Part 1: PreparationsThat last night before we all departed for our now annual pilgrimage to the heart of Gleann Abhann was both warm and tiring. While my wife and son worked inside our home to ready the last few items for storage, a family friend and longtime confidant and I worked to load tents and material. What Tote Derega (properly called Derega, as the Kipchek put the family name first) lacked in brute force, she more than compensated for with stubborn determination, a trait that we were both invested heavily in that night was we worked to make the absolute most of the limited space we had for a long day's travel.
Between loads of cargo and tent canvas, clothes and tent poles, my Mind divided itself as it had taken to lately, making use of the unused to contemplate that which I had been putting off thus far. Three years before, I had done much the same as I was doing that night, but with vastly different company. Where Ansteorra had for two and a half decades eagerly taken up the war-banners and rushed down to Meridies, and now Gleann Abhann, in order to meet its enemy on the field of battle, I was travelling for quite the opposite reason, and yet I was also travelling with very much the same great caravan of troops and material.
Nearly four years ago, a chance encounter with Master Alexander Ravenscroft, of the Kingdom of Meridies had shone a light upon a path I had never even dared dream could exist for me. Following my condensed class on site heraldry at Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium, the smiling, and outgoing man had walked up to me and in one breath said "I am Alexander Ravenscroft, and I would like you to come down to Gulf Wars this year and help me restart site heraldry for the event."
And there it was; no pleasantries, no formalities, just a blunt-as-a-mace statement of fact that included with it a tacit declaration of confidence, a request for help, and a hearty welcome all in one statement.
For each war since, while others surged forward to embrace the violent competition that was chivalric or rapier combat, I made the same journey not to compete, or combat, but to cooperate. In the end, I went not for want of personal glory, but because someone said that they needed my help.
In the present, while I contemplated my situation with my usual detached philosophical side, Derega and I worked out way through the list of items, including her tent, mine, and the supplies there with. Straps and boxes marked our progress with too slow of a pace as the early night wore on into late. Fatigue began to set in and we pushed closer and closer to completion.
And yet even through that, of all the things on my mind, the single item that bothered me the least, interestingly enough, was the principle task I was travelling to complete.
No part of the task of site heralding Gulf Wars so much as worried me in the least. Its not that I felt it would be easy because I knew it would not be. And it's not that I was simply cavalier about the challenges involved because I most decidedly was not. What I can say my confidence rested on so much that night between freight and provisions was the knowledge that I had such a solid core of well-tested heralds rallying around me in the week to come. In much the same way that fighters know the best of their number, or artisans can almost instinctively trace the most skilled of their ranks, heralds, and specifically sight heralds, know whom that can call comrade and compatriot by the time, energy, and sweat invested into our craft.
I was going into this war with the best army I could assemble and was quietly confident that whatever challenges made their way to me, I would have the skills needed to meet them head on, and best them.
No, the task of heralding site didn't bother me in the least. Nearly two decades of voice heraldry had given the piece of mind to meet that challenge with composure, even if failure awaited me.
Rather, I was alternately contemplating how I was going to best use the limited space Derega and my family had, and the other challenges, known and unknown that awaited me upon my arrival on site. These questions, the unknown most specifically, were what was going to challenge me for a sleepful night that night.
It was sometime after midnight before the last of the baggage was loaded aboard and checked. It took a deliberate effort to let the last of my unanswered questions exhaust itself as I worked the last tie-down for the night.
Sleep awaited us all with that, and with the dawn would come the outset of our voyage.
His Lordship Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King!"