jerry listened to intently. Later, when the rain forced us inside, he asked her to sing it again for his teenage children who had just arrived. They both listened enraptured, and Isotta’s voice opened the doors to many hours of bardic activities. Wat told tales and haikus; Isotta, Thorfinna, Mahault, Eirik and Ivanna song songs and I read a poem (‘Septentria at War’, for those who hadn’t been at A Day in the Country). The entire time we sang and recited (from about 9:30 pm to 2:30 am) my neighbours children sat and stared. I don’t think they’ve ever been to a party like that before.
            Our house could have had no better christening than these songs, stories and poems. Hopefully our keep, Drew’s End, will see many, many more nights like that.

It’s now Monday. I’ve exchanged my basket hilt for a larger one Mahault is loaning me and I’ve cut about six inches from its length. I’ve also torn apart my left arm cannon and turned it into a floating elbow cop, so we’ll see how these changes work at tonight’s mega-battle at Ardchreag.
            Well, I am back from the Ardchreag fight practice and things went pretty well. The elbow worked all right but the vambrace kept sliding down my forearm and I popped two rivets on the floating elbow. Tomorrow night I am going to take the elbow off the pad, strap it, and attach it by a leather strap to the vambrace and my shoulder…this will keep it from sliding, and I hopefully won’t have rivets popping out of anything anymore.
            The sword worked well, but Kenric ended up lending me his, which is lighter and has an aluminum basket hilt and I was much quicker with that. Wulfgang, my opponent at the time, was not ready for the flurry of blows. So, an aluminum or plastic basket hilt is the way to go. I also fought Aldred with my new sword, and we were pretty even I thought. Brandt and I played with polearms (even though the one I have is six inches short—hey, it was free). I think we were also pretty even. I killed him about as often as he killed me. When I tried pole against Ymir, who was using a sword and board, I didn’t do great because I was using the s+b mentality—I was charging him instead of letting him come to me. With a polearm you need to back away and keep swinging. Still, polearm is a lot of fun, so I need to also get some full gauntlets. And hey, my arms don’t hurt! (Though my sternum is sore from the thrusts I took there. I’m going to have a floating disc to my chest.)
            I wrote two articles this month for, basically, the hell of it:

A Short Treatise on the Giving and Receiving of Tokens
Colyne Stewart, Sep AS XXXVII

I have now been in the SCA for nineteen months. In that time I have been the recipient of a dozen tokens and have given two. Some people may not realize the power that giving tokens has, especially if they are new to the Society. When I first started I soon noticed the rings and other items that many people carried about their neck or hung from their belts. Curious, I did some research and found an article on ring giving by Master Hector of the Black Height. In it, Hector expounds on what he perceives Ealdormerean culture to be, and a great part of that culture is ring giving.
            The giving of rings was a very important custom to certain cultures in the past, cultures that some of us now play. Saxon, Norse, Germanic. The giving of a ring was a bond between the giver and the receiver, the circular band representing an unbreakable bond. This practice is still with us in the mundane world, just go to a wedding ceremony.
            This ring giving is wide spread within Ealdormere. If someone does something that pleases and/or impresses you, you give him or her a token (usually a ring). The giving of this token shows the recipient that their acts have been noticed, that they have been appreciated. It makes them feel like they belong.
            I received my first token from Baroness Gaerwen, which was given to Thorfinna and I to thank us for the gift of a set of playing cards and an “I am SCAnadian” t-shirt we had given to her and Cynred. This token I have worn on a necklace to almost every event I have been to since.
            Tokens are important. I was brand new when I was given this ring. It made me feel like I belonged. Later tokens were given to me for the friendship I had shown others, or for my bardic offerings. Those tokens I received for my poems and stories encouraged me to continue telling and writing them. They made me feel that my work had merit.
            That’s the receiving, but what about the giving? After reading Hector’s essay I thought, yeah, easy for you to say. Give away tokens. Who am I to give anyone a token? He’s Master Master Baron Serjent Hector. I’m nobody. You see, I had missed the point. The very point of Ealdormerean ring giving is that anyone can do it, that everyone should do it. It does not have to be done in public, though publicly stating your appreciation of someone’s self or work gives the giving more power.
            Finally I came to realize this. I could make people feel the way others had made me feel. I could make people feel appreciated, that they belonged, that they mattered.
            And so at Ealdormere War Practice I gave my first token: to Lady Ivanna the Oblivious, for her bardic talents, done at the bardic circle on Sunday night. As is common for some tokens, I asked her to hold it for a year and a day, and then to pass it on to someone who inspires her. In this way our tokens gain a history as they travel from person to person (and in some cases, from Kingdom to Kingdom). At War I gave another. This time to Alaani, a member of Septentria’s allied mercenary Household, Mjolnir, who watered me during battles. I walked from my camp to hers (each being as far apart from each other as possible) to find her not in camp. I waited but she did not return. Finally, I left the token with one of her house brothers. The next night, in the pouring rain, she walked all the way down the hill to thank me. I just saw her at an event last weekend and noticed she was wearing the ring.
            The giving of these tokens made me happy, because they made the recipients happy. And they will only be the beginning. I have begun to acquire a collection of gifts that I plan to carry with me to give to those I deem worthy.
            Who am I to decide who is worthy of a token?
            I am an Ealdormerean. It’s what we do.

The Role of the Ursine Bard
Colyne Stewart, Sep AS XXXVII

My time as Bard of Septentria, in conjunction with my Lady Thorfinna, is swiftly coming to a close. In January or February it will be time for another to fill this role, and this short work is meant as words of encouragement for whomever that may be, and whomever comes after.
            Thorfinna and I had been in the SCA just less than a year when Cynred and Gaerwen, Thegn and Baroness of Septentria, called us into court and asked us to be Their bards. This still astounds me. It is true that we were both members of the Bardic College of Ealdormere, and we had both written a few pieces, but we were, I thought, bardicly unknown. Neither of us had performed, and truth be told I had no intention of doing so. I don’t know who put forward our names to be the Baronial Bards but they have done us a great service.
            We could not, of course, turn down such honour, and later that month Master Hector of the Black Height, our predecessor, took us aside, gave us the ring of office, and told us of our duties. Among the things he told us was that it was our responsibility to open and close singing/story-telling at feasts and bardic circles within the borders of our Barony (unless the event was at the Kingdom level). He told us it was up to us to keep legends alive, to keep Septentria vibrant and strong through story, song and poem. His passion for the position was easily discerned, and when he was done we felt even more daunted by the task set before us. Now, this was not bad intimidation, it was good intimidation. The office obviously meant a lot to Master Hector, and hence, it meant a lot to us. We both take our responsibilities seriously.
            However, as fairly introverted individuals for a time we dreaded attending Septentrian events. Neither of us wanted to get up and perform. But we did. We were honour bound to Cynred and Gaerwen, to the people of Septentria to fulfill our duties. So we sang at Snowed Inn (me very poorly). At Bad in Plaid I told my first story (‘The Tale of the Badger Broccan,’ which broke the Thegn and earned me my second ever token). As each event came we became more comfortable and now I am rarely nervous when I perform. (Outwardly anyway. My hands still shake, but I don’t dread the act anymore. In fact, I like it now.) Being made Ursine Bard forced me to participate, instead of just observing. It has been one of the greatest gifts I have been given.
            Besides the performing at feasts and fires I wrote poems and tales of Septentrians (and others) who were doing great things. I wrote for Kings, Queens, Duchesses, Lords, Ladies and those who had no titles. (These I usually sent directly to those I wrote of.) I wrote of our great Households and our strong army. I wrote of events I had been to, and gave these to newsletters and posted them to elists, as part of a bard’s duties are to tell the people of world events.
            All these things are important, my successor (whomever you may be). Do them all. You are part of a long, proud lineage of filigh, scops, skalds and bards. You are the Voice of the Bear, the voice of all the people of Septentria. When you open your mouth, the Bear roars.
            Write. Tell. Story, poem, song, article; it matters not the form. What matters is the telling.
            I do not know who you may be, but if you have been chosen you are worthy. You are Septentrian. Feel the pride of Septentria. Feel pride in yourself.
            You are the Voice of the Bear.
            You are Septentrian.

On Wednesday a group from Ardchreag descended upon the neutral Canton of Skeldergate, with spear thumping, banners blowing and horn sounding We had come to pay a geld. For you see, this past August at Pennsic War we did find ourselves in a dilemma. No one from our Canton who was staying until the last Sunday of War had room in their wagon to transport the many lengths of aqueduct we had purchased to bring fresh water to our part of the swamp. Reluctantly, we had to ask someone outside of our group to shoulder this burden. Lord Streonwald Wulfesbana, and Lady Seonag nicThomais, did accept this task. They did dig up the aqueduct and pack it in their wagon. They did transport it through three Kingdoms, one of whom we were at War with. Many times were they forced to pay taxes and duties along the road. Many times did they beat off bandits intent on stealing our portable water relocation equipment.
            Finally, they arrived home in Ealdormere. For a month did they wait for a missive from a representative of Ardchreag to arrange to pick up the aqueduct. They waited in vain.
            So, Seonag did send a demand for a geld, or ransom, to Ardchreag’s seneschal, who did inform me of the matter. Immediately I did contact the good Lady to rectify this matter, and agreed to the geld. Ardchreag members came out in force to support this venture including: Mahault and Berend van der Eych, who supplied mead, apples, cookies, a silk purse full of chocolate coins, and home made soap; Thorfinna gra’feldr and myself, who supplied a framed version of poems written in their honour, beer and cider; Iolanda de Albornoz, who supplied mead; William the Younger, who supplied a medieval teddy bear and Ivanna the Oblvious, who supplied some truly tasty brownies. I decorated a cardboard box to transport the geld, which was then carried in a wicker basket. Upon the box I had written the following in Anglo-Saxon Runes:

Negligent are we
Hose forgetting we
Grateful are we
Forgiving are you
Gift accepting are you
Friends are we

Thorfinna led the way into the Skeldergate meeting, blowing on a sounding horn, while Mahault carried the Ardchreag spear and I the Ardchreag war banner. Behind us came Berend and Eirik Andersen labouring under the weight of our offerings.
            Seonag was taken aback by the generosity of Ardchreag, and by the talent of our members, as many of the items were hand made. The cookies and brownies were passed about and enjoyed by all. It was remarked by more than one gentle that when Ardchreag does something we don’t stop halfway.
            Unfortunately, Seonag had forgotten the hose! She offered us one of Wat’s fighting gloves, which he had left at War, as a token of the hose’s return the next time we came to Skeldergate. We agreed to this, as long as if the hose was forgotten again, Seonag and Streonwald would instead transport it back to Pennsic next year.

Since ring giving was a hot topic on the Ealdorbards list, I posted my short article on the subject. I got this email in response:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jennifer Friedman" <>
Sent: Monday, September 23, 2002 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: [Ealdorbards] Giving Rings and Tokens
> Colyne, this was a really great piece.  Could I have permission to reprint
> it in our local Shire newsletter?  We can't pay you ;) but I can send you a
> copy of it when it comes out (not sure exactly when, depends on what month
> I have room).
> If it's okay to reprint it, how do you want credit?  I assume, copyright
> 2002, then your full SCA name and full mundane name.  Can you send me these
> names?
> Thanks for writing such a neat summary of what the ring custom means!
> Eliane
> At 09:28 PM 09/23/2002 -0400, Todd Fischer wrote:
> >Since everyone has been talking about this subject lately, I though I'd
> >share something I wrote a week or two ago...
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> Lady Eliane Halevy, AoA, OC, OW, OPF, mka Jennifer Friedman
> Provost, Bardic Madness XIII (2003)
> Shire of Rokeclif, Principality of Northshield, Middle Kingdom
> 1920 Victory St. #10, La Crosse, WI 54601   (608) 788-8781
> Shire of Rokeclif webpage:
> Northshield Choir webpage:
> Northshield Bardic College webpage:

Requests soon arrived from the Canton of Greenhithe and Barony of Skraeling Althing Chroniclers to use the article as well.

On September 28 there was a hunt held in the Canton of Caer Draeth. The Khan and his Kashek (personal guard) were hunting deer, in anticipation of feeding venison to the masses at feast that night. Good gentles from across Ealdormere, and from points beyond, gathered in anticipation. Thorfinna and I waded through the crowd on various missions. I had Ursi to deliver, and subscriptions to hound for, specific photographs to take, officers to speak to and rattan to buy. As I was perusing the stock of the excellent Syr Ed the Red, a herald announced that court was to be held imminently behind the hall. Paying Ed for his wares, Thorfinna and I found members of Ardchreag with which to sit. (Several from the Chreag were in attendance that day, including: Wat of Sarum, Wulfgang Donnerfaust, Jean-Margaret Donnerfaust, Berend and Mahault van der Eych, Eanor of Amberhall, Siegfriend Brandbeorn, Rhys ap Bledri, Vlad Blahuciak, Kennric Manning, Tatiiana, Iolanda de Albornoz, Eirik Andersen, Ivanna the Oblivious, Brandt das Lederwerker, Gailana Dunkel Pfere, Katerina du Nord, Alaani, Damara of Stormhaven, Fursto de Robnye, Raffe Scholemaystre, Luke Wolfsonne, Marian of Heatherdale, Piero di Paxiti da Vincenza, William the Younger, Thorfinna and myself.)
            The Khaton arrived and bide us sit. She said that the Khan was still on the hunt with Their Highnesses but was expected soon. Before long Prince Roak and Princess Arlette arrived on horseback and seemed surprised that Sarnac Khan was not already in court. They said he had ridden ahead of them. Her Majesty Joliecia was not concerned, for as she said, the Khan had his Kashek and his Champion with him, so his safety was assured.
            The Kingdom bard, THL Gwerydd verch Rhys, then sang a song of the hunt, and as she finished Eanor of Amberhall, Khan’s Champion, rode into court and threw herself at the Khaton’s feet. She groveled and debased herself, for, she said, something terrible had happened. The Kashek then came into view carrying a body on a shield. The body was clad in the Khan’s armour and an arrow had pierced his helm.
            Kayla the Cheerful, Queen’s Champion, chastised Eanor for failing in her duties to protect her Sovereign, and took the sheath from her axe as a repentant Eanor bore her neck for execution. Then, suddenly, Sarnac’s spirit, dressed all in white, appeared from nowhere and called for Kayla to hold her hand. He said that he had died through no fault of his Champion for the arrow had been born of the darkness and no mortal could have thwarted it. His ancestors had granted him permission to come back to complete unfinished business and the last court of Sarnac and Joliecia began.
               Three gentles from Ardchreag were granted their Award of Arms that day, being Wulfgang and Jean-Margaret Donnerfaust and Crispinus Spellar. THL Aenaes Oakhammer presented Their Majesties with handcrafted boxes to store the Crowns of State. Lady Alyce de Sheppey was inducted into the Order of the Wain, Tabitha the Cook was given a grant of Arms, Yoshikuri Nagayo Dono, Lady Cera of the Middle Kingdom and Count Kildare Silverwolf Thorkillson were given a Scarlet Banner, THL Randwulf Widefarer, Master Hector of the Black Height, Eanor of Amberhall and Lady Rachael Catherine McLellan were given a personal augmentation of arms, THL Kayla the Cheerful was given a Queen’s favour, Master Konrad Mattias Jaegar was inducted into the Order of Thorbjorn’s Hammer and Trumbrand the Wanderer was inducted into the Order of the Chivalry as a Master-of-Arms.
               It was not the most orderly court, as many people were quite spooked by having a shade sitting on the throne. The mammoth wandering about behind the Royal walls was also disconcerting. Earl Syr David ran into court at one point to announce that Valharic Aurelius Caligula, Caesar of the Middle, had died. As such, all agreements between Sarnac and Valharic were broken. This pleased Lady Rachael Catherine McLellan greatly as it meant her daughter, who had been claimed by Valharic as his concubine, could return home to take up her chores again. There was apparently a large pile of laundry awaiting her.
               The Khan and Khaton then released their Champions. Roak and Arlette were sworn in as Their Majesties of Ealdormere, hearing the oaths of the Barons, Baronesses and Peers of our Kingdom. Sarnac Khan was then taken to be laid to rest.
               Word has a way of traveling fast, and soon Sarnac’s northern cousin, a Norseman who looked remarkable like him, had arrived to investigate his kinsman’s death.
               Though the populace was sad to loose their Khan and Khaton they were pleased with their Majesties Roak and Arlette and the rest of the day was spent in merriment. There were equestrian activities, archery, thrown weapons, fencing, fighting and much more. Thorfinna and I had to actually leave court before it was completed as we had promised to do some children’s activities for two hours. We sat upstairs in the hall, surrounded by rambunctious youngsters and played games and told stories until finally they all left in Quest of the Purple dragon.
               We then wandered outside and watched some of the armoured combat. Both Wulfgang Donnerfaust and Wat of Sarum made it to the final five in the newbie tournament, though the final came down to a young lord named Tarkwyn and Eogan de Moray. In the two out of three final bout Tarkwyn emerged victorious. In the ribbon tournament Baron Siegfriend Brandbeorn took the day with eighteen victories.
               We spent the rest of the day visiting and talking until it was time for feast. Alaani, Berend, Mahault, Thorfinna and I sat together while Her Grace Eanor served us. It was an excellent meal, prepared by Lady Seonag nicThomais and Lord Streonwald Wulfsbana and was so large that no one went away hungry. The food wouldn’t stop coming!
               I then helped schlep dirty dishes up the kitchen and was done in time for evening court. Their Majesties and Their Excellencies of Septentria had an interesting court—for a while they took turns handing out awards. Very odd. Those handed out by Cynred Thegn and Baroness Gaerwen included: personal Baronial tokens for THL Aenaes Oakhammer and Hughie of Monadh, a Bear’s Claw for Charles the Clerk and a Bear’s Heart for Maggie Brodie. Those handed out by Their Majesties Roak and Arlette included: Sarnac and Joliecia’s County, Count Aaron Worgansson named King’s Champion, Lord Richard Larmer named Queen’s Champion, Lady Chiara de Montepulciano named kingdom bard, THL Anne Grey’s induction into the White Wolf Fian, Mistress AElfwyn of Longwood’s re-induction into the White Wolf Fian, Sage of Ben Dunfirth given her Award of arms, Lord Ulvar van der Nederlanden’s induction into the Order of Thorbjorn’s Hammer and Countess Joleicia’s induction into the Order of the Rose.
               Two matters of international relations occurred during these courts. Master Kiernan and William the Black, both of the new Kingdom of Lochac, brought greetings from Their Majesties Alfar and Elspeth, as well as the gift of a kangaroo. These diplomats and their words of thanks for Ealdormere’s gifts and thoughts during Lochan’s first coronations were treated to much wassailing and cheering. Cynred and Gaerwen gave them both tokens, for themselves and for Their Majesties Lochac. Also, Katerina du Nord read a letter from Prince Raynar of the Principality of Cynagua (of the West Kingdom) pledging his eternal friendship with Ealdormere. This was also greeted with much cheering.
               Once court ended I handed out a few more promotional Ursi, talked with Hughie of Monadh about his canton’s history and finally left (most reluctantly).
At the Ardchreag meeting that week I armoured up right away and waited in a chair, swinging my feet, waiting for other people to show up. Some business had to be taken care of, and I had one point to raise, so I didn’t get to fight right away. By the time I got outside Berend and Kenric were already fighting and nobody else was suited up. Teah came outside and asked me who I was going to fight, and I said the next person who came through the door, which was an unarmoured Domhnaill (who was visiting with Corwyn and Hector). So we couldn’t fight, but Hector was giving her a lesson with spear so I acted as a pell for them. This gave me a good opportunity to learn what to expect when fighting spearmen.
               Once the long lesson was done I sparred with Kennric (who I owed a fight to) and then Domhnaill (who had since put on her kit). She has gotten very good, very quickly. She just disappeared behind her shield and would take my leg and as I dropped to my knee swinging she’d poke me in the chest. (Damn lefties.) I don’t think I killed her even once.
               I then convinced Wat to put back on his helm so we could have a go, and Kenric showed us how to throw better raps. Unfortuantely I threw it wrong and jarred my arm so I had to call it quits. Still, Wat and I were the last ones in that night, and since I’m usually one of the first to quit, that felt really good.

October 2002

At work on the 1st, I wrote a poem based on the final court of Sarnac and Joleicia that past weekend:
Upon the Passing of the Khan of Ealdormere
Colyne Stewart, Oct AS XXXVII

Once the leaves were scarlet, once the leaves were red,
Once our King was living, but now the Khan is dead.
One sunny day in fall time he went out on the hunt,
Setting out on horseback, riding to the front
With his loyal guardsmen and Duchess by his side.
He set upon the game trail; t’would be his final ride.
An arrow whistled from the dark and struck him in the eye,
A hero from the steppe-lands, a hero meant to die.
Bahadur we called him, knight in Western lands,
Keen with wit and wisdom, generous with his hands.
A man like this makes enemies of unseelie souls,
These creatures hated goodness, they hated lofty goals,
And so they sent an archer of hate and shadow formed,
Hidden in the red trees past which hunters stormed.
Once the leaves were scarlet, once the leaves were red,
Once our King was living, but now the Khan is dead.
Carried by the Kashek, carried to his Queen,
His body placed upon the grass, red upon the green.
The people then they grieved him, railed against their loss,
Cried for Sarnac Bahadur, who bled upon the moss.
Some say they saw his glowing shade dressed in snowy white
Watching as his followers bemoaned their awful plight.
He kneeled beside his children, as Roak took the Crown,
His noble face lost in the grass, his hands upon the ground.
And as his children stepped away, the Khan began to fade,
Leaving not but steel-clad bone within the leafy glade.
Once the leaves were scarlet, once the leaves were red,
Once our King was living, but now the Khan is dead.
Later, Marian of Heatherdale sent me the following email:
> From:  Heather Dale <heather@h...> 

> Date:  Tue Oct 1, 2002  5:41 pm

> Subject:  Re: [PRIVATE] A Poem to Mark the Last Court of Sarnac and Joleicia
> Whoof! This is great, absolutely great. I've been ooh'ing and ahh'ing 

> over your work a lot lately, so I'll just do this as a private message 

> rather than to the whole list. :)


> Colyne, you're doing some wonderful work -- you obviously have caught the 

> "bardic bug", and more importantly you understand the spirit of it (to 

> capture and transmit the culture around you). Keep it up, my friend... 

> you're not just doing your art, you're *using* your art. That's excellent, 

> and I think it takes your involvement in Ealdormere to a whole other 

> level. Well done.


> Cheers,

> Marian.
A few moments later, another email arrived:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Carol J. Bell Cannon" <>
> To: "Colyne Stewart" <>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 12:26 AM
> Subject: Your Work
> Colyne--I hope you will not mind, for I did not think until now to ask--as 

> I felt my mentor, Master Ioseph of Locksley and his good Lady, Mistress 

> Cherie, doubtless were acquainted with the Khan, I sent your poem to 

> them.  I know they will respect the copyright.  It was well done, as was 

> the last bit of writing you did on giving rings and tokens...Gr/ainne
The next day THL Gwerydd verch Rhys, who had just finished her term as Royal Bard, said this:
> From:  "Helen Marshall" <nsunrider@h...> 

> Date:  Wed Oct 2, 2002  6:02 am

> Subject:  A Poem to Mark the Last Court of Sarnac and Joleicia
> Wonderful! I wanted to add my voice to Marian's. Sarnac was well-loved by 

> his people and by myself also. I think he will always be my king. This 

> does him justice. I would love to hear it spoken.
> As Marian said, you have taken a step forward in the bardic arts (not simply 

> through this, but this presents a good opportunity to say it). I think you 

> have learned something of bardic duty. This is a good thing. I haven't had 

> a chance to see as much of your work since I don't make it out to 

> Septentria, but be assured that I'm going to remedy that.


> Wassail,

> Gwerydd

That night I received written confirmation that Thorfinna and I were candidates for the Coronets of Septentria. We didn’t even think we’d get this far in the process. There are seven other couples on the list, all of them with something to give to the Barony and its people. I think the populace have a hard choice ahead of them.
Thorfinna and I were singing in the shower, madly filking, as is our want, and I gave birth to the following:
I’ve got a Bruise
Colyne Stewart, October AS XXXVII

Sung to the tune of “The Song of the Northern Wanderers” (more often known as “Home”) by Master Hector of the Black Height.

Dedicated to all the fighters mentioned within, who always inspire me to push myself harder.

I’ve got a bruise, bruise, bruise on the list field.
I’ve got a bruise, bruise, the size of Ealdormere (x2)

My bones are tired, my muscles are sore
I don’t know if I’ll fight anymore
I’ve got a big bruise on the side of my leg
From getting hit by a honking big glaive


In the Bear Pit I just fought Ron
He had two sticks, I only had one
He beat me so soundly around ‘bout my head
Fifty-two times in one fight I’m dead


My sword is chipped, my shield is all dented
My tabard is ripped, my armour is rented
My helm lies in pieces down on the floor
Rivets, not duct tape, I’ll use ever more


Domhnaill hit me right ‘bove the calf
As I dropped dead I could not but laugh
Hidden behind Thorfinna’s round shield
Only Domhnaill’s feet were revealed


My Thegn he likes me, I make a great pell
I’m quite the target in the land where I dwell
I have to learn some better defense
Cynred’s head shots are giving me sense


I’ve fought with Berus, Ed the red too
And I’ve fought with kings, like good subjects do
Kenric and Wat, whom I both adore
Keep sending me down to lie on the floor


I may be battered and I may be bruised
Why do I do it I’ve often mused
Fighting’s such fun, man do I love it,
These signs of affection I’m learning to covet


One morning I was wandering about the internet and decided to do a search for ‘Ardchreag’. In doing so I found out that The TankArd, for the year AS XXXV, under myself as Chronicler, was a nominee for the William Blackfox Best Overall Newsletter Award!
At the Ardchreag meeting on October 7 Thorfinna taught a class on pewter casting. On this day it was publicly announced that we were candidates to be the Heirs of septentria.
The next day I was feeling a bit down and wrote a parable about it.
The Parable of the Fox
Colyne Stewart, October AS XXXVII

There once lived a fox, short in stature, who dwelled in the lands of Ealdormere, though he knew the name naught. This fox often felt alone in the snow-clad woods of the north, though he did have a loving mate. For although his vixen offered him all her love and support he suffered from a melancholia where the poor beast continually doubted his self worth.
            One day the fox, who was passing by a lodge, did hear within it the sounds of much merry making. Timidly he peeked within and saw a great number of beasts and men engaged in various activities, all laughing and singing and shouting. About to turn away and slink back into the night, some of those within espied him and bade him enter. He did so, though with trepidation. There he met a great many people who talked with him and laughed with him. Never before had the fox met so many who shared his interests and his dreams; no one other than his vixen. And lo, his vixen was also in the room, for she had followed him, and they both felt at home.
            And so the fox and vixen would often visit at the lodge and made many friends. However, the fox would look at the work and the art created by his new friends and aquantances and would despair, for his hands were not so skilled. Also he would watch as some trained in the arts of war and again he bemoaned his fate, for he had been maimed in a trap while young and his paws and back were oft wracked with pain.
            Still, the fox tried not to show these feelings of inadequacy to others, and he went with them to visit another nearby lodge. There he was introduced to a great white bear. And this bear did intimidate the fox for it was ferocious and fierce. He was therefore much surprised when the large creature spoke in a gentle voice and bad him sit by her. The fox did so, and soon he had developed a great love for this bear, and for the land she represented, which was called Septentria. This bear, who ruled with a calm but indomitable badger, did come to influence the fox very much. For they were generous and loyal, strong and brave. The bear praised the fox and vixen much for the state of their fur, which pleased them both no end.
            And yet still the fox did doubt his self worth.
            Traveling then to a stretch of the north where great rams stood sentinel, the fox did meet the wolves for the first time. These wolves were the right and regal rulers of the north, that land known as Ealdormere. They were noble and graceful and the fox was much impressed again. Over time the fox would travel to the home of these two wolves, after they had handed the responsibility of ruling to their pups. Under the male’s tutelage both the fox and the vixen were trained in the arts of war, though before they could stand with an army they would have to pass a test. Here again the fox’s self-doubt crept and he was afraid to stand the test.
            A year thus passed. In that time the fox met many folk who inspired him in many things, but also saddened him for they all seemed to surpass him in all skills. What could he do that would equal what they could do? He met a flock of ravens who were great in the arts and sciences, as well as two sturdy oaks who were likewise skilled. Also a bison and a kestrel and many more besides who could produce great things with their hands. And he met dogs and wolves and rams and hares and boars who were skilled at war. And he hung his head in shame at his own feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.
            After the fox had dwelled in the land those twelve months he found himself called forth before an assemblage of the populace of the north. There did the bear and badger ask him and his vixen to be their bard and sing the songs and tell the tales of the land. To this they accepted, though they both feared they would not be up to the task. Then the ruling wolves of Ealdormere did call the fox noble and award him arms and he was shocked for he had not thought he had done much, if anything at all worthy of praise.
            These two things did hearten the fox and he did stand his test of war. For his test he was set to battle with the badger and they fought hard and long. Though the fox’s maimed paws did cause him much pain, and though the fox did have a gaping wound on his side from an earlier lesson, he did somehow persevere. He did pass his test of war, and did best the badger in battle. His vixen, also now ennobled, did likewise pass her test of war.
            The fox then began to compose tales and poems though he tried not to sing, as his voice was such that only those who enjoy screams of torment could listen. These tales and poems he began to tell and soon he was known across the land as a storyteller of some skill. Under the guidance of several other bards, such as the great plaid bear and several southern rams, he learned that the craft of words was indeed an art and worth no less than any item formed by the hands of others.
            And also the fox marched south to War in the land of Pennsia where he stood in the shieldwall with his brothers and sisters at arms. Though great feats of arms may be beyond his skill still he fought and protected the lives of many, though he himself was sore wounded.
            Now that fox has learned to accept himself and his limitations. He does refuse to let others define him and does what he can, as he can. And he is much happier for it. (As is his long-suffering mate.)
I posted it to the Ealdorbards list and had a response within minutes from Dayfdd ap Piers:
----- Original Message -----
From: "David A. Scott" <>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2002 12:27 AM
> Subject: Re: [Ealdorbards] The Parable of the Fox
> > The Parable of the Fox

> > Colyne Stewart, October AS XXXVII


> A wonderful tale, good Colyne. I feel much in the story that I can identify

> with... well, the early parts at least. I know that I have often felt as did

> the fox. I can only hope that, some day, I achieve even a part of the

> success that he has received.

> Dafydd ap Piers
To which I replied:
> The fox did endure much, much more than is mentioned in this short tale, and

> much more will have to be endured in future I am sure...I think many people

> can relate to the fox, and I truly believe that someday everyone will be

> able to relate to his entire journey as outlined here, from beginning to

> end...things get better as relationships are forged...the fox had a lot of

> help on his way, and he has plans to help others on theirs...
On the 12th we managed to get to one day of the three-day Known World Bardic College and Cooks Symposium, which was technically in Ramshaven but was being hosted by the Kingdom of Ealdormere.
Cook Me Up a Song: Event Report, Known World Bardic Congress and Cooks Symposium II
Colyne Stewart, October AS XXXVII
A call had gone out across the Knowne World, calling all who smithed words and were skilled in the culinary arts to travel to the Barony of Ramshaven, where The Kingdom of Ealdormere was planning a collegium. As is usual for any event I have been to in Ramshaven, it rained on us as we traveled the back roads in our wagon, though in truth the weather was mild. The sprinkling stopped as we arrived at the camp where the bards and cooks were to meet. Many had arrived the night previous and had slept in bunks usually occupied by young scouts in training. When we first arrived Dame Tsivia bas Tamara v’Amberview was leaning out of her middle bunk, which had a high ledge to ensure young scouts did not fall out. She was wondering out loud how her old bones were going to manage to get over the ledge and down to the ground. Luckily, many younger bards were nearby to help her to the ground.
               Lady Ivanna the Oblivious came over to our side as we were signing in at the gate and took us down to the craft room, where Master Hector of the Black Height was to teach a class on storytelling. However, she did not arrive in time to save me from a tongue licking from an over active (and apparently stuffed) golden retriever. While heading down the stairs we passed Lady Chiara da Montepulciano, the Kingdom Bard, who congratulated us on our candidacy for the Heirs of Septentria. If she lived in Septentria, she said, she would vote for us. Of course, I told her to move!
               Once seated, Cera of Caer Draeth sat opposite us and said simply, “Convince me.” We actually hadn’t thought we would be approached on this issue at such an event, but it would be the first of many questions poised us that day. We asked her if she had any specific questions or concerns and we talked of moots and possible new cantons.
               Hector was late for the class as he was talking to his ‘granddaughter’ in the hallway and did not realize that his class had already begun. In usual Hector style he held the classes rapt attention and made them laugh and at times held them spellbound and silent. In truth, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know (I have taken storytelling classes mundanely before) but just to see the man in action is a treat).
               When the class was over we went for a short walk about the grounds and were lucky enough to see a few blue jays flying through the trees. When we passed gate we saw Corwyn and Domhnaill Galbraith signing in so wandered over to warn them that they would likely get asked questions about their own Baronial platform. The four of us ended up discussing the Barony and our vision of its future for over an hour, while Ivanna and Master Garraed Galbraith joined us at times. Ivanna asked what our first act as Baron and Baroness would be. Both couples said we would immediately banish the other. Much silly talk such as that was had, much serious talk was also had. Garraed said it was wonderful to see people in competition for the same position being so friendly with each other. I think that’s the only way to be. We finally moved downstairs to the dining room and listened to some of the bards as they recited poems for challenges issued earlier that day. I personally walked away from that conversion sure that if Corwyn and Domhnaill were to be appointed the Heirs, Septentria would be in good hands.
               Once the competitions were done, we sat at a bench for Hector’s bardic toolbox class. He had a bag full of books from which he pulled examples of books he felt all bards should have. I was rather pleased to find that Thorfinna and I already owned many of those same books. As a group we then wrote a fatras, which is an obscure form of medieval poem. Since so little was known of it or its structure the discussion was lively and many went away yearning to learn more.
               Once Hector was finished, he was replaced by a bard from the Principality of Northshield named Eliane. She taught a class on the building of a bardic book, where to find source material, how to do library searches and the issues of copyright.
               Morgana came next, and she conducted a spirited debate on what it meant to be a bard and how the bardic arts had evolved over the years. It was a very informative and enjoyable talk, but it ended and we finally left the dining room to attend Corwyn and Domhnaill’s brewing class in the kitchen. After sitting in a drafty dining hall for four hours it was pleasant to be in the kitchen surrounded by heat and the smell of THL Aenaes Oakhammer’s cooking. The class was small, and we got to sample some mead while the Galbraiths demonstrated how to rack. At one point I heard someone behind me say, “How you doin’?” and I knew that Count Aaron Worgansson had arrived. I turned to find Their Royal Majesties Roak and Arlette standing behind me and I quickly got up and offered them the bench I had been sitting on. At first Roak did not want to take my seat but I insisted. I then sat in a chair exactly under a small leak that occasional dropped a drip or three of water on my tunic.
               When the class ended it was time for court, and we found a seat on a bench. Thankfully, court was short as my behind was already sore from so much sitting on hard wooden benches built with young scouts in mind. Ambassadars of the east Kingdom sent best wishes to Their Lupine Majesties for Ealdormere’s past hospitality to eh East’s populace, especially their bards. Likewise, an ambassador from the Middle brought best wishes from Their Draconian Majesties, along with gifts of cookbooks and recordings of music. Invitations were also extended to attend bardic events within the Middle Kingdom.
               Three awards were then handed out. Branwen of der Welfengau was awarded a Maiden’s Heart, and was the tireless Lady Ivanna, for her great efforts for the Canton of Greenhithe, and in matters regarding the young of our kingdom. Also, Lady Kestra the Drummer was inducted into the Order of the Orion for her bardic talents.
               After court we once again talked to Corwyn and Domhnaill as we watched various gentles play at ‘Viking Bocce,’ which consisted of throwing sticks at other sticks. I very much wanted to stay and try my hand at the game but family concerns drew us home. This sample of but one day of a three-day long event made me yearn for more, and perhaps next year I will be able to spend more time at this wonderful event.
We set out for Burford, in the Barony of Ben Dunfirth on yet another drizzly day. The autumn was wet in Ealdormere this year, the leaves soaked in rain. We traveled in good company, Thorfinna and I, in the cart of Berend and Mahault van der Eych, with Teah and Rhiannon in the back. The drive to Burford was longer than we had anticipated, but arrive we finally did. As we drove down the street we passed Qadanchin Bayar, better known as Iolanda, resplendent in her Mongolian garb.
            We had brought cloaks with us, which served us well, as a chill wind blew from the north. We entered the hall and were soon lost in a sea of arts and sciences displays. Flabbergasted we walked about and gazed at the many talents of Ealdormereans, many of whom hailed from Septentria. Among these were: Corwyn and Domhnail Galbraith, who displayed horn carving, wood carving, the kerric made for Garraed and various other items; Kennric Manning, metal bowl work; Iolanda de Albornoz, knuckle bones; Graem deListe de Cherbourg, Japanese calligraphy, British royal geneaology, Italian cooking; Ceridwen of Vest Yorvic, illumination and portrature; Weneceol of Vest Yorvic; wood carving, pewter casting. I know there were likely others, and likely more shown by the people I have mentioned, but in such a plethora of skill it is hard now to keep them all straight. Other displays of note included Viscount Sir Edward the Red and Viscountess Rylyn Buchanon with their slat bed and sundry goods (such as a skillet) and Baron Sir Menken Brechen, who was trying his hand at pewter casting.
            Count Sir Brannos O'Iongardail, from the Middle Kingdom, had come far to teach a class on fighting. Though Thorfinna and I had not brought our armour (we were unaware the class was happening) we watched most of it and learned much. Sir Berus Wolfsson, Their Majesties Roak and Arlette, Lord Wulfgang Donnerfaust, Lord Vlad Blahuciak, Baron Siegfried Brandbeorn, THL Aelwyn of Longwood, Master Konrad Matthias Jaeger, and Lady Isotta Gianfigliazzi were among those taking the class.
            The hardy dancers of the Kingdom, many from Eoforwic, braved the chill and danced in the only available open space—the gravel parking lot.
            Throughout the day we were approached by people who were interested in our views as Baronial candidates and those who wished us well. Alyce de Sheppey approached me and said she thought that we were very approachable people, and that she feels that is a very important part of being a Baron or Baroness. She said we had the potential to do some interesting things and wished us well.
            Gaerwen took me aside for a time and we talked of Baronial matters, as well as historical matters. She took me to talk to various individuals who she felt could help me compile the history of the Barony for our Kingdom taxes. She also announced aloud that I am her right hand man, which made me felt rather pleased with myself though I hope I did not show it.
            We could not stay for feast, which is unfortunate from all accounts as it sounds like it was excellent. We left the event feeling tired (it had been a long day) but also burning with a desire to make and create.

The next day Mahault came to Drew’s End and she, Thorfinna and I worked on various projects. I made my new sword (very light!), a new polearm (I only need to tape up the grip but did not have any black hockey tape on hand), and rebuilt my arms. I wanted floating elbows with a vambrace attached only by a leather strap to offer greater manoverability, but found that I couldn’t drill a hole through the elbow. (We broke a bit in the attempt). So, I used the existing holes on either end to strap is, and had to hope that with my soft pad underneath it would stay in place. When I tried it out, it did, so hoorah on that account. What then was I to do with my vambrace? Without being able to attach it to my elbow it would keep sliding down my arm as it has been since I took my arm cannons apart. Mahault came up with a very sensible idea—why not attach it to my soft elbow pads. I tried it out and it worked perfectly (though I attached the first one to a knee pad and had to take it apart again). I also painted the poem Master Hector had written about my Berus-made wardoor on the shield in runes. Unfortunately I discovered we had no white paint to put the Septentrian bear on it.
            Thorfinna made a Norse apron that looks awesome with her turtle brooches (bought at Pennsic) and her necklaces (one of which she also made that day). Mahault sewed Eirik a cloak and made a rag doll for Teah that Thorfinna played with for hours.

The first Baronial Moot took place on October 21st at Ardchreag in our Middlefield keep. There were at least sixty good gentles in attendance representing, I believe, the populace from all eight Septentrian cantons. First we were given a brilliant proposal for demos run in connection with Casa Loma that would enable the SCA to later use it for events at reasonable rates. The only down side is that an estimated thirty-six volunteers ar required for the two-week long program that takes place during the workday. Thorfinna and I are planning to help, but we won’t know if we can until we request our holidays in the new year. (The demos are planned for February I believe.)
            The moot itself started at eight and went until ten-thirty or thereabouts though the last people did not leave site until twelve-forty five. The moot was orderly, well thought out and quite pleasant I thought. Snacks and drinks were provided and copies of the candidates issue of the Ursus were on sale.
            When it was over we talked with many folks, including a lady from House Fenrir and members of Petrea Thule. The House Fenrir member said that we had a very strong presence and that we could do the job, but was concerned that we have only been in the SCA twenty months or so at this current time. (This is the one comment we keep hearing. The only negative comment actually.) She said that should we run again in five years there would be no question. (Which is also a comment I have heard a lot.)
            The members of Petrea Thule have long felt ignored by the rest of the Barony, and they showed it in their faces and in their questions. Anne Tinker was especially verbose on the fact that so few people from outside their canton travel to it for meetings, demos, archery or fight practice, while expecting them to come to theirs. I pointed out to them, politicing aside, that we loved Petrea Thule. I had told Tiberius that when we left Piekman’s Pleasure back in June how much we love that canton. He agreed and went on at length about how we play (ie. going to events and meetings when we can and in as varied places as we can) and I think it possible we may get a show of support from that canton. (I’m basing this proposition on small things that Adrielle and Keja also said.)
            Still, I think our ‘young age’ may be our undoing this time. We knew that going in though, so we are prepared for that eventuality, and we are prepared to support the new Baron and Baroness, whom ever that should be.
The moot at Skeldergate on the 23rd was very different in tone from Ardchreag’s. While Ardchreag meets in a warehouse, the Skeldergate moot took place in a student longue with plenty of comfy chairs and couches (though both Graem and I ended up sitting on very uncomfortable chair arms). The questions asked were mostly personal questions, as opposed to administrative questions (though those were also asked). I think the toughest question posed was by Wat of Sarum who asked us to identify the candidate we admired most, and to identify why. We all found that very difficult to answer. I finally settled on Seonag, while Thorfinna said Domhnail. We were both pleased and surprised when Graem said it was the two of us, for he said he has not seen anyone do in two years what we have done, and that we have clear leadership capabilities. This moot was taped and hopefully copies will be made available to the populace soon. At least half of the candidates were sick, Corwyn looking the worst of us all. Most of us had cough drops in our mouths and Kleenex in our hands. I think this is going to be a very hard choice for Cynred and Gaerwen to make.
Had a very interesting bardic circle at Ardchreag's meeting on the 28th. We weren't even sure we would be back from a wedding in Sudbury in time to attend but we got home to a couple of messages asking us to come out, so we did. A very rowdy group formed and a few songs were sung, a few poems recited, a few stories told. Mostly though it was a bunch of Chreaggers cutting loose and having a good time. Thorfinna, Eanor and Mahault (all seated on the futon) were particularly unruly and silly. The last of us didn't end up leaving Tarian's place until midnight.
The next day we went to our first meeting of the Royal City of Eoforwic. They meet in a building belonging to the local university, in a room with high vaulted ceilings and very ornate plaster work. It also had a large fireplace, though even with the chill outside we did not need it (the room is warm). Quite a few people were in attendance, and crafts of all sorts were being performed in all corners of the room. We talked to Kimberly who showed us the wirework Michael had done just the night before when he couldn’t sleep. A man I believe may have been Raedmund de Arden was handing out books, to get them back into circulation. I didn’t really realize this was one of the founders of Ardchreag until too late, or I would have talked his ear off. Charles runs a tight ship as Seneschal (and has too, the university is very strict apparently about us leaving on time) and the meeting went from a gaggle of talking to a quick ru through of upcoming events and meetings, officers announcements and introductions of all Baronial candidates in attendance (us, Seonag and Streonwold, Aurelia and Graem, and Ysabaeu).
               They then had five minutes of chaos before starting their bardic circle. At Eoforwic circles everyone is asked to bring something to read, even if it’s not something they wrote. For instance, Albrecht Stamfer begun this circle by reading from Beowulf. Pieces were read in Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Italian and Old Norse. Very cool stuff. Gaerwen ending up giving us a second ring of office as the Ursine bards, which led Charles to ask if we had anything we wanted to read. We said sure, and that the reason we hadn’t read yet was because we were enjoying listening to everyone else so much. It was very different from the circle of the night before where about three or four people were generally expected to entertain everyone else.
               The meeting ended up going long, and a few of the city residents asked us if we wanted to go for dinner. We couldn’t, as it was late, we were still recovering from our colds, and I had to work on the Ursus. However, we will likely be back to Eoforwic soon.

November 2002

The first Sunday of November found us traveling to Petrea Thule for their fight practice. With us went Mahault van der Eych, Teach van der Eych, my mother Carolyn and my brother Stephen Scrymgeour. While Thorfinna, Mahault and my mom visited with Ann Tinker, Aurelia Gabriana and Ann (Grimmy's wife), my brother and I suited up. This was Stephen’s first fight practice so he had to use our bag o' loaner stuff which consisted of mostly sports equipment. While suiting him we broke a strap for the arm, but luckily it was still long enough to be effective. We also discovered that there was no belt for his tabard (my old red and white one). Tiberius Justus Brittanicus had an extra handy and he took Stephen out for some sparring while I attended to my own belt dilemma. While I was putting it on I somehow managed to rip my buckle in half. Again luck was with me as Aurelia has an extra O-ring and she sewed it to my belt.
        The helm we had brought for Stephen to use (Thorfinna's) turned out to be too small, so he and I shared it throughout the day. For my first round of sparring versus Graem deListe de Cherbourg I used Daffyd ap Sion's helm which was a tad too big and has a grill-face) I'm used to a closed face helm. It had been a couple of weeks since my last practice so I was a bit rusty against Graem. I would rate myself as fair. I did better later against Tiberius and Thevenin de Cote d'Azure who are both very good teachers. They were patient, jovial and encouraging and I may have picked up a trick or two from them. I did better in the later bouts though by then my shield work was beginning to slide (I was letting it dip once I was engaged with my opponent.) Thevenin managed to completely chew up my right side, and gave me some nice stripes. (Dern lefties!)
        Stephen also had long bouts with Grimmy and Thevenin (he and Thev had to be pulled off the field when it was time to go). Stephen shows great promise and was the recipient of many words of praise and encouragement. Hopefully he'll be able to start coming out a little more often.
I got to try out my newly restructured arms at Petrea Thule. I had been finding the leather arm cannons restrictive so took them apart. What I wanted to do was strap the elbows so they would be free floating and run a small strap from them to my vambraces (to keep them from sliding). Well, when I tried to drill new holes in the elbow I found our drill not up tot he job. When Thorfinna tried she actually broke the bit. So I had to use the existing holes to put the strap on, which I feared would not allow the elbow to be strapped tight enough. However, once I put the soft elbow on underneath it, it strapped just fine. (At the Thule fight practice it didn't slip at all.) What to do about my sliding vambrace though? Mahault had the answer for that one. Why not attach them directly to the soft elbow pad? That's what I did, and it seems to work great.
        One lame on my knee popped out, and Daffyd had to use an axe to wedge it open again. I have a small repair to do on it now, as it is a little too loose and sometimes leaves an opening between lames.
Over the weekend I also put together a new, lighter sword with a plastic basket hilt, painted my new war door (the one Berus gave me) and made a 6.5' polearm. I used the new sword at the Thule practice and it worked pretty well, though I think I'll have to shave down the hilt a bit more.
The next evening we hitched the wagon and wandered up Caer Draeth way for their canton meeting. It was small, with seven people attending other than ourselves. (We were actually the second to arrive.) We were introduced to the four greener members of the canton by Ulvar van der Nederlanden, who proceeded to ply us and Seonag and Streonwold with questions about what a Baron/Baroness is and what exactly they do. It was a nice, relaxed question and answer period and I think everyone walked away satisfied.
On Tuesday, November 5, we went to Greenhithe. Ivanna the Oblivious, Aldred Ravenshagh and Leisil were the only Greenhithians present. Seonag nic Thomais, Streonwold Wulfesbana, Baroness Gaerwen of Trafford and Thorfinna and I outnumbered the natives. As such the meeting was very brief and involved mostly the exchange of stories and no real baronial questions. It had been drizzling when we arrived and it was turning to snow around eight o'clock so Seonag, Streonwold and Gaerwen headed for home. Aldred was sick. So we all went our separate ways. It was fun, though brief.
On Sunday Nov 10 we were supposed to go to Monadh's meeting, but Thorfinna suffered from some kind of respitory attack that made breathing difficult, caused her eye to swell up and generally made her unfit to drive. I called Gaerwen to extend our apologies, and emailed Ceinwen asking her to let us know the next time Monadh was getting together.
The next night we went to Vest Yorvik, whose populace meets in a mall. When we arrived we saw Tormod in the food court and we sat and listened as various Vest Yorvikkers ate dinner and idely chatted while awaiting their room to be free. At 7:30 Tormod went to fetch security and the rest of us milled outside the room. We were warmly greeted by the Chatelaine (who thought we were new) and by Ceirdwen when she arrived. A very angry Tormod soon returned with news that the were being denied access without any reason. This news was met with much ire as Vest Yorvik has been meeting in the mall for seven years and spends an estimated $700 a month in its stores. The business most frequented is the Fabric Land, to which we all marched to let its manager know what the mall management was doing to its best customers. Then, against mall rules, we sat in the food court (not eating) and held the meeting. Tormod read out about upcoming events, the officers gave reports and Thorfinna and I were introduced. I managed to sell seven copies of the Ursus and get one new subscription. Elena and Wencenedl then came over to our table and (jokingly) announced that if we went to pub with them they would vote for us. We of course accepted the invitation. A group of about ten or twelve of the twenty-four present made our way to Mulligan's and about fourty-five minutes was spent in pleasant conversation and the consumption of 2 for 1 appetisers. (Many jokes were made about the fact that this time we had actually managed to make it to Vest Yorvik without the car breaking down.) Although we kind of felt like outsiders when we first arrived (we were coming to someone else's turf for the first time) by the end of it we felt like one of the gang. Its amazing how easily you can slip into a group in the SCA and soon feel completely at home.
Petrea Thule was our next (and last stop) on our Baronial tour (excepting Monadh, whose meeting we missed). We arrived a little late to find a belt making class, presided over by Thev, already in progress. We were quickly ushered in and though we had not brought any money for materials, Thev gave me a strip of leather and a buckle on the understanding I would pay him back at some point int he future (hopefully at the Baronial fight practice on Sunday). I've made belts before but they were bodger work and not too pretty. Under Thev's guidance Thorfinna and I put together a promising look belt. We still need to cut and shape the end (Brandt has an end cutting tool) and then either dye or oil it. My other two belts are dyed, so I think I may try oiling it this time. The meeting went a half hour long, as everyone was so engrossed in their work.
Then came Friday, the day of the announcement. We candidate couple met at the home of Lord Raffe Scholemaystre, all except Evander and Melusine who were over seas and Angus and Ysabeau as she was in hospital. Once we were all gathered Cynred and Gaerwen made the announcement—that Corwyn and Domhnail were being put forward as the heirs. This was met with applause and good wishes (especially by Thorfinna and I, as they were our first choice). Cynred and Gaerwen then went downstairs and each couple took turns to go down and speak to them and see why they had not been chosen. We were told that really the only reason we had not been chosen was due to our short period of time within the Society. However, each comment also said, next time they’d be perfect. That is really what we expected so we weren’t too disappointed or upset. One person apparently wrote in that we have Peer fear, which made us all laugh.
               The seneschals were arriving and we told Ulvar (the first through the door) that he was Baron. When all the seneschals or their deputies/representatives had arrived Gaerwen lead them through how the polling would work. Once done we socialized shortly then left to catch the premier of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
During the week I had received a copy of The Silver Birch, the newsletter for the Shire of Rokeclif in the Principality of Northshield. In it had been printed my article on ring-giving. After emailing the chronicler to thank her I got this reply:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jennifer Friedman" <>
To: "Todd Fischer" <>
Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2002 3:09 PM
Subject: Re: The White Birch

> Hi there Colyne,


> I wondered whether you had been there!  My apologies for not remembering

> you.  I was a little nervous teaching folk that I did not even know yet...!


> I read this e-mail at the home of another local Shire member, right before

> our monthly populace meeting this afternoon, and mentioned to our Seneschal

> that you had e-mailed me.  She immediately said, "Oh, tell him that was a

> great article!"  She is also a bard and did not know anything about the

> tradition of ring-giving, other than that she's seen other bards doing it.

> So, your article is enlightening people you may never even meet!


> Hope you enjoyed my class.  Being a librarian, my objective with that class

> is to give as many useful free sources to the attendees as possible, so

> they have the resources to go out and get good stuff to sing/read/etc.

> without having to purchase hundreds of books or enroll in a degree program

> in early music at a major university...!  If there was anything on the

> handout that you looked up and were able to use, then the class was a success.


> See you at the next KWB&C?


> Eliane
After three weeks away we made it back to the Middlefield keep. Attendance was good as people were there for three important reasons. First, to cast their ballots for the baronial succession. Second, to do some Snowed Inn planning (where I was named as Head Server) and thirdly, to take Mistress Marian of Heatherdale's vocal projection class. An interesting cross section of people took the class, including bards and heralds (Ivanna, Thorfinna and myself, William, Wulfgang) as well as fighters (Brandt) and other A&S mavens (Rosalinda). Unfortunately the exercise entailed a lot of bending over and it hurt my back and caused my stomach muscles to clench which is in exact opposition to the purpose of the exercise. I had to stop and went over to talk with Katerina du nord and Eirik while Wulfgang (who had also dropped out), Ymir and Wat suited up to fight in the cold outside.
        At one point Ziggy and Vlad took Thorfinna, Berend and I aside (Mahault was occupied) to tell us that House De Taahe was interested in us, and that we were invited to the Household's 12th Night in January. Very interesting. We're not sure exactly in what capacity they are interested in (are they looking for bards, men-at-arms, etc) so can't make any decision yet. We'll have to go to the 12th Night and see what's afoot. I'm not sure De Taahe would be a perfect match for us, but we do have a lot of friends in it (Ziggy, Vlad, Eanor) and people I like and respect as well (Thevenin). We'll have to wait and see. My main concern is that if we join De Taahe we would be expected to fight with them and not with the barony. My heart is in Septentria, and I'm not sure I'm willing to give that up at this time. I also would not want to be blocked from apprenticing/etc to someone not of the House.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sarah Hughes" <>
To: "Todd Fischer" <>; "Cynred Broccan" <>; "Corwyn Galbraith" <>
Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2002 8:38 AM
Subject: Re: Bard(s) of Septentria

> Greetings Dearest Colyne and Thorfinna,


> The Heirs Potential and Ourselves have been considering the future of the

> Septentrian Champions, Bards and Harpist and have been in deep discussion.  


> As a quick aside, I do not believe that you are correct in your assumption

> that your "tenure technically runs out in January at 12th Night".  To that

> end, I believe that you're in until Cynred and I step down or you ask to be

> released from the position.  Therefore, you're stuck with Us until at least

> February 15, 2002 unless you choose otherwise.


> There has also been some discussion of the possibility to retain the

> champions, bards and harpist until a time more fitting to seek their

> successors (i.e., a competition or event at a later time).  This is still

> very much under discussion and will of course require the agreement of all

> parties involved.  The Heirs Potential and Ourselves will contact you once

> a decision has been made.


> Having said that your suggestion of Ivanna the Oblivious is a charming one

> which I'm sure the Heirs Potential will take under due consideration.


> I also wish at this time to take this opportunity to thank you for all

> you've done for the Barony.  Your contributions to it are without measure

> and have made the Barony a better place.  It will be difficult to find

> others to fill your shoes.


> In Service to Septentria and Her People,

> Gaerwen
On Monday the 25th I woke early and went downstairs to fix my knee (which I still had not gotten around to, and had been feeling guilty about all Sunday night). The knee had popped open at Thule’s fight practice on the 3rd. I had to put a strap inside it which kept the two lames from opening too far, but it also stopped them from closing. I was not at all happy with that. I have no wish to remake my knees/legs AGAIN.
At the Ardchreag meeting I was the only person there who had brought armour. Everyone else was either under the weather, did not show, or was taking Wat of Sarum's chain mail class. Then Eanor walked in already wearing her armour. I playfully kicked her in the shins and asked her if she wanted to fight. She answered in the positive so I quickly suited up. We only fought for about an hour but I was pretty pleased with my performance. I would say we were about 50/50 in the win-lose situation and I did not feel stiff (though I still tired out quickly).
My knee, though it kind of stuck out a bit since it can’t close all the way, didn’t hinder my fighting at all, so a major repair/remake may be put off for a while.
    A few days earlier, Wulfgang had asked us what made us fight. Here's my answer.

Why I Fight
By Colyne Stewart, Nov AS XXXVII
I think like many others my allure to fighting began as a child. My brothers and I had always been infatuated with tales and movies of knights and dragons and we had many costumes and homemade swords. It was only natural to hit each other with them. In fact, with some friends of ours we even began our own live-action role-playing game when I was fourteen. Of course, wearing nothing but a life jacket as armour, and getting hit with swords made of broom handles hurt like hell. That didn’t last long.
            Eventually, and I don’t know why it took so long, we made some boffers and we actually began to do some ‘real’ combat. I had heard of the SCA a few years before (early to mid 90s) and perhaps this new boffering pushed me hard enough to look it up. I knew I wanted to try SCA armoured combat and immediately fell to it, getting taught how to make armour and being taught to fight by anyone who would give me the opportunity to pester them.
            After I began fighting I realized something. It was more than just fun. There were many more aspects to fighting as well. Firstly, I noticed the camaraderie that the fighters shared, which in many ways was more honest that what I sometimes see in those who only watch. It is said that the only real love is between soldiers and being shoulder to shoulder with someone as many more someones try to take you out does build a bond. This sense of community and belonging is one of the reasons I still fight.
            The other is honour and duty. Yes, yes. I know the SCA is only a game, but I place a lot of emphasis on honour and duty. My word is my bond. So I don’t fight for myself, I fight for Septentria. I consider it my duty as a fighter who resides within her borders who has no other military duties. Perhaps some day I may fight directly for the Kingdom, or another barony, or even a household or citie guard. Who can say. If that should happen I would place as much emphasis on my duties then, tot hat entity, as I do now. I fight because I love my homeland, because I love my country folk. I want to do the Bear proud, protect her, bring her glory. That is why I fight.
On Wednesday morning I thought it would be fun to bash my hand into the wall, resulting in bloody knuckles and a sprained elbow. As a result I could not fight at Skeldergate as planned. Thorfinna and I went regardless, though we had to endure Berus’ disappointed looks at our lack of armour (Thorfinna was also injured, having hurt her knee cutting out patterns at Mahault’s). Instead I handed out photographs and copies of the Ursus, and managed to get two new subscriptions. We spent the majority of the evening talking with Marion Fitzwilliam, Corwyn, Gunnar Truthsinger, Katerina du nord, Colgar the Innocent (an old school Hrogn, who was visiting from An Tir) and Zahra and her lord. It was revealed that Zahra was pregnant, news that was met with many wishes of good will. Gunnar, while talking of who exactly should be on the rolls as members of Skeldergate japed that didn’t include Thorfinna and I. To which I told him that we considered ourselves dual citizens of Ardchreag and Skeldergate. This news pleased Marion, I think, who has been trying to ‘convert’ us for months.

Nothing Burns Like Pine, Boy

An Irreverent Look at ‘Christmas’ Customs from approx. 600 – 1600 CE

Colyne Stewart, Nov AS XXXVII

It Begins

So. It’s freezing. There’s snow on the ground. You’re about to face the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. It’s a time of darkness and cold. What are you going to do?
Set things on fire of course.
Yes, ‘tis true. The roots of Christmas stretch all the way back to Roman, pagan and Celtic traditions that involved a lot of burning. The Norse had a celebration they called jul (or Yule) which lasted thirteen days. They would take a jul log and set the thing aflame for twelve days (remember that number, its important). A piece of the log would be kept for a year, and used to set the next log on fire. Another fun pastime for the Norse was to take a wooden wheel—the jul wheel, that symbolized the year—and, you guessed it, put it to the torch.
The Romans had their own week long winter festival called Saturnalia and the 25th of December was the birth date of the Roman wonder-child Mithras. (There are in fact many similarities between the story of the birth of Mithras and the birth of Christ.)
When the Christians came to Europe they found a number of indigenous peoples rather unwilling to give up their holidays for a new belief system. (Burning things is fun.) Now, them Christians was crafty. They said, “You can keep your customs. It just so happens we have a holiday that takes place on the very same day as yours, and the customs you have, why, we have them too!”

Decking the Hall

Now the Christians looked around and saw that the Norse and Romans and pagans had done some decorating in and out of their halls. Most noticeable was the veneration and decoration of pine trees. The Romans thought that evergreens represented the return on spring, and the Norse hung fir boughs for luck. “Ah ha!” said the Christians. “Those trees never die, just like we will never die but go to Heaven.” So they kept the tree around and over time began to decorate it with apples. In the sixteenth century the Germans would put paper flowers in their tree, walk it through town and then they burned it. Everyone kept their trees outside until the Victorians, perhaps irritated at having to go outside in the soot and snow to see the dang things, just had them brought inside.
            Holly and ivy were also hanging everywhere. The holly was kept, as the red berries were thought to represent Christ’s blood upon putting on the crown of thorns, but the ivy was pitched. It was too strongly associated with the Roman god Bacchus for the Christians liking, at least until the later middle ages when people thought it could protect them from the plague and witches.


The celebrations that were the roots of Christmas spanned a great period of time, over which different foods were customarily eaten. Below is a sampling of some of the foodstuffs devoured during the solstice season.

Boar’s Head. For the Norse and other Scandinavian peoples the winter solstice was the midpoint of their winter. To celebrate the fact that they had survived thus far they held a feast in honour of Baldur, their sun god. One of the animals sacred to Baldur was the boar, so of course the Norse killed them and ate them. This custom would carry over into the Christian era (and will be talked about when I finally get to that twelve days of Christmas stuff).

Peacock. The more wealthy members of society would not just dine on goose, but peacock as well. The bird would be plucked, cooked and then have all its feathers put back on (it was ‘redressed’).

Principal pudding. A dish afflicted upon poor monks, this pudding was made from 6 pounds of currants, 270 to 300 eggs, a large amount of breadcrumbs and 18 pounds of suet. No wonder they liked to fast.

Mince pies. These pies, made of minced or shredded meat were baked in oblong shapes to represent Christ’s manger. Three spices were always used as seasoning to represent the gifts of Magi—cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It was thought lucky to eat one on each of the twelve days of Christmas (its that number again, we’ll get into that later).

Goose and turkey. The main course of a medieval Christmas feast was often goose, though around 1520 turkeys are brought to Europe from the Americas and supplant their cousin as the fare of choice.

Humble pie. This tasty sounding dish was a favourite of the servants and lower classes of Medieval Europe. While the rich ate all the tasty bits of a deer, they tossed the brain, heart, liver and other ‘humbles’ to the poor who did what seemed only natural—they baked it in a pie.

Frumenty. A spicy wheat based dessert that was the ancestor of our modern pudding.

Mead and beer. The Norse drank it, and so did the Medieval monks when they invited locals to the monastery for a meal of bread, broth and meat.

Wowee! A long ship! That’s mine!

Many people think that the giving of gifts at Christmas is in honour of the gifts the Magi gave to Christ. Partially true, but not completely true. You see, once again the Christians adopted an existing winter custom. For the Norse gave gifts at Yule. Generally, a great lord would open his hall and everyone nearby would come to enjoy his hospitality. Each guest would give the host a gift, and he would often give a small one to each guest as they left. The host would also give gifts to the winners of any games or contests that took place.
            This practice carried over into the later medieval period with guests bringing gifts for their hosts. Presents were often also given to churches and monasteries.

He Sees You When You’re Sleeping…well, with one eye anyway

Santa Claus, that jolly old elf, is in actuality another remnant of the Norse tradition. For the old man dressed in furs with his sled pulled by reindeer bears a remarkable resemblance to Odin. Odin had a long white beard. Odin wore furs. Odin had a sled pulled by fire-breathing goats. Okay, that’s a bit different but really, how commercially appealing is a fire breathing goat?

Enter the Turkish Knight

So what did folks actually do when celebrating Christmas? Visiting was popular. Households would open their doors tot heir neighbours and friends. Some people would put on masks and costumes and go from door to door performing short plays. (The Turkish Knight is a traditional mummer character.) The holiday season was a time of role reversal and men would dress like women and a Lord of Misrule would be appointed. Young boys were made bishops for the duration and lords gave their servants gifts (usually new clothes).
            People would also carol dance, where a song leader would sing a verse of a song and the dancers around him would sing back the chorus. People put on plays, played instruments, enjoyed games such as chess, merrills and cards and generally carried on. The Norse would go skiing or skating. And fight. Them Norse liked to fight, though during jul all fights were to the first blood only (upon pain of banishment).

Those twelve days I keep referring to

Christmas celebrations were a weeklong affair that began on December 26 and ended on February 6.

Boxing Day. This day took its name from the habit of masters giving their servants their gift in a box (though I have also heard that it was from the poor boxes in churches being emptied and its contents handed out). It is also known as St. Stephen’s Day, who was a rather unlucky saint. When captured by soldiers in Scandinavia, and about to escape, a wren gave him away. In Sweden he was killed by brigands and had his body tied to his horse, which galloped home. This is also the day when most mummer’s plays are performed.

Mother Night. This day is in honour of Mother Holle, also called Mother Christmas and Frau Gode. Mother Holle was a kindly woman who would ride in a sleigh pulled by dogs delivering gifts. The Christians tried to demonize her and said she stole the souls of unbaptized children. Her reputation was too strong and she lives still in some Christmas celebrations today. The Saxons called this night Modranicht.

Holy Innocent’s Day. A day in memoriam of the children killed by Herod in his attempts to slay Christ. It was thought to be an unlucky day, and that any task begun on it was doomed to remain incomplete. It was on this day that the boy-bishops were appointed. An interesting aspect of this day was the beatings. Yes, parents beat their children, husband and wife beat each other and servants beat their masters. However, these beatings were often only symbolic and done using an evergreen branch.

The Feast of Fools. A day of mad revelry, led by the Lord of Misrule. It was a time of dancing, more role reversal, bawdy humour and nighttime runs through the streets.

Bringing in the Boar. Though boars became almost extinct in England by 1185, the tradition of parading with a boar or boar’s head continued in ritual fashion at many universities. This harkens back to the Norse (remember them?) and their killing of Baldur’s favourite animal. The god Frey was a fan of boars too, and even rode one named Gulli-burstin through the sky.

New Year’s Eve. It is thought that this is the day that Druids would cut their mistletoe, and that practice may have given the day its Scottish name Hogmanay. Mummers were active on this day, and it was a time of cleaning, of finishing unfinished work and of preparing to face the new year (at least it was for those in the later medieval period).

New Year’s Day. A day to say, “Hey, we made it through another year!” The Saxons would go wassailing trees to drive away evil spirits. To do this they would make a brew of cider or fruit with beer or ale as its base. They would sprinkle this at the base of the trees (and likely imbibe a lot of it at the same time). Not content with trees, the wassailers would travel from abode to abode and wish folks good heath (which is what wassail means) and be given alms for their troubles. (Getting tipsy and being given money for it. Good deal.) Many peoples also tried their hand at divination on this day, to see what the coming year held for them.

Snow Day. My source has not much to say about this day other than that it is a time to reflect on snow. Probably while drinking, playing dice and singing bawdy songs.

Evergreen Day. A day to contemplate evergreens? Pass the wassail pot, will ya.

St. Distaff’s Day. Not much a holiday for the women of the middle ages, it was on this day that they had to go back to work. The men folk didn’t have to for another four days and they thought it fun to try and burn the flax and hemp their ladies were trying to spin. (Burning again.) The women thanked the men for their fine jape by throwing buckets of water on them.

Eve of Epiphany. This day is for the contemplation of the Magi and their gifts. There’s a lot of contemplation, isn’t there?

Twelfth Night. The last day of Christmas, by its end all of the decorations should be taken down and—as you can likely guess—burned. This day was a grand day of feasting and partying. (Though if the women went back to work two days earlier, I wonder what they thought about this. I hope they got to take part in the festivities because I bet they had to clean up afterward.)

Medieval Celebrations in the Current Middle Ages

In the SCA you have likely been to a 12th Night which is presided over by a King and a Queen of Fools, and you’re local chapter has likely held a wassail (or Christmas party). This year why not try to incorporate more medieval practices into your SCA, and even your mundane, Christmas celebrations. Make some wassail brew, maybe some frumenty (but give the principal pudding a wide berth) or some small gifts you can hand out to your friend as twelfth night gifts. You could put on a mummer’s play, sing some period carols or decorate your tree with more traditional items (like apples). Just be careful with the matches, ok?


Bring A Torch - Christmas Traditions Of The Middle Ages, Sir Guillaume de la Belgique

Christmas in the Middle Ages, Catherine Salton

Julfest, Garfield Matson

Medieval Christmas Traditions

On Christmas in the Middle Ages, Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester


The Winter Solstice, John Matthews (Quest Books: Wheaton, IL, 1998)
“Past the Tower Guard, Third Hole on your Right”: Medieval Toilets

Colyne Stewart, Nov AS XXXVII (2002)

Those that know me know that I have a bit of an obsession with bathrooms. Not through choice but through necessity have I visited a great many and spent hours and hours of my life sitting upon porcelain thrones. In fact, the van der Eychs have a WC plaque on the bathroom in their keep, which they say stands for “Welcome Colyne.” So it was only natural for me to think one day, “With this stomach disorder of mine, what would life have been like for me back in period? Where would I have gone potty?”
            The answer depends on exactly what period we’re looking at. Roman garrisons had communal bathrooms that were basically trenches you would stand at next to your buddies (not unlike some American sports arenas today). Likewise in the more ‘civilized’ Roman world, people were more communal when it came to voiding. Bathrooms were unisex and toilets were long stone benches with strategically placed holes. When you were done you would clean yourself with a sponge on a stick, and then wash your hands in a bucket of water. All the waste produced would then flow through the sewer to the river.
            I’m not sure what the Norse did their business in, but to clean afterwards they used moss or bits of clothing (hopefully not clothing they were still wearing).
            In later period once castles were in vogue we saw the advent of the garderobe. Garderobe were basically semi-private ‘poop-chutes’ that stuck out over the castle walls. Picture a stone port-a-potty suspended over the top of a castle wall with a hole in the floor. Waste would plummet to the ground and some poor souls would periodically have to move it around to try to combat the stink. Often strange holes or chutes can be seen on the external walls of castles and these are, as you might have guessed, often garderobe vents. Waste sent hurtling outside of castle walls would often find its way into moats, which would be a deterrent to invaders all on its own. According to one source, farmers would sometimes collect the waste to spread on their fields.
            Servants would clean the garderobes with buckets of water and cloths. As for the garderobe patrons, there was no such thing as toilet paper. Straw or hay bundles called “torche-culs” would have to suffice. Unless they wanted to use the “gomphus”—a curved stick.
            In monasteries they were more Roman in their attitudes and would sit back to back on benches that dropped waste in water tunnels connected to some sort of sewer. The monks had to have strong bladders though, as they were only allowed to ‘go’ at certain times of the day.
            The well-to-do had water closets in their manors. These were small rooms where one could do their business, but which did not have any type of sanitation system. It was up to the closet-keeper to keep the water closet clean. To cut down on smells they would place green sheets over the seats. (Why green? You got me.)
            As for the commoner, the peasants, the serf? Nothing beats sand. Or dirt. Good old dirt. If they were at home they had a chamber pot whose contents would be tossed out a window after a suitable warning had been called. In France it was “gardez l'eau” (which gave birth to our term ‘loo’).
            By the late 1400s traveling cesspool cleaners began to appear, called night men. How much could a night man expect to make for his toil? A bill from 1494 shows that two shillings a ton were paid to have a six-ton cesspool emptied! In Scotland enterprising sanitation engineers would wander the streets with a bucket calling “Wha wants me for a bawbee?” As a customer squatted over the bucket the bucket owner would cover them with a giant cloak to grant them a modicum of privacy.
            Hhhmm. Now I’m considering taking a bucket and a cloak to Pennsic next year. Forget the lineups at the port-a-castles, I gotta nice bucket here.
            Then again, maybe not. The Jorvik Viking Centre,

The Castle Page of James M. Deem,

RomanceEverAfter: Medieval Health and Sanitation,

Toilets through the Ages,
On Friday, December 6 Corwyn and Domhnail Galbraith held a tree trimming party featuring booze, egg nog and chili. The chili was made with turkey and was amazing. There were quite a few people in attendance including Katerina du nord, Seonag and Streonwold, Len and his lady, Robyn O’Connor and family, Gaerwen, Aenaes and Abihlin, Angus and Ysabeau, Master Hector, Lasarfhina, Gunnar Truthsinger and many more. Lasarfhina, a member of House Fenrir, told us she had been watching our careers and was much impressed. She said we were fun folks and that Fenrir liked fun folks. I think she may have been feeling us out.
        Robyn and I clearer up some financial matters (which we had started the night before at my work), and the Ursus’ finances seem to be all in order now.
        The party was a lot of fun but both of us were feeling tired so we left at 11:30. (Of course, we had been there since 5.)
The following Monday at Ardchreag’s meeting there was a quick business meeting to discuss aspects of Snowed Inn planning. It was over quickly and folks moved on to other activities. Thorfinna worked on chain mail, Mahault and Gailana worked on their dresses, Lina did some embroidery, while others worked on similar crafts and talked the while. There were three young newcomers that night and I (and others) talked to them for a long time, showing them armour and weapons as all three are interested in getting into fighting.
Kenric, Ymir and I suited up and we each fought the others once. (The cold was hurting my wrist, and Kenric had to work hard and fast against Ymir and that tired him out. Usually we all three would have lasted much longer.) I fought Kenric first and was doing alright, but not fabulous. As things progressed I was getting better and was blocking a fair number of blows. We actually had some of those fights where shots fly for thirty seconds before one manages to land. Siegfried was on hand was giving me pointers, so Kenric asked if this was wrestling or what. So Isotta came over to his corner and starting coaching him and he and I began to bad mouth each other and bump stomachs. Earlier, when the three newbies came down, we showed them what not to do when fighting and pushed each other with our shields, punched each other with basket hilts, kicked each other in the shins. (All in play, of course.)
Ymir I fought while he did two stick. I’ve fought two stickers before but not for a long time. When we first engaged he kept getting through my guard until Thorfinna called out for me to move my shield over more to my sword side. D’uh. That should have been self-evident. Anyway, after I did that the fighting became much more even and I think we were about even on the wins. At one point he had dropped me to my knees and was standing back poking at me with his left sword, trying to get me to swing at his leg, which he had stuck out. I just sat there and let him poke me then lashed out and took that arm. He looked surprised for a second, then laid on again. It was sweet. I found the best thing to do was to press him but make him swing first. He would often swing his right sword first, which I would block with my shield, then block his left with my sword, and then bring mine up at his head. Perfect theory. Sometimes it even worked.
My right pauldron broke, off a glancing shot. My left is fine even though Kenric hit it soundly (leaving me my Christmas bruise). Over the next few weeks, when there will be no Ardchreag fight practice, I will have to repair it, as well as my right hip flap (which also broke) and oil all my straps.
After stripping the kit I went over to socialize. Looked over Mahault’s newest TankArd (which was 52 pages long, and mostly stuff I had written-again), and Marian’s CD which Piero had brought us. People slowly trickled out and we hugged Katerina goodbye who was off for home on the 16th (therefore missing a whole whack of Christmas parties). Piero, Thorfinna, Iolanda, Lina and I stood about talking of Lord of the Rings until I began to turn off lights and heaters and everyone got the hint that it was time to go home.
Upon returning home I received Hector’s recruitment ad for the Ursus. He plans on raising his own mercenary unit to fight with Septentria at Pennsic this year. Sounds like a lot of fun, but I think I’ll be fighting right for the Barony. Not sure though. There are plans afoot to have oath-sworn and non-oath sworn Isen during this new reign. Maybe I’ll go non-oath sworn and fight with Hector. That could be cool.

Ghosts of Yule
By Colyne Stewart, Dec AS XXXVII
Based on Charles Dickin’s “A Christmas Carol”

Once there lived on the Cliffs of Ardchreag a miserable old miser. He was a twisted husk of a man, with long wispy hair and a hawkish nose whose lined face had not known a smile for many, many years. Originally from Italy he still wore his courtier’s garb, but it was neglected and holes were worn through it in many places. For a home he had a grand manor, though he refused to staff it or maintain it. The grounds were over run with dark trees and choking bushes. The house was dimly lit, the fireplace, when lit, belching thick greasy smoke. No one knew what had made this man, called Barbus, behave this way. He had been so as far back as any of the cliff dwellers could remember. All year round he was arrogant, mean and foul tempered. At Yule he was at his worst, for the joy and delight others felt at that time of year only seemed to stoke the fires of his anger and loathing.
            Barbus owned the local flourmill, and employed several of the poorer members of the populace. Poorer, as Barbus was a stingy and greedy employer who hated to part with a single penny. A mangy donkey was also often employed to turn the wheel whenever the human workers took their all too infrequent breaks. Barbus had heard of using a windmill to turn the wheel, but refused to pay to have one installed. If he did not love money more than he hated Yule he would have closed up shop in December. Most of the flour he ground was used to bake treats in Yulish celebrations, an act he abhorred. Still, money was money.
            On the day before the winter solstice, Barbus was paid a visit by Brandt das Lederwerker, the local castellan. Brandt, as part of his duties, had come to invite the old miser to a Yule party to be held at the canton’s grand keep. As was his wont in year’s past, Barbus declined, going so far as to throw a piece of coal at the good castellan. Brandt, being a chivalrous fellow, ignored this show of ill temper, wished Barbus a prosperous Yule and left. Thankful the irksome castellan was gone, Barbus began to yell at his workers, whom he considered lazy, when there was another knock at the mill’s door.
            This time the opened portal revealed Her Grace, Duchess Eanor of Amberhall. Barbus quickly sketched a perfunctory bow as the Duchess told him she was collecting items to distribute to those less fortunate members of the populace. As she went on she noticed Barbus’ face getting darker and darker until finally she stammered to a halt. Very slowly, Barbus closed the door in her face.
            “Gods!” he railed, “Why am I to suffer the attentions of fools!” He kicked at his donkey for a moment, and felt better for it.
            When the day was done, and Barbus finally let his workers leave, he shuffled through the snow towards his own abode. When he arrived he climbed up the stairs and sat before a fireplace, which contained just enough fuel to burn lowly and not a twig more. As he sat he nibbled on some crumbly cheese and sipped a cup of tepid tea. Soon his head began to nod and he was almost asleep when he heard a strange noise. Rousing, he stood and glanced about the shadowed room.
            “Who is there?” he called, picking up a cane. “Come out or so help me you will receive a thrashing as you have never had before.”
            Slowly a figure appeared in the darkness by the window, advancing upon him. Barbus squinted as he thrust a candle forward, trying to perceive the stranger’s face. The candle’s light illuminated a tall man dressed in rags, and the wall behind him, for the light passed through his body as if he was not there at all.
            “Greetings,” said the specter. “Greetings, Barbus.”
            “Who are you?” stammered the old man. “What do you want here?”
            “I have come bearing a warning,” said the spirit, smiling to reveal rotted teeth. “A warning from beyond, to change your ways before you end up as I.”
            “And who may you be, sir?” Barbus asked quietly.
            “I am known to all and sundry who dwell on the High Cliffs. My name is Ruprecht, called the Cockentrice.”
            Barbus gasped. Here before him stood the most vile and despicable man to ever call the cliffs home. The Cockentrice, named after a pork and fowl food dish, had been a rich merchant who was renowned for his cruelty and violent nature. He was greedy, as a pig, and as foul as a bird. When he had died none had mourned and his body had been tossed in a bog.
            Ruprecht told Barbus of the horrors he had suffered after death, of the toil and pain inflicted upon him by those some call devils, and other valkeries. Pointing a wormy finger, the Cockentrice told Barbus that those tormenting creatures had been discussing his own soul as of late. If he did not change his ways he too would end up as a plaything for the horned and winged ones.
            The miser was not inclined to believe such nonsense, and told Ruprecht to be off. With a small smile the Cockentrice told him that he would be visited by three spirits that night, who would come in guises of those known to him. With a final leering grin the specter suddenly vanished.
            Finding himself alone, Barbus began to disbelieve what he had just seen. The Cockentrice was long dead; he could not have just been in his room.
            A small laugh made Barbus swing around. Standing by the fireplace stood a young woman dressed in white. She held a broom in one hand and a firey glow surrounded her head like a nimbus.
“Katerina du nord?” said Barbus, naming one of the Cliffs newest members.
Smiling she walked towards him saying, “Nay, though I have appeared in her image. I am the Ghost of Yules Past. I have come to show you yours.” So saying she took hold of his hand and they floated through his closed window and up into the night sky. As they flew Barbus watched the ground slip past beneath them. His eyes boggled as he saw houses slowly unbuild themselves, fields grow over with tall trees and bridges shrink to nothing. Soon the cliffs looked much as they had when he had been a lad, just arrived from Italy. In those days Ardchreag had not existed as its own entity yet, but were lands claimed by the far off citie of Eoforwic. Still, many had lived along the bluffs and it was to these wild lands that Barbus had come as a young man.
The ghostly Katerina took him to a port, where several ships bobbed in icy waters. Upon reaching a large warehouse, she instructed him to look inside. Doing so he saw a great party underway. People danced and sang and caroused; the walls were hung with torches, evergreen and red berries. Tables were laden with food and minstrels pranced through the dancing crowd, plucking at instruments and singing. Dragging him through the wall, Katerina pointed out a solitary figure in a corner patching a fishing net. Barbus recognized the young man as himself. Whenever someone came over to the young Barbus and asked him to dance, or tried to engage him in conversation or a game, he would sneer at them and drive them off.
“You were a lonely boy,” said the ghost.
“Yes,” acknowledged Barbus. “No one else really liked me.”
“What I see is a boy afraid to like anyone else, in the fear that upon knowing him, they may not like him.” Katerina looked into Barbus’ bleak eyes. “You were alone because you wanted to be alone.”
Before Barbus could refute her statement, a young woman came and sat beside his younger self.
“Alone except for her,” continued Katerina. “The one who loved you, whom you drove away.”
The scene about them changed as the two young people embraced and aged. Soon they were standing along the edge of the cliffs, hand in hand, now not a young man and woman, but a man and a woman. As Barbus and the ghost watched the woman and the past Barbus had an argument over money, for Barbus refused to pay for a wedding. Their voices raised and finally the woman stalked off, crying, and Barbus choked as he remembered that Yule, so long ago, when he had lost his only love through his passion for coin. The past Barbus took a sprig of holly off his breast and threw it from the cliff.
Crying now himself, Barbus turned to Katerina to find himself standing once again in his room. He wiped his face with the sash of his dressing gown when he again heard a laugh. This one came from downstairs and was deep and resounding. Cautiously, he walked down the stairs and found a fire lit in the main fireplace. The room was hung with decorations and a pile of food and toys lay on the floor. Sitting atop this treasure was Wulfgang Donnerfaust, dressed in a green robe trimmed with white fur. He held a burning torch and wore an evergreen crown adorned with candles on his head. Barbus knew this was not really Wulfgang, but the second ghost.
“I am the Ghost of Yule Present,” said the spirit, confirming the old man’s thoughts. “I have come to show you what you miss.” Standing up the giant man strode towards the manor’s doors and flung them wide. With a large hand he waved Barbus outside.
Stepping out into the night, Barbus followed Wulfgang down the streets of Ardchreag’s main settlement until they reached the Middlefield Keep. Banging open the door, Wulfgang ushered Barbus inside where a grand party was underway. Candles and fires flared, food lay everywhere and the sounds of merriment filled the air. Barbus saw almost all the populace of the canton crammed within the keep’s walls. There was Iolanda de Albornoz, quaffing great quantities of fermented milk; and there was Thorfinna gra’feldr and Mahault van der Eych laughing as they tossed axes at targets on the wall. Colyne Stewart and Eirik Andersen were bent over a game board while behind them Wat of Sarum and Lina Carville were dancing a jig. William the Younger flourished a new sword, Siegfried Brandbeorn and Isotta Giangfliazzi led others in black nag, Vlad and Brandt discussed armour, Rosalinde strode bearing trays of steaming hot cookies. Everywhere the populace was engaged in activities that brought them merriment.
“You could be here,” said Wulfgang, “instead of home alone.”
“They would not want me here,” muttered Barbus. “I am despised.”
“Not true,” responded the ghost. “If you were not wanted here, would you have been personally invited to attend? Listen, even now they talk of you.”
In a corner Piero di Paxiti da Vincenza and Marian of Heatherdale were indeed speaking of Barbus, wishing that he had come and spent the season among friends instead of alone.
“Among friends?” whispered Barbus.
“Indeed,” said Wulfgang. “Do not be so quick to assume that you are disliked. Now come, we have another party to see this night.”
Once again the ghost led Barbus through the streets until they reached an orphanage. Inside, Eanor of Amberhall and several others were distributing toys and clothes to the children. A creeping feeling of guilt assailed Barbus as he saw their little faces light up as each received a small gift.
“So little makes them so happy,” he said. “And I who have so much am so unhappy. With my money I could have given them much, much more.”
The ghost said nothing, placing a heavy hand on Barbus’ shoulder. When the old man reached up to touch it, it felt chill. Looking at his shoulder he saw naught but a small pile of snow. Spinning around he again found himself in his rooms.
“This has been a very odd night,” he said. “I suppose soon I will see the final spirit.”
As if his words had summoned it, an armour clad figure, visor obscuring its face, spring from the gloom. A white hooded tabard rustled as it approached.
“You would be the Ghost of Yules Yet to Come?” asked Barbus. He was answered by a silent nod. “You have come to show me my future?” Again there was a nod. “Then led on, spirit, for I am not afraid.”
Fog began to pour from the holes in the figure’s visor and soon the room was wrapped in it. When it finally blew clear Barbus found himself standing before the Middlefield Keep. No music could be heard, nor laughter. A half burnt log lay in the snow by the doors.
“What is this?” he asked. “What manner of Yule has no singing, no music?” The armoured ghost pointed at the doors, which blew open. Hesitantly, Barbus crept inside.
Within he found the keep in disarray. Tables were over turned and chairs were choked by cobwebs. Standing looking over the mess were two figures Barbus did not recognize.
“A shame,” said the first, who wore a golden crown. “It was such a good canton.”
“These thing happen, Excellency,” said the second, who wore a kingdom badge.
“Damn,” said the Baron. “If only that miser had not bled the lands dry. The populace could have stayed…”
“As it is the populace does not want to stay. There are too many bad memories.”
Sighing, the Baron said, “Let’s get this over with. Burn it down.”
Barbus retreated outside, cringing and close to tears. He clutched at the ghost’s tabard and rasped, “It cannot be! Say it is not so! I cannot be responsible for the death of Ardchreag! It was my first home here!”
Ignoring his entreaties, the ghost took his elbow and dragged him back into the fog. When they emerged once more they stood before the orphanage, its doors barred. The point made the ghost forceabaly shoved Barbus into the fog again, this time to emerge on the edge of a bog.
Standing knee deep in water Barbus looked up into the ghost’s unseen face. “Why are we here? Here, of all places?”
Silently, the ghost pointed at the dark slimy water by Barbus’s feet. Something was floating on the surface. Reaching out with a tentative hand, Barbus pulled up the edge of a black burlap sack. The sack was heavy, its load pulling it underwater.
“No,” whispered Barbus.
The ghost nodded.
“No,” he repeated. The ghost placed a cold gauntleted hand on the back of his neck, and, crying, Barbus pulled open the sack. Inside he saw a body, one that wore his face.
With a strangling cry Barbus stumbled backwards and fell into the freezing water. He felt hands grabbing at his ankles, pulling him down and he struggled and splashed until he found himself sitting up in his bath at home. He felt himself all over, then jumped up and ran to the window throwing it open.
Down in the street a boy dressed in heavy woolen tunics was passing.
“Boy!” called Barbus. “What day is this?”
The boy looked frightened at being addressed by someone with Barbus’ reputation but said, “The winter solstice, sir.”
“I did not miss it,” whispered Barbus. “And I can change.” To the boy he said, “Take this purse, and buy me food and toys and clothes. Meet me back here and there’s more in it for you.”
As he caught the tossed purse in his hand the boy, emboldened, asked, “What is it all for, sir?”
“For those less fortunate than you or I, my lad,” was the answer.
Tying the pouch to his belt the boy said, “Then I’ll do it for nothing, sir.” And off he ran.
Barbus quickly groomed himself, and finding that all his clothes were in a sorry state, ran straight off to a tailor’s. Within an hour he had returned wearing bright new garb in greens and reds and whites. He found the boy, and many more besides, standing in his yard holding many packages. More lay in wagons.
“That was quite the purse, sir,” said the boy. “I had to get some of the lads to help me carry it all.”
“Good thinking, my boy,’ said Barbus. “We shall need the help to distribute it all. This way.” So saying Barbus led the strange parade down the streets towards the orphanage where he found Her Grace handing out toys. She seemed dumbfounded when Barbus arrived with his gifts, but cheerfully accepted them. Smiling, she, Barbus and his lads gave all the orphans gifts. Then, Barbus had them all travel with him to the Middlefield Keep where they found Brandt, Wulfgang and others preparing for the Yule. More gifts were handed out, and Barbus had food brought in for the feast. The word spread of the old miser’s change of heart and the entire populace gathered that night to celebrate.
From that day forward Barbus was a changed man. He was kind, gentle and generous and made it a point to travel each Yule upon his donkey to deliver toys and clothes to the underprivileged of the land. As time passed he became stout, growing a beard and wearing the green and white of the Ghost of Yule Present. To this day the legend of Barbus is still told, though often in different ways.

A Happy Yule to All.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Cochrane, Jennifer" <>
To: "'Colyne Stewart'" <>
Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2002 12:49 PM
Subject: RE: [Ardchreag] Yuletime story

> Greetings Lord Colyne,


> I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your story.  I actually have

> tears in my eyes.  Something about "A Christmas Carol" always tugged at my

> heart strings, especially when the old miser starts jumping around and being

> kind to everyone.  Your version is most enjoyable as I can picture the

> various members of Ardchreag in the story as you tell it.  You have quite a

> talent!


> A happy yule to you and yours!


> Wulfwyn of Greenhithe

On Dec 23rd Ardchreag hosted its last fight practice of 2002. There was no meeting, just some battlin’. Thorfinna, Wat, Wulfgang, Kenric, Brandt and I suited up and I had what was one of my best fight practices yet. First I fought Wat and did pretty good. He told me at the end of the night that he had had a tough time fighting me. Thorfinna was admittedly off her game that night with an aching arm that left her blows without strength. She would hit the mark, but not hard enough. This is exactly what usually happens to me with my arm pains. I kept finding the slot between her sword and shield and was one shotting her until she adjusted. She got a lot of power in one shot that pushed my shield back into my helm and crushed my thumb. It had a noticeable bruise and was stiff for days afterwards. Kenric whupped me as usual though I think I did pretty well against him. Brandt I fought twice. The first time he was using a sword and a mace. I actually did pretty well against him because he kept forgetting his mace was not as long as his sword so he would under-extend himself when striking or blocking. I just kept my shield square on him (like fighting any two-stick opponent) and waited for him to throw. If his shot was with his mace I’d try to block with my sword, then bring it back in for a hit on him. Something else I kept doing was stepping back as I threw a shot to take me out of his mace’s range. The second time we fought he used a gladius and his mace, and I used a centre-boss round shield for the first time. These fights I did very well. I took to the round right away and did not really have too much trouble with Brandt. He now had no range whatsoever, so keeping back, swinging a lot, meant more wins than losses for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment