Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

What I Did On My Summer Vacation, Part 4 -- Battle Time

Wednesday was the big, complex, long day. I knew that it would be, going in, and was not disappointed. It was indeed long, but definitely the highlight of Pennsic.

The morning and early afternoon were focused on the Mountain Pass Battle. This was a mild pity, solely because it meant that I had to miss the sending-to-vigil for lakshmi_amman. But we'd spent long enough prepping for this that it had to take priority, and I knew that she'd be in very good hands.

Sitting around before the battle did drive home a couple of things. First, we definitely need to put together more of a real Carolingian unit -- lucianus and I make the nucleus of such a thing, but we need more people to have the social aspect of it. Second, it was a damned good thing that the temperature was decent, because just sitting around waiting for things to start can take a lot out of you otherwise.

The battle didn't go as planned, which was a pity -- I would have liked to see the strategy play out. The theory had been that the East would essentially play rope-a-dope. Y'see, the name of the battle aside, this was really a field battle, where each side had one edge of the field as an extended resurrection point. (There was only one mountain, and only one little tiny pass on one side of it, so the "pass" element turned out to be mostly irrelevant.) So the plan was to have the East hang close to the resurrection line. We were wildly outnumbered, and would get killed a lot, but we'd only have a short walk back from it, whereas the Midrealmers who got killed would have much more walking to do. Then, in the final 5-10 minutes, we'd do an all-out push to capture the flags, still outnumbered but hopefully a bit fresher than the Mid.

In practice, when things started, everyone pushed much further forward than that. We were still closer to our lines, but a good third of the way across the field, so the effect of the strategy was muted. Oh, well -- all that said, it was still a lot of fun.

I did decently, considering that (a) I'd never picked up this bow before and (b) it was bloody damned heavy. It was a crossbow, with an 85 pound pull, right at the edge of my ability to draw. If I was in good shape and practice it would probably be great, but I was neither. Nonetheless, I got off what I would guess was about 50 shots over the course of the hour, of which 8 were confirmed kills plus three legged spearmen. It had been explained to me in advance that such a heavy bow would shoot high, but it still took about half the battle to really get my elevation right: part of why I got so few kills is that I kept shooting towards heads instead of chests, so people kept ducking.

The whole exercise was surprisingly tiring; after the battle, I needed about 45 minutes of just sitting and slowly sucking down Gatorade to recover. That was unexpected, because I wasn't really running at all. But it was still constant movement, in a steady routine. I would walk to the backfield, find a gleaned arrow (as everyone told me, there was *tons* of deadwood on the field, so I rarely had to use my own bolts), kneel and draw the bow (which took essentially all my strength), walk upfield, wander around for a minute looking for useful targets, fire, and repeat. 50 times over, plus the effect of (in retrospect slightly too tight) armor, and it knocked me for quite a loop.

All that said, it was still fun. This was helped by the fact that the battle was quite friendly. People were generally quite willing to take my shots, so it was a satisfying time. (As the folks from Lochleven explained, people are better about taking shots in a resurrection battle, especially if you wave at them to make it clear that yes, this was aimed at *you*.) And both during and after the battle, the Midrealmers were bending over backwards to be friendly to the Eastern side. So the result was that, while our chances of actually *winning* were kind of slim, it was still a good time -- the target-rich environment wasn't a bad thing.

One note to myself for the future: I should investigate contacts. Normally I don't notice my own glasses, but I really don't want to wear them inside the helm, and the result is that the battle winds up rather blurry. I can still shoot decently (my vision isn't awful, at least by SCA standards), but it would probably be useful to be able to see.

Once I'd recovered from the battle, and changed into less smelly clothes, I headed over for a quick stop at the vigil. I often say that every Peerage should have something cool and different about it; this one had The Elephant. Sometime a year or so ago, lakshmi_amman had mentioned that one precedent for rewarding a high artisan in India was to give them an elephant; this has occasioned a number of entertaining conversations since then, about how that could be worked into the SCA. In fact, new_man and company took the idea to heart -- they bought a double bell wedge, and painted an elephant on it, specifically for this vigil. Between that and lots of lovely Indian food, it was a fine setting; I only regretted that I couldn't stay longer.

My afternoon class followed immediately after. This was Some Spanish Games Within the Tables. After many years, a scholar out west is now translating the Alfonso MS into English. This is the most important period source on games, and has lots of what we would think of as Backgammon variations. I've begun teaching them, and am getting especially fond of a brutal Roman game called Re-encounter, which several people played and seemed to enjoy. (There's one reconstruction detail that I'm still not sure about, but having played it each way, I'm pretty sure that it works adequately either way.)

The evening was, of course, Eastern Court. This had originally been scheduled for 8pm; once they realized that it was going to take 3 hours, they pushed it back to 6:30. (And then the Royalty were running late, so they pushed it the other way down to 7pm, and it actually started at 7:15. Sigh. I didn't actually need to rush dinner.)

The highlight of Court for me, of course, was lakshmi_amman's Laurel. They did the ceremony up right, complete with dancing girls processing in before her and the Gigantic Silly Umbrella behind. She was presented with a beautiful (if rather vivid) green Laurel shawl. The most striking moment of the ceremony was HRH Darius, "Just this once", prostrating himself before Lakshmi as a sign of respect.

The other high point of Court for me was seeing mikekn get his Manche. There are few enough serious games geeks in this Kingdom (indeed, in the Society) that it's always great to see one get his due. And I mustn't forget to mention that the King was remarkably, um, poofy. Between the Ginormous Hat with the Ginormous Feathers, and the sleeves that carried slash-and-poof to their remarkable extreme, it was an outfit never to be forgot.

Finally, once Court was done, I spent an hour or two playing pack mule for msmemory, as she and tpau went shopping. We spent a very long time pawing through linen (one of the merchants turned out to have a dazzling assortment of clothes-weight linen), and they took a good long poke through one of the sari shops. (Whilst I wandered into the back room and catted with the Laurelate who were sitting back there, including the newly-inducted Anne Elaina, who turns out to be neat folk.)

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