Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Everyone in Rain Cloaks (Spring Tune-Up, May 24, 2003)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

The day began wet and cold. This was not a good thing. Though the wise women and soothsayers had indeed been calling for rain we had been hoping they would be wrong (as the not infrequently are). For the canton of Caer Draeth was holding a revel that day, and much of the planned activities were for outdoors. Rain would ruin their plans. I consulted with one last prognosticator who promised thunderstorms and chose to ignore him. Thorfinna and I loaded our wagon in the rain and lumbered off to pick Eirik up from his keep.

The going was slow as the wagons laboured to move through the mud, and at times the mist and fog was so thick it was like moving through foam. We arrived at the hall two hours after it opened and were dismayed at how few wagons were already there. The threat of bad weather had apparently frightened many people off.

After signing in at the gate we went upstairs and sat for a time talking with Baron Auguste Valizan, Baroness Adrielle Kerrec and Baron Halfdan Blackanvil. Some of it was business, but most of it was fun. We watched Mistress Alyce de Sheppey and Lady Paitlin prepare for the Iron Chef cooking challenge while discussing matters serious and frivolous. To Halfdan I delivered an illuminated thank you note for shield blanks he had donated to fighters training at our canton.

A gaggle of Septentrians then went downstairs and watched as Baron Corwyn, His Excellency Septentria, donned his armour. Today he was to attempt his sword and shield authorization.

How can I describe the sight of my baron in armour? He is a mountain of metal, a bear in scarlet, an oak-thewed giant who will strike fear into the hearts of Septentria's enemies.

Lady Catharine of Ben Dunfiorth did him the honours of being his opponent, and we watched as their swords flashed and their shields leaped to their defense. When Master Worgan MacGregor announced that Corwyn had passed the hall erupted in cheers and thunderous applause. That however was not the end of Septentria's gains that day, for Petra Hall of Eoforwic did likewise authorize in sword and shield! Wassail to Corwyn! Wassail to Petra! Wassail to the fighters of Septentria!

His authorization over, Baron Corwyn quickly changed and rushed upstairs to sit as a judge for the Iron Chef competition. A group of Septentrians, known as Baron Corwyn's Cadre, and led by countess Marion FitzWilliam and myself, raised $170 to secure him a seat as a judge. Even though we only needed to use $80 to pay for our seat, such is the generosity of Septentrians that the full $170 was donated to the Teachers' Travel Fund. In a like vein, Noergate donated all the money they had raised, though their seat had been secured for less. The mystery ingredient for the challenge was turkey and the competition was fierce. When it was over Mistress Alyce was judged the winner, but only by a narrow margin of 4 points! (I am told by reliable sources that all the dishes were excellent!)

The fighting continued and by the end of the day three fighters emerged victorious. Baron Siegfriend Brandbeorn won the Atlantean Speed Tourney, while Master Worgan and Duke Sir Roak tied in the bear pit tourney.

By this time the sun had appeared and burned off the ever-present mist. The archers were first to embrace the sun, followed not long after by Drottin Gunnarr skald Thorvaldsson who set up a thrown weapons range. As his newest marshals, Thorfinna and I assisted him and spent most of our day at the range. The first Thrown Weapons Royal Rounds were thrown, Cera began her MIT training and much fun was had by all. A certain Lord Tim and Count Aaron Preslee Worgansson astounded all present with their skill. Lance Gailanasson, of Ardchreag, was also very adept at knives. The range was so popular that Ulvar scrounged up as third stump so more people could throw at once.

I managed to get to the archery range between their Royal Rounds and shot six arrows from a bow lent me by Lady Iolanda de Albornoz. I managed to hit the butte with five of the arrows, three of them actually hitting the target! It had been at least fifteen years since I had last shot a bow, and I so enjoyed it that arrangements were made for me to buy two bows in August.

Eventually the equestrian activities began as well and every activity that had been planned was therefore held. Ealdormerean spirits cannot be dampened, even by weather that does dampen our clothes.

At four o'clock Thorfinna and I went inside as I was to teach a class on period dice games. It started small, with just one participant, but by the end there were at least eight of us rolling the bones.

From there Thorfinna and I went behind the celtic trillium bedecked curtains to join the other servers for feast. As we had the most head table serving experience (having done it once at Snowed Inn II), we were asked to serve Her Majesty, Their Excellencies and Baron Siegfried and Lady Isotta Gianfgliazzi, who were Her Majesty's guests. The chef, Lady Seonag nic Thomais, heaped much food on the servers for their assistance and I can say from first hand experience that it truly was a feast fit for a Queen! Orange pork roast, mint peas, roast chicken, mushroom soup, pound cake with berries...the food just kept coming!

While we were serving Thorfinna was called on by Their Excellencies to sing a song. Since she had been planning to ask them if they wanted to hear one she was well prepared. She sung "Septentrian Battle March", her first totally original piece where she wrote not just the words but the tune as well. Lord Normand Hauberkker, sitting by her where she stood, began to pound his table and soon many around the hall were doing so. When she was done there was much clapping of hands, and she was given tokens by Baron Corwyn and Master Garraed Galbriath. Master Hector of the Black Height also sang many songs to the enjoyment of all.

A certain plaid wearing bard who wished to stay anonymous then asked Thorfinna to find out what drink Their Majesties would most wish to partake in. When he got his answer he came to me, pointed and said, "You'll do." I was given a platter with two Septentrian shot glasses full of gin, which I then presented to Their Excellencies. When asked who had generously sent them drinks I kept my silence and did not betray the completely anonymous plaid wearing bard.

As you give, so shall you receive. Ulvar then came over to me and filled the Horn of Wessex which Thorfinna and I have the privilege to bear for a year and a day. We were honoured for Ulvar, the autocrat of the event, to take time out to see to our needs.

Feast completed we all found our seats for court. Her Majesty has only a few items to announce, and then turned court over to Their Excellencies Septentria. It was announced that a tournament to select a new baronial archery champion had been held in the afternoon, but that the winner would not be announced until Pikeman's Pleasure. The Iron Companions were then called into court and Lord Hamish Gunn pledged his sword, Gunnarr pledged his axe, and Normand and Aodhan Longshafts pledged their bows. Domhnail then called Corwyn into court to much hooting and hollering. She praised him for his authorization that day and presented him with a beautiful favour. Hans Thorvaldsen of Eoforwic was then presented with a Bear's Claw for his martial efforts. Domhnail told him she had heard of the long ship being built in his garage and was planning to sail it to War this summer!

Court completed Master Worgan and Viscount Sir Edward the Red rounded up people to act as pieces for human chess. In the variant they were playing pieces must win at paper-rocks-scissors to capture. Thorfinna held the distinction of being the first piece captured. As for myself, well, a grinning Domhnail glided towards me where I stood before my king and brutally slew me to win the game.

Folk pulled up the tape used to mark the board and rolled it into balls. This led to about an hour's worth of impromptu baseball and dodge ball where Peer and untitled populace stood side-by-side laughing and bonding.

It was then that we learned of brigands who had entered the hall while we were so occupied and stole the bag of one of the guests. Those of us still on site searched the grounds to see if we could find any discarded items but to no avail (other than finding his empty wallet). The authorities were called and before the last people left the site they returned with the culprits in tow and much of the stolen property. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ulvar for his cool head in such a stressful time as he made arrangements with the authorities and helped see to the comfort of the victim of this crime. Ulvar did not find his bed until well into Sunday morning as he coordinated between witnesses, the victim and the authorities. Wassail Ulvar for your kindness and sense of duty and responsibilities!

Though this was a dark moment, it too had a positive side. People who had never met each other before were working together to search the site, going so far as to go to pubs and restaurants in town and walk the streets looking for the culprits (whose appearance was known to at least one witness). From the amount of help he received the victim knows how much he is respected and just how many friends he has.

I should stress that this unhappy happenstance does not reflect on any way to the event, the event staff nor the hosting canton. The culprits walked right past many of us who either didn't see them or didn't challenge them, and it was the event staff who went out of their way to try to resolve this as quickly and as painlessly as they could. Wassail for Caer Draeth!


Except for this one moment it was a grand day, and Caer Draeth proved that they are excellent and generous hosts. Spring tune-Up has just ended, and already I am looking forward to the next!

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