Monday, August 29, 2005

The Return of the Stormvale Belt

Many years ago, Stormvale events began to feature "Barbarian Brawls" as part of the armored combat of at least one of our events, usually the old Vikings Go Home! tournament in the spring.

We would line everyone up outside the lists, then permit two combatants in. Another would be fed in at a set interval (in reality, we marshals almost invariably fed in more people at whatever rate seemed to cause the most havoc). It was a free-for-all, and the winner would be the last person standing.

Sometimes the combats were intense, swirling melees, more often it was like a regular hold-the-field tournament, vastly speeded up and with combats overlapping. Usually there were ad hoc alliances as participants tried to prolong their lives with allies or to cope with formidable opponents. A particularly delightful Brawl featured Sir Osric Eisenwulf entering the lists and then suddenly gliding across the floor to tear up an entire line of opponents who'd formed a momentary alliance. His motion was so smooth and sudden they never even reacted before the first man fell - it appeared to an observer as though his first blow had been struck from 20 feet away.

The winner of the Barbarian Brawl was awarded a leather belt, in obvious suggestion of boxing or wrestling prizes. There was a big S for Stormvale on the front, and the names of the winners were put inside the belt. I think the belt was made by Lord Duncan Glaustaugh, although it's been so long I'm not certain. The stylized letters DG are inside the belt, so I think Duncan is a good bet.

The belt was rather popular, despite its origins in modern entertainment. One combatant remarked that he wanted to win anything one got one's name put on.

The Stormvale fighters who thought up the Barbarian Brawl are long gone, and without attention, prizes that get awarded and are supposed to be brought back the next year tend to wander off. We haven't seen the belt in years. But Lord Erevon was surprised at Pennsic this year to find the belt in Andelcrag camp. Someone had brought it in an attempt to find the owner (again, it has multiple names inside) and Erevon explained what it was and reclaimed it. He handed it to me last night.

The names inside are not quite up to date, I suspect. I seem to recall one or two victors who may not have had their names included. But it's nice to see this relic of Stormvale's history returned to our hands, and we will no doubt be awarding it anew at future events.

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