A Chronicle of Elfsea Defender
By Briony Blåaslagen
Early in the morning of September 3, A.S. XXII, Laird Conall MacNaghten, the Honorable Lord Rognvaldr Buask, and I set forth upon the Blåaslagen cargo ship OVERASKELSE for the Elfsea Defender Tournament. We had fair winds (thanks to Rognvaldr, I am sure), and arrived without mishap. Elfsea has no proper longship docks, so we had an unfortunate incident while unloading: all of Master Ragnar's gear was dropped into the shallows. We were forced to hire extra help to recover this gear, but Ragnar later made good our expenditure.
We made immediately for the Viking encampment and lashed my sails and oars into a shelter for the coming days. Conall then ventured up to the Celtic camp of Mistress Branwyn and Their Majesties Seamus and Karlanna, where he and Mistress Mari intended to stay. Viscount Randall and Viscountess Constance had already set up in the Saxon enclave, where they would be joined by Lord Jusric later. Rognvaldr and I laid out the Viking garth arrangements and found that our friends Baron Olaf and his Lady Angelina had arrived from Namron and encamped with us. Across the road, we spotted a large, barricaded fort, which we shortly ascertained to be the Roman Army, led by Equus Camerinus, who was in the process of constructing roads. We also noticed a small Arabic camp near the Saxons, under the auspices of one Lord Da'ud. I had heard tell that far Easterners were also expected, but if present, they had, in fabled subtle manner, well disguised the fact.
Throughout the evening, each encampment grew, but we were about to give up hope on others from our fair Barony when at last they arrived (many muttering imprecations about Blåaslagen sailing charts and the like). In all, Mistress Mari, Jarlinde Kemreth, Master Ragnar, Lord Erlend, Lady Thordis, Lady Winnefreda, the lady Kirsten, Jorund, and my own son Rolf were at last ensconced in their respective places. Many Norse kin and friends long unseen arrived in our camp, also: Master Ivar Battleskald and Sir Lasguaard Aglanar were among them. At last the arrivals slowed and I settled down to rest to the resonant tones of Ragnar regaling Ivar with recent tales of his visit to Seawinds.
Saturday's dawn broke, and we all slept on, oblivious. When I did arise, it was to find that Thordis had created the traditional Scottish breakfast of oatmeal, which I suggested should be sent up to the Celts. Soon we heard that the list would begin, so Sir Randall and Conall made their way up to enter, along with half a hundred others. The list was long, but both our Bjornsborg fighters showed their prowess well. Many of our Norse folk busied themselves with discovering who (and what) was at which campsite. The list ended with a melee, led on the one hand by Duke Inman and the other by Count Hector, the two undefeated fighters of the list. Duke Inman's fighters won the day and thus he was declared Defender of Elfsea.
The Norse and any guest who wandered in then partook of the marvelous stew which Thordis had concocted in her Thordiskatla (cauldron). The King was at this time present in camp, and being held (so to speak) captive audience to Ragnar's tale of recent occurrences at Seawinds, so Mari and I, having heard this tale, went to espy what trouble might be found. Upon concoction of several plans for later that eve, we returned to find that the Crown had called all to assemble (i.e., Rolf came and asked, "Hey Ma, we goin' to Court?"). But when we arrived at the gathering it was only to find that Ragnar, Rognvaldr, Ivar and I could not say how many others had placed themselves upwind of the populace and were engaged in an exchange of commentaries of the farting variety. As soon as was reasonable, several of us made good our departure from this most odoriferous of Courts. Four went to visit the Roman campsite, sadly depleted of guards, and practiced a few relocation techniques on the road signs there. Three visited the famous Celtic arch up the way, and it became a Nordic arch for a brief time. Some were just in the process of arranging the Saxon shields in a more aesthetic locale when the King came and said that this 'raiding' must cease: we were gathered here in peace and he would not see ill feelings arise from simple acts of amusement. ALL agreed that other forms of amusement would be found.
Returning to camp, we found that many Norse from the Northern climes of Namron and Eldern Hills were still arriving, so more meetings and greetings took place. While a formal feast for the Royalty and Defenders of Elfsea was served, the Norse gathered our dancers and musicians and taught all who would learn the Ormen Lange and the Kissing Dance. Then our camp leader, Ragnar, went to dine with the Romans, and many bards, skalds and storytellers made their way to the camp to entertain us and we likewise had skalds that visited others or performed at the camp. I do believe that all who attended the gathering were present at one time or another within our camp that evening. Many coins of gold and red changed hands that eve, as those most impressive were rewarded for their talents. Lady Margery de Bray collected so many tokens of reward that Elfsea proclaimed her their new court bard. Sometime quite late in the evening, King Seamus declared that nothing after dark had happened at all, so my memories must in truth be merely dreams.
Sunday morning brought yet another full day, and our Bjornsborg people rose ready to enjoy it. Lord Jusric won the Archery shoot, and Laird Conall won the spear throw. Each was presented gifts in recognition of his skill. Duke Lloyd and Duchess Joselyn brought their recent progeny, a girl babe, to visit. Two lists were fought and an auction of crafts was held. The populace was once again assembled to award gifts and largesse for worthy accomplishments.
Directly following this, I made my way to the Two Sisters Tavern to beg a tankard of water. This Tavern was in the hire of the Roman encampment, though its mistress was herself one Lady Caitlin, a Celt. She made me welcome and as we spoke, I found that she had had little patronage from the Romans who had hired the Tavern. It crossed my mind that this was a great waste, and that if she had the Norse as patrons, her beer would have long since been sold. I brought the matter to Ragnar's attention and, forthwith, the Norse, Saxons, and Celts agreed to buy up the beer. This we did, and as all know that Arabs do not touch beer, it remained that the only folk who would wish to have a beer in the Roman Tavern and could not were the Romans themselves. This pleased us, the Tavern Mistress, and her lord Master Pepin, all no end. Later, Ragnar, Ivar, and others were heard carrying beer through the Roman camp and singing “the Vikings bought the beer while the Romans were asleep.”
A gathering was held that eve at the Celtic camp, and a count of all red tokens was taken so that the favorite camp might be known. The Roman camp had received the most recognition, but the Norse and Celts banded together in alliance, cemented by gifts and marriage ties, and received a present of beer from the shire of Elfsea, with which we were most pleased. Dancers from the Middle East then came forward, and I was much impressed and gave gold so that Amber and Delphina would dance at our camp for Rolf later, which they did. An early retiring was soon in order, to rest for our journey home. Breaking our fast, loading the ships, and much last-minute visiting occupied our Monday morning. A brief but strong squall served to rapidly send most on their separate paths for home. My highest regard is given to all those who worked with and joined in all the fun of Elfsea Defender.
see also: Of the Overraskelse Hunt and the Wounding of Ivarr