The year 1993 Gregorian marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Kingdom of Meridies. It was a celebration that I’m sure neither Isolde nor I will ever forget.
The site for the celebration was the Hadji Temple Shrine which was the location for Arenal’s Arabian nights event. Arabian Nights was usually held over the July 4th weekend, but that year they used that weekend for the kingdom anniversary celebration. The shrine, a huge piece of fantasy Arabian architecture, is quite large enough to hold fighting inside.
The one drawback to the site is that it doesn’t have much in the way of sleeping accommodations. With several hundred people expected for the celebration, camping on the grounds was strongly encouraged. Isolde and I elected to camp with the rest of Seleone, and feast off board.
Saturday there was to be a tournament in the morning and two courts in the afternoon. The first court was to be a pageant of the history of the Kingdom of Meridies with a precedence march of the peers as the grand finale. The peers were supposed to march in with their guidons displayed, and I was going to be in the march carrying Mistress Isolde’s device.
While the peers and their standard bearers were, with usual grumbling, waiting for the heralds to organize the march, Mistress Vashti came up to me, gave me a warm greeting hug, and said, “Congratulations Finn.”
Somewhat puzzled, I responded, “Thank you very much Mistress but what are you congratulating me for?”
Suddenly Vashti started to furiously back peddle, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m confusing you with someone in our group who so going to receive an award today. Think nothing of it.”
The only way I could forget it, of course, is if I had submitted to brain surgery. Something was obviously afoot and if a Laurel had prior knowledge of it, I could think of only one thing: they were going to elevate me to the Laurels for my wine making. Cold terror suddenly gripped my insides.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not that I do not wish to be a Laurel, it’s just that my feelings about it are quite ambivalent. I would like to be a Laurel, but I’m not really comfortable with the idea of everyone looking to me as an expert, and I’m not really sure my courtly behavior is always up to standard.
As court progressed the weather outside started to reflect the turmoil I was feeling inside. The skies darkened and the thunder growled outside the hall. Around the time that the precedence march started the storm broke. It was a typical Gulf Coast thunderstorm, which is to say that it was very violent, with drenching rain, terrific wind gusts, and dazzling lightning. Isolde and I holed up in the hall for the storms duration and during the break between the courts returned to the campsite to survey the damage.
As a whole, the Seleone encampment had weathered the storm well, but there were some notable exceptions, one of the exceptions was our tent. The tent had done an admirable job of keeping the rain out, but the wind was so strong that it drove the rain between the tent floor and the ground cloth. The waterproof ground cloth, which is supposed to keep damp from rising into the tent, held the water in small depressions so it soaked into the tent and its contents.
Isolde and I changed out of our period foot wear and court finery and with the help of the other Seleoners started to break down and dry out our tent. By the time we finished, evening was coming on and I was looking forward to hot food, good friends, and several goblets of wine. I had just started to pour the first of those goblets when Baron Ragnar Kaupmadr strode into camp, “You have been called into court,” he said somewhat breathlessly. In the aftermath of the storm I had forgotten about the Damoclesian sword that was poised above my head.
Isolde reacted first by asking, “Which one of us?”
“Both of you,” was the Barons reply. This had me rather confused: I suspected why I was to be called before their Majesties, but Isolde seemed genuinely surprised that she was being called too.
One can not ignore a summons from the King, so dressed as we were, we returned to the hall. When we got there, the Heralds summoned us into the presence and we proceeded down the aisle to the accompaniment of the squishing of our sodden sneakers. As we knelt before Their Majesties Bryan and Aerin, his majesty told the assembled populace that our years of good work had not gone unnoticed and that They were therefore minded to create us Baron and Baroness of the Court.
To say that we were stunned was an understatement, to this day I can not remember what, if anything I said. His majesty then asked if Isolde and I would join them at the high table for feast.
When I returned to camp to retrieve our feast gear I found that the news had traveled at the speed of sound back to the Seleone encampment. After accepting congratulations, I had thought to change into something more fitting for feasting with crowned heads. I decided, however, that if sneakers and an old tunic were good enough to receive a coronet in, they were good enough for the high table, and so they were.