Sword of Prowess won by THL Gann

The Vices and Vitrues took the field at the fifth annual Snowed Inn pas d'armes, held January 28, to decide who would become the fifth to wield the Sword of Prowess. Ealdormere correspondent Laird Colyne Stewart recounts the day's festivities.

I was shaken awake at five hours by my faithful steward William Scrimgeour. Waking me is not an easy task, and a late night working on last minute details of an event made it an even more difficult task than normal. Eventually though my fellow Scotsman managed to rouse me from slumber, and I stumbled to the privy to prepare myself for the coming day.

After washing I descended to the first floor of Drew’s End, our manor in Greenhithe territory, and began an inventory of materials that needed to be hauled to our inn in Ardchreag. I was soon joined by my lady wife, and fellow event steward, Þorfinna gráfeldr, while our guests from the Barony of Skraeling Althing slept on peacefully in one of our other rooms.

Soon, there was a knock on the door, and William admitted several of our fellow Ardchreaggers: William Donovan, Snæbjörn sverðsbrjótr, Eirik Andersen and Tarian verch Gadarn. Tarian especially was well welcomed, as she came bearing drinks from the New World (called coffee, and hot chocolate).

We loaded our casks, crates and trunks into our various wains and wagons, and wended our way along the King’s Highway, getting off in Ardchreag’s county of Blackwood (known to the Mundanes as Pickering). There we found the Snowed Inn, ready and waiting for us. We began to unload our gear, and were soon joined by Wat of Sarum, and a bevy of Van der Eychs (Berend, Mahault and Adelaide). As the Van der Eychs readied the kitchen, the rest hung banners, moved tables, set up the dais and Ladies Gallery, put together a barrier, and lent their hands to many various tasks.

Soon the hall was ready, and just in time, for by 9 o’ the clock, guests had begun to arrive.

In the back of the hall along the south wall, THL Raffe Scholemaystre, sitting under the banner of the Games Guild of Ealdormere, spread his array of medieval games, which were much used over the course of the day. Beside him, Baroness Adrielle Kerrec presided over an arts and sciences competition with an heraldic theme.

Half of the hall was given over to tables where good gentles could sit and talk, play games, or work on crafts. On the east side of this half of the hall, Sir Evander and THL Melusine de la Rose served from the bar, while on the west side a free lunch board was kept well supplied by the Van der Eychs and their kitchen staff.

The other half of the hall was given over to the noble art of the sword. Along the north wall the dais of Their Majesties of Ealdormere had been raised, from which Their Majesties Edward and Rylyn, Their Highnesses Aaron and Rustique, and Their Excellencies Corwyn and Domhnail could survey all those gathered within. Beside them, Snæbjörn once again attended the Ladies' Gallery, providing them with food and drink. He also ran a fighters’ buffet, laying out bread and fruit, water and a strange orange drink.

Before the dais and the gallery was the list field. Lady Seonag nicThomais was the first to use the field that day, having organized a series of tournaments for the youth fighters of the kingdom. Many good gentles (such as Dagmar Halvdan) had donated prizes for the youth combat, and the good knights Sirs Evander, Siegfried, and Cennedi had each sponsored one of the three age groups, each making either a sword or a piece of armour as a prize. Many tournaments and melees were held, and later the following prizes were awarded: Quilliam, over all tournament winner and Best Theme in the Helm Show; Matthias, winner of the Roman Melee; Niadh, who authorized and then went on to win in the Sword and Shield Double Elimination Round Robin Tourney; Algar, Most Authentic Presentation in the Helm Show, and Morgam, Most Colourful in the helm Show.

While the youth combat was occurring, two new adult fighters authorized in sword and shield. They were Emma of Greenhithe and Helena of Bastille du Lac. When the youth combat was complete, Their Majesties called the tournament herald—Magistra Nicolla de Bracton—before them to introduce to Them the fighters who would be competing in Their Tournament of Renown. The list was long, and numbered many noble and courteous gentles. The tournament was a single-sword, single-elimination tournament, to three counted blows. This ended up taking a long time to run, as double-shots did not count and had to be re-fought. My own battle for instance, against the most excellent Honourable Gann, had at least fourteen double-shots. In the end, Sir Siegfried defeated Sir Evander to win the Tournament and ensure a place in the Elite Tournament of Renown to be fought in April.

At some point during the fighting—I cannot know recall exactly when—my squire-brother Tiberius of Warwickshire was called before Their Majesties and inducted into the noble Order of Thorbjorn’s Hammer.

After this, Duke Sir Finnvarr De Taahe, the king-of-arms, selected several gentles present to represent certain Vices upon the field. The Vices, wearing baldrics displaying their vice, then selected others to represent the Virtues, who were given garters to wear. The Vices and the Virtues took opposite ends of the field, and all other fighters chose which side they wanted to join. Finnvarr pointed out that the following battles would determine who would wield the Sword of Prowess over the upcoming year. He also pointed out that three of the previous winners were present, and all of them had fallen to Vice, so a new wielder was obviously badly needed!

The Vices and the Virtues then met in challenges over the barrier, and in grand melees. Sir Nigel MacFarlane, acting as Avarice, at one point walked to the barrier with naught but a dagger. When his opponent tried to locate a dagger to meet his chosen form, Avarice would not allow it, and made him use a sword. For, as Avarice bellowed, he was greedy for glory! Sloth, in the guise of THL Etian du Naval, also had a memorable moment at the barrier when he lazily fought with a two-handed sword in only one hand.

When the fighting was done, the Ladies' Gallery handed out several tokens to those who had inspired them, entertained them, or distinguished themselves. (I was awarded a token for a particularly entertaining death.) The Sword of Prowess—and a spot in the Elite Tournament of Renown—was then awarded to THL Gann. He was also given a box, handmade by members of the Canton of Ardchreag, as well as two goblets for his lady.

The hall was then readied for court. Their Excellencies Septentria awarded a Bear’s Claw to Sir Cennedi for his training of fighters at Ardchreag and Skeldergate. They also recognized Lord Eirik Andersen’s work with spontaneous illumination by giving him a Golden Bear. Septentria’s taxes for the coming year were announced, which was for each canton, household and military unit within the barony to find a relic that somehow represents their founding, and bring them to the barony’s Twelfth Night celebrations in AS XLI to form a Septentrian Museum.

Their Majesties then held Their own court. Many awards were presented, including: Dagmar Halvdan’s Award of Arms, Bjarn Stymirson’s Award of the Scarlet Banner, Ludwig von Eisengrim’s Award of the Scarlet Banner, and the elevation of THL Garwig von Wolfenschmidt to the rank of Court Baron.

After court a buffet style supper was presented, followed by an evening of games, dancing and good fellowship.

When it was all over, the weary few of us left once again loaded our wains, and brought our casks, crates and trunks back to Drew’s End for storage. It was, as always, a fulfilling day. And it was, as always, a deep refreshing sleep afterwards.

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