It all started just as one would expect. Letters of Intent were sent in and reviewed, none were declined, and all the combatants and their consorts assembled on the appointed day.
The MOLs were quite pleased that there were exactly 16 fighters in the list, so the perfect double elimination tree was drawn up. While the skies looked ominous, it wasn’t raining… yet.
The procession of fighters and their consorts was held with much pomp and panoply, though the heralding in of Lord Marius Sittius as a “dark and menacing figure of malevolence, only tempered by the angelic nature of his wife, Lady Alita” did raise some eyebrows.
The first round started. Lord Sittius and his opponent, THLord Darri inn Valski, agreed to fight polearm. When Lay On was called, as Sittius wound up for a mighty overhead swing, Darri raised his glaive to block… and said “Owww!” To Sittius’ credit, he checked the swing without making contact. Darri had dislocated his shoulder when he threw his arms up for the block. Duke Christopher, who is mundanely an ER physician, had seen this kind of thing before and got the shoulder back in its socket, but Darri retired from the field.
What happened next is a bit of a mystery. While the MOLs were working out the pairings for the next round, Sir Thorsol Solinauga and Sir Beatrix Krieger, who were fighting for each other as usual, both withdrew from the Crown list. Some have opined that they must have had some disagreement that meant that they did not want to sit the thrones together. Others say it must have been some of the food that they shared. This correspondent has also heard that one of them drank all the port and cider the night before, and the empty cooler was discovered during the break to much recrimination.
While walking across the field to the list table, Lord Láegaire Mac Conaill found a chuckhole that nobody else had noticed until that point. Duke Christopher was once again called to give first aid. The hole was filled in, but Lord Láegaire withdrew with a twisted ankle.
Lord Robert MacEwin of Thornhill found the pollen from the trees surrounding the site set off his allergies so badly that by the second round he could not see well enough to continue. He went to the list table to withdraw from the tournament. As he walked away, he was heard grumbling something about ‘tree sex’.
The clouds were lowering, but still the rain held off. Suddenly, as Duke Timothy and Sir Murdoch sat chatting between rounds under His Grace’s pavilion, a lightning strike hit a tree in the woods behind them. While neither of them was badly hurt, the shock induced cramps in both men’s legs, causing them to withdraw from the tourney as well. The pavilions were quickly taken down, and the rest of the tourney was moved indoors, resulting in quite a delay.
Then Duke Maynard received a message from off-site. A relative had been taken to the hospital with appendicitis. His departure from the event was slowed only by his informing the Crown of his withdrawal as he armored down. His friends had to collect his armor and return it to him the next day. His family member has since made a full recovery.
Sir Maghnus de Cnoc an Iora, Lady Svava of St. Swithin’s Bog, and THLord Cid Hiyo had lost in the first round, and when they again lost in the second, they were out of the running. Duke Sven Gunnarsson, Baron Cormacc Mac Gilla Brigde, Sir Finn Marland O’Shannon, and Lord Sittius had all won their second bouts, so they continued on, but the depletion of the list due to withdrawals left only these four still in the running.
Baron Cormacc and Sir Finn went out to fight their bout. During the second exchange of blows, Sir Finn seemed to lose track of which set of rules he was working under, and tackled Baron Cormacc, knocking him to the ground. A hold was called, Sir Finn immediately offered apologies, and withdrew from the tourney since it was the only honorable thing to do. As Cormacc was recovering, he realized that when Finn’s helmet collided with his, it had broken one of the bars in his grill. A search was made to find a helmet that would fit him but none were large enough, and His Excellency, too, had to withdraw.
During the delay while activities were moved indoors and the MOLs were adjusting the brackets, Duke Sven and Duke Marcus had been discussing something in Swedish. Duke Marcus offered a toast and each downed their Aquavit. Then Duke Sven offered another toast, and so on…
When the list was finally set for the final round, Sittius and Sven were summoned by the herald. Sven stood to get his helmet, but then quickly sat back down. He had been drinking on an empty stomach while slightly dehydrated, and had misjudged the potency of his libations. Whether it was he who decided to withdraw, or Duchess Siobhan who said he was done, there was no question that he was in no state to fight.
The Kingdom Seneschal, Duke Christopher, who had watched all of this in disbelief, requested an urgent meeting with the Crown and the Earl Marshal, Master Morien. A lot of things had gone awry, but each withdrawal had been for what seemed to be reasonable cause. In the end, only one person was left on the field who had not withdrawn or lost two bouts in the tourney. They asked the Silver Buccle Herald, THLady Sophie Davenport, to make the announcement.
And that is how Lord Marius Sittius became the Dark Prince of Æthelmearc.
I, for one, welcome our new Dark Overlord, and hope Princess Alita will restrain his more bloodthirsty impulses.