Æthelmearc fighters try to hold the bridge
Photo by Master Phillip the Pilgrim
By: Mary of Montevale, Reporter
If it is true that no battle plan survives initial contact with the enemy, the enemy of the martial War Points this Pennsic is most certainly the rain. One of the changes caused by the cancellation of the Woods Battle was the rescheduling of the armored Bridge Battle for Tuesday (it had originally been set for Thursday).
According to those I spoke to after the Battle all said what a fantastic day it had been: many examples of good, clean combat; no instances of tempers flaring in the adrenalin rush that can accompany armed combat; apparently no medical holds—certainly no EMS or chirurgeons were summoned out to the field at any point; and perhaps best of all, the determination of who had won the battle could not be finally made until the final bridge that remained undecided in the fifth and final battle of the day.
Did I mention that the rain did not start until well after the final cannon shot when the field was nearly clear and the post-battle courts on both sides were ending?
The first battle took nearly 40 minutes, thanks to some holds and the time needed to resolve possession of all five bridges past the initial 15 minutes of combat. As usual, the outermost two bridges were occupied in an initial great rush from both sides of the field, while the forces for the interior three bridges waited out a barrage from the ballistae and moved forward only a couple of minutes before the 15 minute point was sounded. In the end, each of the outer bridges went to a different side after much pushing back and forth that could have gone either way. The three interior bridges were claimed by the East and its allies: 2 in great part due to the actions of Blood Guard; 3 came after the Tuchux entered the bridge as reinforcements; and 4 was taken thanks to the efforts of the Northern Army. East and allies 4 bridges, Middle and allies 1 bridge. 1 War Point for the East and its allies.
The second battle was completed in almost half the time needed for the first one. The first bridge to be taken was the center one after a mixed group of fighting units from the Middle blew right through their Eastern opponents. The two outer bridges’ possession was reversed, with the East taking 5 in a triumph through sheer numbers and the Middle taking 1 thanks to some aggressive action by their ally Northshield. Middle 3 bridges, East 2 bridges. War Point for the Middle, and the two sides are tied 1-1.
The third and fourth battles also went rather quickly, with the East taking the third by a score of 3 bridges to 2 for the Middle and the fourth going to the Middle in an exact reversal of the earlier score. Notable actions in the third battle include the late entry of Darkyard at bridge 1, the strong fighting of the Tuchux on bridge 3, and the ability of Æthemearc to move the opposition off bridge 4. In the fourth battle, the decisive bridge was number 4 where fighters from Iron Lance held on for a very long time on behalf of the East before succumbing to a great second effort at pushing them off by Darkmoon and a group led by the Prince of the Middle.
Thus, the fifth and final battle was reached with each side having 2 War Points. The concluding battles seemed to move back up the sequence of bridges, with the Middle taking bridge 5. The East possessed bridge 4 after some alert action by Blood Guard’s leader, Duke Andreas der Eisfalke, to bring reinforcements to help Silver Keep and the Northern Army, and well as bridge 3 where Black Talon and the Tuchux had very little trouble. For a while, the fate of bridge 2 went back and forth with strong fighting between Dark Sun and the troops led by the Prince of the Middle and their opponents from Æthelmearc, House Arindale, and Tau. But finally the Middle and its allies were able to triumph, and the contest for the vital final War Point remained tied at two bridges for each side.
Fighting on bridge 1 had been swinging back and forth throughout the final battle with Northshield, some troops of the Midrealm Guard, and an assortment of mercenaries on one side and fighters from Æthelmearc, Black Maul, Rome, and Iron Lance for the East. Fighting would continue to the last man, a fighter from Æthelmearc who found himself facing a remaining six fighters for the Middle. They offered him single combat and he accepted, but succumbed to a blow to the chest from the second man he faced.
Fifth War Point to the Middle, who took the day with 3 War Points to the East’s 2.
However, this is not quite the end to the day or the story. I sought out the man who had stood alone at the end for the East on bridge 1, and was directed to him.
Thus, I met Edward of Blackthorn (Æthelmearc) who recounted for me how humbled he had felt by the offer of single combat which came from one of the six men he faced at the end. He took out his first opponent but was forced to his knees in the process. His second opponent chivalrously entered their meeting also on his knees, but managed a killing blow to Edward’s chest as Edward landed a head shot.
After telling me this and describing the day’s fighting as fantastic, Edward picked up his gear and bade me follow him to the Midrealm side of the field where he wanted to seek out the man who had offered him the choice of single combat.
Thus, I met Duke Dag. His Grace related to me that a chance for honor on the field does not come along all that often, so that when it did for the single fighter opposite him and five others on the last bridge, he very much wanted to offer Edward the chance to be a hero. The two men, the Duke and the Lord, then shook hands by the side of the battlefield as the first rumbles of a thunderstorm were heard off to the west.
I owe special thanks for whatever accuracies there are in this account of the day’s battles to Lady Lorin of the Dual Masque (East) the founding captain (now retired) of the Black Dragon Company who stood beside me during the Bridge Battle to explain to me exactly what was happening and help me identify the various fighting units. I also thanks to HRH Edward of the East who instructed me to “please report the great deeds of our opponents as well,” and so inspired the title and the closing paragraphs of my account of the battle as well.