The First Blast of the War Horn
By Lady Ursula the Widow
A quarter of a century ago, strange rumors were in the air. From the Pennsic Dailie Tidings, Thursday, August 13, A.S. XXI:
Under a 24-hour guard by Darkyard Household of Roaring Waste, Midrealm stands a fair pavilion in the Caravan of Traders behind the Cheshire Inn. Within lies a thing that few have seen, none save royalty and but few others of the highest estate; and none will see until the Opening Court of this Pennsic struggle on Friday at noon on the Main Battlefield [now Runestone Hill]. The penalties for those who would attempt to enter are dreadful. Strong monarchs have emerged from the tent shaken. “By God’s blood, how could mortals believe it!” they have said as they emerged from that pavilion. Yet on Friday at noon, these things will be exposed to every mortal eye. Pray your gods for the strength to endure the sight.
As part of Tuesday’s Pennsic History celebration, Baroness Mistress Alecia (Midrealm) shared old newspaper articles about the mystery surrounding the first appearance of the Pennsic War Horn at Pennsic XV. Back then, she and her husband Baron Selwyn had not yet received any titles from the Crown. But they had a mission.
In those days, Opening Ceremonies were a tiny gathering of 20 or 30 people on Runestone Hill. The breaking of the arrow was the main feature of the short ceremony. Alecia and Selwyn felt this was not enough. They created the Pennsic War Horn, and in order to arouse interest, they arranged with friends in House Darkyard to put it under guard.
Soon people began to ask what was inside the tent. If the questioner was wearing a crown, Alecia would permit them inside—after extracting a promise from them to bring their friends, retainers and households to Opening Ceremonies. A reporter was stationed across the street from the tent door and the nobles were encouraged to engage in some form of histrionics as they exited.
Coordinating behind scenes with the Principal Heralds of the East and Middle Kingdoms, the couple obtained interviews with their respective Kings and offered the War Horn to become part of Pennsic tradition.
According to Baroness Alecia, not everyone was enthusiastic about the project at first. King Palymar of the Midrealm expressed concern that the Horn might become a trophy to be fought over, causing strife. But Baron Selwyn, then simply Selwyn, explained passionately, “This is a gift of love and chivalry.” Queen Katherine then advised her lord that she believed the Horn was a good thing for the kingdoms, and he agreed to its inclusion in the ceremony.
Alecia’s strategy for creating interest had been so successful that when they arrived at the field before the ceremony, they had difficulty making their way through the crowd of 400 to deliver the horn.
In that ceremony, the agreement was made that House Darkyard would become the perpetual guardians of the Horn, a trust they still hold today. That year, it was blown by the victors at the end of War, but since then, it has been blown during Opening Ceremonies.