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"Ah yes, Great Desert War I, more commonly known as "Cat Box I". It was an "interesting" even. The same kind of "interesting" as in the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times".
"I travelled down to the site in the same van as James Greyhelm, Verena of Laurelin, Geoffrey of Griffenhold, Merewyn de Lyonesse, Eric Holdstar, Damien O'Boirne, Garth of Windhaven, and Tatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova. (I think there were only 9 of us but Gregory Falconheart and his lady Wendolyn may also have been with us at the time.) Eric managed to save the trip down by quipping "Are we there yet?" just as the initial bout of conversations ran down and everyone was starting to get the idea that we were all going to be in this van for a LONG time. The trip gave us such wonderful lines as "Hey Garth, how fast WERE we going when you were driving?" to which he replied "I don't know, the speedometer was pegged most of the time!"
"We got to the site and set up near most of the rest of the Western fighters. Many of the encampments were having trouble with their tents. There was no soil to speak of, just about 3 to 4 feet depth of sand. Tribe Rotmahne had to give up on setting up the great hall and just used the roof and piled sand on the sides. I understand they dug out sand underneath but it looked like "the world's biggest pup tent". To add to the fun a dust storm blew over the site. You could see it coming for miles and it looked like it would be a major blow. However, once it got to the site it had only a gentle breeze, but the dust was so fine it got into everything. It even got onto my camera lens which was covered the entire time I was at the site! I was not very pleased as I had just finished my scale armor which was a dark chocolate brown when I went there, it was dust grey when I left. If you look at the pictures of this event that isn't overcast in the sky, that's dust! At least it cut down on the sun a bit.
"Then there was Rolling Thunder house which was beating very loud war drums all night long. They wouldn't stop when our King asked them to. They wouldn't stop when the King of Caid asked them to. There was a brief break when Gerhardt von Nordflammen stole one of their drums and smashed it against a rock. (And there was much rejoicing! Someone wrote a great account of it.) They only stopped when their own King told them to knock it off.
"First day of battle dawns. I don't remember which of the battles came first but there was the "Crossroads" battle and several "Castle" battles. The funny thing is that I don't remember who won the battles. The Crossroad battle literally was a cross road. The idea was that the side who got the most survivors into their castle won the battle. Our leaders decided that we would let about half their army flee then close the road and kill the rest. Great idea but didn't work in practice. Sure the half we wanted to let go went past, but they had stationed a blocking force across the road and we had to litterelly shove them out of the way. Imagine ranks 8 across and 25 deep all pushing on the person in front of them. There were the inevitable stumbles and we had to call a hold several times to keep folks from getting trampelled. Eventually we sealed off the road and wiped out the rest of the Atenveldt forces still on the road (those who got into the castle couldn't come back out).
"Then there were four castle battles; each side got to defend the castle twice, once with archers and once without. The first two battles started with Atenveldt on the inside and the allied forces attacking from outside. The castles were large squares with a 4 foot deep ditch dug all the way around them with the tailings piled up on the inside. This resulted in about a 6 to 8 foot wall of sand we had to climb in order to engage the enemy. The West had brought along two "siege ladders" to help with the climb. (Two 4 x 8 pieces of plywood with 1x1's nailed across for traction.) At the first layone we allies were outside of the castle and had the siege ladders hidden behind the troop lines. Once the lay-on was given we brought these things out and slammed one end into the bottom of the ditch and pushed it over onto the wall. Theodrik of Skane and Torvald Torgarrson were the first two up the ramps and, as instructed, were litterally running up them before they hit the ground on the far side. Like most folks who are the first up the ladder, they were killed quickly, but they provided a bridgehead into the castle. (Here is one of those fabled times where Torvald got injured in battle. His helm was very top heavy at the time and he was lying back on someone without his head being supported. His chin strap slipped down onto his throat and nearly strangled him before anyone heard him trying to say hold.) The second battle they were ready for the ladders and fended them off with pikes so they flopped down sideways and only went half way up the sides. Theodrik wound up legged and had lost both arms and was down in the ditch hiding behind his shield. They kept trying to kill him with pikes but every time one would push his shield one way another would push it back into position. Some of us went down into the ditch to try and help him escape thinking he was just playing turtle to stay alive. He told us, very quietly his situation, and we left him there to keep distracting the pikes. There was a brief hold while I spotted and killed a scorpion that was crawling across the face of the sand wall. Eventually one of the Aten pikement figured out that Theodrik wasn't using his arms, pushed his shield over and stuffed him.
"When we defended the castles we held them both times. Geoffrey of Griffenhold was commanding the Vinhold unit as part of the reserves. We would charge into the lines wherever it looked like the Atens were starting to break through. His method of leadership was to take two steps and THEN shout "follow me". Doesn't work too well when you're trying to stay together as a unit, but we did tend to hit the lines quickly as the rest of us madly tried to catch up with him. In the second battle where there were archers we discovered that they liked to shoot at folks who had large "blobs" in the middle of their shileds. Garth, with his cross and heart on his arms, had lots of arrow scars on the heart and almost never had to duck anything aimed at him. Someone managed to take both my arms with arrows and I wound up dancing around playing archer target/distracter while the rest of the unit kept charging the line.
"After lunch the Open Field battle occurred. They wished to stage a "pageant" (they had advertised the event in the local papers as "come and see" event) so they had champion battles while the rest of the armies were drawn up on either side. These took so long that several of us found a sand dune, took our helms off and kicked back for at least a half hour if not an hour and a half. Once that was finally finished we actually got down to the open field battle. On our side of the line we were pushing the Atens back and were breaking up their formations frequently. Three times we broke their lines then someone would shout "hold" and a martial (rumored to have been the Atenveldt Kingdom Martial at the time) would reposition their troops during the hold and reform the line. Oy!
"In the same battle King Thomas [the Incomplete] got pretty well mugged on the field. Several Atens got to him at the same time and hit him so many times on the hand (Thomas was using a pole weapon) that they broke it in several places. They also hit him so hard he would latter state he had never been hit so hard in his life. While he was lying there stunned one of our Knights (I think it was Wulf Sagen von Ostensee) put his face grill to Thomas' to ask him if he was alright. An Aten hit Wulf Sagen in the back of the head so hard while he was face down that Thomas felt it in HIS helmet. The allies eventually won that battle and I don't think anyone wanted to do it again. I think that was the last "official" battle of the war. The next day the sides got mixed up and everything was a lot more fun.
"I have to say that the most fun I had at the event was the pick up fights between battles. All in all it wasn't worth the two days of travel to get there and back. I haven't been to a large southern war since." -- Vlasta von der Weissen Sonne
Description of this event (if any) taken from The Page.
The West Kingdom History Website was created by and is maintained by Hirsch von Henford (mka Ken Mayer).