It was morning and the first full day for the event. He would be needed later in his official capacity, but for now all was quiet in the world about him. He stood looking down between the evergreens and the now leaf barren maples, into the river valley. A train on the far bank wound its way to the north from the great city; and as if staged for his enjoyment, a large tug pulled a string of what appeared to be empty barges down river. There was no ice in the river yet, but soon enough this far north would have the Coast Guard doing their runs to keep the river clear for as long as possible. As he watched the barges winding their way around the bend in the river, he though how they were more likely going to end up sitting in the narrows or nearby to be re-filled and dragged back up river once more before the ice did come. There was a peace around him, as inside things seeking to disturb his morning reverie, spun into his mind's eye only for him to cast aside and return to his most private thoughts and desires dark as they were. Spending a cold night, atop an between the bed of furs as was his want, did things to a man, and the stress and strain of the modern world seemed to be set aside.
The Chill of the morning air, combined with the light snow fall from the previous night provided for a quiet start to the day. Sounds rising from the river valley below masked the soft crunch of his boots as he turned round and walked past the quiet lodge, towards the list field. The padded gambeson he wore this morning help provide warmth in addition to the protection it was intended for. Others arriving for the inspection took no note of him, they were mostly the younger up and coming, hoping to someday be knighted; for him, older now, it was the joy of battle. He had no aspirations beyond the individual bouts, and as he began the process of donning his armor, he made mental notes of things he needed to change for the next time ... He stood for his inspection, and made sure he knew where he was in the list, before walking back to the cabin to leave the "stuff" behind. The cabin was an indulgence of his, not that he needed it; he lived close by, but there was a certain feeling that came with the ability to pretend (even for a brief moment) that he was someone else, living in a time long past.
He quietly walked inside and left his container with the spare parts inside the door, grabbed his Rattan Long Sword and belted its scabbard over his tunic, inserting the mock sword and setting the weight were he liked it on his boney hips. Then with a sort of reverence, drew out his prizes from the leather sporran; tokens he wore every day, one from a queen, 2 from Barons (1 given for service and the other for friendship) and one from the lady. Every man has their sense of pride; and with him it was these small sorts of things that most failed to make note of. Equipment given in kindness, trinkets exchanged in friendship, tokens to bear; mementos and marks of friends, a few new, some old, and some for those gone to the hereafter. The persons were what he treasured, these "things" served as personal reminders for him that he did have those he could count on when all around him had fallen into disarray and or desperation. In the modern world of electronics and computers, he drew some pleasure from his job, and enjoy the work, but it lacked a certain fire for his passions.
He placed the tokens on his waist belt, her's the very last and on his right front, then tied the diaphanous silk scarf to his right arm another small thing that to most had no real meaning, but for him it was another personal symbol meant only for 2 people to know. Taking up his shield and the old styled helm, he strode back out heading for the list field to await his first bout. Once there, he donned his helm and began searching through the gathered audience to possibly catch a glimpse of supporters or friends, but in the end no one in the surrounding crowd was there for him, and that was just as good since it meant he could share tales of the exploits great and or comical at another camp fire in the future. Only the fighters took his attention now, and he was swept away in the smash, bash and clash of the fighters as each bout came and went. He took his place as the Marshal Herald again cried the crowds "Fighters! DO honor your God, Your Crown, and the ladies who's standards you bear! LAY ON!" He didn't have time to spare to look through the crowd, the blows came fast and furious, and just as suddenly his first bout was done, and rising from the dirt; he took the sides awaiting his next turn, having no thoughts other then the fight before him, save possibly wondering who would be his next opponent. No thought for the cold, or hunger or thirst, sweat rolled along his skin beneath the layers of padding and garments, and for any other it would be a miserable wet, but he was right where he wanted to be, and he knew all too soon it would be over.
His next turn came and went, not so quickly this time, as the other man seemed to be about a similar age and standing; so they danced a bit, testing each other's defenses. Blows casually struck to shields, comparing the length of arms reach, and ability to react in their individually chosen armor kits. A breath more and the flash blew past him. He managed to evade and strike back; wood striking home but obtaining no purchase or point for victory. They continued to rotate around the other. More blows striking ineffectively between them, until in the end, a solid well placed shot to the sword arm, from cross body, was upswept and landed upon the lower edge of his helm just above the place where the camamaile attached. It rocked him sideways, such was the force; and in a decent portrayal of death throws, he went down to his knees and then fell backwards, trying for the drama, after all his opponent had earned that much. Being the self imagined consummate performer, he did like to make a good show for the crowd; if any one appreciated it did not matter; when he did anything he did it to the hilt and gave it his all.
She arrived late, the admission's gate was now fairly clear of the initial mass for the start of these events today, and she paid her entry fee, signed her waiver and was moving past the people at the table. Walking past the lodge, and the happy crowds, she passed among the stands of evergreens towards the cabins. As she approached each one; (she had no idea which one was her target yet), but with her skills of observations she took note of one that was different, and went to check. Inside she found what she sought, she had the right place; and with that knowledge, she returned to her car to prepare her plan for action. Taking out her bags, she declined several younger men in their kind offers of assistance; she had her own mission and would suffer now distractions. Once inside the cabin she placed her things in the bedroom, and set up donning her garb and making things happen, she had some time to kill. Her quarry would be otherwise engaged long enough, she could now allow for some distraction. The simple Tudor garb, with its skirts and trims hid her real intentions. To anyone else she was just another lady, what broiled and smoked beneath was unknown to all but her, with that in the back of her mind, she opened the door, and stepped onto the porch, then off into the gathered throng bidding her time. The huntress was on the hunt, but her quarry was elusive, and known for its ability to lose itself amid the press of the crowds. The lady move with delicate sense of purpose, strike too soon, or in the open and the goal would not be achieved. First she must find the beast in its preferred habitat, and without being detected, trap the animal in its lair, where it could not escape, or hide or evade what was to come. No for sure this day would be hers and she would not be denied, and as she weaved between the patrons of the event, outwardly she was calm and pleasant in demeanor, while below the surface a fire raged such as only a forge could contain and from within, only the finest of metals extracted from any crucible that might be applied.
The list field was closed and he removed the old helm, hanging it casually atop the sword pommel, as he strode back to the center of the events throngs of peoples. Everyone was eating and drinking merrily; haggling with vendors, watching performers, or otherwise occupying themselves. From the list field, he walked with the stature that spoke volumes of an older man, who had taken up the equipment of one looking to fight as in days long gone by. His sword hung in its scabbard, and he carried his shield upon his left arm, held high and tight since it bore his own coat of arms, so recently awarded by the King, but he was visibly tired. He walked beyond the lodge, with its welcoming smells of food having been prepared all day for the feast tonight, and headed for the cabin he had previously reserved, set back and away from the others, he could see the door and windows, but thanks to hastily hung curtains the view of the interior was obscured sufficiently to dissuade any but the most intent observer, and even then they would see little to nothing.
Climbing the stairs, he thought for a moment about setting his shield and standard on the porch, and reconsidering pulled it to his chest once more, and reached for the door. It was still unlocked as he swung it open enough to admit his now reduced mass, and slid into the entry, closing the door behind him and throwing the bolt to bar further entry behind him.
.... There is more of this story ...