Wednesday, April 12, 2017

GW26: The measure of a man, the measure of a mission (part 7)

Part 7:  A Diamond, a Rally, and a Bear

Wednesday night for me included a stop off at the Green dragon for purely sentimental reasons.Three years, four wars before, at much the same time, I had walked down Queen's highway and drifted towards the pavilion that sat aside of the dragon, looking for a place to rest for a few. In the dim light of the nighttime setting, I had found myself in the company of a somewhat familiar face. Three days before that, this woman had been the one, as I recall, who had guided me upstairs to the inn's balcony for my dramatic herald to the assembled for help with troll the previous Sunday. That night, however, as we sat in the relative calm of the dark outside of the inn's boisterous crowd, we both sat there, largely quiet. I remember making small talk for a few minutes, thought nothing momentous. Then, by happenstance, I asked how her day was shaping up, and she replied with a bit of an exhausted tone, that she was running a tournament the next day, and was trying to find enough heralds to cry the lists. 

Needless to say, my ears perked up, and in short order, I found myself enlisted in the service of one Viscountess Marian Lioncina da Susa, a member of the order of the Diamonds, past territorial princesses of the then principality of Gleann Abhann. All in one moment, I, a random traveller, and she a hard-working proprietor of the most famous in the SCA most likely, were transformed in our seats to other aspects of ourselves, namely a veteran list herald, and a member of the royal house of Gleann Abhann, respectively. 

For all the miracle that the chance encounter may be I treated it for what it was, a person who needed assistance, and a job that needed to be done. I think my own regret of the diamond tournament the next day was that for all it magic and charm, it was lost in the backdrop of even greater things happening in my life, but I say here that the Diamonds were no less welcoming or supportive of me than any other tournament I cried for that week those years ago. Theirs was a magic no less than any others in the society, and are, I say, still a mark above the rest in many ways. 

And tonight, three years later,  as I walked in the door, I saw the same dress and the same white headcover on the same woman, worked tired, but still happy and energised for the magic of both her efforts and those of her fellow volunteers behind the counter. 

"I wanted you to know," I explained to her after a brief bit of reintroductions, "That I still remember being allowed to herald from your balcony that night. And I still remember heralding the diamond's tournament. I guess," I said hesitantly, knowing I probably sounded a bit like a fool there, "I just wanted you to know that I still look back on all of that and it gives me a lot of great memories, and it was part of a giant adventure for me that year." I stopped there, knowing that I was on the verge of babbling. 

Marian's smile just then told me that the intent of my message was received in the spirit it was meant to be. And in return for my gesture, I finally had a name to put to my miraculous coincidence.

This year at Gulf, miracles and coincidences were not scarce either.

Two days later, I walked into our makeshift headquarters exhausted, and ready to see the final site announcements sent out for the war. It had been a good run thus far, we have cried all of the main roads and even gotten down by the archery field the last three times out. The coverage was amazing for such a modest bands of volunteers, and I was hoping to see the effort go out with a bang. But as the minutes ticked by, no one showed.

In my mind, I wondered if the cold, the fatigue and the long walks had taken their toll on everyone. Maybe they were all cashed out, getting well-deserved rest after heralding site and doing a million other things. Try as I may, I couldn't bring myself to be mad at anyone, though the idea of having to cancel the final cries was a cold bit that sat poorly at my stomach.

Then, at about quarter till the top of the hour, they came in the door. First, it was just Yancy, then Johann, and then Athena, and then Bridgit and then the rest. Within moments, I had no less than eight people standing there, ready to carry the messages out. Just when I had prepared myself for a fizzling end to our campaign, the site heralds of Gulf were going to rally for one glorious sendoff. As we wrote down the final words for the day and assigned out the routes, it was so crowded in there that I had to tell everyone to go outside so we all would have room to point and talk. I quipped that I felt a bit like General Patton as depicted by George C Scott in the famous movie opening credits, standing before an army worth of pride, and professionals in their task.

I literally felt tears come to my eyes as I assigned the last of the routes and sent them on their way. We had done it, we had heralded the second largest site in the SCA, we had done it for five days, and we can hit all the main roads each time.

And not one of them, not one of us as complained about the challenges or the time involved.

We had come, we had face challenges, and when the final round came, we rallied.

and they succeeded!

But the adventure was not over for us, not just yet.

Lady Bridgit of Mooneschaodwe, our resident sign herald that day, was just wrapping up her announcements in the Merchant's row when a figure sprinted up to her. Meridies own Taran The Wayward, a herald and good friend of myself, had run from the site of the ravine battle in desperate search for a sign herald. He'd first reached the five points, only to be told Bridgit was out doing announcements. From there, the search turned into a chance as he raced through the rows of merchant's tents.

He explained the situation, in brief, his crown was about to present an order of high merit in fighting, and the recipient was Deaf.

Bridgit, who stands barely a hand's breadth over five foot, and little wider than a fibreglass spear, was reported to have taken off like a shot at that point, her herald's tabard trailing behind her like a wind swept cape.

A few minutes later, Bridgit did, in fact, find the court of Mercedes, held on the battlefield. And did, in fact, and for the first time that I know of, serve as a sign herald for a foreign court. The recipient was made a member of the order of the Bear, an order for chivalric fighting. And, thanks to the skills of Bridgit, and her fleet-footedness, every line of the ceremony was conveyed in America Sign language, allowing them to be fully part of the ceremony in real time.

Friday had ended on the highest of high notes for the site heralds.

And through our work, the lives of others were made better for it.

Back L-R: Ivo, Kitty, Yancy, Johann, Gareth
Front L-R: Detrick, Athena, Kayla, Bridgit. 

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

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