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.