Mistress Beth Carpenter of Rye, ready for a feast
Arthur the Traveler at a very much younger age that in this story.
In 1995, the Baron’s Feast was again held in Irvine Regional Park. If these quests ring a bell with you and you think you were one of the kids or parents of any, leave a comment below. We have so very few photographs from these days, as film and processing were quite expensive in those days.
We were beset by Orcs immediately! The smell of their blood was strong in the air, as they sprang from the trees by the wayside. Our Vanguard and our Rearguard quickly dispatched them to their reward, whatever that might be for an Orc.
Orcs' blood smells like charcoal lighter fluid.
Arthur the Traveler, Andrew Buckles, doubled as the Ugly One of any band of enemies. Davidus the Roman could be the Tall One in any crowd. Simon the Barbarian was my son Simon. Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee was Michelle Sevigny. Others will retain their anonymity. Mistress Beth Carpenter of Rye was me.
We traveled on. For days we journeyed. Finally climbing the steep bank ahead of us, we realized that it was a High Way, though no Village was within sight. Only herds of cattle bore down upon us. On one side of the High Way was the grassy plain we had just traversed; the other fell away into a vast plain of rocks, mayhap a riverbed, though scant water flowed there now. As we traveled, we became aware of divers flowers lining the Way. Mistress Beth recognized them as Enchanted Blooms that, when picked, cause the plunderer to fall into a Hundred Years Sleep! All the travelers, even Robin the Mage, were advised to stay away.
Yes, flowers, just flowers. But the kids wanted to pick them all, so the warning was issued. The herds of cattle were families out on 4-person bikes.
Gazing into the vast expanse of rocks in the riverbed, we noted huge and weathered ribs, obviously Dragon ribs! So this is what had become of the Dragon we had followed to his Cave last season! Suddenly overhead, we could hear the roaring of another Dragon. Mistress Beth reasoned that it must be the mate of the Dragon, roaring her grief. But, as the day was overcast, we could only speculate.
Dragon bones might be mistaken for branches and limbs washed by the river last time it flowed. The live dragon might be thought to be airplanes.
Whilst searching for a likely way to cross the riverbed, Andrew the Traveler helped all the weaker of us down the steep path descending toward the river. As we walked aloaang the sandy riverside path, Arthur the Traveler discovered quicksand! All passed safely, except Mistress Beth who, in typical fashion, became enmired. But the Vanguard pulled and the Rearguard pushed, and she was saved. Just beyond the quicksand, another band of orcs spotted the Vanguard, and all armed warriors rushed to defend the weapon less among us. Defeat of the orcs was swift. Robin the Mage, however, was struck down by the Orc Magician; with Death imminent, Mistress Beth located the necessary curative herb and Robin was restored!
As we rounded a bend in the riverbed, we came upon a huge grave! Easily 20’ long, it was clearly the grave of a giant. We deduced that it was the grave of a female by the weathered comb, with the straggling strands of her hair still upon it! We all spread out to search for a marker on the grave. Mistress Beth discovered the name “Lara” inscribed on an upright stone.
The grave of Lara was an eroded mound in the riverbed, deposited by the river in flood. While the children were searching around, Mistress Beth inscribed the name on an handy stone with chalk, and then “discovered” it. Lara’s comb was a bleached branch and her hair the grasses caught upon it.
Imagine then the thrill of our shock when we traveled to the very head of the grave and discovered the skull of the giantess, weeping over her own grave; her huge snaggle teeth bit into the riverbed and the tears that ran down her fleshless cheeks flowed into the river. A more horrible sight can only be imagined.
The weeping skull of Lara was part of the roadbed / bridge over the riverbed, where culverts allow the water through. Built of large stones concreted together, two openings allowed the flow of “tears” and the stones were easily giant’s teeth.
We deduced that the giantess had been slain, and lay unavenged, though half-buried. With a shudder of terror, we marched on, now knowing that it lay upon us to avenge Lara, lest she take her revenge upon us. Hurrying away from the morbid scene, we hastened toward the deep woods beyond the river. In our haste, we neglected to keep our usual watch and were beset by terrible brigands, screaming curses and waving their blood- thirsty swords about their heads! Though terror stricken, our small band rallied bravely and began to defend ourselves. The battle that followed was horrific in its fierceness. Robin the Mage had seen Death Marks earlier, and we only had hope that the death foretold was that of the evil brigands and not of our band.
As the brigands attacked, all our band was laid senseless, saving only the very young Elizabeth, whose courage and quick barrage of blows saved our motley band. She rained metal death upon the tallest of the evil pair, and then she moved on to the ugly one. The ensuing fight was long and fierce and a deadly dance of death. But in the end, the ugly one’s body lay uglier still in a pool of his own gore. Our band recovered from our swoons and moved on.
We reached the foot of an enormous mountain, so tall as to block out the sun. Suddenly, from the shadows, emerged two fierce warriors, defenders of the giant, brandishing polearms of prodigious length! Again young Elizabeth came to our rescue! Her slight height enabled her to duck beneath the polearm of the taller of the warriors, slicing his belly like a pig at autumn slaughter. With determination, she beat back the ugly warrior, dispatching him with a resounding blow to the head. And again, she saved the day!
The sleeping giant was the hill itself, cliffs across the river in the park. It really is a steep climb with a wonderful view. Arthur and Davidus gave us battle once more, no longer as orcs.
But our quest had an amazing ending. As we approached the mountain, we came to realize that it was the actual body of the giant, Lara’s husband, sound asleep, believing himself protected by his minion warriors. As a band, we swarmed up his mighty arm to the top of his shoulder, and looked out at the world, from this commanding height. Woe to the Evildoer and high praise to the avenging band! With pure heart, firm in our faith in the justice of our cause, but with no joy in the killing, each of the band took sword in hand and, with enormous effort, hacked at the neck of the giant. It fell to Simon the Barbarian to strike the final, yea, even the death blow. The giant lay lifeless beneath us. The rivers of reeking blood ran from his evil heart to soak the ground for miles around.
Upon leaving the crimson scene of death and revenge for Lara, we saw a black crow upon a white rock, an unmistakable portent of our success—Lara’s messenger from the World Beyond, telling us now that she lay at rest. We made our way camp ward, exhausted but elated by our quest.
The quests here described were undertaken with the children of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Kingdom of Caid, Barony of Guildenholt, the the mid-1990s, when I was the head of the children’s group, the Caidan Crescents. Our quests were completely unscripted and followed whatever landscape or activity we chanced across. I had not read any Tolkien, though it sure sounds like it. This was my attempt using similar fairy tale sources as his. Needless to say, I had not read "A Game of Thrones" either. We really did see a crow.
I wrote these stories after the event and gave copies to the parents of the participants. In the SCA, Caid is Southern California, Gydenholt is Orange County; if you are interested in playing dress-up and medieval role playing, go to www.sca.org