Lord William writes:
Good Evening Noble Friends All,
This weekend the Barony of the Far West had its baronial succession tournament at the Vale de Draco, mundanely Camp Zama, Japan. This story is done in a narrative style, omitting some common SCA terms. Please do not be offended, if possible, or accept my apology for the errors ahead of time.
I also used some artistic licence...and can show my licence upon request of a registered reality checker.
For days in the last heat of Summer and Typhoons of the Great Ocean, warriors from Osaka, Chiba, Korea and other far parts of the Barony of the Far West, quested for connecting flights, struggled against odd customs and customs agents as well as endure robbery upon the highways from masked bandits at toll booths – all to fight in a shadowy glade in audience of Baroness Katherine of the Far West, rapier and heavy fighter who won her coronet through her skills at the fine arts and knowledge of arcane sciences, recently returned from brilliant rapier work in support of the King of the West in the Great War upon the Fields of Coopers.
Some questers were unable to make it to the end of the quest to fight for the coronet due to financial obligations to family and duties in other locations. One worthy had a bad case of the plague, from which by the Grace of God he has since recovered.
One late evening, a magnificent coach with a painting of the Holy Mountain of Fuji brought Lord Mathieu – a battle-hardened veteran of both the far Kingdome of Drakenvald and the Kingdome of Atlantia -- to the humble and not-terribly-orderly home of Lord William Featherstone and Midori Fujiwara-san, and he rested in the lower room of the modest abode upon a simple mattress stuffed with cotton. Later that dark night, Baroness Marixsa, formerly of the Cleftlands of the Middle Kingdome did arrive by carriage as well, but of a different type. Lord Mathieu showed the depth of his knowledge from his many travels by teaching bits from the Wycliff Bible, discussing plagues and showing the advantages of heat-treating steel rather than wearing raw iron.
Before first light, the small brood of tiny monsters that live upstairs with Lord William and Midori decided that Lord William needed to either provide a break to their fast or be eaten himself. They made their wishes known by chewing on him as he slumbered and an attempted tenderizing with a mallet. After a visit to the King of the Burgers to beg a boon of food to keep the cute beasts at bay, Lord William put the adorable munchkins to work setting up a list field in the cool of the morning and the first light of the day. They walked upon the grass when the future Baron of the Far West would rise, and felt the morning dew in between their toes.
Soon members of Avalon braved the inquiries of the Guards of the Stronghold manning the wall with weapons fierce. The nobles of Avalon presented their Patents of Nobility and Grants of Safe Passage to the Tournament, and arrived en-mass under the rising of the morning sun. They swiftly proved that they were of tough as well as noble stock, and in a blink of an eye they had four pavilions up, thrones covered in royal purple, a red carpet and cushions for which supplicants could rest, chairs for consorts to lounge in and fortified drinks for many resting upon snow from the mountains, as the heat of the day made even the lightly dressed sweat and drip as if rising from a bath.
As the pavilions were raised, more than one squall of driving rain beat against the Avalon nobles, yet they proved that they were a match for the storm, and the storm left the fair glade of combat, defeated. The sun did bake the visitors and the air was thick due to the changing seasons.
From upon his castle on the hill overlooking the pavilions, Viscount Robert Kinslayer descended to inspect the armour of the combatants and volunteered to judge the safety of the combat that was upon his lands within view of his gates. With the experience of almost thirty years since he was knighted at a very young age for valor, Viscount Robert Kinslayer tested many youth in combat to determine their worthiness to carry arms that day, doing so with amazing power, martial finesse and great joy of combat, yet with excellent manners rarely seen in this modern age. Viscount Robert Kinslayer tested the young combatants with the assistance of Lord Noe of Avalon, and many received permission to take up arms.
The opening court was entertaining yet short, in part due to Baroness Katherine asking her court jester to be her herald. His voice was loud and booming, but more often than not the words erred or ended up with oddly done words that the jester confessed was not done voluntarily. Laughter was commonplace.
After twelve years of service, Midori Fujiwara-san received an Award of Arms and a scroll done by the hand of Baroness Katherine herself. Other awards were given out as well, but done quickly as Baroness Katherine has great love for her subjects and did not want the sun and heat to sap their strength for the tournament.
Because Lord Noe wished to take the field to enjoy the joy of combat, Viscount Robert Kinslayer was volunteered to forgo the love of arms that day to ensure the warriors were safe upon the field. He was joined by the court jester to help ensure the combat was done safely, as the court jester had patents showing his worthiness to observe combat in a manner of assistance. And under the leadership of Viscount Robert Kinslayer, the jester performed his combatant- wellbeing and heralding duties well for the tournament.
Eight fighters vied upon the field for the Baronial Coronet. Seven were from the great land of Avalon.
Lord Mathieu alternated between sword and a small center-grip shield and a longsword. He was the lone member who was not of the great land of Avalon.
Lord Bran fought with a sword and a small shield, valiantly.
Lady Chabi the Norse fought with axe and sword at the same time.
Lord Tyler fought with heater shield and sword, to the awe of many.
Lord Vail fought with a Norse round shield and sword.
Baron Stephan fought with longsword in two hands or his sword and shield, as he wished.
Lord Volfeed fought with a heater shield and sword, under the watchful eye of his lady wife and the heir to his lands, a young lad resting restlessly in Lord Volfeed's lady's protective arms. They provided strong inspiration to the valiant fighter.
Lord Gunnar thought a heater shield and sword would be an excellent idea, and followed the lead of others in the tournament.
For the joy of combat, it was decided that there would be a Grand Melee before and after every two bouts, with all worthy fighters, combatants for the coronet or not, to fight upon the field. As they all came from different locations with borders of seas, mountains or vast distances, the group used these times to adjust to different local customs so as to standardize the power of their good blows so that all had a fair fight. Also all would leave the field with their lust of combat satiated, regardless of the outcome of the tournament.
Many mugs of water and fortified drink were taken in, to combat the oppressive heat and moisture of the day, as well as the exertions of the combatants. But they strove on in this glorious fight.
Wearing nothing more than the simple robes of Arabia, and an acclimatized veteran of the heat of the Holy Lands, the court jester was sweating as well in the heat. He tried not thinking of the heat inside the suits of steel worn by the noble fighters, but kept an eye out for their health and well-being.
After many stout blows under the hot sun and hammering dampness, but two combatants remained, as the sun started its trek behind the Mountains of the East:
Lord Mathieu, a veteran of seventeen years of combat and many a kingdome. An scholar of many works as well as the Bible, he combined the lessons of our ancestors with the physical prowess of a born soldier. Lord Mathieu was here for his first tournament to challenge to be the Baron of the Far West.
Lord Vail, a native of the land upon which he sweated mightily, had strived three times or more to become the Baron of the Far West, often falling short by a eyeblink. He traveled far from his home many times, at great expense to learn from the great teachers of combat. He had honed his skill, body and mind into one single purpose – to lead the Barony of the Far West.
Both had fought hard all day and traveled a long way for the tournament. Even before they clashed, the sound of their hoarse breath could be heard echoing across the glade, like the bellows of a pair of vast furnaces for heating base iron into fine Toledo steel. The two had hammered on each other and others all day, as well as for many years. The living arsenals were forged in the white heat of combat here as well and merely required a final hammering from each other to find which would lead the Barony of the Far West for a season. Both were covered in sweat, and crimson upon their noble faces due to the heat.
After many stout blows thrown and blocked, Lord Vail found a barely visible opening in Lord Mathieu's defense, and the blow was deemed acceptable by Lord Mathieu. Lord Vail had won one of the three bouts that were scheduled to be fought.
The second bout was on, as before the sweat did fly and the intakes of labored breath could be heard by all, even over the din of steady and intense combat. And this time fortune favored Lord Mathieu and Lord Vail did salute Lord Mathieu's skill at arms after a stout blow that Lord Vail found worthy did land. The count was one to one. Truly, there had never been a more evenly matched pair.
The good Viscount Robert Kinslayer and the jester did converse and both noted that the combat was very sporting and at no time was there any doubt on either combatant's honor. These were noble personages and true, without a doubt.
And for the third time did Lord Mathieu and Lord Vail strive upon the field. The fight raged all over and for a long time. And then, as if the Good Lord did Bless the two with their match, both landed shots deemed acceptable to the other.
At this point was their honor tested like no others. Just a mere word and they could rise as the Baron of the Far West. If there was a question, one would win. Yet, they both asked to fight yet again. With the goal available by merely a question, they honored their lineage to fight yet again in the punishing heat.
So for the fourth round of three, the sweat-drenched warriors headed the call of Viscount Robert Kinslayer to fight again. And again, as all three times before, the combat raged on for what seemed like an eternity. It was as if the noble combatants were already in Valhalla, to fight until the end of time. They dodged, weaved and blocked to avoid the punishing blows of their noble equal. The used martial tricks learned in many foreign lands, scores of wars and over a quarter century of combat experience shared between the noble comrades. Truly, no more equal fighters strove upon the fields of the world.
And then, suddenly, Lord Vail slipped his sword past the valiant block of Lord Mathieu and did land a shot deemed acceptable to the noble fighter.
What made the difference nobody knows. Could it have been the dew on a single blade of grass that made one slip so slightly that it would be barely noticed by an angel, yet giving an advantage one way or another? Could it been the smell of good food from the repast that robbed one of thought for a fraction of a second? They were truly equal, but in the end we could only have one Baron of the Far West.
So, with the sun starting it's decent behind the Mountains of the East, Lord Mathieu granted his noble cousin the Barony of the Far West, and Lord Vail was declared the Baron of the Far West. All who viewed the combat did declare the combat to be truly sporting, a deed of nobles.
There followed rapier fighting and grand melees. Then the pavilions and equipment had to be put away in the swiftly dying light of the fleeting day, and even while tired and exhausted the nobles did their best and left the field as if none had ever been there, except possibly a patch of grass smashed flat by the power of combatants, yet enriched with their noble sweat. And regardless of rank or privilege, all worked hard to assist. It was a noble deed indeed, but unsung. Even though noble, such "unnoticed" service is rarely sung, even though it is as appreciated as any deed upon the list- field. But the herald and jester did thank the nobles for their wonderful help.
As good nobles, one does not sleep in the open like a beast of the field when there are inns with cool air and warm baths. So they processed a mere mile to their appointed rooms, and did clean themselves of the sweat of their labors in preparation for the feast.
At the sumptuous feast, prepared by Baroness Marixsa – consort to Baron Vail – there was music of the herti-gurty, blockflute and many an instrument. Lord Noe sung many a song and the masked jester did juggle, as did Lady Midori. Baroness Marixsa lead many in dancing as well. All counted, six and thirty did attend the feast, and obviously more watched the clash of nobles early that day.
Later, Baron Vail was presented with the Sword of Sir Guy, who led the Barony of the Far West in one of its many Golden Ages in the past. While Baron Vail held the sword in his hands, his herald noted that the blade was nicked and scarred from many a great and furious fight, with barely a space on the blade that was not marred by the constant use in war and tournament. The side of the blade was unmarked – Sir Guy's aim was true, and he never landed with the flat of his blade, but on the edge, often both edges one after another. This was no blade that hung upon the hearth, but the sword of a warrior who never rested in his quest for all combat.
Baron Vail was requested to carry the noble sword into fierce combat yet again at the War of Estrella and the Crown Tournament of the Kingdome of the West, to show others the glory and might that is the Barony of the Far West.
Later at the feast, did Baron Stephan present Lord William Featherstone with a painting done by his hand, worthy of hanging in the halls of kings, as well as a miniature of Lord William's armour. Many gifts were exchanged and the night was full of merriment.
With what could only be magic most arcane or some science done by the great Leonardo, Baron Vail did gift Lord William Featherstone and his bride, Lady Midori Fujiwara-san with memories, numbering in the thousands. They will be cherished, always.
Later the group did clean the hall -- yet again showing that good deeds exist beyond common understanding – and retired to their inn for further merriment and jollity.
In the morning the jester did return the pavilions and other material to those who loaned them out, and did the final cleanup on the hall, filling his larder with the leftover feast and sake. At a reasonable hour, just before noon, the group did go for a champagne brunch and then took their leave back to their homelands.
To the amazement of Lord William and Lady Midori, a miracle was found after closing court. Even though they had completely forgotten to ask for donations for the land or lodging from anyone, the good Baroness Marixsa had collected coins of two realms from donations to her feast, and in the end the tournament had a profit sixty coins bearing the face of King George and the number one. The funds will be given to Baron Vail as coins for his passage to realms across the sea.
Slowly sipping a gift of Sake from Baron Vail…and getting quite loopy,
Lord William Featherstone, wandering jester and herald