How the SCA Won a Convert

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Photo from the Northkeep Baronial Archives

Story by Dunstana Talana the Violet, originally posted to the Northkeep Email list in December of 2009. Edited for links and content.

The gentleman in blue is Korwyn Marius Velis Ariannaid. I was not at this particular event, held in October of 1981 (I was a student in Bryn Gwlad at the time), but I chose this picture because Baron Korwyn was one of several persons who played a large part in shaping my early SCA years.

My story took place at my first kingdom-level event was the previous June: Crown Tourney, won by Sir Finn Kelly O'Donnell (who lived in Tulsa at the time, and was our first northern Crown). I had been in the SCA all of five months, possessed one dress and a pewter mug, and could pack everything I needed for an event in a rolled-up sleeping bag.

To this event there also went from our group a cadre of young men known collectively as "The Boys." Master Beorthlic is the last of them still active, as far as I know. One of The Boys, Eamon, was a page to Baron Korwyn.

Also to this event there went an Other Young Man, whose name I have forgotten, though he played a great part in the tale. For you see, The Boys, this Other Young Man, and I were sitting around in the early evening, getting ready for court. Eamon was donning a new doublet of burgundy velvet (made from his mother's old drapes, as I recall), which laced up the back. Since I had the nimblest fingers in the group, I was helping him with the fastening, and so had my hands full of lacing cord. The Other Young Man and I were bantering back and forth, when out of the blue he escalated the exchange and called me a "slimy wench."

All conversation came to a halt. I froze, still holding the lacing strings, and was deciding whether to offer a rejoinder or smack him, when suddenly the strings ripped out of my hands as Eamon launched himself at the Other Young Man and bore him to the ground and commenced to wrestle mightily with him, kicking up a cloud of June-dry red Oklahoma dirt.

Two thoughts ran through my head: 1) "I was going to do that!" and 2) "He's ruining his brand new doublet!"

At that moment, Baron Korwyn came out of his tent, saw his page behaving in a less than seemly manner, and demanded to know what was happening. Eamon, who by that point had the Other Young Man pinned and was sitting on his chest, announced that the varlet (his exact word) had called me a "slimy wench."

By "lady," I realized with astonishment, he meant me. ME.

Baron Korwyn nodded and said "We'll have him drawn and quartered, dip the pieces in pitch, and use them to light her way to the privy tonight."

And with hearing those words, the SCA won me as a full convert.

I had been raised to fight my own battles, be it with words or weapons. I'd never before had anyone be gallant or chivalrous on my behalf. The moment left me speechless, but I felt like a queen for the rest of the event.

Over the following years, Korwyn gave me crash space when I attended Namron events. He entertained me with stories. When my car was vandalized, he helped me scrub egg off it at two in the morning. He was a court herald who could crack a side-splitting joke while remaining absolutely deadpan. I remember a tourney where, between rounds, he and Pepin de Moronis stripped to the waist and wrestled for the crowd's amusement. He was a sight to behold on the listfield, and fairly oozed panache - he once had "weepers" run out keening and crying to carry his body off when he lost a bout. The "weepers," I might add, were all young women.

A few years after I first met him, the Crown bestowed upon him the white baldric. Master Korwyn now resides in another kingdom, and that is Ansteorra's loss.

OK, who will take up the challenge and give us another story based on a photo? (You've got 24 hours, then I'm submitting another one.)

In servicio, Talana