Wednesday 2 October 2013

Thirteen Not so Unlucky (Pikeman’s Pleasure XIII, June 7, 2003)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

A cloudy sky, a drizzle of rain. The morning of June 7 seemed to be continuing the weather patterns of May--cold, wet and damp. However, by the time my over-laden wagon rumbled into the site for Pikeman's Pleasure XIII the sun seemed to be battling the clouds. Undaunted by the threat of potential rain, several people began putting up sunshades at the top of the hill overlooking the small lake.

After getting our own shade set up, I lugged my armour bag up the hill and suited up for inspection. Today was to be a very busy and--at first--nerve wracking day for me. I was wearing about fifty percent new armour, consisting mainly of a new coat of plates that Thorfinna and I had been long labouring over. The benefits to the coat was its suppleness and maneuverability (which were both lacking in my old torso armour). However, plates don't absorb as much force as my solid bands did, so a gambeson was necessary (something I haven't worn since before I authorized). I find gambesons to be warm and constricting and they sop up sweat and smell real nice. I also had a new chain mail camail hanging on my helm which almost doubled its weight.

So, I had lots of new armour to try and get used to. To top things off, I had decided that I was going to try and authorize in polearm and spear (two-handed thrust) that day. My original goal was for Bonfield, but as that event takes place on grounds owned by my household, I thought I was being too 'safe'. So I decided to try for my authorizations at Pikeman's instead. When I was filling out the paperwork the marshal in charge, Lord Tiberius Justus Brittanicus, upon hearing I didn't have my single-hand thrust either suggested I try for it as well. Why not, I thought. Let's go all the way.

First I took the field, polearm in hand, to spar with Master Trumbrand the Wanderer. I think my nervousness was telling as I was not aggressive at all and my defense was next to non-existent. So, sadly, I did not pass that authorization.

Someone then took away my polearm and handed me a spear. I had just done some six-foot spear training a few weeks before so I felt more comfortable with the spear. I was aggressive and managed to hit Trumbrand a couple of times to show my calibration. Happily, that authorization I passed.

I then took a moment to pop my helm and drink some water while Pelayo of Eoforwic walked onto the field to face Trumbrand in his first authorization. Pelayo fought well, and I am proud to announce that Septentria has one new authorized fighter in its midst! Wassail Pelayo!

THLady Kaylah the Cheerful, bearing her customary two swords, then put me through the paces of a single-hand thrusting authorization. For some reason I pulled my shots that were not thrusts (perhaps because I was too concerned over the thrust and was not so concerned on whether my other blows struck). My thrusts had a tendency to drift to the left or the right and the marshals said that is sometimes the case for short-sighted fighters who don't wear contacts to fight (like me). Luckily, the thrusts I did land were deemed good calibration and so I passed that authorization as well.

I then took part in my first ever tournament, which just also happened to be a Kingdom Royal Tournament. All the fighters were placed in a line and folded in half. Everyone fought the person they were facing and then the winners made line A and the losers line B. Each line would again fold and pairs would fight. Losers from line A went down to line B, while losers from line B were out of the tournament. I thought I was in for a two fight, two loss tournament considering some of the folk on the field but to my great surprise I found myself one of the last three to be standing on line A. With me was Count Sir Aaron Preslee Worgansson and Baron Siegfried Brandbeorn. When we were told we'd have to do a round robin to see who dropped to line B, I joked that we could save time and just send me down. I fought Aaron and lost, and then repeated the performance against Sieggy and did indeed find myself on line B.

When line B folded I found myself facing Duke Sir Roak, so I knew my time had come. I was determined to try and make Roak work for the victory and I believe it took the good knight about five minutes to finally break through my shield and take my head. He seemed determined to leg me first and I was honestly astounded at how long I managed to block the fast and furious blows that kept coming my way. When he did finally slay me I was congratulated on my shield work by onlookers, which made me very happy since when I first began fighting my shield work was incredibly sloppy (just ask my original trainers, eh Berus). In the end, Sir Roak won the tournament.

Next up was a three-man melee tournament. Since I didn't have a team I asked his Excellency Corwyn if he'd care to have me. Together with the newly authorized Pelayo we were deemed "The Right Hand of Life", since Baroness Domhnail's team was "The Left Hand of Death." As luck would have it, the first two teams to face each other were Corwyn's and Domhnail’s. I had a six-foot spear, while Corwyn had a round and sword, and Pelayo had a tourney heater and a sword. Domhnail had a sword and warheater, while on one side stood Dame Alyce de Sheppey with a nine-foot spear and Lady Seonag nic Thomais with a bastard sword. I suggested to His Excellency that Pelayo take Alyce as her spear had more reach than mine, and Pelayo had a heater which offered him more coverage than Corwyn's round offered him. I said I would go for Seonag since I had more reach than her, while Corwyn charged his lady wife. To this plan Corwyn agreed, and after giving Pelayo a quick talk about facing a spear we took position. Immediately, Seonag and Alyce switched sides so Alyce faced me and Seonag faced Pelayo. When the call to lay on was given Pelayo quickly scuttled around the front of the baron while I went around behind him so we faced the opponents we wanted to face. I didn't see much of the beginning of the battle as I ran right for Seonag and she and I poked at each other. I just couldn't quite get a killing blow in on her and suddenly Domhnail's shield filled my vision and I was quickly running backwards trying desperately to defend against her fierce assault. She finally slew me and I stood back to watch the rest of the fight. Corwyn and Alyce lay dead, and Pelayo bravely stood against Seonag and Domhnail but in the end fell.

Techniquely, our plan was perfect and if I had managed to get through Seonag's defenses our side may have won. As it was, I found out that Pelayo had performed his part of the plan flawlessly and had run inside Alyce's guard and killed her swiftly. So impressed were Seonag and Alyce that they took Pelayo before Their Majesties and praised his skill. Again I cry, Wassail Pelayo!

A team consisting of Aaron, Siegfried and Lord Wat of Sarum then went on to win the three-man melee tournament.

I took a short break and took Thorfinna her lunch. While I was fighting she was running a thrown weapons range beside the archery range. During the course of the day she had a score of throwers and had seven people throw Royal Rounds. I then sauntered down to the island where a six-foot lance over a barrier tournament was to begin. Seventeen people had signed up, which meant there would have to be a by. When I was seen I was dragged in so the number would be a round one, and no by would be needed. When my turn came I found myself facing Lord Angus Albani, who had been my first opponent in the Royal Tournament. The spear fight was long and very tiring and in the end Angus beat me three points to one. I then took the opportunity to sit in the shade of a tree, drink water and enjoy a soldier's camaraderie with his mates. When the tournament was finally over, Aaron emerged victorious.

Roak and Siegfried were then made captains for a grand melee, and we were divided into two teams. It was a limited resurrection battle (everyone had three lives). I was on Sir Roak's side (as he needed shields and I was using my sword and shield for the melee). I found myself in a shieldwall of four consisting of myself, Baroness Domhnail, Pelayo and Lord Robert the Blue. Robert and Domhnail had wardoors, so they were placed on the end. Pelayo and I were the centre and I gave him a quick overview of what to do and expect as part of a shield wall. In the first engagement the wall did fairly well, but drifted apart a bit. Though our side was victorious I lost all three of my lives (I think His Majesty killed me at least twice--all I kept seeing was this giant yellow thrusting tip coming at me).

We ran the melee a second time and this time I took a more active role. I began braying out orders to the wall based on what was happening around us. At one point we had stopped our advance too far away for our spears to attack. Behind me I heard Alyce say she couldn't reach the opponents with her spear but no one actually gave the command to move forward so I did. We advanced forward three paces and locked. This time, which lots of yelling, we stayed together and slid together again whenever one of us was killed or came back from a resurrection. Near the end of the battle Domhnail, Pelayo and I were arrayed with I'm not sure how many of our side still behind us (to turn and look would have invited a swift death). Facing us were only Wat and Lord Tormod of Kirk Andreas. Sir Evander MacLachlan ordered the three of us to engage Wat and when we charged Wat ran around in front of Tormod to draw us all together. Pelayo and I pressed on Wat and pushed him away from Tormod and with a bit of satisfaction I managed to fell the Lord from Sarum. (Wat, whom I duel with often and is a good friend, now has the distinction of being my first non-practice melee kill. Thanks, Wat!) Pelayo and I then turned to find Domhnail madly swinging her sword at Tormod and then she was standing alone. In that battle the shieldwall had done extremely well.

Trudging back up the hill I took the opportunity to drink some fluids, then I dropped my kit and went over and helped Thorfinna tear down her range. We got back over to the cluster of shades and tents just in time for Their Majesties and Their Excellencies to process into court. Septentrian court was brief, with only a few pieces of business. First, Augustine of Petrea Thule was named the baronial archery champion. Raffe Scholemaystre handed over the office of baronial seneschal to Baroness Adrielle Kerrec. In recognition of his service, Raffe was given a gold sun dial and a ring made from a bone of a bear. Lord Volodomyr Blahuciak, called Vlad, was awarded a Bear's Heart and Lady Anne Tinker was announced as Petrea Thule's new seneschal.

Their Majesties then began their court, and it was lengthy as a great many were honoured that day. First THLord Dafydd ap Sion was named the new Kingdom Archery Marshal. A number of Awards of Arms were then presented to: Tim of Petrea Thule, Eileen Lemesurier, Alana of Dublin, Mahild of Petrea Thule, Savinia Queville, Augustine of Petrea Thule, and Rembo Touloussa. (I apologize for any misspellings.) A nice touch from Their Majesties was to stand and officially announce the new Lord or Lady. Lord Melchior the Carver and THLord Dafydd ap Sion were awarded with Maiden's Hearts, while Lady Anne Tinker and Lady Keja Tselebnika were both inducted into the Order of the Wain.

Those of us staying for feast then went inside and set up for a feast being prepared by Lady Eileen. The first course consisted of food considered unlucky and was begun with tomatoes and mushrooms (both once thought to be poisonous). Their Majesties refused to eat any until Adrielle Kerrec had tasted them and survived. Much good food then followed, with lucky foods making up the second course. During feast a story telling contest was held and I am sorry to say I do not remember the name of the good Lady who won with her tale of a fearful tiger. Prizes were handed out for the Arts and Sciences competition held that day, but I unfortunately cannot remember the winners (I was too busy eating).

Since the event fell upon our anniversary, I rose and asked the hall to toast Thorfinna for though the day's theme was unlucky thirteen, I counted myself a most lucky man. Thorfinna toasted me back, to be followed by Master Konrad Matthias Jaeger who told a tale of a Pikeman's past where he first kissed the woman who would one day become his wife. It is an excellent tale and I urge you to ask him to tell it to you as he will do it more justice than I could by repeating it here.

The tables were then cleared as dancers took to the floor, accompanied by live music. A combination of fighting, food and lack of sleep the night before made me asleep on my feet and Thorfinna and I departed not long thereafter.

It was again, as in the past, my pleasure to be at Pikeman's.

On May 12 Ardchreag hosted its first Ard Troid (pronounced aard trej), which was a melee training and tactics night. As well, it was Corwyn and Domhnail’s second Baronial Fight Practice. Baron Siegfried Brandbeorn, Lord Volodymyr Blahuciak and Sir Berus Jarl ran the Septentrian fighters through their paces.

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