Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 27: “Fight Like Free Scholars”

Ed.’s note: After half a year’s worth of these, I’m starting to tap the bottom of my well.  Feedback from readers as to what might be worth discussing is quite welcome at this point.

 

It’s time for another Wistric Parable of Somethingorother.  Or possibly just pointless pontification.  It’s my blog, I’ll cry if I want to.

I’ve previously opined on what it takes to become a Free Scholar, but I’m now inclined to do a braindump on what being a Free Scholar is all about (and, yes, I realize I’m answering the “What’s it mean to be a Free Scholar?” question).   This is all, of course, just one man’s opinion.

The scarf is earned, of course, not given.  And once earned, it marks the wearer as a particular sort.

 

On Being Young and Hungry

Free Scholars have something to prove.  It is undeniable.  As much as we rag on Provosts, we REALLY want to be Provosts, and we’re going to demonstrate our desire at sword point.  In my experience, Free Scholars show up at more events, run harder in melee, and in general bust their ass more.  We think of any little thing that might move us closer to a white scarf, and we do it.  Who marshals every rapier event in South Carolina?  A free scholar.  Nearly every rapier event west of Windmasters?  A free scholar.  Is it true across the board?  Nope, but it covers a decent portion of the board. 

Free Scholars are kind of big, shiny, highly visible, and highly energetic beta dogs, and can be tricked into doing just about anything by saying “Oh, yeah, the Provosts will like that!”  Use the power wisely. 

 

How to Fight Like a Free Scholar

Can’t really explain it, so I’ll tell you a story:

At practice one day, Dame Roz thought that, in the name of suppressing her cadet’s boundless ego, a whooping was in order.  So she set a task: The two Free Scholars, Galen of Black Diamond and I, would face the five other fighters: Percy the Provost, and the scholars Letia, Alric, Jauma, and Tristan.

Galen and I accepted this fate and backed off to the end of the field, where Galen said “So, do we have a plan?”  To which I could only snicker.  This is for two reasons:

First: In a five on two situation planning becomes pretty moot.  You know from “Lay on” how the battle’s going to go, with 3 people jumping one of the pair, and the other two people jumping the other.  The job of the pair, then, is to scramble, sow discord, and generate opportunities to strike.

Second: We both had confidence in the other’s ability to do what needed to be done, or, as the plan ended up being: “Fight like Free Scholars”.  The gold scarf marks a fighter who I will trust to do what needs doing on the field without any supervision from me, or need of rescuing, little fire-and-forget terriers that view opponents like a Jack Russel views a rat.

So at “Lay On” we charged, traded sides twice, he broke off with Percy and Alric on him, I kept Tristan, Jauma, and Letia busy, killed Tristan, died to a DFB from Percy, which was immediately followed by Galen DFB’ing Percy, he’d already killed Alric and proceeded to kill Jaume before being disarmed by Letia.

 

So it means you can fight?

Yes, sort of.  It means you know how to fight.  And what the heck is with me doing this Saviolo-style question-and-answer crap?  Next I’ll be asking “Wistric, what makes you so awesome?”  “Why, most certainly my young student, it is my sheer glorious Wistric-ness.”  Moving on…

Some Free Scholars get out of practice; life’s a bitch.  And then they’re rusty and vulnerable and you get uppity little scholars (like, say, a young Wistric Oftun) who say “Heh, Free Scholars ain’t nothin’!”  (The much wiser Wistric now knows that FS are something, and it’s totally the provosts who are nothin’)  But just as you can fall out of practice with a musical instrument and still be able to recognize good music and know how to improve bad (or substitute your favorite skill here), a good fencer who hasn’t picked up a sword in a decade still knows how to fence.  Any free scholar can provide valuable instruction, and all scholars should seek out any free scholar at an event for a fight and advice (and, in general, we seek out each other for the same).

Come to think of it, Free Scholars can also provide advice about off-the-field stuff (organizing a practice, training students, interacting with provosts).  Though, it’s worth remembering that Free Scholars MIGHT intentionally give bad advice, for their own personal amusement.  If the advice is, for instance, “You should go pick a fight with Giacomo, by kicking him in the cup,” or something similar, stop, think, and notice whether the Free Scholar is trying not to snicker.

 

To sum up

I’ve had provosts describe Free Scholars as “good examples”.  They raise us up, say “Be like this guy”, and set us out upon the world.  Which means Being a Free Scholar is really just Being You, and “you” just happens to be what the Provosts like.  At this point, I’ve basically just gone around doing my thing, and occasionally double checking with Dame Ros, and I don’t think anybody regrets me being made.  Yet.

1 comment to Wistric’s Weekly Warfare 27: “Fight Like Free Scholars”

  • Staffan

    So, this Free Scholar scarf “marks the wearer as a particular sort.” Is that a way to say that it is a soiled White Scarf? 😉

    I wholeheartedly agree. Those who are not at the top need to push those who are!

    Also, for good words of wisdom from a (soon to be) cadet to another please feel free to contact me privately. Shh, I can’t share it with Them!

    In Service,
    Staffan Arffuidsson
    arffuidsson @ yahoo.com

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