The Birth of a Calon Warrior

Lady Sifa-haustmyrkr of the Kingdom of Calontir shares a tale of her first fighting experiences as a part of the Calon Army at Pennsic War 34. [Rated PG-13]

Becoming a Calon Warrior:

No shit, there I was, standing before Hrothgar preparing to authorize. It was Lillies 19 and I had only been to 3 fighter practices. I had promised myself last year that I would be authorized and fighting by Pennsic 34. After my trial was over Hrothgar told me "You are going to die a lot, but you will die safely."

With Lillies over, I started my preparations for war. I went to a couple more baronial fighter practices and one personal practice. The dogs of war began to howl loudly and I became pressed for time. I finished my preparations and began my trek to war.

Fourteen hours (and zounds of curses later) I found myself at Pennsic Troll, for the 8th time in my life, but this was the first time I registered as a warrior. My frustrations relieved, I sought out my home for the next week and a half. My bed being made, I prepared to lie in it. The difficulties of doing so were, at the time, unknown to me.

Day 1: On the Bridge

Monday morning came with a blast, from Drix's horn. His words and bugling roused me moreso than before, my desire to fight with the army strong. I crawled out of bed and donned my armor. Then I stood around and waited. Monday was the day of the bridge battle. I received my "Scutum 101" class, having received the basics the day prior. I was told that my job was to stay alive, keep my head down, and do what I was told. I remember thinking to myself, "That can't be too hard." I nodded and found myself in a column of three.

After marching to the battlefield, I asked the general where he wanted me. Duncan told me to stay with the secondarys. Eventually, I found them, took my place and watched as the first of three battles took place.

I must say this. I *knew* of the Tuchux but at that moment I *understood*.

I held my ground in the second line and before the second battle took place I was told to take the front line. I was excited and nervous. The command came to move forward. There were few times when, running scutum, that I could see and this was one of those times. I saw the Tuchux coming and they did not look happy to see me. I was overjoyed when the command came to ground. I tucked myself next to my lifeline (the scutum) and prepared for the onslaught. I kept my head down and knocked off the hooks as often as I could. I felt something tugging on my shield but I could not see where I was hooked. I yelled out "Scutum hooked" several times; I called out "Scutum going down" …. "Scutum going down". I waited a few more seconds, praying that my arm would keep hold of the shield long enough to give my spearman time to prepare himself for the hole I was soon to make in the wall. As I called out "Scutum gone", I performed my best impression of Fernando as I jumped for the back of the line. I crawled like a babe searching for her mother and only stopped when I realized that I was by the feet of men who were just standing around. I knew I was safe with the secondaries. I stood up and looked back at our line. The hole I left was filled in and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was asked if I was dead, I, a child who had just gotten her lollypop stolen by the bully, pouted in response, "No, but they got my scutum." As I was looking for a replacement, Fernando passed me and told me to let him know if I ever loose more than six in one battle. Loosing six, I cannot even imagine. I never made it to the front line again that battle.

Then there was the third at the bridge. I took up secondary and watched for a hole. I saw someone drop at the far right of the scutum line so I rushed in and took his place. I was next to Fernando. He told me to sit in his lap. Well, I knew I was supposed to be close to my fellows on the wall, but did not realize it was to be THAT close. So, for the rest of the battle, I sat in Ferd's lap and popped off hooks and held my ground. What a fight. I loved it. I knew after that third bridge battle that I was addicted. Running scutum was amazing; the clash of the opponents as they hit the wall is something beyond description.

We gathered in columns of three, marched back to camp and had chicken noodle soup and P&J sandwiches. (New realizations have occurred to me but I will save those for another time.)

Day Two: In the Woods

Drix's horn blew, I crawled out of bed and muttered a few curses.  My legs were sore, my arms ached and a new battle dawned.  To the King and Queen I mustered with a smile on my face and a song on my lips.

I realized that taking a scutum into the woods is not a feasible plan, no matter how cunning it might be.  So, I took my sword and baby scutum into battle this day.  I was not looking forward to the march to the woods, but this is what the army does, so here I will march.  If my brothers can do it, I will as well.

We marched to the woods, passed by many riding on the backs of elephants, dragons, and many other beasts of burden.  This is how brothers are made, enduring the cheers and jeers of those passing you by.  The march was long, uphill, and overly sunny for my tastes but we made it and the promise of clean water was waiting.  We arrived with plenty of time to relax, catch our breaths, check our weapons and hear the battle plan, "Capture and hold the flag."  Easy enough, right? Sure.

The general told us to line up in three's (more realizations for later) and prepare to go in the woods.  Then he approached me and had me walk with him.  I thought to myself "Oh SH*&, what did I do this time?!?!?"  I prayed, "Please don't let him pull me out and not let me go with the rest of them."   I could not bear being left behind.  I was concerned, worried, and very nervous.  He pulled me to the front of the army, then shook his head and said "no".  Then he led me in front of the King.  My concern and worry were gone, I felt lost, I did not know what to do.  General Duncan began to talk about my performance on the Bridge, saying something about me running scutum like I was a veteran, or born to the job.  I cannot recall his words exactly because I was stunned.  I was blind-sided.  Duncan removed his General's banner and placed it about my body.  I was so moved the only words I could mutter were "thank you".  Duncan told me to do the banner proud and live up to the standards that I have set for myself (or at least that is what I think he said).  My heart was pounding in my ears, the sweat was running down my face (which masked some tears), and a lump had formed in my throat.  I found my way back into formation and waited for the call.

So, no shit, there I was standing in the Calon ranks, General's banner around me, going into my second melee battle at the Pennsic woods.  We marched into the woods.  It was shady (yay), it was damp (yay), it was littered with leaves, twigs, branches, logs (ack) and heaven only knows what else was in there.  I take position with the secondaries.

Going into this battle, I know that I can only do two things well: block and die.  But, having read manuals on war-play, fighting, and tactics, that numbers and façade can make up for lack of personal ability (or so were my prayers on this day).  I looked at the opposing forces and realized that we were matched up with the Tuchux and House Bloodguard.  I know the reputations of these two groups and I remember myself thinking (more than once) "this is gonna hurt" (more realizations dawned on me).  I looked for holes, I filled them, I got a couple good shots, our line got hit hard, the regroup is called, I backed up and realized that I am exhausted.  I find a waterbearer's station (guarded by a Marshall), remove my helm, and take a breather.

After I regain my composure, I head back, again, into the fray.  I see a lone Calon warrior fighting in the tree line, so I run up to him and guard his left.  I, indeed, can block and buy time for those better skilled at striking blows.  The next thing I realize is His Majesty fighting beside me and the Tuchux are whittled down a little more.  I hear my name called and run off to tend to my general.  He needs me to support our spearmen.  He tells me, "Go help out Northshield".  Off I go to defend the spears.  The battle continues, we break through them but are told not to advance as it would spread us too thin.   I head back to my general and ask him what he wants me to do now.  "Sifa, I want you to guard the Queen.  I do not care what happens, keep her alive."  I thought to myself, "As if having your banner around my body is not bullseye enough, I will be standing next to her Majesty."  Don't get me wrong, I was honored but I knew "this is gonna hurt".  I move to Her Majesty's right side (she was covered on the left by Calontiri and Northshielders).  She positioned herself well and I took the side of the hill.

She began to advance, and I with her.  We were staring at Bloodguard and from the right I saw the Tuchux flanking our line.  Bloodguard was being held off rather well (by forces I cannot recall) so I focused on getting in between the Queen and the Tuchux.  I knew that if I could bide her enough time, replacements from resurrection point would be around her in time to keep her alive the rest of the battle.  Turning my body to face the Tuchux, I knew it was going to hurt.  I used my shield to protect Her Majesty's right side and my body to protect her back.  We were pressed in tightly so that when the killing blows struck me, I could not fall.  My dead body, propped up by the other fighters around me gave a little more time for replacements to make their way in.  I fell to the woods' floor, dead with the only thought in my mind was, I hope she lived through that.  I was tapped and told to roll out.  When I stood, I looked back to see her Majesty standing with a few Calontiri around her.  I smiled as I made my way back to my Archangel.

After resurrecting, I rested and grouped up with my brothers and headed once more into the fray.  We had only a short time left in the battle and we knew the Chux were going to push for the flag.  I found myself at the bottom of a hill pushing the Tuchux line UP the hill and back towards their rear.  I heard "Calontir STAND your line, do NOT advance", so I stood my ground, daring the Tuchux to advance.  Shortly thereafter the horn sounded and the battle was over.  We made our way out of the woods.  Again, we marched back to the living room for soup and sandwiches.

Day Three: The Mountain Pass

If I thought my body was hurting the day of the Woods Battle, I was wrong.  I rolled out of bed before hearing Drix's morning muster, made my way out of my tent and was ecstatic to see that the clouds had moved in and that the Gods did indeed love me.  The weather was perfect for battle.  Drix's call was made; we mustered to our King and Queen and marched again to the battlefield.

This was to be another scutum day for me.  I was already aching, but as soon as the scutum rested under my hand, the pain faded and my mind was focused on battle.  I was instructed to take the front line.  I thought to myself "This won't be so bad, I made it through the woods just fine."  Little did I know.

We were positioned on the far right (our right) of the battlefield.  As we marched with scutums in front I realized that there was nothing standing in the way of the Tuchux and the Calontir army but some scutums and the bodies standing behind them.  My heart raced, (more realizations came to me), and the Tuchux advanced.  As they came within clear eyesight for me, I realized that I had seen one of them before.  The Dog in question wore a pig-faced helm.  The pig had a ring through the nose.  Again, for some unknown reason, the Tuchux did not look the least bit friendly. I heard "Keep the line", "Continue the advance", and "Don't stop".  So, I did as I was told.  I kept even with the guy on my right, I continued to advance (albeit slowly) and I did not stop.  We were making a hole, a good one it seemed from my vantage point when I saw the scutum to my right fell beneath the Tuchux and then his spearman fell and yet I still continued.  I glanced to my left and realized we lost the scutum to my left.  I glanced behind me, to ask my spearman a question only to realize that he, too, was dead.  I quickly glanced up and realized that I was a tiny purple speck in a sea of black Tuchux.  I repositioned my shield and *knew* I was going to hurt when I saw the Pig-faced helm come my way with battle lust in his eyes and a smirk on his face.  I blocked as best I could, but I was a lone, undefended scutum with nothing but a fishbat and the resolve to make a hole.  I pushed forward, blocked and then felt it, a blow hit my shoulder.  I know that I could have taken it as an "arm" and continued with the battle but the force of the blow almost took me to my knees.  I knew that had the blow been real, I would have been cut in half from my right shoulder to my left hip.  I yelled "I'm dead", placed my fishbat above my head and walked off the field.  My shoulder ached a little, I was a little heated and a tad upset.  I recognized the pig-faced helm from both the bridge battle and the woods battle; he had been attacking me from the first day of the war.  That made me a little more upset.  I got watered, gained control of my breathing, grabbed another scutum and headed back into the fray.

Again, I found myself on the front line with my borrowed scutum.  This time, I was told to stand my ground.  The 'Chux rushed us with a ferocity I had not personally received before.  They hit at me so hard that I was knocked to the ground.  I could think of nothing else to do but cover myself with the scutum and hope that eventually I could come up for air.  After the bouncing of people stepping on me stopped, I started to crawl towards what I thought was the Calontir line.  I heard Fernando ask me "Sifa are you dead?" and I answered, "No, they just knocked me down".  Ferd STRONGLY suggested that I wanted to be dead and trusting his time-tested wisdom called out "I'm dead" at which point, I stood up and took a quick look around.  I saw that I was positioned right in front of the Tuchux's line, far from any Calontir support.  I tried to take a deep breath of relief and realized that the wind had been knocked from my lungs.  I moved quickly to the edge of the field, removed m! y helm and searched for my angel.  I called for air, was handed an inhaler and proceeded to calm myself down and watch what remained of the battle.

After marching back to camp I enlisted the aid of two sweet ladies to help me remove myself from my armor.  The General came over and after some brief discussions with him and Her Majesty; I decided to go to the village doctor.  I wanted to make my General and my Queen rest easier knowing that I was fine.

To the Village Physician

I decided to place the minds of my General, my Queen, and my fellow warriors to rest and take the trek into town and have the local physician look to my injury.   Ruahdri, Maximus and myself crammed ourselves into the front seat of Maximus's truck (not a small feat considering we are all wide-shouldered.  They placed me in the middle, I think they were concerned that I might jump ship and walk it back to site instead of staying in the truck for the duration of the ride.

We arrived at the hospital and Ruahdri accompanied me in.  I walked in wearing my Calontir tabbard and the pants I had been fighting in.  I am sure I smelled...well, like a sweaty fighter who had seen too much sun.  The staff greeted me with odd looks.  They began to take my information and then I was sent to triage.  The nurse asked me "So what is your role? We saw a Queen's guard just the other day."  I explained to her that I was just a simple foot soldier who happened to get too close to a pole-arm's crossguard. She found the entire story fascinating and we invited her out next year.

I was sent to a bed.  The room was frigid, bright, and too quiet.  I was tempted to break out in song to break the stillness of the area but thought that perhaps, not everyone appreciates the key of army.   Eventually the doctor came in, she was dressed in a nice clean white lab coat and had a smile on her face.  She asked me what happened, I showed her my shoulder; Ruahdri demonstrated how the blow hit me and what part of the weapon struck.  Doc winced and said that she would send me off for some x-rays. The x-ray tech appeared fascinated by the war, and received an invite for next year.  Of course this was before he made me place my shoulder against that cold metal slab in a fashion that it did not like.  Had I known the debth of his cruelty, I would have withheld the invite.

I made it back to the bed, and the doctor came in to tell me what she saw.  She said that it was not broken or dislocated, but that it was going to be badly bruised for awhile.  She instructed me to "go home, take ibuprofen for pain and swelling, and get some rest."  I shook my head and explained that there was nothing that was going to send me home today.  I also explained to her that I had been taking ibuprofen all week for various injuries (which I pointed out, bruise-by-bruise and lump-by-lump).  I made her realize that I was "sleeping on an air mattress on the ground at Cooper's Lake" and that I was 100% sure that my shoulder was not going to like that this evening.  She said "alright, I will give you something stronger to last you through the week."  

Then she left.

When she returned she had a sling and a small stack of papers in her hand.  She handed me the papers and explained that she had prescribed vicodin for the pain and wanted me to wear the sling.  I, being the delicate and dainty flower that I am, looked up at her, my arm cradled tightly against my chest and innocently asked, "So, Doc, is it alright if I fight tomorrow?"

The doctor, obviously overwhelmed by my sense of duty and my love for fighting, dropped her jaw open.  Then it closed.  Then it opened again.  I could tell that she was overcome with emotion and could not find the words to express her pleasure at my desire to return to the field.  In order to ease her obvious difficulties, I smiled.  "Doc, I promise I will not fight tomorrow, but the look on your face was priceless."  Had she not been such a nice person, and one who wishes to benefit mankind, I am sure she would have taken a pole-arm to me as well.

I gathered my papers, and headed to the apothocary.   My pain ended about 20 minutes later, much to the amusement of Maximus and Ruaidhri during the ride back to site.

Day Four: Causeway

Having been moderately wounded at the Mountain Pass battle, I decided to humor everyone and give my body a rest.  I mustered with the army and cared for their needs of hydration instead of fighting beside them; I missed a wonderful battle.

While waterbearing, I was told by a Midrealm soldier that I should not be doing so with a "broken arm".  When I informed him that it was just a flesh wound received from a Tuchux, he was amazed that I was "the lady who got gacked by the Tuchux" and asked to see the bruise.  I shared it and he promised to give the Tuchux a little retribution for me.  The story was spreading, I was amazed.

Day Five: Field Battle/Peasants' Revolt

Having spent two nights and a day resting, I decided that I could not disappoint our foes the Tuchux, nor could I allow the army to fight another battle without me.  When 'Drix blew his horn on Friday, I was slightly sore but I was ready to take to the field again.  Nothing was going to get in my way, several people tried to convince me not to take to the field, but they could not fight my logic.  I told them that if they were in my position, they, too, would be donning armor and taking to the field.  So, to the field I went.  Again, I gathered to me a scutum and fishbat.  Again, we stood our ground against the Tuchux and Bloodguard.  Again, the fighting was fierce and wonderful.  Nothing can compare or describe how it feels to repel such attacks.  During the second field battle, I took a killing blow that forced me down to my injured shoulder.  I decided that it would be best if I sat out the last battle.  I see now that it was a wise decision, the Peasant's Revolt would have hurt me badly, but I was there to see and hear it as it happened.

The army regrouped and began drinking water and telling stories of the madmen run when the Tuchux started coming back to their tent.  We were directly in their way.  Calontir made a hole for them.  We greeted each other as warriors and complimented one another on battles well fought and war-play most fun.

No shit, there I was, standing in front of the Tuchux shade tent when the hunter, Pig, came up to me, gave me a hug and thanked me for a wonderful war.  If I had decided to stay home in camp, he would have missed out on the opportunity to share such statements with me and I would have missed one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had.

In the Company of Madmen, I learned much.  The lessons and the memories of Pennsic XXXIV will be with me until the end of my days.  I look forward to many more years of madness.

Sifa-haustmyrkr
(formerly known as Rebekah of Stonehaven)