Lady Thorfinna gra’feldr
Reprinted from The TankArd #57
It was with the usual lethargic feeling that I arose to prepare for the day’s event. My lord and I were both feeling tired and drained from a lingering illness and had this day’s event been something other than the return of the once lost Feast of the Bear, we might have chosen to remain at our keep – especially considering the deluge of rain that we awoke to. But this was Feast of the Bear, hosted in the Royal Citie of Eoforwic at Casa Loma, a Septentrian tradition revived at a long sought after site. And it was the event at which my lord wished to challenge into the White Bear Fian.
So, I searched through my garb for something to wear, and considering that it was raining heavily and that I had heard the stables at Casa Loma were usually cool and somewhat draughty, I went with layers – an under tunic, over dress and Viking apron, with my wool cloak along just in case it was really cold. But first, I had to be sure I had all my fighting gear assembled, for I planned on entering the buckler tourney – my first ‘one on one’ style of tourney - and participating in the ‘White Bear Fian Action’. Of course, I didn’t have my own buckler (though admittedly, my centre boss round isn’t much bigger than a buckler) but fortunately I just happened to know that Lord and Lady Van der Eych had received one as a gift at their recent handfasting and was able to borrow theirs. I felt the smallest twinge of guilt at being the first one to use their gift, but it went away. <g>
Then, once my lord and I were both prepared, our ride arrived. We were traveling this day with Sir Evander, who had an inside man at the event and a guaranteed parking spot right next to the stables. This was an offer we didn’t want to refuse! Not only would we only have to drag our armour a short distance, but I didn’t have to drive! I have decided that I like being a passenger.
So we arrived at the stables, which looked marvelous and very castle-like for being only the stables, and then discovered that the reserved parking had actually been reserved for a lot of people. A trek across muddy grass amidst a sea of cars in the pouring rain brought back memories of Pennsic, but at last we snuck into a corner and unloaded our gear.
Because of the rain, everything naturally had to be indoors, which meant a very small and crowded room full of armour bags. My lord had decided very quickly upon arriving that he was not going to be able to fight, as the damp was inflaming his tendonitis and experience has taught him not to fight when his arms are sore. So it was just going to be me. I was nervous about fighting to start with, but now I was even more so. But I had already arranged to borrow the buckler, and I had come to the event with the intention of fighting so darn it, I wasn’t going to let myself wiggle out of it! And I am so glad that I didn’t.
I armoured up right away and added my name to the buckler tourney list. As I saw the names above mine – Sir Seigfried, Sir Ed the Red, Sir Roak, Baron Konrad, and many others of high caliber - I knew there was no hope in Eoforwic of me winning a fight. But I had come to have fun, and realizing that I didn’t have to try to win but just try my best against all these great fighters was very liberating. I suddenly felt better about fighting all these guys and decided to take something positive from the experience. I was ready. And then, oh ironies of ironies, our own Lord Wulfgang joined the tourney and naturally we ended up facing each other first. It always happens, or so I’ve been told. Wulfgang didn’t have a buckler, but I ‘arranged’ for him to borrow Sir Seigfried’s. Lucky for me or else I wouldn’t have had a chance against him.
We faced off and traded blows until we both had four hits each in what was a five counted blows tourney. It all came down to who would get the fifth blow first. In what was probably more luck than skill, I snuck the fifth blow in and thus had my first ever win in my first ever tourney. Then, during the second round, I was called to face Sir Ed the Red, and though I lost to the tall knight, I managed to score one hit against him, and several good blocks that he said he had not expected me to make, so I was very pleased with my performance.
After the buckler tourney it was time for the ‘White Bear Fian Action’ which consisted of the three members of the Fian present holding the field in a bear-pit style tourney of three counted blows. After one cycle through however, it was decided to play it out as a regular fight instead to make the line go faster. I faced all three Fiana – Sir Evander, Sir Ed the Red, and His Excellency Baron Konrad – and though I didn’t win any of the fights, I felt I did well for my first time out and was proud of my effort. I received several positive comments from friends and onlookers, especially on my shieldwork, which I have been working hard at improving. So, all in all, a good fighting experience.
While this was going on, the Royalty Regalia Auction was underway. My lord and I had our agents (in the form of Mahault and Berend) planted amongst the gentles assembled, with instructions to bid on the chess table – to a maximum of $50. We knew there was little chance that it would go that cheap, but we had to try. With the opening bid at $60, we were out before we started, and the result was that the table would return to its home with Countess Arlette where it had been residing up until now.
About this time I had kitted down and was lugging my gear back to the ‘wagon’ when I accidentally miss-stepped on my way out the back door and with a crack and a thud I found myself sprawled on the ground, bruised, bloodied and muddied. I’d missed the step when I put my foot down and had suddenly dropped six inches more than I expected to. Overbalanced by the armour bag over my shoulder, gravity inevitably won the fight and I fell, snapping one slat of the skid with the force of my knee (the bad knee, of course), leaving it skinned raw and bloody. Lord Tormod rushed to my assistance and carried my now mud-caked armour bag to the truck for me, while my lord Colyne (who would not have been able to lift the bag without injuring his arms) fretted over me to make sure I was all right and helped me to the truck. I knew there was nothing serious, no broken bones anyway, but days later the bruises began to appear on my hand, wrist, forearms, knees, side and ribs along with an ache that reminded me that I certainly wasn’t a little kid anymore – skinned knee or no.
That aside, the rest of the event passed in conversation with friends and then, during Baronial Court, Colyne, along with Streonwald, made his challenge to the White Bear Fian and spoke very well of his reasons for doing so. Once the challenge is accepted, to enter into the Fian, one must win two of three tests of martial prowess against the member of the Fian chosen. This will take place at an event in the future, decided upon by the White Bear Fian.
We were not sitting feast at this event (ironic no, not to sit feast at Feast of the Bear?) but went instead to the Golden Stone and had some good Chinese food, though it was beyond effort to get a glass of water from them! We returned to site and waited for
to begin… and waited… and waited… and waited still some more. Dancers
entertained us until at last the procession arrived from feast and Court began.
Several of Eoforwic’s inhabitants received their Award of Arms as did one of
our own – the now Lord William the Younger, who is most deserving of the
recognition. Lady Rosalia received a Maiden’s Heart and whipped up an impromptu
dance session in the middle of Court and Their Majesties were gracious and ‘went
with it’. The evening concluded with the Pelican ceremony for Nicolaa de
Bracton, and many good gentles spoke well on her behalf.
Afterwards, we mingled for a short while and then made the rounds and said our good-byes. I was quite tired by this point, and was very pleased that I did not have to drive home, but could relax and leave that duty to another. And so the day ended around midnight when we arrived home once again after a grand day in Eoforwic.