Eternal Friends...

Photo by Sean Sreamach

The Viking Memorial Ship being completed for the launching ceremony.

You may have heard of the Rainbow Bridge, that starts at a field where beloved pets await the inevitable arrival of their humans, so they can travel on together to the Great Beyond.

But maybe it isn't like that for everyone. Maybe, for some of us, that journey toward the Rainbow Bridge takes us down a small rural by-way, across a one-way bridge, and as we pass the last canopy of trees, we see banners rippling in the winds above pavilions and tents, an open field with brightly-garbed folks walking, a white farmhouse and large brown barn on our right. Mack Cooper waves to us from his front yard, his silver hair gleaming in the sun. We turn towards the lake, and as we walk, we see so many gentles who have been taken from us. From a golf cart, Dave gives a quick lightning-bright smile as he whizzes by on to another task that needs him. A flash of tawny yellow catches our eye, and Greebo greets us with a rub and a request for petting that cannot be denied. A stately gentle in dazzling Elizabethan dress walks by with exquisite dignity. Kenric strides past, deep in conversation with Adhemar, but they still return our glance with smiles and nods.

Somehow, the land has expanded. It shimmers and moves in a way that allows everything we remember to exist, even if they conflict. And so the Great Tree is still there, not struck down, and Dragon's Magic's little house as well. The Barn holds the castle walls, as well as the old Great Court setting, and the generously-stocked Penn Market all at once. Vlad's is there, as big as it ever was, and Casa Bardicci rises above the lake, more complete than ever, but with workers still clambering over one last new building. You can smell the Pyes from the Battlefield Bakery, and you see Johan manning the counter at the Sated Tyger while folks laugh as they drink and eat in revelry.

And then they stand before us, that person we lost so long ago, and we rush into each other's arms laughing and crying and talking all at once. They look so well and happy, a little sun-burnt and maybe a little sleep-deprived, but so vital and full of life and joy. With great energy they start telling us about all the things they've done that day, the battles or classes or funny happenings that made them happy. We start planning our own day, looking through the book with its endless possibilities of learning and ferocity and pageantry and excitement. We know that tonight, the moon will rise high and full over the lake, and the sound of drumbeats and laughter and song will drift around us as we circle our fire, sitting with all of those we love best. We'll raise our mugs high and toast to the world, and perhaps we'll wander the paths far and near, laughing as we pass by camps lit by torchlight.

And we know that we will pass days, nights, weeks, and years, staying here in this wonderful place. Seeing our friends and making new ones, learning new things and fighting beside our brothers, hearing new songs and all the old ones too. For we will stay here until we all are gathered, each and every one of us, who love this place and the people and animals within it. We will stay until we all can be here together for one endless, glorious Pennsic. Then we will all dress in our finery, raise banners high to snap in the fierce breeze, and with voices raised in song and our eyes clear and bright and joyous, march on together, all together at last, to the Great Unknown that lies beyond.