Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Great Northeastern Wars

Since this year will be the 20th Great Northeastern War (aka S&M War), I would like to offer my personal memories of the several Wars I attended.

As I said previously, I was at the first war between the shires of Seashire (Halifax) and Malagentia (Portland, ME). As a newbie to the SCA I felt a little "on the outside" and didn't get as fully immersed in the experience as I did at later wars. The first war was held on the weekend of June 20-22, 1987.

S&M II was fought between Malagentia and the Barony of Stonemarche (Boston area). Lyndhaven allied with our Malagentian friends again. This war was fought on a new site, vastly superior to the first one. It had a couple of fields for battle and archery, ample camping space and even a river for swimming in.

By this time I was fighting with a greatsword (two-handed sword) and I remember the thrilling feeling of charging toward your opponent's line across a field, screaming at the top of your lungs, and coming together with a huge crash and instant chaos. I think I actually survived to the end of the field battle at that war!

GNE 3 and 4
If I remember correctly, S&M III was between l'Isle de Dragon Dormant (Montreal) and Malagentia. I don't think I went to either 3 or 4. I think they stopped calling it S&M after the second War because they ran out of "S"s to fight.

GNE 5 was held on the weekend of July 26-28, 1991. I went with Marc Lutz in my car, and Dave Hann travelled with Rick Gaigneur and Shelly Harper in their car. We arrived late at night on Friday the 26th, set up tents in the dark, and went to sleep. It turned out that we camped next to the Ruantallan contingent, a happy coincidence.

I fought an authorization bout with polearm in the morning and successfully authorized. I then fought in the castle battle, and was killed after both my arms were taken off. Pity, that. I then fought in the field battle, a battle I remember quite well. When fighting polearm, you are always behind and supporting several shieldmen who protect you while you poke between them to kill your foes. I was on the extreme left of our line, and very soon after the two lines met my shieldmen were killed. As the battle order fell into chaos, I ended up facing one shieldman with two spearmen. I considered turning and running to join some of my compatriots ("live to fight another day") but I figured I could do more good by keeping three enemies busy for a while. I cut and parried for a while, trying to get a blow in on one of my foes, but the shieldman was good and protected the two spearmen. The spearmen themselves didn't coordinate their attacks, so I was able to fend them off for a few minutes before they finally got a blow in and killed me.
A pickup battle after the field battle

After a change and a little rest, I picked up my bow and went to the archery field. I shot the advancing barbarian shoot, and totally missed the clout shoot, alas. I then did a little shopping at the merchant area before returning to the archery field to shoot a 46 Royal Round score.

Royal Court
Royal Court with Randall and Katherine.

I attended Court with a lovely young lady, then went dancing in the falling dark. At this time I wasn't very good at dancing but I had fun nevertheless. Sometimes the company you keep makes all the difference. Later on in the evening, plans were made to have a war in Lyndhaven (eventually titled "M.R. War Comes To Lyndhaven") in the next year. In the morning, I shot a 51 score on the Royal Rounds and then reluctantly headed for home. GNE 5 was probably my favourite war.

I went there with my girlfriend (who became my first wife), and I don't remember the event quite as clearly as GNE 5 for some reason. Some things do stand out.

I remember that it was very hot on Saturday. The woods battle followed the field battle, and many people opted not to fight in the woods due to the heat. Being young and foolish, I carried on. I remember we didn't do a lot of running in the woods, due to the heat. Keep in mind that I was still wearing carpet armour. Imagine the air temperature being at least 30C and wearing a rug on your chest and back, with your head in a metal bucket. It was hot.

After the woods battle was done, I took my helmet and slowly walked across the field toward my tent. I remember thinking that I would collapse if I took another step, so I stopped walking, and swayed where I stood. Eventually one of the waterbearers came up to me and asked me if I wanted any water. I nodded and took a cup and poured it over my head, then drank another cup. I eventually made it back to my camping area, took the carpet off, and fell backwards onto the grass and laid there looking at the sky for ten or fifteen minutes. Then I changed into a swimsuit and stood in the river for a while.

I remember waking up Sunday morning to the sounds of some couple having very loud sex in their tent. I remember drinking litres and litres of water and pop and never peeing once all weekend. I remember stopping at Burger King on the I95 and absolutely loving the salty fries. I've never tasted better.

GNE 7 was held at a different site, near Bath, Maine. The site was better in some ways than the previous one (larger again) and worse in others (almost too spread out). I remember shooting archery at the war but not fighting. Much of the event was spent discussing shire politics, unfortunately.

Combat - Aurelius (Marc) is the guy with the red and white rats on his shield

Some apres-combat discussion with Feng, Aurelius and Conrad

I'm not sure, but I think the 7th War was the last one I went to. After GNE 6 my interest in the SCA was beginning to wane, and although I went to Pennsic a couple of times after that, my out-of-province travelling took a nose-dive.

No comments: