2015 12 19: Event: Stronghold Christmas Feast

posted Dec 19, 2015, 6:51 PM by Freydis Egilsdottir   [ updated Feb 24, 2016, 9:35 AM by Mikhail H- ]
Tonight was the stronghold's first event, our Christmas feast, and a roaring success! Nine adults and six kids, including travellers from the Stronghold's furthest reaches. Good to see you again!

We met at Ulrich's toasty warm home on a blustery December day on the North Mountain. The stronghold now has tablecloths, held in custody at his home, since he's got the big table. Between the main table, an additional one against it, and a round one set up for the kids, we just managed to seat everyone at once. Good thing Bran is still a babe in arms!

Mead, wine (Ulrich's delicious home-made), beer, rum, several types of apple juice, and what I am told (and believe) is the best water in Nova Scotia were produced, and the board was swiftly set with a multitude of candlesticks, candelabra,  lanterns, and many, many games. Two boards of Hnaftafl, Nine Man's Morris, Tablero de Gucci (a popular drinking game in An Tir, but provided here as well with plastic "gems" in place of the more traditional shot glasses so non-drinkers could also play), and another one that I don't know the name of, but Karl assures me is fun.

Banners were brought forth to lend a medieval air; we will have to make banner stands at some point fairly soon. Materials for that were discussed. Also, Ulrich has made another bow, to hardly anyone's surprise; the man is a machine. A bow-making, shoe-sewing machine, heh. Well done.

Lord Almaric produced a great quantity of "gold coins", with nearly as much again coming from House Ravenspeak, and announced a tournament: Each competitor would start with a given number of gold coins. As the start of each game, opponents would wager a coin or two on who would win; the winner would get the coin(s). At the end of the night, the person with the most coins would win a very lovely belt pouch Almaric had just finished.

When bardic began after dinner it was expanded so that performers could also be rewarded in coins.

Mikhail brought along his completed knee for Olivia to try out; Ulrich shared some "Future" floor polish for him to take home to test with. The demonstration Ulrich gave at the end of the evening looks promising as a way of stopping rust on armour that won't come off when hit.

He also showed off two metal spoons he made today for the feast, out of bar stock and dished sheet metal, but said they were too much work to produce for sale as Valonia graciously suggested. Once he gets the forge set up, though, he says forged feast gear for sale is a distinct probability; it will be much faster and easier, as well as being able to make them more decorative.

Just before the meal itself began, our Mistress of Arts and Sciences, Lady Valonia, made a presentation to the newest member of the stronghold (and his parents) of a very lovely little tunic and cap she had made, based on a design Freydis had made for Alvena when she was a baby. Big brother Drake got a wooden horse made by Freydis. It was well-timed; Maeve mentioned earlier at the feast that she had tried to dress Bran in an old tunic of Drake's, but that it had been too big. "Oh, gee, that's too bad, heh heh heh..."

It is made of cotton and trimmed in Almaric and Maeve's colours; more pictures will follow under the Arts & Sciences Projects section shortly.

The feast itself was fantastic. Lots of food for everyone. Lots of food. Lots of leftovers. You know that thing where for your feast contribution, you bring enough for twenty people to have some? Now, imagine fifteen people doing that, but with only fifteen people to eat the results, ha ha ha.

Do you know, there was also a pot of barley soup? Man, we would have popped.

This isn't even half of it. There was also a delicious fish pastry, and meatballs, a red cabbage salad, a pork roast... plus stewed apples with currants and a sauce and tiny galleon tarts for dessert! Plus no doubt other things I have forgotten. A wonderful spread!

Once the first edge had been taken off our appetites, Mikhail proposed that, since almost all of the stronghold's members where gathered together, including some from far afield, it would be a good time to discuss a name for the group.

If you have access to the forums on the website then you have seen the discussions and suggestions so far. They were summed up, and it was decided that the name we would put in for would be "Huginnsdalr", which is "The valley of Hugin" in Old Norse, and appropriate considering the stronghold's location in the Annapolis Valley, and CFB Greenwood's internationally-recognized expertise in long-range surveillance and information-gathering, thanks to our giant Aurora airplanes.

Once bellies were full, it was time to turn to entertainment. Alvena and Karl led off, with a delightful Norse ditty, and were duly awarded a few more coins. Almaric sang a lovely song about a love triangle between a lady, her husband, and the jester; and Ulrich's girls sang a lovely song which they accompanied on a guitar. Mikhail and Freydis also sang a few songs, and Mikhail performed his hnaftafl-board-winning rendition of "The Lay of Hogni". It was suggested that we try to perform something at Twelfth Night, and it sounds like that may be either "Gypsy Rover" or "Rose Red".

The night wound down as our furthest travellers and those with the youngest children bade their farewells and departed, but the rest talked for a while as the wind and what Ulrich assured us definitely was not the ghost of a dead child rattled the venting as the bluster outside thought about building to a storm. Designs for a banner and some kind of tabletop stronghold ...something, some way of marking where we were all sitting at Baronial feasts were discussed. The kids were still going strong but the adults were definitely feeling the hour as feast gear, candles, banners, and a lot of leftovers were slowly packed up.

In the end, the winner of the belt pouch was Karl of House Ravenspeak, who displayed an unexpected aptitude at hnaftafl. Well done, Karl!

All in all, a good end to a very good night!

Drake learns Hnaftafl.

"Your move..."

Freydis insists plastic gems are an acceptable substitute for alcohol for Tablero. The rest don't quite buy it, apparently.

"So here's the twenty bucks we owe you, Ulrich. No, those coins are totally real, heh heh heh..."

"Daddy can keep his silly coins; I'm taking all his game pieces."

"See, Karl, that's how you play Hnaftafl. Now go and win all of the coins."

A well-laid table covered in loot, backed by Almaric's banner, frames an absorbing conversation. About loot. And banners.

Merry Christmas, pending incipient Stronghold of Huginnsdalr!

Note: All of these pictures were taken by Maeve, who graciously shared them. If anyone else has any pictures from the feast, send them to me (Freydis) and I'll add them in!