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More than 50 courageous fighters, including fourteen members of the Chivalry, and some of their companions braved the wrath of the Ice Dragon to face one another in a day made for building camaraderie and honing the skills of Æthelmearc’s Army. However, much to the surprise of many, not just one Kingdom was represented by those in attendance at the Regional Heavy Weapons Practice on Sunday, December 14, but FOUR! His Majesty Titus and His Highness Timothy were greatly pleased at the turnout and very honored to have guests from the East, Meridies and Caid join in the fun.

The day was a balance of planned melee scenarios interspersed with time for individual combat. As the fighters began to arrive on site, they donned their armor and regionalproceeded to warm up with some one on one sparring. Syr Stefan Ulfkelsson started the planned scenarios with a discussion on friendly calibration. Clearly the goal of the Kingdom is to have as many able-bodied fighters to take the field this next season as possible. More importantly, we don’t want to hurt our friends by setting the calibration levels too high.

The first scenario was a simple warm-up that broke the fighters up into two sides to DSC04247fight each other. This was followed by a melee scenario that split the fighters into six teams. Two teams would be called to face off against each other. While one team was finishing off the other, another team would be called in to fight the remaining victors. As fighters were eliminated during the scenario, they regrouped with other members of their original team and waited to be called into the fray once more. The purpose of the scenario was to practice small group tactics, communication, and promote battlefield awareness.

The second scenario combined the original teams into three groups. Each group took turns being the attacker.  They would then reset and defend against the next group. The final set of scenarios was a series of resurrection battles with three of the teams on a side. In between breaks, the field was changed to force the sides to adapt to different challenges posed by the new terrain.

During the final break and after action discussion, Christian Goldenlok, one of the newest fighters in the Kingdom, took a moment to address the gathered fighters to encourage them to attend organized practices throughout the Kingdom “If the east travels west, the west should travel east. If the south travels to go north, the north should come south. Thats how we get better, collectively.” His words were greeted with much applause from those gathered. Indeed, many of the fighters not local to the Barony of Delftwood carpooled to attend the day’s practice.

Syr Stefan remarked at the end of the day that the enthusiasm shown by the fighters was “Awesome!” He was impressed that three fighters from West Virginia drove over seven hours to participate. “If we continue at this pace we are only going to improve overall as a Kingdom and individuals. Ultimately my goal is to leave a better army than I found. We were good but I always expect better of myself and encourage it on others,” he added with a smile.

Several fighters remarked that it was great to meet and spar against people they rarely get to face on the field. They also were very appreciative to the members of the Order of the Chivalry who were able to give them personal instruction. King Titus spoke as he came off the field for the day that it was Awesome to see so many fighters present. He also was greatly pleased at the effective training provided by the melee scenarios and the one on one sparring. “My thanks to the Barony of Delftwood and Prince Timothy and everyone who put work into making this practice a reality. My thanks to everyone who traveled from across the Kingdom to attend.” It seemed the smiles on everyone’s face at the end of the day echoed His Majesty’s words “It was lots of fun.” “Wonderful!” Sir Jamal Damien Marcus, our visitor from Caid, exclaimed as he shared his thoughts. “A lot of rust was exercised out with today’s scenarios and what a good way to form camaraderie.”

It is certain many friendships were strengthened and new ones formed this day. This was especially true for Colin of Meridies who was participating in his first SCA activity. He spoke of the first charge in melee stating “You can see yourself back in time on a real battlefield. That is the draw for me. I really appreciate the opportunity I had to fight Syr Stefan. He showed me a lot of techniques that are not naturally intuitive and you don’t see on T.V. Everyone is very friendly, willing to spend the time to answer all the questions you have. Having this as my first day, I can see why people say the SCA is like one big family.”

Prince Timothy was beaming as he commented “This exceeded my expectations. The turnout of fighters on a snowy day in Delftwood was more than I could have asked for. The positive energy in Æthelmearc is amazing.” Prince Timothy also encouraged those who participated to attend as many of the Regional practices as possible. He stated that with the Pennsic format there would be many champion slots available for hungry fighters. Just because you had the honor of being chosen for one of those slots last year was no guarantee that you would be automatically selected this year. He is going to be looking at those fighters who show the drive and determination to get out and attend the Regional practices as being worthy to represent Æthelmearc. Baron Vladisla Nikulich, Captain of last year’s victorious ten man unbelted team, echoed his words saying “just because I was on the team last year doesn’t mean that I am automatically going be on it this year.”

So the question for those fighters who were not in attendance, where were you?