Battle for the Ring XII

 

Battle for the Ring XII should’ve been called “Holy Shit! We Made It!” instead of “Get Over Here!” I was one of three lucky ones who made it only a few hours later than intended, due to mechanical issues on my first flight. Unfortunately, that meant that I missed the setup shifts for which I had signed up. But don’t worry, I made up for it throughout the event.

I signed up for every weapons/arrow check shift during the event. I enjoyed the experience. Many hands made light work, and we got through a lot of weapons every day. People were always willing to step into empty spots, and it made me proud of our community. I was primarily working in arrow check and, after this event, would feel comfortable running arrow check for events. I got to learn a lot about different tech, new and old, and got a painful reminder not to let my bow technique get sloppy when I’m in a hurry (see: ugly bowstring bruise on my arm).

I was most nervous to serve as marshaling captain on Sunday morning. I loathe marshaling, mostly because I lack practice. The only way to practice is to do it, so I figured I might as well get my feet wet. I ran the field for two-and-a-half hours, and I’m so grateful that it went swimmingly. People were civil, and when issues arose were willing to discuss them with me, rather than throw a tantrum on the field. I appreciate you all so much. I feel much more comfortable with marshaling, and my lungs got a really good workout.

Photo courtesy of Lady Marek Photography


I did a handful of security and gate shifts. These are my favorite. Everyone should do these shifts. You get to do basically the same things you would do anyway, but help the event at the same time. Security gets to wander around camp and hang out with whomever strikes your fancy. This event was so chill, that security was just shooting the breeze with all the wonderful people at their camps.

You can’t leave gate guard, but you can bribe people to come to you with snacks, a warm fire, and good conversation. It’s event nightlife in a slightly different spot than you might normally hang out. It was such a wonderful time, I had so many good conversations, and met lots of people who filled my heart.


I didn’t fight a lot, but I was pleased with the fighting I got to do. I had a few sets of squire fights, and I went to the Valkyries meet and beat. There wasn’t enough sparring to say I picked up anything new, but it was fun to fight with some new folks. I barreled with my unit (I finally got to meet most of the members after about a year). It was so fun to get rough and tumble for a few minutes, and my unit mates are solid do no harm, take no shit kind of people. We wrapped up the Sunday night field fighting together, and hoo boy was that a blast! It is so rare in Stygia that we get a good line fight going (damn skirmishers). To be in a line with dozens of other people was a lesson in teamwork and, well… line fighting.

The final battle was [insert lion roaring here]. Every scenario battle has its technical difficulties, but this massive objective capturing bridge battle put me in my element. Joining the Great Hunt has unleashed my inner animal. With the hunger of the Dread Gods coursing through me, I took charge of a large chunk of our team and helped lead us to victory, and it felt so damn good. So much shouting, so much carnage, so invigorating.

There were TWO back-to-back knightings, both of which I was able to attend. A huge congratulations to Sir Sita Avaraa and Dame Black Rabbit the Courageous. I don’t need to know either of them to know that they are pillars of this community. The outpouring of love and admiration at both elevations spoke volumes. The ceremonies were inspirational. A wild congratulations to you both.

My biggest takeaways from the event, and the lessons I wish to share the most, are joy and courage. Find joy in volunteering. Volunteering at events is not always fun, but in my experience it is more fun than not. Make it fun. Take your friends with you. Wander around and socialize. Make new friends. Take a shift like troll or gate guard, and sit and read or craft when you’re not working. Find courage in stepping out of your comfort zone. I was dreading marshaling, but never could have imagined how much impact that couple of hours would have on my mental health. I have pretty severe conflict anxiety, which often makes being in charge of  things very stressful. The healthy conversations that happened on the field made me infinitely more comfortable, not just with marshaling, but with my day job as a supervisor, and in general.

I could gush on and on about how wonderful this event was for me, and how much I love and appreciate everyone who was there, but I don’t words will suffice to express how much the weekend replenished my heart and soul. Thank you all so much. I am eager to see you again next year.

The Great Hunt

Ever since I was a wee lass (of 22), I have been fascinated by the blood thirsty death cult that is The Great Hunt. A group of warriors dedicated to appeasing the Dread Gods, The Great Hunt it’s rich in lore and merit. Many of the greatest warriors I know serve the Dread Gods, and when Sir Thiadric Thumbs tasked me with joining the Hunt and achieving at least the rank of Hunter, I was eager to join their ranks.

I am very excited to share with you the full footage of my barrel trial to become an Acolyte of The Great Hunt, courtesy of Squire Eui the Faun.

I was nervous going into this trial, but also excited. I’ve watched other people barrel before, but I’ve never had an opportunity to do it myself. It seemed like a good opportunity to establish a benchmark of where my fighting is and where in want to go with it.

The trial was 11 fights, and I knocked it out in just over 12 minutes. The trial helped me hone my focus and efficiency against a variety of styles. It was an exhilarating experience, that showed me I can take combat seriously, pace myself, and still have fun.

I can’t wait for the next steps towards becoming a Hunter in The Great Hunt. Thank you to everyone who participated, made it challenging, and filled me with bloodlust.

Squeer

As I mentioned in my previous post, I officially began my squireship on the way home from Chaos Wars XXIII!

This is something I’ve worked towards for so long, I had no idea how it would make me feel once I reached this point on this never-ending journey. It took a few days of reflection for me to realize that I have always been working towards peerage, even in the years when I was away from the society. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons in the mundane world that will help me greatly on the path to knighthood.

It felt like stepping into my self, the self that I know I want to be, and the self I need to be to continue to grow.

As soon as I got home, I began preparing my squire garments. I cut the hand-embroidered symbol from my retainer flag and sewed it onto my new squire flag. It has pocket.

I technically purchased this squire coat, but I took almost every bit of it apart to make it into a new, more beautiful thing.

It was my first shot at applique.

It’s not perfect, but I learned and it still looks cool, so I’m pleased with it for now. This is the symbol of Sir Thiadric Thumbs on the front.

And the back.

Once I got the yellow lining in, I used pretty blue bias tape on all of the edges. I added some leather lacings up the sides for a little extra pizzazz.

And, voila!

The whole time I was working on the coat, I couldn’t stop thinking that I was making my chrysalis, cocooning myself to dissolve into goo and reemerge as something more. While this has been a goal for a long time, it is a journey that I hope will never end, and I am eager to see where it takes me next.

Of course, squireship isn’t just sew some fancy garb and you’re done. I can already say that this leg of the journey has changed me. I have been working diligently on my mental health after hitting the lowest depression I’ve ever had. Belegarth has been a huge part of pulling me out of the pit, and being a part of the peerage community is no small part of that. While I don’t want my mental health to rely on my squireship (that’s a disaster waiting to happen), it has given me the hope and drive that I need to keep my brain out of The Bad Place.

I have hit the event scene hard this summer, and I’m constantly learning how to make sure I’m having fun while working towards personal growth the growth of our community. I want to avoid burnout as much as possible, and it is important to me that I’m constantly mindful of it during this journey.

Fortunately, that endeavor has not been too difficult, yet. I love giving back to this community and being a part of making the fun happen for all of us. I love the late night conversations around the fire about how to be better and make our world better. I love the friends and family I’ve made through the society. Moral of the story, I couldn’t be more excited to continue this journey. Squire Sin said it best: “I’m prepared to be prepared and unprepared for everything simultaneously.”

Chaos Wars XXIII

Hi! Have you missed me? It’s been far too long, but I have so many things to share.

To catch you up on the major points since my last post, I attended Highland of Chaos Opener and Thaw Brawl. They were both delightful. I feel into deep depression, and I’m still trying to claw my way out. I left the service of Sir Oroku Norinaga and took up Sir Thiadric Thumbs. I helped with War of the Gate, our local weekend event. I’ve also been dealing with major depression, which has stunted my ability to do much of anything, especially on the creative side of things.

There, you’re all caught up.

I know it’s already long gone, but I want to tell you about Chaos Wars XXIII! I was so nervous leading up to the event. I haven’t done much camping and no major eventing since I went on Belegarth hiatus several years ago. To add to the pressure, I signed on to shadow Squire Antoinette as event coordinator. I received many ominous warnings that helping run an event would give me burnout when I’m not even a year back in the society.

I’m very happy to say that all of my worries were unfounded and the week reminded me why I love this society so much.

I jumped into volunteering spots every day. I spent a lot of time at troll, helped with weapons check, marshalled for tournaments, did a security shift during pub night, and even stood in as event coordinator for a few hours, so Squire Antoinette could have breaks to do things like nap and shower (what a concept). I had so much fun volunteering, and I didn’t feel burnt out by it at any point. I especially loved the opportunities volunteering afforded me to make new friends and re-connect with old ones.

One of my goals for the event was to spend time connecting with people, and exceeded my own expectations in that department. I spent hours a day meeting new people, having conversations about everything under the sun, playing games, and having blast the entire time.

One of the important conversations that came up was the need for our society to work actively against extreme hazing and abuse. I brought this discussion to the peerage council, and I was so proud to be part of the discussion that ensued. We talked about the need to stand up when pursuit of titles, entrance into a unit, or otherwise becomes demeaning or abusive, to ensure we do not perpetrate the abuse and that we do not allow ourselves to be treated that way. The discussion was supportive and constructive and made me so proud to be a part of this community.

The thing I am most excited to tell you about was a week-long process. On the way to Idaho, I spoke with Sir Thumbs and Squire Eui about where we thought the bar was for me to enter squireship. The answer we came up with was essentially “I don’t know, but I know I’m not there yet. Let’s spend this week figuring it out.” I especially wanted to understand the expectations of volunteering for, and running events before I could decide if I was ready. I asked anyone who would listen what they felt it takes to be a squire. Most of answers fell along the lines of understanding peerage and chivalry, and being prepared to dedicate the next several years to become the best Belegrim you can be. I spoke with many folks who have experience in volunteering and running events to gain an understanding of what it takes, and it made me much more comfortable in my ability to do the things required of an aspiring peer.

I am so excited to announce that when we returned to the conversation on our way home, I told Sir Thumbs that I felt ready, and he told me to make my white tabard and belt flag. I’m officially a squire (pro. squeer)!

I’ve prattled on long enough for one post, but stay tuned for more on the beginning of my squire journey!

Valkyrie Tunic

When I came back to the society in August, I was eager to clothe and arm myself as soon as possible, not to mention I had a lot of pent up creative energy. My return also coincided with the passing of my now late grandma, who happened to be an avid seamstress. It was bittersweet sorting through her mountains of fabric, but it makes my heart happy to bring a bit of my grandma into the society that I love so much. I know it would make her happy, too.

Moral of the story, I have a pile of fabrics to have fun with. I busted out my first kit – tunic, pants, and a hood – in only a week.

I made the tunic in House Valkyrie colors, and I mostly love how it turned out.

My apologies for the blurry picture, but here she is in all her glory. The purple is a pretty cheap cotton blend, and I used bias tape for the trim. I tried cutting bias tape triangles for the tricky corners, and it’s not something I’ll be doing it again. The finished trim is kind of messy.

Overall, I love this tunic and it has become my primary fighting tunic. It is light, comfortable, well- fitted, and it looks cool. I’m pleased with hope the arm holes turned out, though the neck hole could’ve been narrower. I struggle with neck holes. Something I’ll keep in mind for the future. As always, I used my favorite pointed tails, shorter in the front and longer in the back, which just looks cool. Eventually, I will embroider the symbol for House Valkyries on the chest, but it’s low on the project priority list right now.

Here it is with the drawstring pants I made with more fabric from my grandma’s collection. I’ll talk about those in a later post.

Thank you for reading! As always, feel free to hit me up with questions, comments, and requests. Until next time, have fun!

A Really Gay Shield

One of my priorities as soon as I came back to the sport was to rebuild my equipment selection. To that end, after my first practice back, I ran out to the sporting goods store (more like 4 of them, actually) to find some blue camp foam to recreate my trusty old shield.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and nature

Her name was Badbh (Irish, pronounced Bayv), and she was the happiest accident. She was a coreless spiral shield, and the first I ever made. Thanks to some weird tension issues during the gluing process (so many strips, so much DAP), she came out conical, and it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to a shield. Thanks to her convex shape and her weird X handle that I had to cobble together to keep her from imploding, she was stable as a rock. You know when people poke at the edge of your shield to open up your defense? She would have none of it. Shots bounced off at funny angles, throwing off peoples’ rhythms, and she was just sexy.

Yep, I was in love with her, and then I threw her in the trash, because I’m a fool. But, I don’t like to dwell on past mistakes, and so I set out to recreate that once proud beauty.

Having only been back in the sport for a week, I wasn’t sure where I might find the required supplies here in Missoula. As some might tell you, I am occasional too excited and impatient to stop and ask for assistance, so I trekked around town in search of blue foam and kitespar core. I had minimal success finding either. The kitespar rods I found at one of the big box stores was pretty thin, and the foam I found was…well, see for yourself.

Yeah, so…I bought it, and I promise it’s worse than it looks. It’s glorified bubble wrap. If you apply pressure to it, it pops like bubble wrap. I’m sorry for the poor sod unfortunate enough to try to sleep on it. Be that as it may, I went through with construction.

With spiraling strips of foam and a small can of DAP, I made a good go of that beautiful cone shape, but I couldn’t recreate the happy accident. The result was closer to a flat buckler with a hand cup in the middle. (I’m sure that has a proper name, and I’m sure one of you might educate me as to what it is. A cursory Google search isn’t doing the trick.) The handle, on the other hand (Ha!), was much easier to finagle with this shape. It’s finished off with a couple of flat layers of foam glued on the face of the spiral to hold it together and make it nice and foamy. I wouldn’t call it satisfactory, but it will suffice for the time being.

It did last for four months before I had to start re-gluing it in a couple of spots, which isn’t bad for what amounts to a $30 shield. The REAL joy lies in the cover I made, which is one of my favorite things I’ve made to date. BEHOLD RAINBOW!

I had this fabric in my scrap pile and decided it was exactly what I needed in my life. Throw on a wicked Celtic knot raven I traced off of DeviantArt, and you have one BAMF shield! Even when the corpse of this monstrosity is long gone, this shield cover will live on, because I’m in love with it and you will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands to make me part with it.

Anyways…The result of my first build back since my return was decidedly meh. It was far more work than is justified for the quality of what I wound up with, which is mostly due to my own lack of skills. For about $30, I got what I paid for in terms of supplies. Overall, I give this shield 2/5 stars, and that’s mostly because the cover is amazing.

If you want to know more about the specifics of the build or you have something you would like me to review, drop a comment down below, or send me a messenger raven.