Monday, October 25, 2010

The return of the ancient one...

With our season over I found myself with an actual weekend free. And thanks to Facebook I was made aware of a Medieval Feast held by my old friends in Dagorhir.

Dagorhir is a kind of LARP (Live Action Role Playing) but with less magic and more hitting with foam weapons. I joined when I was about 16 and through it met some of my longest held and best friends. At one point I even held the title of King. It was great fun but also taught me a lot of things. Politics, negotiation, how to work the system, tactics and a lot more. It was a huge part of my teenage years.

I don't know when I last attended an event but its been quite a few years. None of my old friends participates any more, what with jobs and kids and life, except for the current "King" of the local group. If I went, at least 1 person would know me. So I rooted around in the garage until I found two weapons, covered in dust and cobwebs. I picked out some garb and grabbed some feast gear and was off to Hinckley. When I arrived I had my weapons inspected by a stout young kid.

"How old are these weapons?" he asked.

"How old are you?" I asked. He eyed me up and down, a living fossil.

"These are ancient swords from the before time, in the long-long ago. They were made by master weapons smiths. They'll pass."

And pass they did. I was told the bulk of the people were in the woods fighting. I am in no shape to be running around in the woods. I was hoping to do some one on one sparring. Show the younglings some veteran moves. No such luck. I heaved my bulk through the woods to the  center of the battle, which had a kind of Halloween monster theme which was waaaaaay too complex for me. I had no idea exactly who I was supposed to kill. Also, these guys had armor and pretty large shields while I had 2 small swords, one of which was grasped in my slightly damaged right arm. I got into it with a Ware-wolf I believe. We killed each other in a flurry of blows. As I went to lie on the ground (where I had to count to 60 in order to be 'resurrected') I felt my right knee twinge.

I fought one or two more short battles before the battle mercifully ended. I actually enjoyed being in the woods again. I was fairly light on my feet when I was 12 years younger and 20 pounds lighter. These days? Not so much. At the cabin where the feast was to take place I relaxed and listened to the young fighters. There were a lot of them. Attendance was good and that made me quite happy. They had there own units and households. Some came from different 'kingdoms' as far away as New York and Indiana. I was disappointed that so few had any kind of persona. There was a lot of talk about the battle, or battles past. But it sounded more like jocks talking about a football game. Did we talk that way back when I was a kid? Probably. Dagorhir is a sport. Those in better shape tend to do well.

I helped out in the Kitchen (it's the Butler in me) helping to get the food out to the serving area, getting the mulled cider ready. The meat portion was from a caterer. I have to problem with that call. I remember some feasts where the food was just awful. After gorging ourselves I got to talking with another veteran and a few young people. I talked about where I'd traveled. Here the ipad came in handy since I sensed my younger audience suspected I was just BS'ing. Someone built a fire outside and when I joined it I was surprised to hear people actually singing. It wasn't great singing, but that didn't matter. These were songs of gypsies and warriors. Battles and lost loves. Good stuff. Less modern talk. We didn't have much singing at fires when I was younger. I decided to introduce myself and tell a few tales. Share some jokes. They went over quite well.  I stayed late into the evening swapping battle stories.  I left at about 1am.

I wasn't sure what I'd find when I went back to the game that played such an important part of my life growing up. It was different, and it was the same. So many new faces, young faces full of energy. So earnest, so dedicated. I talked with a young man who ended up telling me about his life. His girlfriend was pregnant and he was working as an apprentice tattoo artist. Money was so tight. He was trying to give up smoking "for the kid, y'know?" and I remembered all the tragedies and heartbreaks that my friends and I went through when we were his age. All the stupid choices and the grand schemes. You'd think that faced with these real life issues we would have stopped wasting our time with a dumb game. But this game was our whole circle of friends. We helped each other, counseled each other. We learned, we loved and we lost together.It was a game, but it wasn't just an amusement.It was important.

The next day I paid for my frolic in the woods with stiff joints and a weariness I wore like a cloak. I doubt I will get another chance to attend an event for quite a while, but I'm very glad I went. Part of me would be overjoyed to get back into the game. To be Erik the Bard instead of Erik the Salesman. Since its Winter, maybe I can make it out to a Battle or Two. I still have a few moves to teach these young punks.