Mayday

Unto His Excellency Master Seamus Donn, Ambassador from Drachenwald to the Oriental Court, does this missive bring greetings from Lady Eowyn Eilonwy of Alewife Brook, his sometime herald.

My most worshipful master,

I recommend myself to you, and beg that you will forgive the delay in this, my report on the Carolingian Mayday festival. I did, as you may recall, recount to you briefly the main points some few days after that event, but these two months have proved exceeding busy for me, so that I had not until now time enough to transcribe my notes and amend them to a full tale, such as you deserve to bring to your master, the King of Drachenwald.

Firstly, as to the matter of livery, you presented me none, nor did you provide me funds to procure me the same. The delay being short between my hiring and my date of service, neither did I have time enough to engage a seamstress to sew me any. So I was reduced to representing my service to you by a knot of ribbons, in the colours of Drachenwald, worn upon my breast. I trust you will deem this to have been sufficient.

Secondly, as to the tokens you entrusted to me, you seemed pleased by my decoration of the diplomatic pouch, and I am right grateful of your praise. You may not have noted that there proved to be somewhat more of the coinage than you thought there was, to the order of 5 or 7 more; of which I returned all to you that I did not bestow according to your command. However, I made, I fear, an error of judgement, which hampered my making such presentations during the earlier part of the day. To wit, as many of the tokens were beads, I thought to string them on thread, the better for their recipients to hold them. However, these threads became inextricably tangled during my journey to Fenmere. I spent some time striving to separate them, hampered by the cold and the damp of that day. But at length, determining that the effort would take hours, I resorted to cutting off the threads, leaving the tokens as you first presented me them, but having wasted some few hours, during which you doubtless would have preferred me to be distributing them, as you had bade me. For the which I also most humbly beg your pardon.

As to my record of the event, it took place at the Borough of Felding within the Barony of Carolingia, upon the 26th of April last. The day was, as I have said, both cool and damp, and grew damper as it progressed, until by late afternoon it began to rain, and forced us to repair to a nearby hall for shelter. The damsel Anna de Grey sat as gate warder when I arrived, and she was the first to whom I presented your tokens. Her I gave a blue enamel bead and a picture of a statue carrying an offering bowl, as being suitable to her office, along with a donation to her borough, such as is considered meet.

I spoke to the Baron's herald of my office, which as you know was somewhat novel to me, praying his advice on how to conduct myself seemlily. He gave me answer that rather than announce myself to the populace assembled, or present myself formally to the Baron and the Baroness at that time, I would best serve you by representing myself to the company severally as I awarded them your tokens, and later present myself to the formal court of Carolingia when it would be called that afternoon. The which advice I followed, and I trust you will approve.

The Baron and the Baroness sat by the list field under a baldaquin with suitable attendants, and at the hour of 11, when the fighters had been called to arm and present themselves, addressed them. They spoke of the duties of a Champion of Carolingia, charging the fighters each to be ready to fulfil them, or to honourably withdraw now, if she or he could not do so. They also charged these warriors to fight with honour, for the office of Champion could not be won without that virtue. Then the tourney progressed, according to the usual custom, afoot and with bated weapons. At length the field was reduced to four, then to two, and finally won by Sir Eirikr Lambeson. Alas, I did not note his final opponent, who of necessity had fought nearly as well as he, nor any other records of the tourney.

After this tourney was done, His Lordship Aquel and Her Ladyship Johanna doffed their coronets, so that they might properly stand witness to a hand fasting, which was performed by the edge of the field. After coming in procession to that place, the couple spoke their vows to each other and the company who attended them, drank wine and poured some on the ground as an offering to their gods, exchanged rings, and had their wrists tied together with a broad red ribbon. Master Aquel condescended to perform this last service for them, giving them the while divers suitable advice. Then the happy couple thanked their attendants, each and all. At that time, in consideration of their vow to now dwell together, in your name I presented to Lady Rosalinde atte Rylle a picture of a garden, and to Lord Mordecai ben Benyamin 5 coins toward his store to purchase some similar residence for himself and his lady.

There being at this time some brief delay before the fencers began their contest, I ate my lunch. The folk there about did likewise, or diverted themselves in many pleasant fashions. They sang and played, they danced, there were games of bocce, comet, and tug-of-war, and some children were afforded the pleasure of painting pictures of cows. Also the Green Man wandered about, as is his duty that day, kissing all the maids who would let him, and some he must needs chase to catch them. The maypole was erected, but as I shall relate, was not used there. During this time, I presented to Lady Angelica of the Wild Roses, for dancing in the fashion of Outremer to divert the company, three silver coins. Also to Suleiman ibn Ghazi abd'al-Rahim al-Andalusi, a visitor from Stonemarche, three coins, for drumming so that the lady could dance; for the which he thanked me and you. Also to Lady Tibicen Blackmane and to Timothy, of the Carolingian Waytes, one coin each, for playing both for Lady Angelica and also for dancing in the more usual style, which was done upon the green extempore.

By then, the fencers had assembled, the Baron and the Baroness had addressed them in like wise to their earlier speeches, and the fencers had begun their prize contest. Now the clouds thickened and a mist began, and the fencers most sensibly chose to shorten their contest by allowing each remaining only one chance rather than two to win. At this time the Carolingian Quire assembled, and entertained the Baroness with a few songs of the season -- lamentably unlike the day's weather. Shortly thereafter, the mist having changed into rain in earnest, the fencers finished as quickly as they might safely do, and all withdrew to the hall, as I have said.

There, certain of the Waytes, and some others, played for more dancing, and the company variously ate, or played quiet games, or gossiped. Meanwhile, our hostesses for the day, the Ladies Khioniya Nicolaevna Ryseva and Ismenia Wystan, having had the top of the maypole removed from the standing pole, strove to hang it from the balcony, that something not entirely unlike the normal maypole dance might go forward. Once I had safely stowed my chattels, I continued to seek out those who deserved recognition in your name. You had instructed me to reward not only those who performed service actively for others, but also those whose appearance gave delight. Some of these I was unable to come up with, as they betook themselves back to their homes when the weather turned poor -- as for instance, a certain mother and her young child, who were attired simply but suitably, to make as pretty a picture as ever you could wish. Therefore, once inside I strove to find all those remaining who filled this category, that I might not be held lax.

One of these was Laird Fergus Macrae, who had marshalled the fencing lists with a pistol, lest any of the duellers get out of hand. His deputy Lady Rose Otter had done likewise to assist him. For presenting a picture of dashing elegance, I gave Lord Fergus a picture which I most regrettably did not precisely record, but I believe 'twas of a youth and a maid running off together, and he was most amused and grateful. To His Lordship Tibor of Rock Valley, herald to Baron Aquel, I gave two coins toward his daughter's dowry in return for services rendered -- that is, for advising me as to the conduct of my duties, that I might properly act for you, both during the day's diversions and in the formal court. He asked that I present them instead to his lady wife, who could better keep track of them, the which I did. To the musicians playing for the dancers, being again Lady Tibicen, Suleiman, and Timothy, and also Lady Godith Anyon and the damsel Perewur, I presented one gold-feather trinket each, as they clearly deserved feathers for their caps. Master Justin du Coeur, Ace of the Low Company, I gave one hematite bead, for his weighty efforts in organising the tug of war during the day and providing other diverting games, The Ladies Khioniya and Ismenia having succeeded in rehanging the maypole top, I ventured to present each one blue enamel bead, for courage in adversity. To Sir Eirikr, who was revelling with his fellows in his victory, I gave a picture of a suitably-attended bath you would have wished to provide for him (complete with scantly-clad female bath servants), which pleased him greatly. Alas, I was unable to meet up with his counterpart who won at defense.

Boyarina Yelizaveta Medvedeva looked resplendent in her new green and black gown, so I could not but present her a hematite bead for appearing so elegant. I also came upon two newcomers to society, a youth named Erik and a damsel Kristi, who were nonetheless remarkably well-accoutered. I presented them your compliments, and two coins for their further provisioning. One Eloi Abelard, visiting from Trollhaven in the Bridge, had performed much heralding in the lists that day, and for his efforts I gave him two of the mites or smaller coins; there were certain others who had done as much, but I was unable to find them. Theresa, Baroness Nataliia's daughter from Beyond the Mountain, had diligently minded children all the day -- in particular, Gregory Michaelson -- and I trust Mistress Catrin o'r Rhyd For paid her well, for she deserved more than the two mites I gave her.

At about this time, the maypole dance was called. The maidens had had no chance to chase down the Green Man outside in the normal fashion, but he dutifully allowed them to bind him and lead him to the maypole, where, there being no actual pole, he served as such while they danced the ribbons around him. At length, the ribbons having been wound around his face, the maids relented, took their kisses back, and released him. Lord Brokk Jarlsson had played the Green Man this day, and for his diligence and courtesy in pursuing his duties -- he offered each lady who stood still at his approach the option of either being chased or not -- I gave him a picture of a couple resting peacefully on a garden swing.

Then the court convened of Aquel of Darksted Wood and Johanna Dudley, Baron and Baroness Carolingia. They entered the hall with a retinue of their then champions at tourney and defense, their herald, and their Quire singing. Having reached their places, they invited the company all to sit, and offered greetings and good wishes for the incipient new year.

The Order of the Daystar was summoned into the presence, and they came, led by their principal, Mistress Dante de Felice. They had recommended that four gentles be added to their ranks, and the herald called forward the Ladies Rose Otter, Ki-lin, and Eleanor Catlyng, and Lord Julian le Scot. Of these, and most surprisingly, Lady Ki-lin was not present -- for as you have heard, companions of the Carolingian orders are not made in absentia, but each candidate must be present and give his or her consent before the award is given. Report came that Lady Ki-lin was away running an errand, such as she often conducts for the service of others (whence, in part, her desert of this honour), so the Baron and the Baroness chose to continue with their other business while awaiting her return. Mistress Dante having described the good works and virtues of the other candidates, and their having reaffirmed their previous, private assents to this award, the Baron and the Baroness invested each with a medallion of the badge of the order, assisted by Mistress Dante, and invited the older companions to greet their new sisters and brother.

The Daystars having retired, their cousins the Order of the Moon were bidden to replace them. For them, their principal Mistress Gwendolyn of Middlemarch begged the admission to their ranks of Boyarina Yelizaveta Medvedeva for her good work with music, and Lady Lucrezia Franchescina Andreini for her excellence and service as a seamstress. As before, these ladies' achievements having been publicly named, and themselves having repeated their agreement to join the order, the Baron and the Baroness, together with the order principal, invested them with medallions of honour, and allowed their older companions to greet them.

Then the herald called for Lord Ruundaeg von Triere, the Champion at Tournament of the barony, who forsook his station behind the Baron to come before him and his lady. He agreed that having served a year in the office, it was time to let another hold that honour, and waited while Sir Eirkr Lambeson was called forward. The Baron presented Lord Ruundaeg a ring from his own hand, as a token of his year's service. Lord Runndaeg returned his baronial favour to the Baroness and the ceremonial sword to the Baron, wished Sir Eirikr all good fortune in his year of office, and took his leave. Baroness Johanna placed the favour on Sir Eirikr's belt, and then Baron Aquel spoke thusly: "Sir Eirikr, many years ago I had the privilege of putting a sword in your hand. I now do so again." and suited his actions to his words. Having been thus invested, Sir Eirikr took his place in the baronial retinue.

Similarly, Lord Fionn Tadhg MacNeassa, the baronial champion at defense, was summoned from his position. It was noted, I think by the Baroness, that he had recently caught the eye of the Queen, who had given him a position as her personal champion, and that therefore he required release from his baronial post not only because his term had ended, but also that he might better serve Her Majesty. Again, the Baroness took back the baronial favour, and the Baron the ceremonial rapier, and the retiring champion received a ring as a permanent token of his service, this time from the hand of the Baroness. Lord Martin Quicksilver, winner of the day's fencing contest, was bidden into the presence, and in his turn received severally the favour, the rapier, and an escutcheon-shaped medallion bearing the arms of Carolingia. He took Lord Fionn's place in the baronial retinue, and Lord Fionn was allowed to withdraw.

Next, it was announced that those burghers who were graduating from their various universities would be given letters of safe conduct, to recommend them suitably to the local gentry if they should take this chance to move away. A set of these letters having been printed by Oohashi Katsutoshi-dono for the Baron and the Baroness, and further illuminated by Mistress Caitlin FitzHenry, the herald read one, and assured the company that but for the names, they were all otherwise alike. Then some ten gentles who fit this category were severally called into the presence to receive each his letter. The Baron and the Baroness asked that any burghers in a like state who had been overlooked should so inform them, that the situation might be rectified, and the graduating burghers be properly equipped for their future. Baron Aquel also gave his good wishes to those who will actually be departing from the barony, and reminded them that Carolingia is indeed a state of mind, while Baroness Johanna admonished them to not forget to write back.

Then Lady Ismenia Wystan and Lord Fionn, now representing the Borough of Fenmere, brought the Baron and the Baroness a few dozen gingersnap cookies, in token of their patronage of the borough's Order of the Gingersnap, which is composed of persons agreed by the borough to be suitably worthy. They called forth Master Justin du Coeur, and inducted him into this order, presenting him also with a quantity of gingersnaps.

The Provost of Felding, Leonora Stewart, and her designated successor, Odette Taglione, requested the Baron's and Baroness's witness at the passing of the provost's token of office, a favour. The which the Baron and the Baroness readily assented to, and offered their compliments to both.

Next, I, as your herald, requested and was granted an audience. The Baron and the Baroness, having expected to see you yourself, inquired after your health, but I assured them that you were well, merely overburdened with duties which prevented you from attending upon them this day. I explained that as I had been fortunate enough to acquire your patronage, you had directed me to take certain actions here in your name. These included issuing the proclamations you had mentioned, viz.: that any companion of the Principality Company of Sojourners of Drachenwald, or its successor order in Drachenwald the kingdom, who needed his or her passport renewed, or had lost it and needed another, or was somehow never issued one, may apply to you for the same. Likewise, that any citizens of other realms who need Drachenwald entry visas may obtain them from you. As you had instructed, I paid your rent for the embassy: 10 silver coins to the Baron, and one each of the hematite and blue enamel beads and the gold-feather trinkets to the Baroness. I also then explained publicly how you had bade me, in your name, to reward virtue where I saw it this day; which I had been doing to the best of my ability. but as I could not see in all directions at once, I asked that should any have noted virtuous deeds which they wished to ensure were rewarded, they should report them to me. The Baron and the Baroness also requested that you present yourself to them, preferably in formal court, ere you leave again for Drachenwald, that they might give you suitable tokens and messages to return with.

Then the Peasants of Carolingia were permitted to approach the presence. This year only two representatives came, Lord Daniele de Padola and Lady Emmanuelle of Southebanke. This pair presented to the Baron and the Baroness their customary rent, a rock, the last of last year's harvest, and also the first milk since Lent, made into butter for the delicate baronial palate, and a loaf of bread made from the first wheat of the season. The Baron questioned the smallness of the delegation and asked that next year, all the peasants in the barony present themselves, so, he said "they can be properly taxed." Lord Daniele ventured to ask, "Doesn't the bailiff handle that, my lord?" To which Baron Aquel replied, "I'll have to take it up with him...." On which ominous note the peasants were permitted to withdraw.

Finally, Lady Ismenia Wystan, who as I have said served as one of our hosts this day, was called for again, and explained that she had two pieces of business to conduct before the court. First, she asked that Lord Brokk Jarlsson be summoned, and presented him a green bag containing tokens of gratitude, as a reward for his exemplary efforts as today's Green Man. Second, she displayed the remains of the old maypole top. Since the new top, constructed this year, had now proven its utility, she begged leave to dispose of the old top in some suitable fashion, perhaps in one of the round containers outside. She also thanked Marcus Tullius Calvus Cambrensis for the woodwork and Connor Matthew MacGlandish for access to sewing equipment in the construction of the new top. Baron Aquel granted her request, as long as the populace first had a chance to take pieces of the old top as relics. Somone suggested saving the old top until the Legends of Chivalry tournament this fall, and there ceremonially burning it, which suggestion Lady Ismenia took under consideration. This was the last formal business, and the herald cried the court closed.

However, shortly thereafter, as people began to mingle and to start setting out their picnic suppers, the herald cried for attention and reconvened the court, for Lady Ki-lin had finally returned. At this time, the Baron and the Baroness, with assistance from the principal of the Daystars, inducted Lady Ki-lin into that order. Then the herald released us all from attendance.

At this time, I too supped, and then like the rest of the company assembled, removed across the way to the evening hall. There we were prettily entertained, for the commedia dell'arte troupe I Sebastianni enacted for our pleasure the farce Il Eredita, or the Inheritance. When they were done, I gave each of the players, and also the director, one silver coin each, making a total of 12 coins altogether.

Finally, as I was preparing to leave, I bethought me of one final token I could present. This was to Lady Ismenia again, who all through the day wore a hat crowned with a zebra-cameleopard, presenting a most cheerful and diverting picture. To her, in your name, I gave a picture of a gargoyle face which was not quite as amusing as her hat. Then I wended my way home.

I hope that I have acted suitably in Your Excellency's name, and that this report meets Your Excellency's approval. I remain

Your Excellency's servant,

Eowyn

done by my hand this 6 July, being the day of St. Thomas More, the blessed martyr, Anno Societatis 33, or in the common reckoning 1998, near the brookside, in Carolingia