Skirt the Lava, Deke the Tar, and Whack a Peer!

Laird Colyne Stewart, SCAtoday's Ealdormerean Correspondent, writes of his pilgrimage to the East Kingdom's Winter War, held February 26 in Potsdam, NY.

The trip began at 6 am. Up, out of bed and showered, and then off with Syr Evander MacLachlan to a car lot located off the 401. There we were picked up by Lord Ludwig von Eisengard and Lady Katharine von Eisengard in their motor home. We were soon trundling down the highway, making one brief stop to pick up Rattanicus and Edward (two of the new Bastille Boys) before heading for the Shire of Northern Outpost in the East Kingdom (mundanely Potsdam, NY). The trip was uneventful, the border crossing easy and brief, the time spent in pleasant conversation and the consuming of Timbits and Doritos.

We arrived at the event site around 11 am, and Evander was not out of the ‘home for more than a moment before running across his ex-squire brother, Baron Conrad Connor MacAllyn. The site was an indoor track and field center, with netting that had been lowered to enclose the centre of the hall. This would allow any combat archery or thrown weapons during melees without fear of injuring bystanders. We lugged in our gear and went to pay at troll, encountering our first cultural difference of the day — namely, not having to sign the waiver at troll if you have your blue card. Thus signed in, we quickly put on our kits. I was asked by a local squire (whose name unfortunately I have now forgotten) to do warm-ups.

Then, the melees began. To begin, they were impromptu pick-ups, but soon sides were chosen with fighters spread out as evenly as possible. Evander, Rattanicus, Edward, Ludwig and I were put on the left flank, along with fellow Ealdormereans, Sir Rory Cennedi and his squires Iohannes and Hrothgar. Our orders were to try to either flank the other side, or stop them from flanking us. Generally what happened was that their flankers and ourselves ended up meeting off to the left of every battle. I found that the East tends to use more spears and polearms than Ealdormere (or, if they don’t, then they kept sending them all at me). I spent the majority of the day trying valiantly to block long-range weapons.

After the melees we did bridge battles, with a short (say, ten foot [three meters]) bridge formed by exercise mats. With such a short bridge, the teams used one of two tactics: just run blindly into the enemy, or sit back and let the long-range weapons pick each side apart piece by piece. Eventually this became an unlimited resurrection battle. If you died, you went over and joined the other side. This made for interesting fighting as the teams kept changing.

We then did a "Peers vs. the Known World" scenario, where the eight knights in attendance took on the other twenty-seven or so fighters. I joined up with three others to form a four-man team. Our plan (which I believe was Rattanicus’) was simple. We would run at the knight in green (whose name, I believe, was Sir Stephen). When the lay-on was called we saw our man and ran right at him. I managed to get a shot in over his shield, killing him as we came into range, but the valiant knight legged me at the same time. I was then left behind on my knees by my team-mates as they ran off after other knights. The knight chuckled and patted me on the shoulder as he walked off the field. (That would be my highlight of the day.)

Following the massacre of the chivalry (with such odds, victory was almost guaranteed to the Known World) they split us up by mundane country. The marshal told all of us from Canada to go to one side of the field, while those from America (which would be “most of us