Noble-Contest-art - 9/3/11
"A Noble Contest" by Conde Fernando Rodriguez de Falcon. A Pennsic tale.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: Fvigil at AOL.COM
Subject: [CALONTIR] A Noble Contest
Date: August 15, 2011 6:46:52 PM CDT
To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu
Over the centuries, armies have raged across the world fighting over nothing more than small pieces of land. Land has traded hands after complex treaty negotiations. Land has been bought and traded for exorbitant and sometimes negligible amounts. But until last Thursday, at the fortieth Pennsic War, I suspect land had never changed hands due to a game of badminton contested by the champions of two realms.
That’s the tale I’m going to share, but first you need the back-story. (okay, you may not need it, but you’re going to get it anyway.)
One of the fun things that happened at Pennsic was that Northshield appeared to be in the midst of a massive campaign of expansion. Their Majesties Morgan and Lusche had declared that Northshield was claiming every bit of land on which a Northshield foot trod. Further, they were claiming all sorts of items and people by the simple expedient of labeling them with a Northshield badge. Stacks of Post-it Notes (each marked with a griffin) distributed to their populace, made this easier, and many a Calontiri found such a note stuck to their coolers, their chairs, their pavilions, and sometimes their persons. Even Mount Eislinn, the large hill overlooking the battlefield, was claimed by a super-sized version of one of theses Post-its (made up of a very large square of fabric with a griffin painted on it.)
On Tuesday evening we were sitting around the Royal Pavilion, singing and minding our own business, when a collection of Northshielders, including Their Stellar Majesties, stopped by for a visit. When they headed out, for some reason they stopped at the edge of our courtyard and stood there talking and before too long they sat down and were quietly chatting. A significant amount of time passed, and finally His Majesty Anton, perhaps worried about His land given the Northshield expansion we had already witnessed, asked me to go out and inquire about taxes for the use of His courtyard.
Being a good servant of the Crown, I set off to talk to the Royal squatters. I approached the group, and carefully explained to them that His Majesty Calontir had sent me over to inquire as to when Calontir could expect the taxes for the use of the land upon which they sat. I explained that of course His Majesty understood the taxes were not quite due, but he was concerned that The Northshield Crown might have difficulty affording the tax while dealing with all Their other was expenses (after all 500,000 custom Post-it Notes could be very expensive.) With virtually no pause for thought, They calmly informed me that the land upon which they sat had been claimed by Northshield.
Rather than engage in a complex legal argument (since Lyriel was not yet on site), or engage in combat with forces allied beside us in the battles to come over a ten foot circle of land, I chose to simply inform the squatters that while that might (or might not) be true, I was somehow certain that the tolls to and from road to their enclave would certainly be quite steep. We all laughed, and after making sure they did not need any drinks or chairs, I wandered back to my cider in Royal Pavilion, quickly forgetting all about the incident.
But those sneaky Northshielders did not forget… The next afternoon as I returned from the food court, I heard that a contingent of Northshielders had visited our encampment to formalize their claim. There, on the edge of the courtyard, right where the squatters had been sitting, just a few feet from the road, was a ten foot circle of black and gold rope bedecked with a series of black pennons marked with the Northshield compass star. And in the middle of the circle was staked a sign, which read something to this effect:
. By order of the Stellar Crown
. This land is the property of
. the Kingdom of Northshield!
Set just outside the circle were three double Wonder Bars and a bottle of Boone’s Farm Fuzzy Navel - which I must assume was payment for the toll to get through the Calontir courtyard to the new Northshield enclave.
To ensure the safety of the rest of our precious Pennsic land, a circle of scutums soon ringed the enclave. A toll road was carefully marked out with red safety flags leading to the main road, and a tollbooth complete with gate and collection table was emplaced. Finally a sign was hung, which read:
. By order of the Calon Crown:
. TOLL ROAD
. Tolls may be paid in:
. Cheese curds
. Non “S” Beer
. Note: Brett Favre jerseys can no longer be accepted.
Over the course of the next 24 hours, more fun was had with the Northshield enclave. Various tolls were left at the toll table – coins, a can of Bud Light (someone clearly failed to understand what Non “S” Beer was), and even a pig (presumably so we could make our own bacon.). And when the Northshield party amoeba came by, various scutums, the toll table, the pig, and even the toll sign found themselves marked with the seemingly ever-present griffin Post-its.
That brings us up to the Calontir party that took place on Thursday night. Partway through the party, I discovered that His Highness Northshield and a group of His people had made their way into the scutum-ringed enclave. When I enquired about the toll, he casually reached into his pouch and scattered coin on the ground outside their precious ten foot circle. Though coin was not included on the toll list, I realized that cash can always be traded for bacon, so I gathered the coins and added them to the collection on the toll table.
Now, I was not quite sure if we were responsible for their hospitality, seeing as the Northshielders were not really guests in our camp – but standing in a circle of their own land. But just in case, and seeing as we are nothing if not hospitable, I went to the bar to fetch drinks for His party. Of course, I knew the perfect drink. They had showed us just the day before what they valued, so I hurried back with a bottle of Boone’s Farm Fuzzy Navel. After a bit of conversation, I left them enjoying the drink in their somewhat crowded circle in the midst of the party.
Over the course of the evening, a sort of badminton was being played as a part of the entertainment. But this was not just any badminton – it was Calontir, Angry Bird, Badminton. Countess Magda (sometimes known as “Countess Manners” after informing us quite clearly that it was “badminton,” not badmitton”) had felted wool shuttlecocks in the shape of Angry Birds (if you are not familiar with Angry Birds just Google it), while Ishmala, Rebecca, and Hildebrandt (assisted by a collection of perhaps somewhat less than helpful assistants), created rackets that would put Wilson to shame (or is that the other way around.) With OAFish rules inspired in part by the hoity-toity nature of the game (pinkies must always be held extended on both the racket and drink hand), and in part by hockey (who knew you could get sent to the penalty box in badminton), much fun had been had in games with up to four challengers on a side.
Then, late in the evening I was called back to the badminton court. His Highness Northshield had come forth from his enclave and was demanding a special match to determine the Known World Badminton Champions. Behind him stood two men, and judging by the late period garb of the closest I thought he must be a ringer. Based on his stance, and the casual way he held his racket, I could almost smell the years of badminton experience oozing off of him. Was this one of the infamous Northshield Badminton Babies, forced to play badminton sixteen hours a day from the time he was two years old? This would be a challenge!
Then His Highness Vladimir upped the ante. This would not just be a battle for a title. He wished to wager on the game. The stakes he offered? Ownership of the ten-foot circle of land they had already claimed. Well, I thought to myself, they already claimed it, what do I have to loose. Then I realized that just perhaps, His Majesty, who had already left site, might not be so willing to concede their initial claim to the land. Thinking quickly, I decided that since I was the one who first come up with the toll, I could reasonable offer His Highness a relaxation of those tolls. As our part of the bet, I offered two years with no tolls, but His Highness was a hard bargainer. It had to be retroactive – to include the tolls they had already paid that war. After pointing out that his party had already drunk the Boone’s Farm Fuzzy Navel, I agreed, and prepared to seek out a pair of badminton champions for our side.
But before I could find the sort of refined men who might serve as serious badminton challengers for the men Northshield had come with, a pair of Huscarls stepped forward and grabbed the rackets. As Magnus and Jack gave the rackets a few practice swings, more reminiscent of sword blows on a battlefield than delicate lawn party games, I shuddered and wondered if His Majesty would make me pay for the lost tolls out of my own pocket.
But, then I recalled that this was not “normal” badminton. This was Angry Bird badminton, played with rackets and shuttlecocks that , to put it mildly, did not always fly true. What’s more, it was OAFish badminton. Perhaps a pair of somewhat intoxicated Huscarls might not be the worst choice. After all, Kingdom Law makes it clear that Huscarls are to be authorized with “all weapons.” Didn’t badminton rackets count?
The rules for this game were simple. Each champion was to begin with a mug (or crystal goblet in the case of the Northshield ringer) filled with beer. Each time a point was scored against their side both members would take a drink. If anyone sloshed any of their drink out of their mug, they would also have to take a penalty drink. The Badminton Champions of the Known World would be the ones with any beer left in their mugs.
Northshield took control of the court. Nothing our brave Huscarls did seemed to work. Jack’s racket seemed slowed, and Magnus had only the power of a Man at Arms (and a small one at that). The leaping and pirouetting Northshielders were everywhere as they scored point upon point upon our champions. The Calontiri's beer diminished till they had only the tiniest of sips left. For a moment, I thought it might be time to call for a round of Cruiscin Lan, which would force both sides to drain their beers and result in a tie. Then I saw the look in Jack and Magnus’ eyes. It was a look that said, “We can do this. We can crawl from the depths of humiliation, serve our Crown and Kingdom, and draw a victory from the jaws of defeat.” Or perhaps it was just a look that said, “Lets crush them quick so I can fill my mug and get back to drinking like a man.” Either way, something seemed to change in them.
Serve, return, volley, smash - a point to Calontir and the Northshield mugs drew closer to empty. Serve, return, volley, spike - and they too were down to within one sip. A quick check by the refs and it was clear – it was game point! I wish I could tell you the final serve resulted in an epic struggle in which courage, strength determination, and true grit brought forth the champions, but this was not the case. Northshield served, and Jack’s racket dropped the angry bird at their feet.
Victory to Calontir! All hail Master Jack and Baron Magnus, Badminton Champions of the Known World. Huscarls who “fought” to defend the King’s land.
Never let it be said that a pair of semi-drunken Huscarls do not belong among the hoity-toity.
As for Northshield…
His Highness was last seen leaving camp with the rope that had once marked the Northshield enclave, saying to his retainers, “I better go find some more land, before His Majesty wakes up and learns I lost his land on a bad bet.”
And His badminton champions? I’m not so sure, but I sure thought one of the Tuchux I walked past the next day looked awful familiar.
PS. This is a true story. Well, it’s mostly true. At least the parts I did not have to make up because I forgot the details. But, besides that… it’s all true.