Thursday 3 October 2013

Floods and the Fian (Pikeman’s Pleasure 16, June 3, 2006)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

The waters of Cynred’s Bath surged with mighty fury, gushing down the spillway and sweeping under the bridge, lapping about the boards. The rain was—at times—torrential, and the waterways of Petrea Thule were swollen and wild. Thusly, many of the festivities for this year’s Pikeman’s Pleasure, the 16th of its line, happened inside.

Þorfinna and I arrived early and were mistaken for Cap’n Bloodfox and Cap’n Widow when we signed in at the gate. We quickly explained the mistake and the Guard of Petrea Thule took off the irons and let us go unfettered. We hauled our gear into the fighting hall, which is an arena in which the mundane locals play a game called ‘hockey.’ We used the visiters bench as an armour dump and changed, having some fun at poor Cadugan’s expense (who is a mighty fine sport).

While we armoured fighters were preparing ourselves, many merchants had set out their wares on the other end of the arena, and some fencers made use of the centre. There was an arts and sciences display somewhere, but I never found it as I stayed on the list field until it was time for feast.

Lady Tarian verch Gadarn arrived just in time for authorizations, and quickly put on her kit. She faced Lord Amelius Claudius Rattanicus in her primary authorization, which I am happy to say she passed. She is, as she beamed, now a real fighter chick. Another member of my canton, Lord William Donovan, authorized in double-handed thrust, pole arm and bastard sword.

After fighting some pick-ups the marshals ran a warlord tourney on a bridge marked out on the floor. My first draw was Her Lupine Highness, Jocea. We dueled mightily, both legging the other, until finally she slipped her sword point into my unarmoured arm pit to slay me, becoming not only my princess, but also my warlord. As the teams of two were set upon each other, Jocea turned to me and remarked that she somehow knew that we would face the team of Sir Edward the Red and Lord Edward dit Lyn, visiting from the East (where he had recently moved). I am ashamed to admit that I failed to protect my princess, and so we became subjects to Lord Edward, our new warlord. Eventually we ended up with three teams, one of them half the size of the other two, but made up mostly of members of the Order of Chivalry. A round robin was proposed, but in the end the small knight heavy team was spilt between the other two. We each took an end of the bridge for a best two out of three final. During the first engagement, Þorfinna single-handedly pushed back the entirety of her enemy’s line, in an amazing display of strength. I also had an outstanding moment on the bridge, though unfortunately for me it was comedic in nature. In our third battle I was on the right edge of the bridge, looking straight across at His Majesty Aaron, who had a spear. I knew that spear would be coming for me when we charged. The call came, I ran, I blocked the spear thrust. However, the thrust picked me up off my feet and sent me crashing off the bridge, laughing all the way.

I don’t even know who the victorious warlord was.

There then followed a spear tourney, single elimination tot here counted blows. I battled THL Ulvar van der Nederlanden, and then faced Sir Mordain Blackcloak. In our first engagement I ran past his defense and unleashed my inner badger (as Lord Wat of Sarum calls it) and chased him around the rink, making him duck and block and fight furiously to stay alive. I finally struck him on the shoulder but we both decided the blow had not been sturdy enough. We reset and I never got past his defensive stance again, and he struck me three blows to carry on (and eventually win the tournament).

At the side of the area, Sir Evander MacLachlan began a feat of arms. The Lady Safrida Axehammer had baked some shortbread, and she had given it to Evander. However, to keep the shortbread, Evander had to fight one hundred fights, and win at least fifty-one of them. I believe I was the second person to face Evander in his feat, while he was still nice and fresh and rested and he easily beat me in the two fights we fought.

While Evander continued his challenge, a bastard sword tournament was held, which was won by Sir Rory Cennedi.

Around this time Tarian had turned the penalty box into our lunch counter, and fed those of us from Ardchreag (and our friends) a constant stream of cheese, bread, pepperettes, cake, cookies, strawberries and other refreshments.

More pick-ups followed, and one of the people I fought was my squire-brother Lord Brandt das Lederwerker. Brandt had disappeared for almost two years due to mundane concerns, and upon his return this spring had brought upon himself the ‘wrath’ of our knight, Evander for a bit of schtick he did at court. As penance, Brandt was told to seek out every person who had been elevated to the Order of Chivalry, all those who had been elevated to the Order of Thorbjorn’s Hammer, and all those who had received an Award of the Scarlet Banner during his absence and fight them. My Scarlet Banner, though received at the event after Brandt’s return, is dated as of the event just before his return, and so I was on the list. We fought three battles, all of which I won. Brandt, smiling, told me, “Boy, have you improved!”

The White Bear Fian—Septentria’s fighting order—then walked out onto the bridge. Sir Konrad Mattias Jaggaer von Dubrau, Sir Edward the Red, Sir Cennedi, THL Tiberius Brittanicus and I then challenged all who still had energy to face us in honour and courage until all were satisfied. Many brave and stalwart challengers answered the call, and we fought many group melees on the bridge, until we finally took a brief break. For Their Excellencies of Septentria brought us news of one who would challenge into our order. And so THL Baldric of Newcastle Emlyn was called before Their Excellencies and the Fian, and he made his public challenge, and his challenge was accepted as a good and right thing.

Sir Evander—also a member of the Fian—was then about to face his final fight, against his Majesty Aaron. Evander managed to defeat the King, and then learned that he had won sixty of his battles and thus got to keep the shortbread! However, in an act of largesse, he vowed to share the shortbread during feast (which he did, and it was delicious).

While the other fianna put back on their helmets, I walked back out onto the bridge, for our worthy opponents had been left waiting. I then faced three in single combat, losing the third bout, but winning the first two. The second bout was against THL Etain du Naval, a hulking giant with a reach almost as long as my body and great at the martial skills. We battled to and fro and I suddenly realized that we must be close to the bridge edge and so I gave a small nudge to the giant and he fell laughing into the drink.

More singles followed (with Þorfinna pushing Sir Konrad off the bridge), and then more group battles (with Sir Evander joining us for at least one). It was some of the most enjoyable fighting I have ever had the pleasure to partake in. In all the Fian held the bridge for an hour before we laid down our arms.

We then quickly changed for feast, which was a most scrumptious meal prepared by THL Augustyn of Ely and his staff. We sat at the end of a table beside Lady Ariana de la Rose and Lord Gavin of the Rozakii. I had never met Gavin before and found him to be a funny, affable fellow.

During the meal Their Majesties held an installment of Ealdormere Idol, and many good gentles stood up to entertain the crowd. The most skilled was Lady Raya of Petrea Thule, who sung a 7th century Arabic song, accompanying herself on drum. Lord Rattanicus, who was to squire to Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn later that evening, was told by his future knight that he was to sing for the crowd. Though at first unwilling, Rattanicus rose to the challenge and did his best. However, Melusine (playing the part of Simon) grabbed Sir Nigel MacFarlane and used him as a gong to try and end Rattanicus’ pain (as well as everyone else’s). Rattanicus, oblivious, continued on. Sir Nigel was gonged many times until finally he ran up to the front of the room, swept Rattanicus up over his shoulder and carried the poor man-at-arms away. Other singers included Sir Konrad (who got points for his hand gestures depicting flying reindeer), Master Worgen (doing a Wolfman Jack impression, albeit unknowingly), Edward dit Lyon and Lord Martin Bildner. Everyone in the room then got one free vote to cast for one of the singers, though extra votes could be bought for one dollar as a fundraiser for the kingdom. The three people with the most votes would take part in the Ealdormere Idol finals at War of the Trillium. Rattanicus bought many votes for Sir Konrad to ensure that he was not one of the finalists. In the end Raya was in first (by a landslide, and rightly so), with Master Konrad in second (much to the delight of Baroness Alyce who wanted to face down her husband in the finals), and Master Worgen in third. Worgen beat our Rattanicus by one vote, which Rattanicus bought just before the books closed.

THL Anne Tinker presented a flask to Edward dit Lyon for being the most chivalrous upon the field that day. A toast was then raised to absent friends.

When feast was completed many folk walked out to the island in the rain to witness Haus Sternstaubt as it welcomed two new squires. THL Augustyn and Lord Rattanicus (previously men-at-arms) both swore oaths of fealty to Sir Siegfried to become his third and fourth squires.

I then rushed back inside to attend His Majesty, for Lord Wat—the King’s Champion—had asked me to stand in for him that day and attend Aaron at court. I leaned the sword of state against my shoulder and took my place behind Aaron in the procession and walked into court (managing not to catch the sword on the two low overhangs we had to walk under). As His Majesty took his seat I took my place behind him and got to watch court from a most interesting perspective.

As always, I can not recall all of what transpired, but I do recall a few things.

In Septentrian court, Lord Cadugan was given an Award of the Golden Bear for his brewing and THL Anne Tinker handed over the keys of Petrea Thule to Lady Mahild de Valognes. Lady Mahild was recognized as the new baronial archery champion, taking over from THL Augustyn.

Lord Rattanicus was brought forth, and made a challenge to join entry to the White Bear Fian. To prove that he did truly care for the safety of the barony—and especially for the safety of the baron—he presented Corwyn with a scarlet hand-made leather jockstrap emblazoned with a white bear. The Fian conferred and agreed to accept Rattanicus’ challenge, but only if he agreed never to make such a thing again, and that he had to wear the jockstrap to at least three events.

In kingdom court Their Majesties called Þorfinna before them. Aaron told her that many people had approached him and told him of her mighty shield push, and so impressed was he to hear of it that he presented her with an axe.

Lady Mahild presented THL Anne Tinker with a token for being such an outstanding and giving person. Their Majesties bade Mahild remain with them in court, and presented her with an Award of the Maiden’s Heart. The archers of Peatrea Thule (who had shot in the rain) presented Her Majesty with gold (which she shared with the crowd).

As I said, there was more, but I cannot now recall it.

When court concluded, I returned the sword of state to the Royalty Room, and came back to the arena to find Sir Konrad talking with Þorfinna. He told her that he had brought a gift with him that day, which he was to give to someone who had impressed him on the field. After doing some singles with Þorfinna earlier in the day, he was most impressed with her improvement since the last time they had fought, and therefore he presented her with a beautiful knife blade.

We then packed up in the rain and headed home, exhausted and happy.

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