Now Comes the Knight, part 4

(Yes, I realize I didn’t post yesterday. I think I forgot what day it was. For those of you anxiously waiting, I hope to get the next bit of Wind Age out today.

(This is the last installment of the Coronation story, with lots of pictures, as usual.)

 The photographer from earlier, whom we had last noticed by the rapier lists, reappeared, sitting by himself again on the slope below the royal pavilion.

 “Let’s try to go talk to him again,” I said. “I think he might be one of us and not know it yet.”

 “He kind of has that look,” Wynnie agreed. “You go first.”

  She ended up reaching him first, and sat down a few feet away on his left. I sat down between them; he looked up and nodded, and I pulled my distaff out of my belt and put it between my knees again. The hill was steep enough that I could sit with my feet flat against it and still have a proper lap.

 “Hello,” the photographer said.

 “Hello,” I said. He’d probably already been given “the spiel” about the SCA, and the lady with the houppelande had explained the fighting to him, and anyway I knew very little of use about how that worked. I could say something about how combat is probably the most visible of the things we do, but that was such a common thing to say I could almost bet he’d already heard it. So I said, “Are you from the paper?” “The” paper, as if I were a local.

 “No,” he said with a smile. “I’m just a photographer. As you’ve probably already guessed.”

 I asked what I was most curious about. “Had you heard of the SCA before today?”

 “Not until about a week ago,” he said. “Someone who makes a lot of clothes for this called me and said it’s the sort of thing I might be interested in, so I came by. I didn’t even know there was anything going on this morning — inside.”

 “The fighting —” I began, realized that this wasn’t going to be new, tried to think of a way to change what I was saying, gave up, and plunged on all in the space of a second, “is probably the most easily visible thing we do, but we are a lot more than that. This morning was a Coronation, which is usually the biggest event in the kingdom, so there were a lot of people here for that. But other people cook or make pottery or clothes. . . we do pretty much everything.”

 “What are you making?” he asked.

 “String,” I said, then hoping he hadn’t taken me too literally, added, “Well, yarn, actually. You start with a fleece, sheep’s wool, and wash it and comb it, that makes roving, and then wind that on the distaff, which is called dressing the distaff, and then most people use ribbon to secure it, but I didn’t have ribbon, so I used yarn I already had.

  [Parts of this manuscript were tragically lost. We have outside evidence to confirm that this was not the end of this conversation, and we know that after this incident several valuable things happened, but of them only this following scene has survived, without context. -Ed.]

  We went around, skirting the rapier lists. As we passed we saw two gentles, who were not fencing at the moment, in conversation with a mundane visitor. One of them had a venerable beard, and as we passed we heard him say: “Based on an honour system, so you’ll see a lot of chivalry.”

[. . . .]

  I noticed the photographer gentleman talking to a mundane couple, gesturing over the crowd somewhere in the direction of the royal presence, confirming our suspicion that he was indeed one of us but didn’t know it yet. I also noticed that Kita Joru Toramassa, and a fighter who wasn’t currently doing anything, were talking to the museum tour group.

  A knot of people was standing by the church, having their pictures taken and talking. They puzzled me. The men were all wearing nothing but black, not a speck of trim, or spurs, or even a medallion to add interest, and their coats were all an identical boring square. The women (one in black, one in red, and one in green) had neither sleeves nor backs to their dresses, nor veils of any kind. Their clothes looked like they had been made on a shortage of fabric, with no gores anywhere, and in addition to the complete absence of sleeves, their hems barely touched the ground. Their skirts were close-fitting to the knees, and even below the knees their gores were skimpy indeed. All three of the dresses were covered in sequins — so probably trying to approximate a Middle Eastern look — but did they not know any better ways to say these were their most expensive clothes? Trim in a contrasting colour, embroidery, substantial gores, a train perhaps, or even just sleeves, would all have been far better ways to convey the impression of “best”. The only one which wasn’t the same colour all over was the black one, which had gold at the neck, very properly for Northshield, but why no corresponding decoration at the hem as well?

  “What can they be doing?” I asked Wynnie. “Over there, by the church.”

  “Prom,” she said.

  “Explain.”

  “Prom. They’re going to prom, so they’re having their pictures taken.”

  Then slowly I began to understand what I was seeing. For a moment I had looked at them, ordinary mundanes in ordinary modern fashions, and thought of them not only with medieval vocabulary but looked at them with medieval eyes. For once, the SCAdian crowd was in the majority. Others of us, in Japanese or French or German or Irish garb, from the sixth century and the fourteenth and the sixteenth, were walking past the church with baskets, children, food, water — giving the prom-goers hardly a glance, absorbed in our other world. An invisible wall separated us.

  It was not a magic moment, I realized, as I went on staring and thinking. It was, rather, a magic hour, a magic afternoon, a magic day. I had transitioned into the Current Middle Ages so completely that I had looked at ordinary modern people, the kind I see every day at school, as foreigners. This one moment where the spell was broken was the way of telling us that we had been under the spell, otherwise we would have been so thoroughly enchanted we would not have known.

  The girl in the green-blue dress left the group and came as far as the bike path to take a picture of the crowd, then hurried back, her stride uneven in high heels on the grass. The prom-goers left.

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  A lady wandered from the hill to stand and watch the rapier fighting in almost exactly the same place where the green girl had stood. She was wearing a white oval veil and a gray cotehardie, and the trees’ shadows fell over her and made branching patterns on her garb in addition to the shadows between the folds at the side of her skirt. The toes of red shoes peeked out from under a hem that trailed on the concrete. She had none of the glitter and sparkle of the other girl, as she stood there with her hands on her hips, watching thoughtfully, but everything about her carefully-chosen garb said that this was her best. The veil was fine enough it might have been silk. The cotehardie was only grey, but you knew it was wool. Red shoes were definitely expensive. She had worn her best to honour her King and Queen that day.

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  Perhaps it was because I had brought my distaff and spindle, to have something to do that AEschild would really have done, that I had slipped so completely into her character. Perhaps calling them lorh and spinal (except to the photographer gentleman, which would only have confused him) had helped influence the new way I saw the world. Or perhaps it was the SCA as a whole, our kingdom gathered on this lawn, the knowledge of being at home here, of for once not being the weird one, that gave me the courage to approach total strangers and explain what was going on. The SCA does change the way you see things, I already knew.

  The herald announced this bout was to be His Grace Vladimir Radescu against His Excellency Rhys ap Owen ap Gwyn, and Wynnie and I turned our attention to the lists.

  “Who d’you bet will win?” I asked. “If you did bet.”

  “Well, he’s a Duke,” she said, nodding toward the taller man, in red and silver. “But His Excellency won more recently.”

  “Exactly,” I said. The two entered the lists and faced each other. Also Rhys, though he had won Crown, was not yet a knight.    

  “Respects having been paid, give heed to the words of your marshals,” the herald told them, and left the lists. They faced each other, Rhys, in blue and silver, with his long sword vertically in front of him; Vladimir with his parallel to the ground. They stood like this for a long time while the crowd held its breath and waited to see who would make the first move.

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  Vladimir lunged, and Rhys parried before the blow reached him, and then they were off. Vladimir took one of Rhys’ legs a minute or so later, and we all thought, “I knew it, Vladimir will win.” Wynnie and I turned to look at the Queen, who was sitting in the throne (her husband had stood up the better to watch the fighting) with someone else’s baby on her lap.

  Then clapping broke out behind us, and the herald said, “The winner is Rhys ap Owain ap Gwyn,” and we looked in surprise at Vladimir getting up off the ground.

  A girl in something that passed for “an honest attempt at pre-seventeenth-century clothing” if you were generous, carrying a piece of paper, went hesitantly up to the royal presence, bowed, and stood on one foot till the Queen smiled at her and beckoned her nearer. The girl came a little closer and handed her the paper, which Wynnie said later had a picture of a crown on it. Her Majesty accepted it with delight, and said she’d have to put it on her fridge at home.

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  We heard that Troll was about to close, and remembered that since we hadn’t gone inside to eat, as was the original plan, we had forgotten to pay. Therefore we hurried inside to take care of that.

  Outside was full of shouts and announcements and the banging of weapons on shields, and the sun was beating down out of an almost cloudless sky. Inside was cool and dim, and very few people were around. Some musicians, with stringed instruments, were singing, but they were in harmony.

  We got in line for Troll. “Member card?” asked one of the Gate workers of the lady in front of us.

  “Expired,” she said.

  “Write it down anyway.”

  “Oh, more people,” said the one nearest us, looking up. “We’ll need to start a new sheet.”

  “Are there site tokens?” asked a gentle who had just gone through.

  “Fealty cards,” said a worker.

  I paid, and wrote my name and mundane signature in the proper blanks, and then went to get a token. I saw several stacks of cards, “Oath of Fealty for Pelican”, “Oath of Fealty for Royal Peer”, and so on, but none, apparently, for an ordinary untitled member of the populace.

  “I recommend a populace one,” said a Gate worker, with a grin.

  “Yes,” I said, “But I don’t —” and, of course, just as I was about to say I didn’t see one, I saw two stacks farther back on the table behind the Laurel cards. “Oh, now I see them,” I said, feeling foolish, and took one.

  We went back outside to the tree where we’d first watched the fighting from. His Majesty was conferring with a couple of marshals and a herald, and we heard him say, “Yes, if you could get someone to announce that.”

  A herald came and stood at the base of the hill and cried, “My lords and ladies! It is now a quarter to four of the clock! Court has been pushed back from four of the clock by one hour! Their Majesties will be on their thrones, holding court, at five of the clock SHARP!”

  Eventually only four fighters remained: Duke Lars Wolfsblut, Taon Orbanus, Togashi Ichiro, and one whose name I have unfortunately forgotten.

  “In the final round will be!” shouted a herald whose voice must have been tired by now, though they did take turns, “His Grace Lars against Taon!”

  “The Honourable Lord!” shouted Taon from across the field, and the herald added, “The Honourable Lord! Taon. They will fight on level ground.”

  The two fighters advanced into the lists. Taon’s wife ducked under the ropes and came to kiss him through his helm.

  Before the fight could begin, Duke Lars lifted his voice.

  “Good gentles! I am a Duke, and this man is but a squire, yet he has fought his way through the ranks today to stand before me. It is unlikely that in this bout he will win. Let it be known that if he loses to me, it is no dishonour to him.” With these words he saluted the other man with his sword, and then threw himself backwards onto the ground and rolled over in an exaggerated imitation of the way fighters fell down when killed. When he got up again, Taon saluted him.

 We cheered, of course, at this show of courtesy, before they could start. When the clapping died down, one of the heralds said, “Your respects being paid, give heed to the words of your marshals” and walked off the field. The marshals lifted their sticks, and the fight began.

  Duke Lars did end up winning, giving Taon second place. Togashi Ichiro took third. There were other prizes for the finalists beside the place of King’s Heavy Weapons Champion.

  Afterward Taon happened to be standing near us when his son came up to him, asking, “What did you win? What did you win?”

  “I won that teapot over there,” he said, gesturing with his sword to a basket with a teapot inside.

  ‘No, but did you win anything?”

  “Not a crown, no,” he said. “That’s later.”

  “So you didn’t win anything, then.”

  ‘Yes I did. Remember how your mother got mad at me this morning, and said things? She really likes that teapot. Me winning it for her will make her happy with me again. That means more than getting first place.”

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the boy said, going off in a sulk.

  “Someday,” said the man Taon had been talking to.

  Lady Rachel came by where we were standing, near the tent for the list table, and said, “Oh, hello, how good to see you here! Have you been having a good day?”

 “Oh, yes, of course,” we said.

  “And, I have to tell you, I was sitting in Court this morning with a lady who was really admiring your spinning, she said your technique was spot-on and you looked like you had stepped out of a picture. I wanted to pass that along.”

  “I think —” I said, “someone came up to me after Court and said almost the same thing, so it might have been the same person.”

  We wandered back to the other side of the hill, wondering where to go next, when someone came from the direction of the church and said, “My lords and ladies! The museum has graciously opened up the church just for us to go look at, and believe me, it’s worth it!”

  “Shall we go see?” Wynnie asked, and we went. As we came around the back of the museum building we saw a white pavilion with gold, red, and green flags, and lettering around it. The part over the doorway read, in dark green, “DISCEDE A LATIFUNDIA”.  

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  “I bet that’s the Laurelled couple’s tent,” I said. Several people were gathered about it, but we were too far away to see exactly who.

  To get into the church one had to step up on the sill of the porch, then onto a stone placed in the gap between that and the bottom of the opening into the church proper. The doorway was oval, and rather too narrow for several of the people in our crowd to get through easily.

  Once inside it was splendid: entirely wooden, and since the wood inside had not been much exposed to the elements, it was still light-coloured. There were no pews, the only place to sit being a bench around the walls. Pillars went up to the arched roof, and intricate beasts were tangled all over the ceilings and walls.

  In the front of the nave, near the alcove for the altar, a fighter in partial armour was leaning against a pillar. He finished singing something, in a foreign language that was most probably Norse, just as we came in.

  “You want a full song?” he said to a woman who had just spoken. “Well, let me think. I might know one.” He paused for a moment, looking up to a corner of the ceiling for inspiration, then began to stamp his foot and tap his hand against his leg, then started to sing.

  This song also sounded Norse, and had a regular refrain. One of the verses contained the name of Olaf Tryggvason. Toward the end he wavered, faltered in a line, stopped, regained his bearings, said, “It’s been a while since I’ve done this one, sorry,” and was able to pick it up again and finish. Probably that church had never heard a song like that in it before; though the original one, in Norway, might well have been familiar with something of the sort. I looked it up later and discovered that it had 86 verses, not counting the refrain after each.

  “Thank you so much for doing this,” said a lady, coming up to him after he finished. “You were one of my magic moments at Pennsic and I wanted to tell you that.”

  At some point during his song, a single mundane woman had come in, and found herself in the midst of a crowd of Vikings, Tudors, 14th-century gentlewomen, the occasional Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Norman, and in the midst of them all, an armoured man singing a story more suited to a mead-hall (of which the church’s architecture was reminiscent) than a church. She stood in the middle and slowly blinked like one in a dream.

  We came out of the church and found Lady Leigh coming toward us. “They’re cleaning up over there,” she told us, “so you might want to go get your basket.” We turned toward that section of the lawn to do so, but had not yet left the hill when Jean met us. He asked us about the idea of helping sew costumes for Romeo and Juliet. “I won’t ask you to do anything else,” he said, “knowing your background, having you read an uncensored Romeo and Juliet —” he shook his head and laughed.

  “I’ve read the original Romeo and Juliet,” I said, “It’s not Shakespeare we have a problem with, but acting in general.”

  “Ah, I get it,” he said. “Well, put it this way — I’m going to be spending my summer teaching two teenagers to kiss passionately. Yeah, it’s awkward. Are you staying for Court?”

   “We have to leave,” Wynnie said.

  “Really? You sure?”

  We sadly informed him that we were.

  “Well, I’m glad you guys — ladies, I mean — could make it out here for today,” he said. “You may not make it to work days, but you make it here, and that’s — frankly, that’s something not a lot of people actually do. You make it to the important things.”

  The obligatory hugs followed, and then we were free to go find our basket. The lists were almost all dismantled by the time we got to it, sitting alone and forlorn in the grass.

  “I want to take pictures of you in the church,” Wynnie said. “You think we have time for that?”

  I thought so.

  We went back to the church and set our things in a corner of the porch, with my spindle on top of the pile and my distaff leaning against it, where it was likely to be out of the way and escape notice by any roaming children.

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  Wynnie mostly took pictures of me in the roofed walkway that went around the outside of the church. One wall was solid, being the outer wall of the nave, and the other wall had arches starting about two-thirds of the way up. Behind the place where the altar was, the hall curved instead of going straight. It was a bit like a maze at first.

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I took a few pictures of Wynnie, trying to capture the way the sunlight and dark brown wood made her red bliaut glow, but mostly failed.

Wynnie

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  She had me go through one of the side doors, once, and when I opened the door I heard “and of the golden plains and rolling hills. We are the children of the waters cold and wide, and cool dark forests,” and after that, where we knew the words, Wynnie and I sang along with Shield My Kinsmen. Apparently an impromptu bardic circle had started.

  The second time we came around to that side of the church, they were singing “Drink to the one-eyed Wanderer, for Odin’s sons are we! Drink to the mead that warms. . .”

  Wynnie was taking pictures of me by one of the arches, when her battery ran low. We gasped and looked at each other.

  “But, I have another battery with me!” she remembered, and ran around to the front of the church, dug in the basket, replaced the battery, and went back to work as if nothing had happened.

  Another time she was taking pictures of me by another arch, when a small boy’s head and arm popped through. “Hi,” he said. “How are you?”

  “We are well,” we said, as if it was a normal thing for little boys to climb church walls and stick their heads inside.

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  When Wynnie was finally done taking pictures, we began the official leaving process. First we were going to take our things and load the car. I was trying to carry my distaff, my spindle (which kept wanting to fall out of my belt), and the basket, and Wynnie had everything else.

  “I’d like to say goodbye to Lord Manfred,” Wynnie said.

  “Well, he’s over there,” I said.

  “Where?”

  “There,” I said, pointing.

  The hill went steeply down to the parking lot from the place where we were standing, and the first thing that had caught my eyes was Lord Manfred’s red and white shield, apparently walking along by itself. In fact, a small boy was carrying it, walking behind Lord Manfred himself, who had some weapons and a bundle of gear slung over his shoulder. We ran down to catch him before he got too far, and caught up to him in the parking lot.

  “Not leaving, are you?” he said. “Really? Well, say hi to Jenny for me and give her a hard time for not coming today. I’ll do that too. Did you hear she’s working on a belt for me? She said she got three inches done, and ripped it out, and started over and got about an inch done. She’s doing way more than I expected, going above and beyond, but, y’know, that’s Jenny.”

  We went to pack our respective vehicles, and once we had deposited everything, Wynnie discovered that she was still wearing Jenny’s belt.

  “We should probably also go to the bathroom while we can,” I said, perhaps vaguely remembering the “Rest Area: 90 miles” sign we’d seen on our way in. “We’ll try to catch Jean while he’s still somewhere close.”

  On our way in, a mundane man with two children called to us, “D’you know how much it costs to get into the fair?”

  Fair? I wondered. It’s the wrong time of year. “I’m sorry, what?” I said, stepping closer, trying to gain time.

  “The fair out back. Do you know how much it costs to get in?”

  “Oh! Th-that’s an SCA event, we’re a medieval living-history group. We’re not like a Ren Faire, people get to participate, but one requirement for being in events is an attempt at pre-seventeenth-century clothing. Ordinary people can just watch without needing to pay anything, though. It’s fifteen dollars, and there may be loaner garb available still.”

  “Okay, thanks,” he said, and as we continued on our way into the building I heard him say, “Maybe next time.”

  Fortunately Jean was easy to find in the building, and we were able to hand off the belt to him without much fuss. He’d been of the impression that Jenny was giving it to Wynnie permanently, so he hadn’t thought to say anything.

 You know you are in the SCA when you walk into a bathroom and waiting in line are two Norse women and a lady in a sideless gown, and that is all I shall say about that except that as a wise man truly said, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.”

 “It was quite the event, wasn’t it?” Wynnie said as we went across the lawn to the parking lot. “Long. But loud.”

 “It still is,” I said. “It’s not done yet.”

 As if to illustrate this, someone behind us called, “Wilhelm!” We both turned to see what was going on, and saw a gentle in armour, carrying several weapons, coming around the corner of the building.

 “Hey!” answered someone we didn’t see.

 “I saw you before, but I couldn’t think what to call you, and I knew you didn’t want to be called Keebler, and it didn’t seem right to use Keith, so that’s why that pause before I said anything. Had to go down the list of available names till I got an appropriate option.”

 “Oh, yup, makes sense,” said the other.

  This time when we got to the car we were able to actually leave. We turned left out of the parking lot behind a blue car, which had a stick in the back of a certain distinctive shape.

   “You know you are in the SCA when you can tell someone else is in it because of the weapons in the back of their car,” we said, and I decided to follow him, since he was presumably also leaving site, and might help keep us from getting lost. When we got stopped at a red light and he was far enough to go through it on green, though, we lost sight of him in traffic.

  Some distance from town, on a stretch which was 70 mph, I was driving in the left lane (at the speed limit, for once) to avoid having to get stuck behind the slow semi trucks, when a car passed us in the right lane. Now most people, when they’re passing someone and decide to wave, lift their hand to do so after they’ve gotten beside the other car and see who’s driving it. But this man already had his hand up to wave before he was that close. Wynnie made a sort of automatic return of the wave, which could have been mistaken for anything, and I didn’t dare take a hand off the wheel.

  “Bet he’s a SCAdian!” Wynnie said, and a moment later we were scanning the back window of his car for tell-tale sticks, or bumper stickers. He had two of the latter.  The first one we noticed said “I make MPR happen.”

  “Ooh!” said Wynnie, “I bet he likes classical music!”

  The second was a Northshield sticker, with the white compass.

  “I knew it!” we said.

   But the question remained, how did he know we were SCAdians even before he got beside us? Had he seen us at site and remembered our car? Had Wynnie been leaning in her seat, and from behind he saw one of her braids and assumed that was a medieval fashion? Or does our car just look SCAdian, somehow? We may never know.

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Now Comes the Knight, part 3

(The usual notes: Parts 1 and 2 may be found in the posts immediately preceding this one, in case you want to catch up. Also, according to my sister, pictures do show up in WordPress Reader, so maybe those of you using it have been fine all along.)

“Well,” said Wynnie, once they were gone and people started to move around and talk about lunch. “It’s after noon.”

 “I just had to comment,” said a lady, coming up to me before we could leave our row, “that I’ve been watching your spinning, and I just had to say, your technique, everything, is just right — you look like you stepped out of a picture. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

 “Thank you,” I said, wishing I had something more to say.

 “I’m hungry,” Wynnie said when she had gone. “Let’s go to the car and get lunch. No, let’s go through Troll and get that done. I need a belt. I forgot to ask Jean about it earlier.”

 “Let’s get the belt first, and then get lunch, and go through Troll on the way back in,” I said.

 We went to the row where the other people from our group were packing up their things. “This needs to go downstairs, ‘cause she needs it, like, right now, for this afternoon, and I’m going to put the frame back in the car,” Derbail was saying, waving a piece of embroidery. “And the basket needs to go too.”

 Wynnie asked about a belt. “Yes, Jenny gave us one,” Derbail said. “But it’s in the car still. Here, take the basket of doom to the car.”

 “We forgot to bring it in,” Jean said. “But we do have it for you.”

 “Excuse me,” said the Baroness we’d been sitting with earlier, “but I believe we need to talk.”

 “Oh! Yes,” said Jean. “Right now? Uh, I have to get a belt for her — and this basket — can it wait? No, then, can you talk while we walk? ‘Cause I have errands to run.”

  “Sure, we can walk,” she said, stepping out of the way so he could leave the aisle. They headed for the door, and we followed in their wake, trying not to be in the way but also hoping not to be forgotten.

 “So, it’s been a while,” the Baroness said as we made our way out. The sun was blinding when we stepped out a side door and down some steps into the parking lot.

 “Yes,” Jean said, “and I’m sorry, but it’s been so busy lately, with — I’m directing Romeo and Juliet this summer, and that’s turned into an enormous project, way outgrowing the original vision — and there hasn’t really been much happening, it’s been slow with the group. Of course, the news came early this year about device not passing Kingdom, though fortunately we know it is in Kingdom, and that hit us — hit me — pretty hard. Of course we don’t want a bad device to pass, it’s good to have that level to catch things, but still, it set us back several months.”

 We got to Jean’s car and he opened the back, put the basket in, and said, “Now, there was something else. . . ?”

 “My belt,” Wynnie said sternly.

 “Oh, yes, that’s right. It was in here somewhere. . .” he rummaged by one of the seats and pulled it out. “Is this what you’re looking for? Jenny gave it to us for you, is all I know.”

 “Yep, that’s it,” she said, and proceeded to put it on while Jean and the Baroness were talking.

 “I’m sorry, have you met these ladies yet?” Jean interrupted himself.

 “Not officially,” said the Baroness.

 “This is Winifred,” Jean began, indicating Wynnie.

 “AElfwynn,” she quickly corrected him.

 “Aelfwynn? AElfwynn, of course! Since when has that happened?”

 “Since always.”

 “And this,” he said, going on to me, “is AEschild.”

 “AEschild?” the Baroness said, as most people do, trying to get the pronunciation right.

 “Yes,” I said.

 “I am Samia, and I’m the Transitions and New Groups contact, so I’ve been working a lot with your group — where are you two from?”

 “They’re from the northern edge,” Jean said. “Montevideo, an hour from Marshall.”

 “But we practically live in Marshall,” Wynnie said.

 “Yes, pretty much everyone who lives near there does. We have technically a group based in Marshall, but the people in it who are actually in Marshall are mostly college students, and they don’t have a lot of room for hosting things, so we have things in Tracy, which is at the other end —”

 “I don’t mean to interrupt,” said Simon, coming up behind Samia, “but I’m about to back my car out,” and he pointed to a small blue one right next to Jean’s, “and as I’ve just been put on vigil for Pelican, I don’t want my first service to be running over you.”

 “You’ve been vigiled,” Jean said, “it won’t be your first service.”

 “Well, my first as vigil — vigiled —”

  “Vigilant?” said Samia. “No problem.”

 She and Jean moved to a safer place for talking, and Wynnie and I decided to go get lunch. We went to the other half of the parking lot, where we’d left our car, and got the basket with our bowls, mugs, bread, cheese, and clementines. It’s become our custom to bring these for our meal at events.

 “Shall we eat inside — where shall we eat?” Wynnie asked, when we had everything gathered together.

 Up on the hill beside the building, between the parking lot and a brown church ornamented with dragons’ heads in the proper Norse style, some tents were springing up. “Let’s go over there,” I said.

 “And see if we can find our group,” Wynnie finished for me.

 We headed in that direction accordingly, and found that some of the tents were for list tables, and the list fields were already being marked off with black and neon green tapes stretched between black posts. Though it was easy to spot Lord Iain and Lady Leigh from across the field, the ropes barred our way, so we had to go around. We went behind the gold and black shelter set up for Their Majesties to watch from, on the highest part of the hill, and behind a tent where some rapier fighters were getting ready to fight and taking care of their paperwork, and then around in the open space between the rapier lists and the armoured combat lists (the latter separated into two), to where Lady Leigh was sitting.

 She looked up and said, “Oh, hello,” when we stopped near her. She was sitting in a chair, with a cover to disguise its modernity that she’d probably made herself, and to her left was a table, with two cups and a goblet on it, and to the left of the table a similar chair, only empty. We sat down between it and the rapier list table’s tent. Wynnie got out the bread and bread-knife and the bowls, and cut us bread and cheese.

 Lord Iain, with his marshal’s stick, was walking in the currently empty list field nearest us. All around the lists were piles of gear, duffel bags of armour, swords, shields propped against trees, and people in various stages of changing from Court garb into armour. A tree caddy-corner from us across the field had a green and gold banner propped up on it, and several chairs near it.

 “You sure you don’t want to fight?” said one armoured man to another. “Come on, just a warm up.” The other agreed and they went into the lists. Lord Iain stood to watch them. “We can do just half-speed, half-force or whatever you’d like.” One had a shield and sword, the other no shield and a long sword.

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 “Not bad, you’ve got to watch your leg a little more,” the challenger said when they were done, and went on to ask another man who’d just come into the lists, one in a late-period helmet and big dagged yellow sleeves, for a round. Every time the fighter in white got in a blow on the other’s helmet, it made a loud metallic clang.

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That round ended with the one in white on one knee, and the one in yellow touched his sword to his helmet in acknowledgement of a good fight.  

 We were eating our clementines, and making the discovery that clementines and sharp cheddar taste pretty good together, while we watched people warming up.

 “There is going to be a tournament,” someone announced at some point, “with a real prize, later. Thirty-two fighters will be accepted, and if anyone wants to get in after that, you have to challenge in, so be sure to get signed up for that soon.”

 “What’s the prize, Crown?” asked someone.

 “Nah, Crown is in May,” said someone else.

 About this time we began to notice mundane people stopping to stare. The park has biking and walking trails in it, so on a Saturday afternoon there was bound to be some traffic. Mostly, though, they just watched for a little while, or took some pictures on their phones, and went on again.

 “Do either of you have scissors, or a knife, or something to cut thread with?” Lady Leigh asked us, leaning over and presenting a piece of silver netting to us.

 “I have a knife,” I said, touching the dagger in my belt, while Olivia offered her the green, serrated bread-knife. I remembered that I had something that would probably be better for cutting thread, and said, “Actually, I have scissors.” I dug in my bag for my pocketknife, managed to locate it, opened the scissors, and snipped the thread in the place she indicated.

 When we were done eating we tied up the clementine peels in a cloth napkin, packed our things in the basket again, and wondered what we should do next.

 “I want to take pictures of you,” Wynnie said, “and there’s trees over there,” pointing to a section of the park on the other side of the bike path. “Go, walk.”

 So I went, and on my way I pulled my spindle out of my belt, put my distaff on the left side (for use) instead of the right side (for ease of carrying without poking people with either end), and started to draw out a thread.

 I hadn’t particularly noticed during Court, focusing more on what was going on up front, but my sleeves hadn’t yet posed much of a problem. The four or five times my thread had snapped and sent my spindle thunking onto the floor were more noticeable. Now I added a new level of difficulty and tried to walk while spinning, heading toward the pair of old trees Wynnie directed me to. Once in a while I had to stop walking to make sure I had my thread under control, especially when I was winding it up onto the spindle, and once when she had me run I stopped spinning, and wasn’t very graceful about any of it, but it worked.

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 Wynnie took pictures of me between the trees for a while, and then I (while trying to hang onto my spinning things at the same time) tried to get some pictures of her. I got one crooked one of her upper half that turned out not too badly — she was actually in focus, which is something — she was smiling, and in the background you could see a blur of all kinds of colours, small drops of red and gold and blue against the pale sky and faded green of the grass.

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 When we noticed the crowd swelling, and heard people yelling things indistinct from our distance, we headed back, hoping to catch the beginning of the tournament.

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All the fighters were lined up outside the lists, on the side farthest from us, and paraded one by one past where Their Majesties were standing. Heralds took turns announcing the name of each fighter and who he (or occasionally she) was fighting for, and the fighter would bow to Their Majesties and then duck under the green tape and stand in the lists. TRM were standing close by, not under the yellow pavilion, holding hands. Her Majesty had taken off her yellow mantle and put on a long purple veil, and looked very regal.

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 “Your Majesties, I have the honour to announce Sir Herjolf,” Derbail was saying when we got back to our spot, and Herjolf, in a green tabard over his armour, bowed and then ducked under the rope.

 There were a few couples who went arm in arm before TRM, and who were announced as “fighting for, and with, each other”. Ansila the Goth announced his intention of fighting “for his lady Asny Hafdansdoittor, and her collection of spoons,” which raised laughter from those close enough to hear.

 “Your Majesties, I have the honour to announce Lord Manfred von Falkenhagen,” said a herald, “inspired by Amanda.”

  “Ooh! He’s fighting today,” said Wynnie. “Of course he’s fighting today.”

 One man was announced, and the herald said of him that he was, unfortunately, fighting without inspiration today, and was there any lady willing to be his inspiration today? One ran forward from the crowd sitting on the hill.

 “You can be someone’s inspiration, you know,” Lord Iain told us. “All it takes is cheering your fighter on.”

 The next time someone was announced without inspiration, the silence during which he stood before TRM with decreasing hope was long. Her Majesty finally spoke for him.

 “WIll any lady here be his inspiration?” she asked in her soft voice, looking out and around at all of us gathered to watch. “I know this man to be noble, courteous, true, and gentle, and a good fighter, and he will fight well to make her proud.”

 Wynnie made up her mind and took a few quick steps forward, but she was too slow for a certain lady in a peach-coloured cotehardie, who came flying down the hill. “I will be his inspiration!” she yelled, “and all of you had better fight your hardest, because he will beat all your rear ends, because I am Belle and he is — what was your name again?” she asked more quietly, “because I am Belle and he is Raven!!”

 “Okay, maybe it takes a little more than just cheering for him,” Lord Iain said.

 So many fighters were being announced that those who were already in the lists grew bored, and began talking to each other. One, in early-period armour, was explaining to a couple others how his was getting old and almost in urgent need of replacing; it had barely passed inspection today, but it would hold together a little longer. It certainly had a thoroughly lived-in look. A young fighter in black armour rested his arm across Helgi’s shoulders (Helgi shrank to accommodate him) and asked how college was going.

 When finally everyone had been announced, and were standing in the half of the lists nearer TRM (and quite a crowd it was), His Majesty stepped down to the rope and said, “The prize for this tournament today will be the office of King’s Heavy Weapons Champion. Duties include having to be willing to come with us and represent us all over Kingdom during our reign. There will be other prizes for the finalists.”

 “Fight well,” Her Majesty then told them, “fight bravely, fight with honour, and — please, be safe.”

 Then everyone cleared out of that field, His Majesty went and sat down on the chair in the royal pavilion, Her Majesty disappeared, and the heralds announced the first set of combatants.

 Before each round, the heralds announced who was fighting, who was up next, and who should be preparing to arm. The fighters in the field did honour to the Crown, to the one who inspired them this day, and then to their most noble and worthy opponent. Then, with a final adjuration, from the heralds, to pay heed to the words of the marshals, the fight would begin.

 Wynnie and I made our way around to the other side of the lists, passing the King, to a corner where not too many people were congregated. The opening of the lists, where the heralds were standing, was next to a tree, and we settled ourselves there. She had her camera, and I my spinning.  

 Somewhere around this time I noticed a mundane with a camera, standing at the edge of the crowd, watching the fighting. By this point there were several mundanes scattered about at the edges, and once in a while someone who wasn’t busy would stop to explain what they were seeing. This one looked like he hadn’t just wandered by, but was there on purpose, and that with his camera and his hat made me wonder if he was from a local newspaper. He had a short gray beard.

 During the preliminaries to one bout, a Japanese fighter, when instructed to do honour to his most noble and worthy opponent, lowered his sword, stepped forward to close the distance between them, and embraced the other, saying, “Good fighting, brother.”

 Lord Manfred came and sat on the ground, leaning against another side of the same tree we were under. I was leaning against the side facing the lists, with my distaff through my belt, spinning, and on the third side of it someone had propped a sword and a round shield in concentric black and gold circles, with the white compass in the middle. They might have been loaner gear.

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 His Majesty was sitting in the chair under the awning now, and one of his attendants brought him food. Most of the food for lunch was to be bought off site, which would have meant a lot of people in garb showing up at restaurants.

 “Not fighting today?” I heard someone ask someone else.

 “No, gear’s broken.”

 “What part of it? You, or armour?”

 “Armour.” (This gloomily.)

 “Weak sauce,” said the other. “I mean, good for you not fighting in unsafe armour, and all that. But still — weak sauce.”

 “How do you lose a stick?” I heard from somewhere else.

 “I don’t know. We left it behind at an event, didn’t notice we’d lost it until we got home, so of course we never thought to check lost and found or anything. I think Grimmund has it now, but we haven’t gotten around to asking him.” This story was repeated several times to various incredulous fighters, none of whom seemed to understand how anyone could possible not notice a missing weapon.

 Two fighters met by the entrance to the list, and stopped to talk.

 “I see you’ve switched the glasses for contacts,” said the one on the left. “How’re those working for you?”

 “Oh, they work pretty good as long as I’m not trying to read or write.”

 “Well, you sure aren’t trying to read an’ write while you’re swinging!”

 “Nope!”

 A lady in Norse garb brought around bowls of pickles and pretzels from time to time, reminding the fighters that there was water and Gatorade in the tents, and they should stay hydrated.

  Earl Hrodir came up the hill, carrying a laundry basket full of things for a lady who was walking beside him and chatting as if the last King of Northshield carried her things for her every day. He had taken off his orange caftan and was wearing a bright blue tunic. He still had his torc around his neck.

 Her Grace Petranella came down the hill near us, in her late-period garb (the fabric the same as her husband’s) and wide skirts, saying how much steeper it was than it looked, and something about “these shoes”. Knowing her, hers were probably historically accurate.

 A lady went up the hill carrying a little round jar by a green and blue tablet-woven strap that passed through both handles.

 Somewhere around this time we noticed that the photographer we’d seen earlier was sitting on the ground between the royal awning and the lists. He was alone.

 “Wynnie,” I said, “there he is again. Let’s go talk to him — give him the spiel.”

 “You go,” she said.

 “Come with me. I need moral support. I’m going to be the one talking to a stranger.”

 But we’d barely started forward when a lady in a purple houppeland sat down beside him, sleeves and train trailing everywhere, and said, “So, are you understanding anything that’s going on?”

 Wynnie and I went back to watching the fighting.

 His Majesty came down to the lists to suggest to a marshal that two fights go on at once, one in each of the lists, to speed things up. A herald accordingly made the announcement, and then the heralds and marshals split up between fields. Wynnie and I stayed where we were and focused on the nearer field.

 Lord Manfred came back from a bout and stopped next to us, with his helmet off. “Hey, nice to see you again, where’s Jenny?”

 “She had to work in Marshall at six tomorrow morning, and wasn’t guaranteed to get back by that time,” we said.

 “But, priorities! I mean, it’s good that she’s being responsible and all that, but. . .”

 “Well. . .” we said.

 “Hey, like the tabard? I made it myself, all on a machine — don’t tell Jenny.” It was quarterly black and red, with his gold and white devices on the front.

 “Is it hot?” Wynnie asked.

 “The gambeson is, ‘cause it’s padded, but this is just one layer, so no. I like the gambeson ‘cause it isn’t bulky and poky like metal, and it’s warm but kind of cool too, especially in Northshield weather with a breeze going right through you.”

 “Where’s Amanda?” Wynnie asked.

 “Sleeping. In our hotel room. She was tired.”

 He sat down against “our tree” and rested for a while until one of the heralds said, “And arming should be Lord Manfred —”

 “That’s me,” he said, getting up with a grunt.

 “von Falkenhaagen —”

  “Falkenhaegen,” he said.

 “And Lord Helgi Moosebane,” continued the herald, who hadn’t heard him.

 “Hey, can you put my helmet on?” Manfred asked, picking it up off the ground.

 “Can I?” Wynnie said, doubtful.

 “Can you tie a shoe?”

 She had to admit that she could.

 “Then you can do this.” He put it on with a grimace, groped for the ties (which looked suspiciously like shoe laces), and handed them to her.

 As she stood behind him, frowning in concentration, I wished I dared tell them to stop and wait while I grabbed our camera. He was kneeling with his knees spread apart and his hands on his knees, bracing against her pulling on the laces. Her red bliaut and big sleeves matched his red armour and the ground of his tabard, and her blonde braids (wrapped in red ribbon) went with the gold of his device and the sun shining on both of them. They looked like a medieval couple, and of course there is all the symbolism and courtesy wrapped up in the picture of a lady putting her knight’s helmet on for him. Amanda wasn’t even there to watch Manfred fight, let alone helping him. Wynnie was being more of his inspiration at that moment. The tree arched over them like a frame, and I felt in that moment as though I were truly looking on at a medieval scene, not a painting come to life but the original from which the painting — something by a Pre-Raphaelite, with their love of extravagant sleeves and deep colours would have chosen — would someday be made.

 She finished and stood back, and Lord Manfred got to his feet just as Helgi (in green) walked past him into the lists, sword on shoulder.

 “Go get him,” Wynnie said to Lord Manfred as he followed.

 Manfred went up to the herald standing in the middle of the lists, and informed her that his name was pronounced Falkenhaegen, not Falkenhaagen.

 Helgi fights left-handed, and Lord Manfred is right-handed, so that made it fun to watch. Eventually, though — and SCA fighting doesn’t take nearly as long as movie fighting — Helgi collapsed onto the ground and Manfred stood over him to help him up.

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 “The winner of this round is Lord Manfred von Falkenhaegen,” the herald said.

 Lord Manfred went out of the lists beside and a little behind Helgi, and said something encouraging to him.

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 His Excellency Rhys was fighting also, and at one point he had to leave the fighting because of something happening to his armour. Gwen, who was also fighting, came up to him with a roll of dark blue duct tape, though I had not noticed any communication between them (in SCA fighting, it’s usually safe to assume duct tape will come in handy).

 “How’s it going, babe?” she asked. “What needs work?”

 “Across the back of the glove there, across the wrist,” he said, holding out his right hand, “half a strip should do it.”

 She tore off about a foot of tape, tore it in half, and stuck the spare piece to his blue tunic, and wrapped the other around the wrist of his gauntlet.

 “Should hold,” he said, turning it. “Thanks.”

To be continued.

Posted in Non-fiction, SCA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Now Comes the Knight, part 2

(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.

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  “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.

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 “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.

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 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?”

 “Aye!”

 “Do the Barons and Baronesses of Northshield bear witness?”

 “Aye!”

 “Shall all of Northshield bear witness!”

 “AYE!”

 “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.

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 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.

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   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.

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 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. . .

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. . . 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!”

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 “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.

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 “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).

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 “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.

 “Are you?”

 “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.

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Now Comes the Knight, part 1

Here at last is the story from Northshield’s Spring Coronation! I’ll be posting it in sections, so you don’t have one post that’s 17,000 words long. On the last day of writing, I accidentally lost my entire day’s work, so there is a definite gap in the narrative. It still hurts to think about, but. . . at least I have the rest.

As usual, I have not really edited or proofread this, so expect the occasional typo.

Those of you using WordPress Reader may want to switch to reading the actual post on the blog, as this story contains pictures.

* * * * *

The early morning of April eighth found Wynnie and me in the car, heading north almost to the Canadian border (or so it felt), in garb. We were going to Northshield’s twenty-sixth Coronation.

 Wynnie was wearing her red bliaut (with sleeves of doom), and I was wearing my blue cotton cyrtel with the moderately-sized boat-shaped sleeves. I had also brought along my distaff and spindle, their first trip to an event, and was planning on doing some actual spinning at the event. It didn’t occur to me until we were well on our way, the first time I got a sleeve caught on the steering wheel when I was trying to turn, that perhaps these sleeves weren’t the best for spinning in.

  The event was held at Moorhead’s museum the Hjemkomst Center. I found out later that Hjemkomst is Norse for homecoming, and in addition to that, our Prince and Princess at the time have Norse personae.

 We arrived at site around a quarter to ten, having managed not to get lost on the way up. I arranged my veil properly, using one of the car’s mirrors. We got out and stretched ourselves and arranged our layers of garb, and I laced Wynnie up.

 “Oyez!” came a shout from the direction of the building. “Court will begin in fifteen minutes!”

 “So, almost on time, then,” we said, and started unloading the car. Wynnie had her camera bag and a belt bag but no belt, and I had my distaff and spindle and my pilgrim’s bag. We left the cooler and basket with lunch in the car until later. Wynnie got out her five dollars and waivers, and I made sure I still had my money bag with me, and then we were ready to go in.

 The line for Troll was long, and we were just within sight of the table when a lady came down the line saying, “Court is set to start in ten minutes, so if you want to get seats, it’s okay to come pay later.” After a hurried consultation with someone else, she amended the time to five minutes.

 “Okay, let’s go in,” Wynnie said at last. “We need to find our group, and I need a belt.” We broke out of the line and went into the room for Court. Most of the seats were full already. It was easy to find our group by looking for Lord Iain’s garb and Jean in excited conversation with somebody. They had seats on the right side of the center aisle, about the middle of the section.

 “Good morning,” Wynnie said to Lord Iain, who said he was glad to see us, but Jean did not notice us until we went around to the other side and stood right next to him.

 “Oh, good morning! I didn’t see you, how long have you been standing there?” was his greeting, with a bow to accompany it. Wynnie returned a curtsey.

 “Sorry we have no Jenny with us today,” she said.

 “That’s sad, but it’s okay, you guys — ladies — made it,” he said, and hugged her. Turning to me, he added, “And here, I know you’re socially awkward, but come on.”

 My distaff and spindle were in my belt for ease of carrying, which made me not exactly safe to hug, as I tried to point out, but there was no avoiding it.

 “Are these seats taken?” Wynnie asked, pointing to two in the row, which had a purple plaid draped over them.

 “I don’t know. Probably. You’ll want to get seats soon,” Jean said.

 We went to try to find a place. Lord Manfred was standing by a tapestry against the back wall, but when we approached him we got swept up in a group of people just coming in, and were carried past him. Although we both waved, he couldn’t see us. Ajax, and the boy famed for being the youngest rapier fighter in Kingdom, and a Japanese man, were also back there, leaving us no room to stand by him without being in the way.

 Behind the back row, on the floor, was an open spot where we could sit and peer around the chair at the thrones. Wynnie decided that was as good a place for taking pictures as we were likely to get, so we settled down there with our spinning and camera bags and other assorted baggage, finding that we actually took up quite a bit of room this way, even when we had our skirts tucked up and were practically sitting on each other to use as little space as possible.

 Almost as soon as we had gotten in place, and with quite a few people standing around in the back and by doorways because there was neither room nor time for them to get a place to sit, one of the people already gathered around the thrones said “Oyez!”

 We heard singing from the other side of the room, and looked, and saw the royal procession coming toward us from the farther door. At their head was a woman carrying a weapon of some kind, and singing. I won’t try to reproduce it here. Each verse ended “Up spears, the South! Out swords, the North!” People rose and bowed, or knelt, or stood, and then the procession reached us and we scrambled up. Their Majesties, who seemed to be wearing mostly red and orange, passed us, then the last of their champions and attendants, and they gathered at the front by the thrones, standing until the singer had reached the very last iteration of “Up spears, the South! Out swords, the North!” with especial vigour. Then Their Majesties sat down and the other attendants found their places, and finally one of them, Hrodir it might have been, said, “Please, be comfortable.”

 We sat back down.

“Their Majesties request the presence,” said the herald, “of Grainne.” A woman in blue early-period garb, with a green blanket wrapped like a cloak, came up to the front and knelt.

 “She presented a poem to us at Twelfth Night and we wish her to present it to the populace of Northshield as well,” Hrodir said. The lady stood off to the side of the thrones and read her poem, beginning, “Listen to the worth of Northshield’s Khagan! Listen to the value of Northshield’s Bek!”

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When she finished she knelt again, and they thanked her, and then she returned to her seat.

 “Their Majesties request the presence of Kita Joru Toramassa,” the herald said. A very tall man in black and yellow Japanese garb came down the aisle, with a small woman in Japanese following him.

 “Your Majesties,” he said, upon reaching the thrones, “my mother has something she wishes to present to you.”

 “Ah, very good,” said Hrodir. “But we hear tell that you are a sorceress.”

 To this the lady replied something so quietly we didn’t hear, but Yehudah laughed and said, “Oh! So now you’re an assassin?” with eyebrows raised. “Oh, but you only do small things. I see.”

 “She said, after she had me, she’d only ever make small things again,” Kita Joru said.

 Some more inaudible conversation went on, and then TRM requested the presence of Anne. A stout lady in black and yellow Norse garb came to the front, and the Japanese lady handed her and Hrodir two packages wrapped in tissue paper. They opened them and admired their contents, and then Hrodir held up a picture in a frame.

 “She’s painted pictures of us from when we were reigning,” he said. “This is the photograph,” waving the framed picture, which was at least six inches wide, “and this is her painting.” He held up a tiny square that was perhaps three inches across. “She makes us look delicate! All my life I’ve wanted to be delicate. Thank you,” he said, to Kita’s mother.

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 They bowed and went back up the aisle, and Anne went back to where she’d come from.

 “Their Majesties request the presence of those members of the populace who went to Gulf Wars and didn’t fight,” the herald said. Nearly a dozen people came and knelt in the area in front of the thrones.

 “After Gulf Wars,” said Yehudah, “we paid our troops, of course, but we didn’t notice our oversight until later, that we hadn’t paid the others who had made the trip all the way from Northshield, not to fight but to be there with us and support us. War is an experience not only for those in armour and fighting. It takes people to bring water and food, to put up tents and take down tents, to make a crowd, to increase Northshield’s presence. This deserves recognition too.”

 Their Majesties stood up. “These are joint King’s Ciphers,” Yehudah said, holding up something that was silver in the light. “On one side is his boar and on the other side are my polka dots.” They began handing them out to the people kneeling there.

 “For the populace of Northshield who went to Gulf Wars and didn’t fight,” said the herald, pausing to draw breath, “Vivant!”

  “Vivant!” we replied, as they scattered to their seats.

 “Their Majesties request the presence of Margaret,” the herald said.

 Nobody moved.

 “O Spouse!” said Hrodir, looking to the crowd somewhere to his right.

 A woman in something I guessed was Middle Eastern garb, with a turban, came forward and knelt.

 “Margaret, you have been a patient and supportive lady,” said Yehudah, bending toward her. “All through this reign. I couldn’t have gotten through it without you. You didn’t go to New Zealand, and you didn’t murder me, both of which on their own are deserving of recognition,” he said as the crowd laughed, “and so we have a little something for you.”

 One of the attendants behind him handed him a coronet, and he held it up.

 “Margaret,” said the herald, while Yehudah settled the coronet around her turban, “mindful of your faithful service to the Society, we are minded to make you a Baron of our Court.”

  “Baroness,” said a few people under their breath.

 “Done by our hands this eighth of April in the fifty-first day of the Society,” the herald finished, and someone in the audience said quite distinctly, “Fifty-first year.”

 An attendant standing beside the herald took out the scroll from a book and handed it to Yehudah, who stood up and displayed it for us. We were, of course, much too far away to read it, but we saw the text with an arch and battlements for a border, and lots of gold and blue.

  “For Baroness Margaret: Vivat!” said the herald.

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 A lady came up behind us and whispered, “There’s going to be a procession coming in this way soon, so you might want to move.”

 We got up and looked around. Wynnie wanted a good place for taking pictures from, but there weren’t any chairs in the one place, and though there were some empty chairs in front of us, they were right behind some tall people. We scooped up our stuff and backed up to stand with some other people by a small doorway.

 “You can grab those chairs and drag them back,” suggested a Baroness I knew by sight, in Middle Eastern garb. Wynnie and I each grabbed one and did so as quietly as we could, and Wynnie ended up sitting next to her. I happened to put mine down in front of the open door, and a lady standing just behind (so I had blocked her out if she got called up for some reason) said, “We can’t block this doorway, it’s a fire danger, you know, with all the people in here. Move it to the side.”

  I pushed it over as far as it could go, so that it was right in front of the door, which was open at right angles to the rest of the room. On the other side was someone with a child.

 Now that I was finally in a chair, I could spin. I set my distaff between my knees and  started, only keeping an eye on where the spindle was going, so I didn’t bump into anybody.

 Their Majesties were speaking of a couple who had long been a part of Northshield and been dedicated to serving the kingdom for a long time, but who were now leaving us to move to another kingdom. The herald read a poem in the style of Norse verse, and then Hrodir held up a dark oblong object. “This was inscribed on this,” he said, “as a gift to them, so that from now on everything will point to Northshield.” He added as he handed it off, “And it’s real iron.”

  After this, a gentleman with a white belt and a coronet came down the center aisle, bowed with his arms outspread, and said he had a request for Their Majesties. The request led to the procession the lady had told us about. A lady in white wimple and veil, in a shiny sideless gown with a black and gold pattern, and a gentleman in garb of the same fabric, with a white coif and purple cap, were the central part of it. The gentleman almost disappeared in comparison to the lady of the sideless gown. Next to her white veil, her braided hair looked almost black, and her dark eyes and whole face were commanding — she had exactly the look you would expect of a medieval noblewoman. They knelt side by side on the cushion in front of the thrones.

 Their Majesties requested the company of the most noble Order of the Laurel. They crowded the aisle behind the matching gentles, and lined the front of the room where the chairs ended.

 “Noble Lords and Ladies,” said one of Their Majesties, “is it your opinion that Corydon Rathbone and the Honourable Lady Typhaine Arondeal be are worthy of elevation into the Order of the Laurel?”

 “Aye!”

 “Is there a royal Peer to attest to Corydon’s nobility?”

 A certain Duke stood up, resplendent, imposing — even regal — in shiny red and gold late-period garb. “I, Your Majesties, Vladimir Radescu, twice and future king.” The populace started laughing and drowned out his next few words, and he was not too dignified to stop and join in the laughter at his expense. He went on to speak of how long he had known Corydon, and had the honour to fight with a Corydon axe. He praised Corydon’s honour both on the field and off the field, and ended by saying, “Your Majesties, I am glad to recommend Corydon to you, and hope that someday he may indeed be my Peer.”

Others spoke for Corydon, praising his courtesy, his chivalry, his generosity, his fighting prowess. “A hundred years ago I went to a Pennsic,” one lady said, “Being Pennsic, there was a storm, and we were all worried about tents falling down, and Corydon offered us all, if we needed a place to crash, to come to his tent.”

 Another lady spoke of her early days in the SCA, and how she had come to an event once, “and one of the first things I saw was this pavilion, this beautiful pavilion that looked like it had come straight from a painting, and I said, ‘Someday I will have a pavilion like that’. A while later I met the owner of the pavilion, and I had never before met anyone so charming and handsome and generous.”

 A knight spoke of how Corydon became “the first person ever to contact the Tower of London and ask for an exact facsimile” of something whose name I’ve forgotten, “and so he fights, he really fights in a period way. And like His Grace, I also have a pair of Corydon rubber axes I fight with.”

 People also spoke for Typhaine, of her dedication to historical accuracy in encampments, in dress; of her willingness to give and teach her knowledge to those who asked; of her skill in making garb.

 The two new Laurels joined their hands on the sword to swear fealty. Their Majesties accepted their gifts of talent and knowledge.

 Corydon doffed his cap for Yehudah to put the Laurel medallion around his neck.

 “Now take from our hands this, the symbol of your order; the Laurel wreath, which has ever stood for excellence. As we have acknowledged your excellence this day, rise, Corydon Rathbone, Master of the Laurel.”

 He rose, and after his lady wife had also been given a medallion and with the same words been pronounced Mistress of the Laurel, he held out his hand to help her up. Then we saw him unsheathe something and then he held up a dagger horizontally above his head, turning to show it off to the populace while Hrodir said, “It has his oath engraved on the blade too.” Master Corydon sheathed it and put it in his belt.

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 Their Majesties hugged each of the new Laurels, and then Master Corydon put his hat back on.

 “For Master Corydon Rathbone and Mistress Typhaine Arondeal, Companions of the Order of the Laurel: Vivant!”

  “Vivant!” we replied.

  They came up the aisle holding hands, Mistress Typhaine on the left side of her husband.

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They got to the back by where we were sitting, and the honourable lady let go of her husband’s hand and stepped toward me, gesturing toward me, and said, “You.”

 Now I and my spinning were perhaps partially blocking the doorway, from the point of view of a lady in a trained gown, if she was trying to get through. I thought I was in her way, if they were going to go out that door, and so I moved my knees and right hand away from the door. But she outlined with her hands where I was sitting and said, “You. You’re perfect.”

 “Thank you,” I said automatically.

 “The veil, the distaff, everything. Just perfect.”

 “Thank you,” I said again, now aware how at a loss for words I was.

Master Corydon was standing where she’d left him, looking on patiently, along with a few Laurels who were on their way back to their seats and weren’t going to push past. Mistress Typhaine stepped back to him and took his hand again, and they finished their procession out.

 It wasn’t for another few minutes that it sunk in entirely that I had just been complimented by a lady who had just been Laurelled. In short, by somebody who knew what she was talking about.

To be continued.

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Progress on Of the North

Graduation went off all right, being unusually short. I only had to actually talk once, which was funny, but another story, and we got home safely with our Doctor. I got some sewing done in the car, too.

I’ve got four documents for Of the North now. I’ve got the story itself, in its current in-between stage, still somewhere around fifty thousand words. I’ve got a document full of notes for it, not really organized, about 3300 words at the moment. I have a very organized (for me) document with outlines of each chapter and a chart of the plot structure. And I have a document with new scenes, about 7500 words as of this writing.

I wrote the first draft of the story for my first NaNo, the year before last (already), and it was the first story of mine that I’d done anything like a plot for beforehand. It started with a writing prompt:

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which inspired this little piece of something, which hinted, even at the time, at something much larger and more complete:

   “You!” she gasped, her face turning as white as her headrail. She staggered and leaned against the doorpost, clinging to it as she stared at the visitor. “You!” The word came out as a groan.
   By all appearances the man who had knocked at her door was nothing to elicit such surprise and fear. He (description once i [sic] find out who he is).
   “Thank God I’ve found you!” he said, not noticing her reaction, or, if he did, not understanding it. “It may not be too late. I’ve found the door. Tomorrow’s Midsummer’s Day and if we leave now we can get there in time to go through before it closes.”
   “No,” she answered, shaking her head. “Oh, no, please, no.”
   “What’s the matter?” For the first time he looked at her and saw her pale face and the pain written on her countenance. “Can’t you come?”
   “No,” she said, shaking her head, as tears began to well up in her eyes. “I — I’m betrothed.”

which I then left and didn’t do anything with for a while.

I’m not certain about the dates. It might have been the summer of 2015, or earlier. Anyway, the concept (and general quality of writing) changed quite a bit by the time I started writing the story. I finished it, was pleased with it, got some beta-readers, passed it on to an interested professor after that, and then let it sit for a while. Somewhere in that time I’d found out how much needed changing. Then I started Wind Age (2016, now) and learned so much about writing through it that my judgement of Of the North‘s quality went sharply down.

So, of course, I decided it needed complete rewriting. The plot would stay just the same, I thought, but I’d see it come out with better writing quality.

Ha.

Though the bones of the story are good, and the biggest problem was that I didn’t do it justice, I found that it needed more than that. The main antagonist was causing problems that directly affected the plot. I was a bit stumped. Fortunately, during finals week, Jenny and I spent an evening together, talking (among many other things) of writing. She came up with a good idea of how to fix things, and I’m trying it out. So far it’s working well.

I’ve written five entirely new scenes, and, getting overwhelmed at how much I had to do, decided to go through and make notes of what needs to be fixed for each chapter. That takes up a little less than a page. The other five pages in that document are all notes of new things to add, or stream-of-consciousness trains of thought as I try to work through a sticky spot in writing (which really does help).

Characters have also developed in some surprising ways, which adds a lot more depth to the story (something it was seriously lacking), especially when the main character is starting to make more sense. I can’t say she’s changed, because as I find things out, they’re things that were always there (these are often lightbulb moments, as the saying goes), but I’m getting to know her better, with the result (hopefully) that she comes more alive to my readers. Other characters are the same way, I hope.

I’ve done more research since the first draft, also, which means some things are going to change. One of the things that’s come up is the state of the church at the time, which affects more than you’d think it would.

Next week I start an online class which goes till the end of July. I’m hoping either it doesn’t take much time of each day, or it’s the kind of thing where you don’t have to go at a set speed so I can finish it early. Either way I’d like to work on Of the North for Camp NaNo, or maybe a story for the Rooglewood contest if that works out.

Actual writing progress, as in scene revision or new scenes, hasn’t been much yet. This story is an unusual one for me, as I’ve sat down and planned things out before working on it, both when doing the first draft, and when preparing to revise, so I have got a lot of notes of things to do. I would not be surprised if it ended at much nearer 75,000 words than 50,000. Or even more than that.

It will probably need a second round of beta-reading.

Posted in Of the North, Revision, work in progress, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Rambling post

I don’t have a proper post today, all on one topic, because today has been a bit interrupted, and tomorrow we will be doing one of the things most of us like least: being dressed up at a social gathering. But it’s all for a good cause, and when you scrape off the socializing and other unpleasantness, it’s as exciting to us as weddings are to most girls.

My dad’s graduating tomorrow. It’s only taken him six and a half years to get his PhD. (in Old Testament theology, don’t ask what his dissertation is on, and it has nothing to do with his job, and he’s not planning to use it to become a pastor), but, if he lives to it, he’s graduating tomorrow.

I’ve never known a time, except the year we moved, which was quite crazy enough on its own, when he wasn’t in school. Most home-schooling families, it’s just the kids who have homework to do in the evenings when their dad comes home, right? But in ours, after supper, Dad would do school with us, and then go do his own.

Yesterday I wrote a bit over 3k in a new scene for Of the North. It’s the first time I’ve written a scene, not just jotting down ideas, and writing done not for school, since the week after Coronation. And I haven’t put the finishing touches to that one yet either. . .

Also, did I ever tell you what finally came of that revenge story in the writing workshop? I can’t remember. Anyway, the authour and I talked about it, and actually what we’d gotten was only part of the story, before the main character finds out that actually, killing people isn’t the most satisfactory solution to all the problems in the world.

I’m quite pleased with the way the new scene in Of the North turned out. I haven’t talked a great deal about it on the blog, not nearly as much as Wind Age, but now I’m started to rebuild it from the barest bones, I’m beginning to remember why I liked it. Of course, there’s a lot of work to do before anyone with good taste will be giving it five-star reviews. I may yet get something done today. The hardest part is knowing where to start, so much needs tearing to bits and putting back together again.

Posted in Of the North, Ordinary life | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Summer plans (early)

     Yes, I’m posting early. I wasn’t quite clearheaded enough to start writing stories today, but I’m hoping to tomorrow, so I thought I’d get this out of the way. Besides, it makes it an easy list to reference when I’m seeing how much I’ve gotten done, and I am excited. I try not to make plans for my summers now that I’m not home-schooled, because I like being able to choose what I do, and not have my time all blocked off whether I like it or no. Which means I end up making lots of plans whether I like it or no, because of grown-ups and being (officially) grown-up, and then, because of time and me being (for practical purposes) not grown-up, half of them don’t get done.
Writing:
     My biggest writing project is thoroughly revising Of the North, with the goal of having it queryable by next year. I’m dreaming (only dreaming, at this point) of going to Realm Makers next year, with it ready to pitch. I started revision a while ago, but now I have a sort of deadline, and a bit of time to set aside to it, to concentrate on getting it done.
     This includes working out a major snag in the plot thanks to a plot twist which is otherwise a good thing, as well as incorporating a second point of view in a tricky sort of way.
     I’ll keep sending out, and hopefully finish sending out, a chapter a week of Wind Age to beta-readers.
     Possibly write a 20,000-word novella for the Rooglewood fairy-tale-retelling contest?
     One of these may end up being what I work on for July Camp NaNo, which I’d like to do.
SCA:
     Take out the gores in my green cyrtel and re-do them. (Started on May 5)
     Since I am now the possessor of two cream-coloured fitted sheets, both queen-size, I may make a new chemise. Or I may dye one and make a new cyrtel. I don’t know. I don’t need new clothes yet; the group’s got plenty of loaner garb for now; so they may just continue to take up room in the bin for another year.
Others:
     I’ll take an online class, required for graduation, so that I don’t have to take it this fall, so I can do Early Europe as an Independent Study (which is going to be lots of fun).
     Be part of a reading and discussion group with some other young folks, moderated (when necessary) by my dad
     Keep blogging, of course
Now, I think, I shall spend my evening working on garb. I’m not used to being at home all the time yet. I’m learning how nice it is all over again, like Manalive.
Posted in Of the North, SCA, Wind Age, Writing | 4 Comments