Thursday 3 October 2013

Swimming with White-belted Sharks (Sir Osis Memorial Fighter Day II, June 10, 2006)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

The day was cold. There was a fairly strong breeze blowing, and it brought an unseasonal chill to the air. However, for those of us who had attended the Sir Osis Memorial Fighters’ Day last year, who remembered how hot and humid the hall had been, we welcomed the chill.

Once again Sir Evander MacLachlan stopped at Drew’s Keep to pick up ├×orfinna and myself, this time accompanied by Lord Amelius Claudius Rattanicus and Lord Cameron MacGregor. We quickly stowed our gear and headed out, already running behind schedule as the good knight and his two companions had been held up by a very slow waitress named Wendy at her inn.

We arrived on site around eleven of the clock, and found that most people were still arriving so we had not missed anything. Like at Pikeman’s the week previously, we would be fighting in a hockey arena. We quickly armoured up and I walked out on the field and grabbed the first person standing on their own to warm up with. As fate would have it this was Lord Stevan Ulfkellson of AEthelmearc, who I had warmed up against at this event the year before.

After warming up with a few more folks I made the aquantaince of the Wandering List Table and the Fencer’s Melons. THL Gwerydd verch Rhys—with a sign saying ‘List Table’ on her back—walked around the arena, looking wistfully at the fighting that was going on without her. Ladies Rusalka Galbraith and Jocelyn Cranewell plied all fighters present with their melons (watermelons, you dirty minded buggers) as well as orange slices, crackers and pretzels.

Something was in the air that morning, and I was not the only one to remark that they were finding it a little hard to breath.

As last year there were several out of town guests, including Sir Rurik and Master Ruslon. This year we had an extra-special guest in the form of Duke Paul of Bellatrix, who had come to take part in a Scola Durus Maleus, organized by Lord Derfel Mallory. For a sum (to cover the travel expenses), several fighters—going in in pairs—each got twenty minutes of instruction from the good duke. This lasted most of the day, while the rest of the fighting was taking place.

The first organized activity was a session of Meet the Chiv. All members of the Order of the Chivalry present scattered themselves around the arena, and all other fighters interested in taking part could walk up to a knight or master-at-arms and talk. I joined Master Worgen along with Streonwald Hlaford, Lord Leod, Lord Bjarn and several others. Worgan talked to us about the mental aspect of fighting, and then ran us through a bear-pit. I fought him at least four times, and each time he legged me with the exact same little under the shield wrap that gave me a nice series of stripes that grew together into one large bruise by the next morning.

After around twenty minutes people moved to a new member of the Chiv, but as I was off talking to someone by this point I missed the announcement.

A shark pool tournament followed, with each pool growing up around a member of the Chivalry. Since I had never fought Master Trumbrand the Wanderer before I joined his pool, along with Arminius the Footsore, Lady Dagmar Halvdan, Lord Hamish Gunn, Baethan, Lord Bjarn and THL Etian du Naval. We quickly ran through a round robin, best two out of three, where I only managed to score two victories. The victor of each pool then went on to form a new pool, but I did not watch these finals. Instead I went in search of more pick-ups.

I found Sir Konrad Matthias Jaeggar von Dubrau looking lonely, having just emerged from his Scola with Bellatrix. With his mind awhirl with new knowledge to try and apply we went at it. We had some good bouts, with one standing out in my mind. I managed to get a head shot in on him that popped his visor out of alignment. We must have made an odd sight as Konrad hit himself in the head with his basket hilt, while I pushed up on the grill to try and get it back into place. When we were done, Konrad told me that I had some good stuff, which I take as a high compliment.

Next we fought a warlord tourney. My first draw was my raven-brother Hamish Gunn, armed with a pole arm. I defeated my brother, to become a warlord for the first time ever. He and I faced a team of two, and I quickly dispatched their pole arm, but was slain by their sword and shield. Undaunted, Hamish took out their shield man, and we went on in search of a team of four to face. This battle we lost, and I was a warlord no more. After that, details get foggy. I do remember one battle where I was killed, but as I fell I got entangled with a person beside me who had died at the same time. The battle surged over us and our tangled limbs, and I found myself lying on my back, with my shield flat out at my side. Someone stepped down on the edge of my shield and twisted my arm (which is still sore as I type this five days later). I am not sure who in the end won, but the battles were much fun.

At this point both ├×orfinna and I were feeling a bit unwell so we went outside. I know now that this was the onset of a stomach flu that would plague us until Wednesday. I considered stopping for the day. However, when we went back in the arena I saw Etian talking to a group of fighters and went over to listen. I asked Derfel what was going on and he said, “Unbelts,” and dragged me by my squire’s chain into the circle. Etian, new captain for the Unbelts this year, gave some rousing, enthusiastic talks, and then had us all split into mini-units of five fighters, each with specific functions within that unit. We then ran through several melees with all the other fighters present. We started out a little slow, but as we went on we improved, and at the end of the last battle Etian called for all dead fighters to take a knee. His point here was to show the Unbelts that we had killed two-thirds of their vastly more experienced team.  At the end of each battle Etian would go up and down the line praising what we had done well and gently pointing out what we needed to improve. He was an inspirational man to fight under.

When the Unbelt practice was over, Berus ran a Kill the Warlord melee. His Majesty Aaron and His Highness Roak each collected fighters to be on their teams. As I stood talking to Dagmar and Emma of Greenhithe, Aaron walked up and swept out his arms and carried us to his end of the arena. Once both sides had been set, we had our helms taped, and the Warlords took their place in the creases (from which they could not leave). The battle would be a limited resurrection battle, with each team having one hundred lives total. The object was to kill the opposing Warlord before they could kill yours. At one point in the melee that followed I was legged (likely by Trumbrand who legged me at least five or six times throughout this battle), and one of the opposing fighters yelled at his comrade to “Ignore the guy on his knees!” His comrade listened, and I killed him for it. Eventually, my back gave out (as it sometimes will) and I had to leave the battle and watch from the side lines. Our two teams were fighting very differently. Roak’s team was being very defensive, setting up a long line in front of him, letting Aaron’s team throw themselves onto their weapons. If Aaron’s side had made a concentrated assault to break through the line we might have had a chance, but going in in little groups just ate away at our numbers.

When the first Kill the Warlord melee was over (with Roak’s side victorious I believe) I took over marshalling for THL Dafydd ap Sion who was preparing to leave. The Warlords were changed (so Roak and Aaron could get more fighting in) and the number of resurrections was dropped to fifty. In all I think we ran the scenario three times.

During the third bout of Kill the Warlord Rattanicus dropped his gear, and went to Dairy Queen in honour of his squire-brother Lord Eirik Andersen. (Eirik, who could not be present that day, is known for taking trips to DQ when at events.)

Many fighters had by this time begun to drop their kits, but since we still had the field for fifteen minutes, those that remained fought an unlimited Resurrection Battle to run out the clock.

Once we had all changed, we went upstairs for an Osis-style feast: wings and beer. Master Worgan, not content with just his wings, had a friend smuggle him in a hamburger from Lick’s, which he had to protect from many other hungry fighters.

During the mass consumption of wings, Berus toasted the memory of his good friend Osis, who had passed away after a car accident while he was reigning as king of Ealdormere in 1999.

Derfel then took the floor on behalf of the Scola, and thanked all those who took had taken part that day, and in all the past scolas this year. He especially thanked all those who had taught at the scolas. At each scola, points had been awarded for attendance, placement in tourneys and for chivalrous behaviour, and Derfel was pleased to announce that Lord Wat of Sarum had acquired the most points this year. To acknowledge this, Derfel had bought a warhammer (the symbol of the Scola) and had placed a plaque on it with Wat’s name. Wat will hold the hammer until the next Scola winner is announced. He then unveiled a Scola t-shirt (that fittingly came in black and blue) that each of the day’s Scola participants were to receive. The Scola’s hammer was on the front, with a list of all the year’s teachers on the back. Derfel should be congratulated for organizing what is (I think) a worthy contribution to our kingdom.

There then began another Osis tradition—the signing of bruises. Those with nice bruises would unveil them for all to see, while those who had given them the bruise would sign it with a pen. Emma of Greenhithe went first, with a very large purple bruise on her upper thigh. Worgen then drew me over so I could drop my pants and show the similarly placed bruise that he had given me. People seemed shy this year, but soon they got into the spirit of things and many bruises were oohed and aahed over.

When the event was over, many retired to the keep of Berus and Marion for a post-rev.

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