I have a list of ideas for these vintage tales. Each idea has a potential title; some also have a note in case the title is not sufficient to jog my memory. This particular title had a note behind it which said, “To be written if I ever become a Laurel.”
The reason for that note was in case some members of the circle might be offended at the content. I did not want any supporters I might have in the circle to have to defend any perceived lack of respect on my part. Now the time has come to write this tale.
Vintage tale #15, A Unique Challenge, concerned itself with the exploits of a Lord I identified only as Lord A. This lord had grievously insulted the Baron Axemoor and had hidden behind a carte blanche to avoid the righteous wrath of the Axemoor boys. When the carte blanche was rescinded he managed to avoid retribution for a year before being cornered at a Hammerhold event. There, squire Esteban threw a challenge at Lord A’s feet which was not a gauntlet, but a chicken with its throat cut!
About a year after the chicken challenge, Lord A and his lady moved from Meridies to Eastrealm. We here in Meridies pretty much forgot about the man, but it seems that in Eastrealm, Lord A seized the opportunity to make a fresh start and made a good name for himself.
A few years after the chicken challenge, I attended a crown tourney hosted by the Barony of Iron Mountain. I was sitting in a porch at a cabin when Lady Elspeth of Harilow came up to me. “Finn, did you hear about Lord A?” she asked. They have just made him a Laurel in Eastrealm!”
I knew nothing about the good name that Lord A had evidently made in Eastrealm and said the first thing that popped into my head (always a bad idea). “But the man is a complete asshole!”
At this point, Sir John of Ean Airgead, who was sitting to my left said, “Well, I’ve always thought so, but being a knight I did not think it was proper to say anything.”
“That’s why you’re a peer and I am not,” I said. “I haven’t learned to keep my mouth shut.” You would have thought that with such a lesson I would have learned to guard my comments, and for the most part I did.
There were still times when I became upset that I tended to forget myself, however. One such occasion occurred several years later when I was attending a Diamond Wars in the Barony of Small Gray Bear.
This particular Diamond Wars featured a period potable contest. I had decided to enter a pyment that I had made. Pyments are a very period drink made by adding honey to red wine during fermentation in order to increase the alcohol content. The result is a strong if somewhat odd tasting beverage.
I was expecting to get some criticism for the strange taste of the potable but when I got the judging back I was rather taken aback by the comment: “A little too dry. Add some syrup to it and age it another year to bring out the flavor.”
I was so upset that the judge obviously could not objectively evaluate a dry wine that I again said the first thing that occurred to me: “This is a properly made, properly aged pyment. Don’t tell me how to make wine, boy.”
In the ensuing years I eventually learned to make sure that the brain was engaged before operating the mouth. Increasingly there was talk of Finn Normansson receiving a Laurel. As Far as I could tell the talk was all outside the Circle.
One day, at dance class, a Lady of our shire became most wroth about this matter. “Finn,” she said, “why don’t they make you a Laurel? This is ridiculous; you are the best winemaker in this kingdom and have been for many years. Why don’t they give you a Laurel?”
Now I have been asked that before and knew that the proper answer is something self-effacing like, “When I’m good enough, they will elevate me.”
However, since we were in the heart of Seleone; I knew that there wasn’t much chance of it getting back to the Circle. I couldn’t help answering, “Maybe it’s because I’m sleeping with only one member of the circle.” That’s the real reason they were reluctant to elevate me. As the old saying goes, “They don’t send donkeys to college because no one like a wise ass.”