For those who do not live in this area, NoTT is an event that is mostly dedicated to rapier, and that lends itself to all sorts of schtick. One of the particular attractions of NoTT is its melee scenarios, especially fighting in the woods. This year, the scenarios were dedicated to practicing our skills at completing tasks and keeping an eye on the objectives.
Ponte Alto counted with a nifty force of rapier fighters and an archer, and we were fighting on the side of the "insurgency." You see, every year the little town of Smeewick is invaded by brigands and defended by the local government. Last year, the brigands won. That meant that the "insurgency" was comprised by the outsted government, which is a lot of fun since it gives us all the chance to fight from last year's invading forces point of view.
One of the scenarios had us -- and the other two units -- in the middle of the woods, defending a small blue ball that the attacking forces were supposed to take from us. The ball was positioned on top of a woodpile that at one point was been used as a firepit. That means that it did not take long before someone had the bright idea to light up a small fire of leaves and twigs in order to keep the other guys from picking up the ball.
In the meantime, the PA contingent (meaning us) are watching all of this from a few paces away, at the bottom of the little hill were we were all gathered. The ensuing conversation goes as follows:
"Wow. That's funny."
"Yeah, and what a great idea!"
"True but, are we allowed to do that?"
"I don't know."
At that point we spot The Greta, who was marshalling, marching down the road and angry as she can be yelling "Who the Hell lit up that fire! You put that thing off right now! Don't make me toss you out of this field!"
(Picture a bunch of rapier fighters hurriedly putting out the fire.)
"Well," someone in our little group says. "Guess that answers that question."
"Yup. Anyone brought popcorn?"
Which brings us to:
FIRST COMMANDMENT OF SURVIVAL IN THE WOODS: Do not piss off The Greta.
SECOND COMMANDMENT OF SURVIVAL IN THE WOODS: If The Greta is marshalling and you broke Commandment No. 1, you are on your own.
THIRD COMMANDMENT OF SURVIVAL IN THE WOODS: Having your choice of confronting a pissed-off marshalling Greta or a hungry bear running after your ass, take your chances with the bear. Trust us on this one.
FOURTH COMMANDMENT OF SURVIVAL IN THE WOODS: There is no Fourth Commandment.
Salve O Greta, Marshal Extraordinaire! Those who are about to die, tip our hats to you!
(Or at least our fencing masks. You get the idea.)
But it was not all lighting up fires and defending one's balls. The day was full of fun, fighting, and good company. At one point His Majesty, who was fighting alongside with us, drew a line on the dirt and started taking all comers. That was a real blast!
My favorite part was the very last scenario. At that point, a meeting of the Order of the White Scarf had been convoked, which meant that all of the participating WS had to leave. That included Alan, the overall commander; my own ballistabob, who was commanding Ponte Alto; about 6 more WS who had been fighting on our side; and His Majesty who, while not a WS, is a wicked rapier fighter all the same.
It also meant that if the opposing forces had outnumbered us 3-2 to begin with, by now we were outnumbered by much more as we had counted with a higher number of WS on our side.
Also, geoffreyapclwyd was left in charge as overall commander, replacing Alan; while I was left as commander for Ponte Alto. Our instructions? Stay alive for 30 minutes despite the fact that we were outnumbered a gazillion to one, and that the other side was planning on combing the woods to flush us out.
Our plan? While Geoffrey left to command the rest of the units, I took mine to a heavily wooded area and told them to pick a tree and lie low, spreading ourselves far enough that if one was spotted the others would not be, but close enough that we could descend on any searching party like biblical locusts if necessary.
I believe they call that an ambush . . . Mwahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!
In that regard, I am happy to report that the plan worked. We did survive the 30 minutes, and we did not lose one single man in our little party. We also nearly caught Dante and a crossbowman who spotted me while in hot pursuit of Geoffrey, who in turn was fighting Alric as well. (Geoffrey and Alric did each other in before I could intervene.)
At that point, Dante ordered the crossbowman to shoot me, but changed his mind when I got behind a tree. It's amazing how much protection you can get from a single tree, let alone a line of them as I had!
For a minute, I thought that he would follow me, as that would have given us the chance to ambush him and the archer. Alas, Dante did spot another mask behind a tree and wisely retreated in the off chance there would be more than me and another fighter.
"Heeeere, Dante, Dante, Dante!"
"Hmmmm . . . I smell a rat . . ."
"Heeeere, Dante, Dante, Dante!"
"Rather several rats. Nah, I think I'm outta here . . ."
Oh, well, nothing is perfect.
But we did accomplish our objective, which won our side the scenario.
I have to say, this lying low in the woods, listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of the wind, having all of your senses alert to the most minimal sound, is the most real experience I have ever had at a melee scenario.
Also, I am very proud of my unit. We were given a task, and we completed it.
Granted, it was not the most flashy task, nor the type of thing that will get anyone a Shark's Tooth any time soon. But it got us something better: It trained our people on the value of patience and the importance of following directives and keeping our eyes on the prize. And that was a valuable contribution to our side winning that scenario.
Who can ask for anything more?