Posted by: wrmcnutt | October 27, 2009

Gandalf At The Bridge

No @#$%, there we were, ten men against a thousand. They had nukes and all we had was a plastic spoon! Blood went everywhere!

Ok, so much for the traditional opening.

It was only seven seconds.  But it was the BEST seven seconds.

The Rapier Ravine Battle at Gulf Wars 2008 was a timed three-flag capture the flag battle on poor footing, on a slope, with obstacles.  Lord Tormod has a set of flags that are weighted, so a living participant in the battle must hold onto the flag in order for the right color pennon to be up. Let go, and it returns to a neutral position.  The team that holds the flags for the longest total time wins.

My Kingdom, Meridies, was granted a supporting role.  We were assigned to the backfield to kill jackrabbits. That is, to hunt down and slay anyone who sneaked into the backfield and tried to get a series of cheap kills in before they were identified. Our secondary role was to support any place where the line grew thin.  It was a thirty minute resurrection battle. The plan was for HRM Ansteorra and a half-dozen crossover knights to bait Northshield, particularly the Hell-hounds, into contesting the left flank, while the Mid and the rest of ansteorra took and held the center and right flanks, thus accumulating the winning time.

About 15 – 20 minutes in, the Mid was having trouble holding the center flag, and we swept in to support.  I was just one more blade in the line, fighting rapier and buckler.  We pushed Trimaris back, took the flag and I was slain.  Thus, I turned away and headed for resurrection point.  About twenty steps back, I turned to check the tactical situation, so that I would know what I was about to plod back into.  And dammit:  the flag was the wrong color. I hadn’t been gone more than 30 seconds, and they’d boogered it up. I felt like the maid.  “I just cleaned this mess up. Can’t this line stay secured for FIVE MINUTES?”

And then an odd thing happened.  That flag became MY flag.

I went stomping off to resurrection point, behind which was Lord Faelen, who’d been sent to fetch me for dinner.  (The battle was running WAY late.)  “So will, how ya’ doing?”

Answer: “MY flag!”  (stomp off)

“Okay,” sez Faelen, “I’ve been there.  I know that look.  I’ll just wait quietly over here.”

I got to the muster point and met Lady Isabella, who was commanding the White Star Brigade, the Tennessee contingent.

“MY flag!”

“Well, we have to take it first . . . “

“MY flag!”

“Okaaaay . . . . .”

And off we went.  We hit the Trimaran line about the same time as a squad of at least a half-dozen midrealmers and pushed the Trimarans back again.  Some more Meridians and Midrealmers showed up and we deployed into two ranks, each maybe 10 – 15 blades wide.

I looked up the hill, and it was like a dammed tidal wave of blue and white coming down.  They hit the first rank and got ground down, but ultimately the Trimarans swarmed them under.  The rest of us stepped up, and within 15 seconds, it happened.

I looked to my left. No Meridians black and white. I looked to my right: no Midrealm red and white. Four paces in front of the flag.  Nothing was between the Trimarans and the banner bearer but me, and indifferent blade at best.

And I changed.

It was the dammest thing.  All of a sudden:  I was Captain Geoffery Thorpe on the decks of Le Madre de Dios. I was Lord Cyrano D’Bergerac facing the Boetians.  I was D’ARTANGIAN AT THE ABBEY!

NOBODY could lay a blade on me.  I didn’t throw a single shot, but NOTHING got by my blade and buckler.


Then I felt something change again, and I realized that Meridies had filled the line to my right, and the Mid had filled it to my left.

And I got stabbed by no fewer than five rapiers.

But for seven seconds, it was all me, and NOTHING got by.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

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  1. Okay, maybe it’s because I’ve heard you tell the tale, and my brain was filling in your voice… but I got goosebumps.

  2. the goosebumps are spreading.

    I love that story Will.

  3. and I feel a deeply ingrained sense of “I need to hand Will a beer now”

    it’s sort of a Pavlovian response to one of your stories I think.

  4. I understand. I had a moment like that at a War of the Lilies. But I had an army behind me. I led the charge on a castle that Sir Lars had built, acted as the spear point of my forces, brushed aside the opposing force, and ordered my personal banner placed atop the castle. I was told later that it was an impressive one man show.

  5. Again, a debt to your Father: you see Master Will, you can accomplish ANYTHING once you set your mind to it. You are NOT a mediocre fighter, heavy or light, you have simply not decided to Master it yet. All the skills, knowledge, and experience are there; you just have to free-up the time and decide to BE an Immortal God-like being on the field. Personally, I idolize the swashbuckling Errol Flynn! I think you could do a great job of mimicking him at the next Gulf War! Leaping from the fort into the the Fray!! “Ha ha!! Now I have you!!”

    • That’s dirty pool: invoking Errol Flynn. I came to the SCA through Hollywood, not history. My image of the Middle Ages is rooted in the Saturday Afternoon Matinee, as it was broadcast in Charleston, South Carolina. “Robin Hood,” “The Sea Hawk,” and “Captain Blood” all set my preconceptions.

      Ok – so Peter Blood is post-period. But there was the “Court Jester” w. Danny Kaye to make up for it.

      Time’s short for me right now, but I’ll make a dead: you bring that hammer back, and I’ll sign up for four two-hour great sword lessons.

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