The event this weekend was an absolute blast – I got to see old friends, amazing rapier fighting, meet new people and even spend part of my day in service to the community as a scribe. Plus I got to learn The Very Basics of listmistressing, which is the art of pairing fighters on a list field – something I’ve never done before, but which was fun.
The event was in Livingston, which is almost exactly 100 miles north of where I live, so it took a little over 90 minutes to drive there, even early on a Saturday morning. I planned my morning well, so that I arrived at Sonic at 7:10 (right after they open), got my breakfast not-in-a-burrito (you can order breakfast burritos in a tray instead of a tortilla) and an iced tea the size of my head, and hit the road. There had clearly been storms the night before – site was wet and parking was muddy, but no deep or dangerous mud. I got great parking right near one of two huge permanent pavillions on site.
Found my friends – lots of people to hug (especially Baron William, he gives the best hugs). Gated in, and set up shop with Elena and Brian to spend the day at a picnic table doing scribally things. I knew I was there to paint – Elena had done original scrolls for all the tourneys that day, and had done the calligraphy and drawn in the illumination, but they were not all painted yet, so I painted the three youth awards.
Her Majesty also gave out two Queen’s Rapiers (basically a “wow you really impressed me” award), and though we only had one on site – and we really did try to get a second one – I painted that too. (The other will come from Sable Scroll this week and get given out on Saturday at Queen’s Champion, presuming the recipient is there – which I believe he said he would be.)
Then Elena got roped into helping with the afternoon lists, and I went and learned the very basics. Fun skill, got to meet a lot of fighters. There was truly some spectacular fighting on display – some of the best rapier fighters in the Known World were there, and HRM was clearly delighted to be part of this.
The backstory is that originally in the SCA if you wanted to fight, you fought heavy armor chivalric fighting. But a couple of upstarts in Ansteorra (led by one Tivar Moondragon) started researching period rapier fighting manuals, and began a tradition here in our own kingdom that led to HRH Tessa creating what was first called the Order of Cavaliers – the insignia of which is a white scarf tied on the left arm above the elbow (or at the shoulder). These became the White Scarves – and rapier fighting has always had a very special relationship with the Queen. As the King’s Champion is the King’s personal defender, so the Queen’s champion – a rapier fighter – is hers. Many a Don (the title taken by most White Scarf holders) remembers poignantly which Queen granted him access to the order, and the Queen’s Champions all hold very dear their relationships to their queens.
It’s a special thing, and a thing that really doesn’t exist anywhere else in the Known World (there are some kingdoms where there was no Order of the White Scarf at all). Now that there’s a rapier peerage – the Masters of the Order of Defense – many kingdoms are closing their White Scarf orders, which is a grant level award, and I find that to be a loss. I grew up in the SCA in the rapier community, and there’s a panache and a style to it that you don’t see in other places.
My thoughts on rapier fighting aside, it was a good day, not too hot, though muggy once the sun came out and started burning off the puddles. Feast was excellent, and by the end of it I was exceptionally tired, and chose to drive home rather than stay and see the bardic circle that followed. Many folks camped Saturday night, and the site has running water and showers, so hopefully it’ll be a site we use regularly, even if it’s a bit far away.
Next event I’ll be at will either be Steppes Warlord (Memorial Day weekend) or Ansteorran Heraldic and Scribal Symposium (late June). Possible detour to Known World Dance and Music in mid-June as well.
I’m doing my best to dance these events around when D&D is – some events (like the AHSS event) will be worth missing D&D for, but most won’t, so I’ll be scattering my event attendance in between weeks or on off weeks.
I’ll have a post up later this week about garb. I need to make some decisions about what I’ll be wearing, since the garb I have needs alterations or additional layers to be really period.