Wednesday 2 October 2013

Quest for the Holy Pail (Humour Us!, April 6, 2002)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

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 Eloise 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 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 full 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.

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