The Dragon and the Unicorn
On the road down to Gulf Wars, we discovered just how much Knights and Masters of Defense have in common, at least in theory. We all know that what works in theory doesn’t always work in application.
To begin, Azriel had just authorized in armored combat a week before Gulf Wars. This would be her first armored melee event. I’ve only fought in a handful of rapier melees over the last few years, with most being a negative experience. I was worried that Azriel would end up with a similar experience in armor. I thought we would have fun, but I have thousands of ideas. Only one or two are any good. Maybe this was bad one? This could all end in disaster.
Before we could find out, we needed to get over the first obstacle, getting Azriel armored up. She didn’t have a complete set of armor for herself yet. I brought all three of my plate suits plus the loaner gear. Azriel had also collected a few pieces. I figured with this kind of hardware, something would have to work. I wanted to meet the goals of keeping her safe and having a kit that wasn’t visually assaulting.
On Monday, we spent a couple hours in the morning trying things on, adding ties and knocking new holes in straps until we put together something we thought would do the job and was only minimally ugly.
Armored Town Battle
We joined the army on the field and eventually the lay on was given for the town battle. Not five minutes into the first fight, Azriel got
jacked in the face by an enemy spearman. The blow hit her visor and nearly knocked her over. The brim of her visor was pushed into her forehead and gave her a small welt.
At the marshal tent, we decided that the helm likely was not fitting right, and we didn’t want to risk her taking another shot like that. I sent for my one-size-fits-all back up helm. Upon its return, we discovered it was much too large for Azriel. However, it didn’t push into her head. The face mask bottomed out on the gorget long before any contact could be made. Maybe this will work?
I was completely lost in thoughts of utilizing the helm’s fit.
(picture not of the armored town battle)
“Sir Gebhard!” Angelic said sternly. “Tell her she can not use this helm. It doesn’t fit.”
“I want to get back out there,” said Azriel. “We need to get that guy!”
I gave them both a quizzical look. My thoughts were “Well, she says it’s fine, and she wants to go back out. We really need to get that guy. I think this is in order. Let’s go!”
“Sir Gebhard!” /Sigh. Unbelt Gebhard had a lot more freedom. “I’m sorry Az, I can’t risk you getting hit like that again. It could mean not fighting for the rest of the week. This helm needs more padding to fit right. After the battle, I can get it fixed up for you for tomorrow.”
She was clearly disappointed but was trying to make the best of the situation, “Go get him then!”
You have heard me talk about the spirit of the warrior a lot lately. When I say it, this is what I mean. Azriel possesses it as much as anyone I’ve ever known.
Rapier Town Battle
After the armored town battle, we switched gear to fight in the rapier town battle. I wish I could say I understood what was happening, but from my perspective, we ran to the fort door, got into a line… and it was over. The second run went the same way. I really have no idea what was supposed to happen; I know it somehow involved boxes. The battles were just a couple minutes long.
The last battle was a friendship battle that was fought to the down the last man. Azriel was given an award for being the last Midrealmer left alive.
It was about forty degrees that night, and most people went to bed early to keep warm. We went into New Orleans and met up with some friends. We didn’t return until the wee hours of the morning. That’s another story, but it did end with needing to call a tow truck for the van.
Armored Field Battles
The next day, I awoke after only a couple hours sleep to get ready for the field battles. I love the armored field battles. After we got suited up and out on the field, we bumped into Scott Wilson from DarkWood armory. He offered to vet Azriel’s loaner helm with all its new padding. When he poked her in the grill, the helm slid back a little. In reality, it wouldn’t contact her face, but with her recent injury, the motion of something jumping at her face was concerning. He offered to loan us one of his extra helms and sent one of his guys to go get it. The new loaner helm returned moments later, and it fit rather well. With all the gear concerns behind us, it was it was time to line up with the unit.
We made our plan, “Stay here on the side with me. As we move out, we’ll break off and see what damage we can cause,” and that’s just what we did. Azriel followed along bopping people in the face with glee, and together we caused much carnage.
All of the fighting was great, but the most notable story came from the last field battle.
We lined up off the side of the Midrealm army again, ready to break off at any moment to flank, find trouble, or whatever else.
We moved out after lay on, no enemy unit was directly in front of us. One was to the left and one to the right. We kept our line as we went. As an army, we were closer to the unit on the right, so the call was given for the main body to flank into the right unit.
Count Cellach broke off left. Sir Seto and a few others shot out in front of me, then also broke left. “Az, we are going to follow them in and break off behind Seto.” As we chased them, there was a small group of two opposing fighters, and we made quick work of them. We turned back to the right as we got close to the end of the field. There was a small unit of four approaching. They were two shields and two spears, clearly nervous and not overly comfortable with the situation.
I have no idea where the rest of our army went, nor the people we started out with. As the band of four drew in, Azriel dropped into her “I’m going to eat you all alive” threat position. They stopped, and even backed up a little.
These guys were timid. I thought, with the proper timing, I’d follow their spears’ thrust recovery into the pack and we’d crush’em, or die epically! To Glory!
As I went to jump in, I heard “Hey!” from behind me. I instinctively ducked and spun into a guard position. Sure enough, my weapon blocked a blow from another polearms-man. We wrestled for a moment, but I got the better position and dispatched him. As I turned around, Az looked back at me. She was still holding back the enemy unit.
“We got this!” Once again, I moved into position to help. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another person coming up from behind, and once again I was locked into a short wrestling match. The main body of both armies started to close in on us. I could hear the clashing like thunder all around us. I pushed down my opponent, and he accepted the blow.
I turned to rejoin Azriel and discovered she still had the four guys pinned, but they were starting to get jumpy. We’d have to do something before they got wise. There was no way she should have held off so many this long. As I started to move back to Azriel’s position, my weapon was pinned from behind. I turned around again and pushed back. I didn’t have time for this. I dipped down and with a big step and hip rotation, I used the bottom of my polearm to shove the guy off me, knocking him back a good four feet. Behind him, I could see our troops cutting through the last of our enemies. He was going to have bigger problems than me soon. He turned and saw what was happening and darted off.
I turned yet again to rejoin Azriel. The guys she had been holding off started to fade back, to rejoin a few misplaced soldiers while what was left of the units broke down. We quickly rejoined our army to clean up what was left.
We did it! We held them off!
This had been the most intense field battle I’ve ever been in. Azriel and I should have been overwhelmed. It was all I could do to keep people off her back, and through tricky and tenacity, she kept four enemy soldiers busy until our army came to clean up.
After a brief period of celebration, we swapped armor and headed over the rapier melees.
As the rapier melee began, we came up with a crazy plan – run out and meet the enemy. On paper, this is a good plan. In practice, it meant a handful of us were out in front of the rest of our army and got surrounded quickly.
On the next pass, Azriel told me that we would instead be following the army in. Then, we could break off to see what damage we could cause.
I was familiar with this plan.
That was just what we did. On the rapier list, I’m no one. People would focus on her. I could slip around, say 45 degrees or so, to the side of the target.
Then, no matter which way they went to defend, one of us could get a kill. We were like a wolf pack of two, though I was the beta wolf in this world.
Following her lead, we devoured much of the enemy. Azriel was patient and exceedingly good at keeping alive. She was often the last member of our army left on the list. It was by far, the most fun I’ve ever had on the rapier melee field.
While some elements are very different, many goals are the same between the armored and rapier lists: be patient, look for good targets, stay alive, comport yourself well, and carry your stories of heroism back to the campfire at night.
Pictures are not necessarily from the battles described.