PENNSIC33-2004

 

Chronicle of Pennsic 33

What can you say about the Pennsic War? Was it different? Oh, certainly.
Was there fighting? Truly, it goes without saying. Was there much drinking,
dancing, death-dealing, debauchery and piratical plans for the kidnapping of
nobles and/or fair maidens? Abso-friggin-lutely.
In a word: huge. Pennsic is the largest event of its kind I have attended,
without a doubt. Just walking around the grounds I saw people with all manner
of elaborate camps set up that had me looking for where they parked the semi
trailers that must have been needed to bring it all in. I saw one pirate clan
who had constructed an entire ship at the entrance to their site, complete with
stained glass windows in the sides of the hull. You had to walk up the
gangplank and pass over the deck in order to get inside their camp. There was a
Roman legion camp, aristocrats (complete with the haughtiness you'd expect),
nomadic peoples with yurts (a round kind of tent) clustered together,
barbarians, Middle Easterners, etc. Aside from these we saw entire castle walls
that had been constructed around sites, and let's not forget the small-scale
castles themselves complete with drawbridges and portcullis. Just to walk the
length of Pennsic from one end to the other would have taken you 20 minutes at a
brisk walk in the middle of the day & longer at night because, lets face it,
you’re gonna get lost.

And the fighting, now that was a whole lot of fun and apparently this
year’s batch of rapier fighters was the largest Pennsic had ever seen with 265
people. With such a large and utterly new crew to cross blades against, I was
as blissful as a man could get (okay, perhaps there is one thing more blissful).
Still, it did my heart no small amount of pride to see my students hooking and
jabbing against the best and brightest the East Coast had to offer. Take my
newest student, Kage, for example. In the first tournament of his life he drew
Baron Rodrigo, a white scarf, who promptly dispatched him and gave him his first
defeat in his very first tourney. But on the last day of fighting, in the last
tournament of the war, Kage once again drew the good baron for his first fight.
But this time Kage took the lessons he had learned from their first encounter
and instead did the dispatching. When the baron lunged high, Kage raised his
buckler and lunged low, passing beneath and deflecting Rodrigo’s blade upward
while simultaneously hamstringing him. Then, with the baron on his knees, Kage
then took his off hand with a deft lunge, then finished him with a quick pop to
the mask. Now I ask you, how many fighters do you know of with only four months
experience that have killed a don in tournament?


Hadrurus too did well by his teacher, bringing praise upon himself
repeatedly for his speed as well as his ability to dispatch fighters with years
more experience. Not to mention his performance in the five on five melees when
he faced three fencers with two epees apiece while only holding a dagger and
buckler himself. His hands moved independently as they pressed him, fending off
attacks repeatedly as they tried to overwhelm him with their numbers. If not
for the fact the majority of their squad was immune to death who knows how that
contest would have turned out.

As for myself, I’m afraid my excitement over getting to shed my role as a
bullet magnet was short-lived. Lasted about a day, in fact. When I cleared the
gatehouse in the castle battle two and a half times with my new katana it was a
gunner who stepped out and said, “That’s about enough of you.” And in the
town battle there wasn’t really any room to rogue so I was repeatedly tearing
holes in the opposing lines on the right side until another pistol brought an
end to my fun.
And as a trio the men-in-black were striking fear into the hearts of many.
One particularly forlorn-looking fighter left the field muttering aloud, Just
my luck I get to fight a bunch of ninjas. Then, of course, was my favorite
line during the second town battle when we changed sides. I had already been
shot and was watching from the sidelines, and Hadrurus and Kage were already
dead as well, but as our lines began to get wrapped a clear voice cried out,
”Watch out for the guys in black!” Followed immediately by another voice
screaming, “But where are they?!”

This war also introduced me to another first, in the way of an
adornment. Lady Khalida, of Duke Edric’s household, generously donated
her time over the course of the entire war as my ornament, offering massages for
my ever-tense shoulders between bouts as well as making sure I stayed hydrated
(since I tend to forget the whole eating/drinking thing when I fight).

But I would have to say the most memorable moments at least the most
humorous on the battlefield was the siege of the castle La Rochelle. For
those of you who’ve never been, Pennsic has as a part of its battlefield a
large wooden castle that is a permanent fixture on the landscape. To get in you
have to pass through the center gate or the entrance on the left, but before you
could fight your way through either of those you first had to blow it up with
one of two small canisters of explosives. All one had to do was get close
enough, without being shot by the gunners overhead, to place the charge and yell
”set”. Then a marshal counted down from five and everything within twenty
feet was dead or destroyed.

At the call to lay on our side was eventually able to get the charge placed
at the main gate. BOOM! And in went our fighters to meet the opposing
side at the kill pocket they had formed just inside the entrance. Well, as you
may have guessed, a very long wait ensued as nearly every man in our army waited
their turn to get in and fight in the gateway. But then...
”Kage,” I said. He looked up with sword and ever-present buckler in
hand. “Come with me. I’ve got an idea.” The two sentries posted just left of the entrance peered down through the crenellation as three black-clad fighters approached, two of them armed with
case of swords and the third with sword/buckler. The sentries, however,
didn’t even bother to aim their pistols. After all, what was there to fear
from three men armed with steel outside a fully intact gate?
Just then one stepped back and shouted, “Just some guys with swords over
here.”
But in the time it took him to say that one sentence Kage rushed forward,
the explosive charge pinned between his buckler and his chest. Realizing what
was about to happen the second sentry rushed forward with pistol in hand into
the crenellations right into my sword waiting directly below him. Kage dropped
the charge at the door, yelled “Set!”, and took off like a bat out of hell.
The remaining sentry turned back around just in time to rush forward, stick
his head out with eyes wide and exclaim, ”What?!”
”BOOM!
Both sentry and door went bye-bye in a very loud, grotesque, military
manner, followed immediately by not only the influx of the three black-clad
fighters who wrought the destruction but fifteen more swordsmen who miraculously
appeared from around the corner of the castle to join the fight.

And the parties certainly had their share of memorable moments, shall we
say? One night we were in search of the Mardi Gras party but were having a
devil of a time finding it. We stopped in on one crowded camp of merriment
after another only to discover that none of these was the party we sought.
Finally, I spied one young and “scantily clad” blond gal, standing near what I
thought was a boyfriend, with a bunch of beads hanging around her neck. This
made me think perhaps she may have just come from the very party we sought. I
leaned over and said, “Excuse me, do you know where…” “Oh, you’re so CUTE!” She cried and wrapped her arms around my neck, then
proceeded to grind against me as though she thought she could actually pass
through my clothes.
”Well, thanks much,” I replied, trying to extricate myself as politely as
possible. I thought I’d do the suave thing and spin her away with a little
dance move, but she countered by simply hanging onto my hand and spinning right
back in. When she landed against me once more she grabbed my ass and
pressed me against her. Actually, I was really just wondering if you’re alive,
I’m not five, you know” She interrupted, likely referring to the fact
that I had not yet made a move of my own.
I had to agree, “You certainly don’t feel like you’re five
either.”
I did manage to eventually extricate myself from Slinky, as we came to refer to
her, and the last we saw of her she was sucking face with a woman that looked
nearly old enough to be her grandmother. Ah well, I had my directions, Slinky
had her plaything, so everyone seemed to be happy.

And then, of course, was the “Men-Without-Pants” Party. Oh yeah, you heard
me right: as in a party where the men attend without benefit of da trousers.
And did I mention the spot checks?
So there I am in black boots and tunic reaching about mid-thigh, with my pants
tucked in and hanging behind me off the belt around my waist. With my cloak
resting on my shoulders I stepped forward to the man checking ID’s, who then
yells out, “Active duty military!” and directs me toward the attractive
blond amazon guarding the door.
”Hey there, handsome,” she says, “pants check.” At which point she
reaches into my cloak and runs a hand up my left leg from about the knee to the
top of my thigh.
”Who’s the active duty military?” another guard, this one a man, cries
out behind her.
”That would be me,” I say.
I step forward and he says, “Sir, it is your duty to go inside, get absolutely
sh*t-faced and felt up as much as possible tonight! We just want you to know we
appreciate what you do for our country!”
I was impressed. Here all this time I thought a simple thank you was enough.
So I pass through the arch that served as the entrance to their camp and inside,
forming two lines on either side, is a row of women with a particularly naughty
gleam in their eye.
The first gal turns me toward her and asks, “Back, front or lady’s choice,
mi’lord?”
”l’ll have to go with the back,” I replied. At her slightly disappointed
look I added, “Sorry, love. Married and all.” Still, disappointed or not,
she took her sweet time making sure my ass was securely fastened.
On and on it goes as I make my way through this receiving line. ”Same
question”, same answer each time, and when I get to the ninth and final young
woman she asks like they all did before, “Back, front, or lady’s choice,
mi’ord?” However, before I can even utter the first syllable her hand has
already run up my inner thigh and is “cupping the boys”, shall we say?
”Hmm, appears it’s lady’s choice, doesn’t it?”
At that she smiled, though from the remark or the plumbing she now held I cannot
say. At any rate, one affectionate squeeze and I was on my way. And as I left
the receiving line I couldn’t help thinking that if our service members were
greeted like this everywhere they went our numbers would quadruple overnight.

But the debauchery doesn’t stop there, oh no. Inside there was all manner of
red light behavior for the senses to behold, to include a kissing booth that
offered no mere pecks on the cheek, but full on open-mouthed, suck your tonsils
out, kisses for five second per dollar.
Well, I stepped forward undaunted and eyed the women available, and in a strong,
clear voice I called out, “Which of you is the most aggressive here?”
At that an attractive, ebon-skinned lass stepped forward claiming herself to be
that very thing. I then handed her four dollars and seized young Hadrurus by
the front of his tunic who could only stammer, “Hmm? What? as I pulled him
within arms reach of her.
”He’s all yours,” I told her.
Never let it be said this pirate captain doesn’t take care of his crew.

Then, of course, was the rapier champions tournament. The tournament itself
was simple enough: thirty champions of the East and her allies would compete in
a double elimination tournament against thirty champions of the Middle and her
allies. Whichever side emerged victorious would be awarded the first war point
of the war.
So there I was, minding my own business as I mentally prepared myself to slay
the masses, when suddenly this person rushes up and says that Her Majesty, Queen
of the West, wished to speak with me. Turns out those particular royals, whom I
had been told were absent, weren’t so MIA, after all. Anyway, we met “a most
charming lady” and she said how excited she was to hear that her champion was
in the tournament. She pinned her favor on my arm, bid me to fight well, and
with a last wave went back to the royals’ pavilion to watch the tourney. And
let me just say she is both a classy lady and quite the rapier enthusiast. As
the tournament went on, and I moved from one area to the next dispatching my
foes, she followed my matches, cheered from the sidelines, had refreshments
delivered to me and even cancelled the rest of her day’s plans so she could
stay and watch all the way to the final fight.
And what a fight it turned out to be.

Tora fighting against the East's Champion, and holder of the ultimate "Iron Ring" title.
Tora makes his first moves


By the time the tournament was near to wrapping up there were still eight of our
champions remaining and only a single man left on the opposing side, Lazarus.
Since he was the sole survivor of the Middle Kingdom it was decided that he
would fight each of the eight remaining East champions in turn until such time
as he met his end. Since I was the last to turn in my card that morning I was
placed at the back of that line. So, resigned to watching from the sidelines, I
set my weapons down and prepared to watch the demise of this last fighter.
After all, seven champions would have to fall before I could step onto the field
again, and surely somebody would kill this guy before then. But, oh, not so.
Lazarus decided he was not going to die quite so easily and with the area
bordered by a thick crowd of royals, fighters, and general spectators alike, one
by one he fought and killed one champion after another until the surrounding
populace was practically buzzing with the possibility that he would
single-handedly win it for the Middle Kingdom and her allies.
”The list calls the Lord Tora Taka to the field!” cried the marshal. I
stepped onto the field and just knew this was going to be a worthy fight. And
was it ever. I mean it was one of those fights that quite literally drew
”Oooo’s” and “Aahhhs’s” from the crowd. My opponent was quick and very
concise in his movements, and because of that it allowed me to pull out subtle
techniques I don’t normally get to use. One woman came up to me afterward and
said, “It was like watching a duel from right out of the textbooks.”
Needless to say, I was quite flattered.
Still, the only reason the fight looked as pretty as it did was because my
opponent was such an excellent swordsman. His only flaw lie in the fact that he
allowed me to control the fight nearly the whole of the time we fenced. And,
let’s face it, you can only run and defend for so long before your pattern
reveals itself.
The end finally came when I took his off hand, gave up my own dagger, and
then eventually slipped my blade through his defenses and let the tip kiss him
in the throat. He collapsed sideways to the ground with a loud, “Yes!”, and
the crowd erupted in applause.

Though I especially have a fondness for the queen of the West, who later
called my name and waved as she marched at the head of her army toward the heavy
battlefield, I must say, the queens of Pennsic as a whole are a very generous
lot. One after another they came up to me after other tournaments and pinned
favors to my left arm, or bestowed gifts upon me for killing their champions.
It was a very different sort of experience for me, let me tell you. And did you
know there was a Pennsic newspaper? A very handy thing, I must say, as it
allows you to not only find out what happened the day before but also about
events and classes, etc, that are yet pending. I first became aware of it after
winning that first tournament. A medieval reporter, I guess you could call him,
approached me as he did after every other tournament I won and took
information for the article he/she would later write. I took one issue home for
me scrapbook.

Well, there is far more that went on over the course of the days and nights
of the war but this email is way too long as it is already. Just know that if
you’ve never been to the Pennsic War before you should seize the opportunity
at least once. Guaranteed to be a good time.

Tora

Tora fighting against the East's Champion, and holder of the ultimate "Iron Ring" title.
Tora makes the last and killing hit!