(Notes: Part One may be found in the previous post. I didn’t post yesterday because we were at our grandmother’s. Those of you using WordPress Reader will want to change to the blog post itself, as this part has even more pictures than the last one.)
“It has come to our attention that we have handed out a lot of scrolls during our reign,” Yehudah was saying when next I paid attention to what was going on up front. “It has also come to our attention that we have not yet honoured our scribes. We wish to amend that. When your name is called, if you like, please stand up so we can see who it is and honour you.”
A herald read out a list of names, some of which I recognized: Una Duckfoot, who taught a calligraphy class to the Marshall group last year; Tom Tinntinabulum, twice king of Northshield and not the type I would immediately think of as a scribe; and finally one whom Wynnie was waiting to capture on camera. “Derbail ingen Neill,” said the herald, and Derbail stood up in the Avonwood row. Wynnie had her camera ready and snapped a couple of pictures.
“Their Majesties request the presence of their Champions Jose Sao Pacian, Isabella Beatrice della Rosa called Belle, and Bastien de la Mesa.”
The three champions came to the thrones and knelt.
“Now when time came to choose our Champions,” Hrodir said, “I figured, I’m pretty good at defending myself, let’s pick champions who embody other things about Northshield. I wanted to pick some of the people who make Northshield awesome. You see, when I travel around to other realms, people tell me Northshield must be an amazing place, and I don’t want to pat myself on the back too much but I’ve got to say, yes, it is. And Belle is one of those people who makes Northshield amazing.”
Yehudah spoke. “These are some of the people who made our reign possible. You know those nightmares where you’re having a horrible day, nothing’s going right, and then someone swoops in and makes everything better? Well, that was Twelfth Night in my barony one year. Due to, ah, miscommunications, our dinner was, ah, lacking, and, well, we ended up ordering pizza. By the time it came I was so tired I was just sitting there, staring at my food, too tired to eat it. It was a long, stressful day. Well, Belle saw me from across the room and belled up to me — and anyone who thinks “Belle” is not a verb has obviously never met her — and proceeded to pick up my fork, with food on it, and proceeded to airplane it into my mouth. Well, fast forward to last year when I was supposed to be picking Champions, and was getting all stressed about it, saying to Belle how I needed to find someone who just had that essence of mothering down, and she told me to wipe my face and shut my mouth and go do what I needed to do, thus volunteering herself for exactly that position.”
The champions were awarded hugs all around, and after they went back to their seats Their Majesties requested the presence of their chamberlains, Kolfinna, Jane, and Bayard, wishing to recognize them for their service.
“There are so many people we could not have survived this reign without,” Yehudah said, “but especially these three. For a long time, as you know, this was not possible, but when things changed and made it possible, and Hrodir said, ‘So, when am I fighting for you?’ I said ‘Are you serious?’ and when he said ‘Yes’, the first thing I did was to call Valdis. ‘Are you okay with this?’ The next thing I did was to call Margaret and ask if she was okay with this. She was all ready to move to New Zealand. And then I walked across to the table Kolfinna and Jane were at, and said, so, guys, Hrodir says he’s fighting for me. And they were like ‘yup’. And two minutes later they went, okay, they had everything planned out. The efficiency was scary.”
“I’d like to say,” said Kolfinna, “that Bastien was completely new to this whole chamberlain thing, and Jane and I tried to give him warning before he started, so he knew what he was getting into, but it was still, you know, bound to be overwhelming. But when we knew when he had it down was at Twelfth Night, we were discussing dinner plans from opposite sides of the room with only gestures, making faces and waving hands and that. And we were carrying on a whole conversation that way.”
“And you know just how good they are,” Yehudah put in, “because I never had any idea this was going on. Food just. . . happened.”
After the customary hugs, the chamberlains went back to their places behind the thrones.
Yehudah now stood up and addressed the populace. “As many of you know, I have been serving you in the SCA for many years. I’ve been a Baron, a herald, I’ve held lots of offices, and I’ve gotten to get you know you deeply. Last year, as you know, I became Tarkhan, something I’d never done before. And to top it all off, I went to war. In twenty years I’d never been to a war before, not even when I was Polaris herald — hard as it is to believe. I thought I knew Northshield pretty well. But at Gulf Wars I saw Northshield SHINE! I saw the Trimarian allies, in the rapier ravine battle, never once broke their line — because Northshield buttressed that line and kept it firm. I saw Northshield fight with honour and chivalry, and you made me proud to be of Northshield. And I know that you will be the same for our heirs and for the kings and queens who come after them. Because of what you have done, because of Hrodir fighting for me, Northshield is at the forefront of the Known World. The Known World is watching us. And you have shown them that this is nothing to fear, that this is good, that good things can happen in a kingdom whether it is led by two men or two women or a man and a woman as is traditional.”
Now, good reader, to avoid misunderstandings, though Northshield is the first kingdom in the Known World to have two kings, Hrodir and Yehudah are not what first comes to mind (I hope that you noticed the mention of Valdis earlier, and how Yehudah’s wife Margaret was honoured). Hrodir wanted to fight for Yehudah because being king was the only honour Yehudah did not yet have, and Hrodir wanted to do something for all his years of service — and you don’t get much more visible an honour, nor one much higher, than being the king. Furthermore, they researched and found a place, Khazaria, where in period two kings often reigned, one with more control of the military side of things, and one who focused more on the peaceful arts. Since Yehudah’s persona was already Khazar, they structured their reign around that, making sure to have documentation for their choices. If we must have two kings, this is the way to do it.
“Well, now that you’ve shot everything I was going to say out of the water,” Hrodir said when Yehudah sat down again. “I wanted to thank you all, Northshield, for being awesome. Thank you for looking after us and being there with us all through our reign. Thank you for your generosity and your honour and your deeds in war that made me proud to lead you to battle. You are truly a guiding light. Northshield is my pride! Thank you.
“Dignity,” he said, as he sat back down, and sundry people answered, “Always dignity.”
“It’s a cheesy line, but it had to be done,” Hrodir said, and shrugged.
Yehudah stood up again, holding the axe, and resting his hand on it as he spoke. “When we started this I set a term of seven months.”
“Actually, that was in the script,” Hrodir said.
“I set,” repeated Yehudah, “a term of seven months.”
“I need him to pay the mortgage,” said a woman’s voice, presumably Margaret.
“I can arrange that,” said Hrodir.
“No, really,” said Margaret.
“Okay, fine,” said Hrodir.
“Those seven months are now up,” Yehudah continued. “It is time now to call our children to take these burdens.”
“Niall,” said the herald, “come forth.”
Two people came down the aisle, carrying crowns.
“I summon,” called Hrodir, “Konrad der Lowe, heir to the Kingdom of Northshield, who bore out his name by the strength of his body and mind.”
There was a stir behind us, and through the door we had been told not to block came His Royal Highness, in a black tunic with lots of yellow embroidery, and a white belt, bareheaded. “Konrad, the stalking lion, hold fast our hands green and waking,” said the herald as he approached. Very imposing he looked too, stern, and, well, a bit like a certain king in one of Jenny’s stories.
A little girl in a black gown and yellow tabard, wearing a yellow tablet-woven headband with yellow Slavic or Rus temple rings, was following him. She was clutching a brown book close to her, and tripping on her hem either in nervousness or because she was trying to keep up with HRH’s long strides. The contrast of the two of them was striking. If he was the evil king of Jenny’s he resembled, he had chosen an uncharacteristic attendant.
At the end of the aisle he bowed low, once to each of Their Majesties, and then stood off to the left side of the thrones with his shoulders back, his chin up, and his hands clasped behind him. The little girl bowed also, and stood beside him with her book.
During all this, the herald was still reading. “Ere you stride the boar-road to fortress-breaking. The skalds sing of your eagle-feeding, let them also brag of your coin-strowing. We have watched you strike with griffin’s talons, now open your arms to hall-fellows. If you accept this braband, prove yourself a ring-giver. May your mind be as just as your sword is sharp, and may the blood-swans alight on your foes as you shield your kinsmen and rule these lands.
“Do you claim to be the rightful heir to the crown of Northshield?”
“I do.” His voice was harsh, and he said the words firmly, with his head up and his feet apart, as if challenging anyone to contradict him.
“The ancients,” the herald said, “when they were to choose a king, were wont to stand on stones planted in the ground to proclaim their votes, in order to foreshadow from the steadfastness of the stones, that the deed would be lasting. Now act we in their stead. Does the Kingdom Seneschal bear witness to the right of Konrad der Lowe and Aibhilin Fionn as victors and rightful heirs to the crown of Northshield?”
Eilis the Seneschal, Lars the Earl Marshall, and a finalist in the crown tournament all bore witness.
“Do the Peers of Northshield bear witness?”
“Do the Barons and Baronesses of Northshield bear witness?”
“Shall all of Northshield bear witness!”
“Know now what it means to bear the Crown.”
Hrodir and Yehudah took turns reading what followed. “The King and Queen must remain loyal to their people, who depend upon them to defend the Kingdom.”
“They must be bold of heart, for they are the point of the sword that all follow in battle.”
“They must seek the path of justice without bias or personal interest, and their judgements must be tempered by humanity and mercy.”
“They must strive for excellence in all endeavors, not for their own good but for the good of the Kingdom.”
“As the embodiment of all that is Northshield, their service will inspire others to greater service.”
“They shall inspire love and respect in the realm, and their deeds will be remembered long after they have passed from these lands.”
“Understanding all this, do you still desire the Crown of Northshield?” Yehudah finished.
“I do,” His Highness said again, just as firmly as the first time.
“Bring forth your consort, on whom you would bestow the perfect crown,” Yehudah said.
“Aibhilin, gold-throated sparrow,” the herald began.
Down the aisle behind us came the Princess in a black and gold apron dress, with a long yellow (probably silk) mantle trailing behind her. We rose as she came. One of her ladies scampered after her to twitch the end of it straight before she got too far down the aisle, then jumped back with a whispered “It was crooked” to one of her fellow attendants. They giggled, and stood in the back to watch.
The herald was, of course, still speaking. “You flew to us from strange lands west of the Danelaw. Your sweet voice and clever hands have won the hearts of our people. Keep that love by strowing Freyja’s tears and silken strands to the Griffin’s kin. Let your lands be welcoming and generous like Freyja’s green-fin folkbinder. We may come to call you,” an unpronounceable Norse name, “and silk-strower, blissings-bride, for a triple blessing.”
The Prince moved to the other side of the thrones, the left side from the audience’s point of view, and took the Princess’s hand to present her to Their Majesties, and she bowed. Then they kissed.
“If you accept this brauband,” the herald added, “prove yourself a peace-seeker and a thirst-slaker, a ring-Norn and a scald-patron, and may Freyja drape you in her silken cloak, and bring you warm fruit and vines to richen all of Northshield henceforth.”
Yehudah next took up the charge. “Knowing the path that lies before you, and the responsibilities that lie with you, as well as your consort, will you take up the mantle of Queen and join him on the Griffin throne?”
She answered, more softly than her husband, “I will.”
“Then swear this oath.” Hrodir unsheathed the sword.
The girl in attendance on the Prince handed the book to Their Highnesses and stepped back, but His Highness got down to his knees and beckoned her to him again. He handed her the book, with some instructions, and she opened it and held it against her body so they could both read. Yehudah took the naked Northshield sword and set its point on the floor. Their Majesties put their hands on the hilt, and then Their Highnesses did.
From the book they read, “I swear to keep and confirm to the people of Northshield the laws, customs and traditions of the realm; to defend, strengthen, and maintain them to the best of my ability; to seek the wise counsel of our Peers, Baronage and people. I shall do and keep in all my domains and judgments, true and right in mercy and truth. To be vigilant as I guide her people, to be diligent in my service to all, and to light the way from the Stellar Thrones. May all my strength fail me, and the world turn against me, if I break this solemn oath.”
“Thus swear I, Konrad der Lowe.”
“Thus swear I, Aibhilin Fionn.”
Now the Prince stood in front of Hrodir, who took off his crown, handed it to an attendant, and then took the new crown. The Prince went to one knee to make it easier for Hrodir to reach his head, and Hrodir crowned him. Then Konrad took the other crown Hrodir gave him. Aibhilin knelt in front of the thrones, facing him. Konrad lifted the crown and said, very formally, “My love.” He set the crown carefully on her head. . .
. . . and raised her to her feet.
Hrodir and Yehudah took semicircular cloaks in black and gold, with the Northshield device on them. Hrodir put one on Aibhilin, and then the other around Konrad’s shoulders. Aibhilin was still struggling with the clasp on hers, and Hrodir asked her if she would like some help, and (while Konrad, ignoring the clasp on his, stood and waited) fastened it for her.
The new King and Queen turned to face us, holding hands.
Yehudah threw up his arms and said, “People of Northshield, behold your King and Queen! Vivant!”
“Vivant!” we cried, and they kissed, a moment Wynnie was too excited about to be able to get a good picture of it. Hrodir and Yehudah, in the background behind them, hugged.
“Sing we now of shuldr’s rule,” the herald declared, “as we welcome Konrad and Aibhilin, Konungr ond Drottning, who shall follow where he trod. His boots left clear marks in the snow for all of the shulding. He was just and kind, and your reign shall echo gloriously in the sagas of the kings, as befits those who spring from the half-blind Wanderer.” He paused, then said in quite a different tone, “Vivant!”
“Vivant!” we said again, clapping.
Hrodir and Yehudah prepared to leave the thrones. Konrad had ended up holding the sword, and had to tuck it under his arm to hug them, which looked difficult to manage (the new king also not seeming to be nearly as much of a “hugging” sort as the previous rulers); then Hrodir and Yehudah slipped away without fanfare, and our new rulers took their seats.
“You may take your leisure,” His Majesty told us, and we sat back down.
The first thing they did was to request the presence of Yehudah ben Yitzhak. He’d gone around the the top of the aisle we were next to, and came down acting appropriately surprised.
“It is known that a man who has reigned as — Khagan — of Northshield,” said the herald, with a slight stutter over khagan because in the book the wording is king, as we’d never had a khagan before, “bestows his word and bond to rule this fruitful Kingdom, guiding the populace with a stern but kindly hand, leading them in peace or the strife of war. To be the steward of so great a land is a heavy burden indeed. Therefore, it is appropriate that those who have served as — Khagan — of Northshield and have honorably retired shall continue to be numbered among the nobility of the Kingdom. He shall be recognized with the title and rank of Count.
“A Count therefore cannot be created by the decree of any King, but only acknowledged. These Counts shall bear as their emblem a coronet embattled of gold, ornamented as they see fit. By token of this coronet they shall be recognized as persons of great merit and consequence. They shall be addressed as ‘my Lord Count’ or Your Excellency’, and great respect shall be given unto them.”
His Majesty took a coronet that looked like it matched the one given to Margaret earlier in the day, and put it on Yehudah. Their Majesties rose and spoke to him, also, though we were too far away to hear much of it, and at the end of it Her Majesty hugged him again, but His Majesty did not (he didn’t impress us as being the huggy kind of person).
“For Count Yehudah: Vivat!” the herald said as Yehudah went up the aisle and passed us. Without his cloak now, we got mostly the impression of a very orange kaftan, which reminded me of the one HE Toyaoka had mentioned being given to him when he was king.
Nothing was done for Hrodir, because this was his fourth time reigning, and the SCA only provides honours for people who have reigned once (Count or Countess) or twice (Duke or Duchess).
Now earlier, in the back of the room, we’d seen Lord Manfred standing by a tapestry. A little while ago he’d moved the tapestry aside, seen that it was hiding something like a sound booth with a shelf in it, and hopped up onto the shelf to sit. The tapestry hid most of him from view, but he could still see out the gap between it and the wall. While Yehudah’s recognition was going on, I saw Hrodir come to the back of the room and go to stand by the tapestry with his back to it. Manfred whisked it aside and grinned at him, but he didn’t notice, so Manfred let it fall back into place.
I laughed and Wynnie said, “What? What?”
“You missed it,” I had to say.
Their Majesties’ attendants joined them, and then their herald announced the expulsion of Patrick av Dreibrucken.
“Their Majesties request the presence of any of the members of the Chivalry who wish to swear fealty at this time.”
Quite a crowd came forward and filled the aisle and spilled over into the sides of the throne area. Those with coronets (HG Vladimir was one of them) took them off. The foremost knelt with their hands on the sword, which Their Majesties (who had stood up) were holding, with its point on the floor.
“I here swear fealty and do homage to the Crown of Northshield,” they said, all together, instead of reciting each line after a herald read it, as normally happens, which confused me at the time. “To ever be a good knight and true, reverent and generous, shield of the weak, obedient to my liege-lord, foremost in battle, courteous at all times, champion of the right and the good. Thus swear I,” and then they said all their names at once, resulting in an indistinct mumble.
“We accept your gifts of fealty and homage,” Her Majesty said.
“And will rely on you to advise us wisely,” His Majesty added.
“As you light the way for Northshield with honour and charity,” she continued.
“We will act toward you respectively in all things,” he said, looking around at the kneeling knights.
“Protecting you with Our aid, and rewarding you with Our love,” the Queen said.
“But may all strength fail, and the world turn against, any who would break their solemn oath,” His Majesty finished.
The knights all took their knights’ chains off. Their Majesties went one by one through the knights and put the knight’s chains around each knight’s neck. Her Majesty kissed each one before she replaced it. Those who were still holding their coronets replaced them as they went back up the aisle.
The Laurels were called up next to make their oaths. Bart was, for once, wearing his coronet, but Ealdred was bareheaded. When the Laurels finished, as they were dispersing, someone in the front said, “Oh, Simon, would you give us the honour of your assistance? Just stand with us for a moment, it won’t take long.”
Then the herald requested the presence of the companions of the order of the Pelican who wished to swear fealty, as they come next in the list of fealty oaths in the Northshield Boke of Ceremonies. Master Simon stood a little left of the thrones with his hands clasped in front of him, waiting to see what his help was needed for.
“Most noble members of the Order of the Pelican,” said His Majesty, when they had come up and were kneeling, all ready to give their oaths, “Master Simon has served Northshield long and faithfully, and we wish to recognize this. Is it your will that he should be put on vigil to weigh the honour of his elevation to your company?”
“Aye,” they replied.
“Thank you. And now, — patient — Pelicans, you may give your oath.”
The Pelicans made their oath, and after them the Royal Peers, the Masters of Defense who wished to swear fealty or pledge service (three of them did so), the Officers of State, and the landed Barons and Baronesses.
“Are you going to go up when it’s our turn?” I asked Wynnie.
“Yes, but just because I am doesn’t mean you should.”
“What do I do?”
“Swear fealty or pledge service.”
“I’ll probably pledge service since we’re not as involved.”
When TRM requested the presence of any members of the populace who wished to swear fealty or pledge service, we got up. Most people had already been up once or twice or thrice, but there were still some people in the crowd who hadn’t been.
“Try to get with our group,” Wynnie said. We had been quick to get up, but already the press of people was thick, and I put my hand out for her to take so we wouldn’t get separated, kept my eyes on Jean and Lord Iain, and managed to squeeze through. I put my hand on Lady Leigh’s shoulder just in time.
“I here swear fealty and do homage,” we said, the wording being a little indistinct in that phrase as some of us said “pledge service”, “to the Crown of Northshield. I will faithfully guide to those who seek my aid, loyally serve the Griffin Realm, and by my honour and actions, light the way. Thus swear I,” and once again, the names all being spoken at once turned into a mumble. Except for one voice, which clearly said, “Isabella Beatrice della Rosa,” and, just as everyone else finished, added into silence, “Called Belle.” We laughed.
“We accept your gifts of fealty and homage,” Her Majesty said.
“And will act toward you respectively in all things,” His Majesty said.
“Protecting you with Our aid,” Her Majesty continued, “and rewarding you with our — lots of — love.”
“But may all strength fail,” His Majesty added, looking out over the throng, “the world turn against, any who break this solemn oath.”
Those who had been kneeling now rose, and those of us who were already standing turned and looked around us. We slowly moved back to where we were, and took our seats again.
“There being no further business,” the herald said, “the court of Konrad and Aibhilin is now suspended until four o’clock.”
Their Majesties rose and took hands to come up the aisle.
“Long live the King!” the herald cried as they stepped forward, and “Long live the King!” we answered.
“Long live the Queen!” he said, they now being about halfway up.
“Long live the Queen!” we agreed.
I braced myself for what was coming next, knowing it would be loud.
“Long live NORTHSHIELD!”
“Long live NORTHSHIELD!” TRM were about level with us now, and we stood up for them and saw them join in the cry.