Thursday, March 23, 2017

GW26: The measure of a man, the measure of a mission (part 3)

Part 3: pens, paints, and rope.  

Three years, (four Gulf War's) ago, I had walked into a small pop-up pavilion just in time to barely escape the latest onslaught of rain from that year. The makeshift scribes point was almost completely abandoned, with the walls and roof tested to their limits as they shed water by the bucketload. Sitting in a corner of the leaking structure, Her Ladyship Vastillia, of Trimaris sat and painted a scroll in one of the few dry spots left in the tent. Nearly every space was otherwise wet, or soaked through, and the temp was cool and trending to cold. 

My contribution to the moment was to go through to all of the power strips hanging from the roof of the tent and to re-hang them so that water wasn't running into the outlets like it had been. In truth, I think the real bond between me any my newly met Trimarian friend was more the fact that we were willing to stay there in the middle of a thunder storm like the insane people we were, thought to this day Vastillia still talks with gratitude about my work in rewiring the pavilion.

The following year, the scribed has been allotted an impressively large "fixed" pavilion with a fifteen-foot vaulted roof. I had arrived that week just in time to hear Vastillia begin resigning herself to having to drape the power cords and strips across the ground since no one there could reach the roof. There was a little bit of "hold my drink and watch this" that second year as I ran a length of rope over one of the roof pipes and worked it up to the peak, tieing it off like a line of stage rigging to a pole on the other side. Improvising like that was in my blood, but also it meant we could run main power down the middle of the space, out of the way, and give the people there in access to lamps for nighttime work. For a tradecraft like scribes, this was not a trivial advantage in the least.

But with this, my reputation, and bond with Scribes point had been formed. And through Vastillia I had also met then Lady Mara Palmer, an energetic and fun-loving Meridian Calligrapher. And lastly, rounding out the scribal trio, was Her excellency Adela Scrijver van Brugge, Baroness in Fief from the same Kingdom, and Mistress to the Laurel. The three of them were the perpetually ink-stained, paint smeared, talkative partiers who had kept scribes point not only alive but vibrant for all of the time I had known them. 

This year was little different, and I was met with a running hug from each of them as I made my way into tent following a night of bone-rattling cold and wet. While I doubt you'll find my name anywhere on the scribe's point roster, or in any paperwork leading up to Gulf, I'm both honoured and humbled to be welcomed into the inner circle of the dynamic force that keeps the point running each year.

And, in true Scriba fashion, each of the greetings were met and cut short with "And I need to get back to this project." Even on Sunday, the first day of the war, there were things to go and deadlins to meet.

As the morning transitioned into midday, I went to work helping with the infrastructure of the point. between conversations and laughs, I cannibalised a fresh roll of heavy twine a bag is zip ties to help run the internal power across three pavilions, including the one where we had all first met, now repurposed for a classroom. Vastillia took pointing in guiding me to where she wanted outlets and cables, and I worked to make it all happen.

Its been said that man is happiest when he finds a place for himself, and in my case, one of those places is situations like. 

Another contributor to the effort was Olyeg the Quiet. When Vastillia voiced the idea that we should run a tarp the twenty feet between the classroom pavilion and the main shelter, I had hesitated. The distances were not small, the scale not minor, and none of us had any means to reach the ten and fifteen-foot ceilings involved. I wasn't going to call the project impossible by any means, but an answer was not instantaneous in coming.

Olyeg stepped in a short time later with ingenuity of his own. The slightly built rus, had tied a heavy knot to a fifty-foot length of nylon rope, the bundle of coils adding enough mass to the end to make it throwable. With a few well-aimed launches, he had first run the rope over the tallest obstacles and then used it to pull the heavy and massive tarp behind.

I'd first gotten to meet Olyeg the year before, when his wife had volunteered him to help me site herald. He'd answered the call just in time to get hit with the leading edge of the storm that would later make history. But, to his credit, and without flinching, he had walked an impressively long and challenging circuit down King's highway from The Five Points, and back through the Calontiri camp, I never once heard him so much as mention the cold, let alone offer complaint about it.

Of course, the whole story does not exist in a vacuum. Far from it, in fact. His wife is Honourable Lady Groza Novgorodskaia, called "Skaia", the same woman who had given me the first of my treasured "four coins" that I chronicled after my return to Gulf wars three years prior. The connection was the type of continuity I had come to expect from my times at Gulf, with friends of friends coming togeather in random and wonderful ways to share the magic that was the SCA for many of us.

In much the same way as the chivalric fighters were checking their armour, the archers their arrows, and rapier fighters their swords, the scribes were buckling down, preparing for war in their own way. But rather than clanking metal or layered fabrics, this bulwark was a castle of fabric and tent poles, held up as much by the relationships it sheltered as the frame within. 

His Lordship Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King!"

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