Sunday, September 30, 2012


Life has a strange way of working out sometimes, of just having things come together in such a way that you have to marvel at the beauty of it. This weekend was a joining of the strands, of seemingly random occurrences and happenstance meetings drawing people closer and into new and exciting adventures together.

I first met Mistress Madhavi last year at Res Vesteria, on what she calls one of her worst days ever. I was inspired by her command of the kitchen in the line of fire, awed by her culinary skill and encouraged when she was willing to listen to my suggestions and even implement them in the meal. I left that event uplifted, excited and jabbering all the way home to my friends at the amazingly cool person I had just met. I next ran into her at Fall Coronation 2011, at the end of the feast she went out of her way to come find me. I was humbled that she remembered me, she personally thanked me again for my work with her at Res Vesteria and said she would love to work with me again anytime. I found out she had been made a Laurel that day before I arrived to site, and I remarked to my friend Jake that if I were to ever take a belt I would want ti from her.

That first real communication, the thanks and the promise of future work inspired me. You can look back on my blog from last year and see the sheer number of cooking entries I did as I tested making my own period recipes. I was consumed with a passion for the culinary arts and every event and every art/sci I found a way to attend/enter just made me more inspired. I began to research my persona and my garb, study my culture and my food. I sat down and just wanted to absorb SCA culture and history, sometimes sitting by the fire for hours as I just listened to the stories of yesteryear. When Kingdom Art/Sci rolled back around and I found that Mistress Madhavi was one of my judges, I was a ball of nervousness and anticipation. Not only did it go well, but she invited me to cook and do even more with her at Gulf wars!

Gulf Wars was amazing in so many ways that I still can't even describe it all. I got to know Mistress Madhavi and so many other amazing people even better, I had a wonderful cooking experience and I worked up the nerve to ask to be Madhavi's student. We talked about it and she accepted me on, I tried not to have a gigglefit in front of her and saved that for private over booze with Ever. Having someone there as a teacher was a really great thing for me. Now I had someone whom I could regularly pester with questions in relation to food whenever they came up, someone to confide in with my concerns and someone I could rely on to be there for me whenever I needed it. I've had various friends who filled that roll for me, and still do, but this was something unique and special for me and it satisfied me in so many ways I feel stupid for rambling about.

At Fall Coronation this year, Madhavi (after insisting she have her full plate of cupcakes before talking to me) asked me to be her apprentice. She asked me to help her form a household, and asked me to start the journey to being a Laurel. I was so taken aback and stunned that for a minute I just sat there in silence staring at the kitchen, staring at the oven long enough that she asked me if I had changed my mind about wanting it. I quickly reassured her no, that it was something I deeply wanted and was just honored and floored to have been asked. We discussed a few things, then agreed to be quiet about it until she belted me at Michaelmas after feast.

The belting ceremony was everything I could have wanted. It was small and intimate, there were piles of food and booze around as Quan had been cooking all night for this. The moon was bright and full in the sky, no clouds, and the air was pleasantly warm. Not only were Quan and my Lady there, but we was also joined by Wolfmom and Countess Sibilla. Both of these lovely ladies ave been a real inspiration o my SCA time so far, and having my first Queen overseeing my belting made my vision water a little. Madhavi asked me for three promises to her, three she would hold me to then gave me three she would make to me and expect me to hold her to in return. The belt she tied me with was her own apprentice belt, in accordance with custom it seemed, and even though she said she could make me a less girly belt I wouldn't want to trade this one for anything. After that was done, she held up a raksha bandhan and asked for my right arm. She tied the jewelry to my wrist, explaining that this symbolized she would always look after me and defend me for to her I was her little brother and before she tied the knot on it she asked if I would do the same. Both of us got a little watery-visioned at this point and I nodded, she tied the knot and that was that.

Drinking and talking and partying then was in order. Stories ere told and I was honored as the Excellenices of An Crosaire and the Empress both arrived with the intention of congratulating me and Madhavi. I was so overwhelmed at this point I needed to go for a walk, I don't do well on emotional overload and I went into the woods and just sat and cried for a few moments. I hadn't felt so welcomed, so appreciated and so much at home in such a long time tat I didn't know how to handle it but with a few happy tears and laughter against an oak tree. I visited a few friends, then made my way back feeling light as a feather and ontop of the world.

There will be more writing about this event this week, but I needed to get this off my chest and onto this blog for my own memories. Than you for those taking this journey with me.

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Michaelmas A/S Report :)

ID #: 092686CC                                                        Name: Christoffer Koch
Category: Food preparation                                         Division: 5; Domestic Arts and Sciences

Compost - A Recreation from Forme of Cury

Originating from England, the cookery text this recipe hails from around 1390 A.D. is entitled Forme of Cury. This roll of recipes were compiled by the Master-Chefs# of King Robert the II, and thus is a listing of foods cooked for the royalty and nobility of England.

Compost (from Forme of Cury) -

Take rote of parsel. pasternak of rasenns. scrape hem waisthe hem clene. take rapes & caboches ypared and icorne. take an erthen panne with clene water & set it on the fire. cast all þise þerinne. whan þey buth boiled cast þerto peeres & parboile hem wel. take þise thynges up & lat it kele on a fair cloth, do þerto salt whan it is colde in a vessel take vineger & powdour & safroun & do þerto. & lat alle þise thinges lye þerin al nyzt oþer al day, take wyne greke and hony clarified togider lumbarde mustard & raisouns corance al hool. & grynde powdour of canel powdour douce. & aneys hole. & fenell seed. take alle þise thynges & cast togyder in a pot of erthe. and take þerof whan þou wilt & serue forth.

Translation (as translated by myself) -

Take the parsley and parsnip and scrap and wash them clean. Take turnips and cabbages and cut them up. Take an earthen pan with clean water and set it on the fire. Cast all of this inside. When they have boiled, cast pears in and boil them well. Take these things up and let it cool on a fair cloth, add salt when it is cold. In a vessel take vinegar and powdour and saffron and let  these things lie there in all night or all day.

Take greek wine and clarified honey together with mustard and whole raisins and grind cinnamon powder, powder douce and whole anise and fennel seed. Take all of these things and cast together in an earthen pot. Take thereof what you will and serve forth.

Redaction (as done by myself) -

Main Dish                Spices               
parsley roots (sub. for extra parsips)    salt
8 parsnips                                                            cinnamon
5 carrots                                                                powder douce
12 radishes                                                            1/2 tsp. anise seed
2 turnips                                                               1/2 tsp. fennel seed
1 cabbage                                                              pepper
2 pears                                                                   saffron
1 cup vinegar
1 1/2 cup sweet wine
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp. mustard
1/2 cup currants (zante raisins)

Peel vegetables and pears then cut them into bite-sized pieces. Parboil them until just tender.. Remove from water, place on towel, sprinkle with salt, and allow to cool. Put vegetables in large bowl and add pepper, saffron, and vinegar. Let sit several hours in fridge. Then put wine and honey into a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then simmer for several minutes. Let cool and add currants and remaining spices. Mix well and pour over vegetables. Serve cold.


3 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg

Source [Le Ménagier de Paris, J. Hinson (trans.)]: HIPPOCRAS. To make powdered hippocras, take a quarter-ounce of very fine cinnamon, hand-picked by tasting it, an ounce of very fine meche ginger and an ounce of grains of paradise, a sixth of an ounce of nutmeg and galingale together, and pound it all together. And when you want to make hippocras, take a good half-ounce or more of this powder and two quarter-ounces of sugar, and mix them together, and a quart of wine as measured in Paris. And note that the powder and the sugar mixed together make “duke’s powder”.


    As this is my first Arts/Sciences entry at this level of category, my documentation for this project will follow closely in structure and formatting as the static form provided on the Trimaris Arts/Science website.

    The first section of documentation will be my inspiration for this piece. I am at a disadvantage when it comes to period cooking as far as this section goes, many of the physical arts (fibe,scribal, leatherworking, etc) can offer visual inspirations to create a piece from. As a cook, I am left with the original writing of the manuscript and the translation into modern English as my only sources to use. Thankfully there are many available online for free to use, provided by such sources as Project Gutenberg#.

    Next in line is the section on style and and creativity, and more specifically in regards to a discussion of characteristics of style for entry time & place. In making a recreation, I do my very best to stick with what the original recipe called for and following as closely to the original intent the cook had in crafting the dish. I did not stray into the element of creative interpretation when crafting this dish, so I will not be discussing any creative elements about this piece.

    Ingredients used is thankfully a straightforward and simple section as the documentation goes for this project. First to be listed will be the ingredients used in period for this dish, followed by a listing of those used in this recreation entry. Finally I will discuss which ingredients I used that would have been different from those used in period, and why I either chose to change those or were forced to change those.

    Tools will also be simple and straightforward, similar to the ingredient section. First listed will be the tools used in period, followed by those used for the recreation of this dish. Discussion on tools that I used that would have differed from those in period will be a bit longer than I would like unfortunately, I do not live in an area conducive to live fire cooking and have yet to purchase more period correct tools.

    My final section of documentation, technique, will be my largest section written. I will attempt to be as detailed as possible in describing both my technique used in making this dish and those that would have been used in period. I will detail any changes I undertook from the period method of crafting, explaining my substitutions when used and ensuring to describe the proper methods that should have been used but I was unable to.


As I am left without a visual aide (like calligraphy) or a museum piece (like armor) to use as a source of inspiration, I am left with just the original recipe. This copy presented above is a scan of the Samuel Pegge edition, which is available online for free#. The Samuel Pegge edition is an excellent copy, the author made no effort to truly translate the original middle english but instead just copied from the original manuscript. I am also provided online another SCA member who has translated this recipe before and offered their own personal redaction for use online as a secondary resource#, as well as a text released by The Metropolitan Museum of Art which covers this dish as well#
Style and Creativity

When it comes to style and creativity in helps of identifying a specific time period, food is a bit more of a challenge than your average art. Food variations tended to shift regularly, when a recipe would travel across a mountain into a new country suddenly it would develop a new twist of spice or lose an ingredient as it was no longer available on a regular basis#. There are several factor that allow us to highlight and select this dish as from the 14th Century, and the trained observer will be able to see these traces within the dish.

    The biggest tell-tale sign is the size of the pieces being served. The 14th century had not yet had the fork come into being as part of a culinary tradition, so all food items eaten had to be bite sized or able to be eaten with a spoon. The dish has its ingredients prepared in such a way that one can arrange what they would like on a trencher and take bites at their leisure. The piece's need to be a significant size that grasping with one’s hand or removing with a spoon is not a difficulty, but small enough to be bite-sized and not drunk like a soup.

    Another sign of this dish is the more exotic elements of the ingredients themselves. Forme of Cury was the recipe roll for Richard the II, a King of England who was known for his extravagance in his court life#. A few items in this dish, while commonplace today, would have been difficult to obtain and required importing of much fresh goods. Windsor Castle, Richard the II’s home for his reign, does not have an overly large area set aside for massive food storage of specialized crops# and give his propensity to be lavish with his feasts# it can be implied that he regularly imported goods or had them purchased. Fennel and Anise seed would have been imported from across the French lines, as much of the centers for their harvesting and growth is the Mediterranean, and zante currant would have been expensive due to its careful cultivation needed to keep viable plants alive.

    Likewise, looking at the more common ingredients would also help us in pinpointing a time period and a culture. This is clearly a Autumn/Winter dish owing to the ingredients within, and very English. Parsnip, radish, cabbage and turnip are all foods cultivated within England itself. With winter comes a closing of trade routes due to snow and poor weather, stocks of food would be eaten and what could be grown and harvested locally would have been used with a regularity#. Cabbage, radish and parsnips are also considered winter vegetables, they are harvested during the Autumn#.

    Now by looking at this dish, we can see many clear markers of this time period and culture of origin. The pieces for the majority are bite-sized, small enough to be scooped onto a trencher by a serving ladle or spoon but large enough to be a filling bite and not requiring a spoon to eat, which suggests this to be 14th century. The spices inside demonstrate that this was a person of wealth who ate this way, someone who could afford to import certain goods, so we know we are dealing with a Lord from that time period. And finally we have the fact that these are a very winter vegetable selection from England, this leads us to the conclusion that this was a dish served to a wealthy noble at the very least who lived in England for the Winter months in the 14th Century.


Ingredients used in Period:
  • Parsley roots
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Cabbage
  • Pear
  • Vinegar
  • Greek wine
  • Honey
  • Mustard
  • Zante currants
  • Cinnamon
  • Powder douce
  • Anise seed
  • Fennel seed
  • Salt
  • Saffron
  • Pepper

Ingredients used in this Entry:
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Cabbage
  • Pear
  • Vinegar
  • Red Wine
  • Honey
  • Mustard
  • Zante currants
  • Cinnamon
  • Powder douce
  • Anise seed
  • Fennel seed
  • Salt
  • Saffron
  • Pepper

Difference in ingredients used and why:

When making a recreation of a dish, I strive to recreate and replicate as much as possible. I do my best not to stray from the source material used unless necessary. I only remove certain foods due to unavailability in purchase or inability to recreate when a recipe is not available/food item is not sold in America. Sadly I had to make some substitutions and changes, but I feel it still does the entry justice.

    Parsley roots were something I could not require. All of my store-bought options led to dead ends unfortunately, and while my only option was to purchase a plant and use the roots that way I could not afford to purchase that many plants to get the number of roots. Parsnips are from the same family of vegetable#, and a reasonable substitution when the parsley roots are unavailable.

    Greek wine is not something I could afford, all of the wines I found costs far too much for me to even consider purchasing for a regional. I went with a sweet red wine, recommended to me by the good people at Whole Foods.

Tools and Equipment

Tools and equipment used in Period:
  • Knife
  • Hearth
  • Earthen Pot
  • Ladle
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mortor pestle
  • Earthen pan
  • Cloth

Tools and equipment used in this Entry:
  • Knife
  • Stove
  • Metal pot
  • Ladle
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mortor pestle
  • Cloth
  • Glass dish

Difference in tools and equipment used and why:

    There are sadly a few differences in tools and equipment from period and this entry, however each is a reasonable substitution for the period element. To start, I do not have access to a real yard to do open fire hearth cooking in, in period they had more than enough access to a real hearth as they were situated inside very much like our stoves would be today. I also do not have the money to afford an earthen pot or pan at this time. I am firmly aware that such a style pot was incredibly common, it is just what would have been used because it was easy to make and mass produce. I have a metal pot, that’s all I really got as far as pots go so I had to make do! As far as the glass dish goes, I have cats and could not let the cloth sit out. I had to put the cloth in the glass dish and put up high in my closet to avoid animal influence!


Technique used in Period:

    The Master Chef of the kitchen would have assigned several people different roles and would have overseen the cooking of all the projects in the kitchen. One person’s job would have been to manage the hearth fire, keeping it to temperature and changing out coals/creating new coals as needed. Another’s job would have been peeling and slicing of vegetables and their upkeep and care. Anoter would have been in charge of the herbs and spices, making the blends and preparing them for use in the kitchen.

With all these people in place, the meal would have come together. The vegetables would have been peeled and sliced, then boiled. when finished the spicer would have added the needed spices then give it to someone to set aside for a day or night. The next day it would have been taken up by the cooking staff responsible for sauces, and the remaining steps (blending and adding the sauces) would have been completed. It would have then been set aside and served at whatever meal it was requested for.

Technique used in this Entry:

    I started with washing all my utensils and getting my dishes set. I filled my pot with water, and started the water to a slow boil. While it slowly increased in temperature, I peeled and cut my vegetables and pear. I dropped them into the pot and parboiled them till just tender. I removed the pieces from the water using the ladle, placed them on a dry towel, sprinkled with salt and allow to cool. When cooled, I put the vegetables in bowl and added the  pepper, saffron, and vinegar. I let it sit several hours in the fridge because I have pets in a small place and a place to hide it to chill overnight/all day is next to impossible. When finally chilled I put the wine and honey into a saucepan, brought it up to a rolling boil, and then simmered it down for 10 minutes. I let cool then added currants and remaining spices.I mixed the new sauce up and poured over vegetables.

Difference in technique used and why:

    The biggest thing that’s a difference is a lack of my kitchen staff. I would have had a legion of helpers, people who had specific tasks whose sole job entailed peeling/saucing/heat tending. Without those people, I would be forced to do everything myself which is a big change from period.

    Since I did not have an active heat source to use, I did not have to maintain a fire and keep the coals at a specific temperature. I did not have to constantly create more coals, nor did I have to to transfer those coals from one hearth location to another. I also did not have to dispose of the remaining ash when complete.

    Due to a lack of pet-free location that would also be cool to keep the vegetables overnight/all day, I ended up using the fridge to cool the dish down to the right temperature for the sauce. Normally the dish would have been simply kept in a cooler and isolated are to sit, but lacking that in my tiny place I had to use what I had available.


  1. To the Kings Taste by Lorna J. Sass
  2. A Study of Cooking Task, Methods, and Equipment in the Renaissance Kitchen by Chris P. Alder-France (Dame Katja Davidova orlova Khazarina), Aethelmearc Academy, Stormspot, June 19th @004, Originally presented Janurary 20th, 2002 in Colorado Springs
  3. Forme of Cury, Samuel Pegge edition
  4. Salt: A World History by mark Kurlanksy published 2002
  5. The Medieval Kitchen by Odlile Redon and Francoie Sabbont and Silvano Serventi published 1998
  6. Fourteenth century England, Volume 1 by Nigel Sault, published 2000

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adventures in film making: Lots Caste

For those of you unaware, I am a huge supporter of the Not 1 Zombie film project, being organized and directed by my friends Haley and Kyle. I've advertized for them, boosted the signal on their production blog ( which can be found here ) and I've even helped them by filming my own short video clip to build on the universe ( which can be found here ). Last weekend I took another big step forward, not just in helping them out but also pushing forward with the job goals I'm hoping to achieve. For the Lots Caste film, I got to do catering for the cast and crew.

For everyone involved, this was a big step-up in film production. For the N1Z crew, this was the first time having a whole crew to take care of every issue. Haley directed, Kyle was cam-ops, Bailey was the clapper, Gogas was audio and photography, Andrew was PA, Andrew Valentine was make-up, Les was script editor, Eric (on top of acting) will be editing the footage and I was catering. With four actors involved as well, this was the largest shoot to date for the N1Z team. Of course large shoots come with its own set of challenges and rewards.

The biggest challenge of the day was getting the timing done right. Two things needed to happen in order to make this shoot a success, we needed to get the outside shots done with mid morning light and we needed to shoot around one actresses time constraints. The outside shot was a simple enough fix, the timing had to be precise and the acting spot on for the hour and a half time they had available to them for the shoot. Eric was spot on great, and this challenge sailed with ease. The issue with the actress took a bit more work, but Haley and Kyle were able to pull it off spectacularly. They shot out of order, taking care of all her close-ups and lines of dialog while others were arriving/getting prepped, and even did the final scene first to ensure that film continuity could be maintained. It was a nearly 4 hour process that ate a lot of time, but hey sometimes that's film work!

I was in charge of catering, and managing the food for the shoot. I had a lot of fun with it, because as you may have guessed I enjoy cooking, but also for the unique challenge it put for me. I had to organize 2 meals for a decent sized cast, the food had to meet the dietary restrictions/appetites of the cast and crew, had to be affordable enough to fit on the budget AND had to be simple enough to eat that people could grab and go while the shoot went on. Lunch in itself was pretty simple I feel, sandwiches people could assemble as they wished to eat when they wished. In the photo above you can see the spread I laid out: on the left were ham sandwiches, on the right turkey sandwiches and on the tiny plate far right I did PB&J (for the vegetarians). Cheddar and provolone cheese was also provided, and condiments available were mayo and mustard. The snack garden behind provided light and sweet dessert items, and for my vegan on shoot a salad was prepared with a ginger dressing.

Dinner was a bit more complex, but still yummy! I prepared Pullum paroptum, a roasted chicken recipe from Apicus that I will also be cooking for the Michaelmas Moot fundraiser lunch (oh yeah, using catering to test prep a period chicken dish), ashed potatoes with rosemary and salad. The chicken came out great, a little cooking issues with the number but it worked out fine. I really loved the spice blend on this chicken, and the parsley had such a wonderful smell and taste on the flesh. I shredded it and made it into a sandwich for myself, a little smear of honey mustard really made the day with this and I'm excited to serve it next weekend.

This was a really great shoot, and I recommend heading over to the N1Z blog linked above for more information. I learned a lot about kitchen organization and timing when it came to feeding people (especially when I cannot control the schedule) and am appy and eager to elp them again on any future projects.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Story time

Occasionally, I get the itch in my fingers to write creatively. I want to be expressive and tell a story (long or short) about a topic I find interesting. Often times these pieces of fiction have involved my gaming sessions, various characters and scenes that I use to tell stories with my friends.I've never really had much of a variety of outlets, until the SCA came along. I found a place ripe for the picking wit material,and cold not be happier.

This piece here is a fictional tale, loosely based on the real events involving my friend Karou at his very first event. If you ever find Adriano at an event, make sure to stop and ask him about the truth of the Viking Story!

How did it happen again?
A short tale by Christoff Koch

A hole in the road jostled the two men awake, as the wagon shook and dropped several large pelts onto the previously sleeping men. Grumbling and slowly rising to alertness, James looked around at where they had found themselves this time. The hazy events of the night before slowly came into the forefront, the mead that flowed like a river into both of his and Adriano's cups had made rational choices not on the agenda. A long night of singing and performing at the tavern had led to his companion chasing the skirt of another wench, and upon looking for his lost friend amongst the silk sheets of the laundry closet there was a sharp pain then sudden darkness.

Wincing as he touched the bump on the back of his skull, James looked over to Adriano with a bemused and exasperated look. "What did you get us into this time?" He speaks sharply.

Adriano winced, perhaps from the antler poking his thigh but more likely from the hang-over and slight beating he received the night before. "Always my fault, maybe perhaps it wasn't this time? How was I supposed to know that she was the mistress of an Ansteorian captain? Maybe I am the innocent one here?" He scoffed and turned up his nose in a way that only Italians can, looking both superior and wounded by your claim.

James snorted and shook his head. "I'll believe that your the innocent one when England looses and archery challenge to France." Looking at the rope bindings on them both, then peering out from the wagon at their captors, he looks over to Adriano and speaks in a hushed tone. "We're not too far from the Shire of Castlemere, they can send a runner to Oldenfeld and Darkwater about out situation. I have a plan...think you can slip away with a decent enough distraction?"

Adriano chuckled. "Can I slip away? Of course I can, they don't call me donnola ingrassate on the battlefield for nothing!"

* * *

The guards of the wagon carrying the prisoners looked over at the sound of rattling metal against the wood. James was running a mug across the bars, obviously in a bid to gain their attention. "Excuse me good sirs, but may I inquire as to the fate of myself and my companion?"

One of the greyhaired ones spit and eyed them both. "Yer to be executed in our Kingdom, once we cross the boundary."

Gulping, and giving a baleful look to Adriano, James waves a hand. "Let's not be so hasty! It will be moonlight soon, and you hard men have been marching all day. And is it not the way of the Fierce Star to show compassion and honor to their captured foes?"

The guards grumbled a bit then looked to their Captain, a younger man with a terrible scar running across his jaw. "It is good friend, and in such a measure we will show that to you. Instead of an execution, we shall allow you the honor of fighting for your life. Name your field of battle, and you will face me."

James smiles and holds out his arms, palms up. "I am not armed by steel, you would willingly fight me with weapons of my choosing?"

The Captain grunts and nods, his hand resting on the hilt of his own blade. "Aye. Name your challenge, should you win you and your companion are free to go."

"Then I challenge you to a duel of words." James says confidently.  "We will trade lyrics and poems until the moonrise above the trees. If I can perform something that you have never seen or heard, I and my companion are free. If I fail by that time, you may do as you wish."

The Captain nodded, respecting the choice and motioning for his men to free James and bring him forth. Mead was poured, meat set on a spit and the men sat back for their evenings entertainment and confidant that after the free show would come an execution. James was more than happy to entertain his hosts, changing into his far fancier doublet for a better stage appearance and even offering to pour his own personal mead into their cups.

So distracted, they did not notice Adriano wriggle from his bonds. So enthralled they did not see him slip over the top of the wagon. And as James sung so loudly, they did not hear as Adriano dashed away into the wood. The men of Ansteora felt a twinge of sadness that they would execute such a gracious entertainer, and several of them asked him to perform some of their favorites again so that they may remember his poetry better.

The sun sank, the meat disappeared along with the mead and the whole crew (minus James) were well fed and watered as the moon rose above the treetops. The Captain rose slowly, swaying as the mead dulled his senses, and chuckled. "Well young bard, your efforts were valiant and your words beautiful. But surprised we were not, and we ask you to hold to the terms of your word and oath."

James hedged a bit, silently cursing Adriano in his head. Where was that Italian fool?! "Since I have been such an entertaining prisoner, and you have enjoyed my words so well, would you allow me one last chance? One last poem before the axe?" He smiles, glad the night hid his sweat.

"One last one, for the road good bard. Make it count!" One of the guards roared, slapping his thigh in demand for more entertainment. The Captain rolled his eyes, but allowed his men's demands to be met. "One last song bard." He sat back down, crossing his arms and watching James expectantly.

James took a moment to prepare himself, getting ready to recite the Odyssey for sheer length value, when a sudden crash of the trees from behind the Ansteorian men echoed out. They shuffled and stumbled to turn around, expecting a wild boar at any moment, when a rather drunk Adriano sauntered back into camp. A half empty bottle of mead hung from his hand, and a shit-eating grin as spread across his face.

"What the..." The Captain muttered, hand fumbling with his sword.

"Adriano! What are you doing? What took you so long!?" James cried out, backing up to the wagon in case a fight broke out. He wondered if now was the time to mention how surprised they seemed, but wondered what Adriano had brought with him to surprise them even further.

From around the bend, along the river they camped, a wooden ship slid onto shore. the carved dragons head roared silently as the men arriving leapt off the ship with cries to Odin and axes glinting in the moonlight. The men of Ansteora were certainly surprised.

"I found Vikings!" Adriano crowed triumphantly, then took another long swig of the mead.

James placed his head in his hand, and sighed.