The Mighty Magrat

11 Mar 2014 by gebhard, No Comments »


This week, I’ll be away at Gulf Wars.  One of the best parts of going to war, is after a long day to stand in line to take a freezing cold shower, then to sit with your feet up, and enjoy an adult beverage of choice with a stick of meat… because meat is always best served the way nature intended, on a stick.

Then with one hand on a cold mug and one on a warm stick o’meat, sitting by the glow and warmth of the nearby fire, warriors big and small will trade tales of the glory of battle. It’s this comradery that binds the fighting community together.  No matter where you were, you’ll be able to join the ranks with a tale that begins, “No s&^%, there we were…”.

While I’m away building a new saga of such tales, I would like to share a random tale from a different war, some years ago.

It was Pennsic, and it was coming down to the wire of a ninety minute, resurrection, segmented front battle, with three points.  Our side controlled the northern point.  Their side controlled the southern point.  It all came down to who would control the middle when the final signal cannon fired.

I heard the five minute warning and hustled in from the res point to where the fighting was the thickest. As I approached, I heard “Gebhard! Grab a few shields and clear a path to that point!”

I quickly grabbed 5 or 6 shieldmen as they were streaming in from the res. “See the point, our job is to make a path. Ready! GO!”. And with a thunderous charge, we ducked low and blasted their line.  Shields slid up, blocking all forward sight, but we pushed the wall back.  In a few steps, gaps appeared between the shields, and volleys of blows rained down. My goal was to stay alive, stay defended, and push as hard as I could.

Like a snow plow pushing through six feet of snow, my ragtag band finally reached the goal.  We pushed in front of the 4×4 post bearing a dinky duck taped flag, and hunkered down in front of it. As my unit took their position, still under the constant and steady volley of enemy troops, a flood of fighters fell in from behind and we advanced our line to just in front of the post.

I spotted a shield person wrapped around the post. A shield had been propped up on it and the fighter was hiding under it like a sunshade. “Crap, they’re still on the point!”  I dropped down, my arm drawn back to make a quick snap end of whomever was behind the shield.  As I peered around the shield, my eyes widened! “Magrat!” Her face lit up, and with a big smile, she gave me a shieldman’s hug. (This is where you lock your shields together and hug with the weapon hand, as we were both still in the line of fire.)  Somehow, Magrat had pushed her way up to the point, wrapped herself around it and held it for someone time… alone. One lone warrior in a ocean of the enemy.

Just then the “one” minute warning sounded. Then “Hold”. Looking around I could see the enemies’ vast numbers to the small number of us. No problem, only a minute…. we got this!  No way they could cut through us in a minute. “Lay on” “HOLD!” “Lay on” “HOLD!”  “One minute warning” … what? “Lay on!” “HOLD!!!” “Lay on!” “HOLD!” “One minute warning!”

In the small choke points, bodies of the fallen build up.  A hold would be called to clear them out, to prevent injuries due to trampling. In the frantic panic of the last minute of battle, these gaps would fill up nearly instantly.  All the holds played havoc on our lines, position and strength as we stood in the hot sun, unable to drink or take off our helms to rest. The dead got themselves up and went to the side lines to watch.

With trepidation, I must tell you my story does not have a happy ending.  For we the few who supported Margat’s valiant last stand, held that point through 18 holds and 12 last minute calls. But slowly our numbers dwindled, and we were overtaken. If there had been 2 fewer holds, I assure you we would have held. 

In my mind, things went very differently. On the 10th last minute call, the battle ended. With an explosion of cheering, we carried Magrat on our shoulders to present her to the King and Queen, so she could receive proper credit due for such a valiant deed. Then the King and Queen granted to her some great award, and we stood, cheered and chanted “Draco Invictus!”.

Maybe my memories and feelings have blurred together. When I think back, we all stand a little taller, our blows are little stronger, the enemies a little meaner, and our battles a little bolder.  However, if what I felt and what I would have liked becomes blended and the result is to remember someone as a hero; well, that’s as it should be. For every fighter should be remembered as a hero… every fighter already is.




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