Last months Vintage Tale, A Gatalop to Remember, was a rerun, for which I apologize, however the rest has reinvigorated me. I have been thinking about events from the earlier days of Meridies, and what follows are some tales from The Great Games, an event Axemoor used to host in the Spring.
The Great Game was an arduous test of fighting skill and endurance. At the start of the game, a fully armed and armored fighter was timed as he ran a quarter mile. At the end of the leg, the fighter was given sixty seconds to catch his breath, then he had to fight a "corner man" who was not competing in the tourney. At the end of the fight, win or loose, the fighter had to run another quarter mile, and so on until he had completed four runs followed by four fights.
The winner was determined by a combination of fights and time around the course. For instance; a fighter with a total of three wins and ten minutes around the course was ranked ahead of a fighter with two wins and nine minutes around the course.
Sir Francois Duvant won the Great Game several times with no losses. At one game, however, Lord Cedric of Yorke, who was fighting a corner, defeated Sir Francois. This pleased Cedric greatly for, as he told people afterward, "This is only the second time I've ever been able to defeat Sir Francois!"
At the revel that evening, Sir Francois sought out Cedric and told him, "You're getting really good Cedric. I'm going to have to start fighting you full speed." There is no way to describe the look of despair on Cedric's face when he realized that Sir Francois had been taking it easy on him.
Another Cedric of Yorke story from the Games concerns a rather unobservant fighter. Cedric had defeated the fighter in the Game, and then several times during pick up fights after the tourney. Sunday morning, some fighters were sparing and Cedric encountered the man again.
Cedric had just defeated the man yet again, and they were squaring off for another round, when the fighter suddenly stopped, dropped out of his stance, and exclaimed "That's it, you're left handed!" The fighter ran away form the bout and refused to engage Cedric again!
At the feast at one of the Great Games one of the menu items was entrails. This dish was made of dried fruit strung together, dipped in a greenish batter and baked. The final dish did rather resemble intestines and it prompted one of the diners to ask, "What is this, really?"
"It's the losers from this afternoons tourney," I replied. Considering the grueling nature of the contest I'm sure that many participants felt that they had indeed left their guts on the trail.
One of the most memorable tales from the Game concerns Baron Beorn Collenfehrth. One day, after the tourney, his Excellency was expounding to a couple of fighters under the shade of a live oak. As he was elucidating, Beorn made a gesture at about waste level and felt his steel gauntlet bump into something. Beorn thought he had bumped the tree and thought no more about it. In fact, he had hit the forehead of his daughter Jenny who had, unbeknownst to him, come up and stood beside his Excellency.
Jenny didn't make any complaint but simply walked off and wandered into the kitchen where the ladies of Axemoor were preparing the feast. Baroness Antonia Martin de Castilla was the first to spot Jenny and the bruise on her forehead. "Jenny, what happened?" the good baroness asked.
"My Daddy hit me," was the child's reply.
Now, Sir Beorn is a veteran of two combat tours in Viet Nam, but he says he never knew true terror until he saw the ladies of Axemoor come piling out of the kitchen, knives in hand, to demand an explanation of why he was beating up on his daughter.