I won. That was pretty sweet. So was the mead.
The Ymir Tourney
It was low 30′s, snowing intermittently, raining intermittently, and miserable. I kept thinking “We should’ve been practicing outside during the winter!” I also kept thinking “I should’ve put on my silk sock liners” and “I should’ve been practicing with my silk glove liners on so I could fight with them on in the tournament” and “OH FUCK OH FUCK IT’S COLD!” I kept my mask and hood on, and my wool cloak, at all times when I wasn’t fighting so I could stay warm, and vibrated up and down.
It was a pure double-elim tourney, with, I think, 33 entrants. Not entirely sure on that one, but I do know there was one challenge-in. Because he, Colin from Black Diamond, challenged me. In his words, “Go big or go home!” In his lady’s words “I did not drive four hours to go home!” We danced a little, then I lunged in high quarta with a passing step, planting it in the middle of his bib. He, well after, brought a shot into my side. He said “Did you get me on the neck?” “Oh yeah.” “Yours.” Luckily, Giacomo was fighting armored, so he got to jump in to Giacomo’s spot in the tourney tree any way.
I don’t remember the entirety of my list (I’m seeing if Mistress Genvieve can send me a scan/picture of the tourney tree. If so I’ll share it around). I know I fought Tors at some point, and kicked him into the loser bracket (sucker was all excited to fight me, I think I one-shotted him for it). He’s no slouch, but still relies a little too much on being young, fast, spindly, and left-handed.
I pulled Master Alan at some point, and realized I hadn’t fought him in anything like a “real” setting since Holiday Faire 2008. Thanks to the joys of the Provost e-mail list archives I know I did not impress him then (scotch and an unplugged keyboard) but also have had very complimentary things said to me, by him, since then. Early on I tried my big-ass snap lunge on him, he backed out, and we both acknowledged “well it was worth a try.” I like that shot because a) it usually disrupts my opponent’s initial planning in the fight, b) it might score the touch and make my life easy, c) it scares people, and d) usually it risks me very little because I automatically spring back from it. A short while later I landed a low center-line lunge on him.
When it came time for the losers’ bracket to shake out, the last four fights, which would feed the opponents of the last two fighters in the winners’ bracket, were Aedan vs. somebody, I can’t recall who (anybody know?) and Arghylle vs. Master Alaric Domhnullach. Aedan took out his opponent. Arghylle and Alaric double-killed. Twice. Lord Alric the RMiC had, at the start of the tourney, said “Double kill twice and you’re both out.” So I had a bye fight instead of an opponent and watched Aedan fight the other member of the winners’ bracket, Adam Gladiatura* Feralis (Letia, make sure that boy has an SCA name before he shows up to his next event, or I will call him Kunte Conte aka Toby). Aedan won.
The end result was me watching two rounds of fighting getting cold as hell and then pulling Aedan who, I will say, is probably the best fighter out there in Atlantia right now. I may have peed a little. It didn’t help warm my legs up.
He’d lost one, I hadn’t lost at all, so there was theoretically a “He has to beat me twice” situation in effect. But he suggested a best 2 out of 3, and the angel on my right shoulder (I do have one, just sometimes he’s busy thinking about that hotty Mary Magdalene and not paying attention to me) said “Wistric, be honorable, face him equally, righteousness will be on your side!” The devil, who, let’s face it, is pretty much camped out on my left shoulder with a never-ending bag of Doritos and a comfy-ass couch, said “Eh, fuck it, if you can kill him once, you can kill him twice, let’s crush some mother fucking souls!” So I said “Sure, 2 out of 3!”
Pass one I went for the big snap-lunge because, as I said, it might just work.
It didn’t, he backed out of it and knocked it down, and I recovered and settled in to my guard. A short while later he lunged, I swept it down and it landed flat against the inside of my knee. Another attack, and it landed. Point to him.
I will admit it: Aedan is a better finesse fighter and tactical fighter than me. It’s why I say he’s probably the best fighter out there. If you fight his game, at range, attempting to out think him, he’ll kill you. For two years in our fights, every time I’ve started to put a plan together he attacks and I either die or back-pedal. I’ve only figured out one thing that works (see Ice Castle two years ago): Go straight at him and make him dead. So I did. In his words “Oh, he’s awake now.” I dropped my weight down, got good and behind my sword, and aggressed like a goddamn pit bull. My first attack came up a bit short with me exposed, and I thought “Ohhhh fuck I’m boned” but he was back-pedaling instead of countering into me like I expected, and I had enough time to recover. I said “Thank you Master Aedan for permitting me to live another few seconds!” He tried another lunge, again a sweep down and it landed flat on the inside of my knee.
We resumed our guards, and I saw his weight drop in prep for another attack, so I went for an attack in quarta. I landed on his upper right shoulder, pocketing under his collar bone then kicking up over it. I’d closed the line JUST enough with my sword that his blade kicked into the peplum of my jerkin then lodged in my big baggy pants, passe.
At this point, the voice in my head that is not an angel or a demon but a rational thinking self-preserving monkey said “Shouldn’t have gone two out of three, asshole.” But it was too late for that sort of thinking so I had to do it again.
And again, he dropped his weight just a little bit and I launched, this time landing on his gorget and avoiding his blade completely.
Both of my shots were in full on collisions and landed stiffly. I felt like shit about that and the little angel was saying “Maybe we should offer to re-fight?” I dithered, he allowed as how I’d won, and so I… er… won.
* Trying to figure out the Latin for “Fencer” led me to stumble onto a joy-making happiness. While Gladiatura is “Sword fighter”, the more period sense of “Defender” (ergo the Italian “Schermiatore”) can also be translated as “Vindex”. Some of you may know about my planned alternate persona, Vindex Vipereus, Vindex the Viper (there’s a Vibius Valerius planned for the praenomen and nomen, so I can be V. V. Vindex Vipereus formally). Or, if you W-ify the Vs, “Windex Wipereus”. OH MY GOD IT MUST HAPPEN NOW! Where is a herald?
Winning Sucks Slightly Less Than Losing
After any major win where there was any sort of contact with my opponent’s blade on my body I find myself doubting whether or not I should have called something that I didn’t.
After the Pennsic champs I was wondering if what I’d called a hip was actually a torso, and therefore was it actually a double kill and we should have refought it?
Against Aedan there were those two lunges that I swept down and felt land side-on to my knee, and the attack that went passe on my left side as I struck him. All three of these, after the fighting, I analyzed over and over again in my mind: Did he angle his hand and actually land point-on my knee? Did that shot on my left side stick a little before it went passe? Even if I didn’t feel it, did HE think that it did?
After major wins I have that little voice in the back of my head asking these questions over and over and over again, asking if, maybe, just maybe, I cheated.
I looooooove Mistress Belphoebe, because looking at those photos I can see that, yeah, in that attack I’m sweeping down he was too deep into his lunge to be able to angle his shot and stick my knee; and in that collision attack it really does look like it just slid pad my hip and there’s my sword on it pushing it off-line.
After we got home from Pennsic I finally saw that pic from my champs fight with my knee showing, and stared at the line of his blade (down across the top of my thigh, pulling up my pants to bare the knee) and realized “Yeah, no, if he’d been above my hip it’d be on my stomach.”
As a result that little voice is muted, but without the pictures it would still exist; and until I see pictures like those I question my wins, starting even before the win is declared and continuing pretty much constantly for a day or two. I’ve only been fighting at what I would consider the top end since 2011, and in that time I’ve had less than a dozen big fights that I won, so I’m still sort of getting used to this whole thing. But it just takes a little bit of the joy out of victory. I hope it goes away.
White Scarf Challenge
Immediately after the finals I went off to chat with Roz and let She Who Must Be Obeyed know that I’d killed all the people for her. Also, this gave me time to get through the first wave of questioning and self doubt.
I got back to the field and talked with Aedan about our fights, about my strategy against him, and he said “Yeah, when you start to think you relax and open up a little, that’s when I go for the kill.” Good to know!
A few fighters requested fights with me, and I gave them a few passes (using Roz’s 35, because my elbow was sore from the tourney and the cold. That’s a new one), and talked about improvements for both of them. Pretty simple stuff, but the fundamentals are, well, fundamental (though one guy was fighting with a 33″ or something, with no hand protection, and wouldn’t close on me, so after a few passes I said, more or less, “You are fighting the absolute wrong fight with that sword. Let’s make a new fight for you”).
The post-victory crash had robbed a lot of my energy and adrenaline, and the cold was getting into my elbow and my back (youth is wasted on the newbs). I decided I was done for the day, then found out it was only 2 o’ clock. I headed up the hill and found Sweetums, and we went back to the cabin and took a nap. After that it was go to court, hand off the Kappellenberg Seneschal job to Lady Rowan, eat, drink, sleep, and pack.