Tales of Bjornsborg

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A Tale of Her Ursine Excellency, Baroness Alexandra Tatiana Fedorova of Novgorod

by Brendan O Corraidhe (Circa AS XX):

She was watching a tourney from the shade of her pavilion one summer day (I was going to say "blazingly hot summer day", but that would have been redundant), sipping contentedly from an iced goblet that was beaded with condensation. Sir Simonn of Amber Isle came off the field, sweat pouring down his face.

Smiling, she held the goblet out to him. He gratefully took it from her hands, sighed, drank deeply.... and exploded into a fit of gasping and coughing that was *quite* alarming. He handed the cup back, rasping, "Th-th-that's NOT WATER!"

"No, dear, it's vodka," she smiled sweetly. "You should have asked!"

It might have been the same tourney; I was sharing her shade. I asked her what she was snacking on - it looked like soggy beef jerky. Still watching the field, she replied, "Steak Tartare." Then she turned and looked at me sternly. "And don't you DARE tell ANYONE that I eat raw meat!"

A Tale of Bjornsborg

by Cynric of Bedwyn

Gather ‘round, you sons and daughters of the bear, and I’ll recall the days when Heroes strode the halls of Bjornsborg like leaves scattering before a harvest wind. Then were we a seat of true renown, led by a warrior of might and cunning called John of Eagle’s House (in his native tongue, Jan w Orzeldom). Jan, who once sat the throne of the Sable Star but found ruling a kingdom too tame a life and so returned to lead his tribe, was a man of inestimable grace, wisdom, and puissance.

We were a noble ship with a noble captain at the helm, but ‘tis true that those with whom we came into contact oft times remarked that our behavior was not in keeping with the traditions of neighboring folk. This was as it should be, for we resembled them no more than a giant oak resembles a slender willow. Where others mewled, we roared. As others supped, so did we ravenously devour. While others delicately tippled, our horns were filled and emptied many times over. Naturally, this made us strong of voice and long of song, attributes which, while of great value to Heroes, are not always appreciated by those cut from lesser cloth. And so did our prowess at table and mead bench send Bjornsborg to follow its own and singular path, alone but never friendless.

Except, it must be said, for once a year. At that magical time, just as hoary Winter was at last loosening his icy grip on the land and the spirited hounds of summer could be heard baying over the distant hills, Bjornsborg hosted a glorious tournament in the manner of those in Jan’s homeland of Silesia. It is said some fey spirit inhabited the woods and fields where this tournament took place each Spring, for none who entered its boundaries departed unchanged.

Warriors strove far beyond their accustomed strength, skalds and minstrels with marvelously woven words enfolded the rapt souls of those who wandered near their fires, artisans produced works that surpassed those of the great masters; indeed, the very air seemed enchanted. The hillsides were dotted of an evening with vermilion mists, as though all the myriad hearth fires of Fäerie smoldered thereon.

Some who graced these lands with their presence are no longer to be found in the halls and war fields of Ansteorra, having taken up residence in Valhalla on Odin’s right hand, but if you watch with the mind's eye you may yet glimpse the shades of they who strode as giants in those heady days.

Throughout these two score years and three, the Land of the Bear has seen no lack of upheavals, yet we’ve met all challenges cast our way. Cattle raids, boar hunts, noble quests, barbarian invasions, Sarmatian visitations, Viking invasions, encounters with magical isles, flaming villages, rock farmers, Highland hooligans, and many’s the grand tournament have been witnessed in these borders. Some are born to be Heroes, others have Heroism thrust upon them...but all Heroes, all Lions, heed the call of Bjornsborg sooner or later.

An Old Tale of Bjornsborg, by Jan w Orzeldom

A court was held in Bjornsborg in the “period” structure of the granary of the San Jose Mission. This was before the national park service took possession of the property, and with a lot of diplomacy, use was granted. The Duchess Natasha affair and the Courts of “Grayraven” were in the past and Gweneth Sanquebar was baroness. She ruled with no baron. However, a stranger to these lands had her close confidence. Some say that he, Torgetai Blackwolf MSCA, had won her affections with the gentle and courtly practices of the Mongols.

This may be so, for this gathering was billed as a Mongolian Court. Fire was not permitted in the fireplace, but the flame of candles was not banned. Elaborate cushions were deployed, but no chairs were used in the hall. Corwin Distarte translated what people said into a gibberish that was claimed to be “Court Mongolian.” Later Vargskol Halfblood and Dragomir the Cossack continued the dreaded “Punnic Wars.” I fled to the courtyard.
Here I spoke with Mistress Willow de Wisp. I must make an aside here. Anybody I’m likely to mention probably went on to considerably grander titles, but peers were a scarce commodity at that time. Willow very much a standout person. We talked about the war between the Ardh Duin and the Clan Cadal, she being the chieftain of the latter group.

I inquired if it was safe for her to be this far south unaccompanied by her sturdy clansmen. There was no danger at all, she declared, and introduced me to her invisible escort. I do not recall the name, I probably couldn’t spell it anyway, not being of the Celtic persuasion. Her guardian was more than eight feet tall, with a tendency to pout. We continued the conversation, with Mistress Willow grandly playing the role of a fierce war leader.

At this point up trotted Ilyana, a newcomer to the society. She offered me a share of her drink, and I introduced her to a “Peer of the Realm.” After a very brief “wow moment” Ilyana’s big smile returned and she reached up and gave a gentle tug on one the Chieftain’s braid cases. Sweetly saying, “Ding! Ding!” she vanished into the clusters of people. The persona bubble having burst, Willow paused and said “Well, so much for feared war leader right now.” Then she gave a very genuine and friendly laugh and the evening continued.

Mistress Willow had and still has great command of almost any social setting. She can go from glorious bombast to genuine concern in an instant.

Of Lyoness

by Etienne de Montagu
Way back in the day, I helped create the Tournament of Lyonesse. It was the spiritual successor to Bjornsborg's Tournament of the Lions, with some tweaks to make it less of an early medieval tournament and lean in to 1) the fact our Barony was now led by a solo Baroness instead of a solo Baron; and 2) my own love for late-Medieval Arthurian imagery and pageantry.

Anyway, it was pretty super-successful. I was super-involved in the first two, then moved to Stargate, but by then they had momentum so they kept doing it for another six or seven years. Eventually, Mari (the Baroness) stepped down and the new B&B (rightfully) wanted to do their own thing. So it was decided the March 2000 version would be the last and they invited me back to herald the event one last time (I never fought in it, but always served as "Lady Lyonesse's" herald for the tournament and the court).

The day was splendid. I won't recount all of it but trust me, it was up there with my top five special moments in the Society. But it was evening court where things really rocked.

See, we'd decided it wasn't enough to just end Lyonesse. Nope, we were gonna kill it, dramatically, on stage.

During evening court, the King (Drake) started acting like he was feeling ill. As court progressed, he got worse, and fell down DEAD (great acting, by the way). His lady wailed and wept and cried "Poison!" Lady Lyonesse arose, and declared she could brook no such violation of her hospitality and must make amends. She bent over, bestowed a kiss upon His Majesty, who rose hale and hearty, as Lady Lyonesse herself fell dead, having given her life for his.

It was, gentle reader, a hell of a moment. And then I, as the herald (who'd been acclaimed as "Author of Lyonesse" earlier in the day) stepped up and delivered these words:
"And so, our tale, long years in the telling, ends. Lyonesse shall sink beneath the waves anon, to dwell but in our dreams. Let bearers come! Prepare a pallet for our Lady. To carry her unto her final rest. Come Ladies of the Bear, Hawk, Stag, and Dragon. And all who bore those titles in the past. Go forward and prepare our Lady's final bower. Bring the gifts of the sea and the flowers of the field to adorn her tomb. Her champion, arise! And all who stood as champions before. Goodly warriors all, accompany our Lady as an honor guard. And show her one last time, the devotion she showed you. To all who stay behind, pray heed! Tonight, all manner of things are out of joint. The walls between the worlds grow thin with our Lady's passing, and much that dwells in shadow walks tonight. This hall, the field, your fair pavilions are safe. Pray, celebrate what was this night and keep the dark at bay. On the morrow, in Bjornsborg shall you wake, and Lyonesse will sleep the sleep of ages. Think you well on the deeds you saw this day. Remember all you witnessed in the past. For never shall you see their like again. But in your dotage, you shall look upon the youth, who never saw these shores and say, "There was such a place." Come, let us see our Lady home."
And we walked out of a silent, weeping court.

So, that's part of the story. The context for the factoid. Yeah I'm long-winded. Anyway. When I got my longsword, that model was between production runs and impossible to find. Or nearly so. Turned out Edwin Fitz Lloyd had one, but the leather grip had been stripped off the handle. He offered it to me at a discount, and I had a new A&S project. Re-wrapping the hilt turned out to be a bit of a challenge, because the pommel was peened on, so I had to figure out how to wrap it securely with lacing. As it turned out, this was done with lots of linen thread, glue, leather, and paint. I’ve been using it for over two years now, and it’s held up great.

Anyway, because I do so love the whole Arthurian schtick, when I was preparing to wrap the handle, I decided to take some inspiration. I knew that often the hilts of rich knight’s swords carried relics or prayers or that sort of thing. In the spirit of that, my hilt contains a very tiny copy of my “eulogy” for Lyonesse, along with a lock of Bia’s hair.

500+ words of back story, 170 or so of factoid. This may be the most Theron post ever.

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