Wednesday, June 27, 2007

543: Smackdown in Clarence

Sir Lancrius, a bachelor once again, reports

A glorious spring at King Arthur's court in Camelot. The castle and grounds are full of knights both young and famous, home-grown Salisbury boys and foreigners alike:

"People are scared of my accent—can you believe it?"

"You need a crit to win at Camelot."

"Sweet Jesu, it's D E V O N, not Dorset! Sir Doon of Devon!"
"Devon? I heard you're cannibals."
"Psh. We only eat Jesus."

I don't know why, with my keen sense of Geography, I cannot remember that good old Sir Doon hies from Devon. I think I'm driving the poor man bonkers, but better that than enraged. One of the other lads spoke:

"Devon..Isn't that part of Cornwall?"

I think he started to froth, actually froth!, at the mouth. He told all of us lounging 'round the trestle table that Devonians were rebels, had broken away from Cornwall to form their own kingdom, and that he, Doon, was a true Devon knight and sworn enemy of the Cornish, when the seneschal sauntered over with an open book and, pointing, told us, "No, Devon is a duchy of Cornwall. It says so right here," which provoked another round of swearing and protestations of Devonian independence. Doon ran off and came back shortly with a book of his own, which he opened with great fanfare and, pointing at the pictures within, said, "No, it clearly illustrates here that Devon has its own king, having broken away from Cornwall." The seneschal allowed that, Doon's book having the later publication date, the seneschal's own information must be incorrect.

Doon looked pretty chuffed.

I was pretty chuffed, too, because I got that fashion plate Sir Tor to give me the name of his tailor in London. I still have some coin in my pocket from the wedding, even if everything else from that horrid day is fortunately gone for good, so I rode off with a promise to meet up with the lads at the upcoming Salisbury tourament Earl Robert's hosting.


The lads said I was looking sharp, and I felt it. I should, for 2L's worth of clothing on top of the 4 I already had! The tournament wasn't much, compared to the extravaganzas some lords are throwing, but it's always fun to joust in the lists, and father is looking well this year. Monroe has his color back, though I don't think that limp is ever going away. Still, he's looking mighty down these days, under father's thumb, my niece dead in childbirth, his quest unfulfilled. So it goes. At least the good count is no longer pressuring me to fulfill my filial duty any more. I think, in his eyes, that the shock of my wife and newborn child dying less than a year after we wed makes my wishing to remain a bachelor entirely reasonable. Although he did mention the marshall marrying my cousin Emma shortly after Rosemeade died, but I said, "Well, that's Leo!" and we both laughed and that was that.


Bradwyn got word from his family that they were departing to their bi-annual Gloucester Versus Clarence tournament and that his participation was expected, so the lot of us said, Yeah! We'll go to back you up. Well, Gerin the Weaker and myself agreed to back Bradwyn; Doon and Cynfyn, along with a knight of Aquitaine whom Cynfyn picked up somewhere, said they'd fight for Clarence, as that is where Cynfyn was born.

I was surprised to see the grounds so crowded for just a local tournament, but then we heard that the king and queen were in attendance with what looked to be half the round table tagging along. Great! There goes the chance at the prize, a fine falcon. Do you know, at Camelot, there is an entire mew dedicated to housing the birds Sir Lancelot wins at tournaments?

But Bradwyn and Cynfyn were happy enough to have the opportunity to bash each other, and Doon was pleased to see a handful of Cornish targets for his wrath. Sir Tulga—that Aquitanian knight—said he was happy enough to see how we do things on this shore. I was happy just to be out with the boys, but at the feast after the helmet show, I overheard a voice I have not heard in years. That's right! Sir Sagramore le Desirous was in attendance, and right there in front of the assembled, I made quite a fine poem explaining to everyone why he should hate me so. Ooh, his black eyes burned!

I didn't see him during the jousting, which, before we could get started, a knight with a white shield rode up to the royal box and presented King Arthur with, he said, a gift: a large, well-made shield...painted with a gross depiction of a knight and a lady, hands joined, standing on the head of a king. We couldn't see his face clearly, but the Pendragon politely took the shield and hung it up in the back of the box. The mystery knight then rode off and Lancelot, using his riding off without leave as an excuse, rode after him. He missed the jousting altogether.

Another curious incident: during the day of individual challenges, where again, I did not see Sagramore, Sir Doon challenged one of the Cornish knights, but lost the match and quit the field. We found him shortly thereafter, sitting on the ground and crying. I knelt down and gave him a pep-talk but I roused his spirit a little too well, for the next thing I know, his burning gaze was fastened on me, and with a yell he stood up and brandished his sword at me. Well, he fought that day and was still armored, while I'd spent the day, ah, out hunting and so only had on my riding clothes. I've seen that look before, so I took off running, with the unfortunately large, fast, and enraged Doon in hot pursuit. He caught me halfway across the jousting grounds, knocking me down and tearing my new jacket!. I held him off with my sword until Sir Tulga could talk some sense into him (a thwack with the flat of a blade didn't hurt, either).

"You shouldn't do this at a tournament." Sir Tulga sounded very reasonable.

Doon tried to push past him. "I have no beef with Africa!"

But Sir Tulga kept talking to Doon, and he finally came to his senses, apologized to ripping my sleeve, and we all went back to my fancy red samite pavillion for drinks, all forgiven.

At the feast that night, Sagramore was talking big about how he was going to kick my ass in the melee. As if! I know it wasn't a courteous thing to do, and certainly not wise to do in front of the Great Duke, but he was provoking me. I stalked over to his table and threw my goblet in his face, then we fell, brawling, to the floor. I managed to break a platter across his face before I was pulled off. That was satisfying, though I ripped my new motley tights and had to have Reginald stay up half the night putting them to rights.

I didn't do well in the helmet show, despite squire Reginald's best paper-mache efforts (a lovely swan this time), and only so-so at the jousting, but when it came time for the melee...I remember Bradwyn and Cynfyn knocking each other off their horses, but when Sagramore and his buddies found Gerin and me and we set to, I didn't notice much after that. Sagramore was pretty pissed at me, but then when he looked over and saw Gerin riding his old horse...hoo-wee, I didn't think he could get more angry, but he sure did. But I finally laid him out, though in the confusion his cronies made off with Geriin's mount. That's okay! I had Reginald grab Sagramore's current mount; Sir Gerin can ride that one.

Then we all got gloriously drunk at the feast following and passed out in the hall.

[To be continued, apparently. Something about a rat to kill...?]

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