Thursday 3 October 2013

What a Drag (Septentrian 12th Night, January 22, 2005)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

I remember snow. I remember the Beard Sisters. I remember guard salmon. I remember bread ball battles.

I remember much, young one. Would you hear some of it?

It was January, year of the Society thirty-nine. It was the day Skeldergate was to host the Barony of Septentria’s Twelfth Night celebrations. Ruprecht, the evil great troll of the North, who hates all things good and pure, sent his fury down upon the land, burying the world in snow and ice. However, the people of our northern lands have strong spirits and were not to be dissuaded from traveling. For lo, wagons lumbered forth across the roads, valleys and dales, and many braved the inclement weather. Indeed young one, travelers from the Barony of Rising Waters did attend the celebrations, as did some from the Kingdom of AEthelmearc.

All these good gentles trudged through the blowing snow into the warmth of Skeldergate’s halls. Coats and robes were flung to a table and the sounds of merriment filled the room.

Somewhere in his cave Ruprecht raged.

Many games were played that day, and the stakes were high. For with every victory the winner would receive a token. These tokens would later be drawn for prizes from a laden and groaning table. The Games Guild of Ealdormere laid ‘serious’ games upon a table, and many present enjoyed a game of Glic, or Mills, or Nine-Man-Morris. Meanwhile, members of House Galbraith operated ‘silly’ games, such as pitching plague cows at castles and a bean bag toss.

A number of round devices called hula-hoops were also employed, and three charming (though beauty challenged) ladies entertained those present with their gymnastic routines. These Beard Sisters, who bore a striking resemblance to Lord Berend van der Eych, Laird Colyne Stewart and Snæbjörn sverðsbrjótr, hopped, skipped and cavorted with said hoops, challenging others to games of endurance and stamina. Many, including the knights Sir Siegfried Brandbeorn and Sir Evander MacLachlan accepted their challenges.

Hans and Brigid of Eoforwic, the King and Queen of Misrule, arrived, and Ruprecht raged the more, for with them arrived more fun and silliness. For the King and Queen were weighted down with tokens which one could win by entertaining them (indeed, the Beard Sisters were granted tokens based on their appearances alone) or by stealing them. The barbarians Grimroth and Tannan tried their hand at thievery, reaching down the bodice of one of the gentle Beard Sisters. Though they had been told she had many tokens, they did not find them on her person (she had hidden them in her lord’s sporran).

Now young one, a mat was spread upon the floor, upon which had been painted circles of various colours. Up to six people at a time would meet upon the mat, contorting their bodies to try and touch the different coloured circles as the King of Misrule commanded them. The last to stand would win many tokens.

In the afternoon, a court was held, firstly conducted by Cromwell, Lord Protector of Misrule (who looked a lot like Arminius the Footsore). Cromwell did call before him all the men dressed as women, for from their ranks he would pick a consort. He tested their demure looks, their hips, and their singing voices, and finally chose a blond haired cotehardie wearing beauty with a scruffy chin.

Cromwell handed out several awards for garish clothing, unruly behaviour and the such, before calling before him the King and Queen of Misrule which had somehow survived an assassination attempt (one reportedly set in motion by Cromwell himself). It was a kangaroo court he said, so the prosecutor and defender would both have to be constantly jumping at least six inches off of the floor. A lord from Bastille called Edward was the prosecutor. This Edward was wearing a kilt, and, how shall I say this young one? He was wearing it in proper style, so that while he jumped he clutched the material between his knees. Mistress Nicolaa de Bracton did jump for the defense, wearing a head piece made of currency and a dress emblazoned with leaves and winged wheels (which I was later told represented some sort of sporting teams). Finding the King and Queen innocent, Cromwell abdicated and he and his consort left the dais.

Now the King and Queen of Misrule did reign, and conducted their business. Most notably, the Baron and Baroness of Rising Waters did come into court, and they did grace their cousins the Baron and Baroness of Septentria with the bounties of the lakes and rivers of their lands. Their Excellencies Rising Waters, protected by their guard salmon, gave many fishy treasures, including chocolate fish, a fish shaped menu, a baldric covered in little fishies and a box of crackers in the shape of fish.

After court a grand feast was held, one cooked by Their Excellencies of Septentria, and many were the sighs of pleasure as the diners devoured all placed before them. Their Excellencies, to show the wealth of their barony, did make manna fall from heaven, and soon bread was flying throughout the hall.

Feast was followed by a long slow withdrawal, as all those present prepared themselves to go back out into the cold and face Ruprecht’s wrath again. However, by this time his rage had subsided somewhat, his energy spent, and the snowfall was now slow and gentle. Goodbyes were said, wagons were loaded, and the celebrants headed for home.

It was a good day, young one. A good day.

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