Monday, October 1, 2012

Storytime: Gate Duty

This story is dedicated to all of those hard working SCA members who spend countless hours manning our gates at events. Yours is an incredibly hard and often boring job, but necessary and I felt the best way to honor that work would be in this little bit of fiction.

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David Archer woke before the cocks call, sitting awake and alert as he did every morning. He slowly slipped from his bed, giving his lady a gentle kiss on the forehead to calm her as she stirred, before striding to his chest. He withdrew his simple clothes, making a mental note to have his lady repair a few threadbare patches, and dressed himself silently.

The glow of the Sun had just begun to creep over the treetops as David left the encampment. The only other person awake at this hour was Christoff, his shuffling stride towards the Feast Hall to continue the work of cooking the only visible track in the dew-soaked grass of the early morning. Allowing himself a yawn and a stretch, he likewise shuffled his way to the war wagon, withdrawing his arms and armor with ease. Dressing himself for battle, he slung his shield and sword over his back and marched the rest of the way to the massive gate that provided entrance to the greater Kingdom encampment as a whole.

Giving a grunt and a nod to the other gate guards, David relieved them of their posts and kept a wary eye as they shuffled off to sleep. Today was the day of a grand tournament, the King had lost his heir in the great War many years ago and many pretenders to the role clamored to be named heir to Trimaris. The King, wise and honorable, knew only his true heir could be victorious in the eyes of God and King so he established a tournament of arms to find his long lost heir. From all around Trimaris the populous would flow in, this was a grand spectacle that rarely occurred many times in a lifetime.

James and Adriano had both scoffed at David's insistence on taking so many shifts of gate duty, but allowed their brother to have his fun while they had theirs. As he settled in for a long morning, he heard the familiar sounds of Christoff's wagon being pulled along the dirt road and the wafting smell of fresh cooked meat. Smiling, he relaxed and laid his arms against the great gate. "Good morning Christoff, one day I think I shall wake before you do."

Christoff gave a chuckle, shaking his head at the Englishman. "I think not friend, this many of our countrymen here requires little sleep and much vork. I have brought ye breakfast though."

David grinned and eyes closed at the smell of the baked pork and strips of egg. He sat down along the road and began to eagerly dive in, happy that Christoff had brought him that Middle Eastern bean drink his Laurel had taught him of. Having his fill, he saluted the cook off and watched as Christoff wheeled his way to the next set of deliveries.

Before he could adjust to the full stomach and the hot beans could awaken him fully, David was startled as he felt a large brutish hand grasp the base of his neck and throw him into a tower. It seems a Troll had taken to moving into this valley, and the beast began to rage as it walked near as the smell of so many Christians sent it into a hunger frenzy. Unable to grasp his blade of helm, David scrambled to his feet as he pulled up his tower shield and promptly slammed it into the nose of the troll. The beast fell back and snarled, moving to grasp and squeeze the life out of David but he was too nimble and once again slid out of the way to slam the heavy shield into the shins of the beast. This game of cat and mouse carried on for several minutes before the first rays of sunlight poked through the trees. The sun had the affect David desired, instantly turning the beast to stone as it was in mid stride and ending its rampage.

Panting, David dropped the shield and caught his breath. Looking up at the fierce some creature now nothing but a stone statue, an idea sprung to mind. He sent a message via courier down to the children's hall to ask them to come paint the new statue as a gift for Their Majesties and then with a incredible show of strength drug the statue off the road and away from traffic.

Requiring his arms and helm, David Archer finally began his long day of action. As the sun rose high above the trees, peaking with rays of warmth that melted the fog, the first travelers began to pour in for the grand tournament. Much of the morning was spent simply waving and greeting, with the occasional check of a wagon or wildlife changed up the monotony of it all. The day seemed to be going smoothly, with reports that the Kings caravan was within a 2 hours walk David was hopeful that the trouble had already passed and the rest would be an easy day. If only.

Just before lunch and his relief was to arrive, a cry of fear arose from the caravan traveling in. A runner approached, eyes wide and said a wide wyvern had barreled out of the sky and was eating the oxen of some of the travelers. With the King just beyond the hill, David knew he did not have time to waste to protect not just the tournament but his King and Queen as well. David shelled off his armor and weapons, knowing the smell of iron angered the beasts, and ran as fast as his long legs could carry him.

The wyvern was beautiful, scales gleaming and wings wide and strong as it feasted happily on the oxen beneath its deadly claws. David kept a careful eye on the creature as he approached, knowing he would only have one chance. Running had caused him to sweat, and the smell of iron was rinsed from his body thus so sneaking up was thankfully an option. As he got close the wyvern suddenly snaked its head around to gaze at David, and without hesitating he knew he had to make his move. He leaps, the animals eyes blinking in surprise at the man who would dare to attack it. Before the beast could react David had his tree branch arms around its throat, grasping and squeezing tightly to try and knock the beast out. The wyvern struggled, throwing its neck back and forth and even slamming poor David onto the ground, but it dare not use its own claws for fear of killing itself. Minutes felt like hours, but finally the great beast ran out of air and with one last struggle collapsed unconscious on the ground.

Standing shakingly, David dusted himself off and winced at the bruise on his back. He turned to the owner of the now dead oxen and bowed. "My apologies on the loss of your oxen Milord, I will send a runner with a fresh team to pull you inside. If you wish, strap this beast down and take it with you inside. It will sleep for hours, and the Baron of Wyvernwood pays well for these captured and brought to him, enough to get a new team."

The man bowed and David limped back to the gate, grunting as he collapsed on his bench with his armor piled at his feet. Within minutes the sound of the Kings trumpets blared and he quickly redressed himself so he could salute and greet the King to assure him all was well with the tournament and the populous. The King smiled and thanked David, pulling a ring from his hand and personally placing it in the thankful mans hand.

As the King and his caravan road in, from behind him the soft footprints of his lady greeted him. He turned and gave her a chaste kiss, taking the plate of lunch from her and setting it on the nearby wooden table. David then allowed his relief guards come, taking over the gate duty so he could sit and enjoy a meal.

"I don't know how you can do this all the time, gate duty is so boring. Anything exciting happen yet, husband?" Adelyn asked as she nibbled on a section of cheese.

David gave a shrug and took a large bite of the beef. "Nothing unusual, just the same job as always."