Monday, May 19, 2014

Castellan XX

Well, I have to say Castellan was a wonderful event, and a great "decompression" for me and my family. In terms of heraldry, it was wonderfully lightweight, with me only being loud once or twice at the request of a few people.

I started the day off at the archery field, another round of shooting, and some more time getting to know my longbow. I'm quickly coming to realize that archery is probably the most low impact of the martial arts practiced in the SCA, thought he sores on my index and middle finger tips definitely remind me that it's not completely without ware and tare. I shot for close to two hours, perhaps five or six rounds with 9 arrows each. All of it was totally for fun, no competition there at all. I got to see old friends, meet a few new ones, and even put a few crossbow quarrels down-range. I don't see myself as a potential crossbowman, but it was nice to try my hand at it, and my thanks for the gentle who loaned me the weapon for a few shots. I dare say my shooting is improving, and I think a few more practices will help me tighten my grouping up considerably.

But the true magic of this event was not on the archery range, or heralding on any field. That day was a day for friends of times past to rejoin the present.

In one event, I spoke with Mistress Rhiannon Redwulf, Master Oxlade Lachlann MacKinnon and his daughter, and, Centurions Talen von Marienburg, and Treschen von Asselen, as well as their two daughters.

When I first joined, Rhiannon was the "big sister" figure to newcomers in the group, while Oxlade was something of a mad scientists in his own right, Talen and Treschen were two of the three highest ranking members of Mooneschadowe, as well as the first and second captains, respectively, of the Liondragon Guard.

Oxlade, whom I spoke with at some length at the archery field had not seen seen in some time. Life, and love as it happened and compelled him out of the SCA in order to solidify new life for himself. But now, your stepdaughter had voiced interest in archery, and likewise in the SCA. Returning as a father as well as an old friend, I watched as he walked his child through the steps of beginner archery. She took to the SCA like a duck to water, thrilled with the people, the environment and the fun that it brought. I do look forward to seeing more of my old friend, and I think my son, as well as most of the northern children will look forward to the newest friend in their circle.

Moving on, Alarich, and his wife Aline, had been friends of mine and my wife's for almost as long as we known known each of them. Their marriage was no surprise to anyone in retrospect, each person needed someone with the type of intellectual and emotional strength that the other embodied.

Alarich has not lost any of the determination, wit, or cunning that framed him when I was his man-at-arms a decade and a half ago. Age, if anything, has made his sword sharper, and brought his intellect to that much finer of a point. I've stayed in contact with him, but still, there is something to be said for presence of a man composed such as Alarich is.

As it happened, circumstances favored a remarkable event that afternoon at feast. My wife, my son and I all found ourselves sharing a feast table with Alarich, Aline, Talk, and Talen's older child. Treschen and their younger were serving the table, affording them both opportunity to join us between removes.

When I first joined the society, Talen and Treschen were both people who commanded respect by their very bearing. When they walked into a room, their posture, their stance, their very essence spoke of dignity, respect, honor. Fifteen years has made them... less... intimidating to me, but that is likely as much about my growth as anything else.

Also, I can say from experience that its hard to look completely dignified when your child is using you as a stand-in for a jungle gym. The think the image from Beltane the week before, of Taken's younger child unceremoniously scaling her way up his left arm like a tree branch was perhaps the most memorable for me. Try as he may, its just hard to look serious when you're pulling double duty like that.

Talen and Alarich spent a good part of the feast swapping stories about their time together as students, mutually tormenting a German instructor, with Treschen verifying the better elements.

At one point, I looked at Treschen and spoke. "You know, I just remembered something. When I first joined (1998), you were teaching a costuming class for the Medieval Studies Group, and when you and Talen were talking about horses and combat riding, Talen said 'and stirrups were critical to the development of mounted combat.' I raised my hand, and said 'Okay, what are stirrups, and what do they have to do with combat?'. You," I pointed right at Treschen, "Looked at me like I had just walked off of a flying saucer or something."

To my shock, Treschen sat up, and a light came to her eyes. "I do remember that!" she exclaimed excitedly. And the three of us all laughed at the shared memory.

As an aside, I *did* know what stirrups were, but only passingly. At the time, the connection between them and mounted combat was well beyond any of my reading or historical exposure. Treschen, who grew up on a ranch, evidently, was, and still is to some extent, absolutely thunderstruck that anyone would not know what stirrups are.

But it felt great to talk with people from my past, and even better the conversation was as much about tomorrow as it was yesterday. it wasn't the conversation of friends meeting for a moment, but of people with a past, looking forward to a future. These were people with whom I would spend more time, and hopefully learn much from.

One of the most magical moments of the day came from an unexpected visit. Her Grace, Duchess Willow walked over to the table and summarily asked to join us. Talen and Alarich both welcomed her. Willow sat down, offered a very formal thank you for the welcome, and pulled out a small glass box.

"Now, you see," she started," My latest shipments have returned to port, and I have some goods to offer about for those who would endeavor in trade." She told a calculatingly simple narrative of a trade fleet, ships and men under contract to her, sailing the ports of the Mediterranean, north Africa and even towards the Middle East. She passed around coins of foreign make, a sample of fresh cinnamon, jewelry and etched glass beads. The whole time, she not only played the part of a merchant, but exuded it, the world as we all know it melted away, and for all purposes, we were talking to a 10th century trader dealing in various goods.

As one necklace was passed around the table Alarich took an instant liking to it. not for its immediate value, though. "I can make this," he said eagerly, studying the links that made up the chain. I could see the craftsman's look in his eyes, metalwork had always been a study of his.

Setting upon the opportunity, I reach into my own pouch and extracted a cast coin that had been minted for a cite token some time back for Mooneschaodwe.

"You're grace." I spoke up. Willow's eyes lit up at the salutation, she met my gaze. "I have in my hand here a coin, minted in pewter, and a few years in age. Aside from its material worth, it was part of a set only minted once, as a receipt of purchase, as it were, for admission to a an event hosted by the Province. It is of historical significance as an artifact of the event, and as one vested in our kingdom's histroy, I would suppose that it would also be of interest to you. Would you consider such an item of fair value to consider for trade?"

"Oh, most certainly!" the agreed eagerly, playing the role of merchant to the hilt.

"This necklace," I pointed to the item in Alarich's hand. "Would you consider it's value fair for tage of this one coin."

"I would, most assuredly."

"Then consider this payment in full," I said, handing the coin down the table. "and the necklace as gift to my former leige lord."

Alarich laughed welcomingly at the unexpected gift, and Willow looked overjoyed at the interplay of the game. The whole scene was facilitating, entertaining and wonderful at the same time. it set much of the tone for the rest of the meal.

the day rounded out whit court, and welcome awards for many who were there. Incluidng the Baron and Baroness finally managing to present Ranger Roger (the camp ranger who maintains Will Rodgers Boy Scout camp) with a local award that had been signed into law in 2012.

Castellan is always a welcome event for me, and always brings different things when I attend. This year, it brought old friends, new adventures, and a promise that the best is yet to come.

Honorable Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Mooneschaodwe Minister for Arts and Sciences
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King"

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