Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Innkeeper’s Tale (Snowed Inn III – Passage of Arms, January 17, 2004)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

It is snowing. Light spills out of an open doorway, within which stands a lone figure. He is leaning on the doorjamb, a dishtowel thrown over his shoulder. He is resting, drawing in deep breaths of cool night air and watching the patterns of the falling snowflakes. Behind him stretches the hall of his inn, which that day had seen a grand tournament take place within its walls. He turns, his feet sore beneath him, and looks down at the melting water tracked across his floors and momentarily considers mopping it up, but decides to let some local scullery boys do it for a penny or two.

Stepping back into the vast empty belly of his inn, he gazes at the benches and tables—now empty—which earlier had held laughing people with mugs of frothing ale. His eyes move to the far wall, where the king and queen of the kingdom—and their heirs!—had sat to watch the tournament. He shook his head, smiling. To think that the king and queen would ever grace his establishment with Their presence. His sons—if the Lord ever graced him with any—would never believe him when he told them of this day.

As this thought flits through his brain, his wife emerges from the kitchens were she has been cleaning. Together they sit at a bench, stretching out their feet, and the innkeeper imagines how he will one day tell his sons of this day....

****

The day had begun early, of course. Before the sun ‘ad risen, we ‘ad all been up and workin’. Tables ‘ad to be set, ovens ‘ad to be stoked, floors ‘ad to be cleaned. Baron Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn, Lady Mahault van der Eych and Lord Berend van der Eych, they was labouring in one of the kitchens, preparing a great feast in the manner of far off Italy. In our other kitchen the Welsh dancer, Tarian verch Gadarn, stirred large pots of stew. The smell of bread permeated the hall, but we had no time ta sneak a bite. Lady Naja Kesali and her team set up the gate, and many took a hand at puttin’ together stands for decorative walls and banners.

The list poles were erected, and a gallery was set to one side. To another were placed the presences of Their Majesties, Their Highnesses, and Their Excellencies of Septentria and Ramshaven. I kid you not, my sons. All of those good nobles were that that day. To a third side was set a row of tables, upon which all fighters present displayed their ‘elms. One fighter, in particular, amazed all with his ‘eraldic display of his ‘elm. For it stood on a decorative stand, and was mantled and crested, and set before a banner bearing his arms. That good gentle was Lord Robert de Bray, new to our lands, having moved ‘ere from the Kingdom of Ansteorra.

A table of games were set in the back, under the eye of Lord Raffe Scholemaystre, while THLady Anne Tinker watched over the Arts and Sciences competition beside ‘im. Both tables saw much activity throughout the day, let me tell you.

Now, those tables filled up pretty quick, and soon the hall was packed full of people. People were dancing, teaching classes, playing games, drinking, eating, singing and making merry.

The main focus for the day, my boys, was a tournament, a “pas d'armes” the ‘eralds called it. The Company of the White Hart had issued a challenge to meet all comers upon the field of honour at our very inn. When the Company was introduced to Their Majesties, one of them raised quite a stir. His name was Sir Nigel MacFarlane, and he was a night of the Dragon, of the great Middle Kingdom. Our king, Sir Rory Cennedi, asked ‘im if, as a foreign knight, we had any need to fear him. The good Sir Nigel replied coolly that no Ealdormerean ‘ad need to fear ‘im, as he was now living within our lands. And so our king and queen did grant this knight citizenship, and our kingdom was richer for it.

The Company then met in combat with the other fighters so assembled, numbering almost twenty as I recall. They fought in matched weapon forms, sometimes at a barrier. Oh my sons, if only you could have seen them, three men per side, battling over the barrier with short lances. Never have I seen fighting such as that. Now the ladies of these great fighters, their consorts, watched from the gallery, and when the fighters ‘ad all exhausted themselves, these ladies came onto the field and handed out tokens.

Count Sir Aaron Worgensson was recognized for ‘is prowess, Robert for generosity, Lord Etian du Naval for his entertaining manner, Lord Tiberius Justuc Brittanicus for ‘is courtesy, Sir Nigelf or ‘is chivalry and the Honourable Lord Richard Larmer for ‘is service.

At the end of the pas, Tiberius stepped forth clasping the Sword of the Company of the White Heart, and he spoke of its lineage. Of ‘ow it came to our lands with Sir Nigel MacFarlane, of how it was given to ‘im at a tournament in the south, of ‘ow he gave the sword to the Honourable Lord Kasmir of Stargard at Snowed Inn I as the grand champion of the day, of ‘ow he himself ‘ad been lucky enough to ‘old it after him. Then, that sword, it was given into the keeping of Lord Etian, to great applause. For a year Lord Etian was to ‘old the sword, and return to Snowed Inn in the following year so that another could win its blade.

That same Lord Robert was taken aside by the seneschal of Ardchreag, who told ‘im of how it was a tradition in our lands to give rings to those who inspire us. And he gave Robert such a ring for ‘is ‘eraldic display and his chivalry upon the field. Lord Robert's lady wife, Isabella of Ardchreag, was also given a ring that day—no, wait, two rings—and she served Their Excellencies of Septentria in court later that same evening. Truly these two were also a great boon to our lands. Ansteorra’s loss was our gain!

When the tournament was completed, the ‘all was set in order for feast.
While those eating dined, many good gentles entertained them with dance, song and story. Her Excellency Dame Alyce de Sheppey, Baroness of Ramshaven, presented an entry for Her Majesty Susanna's bardic challenge. The winners of the arts and sciences competition were announced, and they were, as I recall, Lady Mahault van der Eych for beginner's belt buckle, Lady Lassarfhina Inghean Uilleag for her intermediate bone carving and Lady Deirdre of Carlyle for her stitch work. Many raved over the food, especially the lamb stew and sausages.

At the end of the meal court was ‘eld. I can still remember everyone who was recognized that night. You may laugh, and say that I can't even remember if the chickens have been fed these days, but I tell you it ‘ad been such a grand day that I still remember them all. Their Excellencies Septentria first called for their taxes to be presented. Each canton in attendance then sent a representative forward carrying a Septentrian wardoor with their canton's arms in the chief. That plaid wearing bard you’ve heard me go on about, that ‘Ector fellow, ‘e also paid some taxes, in the form of a sword. Pleased, Their Excellencies then set Their taxes for the following year; they asked that each canton send an entry to the Pennsic War A&S display. Lady Cahtarine of Eoforwic, continuing our ring givin’ tradition, gave such a ring to Dame Tsivia bas Tamara V’Amberview. The barony's army, the Iron Companions, were called into court to renew or make their pledge of service. The van der Eychs, Mahault and Berend, were then inducted into the Order of the Bear's Heart and Lord Tiberius made a formal challenge to them White Bear Fian.  Finally, Laird Colyne Stewart and Thorfinna gra'felr returned the Horn of Wessex, at which time it was retired and given into the care of Baroness Gaerwen of Trafford. At that time, Corwyn and Domhnail unveiled the ‘Oorn of Wessex's successor—the Horn of Muinnen. The Horn was to be presented to an exemplary Septentrian, who inspired others in all their deeds, to be carried by them for one year. To mighty applause, the Honourable Lord Ulvar van der Nederlanden was called for to be the first bearer of the Horn of Muinnen. All Septentrians were then charged to keep the Horn full.

Their Majesties then held Their court. The Brewers and Vintner’s Guild put in an application for a charter from Their Majesties. Lady Corrina van Rensealer and Ihvon Thorne were called into Their presence and awarded with an Award of Arms. (And though Corrina had previously received an AoA at Ealdormere War Practice, our king and queen could not be wrong, and Corinna was called Lady Lady by many.) Both Lady Deirdre of Carlyle and Laird Colyne Stewart received Awards of the Maiden's Hearts, while Lord Wat of Sarum ‘ad his martial skills recognized with an Award of the Scarlet Banner. Lord Raffe Scholemaystre was inducted into the Order of the Wain (making him an Honourable Lord), while Lord Berend and Lady Mahault van der Eych and Lord Volodymyr Blahuciak received Awards of the Orion.

At court's conclusion people began again to dance, or converse and generally carry on until past midnight, at which point they left to the home of Robert de Bray and Isabella where a post-revel was held.

It was a great and glorious day, my sons. Great and glorious.

******'


The innkeeper's wife tugs at his arm and brings him out of his reverie. He blinks and stands up and realizes that he had been close to sleep. As some scullions begin to mop the floors, the tired but happy couple trudge up the stairs to their room in the upper floor for a well earned sleep.

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