Here’s another in our continuing (two counts as continuing, right?) series of alternate histories. This one involves a different kind of revolt…
Pacifism wrapped in duct tape. That’s what they called it. P.C. (Period Correct) culture had run wild, they said. The history of the Pax Æthelmearcus League (PÆL) was written in the fake blood of simulated martyrs. Few recall it now, and those that do shudder to speak of it. The trauma of those trying times never seems to grow as dim with the passing years as we do. But I will tell you. I will tell you because our mock struggle meant something, dammit. We dreamed of a Middle Ages as it should have been…
The movement gained momentum slowly at first. It began with a few rogue Laurels like Mistress Chrestienne de Waterdene and Master Valgardr Gunnarsson, who said they were tired of the incessant, faux-killing and imitation mayhem every Pennsic. Every year the same people would feign being brutally slaughtered, again and again. Had it been actual battle, it would have been absolutely horrifying. We had had enough.
There had been too much bruising. There had been too many strains and wrenched joints. We had had our fill of tending the mildly injured with Tiger Balm and homemade beer. Our gorge would rise at the thought of one more case of dehydration. We were weary of carrying the weight of the Kingdom’s cultural legacy like so many milk jugs of diluted Gatorade while so many of our youth were mindlessly indoctrinated into a cult of pretend violence.
Our made-up angst was simmering toward boiling. Mistress Charmaine of Falkensee wept for the pseudobrutality that would, if this were actual reality, have been visited on those who might have existed, but did not. Master Bedwyr Danwyn’s affectations of righteous rage would surely have led to some sort of not unexplosive action had they been genuine expressions of passion, but it was yet to be. The Rhydderich Hael Galligraphers’ Guild was a crackling maelstrom of counterfeit vehemence, but without true false focus. It was only when the Kingdom Ministers of A&S, Master Fridrikr Tomasson and Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona, became vocal proponents of our fabricated cause that it really hit its stride, and took flight like some sort of kite shaped like a bird or something.
At Ice Dragon, the artisans, bolstered by the brewing entries, attempted a boycott of the pentathlon until the fighters and fencers agreed to cease and desist their fictitious aggression. Mistress Felicitas Fluβmüllnerin, Mistress Alicia Langland, and their apprentices were some of the first to fall in this action – of terminal ennui. When this fanciful act of civil disobedience failed, the Pelicans and their protégés stormed the field at War Practice, vowing to drag the mock-combatants to the Great Hall and force them to actually wash the very real breakfast dishes, but they were repulsed by the water-bearers and siege engineers in a concocted rout so vicious that many good gentles swore never to eat breakfast again. Master Creador Twinedragon, Mistress Ekaterina Volkova, and their associates took many artificial casualties as they pretend-fought on both sides of this spurious argument.
Finally, at Pennsic 47, the forces of PÆL could take no more, and what had been a series of inauthentic skirmishes erupted into make-believe, full-scale, peaceful violence.
Naturally, it was the Heralds who led the charge, meticulously correctly emblazoned banners flying. They’d had enough of people who knew no difference between “vivat” and “vivant,” blaming the fighters for the Kingdom’s ignorance on a matter of such dire import. As former Silver Buccle Herald, Master Fridrikr organized them into a cohesive unit that, along with the cooks, weavers, blacksmiths, bards, leatherworkers, scribes, embroiderers, and seamsters, took down every Knight and MoD on the field with an affected efficiency so whimsically ruthless that some even doubted its falsity. Master Will Parris, Earl Marshal, and Duke Christopher Rawlins, Kingdom Seneschal, joined forces with groups like House Sable Maul, the Confed troops, House Arindale, Hus Fearhaga, the Southern Watch, and the Tuchux, but to no avail. Who knew that artisans had so many potentially yet dubiously deadly weapons? Well, Master John Michael Thorpe knew….
After lengthy debate, the Promptly Contrived PÆL Co-Prosperity Council (PCPCPC) chose to spare the Grandmaster Bowmen and Marksman on the grounds that they targeted inanimate objects, not combatant personas, much to the relief of Baron Edward Harbinger and Master Antonio de Luna. However, the combat archers were ersatz-condemned with the rest (though Mistress Zoe Akropolitina didn’t go down without a fight).
And that, my children, is the fiercely imaginary and mythically savage history of how Pennsic 47 became the first true “Peace” fake “War.” No more would Scadians live in figmental fear that a chunk of rattan or an overly whippy rapier might temporarily end their personas’ supposed lives. No more would our children learn the ways of delusory war. Simulated swords were beaten into rather splintery and ineffectual ploughshares, and the land of Æthelmearc finally knew real peace.
This alternate history is brought to you by Master Daniel del Cavallo and Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope, who dream of a world that never was, but maybe someday could be…. Happy April Fool’s Day!