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East Kingdom University AS XXXIII
How To Keep Ian In Suspense Without Letting Him Know

by Don Ian Raven of Tadcaster

A Bestiary Comes Alive/East Kingdom University
September 13th, AS XXXVIII
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There are three things you must remember as you read this tale:

  1. This event occurred in a remote location in central PA.
  2. I was there to see a good friend get an award, something I wouldn't miss for the world.
  3. Nothing is as it seems. Ever.

The East Kingdom University in the Shire of Montevale: an event dedicated to learning and disseminating SCA knowledge to the populace, and not known to be a fighting event. Yet somehow this event in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania attracted more than fifty fencers this year. FIFTY. Five-Oh.

Part of the reason was an inter-school challenge within the League of Rapier Academies. The Tadcaster Agitators, whose job it is to pick fights with other groups, had efficiently discharged their duties and summoned our sister school, the Three OGR Academy of Defence (TOAD), to the field of battle at this very event.

Part of the reason was a rumor that a well-known and well-liked fencer was to receive a Court Baronacy at the same event. This was generally accepted as a Good Thing(tm), and many people, myself included, were keen to be there to support him.

Do you remember Point 3 above?

Unbeknownst to me, there was a different reason, a dark secret that had been festering and growing within the Militia and indeed, the entire East Kingdom, that would become apparent later.


Moving forward to the event: The various members of the Militia arrived late on Friday to set up camp, contending with darkness and a feeble rain that somehow failed to dampen our spirits. Camp pitched, we settled in to await the coming day.

Morning dawned chill and grey, threatening rain. We wisely moved the fencing from the open fields to the shelter of the nearby show barns, and planning for the school challenge began while other fencers warmed up, greeted friends old and new, or qualified in new weapons forms. The format decided upon was a random draw pairing method, with the two schools and their conscripts for the day divided according to League rank: Captains, then Provosts, then Free-Scholars, and lastly, Scholars. Names were prepared and shuffled, and the first pairings announced.

Fighting first for Tadcaster would be Dona Marion of the Oaken Glen, facing temporary TOAD, Master Dylan ap Maelgwyn. This was a hard-fought bout, but with customary deftness and composure, Dylan decisively bested Marion.

Score: Tad 0, TOAD 1

The next pairing: Don Antonio Patriquin, one of the Three OGRs of TOAD, squaring off with Tadcaster's namesake, yours truly, Ian Raven. This was a high-speed match, with blades flashing and sweeping in staccato bursts. In the end, Don Antonio's command of velocity and displacement outmatched mine.

Score: Tad 0, TOAD 2

The third Captains' match featured another of the TOAD OGRs, Don Ricardo de la Costa Verde, and the Militia's Dancing Bear, Don Duncan Kieran. Another well-fought bout, a true display of confident footwork and expert posing -- until Duncan, er, fell asleep and was run through without resistance.

Score: Tad 0, TOAD 3

With this score, I was becoming unhappy, but confident my group could turn things around.

Next up were Dona Nataliia Etceteranova and Lord Malcolm Bowman, Chancellor of the League. Unfortunately for Malcolm, "Mom" was on that day, and took him down handily.

Score: Tad 1, TOAD 3

The match of the third TOAD OGR, Baroness Mercedes de Calafia, and Tadcaster's Lord Thomas delbruc was beautifully fought, with each giving and taking in fine fashion. However, it was Mercedes who was the more determined to lay the smack down that day.

Score: Tad 1, TOAD 4

These five bouts completed the Captains' matches, with my faint glimmer of hope clinging tenuously to life, staring down the barrel of a three-point deficit.

Pairings then moved on to the Provosts, the first two drawn being Lord Ronan Lynceus of TOAD and Lord Robert of Hildreth, Tad-for-a-day. Due to a misjudgment on Robert's part of Ronan's excess reach, this bout moved the score to

Score: Tad 1, TOAD 5

The next bout restored my fragile hope for victory, as going against TOAD's Lady Emeline Patterson was Lord Collin Monroe, one of the Militia's Agitators. Collin proved my faith in him well-placed -- after several double kills, he emerged the victor.

Score: Tad 2, TOAD 5

At this juncture I was understandably dismayed by the score, which belied the evenness of the teams. The next bout was fought by Ronan Lynceus got the nod for TOAD, going up against Robert Hildreth playing Tad-for-a-Day. Both of them good fencers, and good people... but after that bout, the score was

Score: Tad 2, TOAD 6

The second Free-Scholars' bout involved Emeline's lord, Edmund, against the mute might of Geoffrey Gryphon, Herald of Tadcaster. Unfortunately for my improving mood, as mutely Geoffrey fought, so mutely did he die.

Score: Tad 2, TOAD 7

Next up, Tadcaster's Lord Iain Douglas and TOAD-conscript, Lord Nanoch. While I do not know exactly what happened, I do know it is my sad duty to report the score of

Score: Tad 2, TOAD 8

In a valiant attempt to lift our sinking spirits, our own Elephant Handler, Lady Katya Gordon, went toe-to-toe with TOAD's remaining Provost, Lady Richild la Gauchere. She began cannily enough, wearing Richild's defenses down and taking her legs, but then she allowed herself to get too close -- TOADs is trixsy.

Score: Tad 2, TOAD 9

I will paraphrase, at this point, "Casey at the Bat": There was no joy in Tadcaster.

My mood was officially morose.

The final Free-Scholars' bout brought out TOAD's Lord Xavier Mateyka to face Tadcaster Coinage Officer Frederick Houndstein. We did not yet know of Frederick's sausage or its properties -- if we had, we would have insisted he bring it out, for the shock value at least.

Score: Tad 2, TOAD 10

And then, the final bout. It appears from reading the above that this match held little significance, as a win would only advance us to three points. Please see Point number 3 at the beginning, though.

TOAD had not brought any Scholars to this brouhaha, so at the outset it had been decided that Katrine Lyndesay, Tadcaster's lone black cord, would have her choice of opponent. Nataliia, making a joke as to the weapons form Katrine might bring out, said: "Do you want a case of OGR's?"

Katrine: "Sure!"
Nataliia: "What two do you want?"
Katrine: "Oh, a case?...I thought you said a taste."

In the end, Kat chose her grand-don, Master Dylan. Her teacher's teacher. One of the best fencers in the Knowne World. There was a collective raised eyebrow, followed by a collective sigh from Tadcastrians present.

Katrine brought sword and buckler, a form she had qualified in that morning; Dylan countered with his favorite form, sword and dagger. At this point, Dona Mercedes announced that because Kat was a Scholar and had elected to face the best fencer present, this bout would be worth 100 points to the victor -- a nod to Quidditch's Golden Snitch.

Then, as we all watched in amazement, Katrine proceeded to carve Dylan into small pieces while sustaining only a small cut to her arm. Soon, amazement was of no use to us, and we were forced to resort to astonishment as the least experienced fighter among us demolished her far more experienced opponent; finally delivering a death-blow to his chest, while receiving but the second cut to her sword arm.

It had never occurred to her to be terrified.

The silence in the moment that followed was palpable. Even the rain seemed to hold its breath. Then the result dawned on me. As breath returned, I turned to find Don Ricardo standing directly behind me, his chin still lying in the sand of the barn floor. I exploded, "TADCASTER WINS, 102 to 10! YEAAAAAAAHHHHH!"

My good mood lasted through the next half-hour, then was derailed again by a disappointing set of melee scenarios. In fact, I felt worse about my fencing then than I had in a long time. To make matters worse, Geoffrey was made a marshal (based in large part on Ricardo's high opinion of my evaluation of him) and I wasn't aware it had happened until after it was done. I was now oh-for-three in witnessing Southern Region marshallings that I had some hand in, and the cumulative effect was that I took myself off to a secluded place where I wouldn't offend passersby with my foul mood and self-pity.


I calmed down in time to get cleaned up for court -- I refused to let a bad day of fencing take away from a friend's award! So, finery in order and children in tow, we found unobtrusive seats near the back. At this time, I was unaware of how good a court this would be for Tadcaster.

Early in the proceedings, Lady Annys accompanied the East Kingdom Herbalist and Apothecary Guild into court to make a presentation to the crown and have the guild's charter officially recognized. The following matter of business was the induction of new companions of the Order of the Burdened Tyger, the kingdom award for autocrats who run excellent events even under the worst conditions. This induction included our Elephant Handler, Lady Katya.

The Crown then summoned Brunissende, who was away on business -- as her Captain, I offered to accept on her behalf. I recall Their Majesties' odd looks as I entered court, but I was confident I wasn't out of line and thought little of it. They then presented Bruni's second Award of Arms, much to the confusion of the crowd, many of whom knew she wasn't present, and also remembered her first AoA just one month prior. I recessed from court amidst a quizzical buzz and held Bruni's second scroll so Collin could photograph it.


"Their Majesties call before them Lord Ian Raven of Tadcaster," the herald called.

Slightly confused, I re-entered court and knelt before the thrones. I quipped, "Didn't we just do this?" and was apprised by His Majesty Darius that I had not been given permission to leave. He treated me to an explanation of the troubles he had dealt with leading up to Pennsic War. All through the spring, he had been forced to deal with battlefield coordination, diplomats, allies, etc. - "Ian, you wouldn't want to know."

What had been most troubling to him, however, was the flood of calls, letters, emails, and personal requests that he had to deal with on top of planning for war. All seemed concerned that he do a certain thing or make a certain thing happen. The King of the East then leaned menacingly over me and stated, "Ian, when I have a problem, I squash it like a bug."

The only thought in my head, for some reason, was "But I thought I covered my tracks better." I have no idea why, though.

His Majesty finished by saying that his gracious Queen had suggested that there was another way:  give the people what they want. "So," he stated, "We have decided to do this."

The tiny little light over my head clicked on as the herald called forth the Order of the Golden Rapier. Smiling, Queen Roxanne leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, "By the way, Ian -- Ricardo's not getting a Court Baronacy."


During the celebration that followed, amid the congratulations and the "Doesn't that make up for today?" questions, a number of important facts were revealed to me.

  1. There were Vivats, even if I don't recall them.
  2. My induction to the Order had been decided upon in February, some seven months prior.
  3. Until June, only the Order and my wife had known that little tidbit.
  4. By late July, everyone in Tadcaster knew and had been keeping it from me. Well, I might add.
  5. By August, seemingly everyone else in the East Kingdom knew. And yet, I didn't.
  6. The story of Ricardo's CB was indeed a false rumor, started as a way to get me there and to cover the issue of the 50 or more fencers showing up at a traditionally non-fencing event. This worked better than anyone had hoped, because I was going around spreading it for them.
  7. Likewise, the challenge had been thought up as a more likely reason for the numbers of fencers, without letting me know that something was up.
  8. The actual mission of the Tadcaster Militia is to keep me in the dark. It should be pointed out that said mission isn't terribly difficult, as I raise plausible deniability to a new level of cluelessness.
  9. I have formed around me a group of caring, generous and imaginative people, without whom the Militia would not be what it is. While I may grumble about the skullduggery of it, behind my back this group wrote letters, confronted OGRs, planned a gotcha moment, took up a collection to procure my Order badge, arranged circumstances, moved mountains, created gifts and generally made certain that receiving this award was one of my most meaningful experiences since I began in the Society.

Several other memorable things came out of this event:  Tadcaster After Dark, new job descriptions, new weapons forms and marshallates, and innumerable quotes and jokes. But I will leave those for another tale.

I remain,

Don Ian of Tadcaster, Lord Raven
July AS XXXIX (2004)