Wednesday 2 October 2013

The Bear Stands Proud (Septentria’s 25th Anniversary Event, November 29, 2003)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

Deep in its cave, the Great White Bear of Septentria shifted. Outside the November skies were grey and hanging heavy with clouds. Blinking, the Bear gave voice to a tremendous roar that reverberated throughout its lair, echoing out into the dawn air, making the bare trees tremble. So loud was the cry of the gargantuan beast that the very clouds shook, and from them snow began to fall. The Great White Bear watched as snow flakes fluttered to the earth and began to weave a carpet of pure white. Satisfied, it rolled over and went back to sleep.

I tell you truth young one. That is why on that morning, the morning on which we were to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Barony of Septentria, the land was covered by the first heavy snow fall of AS 38. For some the snow was a hindrance, as it made the trek to the chapel in Skeldergate difficult, if not impossible. For others it was delightful decoration for an important day.

Were you there, young one, on that day? On a day when legends walked again? When generations of Septentrians stood together under one roof? When songs of old days were sung, and tales of valour told? No? Then listen.

The gathering was held in a holy place, a church dedicated to the Christian faith. In the chapel the thrones of our mighty king and queen were erected, as well as those of our Princess and our Baron and Baroness. Throughout the day musicians and dancers and poets filled its lofty space with the sounds of singing, music and laughter. In a large hall a list field was set, within which there was a challenge to be held, a challenge that has not been held for many years. But I will tell more of that later. Past the hall was a common room where the lords and ladies of House Fenrir worked tirelessly to provide mugs of frothy ale to all who thirsted, whilst beside them laboured the Wyrd Sisters of Ardchreag who made sure that no one had an empty belly. Past them was another room, in which merchants plied their wares. In this room there was also a table that groaned under the weight of relics and artifacts from Septentria's past. Upon it sat ancient banners, tattered tabards, bardic rings and gifted arm rings, hand made platters, horns and cauldrons, knives and more than I can here recall. Many stopped and looked upon these artifacts as Septentrian elders related at length upon their importance to our lands. I must admit I spent much time at this table myself, and spun many tales. Most of them were true.
Still there was one more room--the kitchen--in which our Baron and Baroness, Corwyn and Domhnail Galbraith, toiled to ensure their people would be able to eat their fill when it came time to feast.

Many people filled the hall, from every canton within Septentria's borders, and from our cousin baronies and shires. As I watched proud parents with their new born babes I could see the spirits of Aedan and Caffa and Gillian standing behind them, bright smiles upon their faces. The blood of our forebears runs thick in our veins, young one. You must always remember where we came from. Both Baroness Adrielle and Baroness Gaerwen could be seen that day, benevolent smiles upon their faces. Oh young one, the stories that could be told of them. Of a fire-breathing red-head worshipped by foreign squires, of a ... well, perhaps I'll continue upon that vein after I have had a few more tankards of ale. Some tales are only for ears older than yours, young one.

Members of our fyrd, of the Iron Companions, could be seen walking the halls. Ensuring the peace, carrying burdens, playing at games and protecting our people. The Companions have a long history, a history built upon the history of others who came before them. Have you heard of the Isen Gesitha? Of the Septentrian Guard? We have been blessed to have such as they, those who filled their ranks, to be our protectors.

Our prince, himself a Septentrian, organized a tournament in which many participated. At times our great king, Sir Rory Cennedi the Kid, did hold the field against all the fighters so assembled. Our king is a mighty warrior, and he displayed his skill with the sword as he tested the mettle of his subjects. Once His Majesty and His Highness deemed themselves satisfied, they surrendered the list field to Their Excellencies Septentria. Corwyn and Domhnail called to them the members of the White Bear Fian. Do you know the Fian, young one? They are a fighting order, under no one's rule but their own, who are dedicated to protecting Septentria and all those who dwell within it. It is a noble and ancient order, that has had no new members for many years. This day two gentles did challenge members of the Fian to combat, to attempt to gain entrance to their order. One did not succeed, but was told that he was worthy to challenge again in the future. The second, Hlaford Streonwald Wulfesbana, he who had to battle the snow for many hours to attend, faced Sir Evander MacLachlin, the Champion of His Majesty the king. And in a display of martial skill and valour, Streonwald carried the day. Later in court, surrounded by other members of the Fian--Lord Rhys ap Bledri, Baron Konrad Matthias Jaeger, Sir Evander MacLachlin--he was officially acknowledged as a Fiana.

After such dancing and fighting it was time to eat! And eat we did, young one. We ate from the bounties of the sea, and from the bounties of the land. Aye, we ate as the bears eat. The feast was acknowledged by many to be superb, and stands as good evidence of why later that evening both our Baron and our Baroness were recognized for their skill in the kitchen, as well as their many other skills, by being inducted into the Order of the Crucible by their Majesties. The final desert for feast was a wonderful confection formed like a bee hive, complete with candy bees.

During feast the people were entertained by many bards. By Lady Thorfinna gra'feldr, who is the Bard of Septentria. By Garraed Galbraith, Olagh, the Kingdom Bard. By Dame Tsivia Tamara bas v'Amberview, the Bard of Skraeling Althing, and former Septentrian of note. Master Rufus of Stamford, baronial harpist, strummed melodies and sung for dancers. Lord Hydro of the North, protégée of Master Hector of the Black Height, told many tales. I will not reiterate the stories they told. If you would know them, ask them to tell you. I could not do their work justice.

When feast was complete, everyone retired to the chapel to await court. Ah, what a glorious setting in which to hold a court, with stained glass windows and arched ceilings, and raised dais. The king and queen sat in splendour on the dais, with a bear lolling between their thrones. Her Highness Marion sat to one side, whilst Their Excellencies sat to the other. Many good gentles were recognized that night young one, and I would speak of some of them. Their Excellencies called forward Laird Colyne Stewart and Lady Thorfinna gra'feldr and awarded them with Bear's Hearts, and they did call Lady Wencendl inigena Jagomus of Rokesburg and gave unto her the first ever Award of the Golden Bear. This is a baronial arts and sciences award and was the first of its kind to be awarded. As well, Streonwald was called Fiana, as I have already related.

Their Majesties recognized the talents and sacrifices of many, among them being: Sof’ia Bardeva and Rosalinde FitzWilson receiving Awards of Arms; Sage of Eoforwic receiving an Award of the Wolf Cub; William Meriic being recognized as an Ealdormerean citizen; Eoin O’Beirne and Darius the Dancer being granted the Award of the Orion; Lord Gunnar Halfdan of Lund and Countess Arlette of Ealdormere were given Awards of the Maiden’s Heart.

When court was over young one, many still danced and sung and the halls were filled with the sounds of community and merriment.

It was a day to be remembered, young one.

And so I have told you of it.


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