Even with the unseasonably warm October we were having it got downright chilly overnight and anything not covered (i.e. my face) got pretty cold. We begrudgingly got out from under the warm sleeping bad and quickly got dressed and joined the Uruk crew for breakfast. Crow, one of the youngest at the event at 18, was already going nuts on the stove making bacon, eggs, and fried potatoes for anyone who took him up on the offer. The kid had a pretty infectious enthusiasm and kept us entertained through the event.
In the middle of breakfast this bellowing echoes out through the camp about weapons check and registering at troll. (We'd been unable to register the night before because they were closed when we arrived) Geryn's got a set of lungs on him and was good at keeping everyone informed of the when activities started, and generally ran a tight ship. I dropped my swords off feeling pretty confident they'd pass check and they easily passed. Grabbed our chompy skull tokens, finished eating, and it was time to head up to the field.
I wasn't sure what to expect when we headed up to the field but it looked like most other sporting events you see played on a Saturday, with supporters parked to the side of a soccer-sized field lined with equipment. Only the participants are dressed in tunics and leather armor, and some of the supporters garbed up as well.
I picked up a breastplate with pauldrons and a pair of greaves that Breeder was selling, so I got to go into my first event armored up. I understand most veteran fighters suggest that newbs not fight with armor so they can get used to taking hits, but it made the event that much better to hit the field wearing armor. There's just nothing like it. I got my armor checked out and approved, and Kain was even nice enough to adjust the back lacing to fit me a little better.
The Heralds started us off with rotating teams of 6, 8, and 10 against the field as people started showing up. Almost immediately I was rushed by two red wielders and knocked backwards, breaking one of my thumbnails in the fall. I'll admit that shook me up and for a second I wondered if I was ready for the level of contact Bel encourages. I taped up the thumb so the nail wouldn't snag on anything and headed back out, though, and started getting into the flow of things.
I'll be the first to admit I'm a pretty rough fighter. I've read about general concepts in martial arts and MMA, and even a little fencing, but I had no real practice other than the 4 or 5 practices we had the chance to get out to before the event. I died. Often. But I was having a blast. Going up against the varied fighting styles on the field gave me a chance to die in nearly every conceivable way, from being double legged by a spear, hit with an arrow, red-axed to the back, to the cheap death at the call of "Cutthroat!" We broke for a quick lunch, headed to camp for sandwiches, and then returned to the fields for the rest of the day.
By far my favorite time fighting was during the scenario battle. A square was roped off in blue rope in the middle of the field to represent water. No armored fighters could go through and everyone else had to kneel their way through it. There were narrow bridges to either side of the water, with voids on the outer edges you couldn't cross. We played capture the flag with the field marked out like this and it's what probably hooked me on the game for good. I had been fighting florentine up to this point because we haven't had the materials or time to make shields yet but Ceowulf was nice enough to let me borrow his amazing plastidip shield for the battle. There's not much that compares to standing in a narrow shield line on a bridge with spears bristling above and in front of you, edging closer to the other side to try to break a hole through for your teammates.
By this point I had gotten over my earlier fear and shield-pushed my way into the other lines, typically dying but disrupting things enough that our guys were able to take the bridge. I'd head back to respawn, wait for 4 other guys, then we'd head out and do it again. At one point I ran across the field in full gear to do the same with the flag guards, shield-pushing, dying, and helping our side get a capture in the process. I think that's what sticks with me. Even though I wasn't a great fighter one on one I was still useful to my teammates. Breaking shield lines, finding holes and flanking the enemy, I always tried to find some way to help.
After the scenario battle was done the group split with the Uruk-Hai holding a tournament or test, I didn't quite catch what it was, while the rest of us played zombie. A few fighters groaned at the announcement but being new to all of this, I even had fun playing that for a bit. I was pretty exhausted by this point and took over baby-duty and gave Autumn a chance to fight. Most of her time was spent in the no-armor, single-blue ditching they had towards then end and she had the chance to meet some people while out fighting. From my vantage point, and from all the pictures I grabbed, she didn't seem to do too bad.
The fighting started to wind down and so we headed back to camp to change garb for the feast. Before we changed the Uruk-Hai gathered to initiate a new member, Cougar, into their ranks. We caught it all on video and I was very impressed with how he held his own against guys twice his size. Serious respect for Cougar.
We donned our feast garb and made a quick circuit around camp getting pictures of tents and banners while there was still light. We made our way to the pavilion set up for dinner where Bacchus explained his many and varied collection of fedoras, and sat chatting with folks until dinner was served. Somehow Popeye's Chicken seemed fitting for Samhain in Aquilonia and it ended up being delicious.
We eventually made our way back to the Uruk-Hai campfire again and sat chatting and laughing until we couldn't stay awake any longer. We were woken up before dawn by some folks still laughing and chatting around the fire. I feel bad because we shushed them and later found out from Eunuch that there are typically quiet camp areas for fighters with children. Sorry for interrupting the revelry, Uruks, we'll be sure to set up in an area better suited for our needs next time.
The last day was mostly pulling up stakes and hugging folks goodbye. I think what I took away from the event was how kind nearly everyone was. Geryn for cutting us some slack on jeans because we'd been fighting less than a month, Loptr and Breeder for becoming fast friends, Kain for helping with my new armor and even offering chocolate milk, Jonesy for feeling like she need to hug me after a solid headshot, Ceowulf for letting me borrow his shield, Alyrae for spending time giving Autumn pointers on the sidelines, Crow, Eunuch, and Fork for the great conversations, the Forsaken guys for being patient in their rules explanation to a newb, and the Barad-Dun guys for being great teammates during the bridge battle.
There will certainly be more events in our future.