Event Review - Namron Protectorate 2004 - by Zubeydah

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This page contains an event review by Zubeydah. This represents solely her opinion and views/thoughts at the time of writing, and do NOT reflect upon her Barony, her Region, her mentors and friends, or anyone else.

The morning started early; I couldn't sleep, so I went ahead and got up at around 5 am, and was out the door by 6:30. It was still dark, and clouds covered the sky. I picked up ice, some beverages, and a map at the corner gas station, and was off and shuffling. I didn't exactly follow the standard directions, but managed to get on site by a wee bit past 8. (No small thanks to the map I'd bought.)

Almost immediately, I saw Rayhanna picking her way down a trail heading back to her campsite, and further up the road, saw her husband, Aethelred, dressed in a new fighting tabard. He looked entirely spiffy, and said that they were planning on setting up their tent on the right side of the field. When I arrived, I was surprised that so few pavilions were up around the list field . . . almost all of which were on the right. Hersir Thorgrim and his household were setting up in their customary spot. I decided that rather than try to sandwich myself in on the right, I'd go ahead and enjoy their company. While my tent isn't even vaguely close to theirs in grandeur, I'm working on it. It’s draped with scarves and veiling, and hopefully will only get better as time passes and funds allows.

In relatively short order, and with the aid of some of the Mooneschadin, the tent was up. I wasn't sure where Halfiras was going to be, so I didn't want to unpack that much. I fidgeted and fussed, did a little visiting, and wandered about somewhat aimlessly for a while. It was an odd feeling. I was feeling unsettled, disconnected, and a little lost. I've lost a lot of my joy since Queen's, and was really hoping to regain that sense of community and belonging.

Some weeks prior, I had sent an award recommendation to their Royal Majesties, via email, as the online page form seemed to be non-functional. In the recommendation, I had offered to create a scroll for the person. The charter had been completed, and is some of my best work to date. ( I had even very impishly asked the individual if they’d seen it on my web site, and if they liked it… they did!) I had it with me, but still had not heard back if it was needed. I asked Sir Owen what he would do; his response was that I should ask His Majesty directly. I wasn't really comfortable being that bold, so I spoke to Centurion Tomas Niallagain, who is the Crown's herald. He said he wasn't sure whether or not the individual in question was on 'the list' or not, but said he'd check later after morning court was over.

As I was puttering about, I saw Waterbearing getting up and running. It felt weird, not being in charge.. but nice, too. Lady Dagmar had things well in hand, and I brought her the items I'd promised (Namron does not yet have all the supplies they need, so I brought my personal waterbearer kitchen and some wonderful bottles I'd bought the day prior.). They didn't have any water, though, so I grabbed my hand-cart, two buckets, and 5-gallon cooler, and wandered off in search of the main hall.

I eventually found it, as well as Gate. Karl of Northkeep was kind enough to help me with the process of filling the buckets with ice and the cooler with ice & water while I signed in at Gate. (I must also note that Karl had new garb and a new haircut and was looking unusually stylish. I hope this gentleman's contributions, willing heart and service may find recognition soon.) Contessa Vanessa was just pulling up with a truck filled with waterbearer coolers as I was exiting the hall, and a smidgen further down the path, was kind enough to load my heavy burden into the truck.

When I got back to the field, I found that Halfiras had added a rug, table, and some refreshments, along with chairs and folks to occupy them. I immediately felt better. The evening had apparently been vaguely calamitous for them, as they had inadvertently camped in the spot where another group of folks traditionally camped. I had to agree with Raghnailt: It sure would be helpful if site maps were printed with this sort of information, if it's going to cause conflict.

Morning Court was relatively short, with His Royal Majesty noting that Namron Protectorate was the sole reoccurring Northern event that he had never missed, and fondly mentioned its reputation for revelry. A few awards were given out, only one of which did I recognize the name of: Matthias the Brewer, who had made much of the alcohol that my beloved Abe had consumed so much of at AAA. (Matthias received his Sable Thistle in Brewing and a service award for Namron.) As the current Protector, Sir Owen discussed the format for the day, saying that folks could pick whatever weapon they wanted … but that hopefully they wouldn’t be ‘one-trick ponies’ and select the same weapon style every round. He also added that his Queen of Love and Wisdom, Countess Maggie, would have the option of making special weapons requests at any time, for any round. Soon after court, the battles began.

Finally, the event was in full swing. I snapped some photos of the various combats, but just wasn't in the spirit of things. It isn't as much fun attending events without my husband, and I was missing him a lot. Not doing waterbearing also felt odd, but I wanted to give Dagmar her space. She knew I was there if she needed help, and if not, I needed to stay out of her way so she could do her thing. I spent a bit of time with HE Sigen Northkeep, ogling her new garb (purple griffins on black fabric with purple and silver trim), and she graciously allowed me to snap a few photos. I wish I could have gotten some of Hersir Thorgrim in his matching garb, but by the time I saw him wearing it much later in the day, I was out of film. Lord Ikijima Katsutoshi also had brand new garb of the purple griffins, and it looked smashing.

Lady Elizabeth de Calais and her household set up next to us. I had to tease her a little, for her surreptitious viewing of the OU – Texas game on a tiny portable TV, and naughtily snapped her picture, too. At one point, I offered her some of the goodies I'd made: spiced nuts, of which I knew she was a connoisseur, and some triple chocolate pecan cookies. She made the most delightfully flattering faces as she ate both, and encouraged me to bring some to HRM to send home for the Queen.

I brought over a bag of nuts, offering them, saying that I'd been told that the Queen liked them. HRM Drake corrected that, saying he was the one who truly liked them. He tried one somewhat hesitantly, then his face brightened and he shared some with Sir Asoph Hearts. Both seemed to enjoy them. I asked if they liked cookies; I got a devilish, impish, little-boy grin in return. I dashed back to the tent and returned quickly with some of the cookies. While I was there, Centurion Tomas mentioned that I had spoken to him earlier about the scrolls. HRM Drake and I chatted a moment about it, and it was clarified that yes, that individual WAS to get a scroll, and NO, they had not prepared one. I asked if I should get the one I had calligraphed, and was given the go-ahead to do so.

I shot like an arrow from a bow (with some bouncing and skipping along) back to the tent, grabbing my scrolls and pen, then back to the royal pavilion. Baroness Michelle started teasing me about the scrolls, cookies, and nuts. “This girl works so much, she should get a Sable Crane! Oh, wait! She DOES have a Sable Crane!” I grinned in response, touched the pin upon my shoulder, and said in the same teasing tone, “Yeah! I have YOUR sable crane! And it’s coooooool!” (Baroness Michelle gave me her own Crane regalia when I was granted the award at Northkeep's Castellan earlier this year.)

As I was working on the calligraphy, Lady Nicolaea came over. This is the wonderful artisan who took so much time out of her schedule at Protectorate last year. She gave some advice on the scroll, and was instructed by the Crown to add their sigils to the bottom of both the scroll I had, and the ones being given out for Namron that evening.

We took the scrolls back to her cabin, and she very nicely showed me the scrolls that were being given out later that evening. If you didn’t get a chance to examine them, you missed something amazing. Folks look at who painted an original scroll, and who did the calligraphy, and think that’s all of the contributors. Not so!! The designer is the one who is both the keystone and foundation of any illuminated work. I ogled the scrolls and tried not to drool too much on the middle-eastern style scroll done for the equestrian champion.

I showed Lady Nicolaea the work I’d done for Queen’s Champion, and she had nice things to say about them. We chatted for probably forty-five minutes, discussing each scroll, different techniques, and other geeky, scribal topics. We decided to run by her tent and grab an envelope to protect the scroll we’d just worked on. On the way there, she introduced me to her husband. They are nice folks.

I got back just about in time for the final bout, which was between Lord Michael, Squire to Sir Sif, and Earl Duncan.

Warning: This paragraph is Very Opinonated And May Ruffle Feathers, though is not intended To Offend. Read at Your Own Risk: Something I’ve noticed is that the expectations of combat seem to be different in tournaments. I’ve never fought, so this is only an outside observation… but many fighters (though not all) seem to bear themselves differently if it’s a tournament… or a championship… or Crown. I have not been able to decide for myself if that’s a good thing or not. One comment I heard at a different event was, “I’m sorry, that’s not hard enough. Maybe for some other tournament… but not Crown.” If the object is to strike a killing blow that is accepted with honor… I don’t understand why it takes more to kill someone some days over others. This is not intended as a slight to the chivalric community… just wondering why I have heard accusations of “rhino-hide-ing” at every single event I have ever attended where there was tournament combat. What does that say about us as a Society? Or as a Kingdom? Do other groups have the same problem?

Anyway… enough philosophizing. Earl Duncan won the day, and that was a Good Thing.

After combat ended, we began the process of cleaning up our spot, and putting everything away, and breaking everything down. While we were doing so, the topic landed on my teaching Middle Eastern dance. I’m not sure how it got there, but it did - maybe chatting about wInterKingdom? (I think I was talking about my new hip scarf I’d bought on Ebay and wanted to show the girls from Halfiras. I had made the boast “I can teach ANYONE how to dance Middle Eastern -- if they are willing to try.” .) Raghnailt’s son, RayJay, said something about betting he was too clumsy to learn. I called his bet, and showed him some of the basics, breaking it down into the simple geometric figures of raqs sharqui. He started getting teased by Aethelred, but I quickly convinced Aethelred that it was in his best health to quit the harassment by yanking some of his jewelry until he squawked. RayJay actually did give it a try, for which I had to respect him, given the teasing he was getting. Either that, or he just enjoyed having a not-unattractive female wiggling nearby. :-P

At some point during the day, not entirely sure when, but I know it was before we packed up, I had a moment and thanked Lord Matthias for his amazing beverages, and extended my lord’s thanks. He seemed really pleased that someone bothered to say thank you that wasn’t from Namron. I firmly believe in kudos where kudos are due. While I didn’t actually consume any of his brew, Abe certainly downed enough for seven men, matching Owen nearly drink for drink. (Those two boys can put it back!)

The menfolk of Halfiras very kindly helped me get the tent broken down, packed up, and loaded in my car. After a garb change, I headed to the Halfiras camp. It was some time around 3-ish. We all sort of sat around dazed and chatted a bit, discussing the plans for later in the evening. Around 4:15, I was exhausted. Our feast wasn’t due to start until after 6, and court at some point around 7:30, so I asked Rayhanna if I could borrow her tent to take a nap.

No sooner had I gotten settled and asleep, it seemed, than a herald ran through camp saying court was being held at 5:00 pm. 15 minutes was not the length of nap I was hoping for, to regain some semblance of intelligence. I tumbled out of the air mattress, grabbed my garb and jewelry, and ran out to marshal the household. . . for I knew something they didn’t, about goings on at court!! They must have thought me a complete madwoman dictator bossypants, as I snapped out orders: “Go find Aethelred, tell him Zubeydah says it’s a Court Emergency!” “Where’s Tracy and Tracy?” “Rayhanna, you can’t wear that. Go put your red velvet on!” “Here’s a belt… and an amber necklace to spiff up your outfit.” “Your clothes are covered in mud – do you have ANYTHING else to wear? Yes? Go put it on!” It was rather like herding a confused bunch of cats. No one knew why I was so anxious and eager to get everyone in their best, and up to the main hall.

Aethelred ambled up, dressed only in a very obvious jock, sweat stained pants, and boots, and no shirt. I ran up and asked, “Didn’t you get the part of the message that said, ‘Zubeydah says it’s a court emergency’?” He responded that no, he hadn’t, just that he had to come back to camp. I told him court was starting in 15 minute and he had to get changed. He wiggled a bit, and said he looked just fine! I provided him some encouragement to change, by grabbing and snapping the completely visible strap of his jock. "MOVE!" With a yelp, he trotted off to find his good garb that matched Rayhanna’s red and gold velvet.

Just as we were about to head up, folks needed potty breaks, and we got a garbled message saying Owen needed Rayhanna. I headed to the field while others headed for the head. Owen needed some help getting the various pass-down prizes for the Protectorate gathered up. Some folks grabbed the heavy chairs, I snatched up the banner and feast gear, and we tromped back.

Well, virtually no SCA court actually DOES start on time, no matter what the heralds say… His Royal Majesty invited the populace to sit close, so they could hear the goings on. We moved our chairs up to the front area, and got a bird’s eye view. Court got underway, and they discussed the various awards of the event. When it was Sir Owen’s turn, he of course infused the ceremony with humor. “Sir Owen, please call up your replacement!” “Replacement? Nay! I do not think I can be replaced! Rather to say, the one who follows after my example, follows in my footsteps…” He called up Earl Duncan, and explained the various prizes. When it came to the chairs….

“The Barony of Namron had some really great chairs… but I am a very great man… and alas, they were not so great as I!” (much laughter, for Owen truly is a very great man…) He showed the stunning replacement chairs, handcrafted by Master Oxlade, and explained that THESE…. These were Very Great Chairs… and much easier to pack than the prior chairs. He gestured to me for the feast gear, adding that he had not dared take it out of its wrapper the entire time he had it, garnering a chorus of snickers and giggling from the audience.

Their Excellencies gave out several awards: They have far more means of recognizing achievement in the Barony of Namron than they have in the Barony of Northkeep, which is really cool. Ulf and his Baroness gave out a handful of their highest level of service awards, and everyone was quite awed by the scrolls Nicolaea had allowed me to peek at earlier in the day. His Royal Majesty Drake asked to view the scrolls again, and had two of the girls who helped paint the scrolls called into court and granted their Award of Arms. Lord Michael was summoned, and granted a Sable Falcon for his achievements in the last six months. Then it was time!

“Rayhanna Jamilla al-Muhkite! You are called into His Majesty’s Court!”

Aethelred took her arm and escorted Rayhanna from the porch into the Court. There, she knelt, and Drake praised the beauty of the women of the north. I could see Rayhanna’s grin from where I was sitting. He spoke of her hard work for the fighting community, and had the herald read the scroll.

When it was handed to her, I could see her recognize it. Aethelred helped her to rise, and the Herald called the Vivat! I scurried out of court, following her as she left. Out on the porch, Rayhanna had a quiet little smile, but her eyes flashed like black diamonds. I teased her that she just didn’t look very excited. Aethelred immediately responded that this was as excited as Rayhanna ever got and that she was in a complete daze. I wiggled and bounced with glee, and teased her.

“I gotcha! I gotcha! Now you know why I wanted to know if you liked that one! Its PURPLE!” (Indeed, Rayhanna’s favorite colors match the heraldry of their majesties: purple and blue and gold.)

I explained that I’d done the calligraphy as well. I think I was almost more excited about it than she was… but Aethelred assured me otherwise. At one point, Rayhanna looked up and grinned. “Yes, I’m excited… and Drake said I was pretty!” I think getting a compliment from the Crown in public court meant as much as the Award of Arms.

Following court, we all trooped the short distance back to camp. There, Doug, aka “Cookie” had been working marvels. Master Oxlade stopped by, and they had a great time discussing how the camp’s Dutch Oven had been built and was being used. We tried to impress upon Doug just how much of a compliment it was that “Massa Ox” was impressed by his stuff. The scents that escaped that contraption were positively intoxicatingly delicious. I couldn’t wait for our own feast to start!

While the final preparations were being made, I had a quiet chat with Kya about the possibility of becoming my Lady in Waiting. We talked about what those responsibilities might entail, and whether or not she'd be interested in doing something along those lines. Her answer was a big, shy grin and a YES! I then talked to her dad about it, having previously talked to her mom, and both were in agreement. So this is something we may do in an official sort of way some time in the near future.

The table was set, and the first course brought forth. Everything was mouthwateringly good, from the creamy pesto pasta salad I’d brought to the assortment of cheeses and breads, olive oil pickles (POTENT!), and babaganush. I was afraid Rayhanna might hurt anyone who too liberally enjoyed “her baba”! The second course included onions stuffed with vegetables and meat in a lovely broth and other deliciousnesses. Renault very sweetly insisted (despite all our best efforts) to be our personal server. There was wine picked for each course, but I was a good girl and stuck to my lemonade.

I had to leave just as the third course was being brought forth. Abe had asked that I be off site at 9. I pushed that back to 8, to plan for the inevitable delays. It was 8:25 when I finally got packed up. Cookie was kind enough to package up some of the roasted meat for me to bring home to Abe. Just as I was leaving, Matthias the Brewer, who had been recognized in Morning Court, wandered by to announce the Bardic competitions. He invited us to attend and perform. I responded that I only knew of one song, and it was terribly rude and insulting of Saxons. He caught up my hand, looked at it forlornly, and declared that “only the ring upon your finger keeps you from being the most beautiful woman here.” I wasn’t sure if that was due to my appearance or my knowledge of rude anti-Saxon songs or what. :) Either way, it was a sweet compliment, and he was a perfect gentleman, if a smidge tipsy.

The trip home was … ickky. I got somewhat lost despite directions from HE Sigen and a map, and added an hour to the drive. I finally arrived home to my beloved after 11pm. I left everything in the car and sought refuge in a much needed bed and my hubby’s warm hugs.

While Protectorate started on a low point, it quickly reached one of the best experiences I’ve had at an event in a long while. I needed it. So my thanks to House Halfiras and my friends there for helping raise me up without even knowing it.