By THLaird Colyne Stewart
The year is 1203 and the armies of the Fourth Crusade have
Constantinopleunder siege. In typically Byzantine fashion the Frankish/Venetian army has been called upon to invade the city by Prince Alexius of Constantinople, son of the deposed Emperor Isaac. Alexius has begged aid of the assembled Frankish & Venetian armies of the Fourth Crusade to aid him in restoring the scarlet buskins of the Emperor to his father, who languishes in prison where he was thrown after having his eyes torn out by his brother.
After much discussion, the crusaders, who have been much weakene
d by the desertions of faithless nobles who have forgotten the meaning of their word, agree to aid Prince Alexius against his usurping uncle. In return for the Crusaders aid Alexius has sworn to then to the following conditions, that he would place the Empire once again under the authority of Rome from which it has been long estranged; 200,000 marks plus provisions for every man in the army; 10,000 men plus himself to accompany the crusaders to liberate Jerusalem; to maintain 500 knights in the Holy City, at his own expense, for its protection so long as he lives.
At the urging of King Phillip of Germany and Pope Innocent the Third the Crusaders agreed to divert their path from Jerusalem to help Prince Alexius to regain his father’s throne. Thus we come before the walls of Constantinople, the greatest city in Christendom, with the continued hope of the liberation of
Jerusalemat stake, as well as the fate of the Byzantine Empire. On land the combined armies of the noble French barons line up with their German brothers. On sea the Venetians order their fleet, bristling with mangonels and petraries, fore and aft castles heavy with scaling ladders and lances. Upon the walls of the city the Byzantines are fortifie d by English and Danish soldiers armed with battle axes, along with other sundry Eastern mercenaries, while the Greek knights and their mounts wait in reserve behind the imposing city walls.
This was the theme of this year’s War of the Trillium, as written by Lord Wat of Sarum. The forces of the Byzantines were to be le
d by THL Baldric
Leeman of Newcastle Emlyn, while the Crusaders were to be le d by Lord Derfel
The event this year began on Wednesday, but my lady and I could not take the day off work. As soon as we could we slipped out the door and flew to the site. Once there we went to the House Galbraith encampment which ha
d been roped off on Monday
night. A few giant pavilions had already been set up, including one for the
vigil for Crowyn and Domhnail Galbraith, the Baron and Baroness of Septentria.
We found a nice spot under a tree and proceeded to pitch our new tent. The
a-frame that Thorfinna an d built
back in 2004 had given up the ghost at Pennsic 2006, with a massive
waterproofing failure during a pounding thunderstorm. Luckily, Baroness Adrielle Kerrec and Sir Nigel
MacFarlane had a Roman-style wall tent they were willing to
part with. We bought the canvas from them, and using the instruction provide d by the supplier, made tent poles. Once we got the
tent up we realized that the rather vague instructions, which had told us to
make the front and rear pole ‘approximately 7 feet,’ was too vague. Our poles
were seven feet, and they lifted the door flaps up and off the ground. We made
a mental note to bring a saw back with us to site the next day and left to run
some last minute errands.
As an aside it shoul
noted that at least two other people also set up their Roman wall tents this
event for the first time, and also discovered that their poles were too long.
When we returned to the site early Thursday afternoon with the rest of our gack, some of our raven-brothers and –sisters had arrived. Thorfinna and I lay the tent down on the ground, cut down the poles by three and a half inches, stood it back up, and now found that it was perfect. We unloaded our car, loaded our tent and sat down to share some food.
Just as I was about to enjoy a piece of chicken (I love chicken) two members of the Barony of Skraeling Althing entered our camp, concerned over the amount of space that ha
set aside for the Galbraith encampment. One of them walked off, but Lord Hamish Gunn and I got up and walked over the vigil
area with the second person, explained about how many people were coming to
camp with the Galbraiths (about 40 people), how many large pavilions were
coming, and that we were hosting the vigil. Still, trying to be nice neighbours,
we shrunk the vigil and I moved the road a little bit to give them more room. I
got a beard scratch in return, but was disappointed to learn when I went back
to my camp that all the chicken was gone.
At one point Lord Berend van der Eych and I were talking to Wat, when we noticed that the edging had all come off his shield. We told him that he should take this opportunity to take the giant concave bend out of his shield. Asking how he would do that on-site, I told him to use a picnic table. He was incredulous and found the idea highly dubious. So Berend grabbed his shield, and we found a table and he began to slide the shiel
d between planks on the table an d bending the shield. Now this was notice d by the folk in the Petrea Thule camp, and several
of them came over. They stripped Wat’s shield of his handle and arm strap and
the massive Lord Augustyn of Ely
began to bend Wat’s shiel d by hand!
Wat was looking rather white and worried, but in the end he was astonished and
pleased to be handed a nice flat shield with a gentle curve. By this time quite
a crowd had gathered to watch.
At Artisan’s Row opened. Lady Caitlin had spearheaded an ambitious project to have almost continuous hands-on arts and sciences running Thursday afternoon, and all day Friday and Saturday. Several tents were set up, with armouring trees showing what lessons were currently underway and what lessons were coming up. Some of the classes held included: lace making, hand sewing a Geteld tent, sail making, pewter casting, sprang weaving, netted hairnets, heraldry, and the second Iron(age) Chef contest. I never had a chance to really poke my head in to see what was going on, but every time I walked past the Row was a buzz of activity.
A torchlight tourney was supposed to be held that night, but since only about four or five people (Thorfinna and I being some of them) were willing to put on armour, it was postponed to Friday night.
Friday morning my lady and I slept in late. We got up and almost immediately put on our armour. Walking to the battlefield we found Lord
Derfel in full Crusader kit, complete with chain
mail coif and red cape. Once all the fighters were assembled sides were chosen.
The numbers would fluctuate throughout the day, but were more or less even for
the most part.
Þorfinna and I joined the Crusaders and
Derfel gave us a baldric emblazoned with a Crusader
cross. Þorfinna was joine d by her
knight Sir Cennedi, and her
soon-to-be squire-brother Wat.
The battles set out for the War of the Trillium followed the siege of
Constantinople. This day woul d be a series of boat battles, and then a landing
battle as the Crusader’s landed on the shores.
First we fought a boat battle. Boats had to be at least two fighters strong. A fighter left on their own could not operate their boat and had to stand in place until they were joine
at least two other people from their side. Each side had fifty total
resurrections, with the captains being worth three lives. Any Royalty present
were also worth extra lives.
The first time we ran through this scenario there was no limit on how large a boat coul
As such, Baldric had his forces
gather onto one large boat in front of his rez point. The Crusaders (who were
outnumbere d by about 50% at this
point) died horrifically, but gloriously. In the following boat battles, the
boats coul d be no larger than five
people, and this made for more interesting fluid fights. I do not now recall
just how many times we ran through this scenario, or even who won in the end,
as I was having difficulty breathing and had to step out.
The boat battles were followe
a Galleon battle. Sir Berus, the Marshal in Charge, laid out a rectangle with
hay bales that measured approximately 15’ x 12’. Equal forces of Crusaders and
Byzantines (numbering eleven to start) took to the galleon. The galleon battles
were to the last man, with no resurrections. The battles lasted approximately
10 or 15 seconds. As I recall we ran through this four or five times, with the
Crusaders winning all but one bout. Þorfinna—who people ha d begun calling Juggernaut after Pikeman’s—continued
to earn her nickname as she pushed people overboard.
A Ship Landing Causeway Battle was then held. The Byzantines had to defend the gate, while the Crusaders had to breach the gate and maintain control of it for a few seconds (marshals’ discretion). Each side had a rez point and 50 resurrections per side. The battle was to be fought as best two out of three. The first time we ran through the causeway the Crusaders won, though the rules had to be rethought out and this bout ended up not counting. However, the Crusaders would go on to win two of the three bouts to win this war point. The Juggernaut continued her rampage and ploughed through the Byzantine lines (pictures of which were capture
Lord Eirik Andersen).
By this point fighters were exhausted from the heat and mugginess and were beginning to get a little sloppy. Berus called it a day, and only a few hearty souls stayed for pickups. I took the opportunity to have my squire-brother THL
Brittanicus whup me good.
That night Ramshaven hosted a Bacchanalia party with a Kama Sutra theme in the battlefield pavilion. On the field four torches belched flame to the sky as a small but hardy group of fighters gathered for a torchlight tourney. I could not go to watch the tournament as I was working at a vigil, but I heard from many people later how well my brother Lord Snæbjörn sverðsbrjótr (called Swordbreaker) fought that night. In the end, His Royal Majesty
Aaron defeated Sir Nigel to
win the tourney.
As I mentioned, I spent the evening at a vigil. The Baron and Baroness of Septentria,
Corwyn and Domhnail
Galbraith, ha d both
been placed on vigil for the Order of the Laurel.
Their fellow Galbraiths strung up Septentrian and Ealdormerean walls about the
vigil area in their camp, and set out two tables groaning with food (one
holding period food, and one holding modern food). A craft table was set up
where people waiting to go in and speak to Corwyn and Domhnail could draw,
paint or carve soap. A roaring fire was lit, and people sat around it singing
songs. Corwyn and Domhnail waited in the baronial pavilion for each visitor,
with one wall lowered so they could look out over moonlit grass and watch the
dancing fireflies. They were a bit surprise d by
the parade of semi-drunken men with glowing nipples who buzze d by the opening at one point, but took it all in
Several memories stand from the vigil stand out in my mind. Most of them having to do with THL Etian du Naval. Firstly, Etian asked me if I wanted a beer, I responded that I did not have one with me. Without a pause he gave me his Hammer cup to drink from and would not take no for an answer. I was honoured to be entrusted with it and held on to it tightly with both hands all night until I returned it, worried that someone might knock it from my hand.
The second and third memory concerning Etian was watching him loose at a drinking game to one of the minions, and Etian eating too many oysters. (Drinking and oysters made for a sick Etian the next day.)
I had to be on my guard all night as the seneschal of Monadh—His Excellency Cynred—repeatedly tried to assassinate me so he would not have to turn in his seneschal’s report. Luckily my beers were +50 healing potions, and all was well. In truth I do not get to hang out with Cynred enough, and spending so much time in his company was a rare treat. We were told that in the dark we were hard to tell apart, but we thought it was quite obvious. After all, he’s a gnome and I’m a dwarf.
The vigil eventually ended at , with the party moving to the Rozakii encampment. The Galbraith and Hrogn then went in together to see Corwyn and Domhnail and give them their gifts. The ‘Thongs of Freedom’ were quite a sight to see. Þorfinna and I gave them the same advice everyone from Ardchreag had given them that night: to keep on truckin’!
The next morning we found out about two practical jokes that ha
d been performed. The first, was
the application of non-lubricated ‘protection’ being applied to all of Baron Richard Larmer's weapons. The second concerned Baldric, and the turning of his tent so that when he
returned from partying he could not locate the door.
On Saturday I woke up with a headache. As such, I went off-site with Þorfinna when she went to buy some tickets online for an upcoming science-fiction convention (where a certain cast member of Firefly will be putting in an appearance). We went by our house, I took some pills, we had a shower and then we did some errands. We picked up some juice and coffee for people on-site, and also grabbed two boxes of popsicles.
When we got back we gave a newly constructed ‘Clue x 4’ to THL
Anne Tinker who was working the
gate, complete with handle. We then got changed and made our way to the fighting
field an d became exceeding popular
as we handed out popsicles to the over-heated fighters.
We didn’t end up fighting at all that day, which is unfortunate, for Berus’ excellent scenarios continued that day. The most talked about was the single sword woods battle.
Earlier that day there ha
a newbie tournament, which was won by Lord Derfel’s
son. I heard that my brother did well in this tournament too. Both he and
Þorfinna were given war points by the captains for their martial endeavours.
At this point my mother showed up on site, and Eirik lent her a t-tunic, and Þorfinna gave her the ‘Girdle of Strength’ that she had won years ago at a Galbraith party. My mom had a good time, even belting back some Scotch with
Baldric which took
everyone by surprise. She’s not even sure if she’ll ever be able to come out
again, but she’s already started thinking about what kind of garb she likes.
Once the fighters had all clomped out of the woods, Sir
Cennedi called to all those who wished to bear
witness as he took a new squire. Before a large crowd (the largest I’ve yet
seen at a squiring) Cennedi spoke of
Þorfinna, and how in the past year as his student he had seen her transform
from someone unsure of themselves on the battlefield to a fearless warrior. He
quoted from the Havamal, and then exchanged oaths with Þorfinna. She was
presented with a box—painte d by Cennedi—which was adorned with his badge, his
knight’s badge, his grand-knight’s badge, my badge, as well as her own. The
quoted verse was also painted on the box, in Norse runes. From the box I pulled
out a beautiful re d belt, hand
crafte d by Lord Berend and Lady
Mahault van der Eych. The buckle an d belt
end were made in the Norse style, and the quote from the Havamal ha d been carved along the belt’s length. A silver
knotwork accent adorned the belt just above the belt end. I wrapped the belt
about her waist, and then Tiberius
brought her a mug of ale which she downed in one gulp. After that came the
hugging and the congratulations and the picture taking. As well, Þorfinna was
tasked her teacher Baroness Adrielle
to research the source of the poem (which she already has) as well as the
buckle an d belt end.
The squiring complete, the Hrogn lads and I cleaned up the fighting pavilion for court. Two days of fighting and a Kama Sutra party later there was a lot of trash to clean up. It was at this point that the skies opened, and rain, at times pounding the earth in fury fell upon us all. Everyone squeezed under the fighting pavilion to watch.
In Septentrian court Lady Raya of Petrea Thule was made the new baronial bard, and Etian was given an axe and a bear pelt and named the barony’s fighting champion. The Canton of Caer Draeth donated funds from the last Kingdom Crown to Their Majesties and to Their Excellencies.
The Canton of Ardchreag was called into court. Knowing that the barony required a new baronial pavilion, they donated $2000 towards the purchase of a new one.
Mahault announced that the Crusaders ha
d beaten the Byzantines in the war, due mostly to
points earned in non-fighting venues (such as archery). In a strange twist, due
to a write-in campaign, Baron Konrad of Ramshaven received as many points as Derfel and Baldric
together. In recognition of this, he was given a hand crafte d box. Derfel
and Baldric were both presented with
treasures brought back by the Van der Eychs from their recent trip to Greece and Turkey.
Two ladies from Monadh—
and Magdelina—were given Bear’s Claws for the construction of tabards.
Their Excellencies then retired, to prepare themselves for entry into Their Majesties court. Kingdom court than began, and several good gentles were recognized, including:
Lord Eirik Andersen and Baroness
of Trafford who were inducted into the Order of the Wain;
Adelaide van der Eych, who received an Award of the Wolf's Cub; Lord Hamish Gunn and Lord Rhisiart
ap Merududd, who received an Award of the Maiden’s Heart; Lord Thorulfr inn
smithr, who received an Award of the Scarlet Banner; THL Anne
Tinker who was inducted into the Order of the Crucible.
Unfortunately I watched most of court from the back of the pavilion, as the members of House Hrogn and House Galbraith had gathered to lead Corwyn and Domhnail before Their Excellencies. When they were called we marched into court, singing and carrying banners. As luck (or fate) would have it, the rain ceased long enough for them to walk from the bathrooms (where they had taken shelter after changing into their beautiful new clothes) to the pavilion. Once under its roof the rain began again, though falling lightly this time. As Corwyn and Domhnail kneeled in front of Their Majesties a rainbow broke out in the sky over the pavilion and THL Ulvar van der Nederlanden sounded the horn of Ealdormere’s scouts. Many good gentles then spoke about the virtues of this pair, including Garraed Galbraith, Olagh, and Duchess Marion FitzWilliam who spoke of the past, Sir Berus Wolfsson and Baroness
Adrielle Kerrec who spoke of the present, and Lady Þorfinna gráfeldr and Lady Lassarfhina ingean Uilleag
who spoke of the future. Their scroll was a wooden triptych, crafte d by Lassarfhina, that stole the crowd’s breath
After court the fifth Annual Lord Ulrich von den See Memorial Mead Competition was held. I know there were winners in a few categories this year, but the only one I can recall is Lady Marian Golightly who again won the cordials category.
As usual I missed the mead competition as I was back in camp getting ready for the Galbraith party. The party was again going to be held on the battle field, and some of us began to lug supplies over. Coming back to camp from one such trip I was just in time to catch the tail end of Lady Dagmar halvdan being taken as a man-at-arms by THL Etain du Naval.
Corwyn had a bottle of Blackeye Mead, used as part of the Galbraith initiation ceremony, which he passed around even though no new Galbraiths were being recognized. The truly brave, foolhardy and/or stout of heart took a swig of the noxious brew.
The party began, with a bonfire, free mead and home brewe
d beer, lots of food, the traditional Galbraith toss
and the finals of Ealdormere Idol. Before too long the rain began to thunder
down, and everyone crowded under the fighting pavilion again. This was just
after Thorulfr had taken his turn ‘Flinging the Fencer’—and taking the lead for
longest throw—and it was remarked that Thor, god of thunder, was obviously not
being impartial. Due to the constant rain the toss did not resume, and Thorulfr
won the men’s category with a throw over 39 feet. Lady Mary of Caer Draeth won
the women’s category, with a throw around 22 feet. Callum mhic Hector won the
children’s category with a throw of over 9 feet.
The party was shorter and a little more subdued this year due to the weather. Still there were several memorable moments, including
Adrielle’s turtle squirt toy that shot many of us in
the face; Lady Raya of Petrea Thule being named the winner of the first
Ealdormere Idol competition; and Bubba’s violation of Sarnac that left Sarnac
laughing so hard he could hardly breathe.
After the party ended, Þorfinna and I hung out at the Squires’ Lounge where I let out a burn that earned me a standing ovation. We finally went to bed at a very late (or technically early) hour, just before Ymir (known as Butterfly) had his tent ‘collapse’ in retaliation for the previous night’s tent turning trick. We had just gone to bed, but heard the poles fall and the resulting fit of giggling.
Sunday was bright and hot, and Ardchreag was faced with a little problem. Twenty-four bales of hay ha
brought to War for use in the battles, and due to the rain, had not been burned
in the fire pit as planned. No one wanted the hay (it was garbage quality) and
we couldn’t leave it on site. As such, the Ardchreag fire-corporals were formed
and many of us spent a few hours burning the hay in the pit. We took turns
circling the roaring fire, turning the hay with sticks so that air could reach
the bottom layers of hay. It was for many a very medieval moment, like watching
farmers around a charcoal fire, especially when Siegfried
took a turn since he was still in garb.
Once all the hay was taken care of, I got to hand out copies of Septentrian Geographic for free. The magazine ha
been put together as a fundraiser for the barony, but with
the donations made by Caer Draeth and Ardchreag the funds were no longer
needed. So Corwyn, Domhnail, Þorfinna and I paid for the printing costs and I
handed out the issues to every Septentrian I happened across until I ran out.
The magazine contained articles on every canton with the barony, told in a
tongue-in-cheek manner, as well as articles on aspects of Septentria life (such
as special awards and the White Bear Fian).
Reactions were good, and who knows, maybe a second issue will appear in the not
too distant future.
Before long the site was deserted except for members of the host canton who began pulling down shade tents, cleaning up the few bits of garbage left behind, packing boxes, and other such after-event chores. Lady Oksana, Wat and
Donovan went off
site and soon returned with pizza, and we enjoyed a canton lunch which was only
momentarily interrupte d by a police
cruiser that came flying down the road. Apparently armed robbers were running
through the conservation area after ditching their getaway car nearby. We never
say any sign of them though, and the rest of the tear-down was uneventful.
And so ended War of the Trillium, second of its line.