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The Legend of
Phaedra's Gate

Saturday we fought three battles in the open and several battles for control of the battle pit, but those are tales for another time. After the first of the battles in the battle pit, I asked the army to use "Phaedra" as our battle cry as we fought that day for Her Majesty. From that inspiration comes the following battle.

The final battle that day was over the castle once more - but this time we would be the defenders. We had already proven that a much smaller force could take the castle given the unlimited resurrections - and worse, we had showed the foe how to do it. Outnumbered three to two, with limited resurrections we knew we had no chance for victory. But we would take the field and deny the castle to the enemy for as long as a Falcon tabard remained on the field.

Calontir was given the honor, and the difficult task of denying the largest entrance to the enemy - Mathghamhain's Gate. I promised Sir Sean, the battle commander, that we would hold it as long as we could. We would try our best to keep the enemy out for the hour. A delaying battle was our only hope. Killing the enemy meant nothing to us, but every Calontir loss would hurt us sore.

The Falcon host was arrayed behind the gate. Eight feet inside the gate we built a short line of five scutums. Then anchored to the corner posts of the gate we placed two more scutums on each side.. Between these sets of scutums and the main line we left a five-foot gap. A place where we could invite the enemy to charge and die. A few feet inside of each of these gaps was another scutum and a skilled secondary or two waited to stop the charging foe where our poles could crush them. With our artillery heavily weighted towards long poles and greatswords we waited and we sang.

As the lay on came we saw a large force of the enemy coming towards us. (We later learned that we received the honor of facing the bulk of the Atenveldt army.) From the back of our lines I could see the setting of shoulders and the settling of weapons as our forces waited for the Aten army to reach us. Just outside the gate they paused, and the weight of their numbers appeared unstoppable. Several of our spearmen went through the gaps to poke at the enemy - to stall for time by keeping the main unit from attacking. For a few moments it worked, then with a terrible roar the foe charged. In the lead was House Staghold, and a unit of mercenary troops dressed in maroon and black whose name I know not though we faced them many times that day.

Forward into the pocket they charged. The crash as they slammed into our scutums was deafening. From where I stood it was a terrible site. Every one of our scutums in the front line seemed buried beneath the charging foe, and for a moment I thought all was lost. But our valiant shieldmen were not slain, only pushed over backwards into narrow wedges protected by scutum above and earth below. After that first frightening moment the storm of rattan intensified and polearms and greatswords began to rain death upon the hapless Aten warriors. Pinned by scutums in front and pushing friends in back they could scarcely move and they died like wheat beneath the scythe. Soon every enemy within range of a polearm was dead and our spears began to reap their own grim harvest.

I had rarely before seen such a charge, and none like it in recent years. But, it was only the first of many that day. The foe were stacked like dominoes, each lying the same direction - facing down across the backs of their friends before them. Bodies were soon piled four deep and a hold was called to clear them, and the way was clear for more foes to reach us.

I was later told by a marshal who was watching from the side, that in that first charge the enemy lost approximately 40 men, and then 30 more moments later in the second, while Calontir lost perhaps three men between the two. 23 1/3 to 1. Of such stuff legends are made, but there was still 55 minutes to go in the battle - we had scarcely begun.

As the battle wore on Calontir stood - but not alone. Friends from the Outlands, Sir Jax, Sir Rorik, Sir James and more, fought with us - not as another army, but behind our shields and in our ranks. His Majesty Finn of the Middle, Duke Kane of Meridies, and Viscount Dafydd of Northshield each served within our lines. If they were needed on a spear or pole, behind a scutum, or as a secondary in the front ranks they were there. Our friends honored us greatly that day.

Time after time the foe charged. Thirty or forty times they came. Each charge designed to break us once and for all. Each charge planned to take that gate for the forces of Atenveldt. And each time Calontir stood firm and killed and killed. Like butchers at a bloody work, our weapons fell upon charge after charge. And each time hold was called to allow the hordes of Atenveldt dead to leave, we would catch our breath, shrug our shoulders, and return to our grim duty v. After their early charges I gave perhaps the strangest orders I will ever give in combat - to slow the killing down. Once we had a carpet of dead before us, the enemy could not reasonably advance. This was protection for our castle. If we killed too many, they would call a hold and clear the bodies allowing yet another charge. We needed to kill the first wave quickly then slow down to stave off the holds for as long as possible. And while this worked to some extent, the desperation of the enemy to take our gate would not be held back, and they climbed over the dead to reach us, forcing us back to our grim duty and holds to be called.

As charge after charge was driven home they did have one effect upon our line - they slowly drove us back a few inches at a time. After 30 minutes we had been pushed back 6 or more feet, opening larger gaps to the side that the enemy tried to push through - but each time they were refused, and the enemy corpses piled against the castle wall. Finally at a slight lull we advanced the scutums back forward and closed the largest gap. But we purposely left one on the left side of our line long enough for the enemy to see it and try to push through. Before they did I shifted extra secondaries and artillery to that side, out of site of the gate where they would not be seen until the enemy had turned the corner. The next charge was clearly informed of the gap by the dead and sure enough they entered and charged that side - only to die horribly in our new secondary pocket, which we closed after the next hold..

At the thirty minute point we were getting somewhat tired. The scutums had been fighting hard, and most of them replaced by this time, but it was still crushing work. The polearms and spears had been swinging as often as men felling trees and arms were tired. Then we got the word that we had used only 60 resurrections thus far. My grin almost split my face when I heard this, and I could see the word spread as soldiers laughed and returned to work with a new determination. By God, we could hold this castle!

At the resurrection point, the army commanders were given orders to ration the resurrections carefully. Only Knights, or other upper level (GOA) fighters, or those with a particularly needed weapon would resurrect. But this was waived for Calontir. A Falcon tabard was all that was needed to clear the res point and return to our lines. Such was the job we were asked to do, and such was the respect they gave us.

As the battle wore on the Aten forces though clearly tired grew even more determined. One charge with perhaps 10 minutes left had a unit trying to jump over the scutums, or knocking them down and attempting to fight from atop them. But even this did the enemy little good. They just had farther to fall when they were cut down.

I was privileged to see many deeds of courage and resolve: Albrech staying behind a scutum for the entire battle; Spearmen dropping their weapons to take up scutums; Rorik with a secondary in the front rank for charge; Hufta stopping a charging column cold; Arial and Cora behind scutums on the left; Dongal stopping two chargers with a spear held sideways till greatswords could remove the threat; and so many more. Just the deeds I witnessed would take pages to tell and only serve to hide others which I did not see personally.

I will however tell in brief one tale - that of Sir Rolf's stand. Fighting with a centergrip scutum he had been the plug behind one of the gaps, when in the midst of a charge, his shield was ripped from his grasp. A lesser man, perhaps a saner man, would have stepped back - perhaps to return with another shield or weapon, but Rolf instead pressed forward, armed only with his gladius. Prying open an enemy shield he quickly killed its owner, and as he fell, the man beyond him as well. Though I almost lost sigh of him at that point, I believe he killed one more before he bent to retrieves his shield and retake his place in the line. Why do I tell this particular tale? Because for this, and his actions in the Duke's Gate one day earlier he was awarded a Sword of Calontir.

Though standing firm before each crushing charge was surely enough labor for any of us that day, but there were countless more examples of determination and bravery. We have often said "No heroes here!", but this day proved the lie to that phrase. There was not a man our woman within that line who was less than a hero that day!

After one final charge the end of the battle was sounded and Calontir still held the gate! They said we could not hold the castle. We said we could not hold the castle. But we did! As Calontir had done at Mathghamhain's Gate, the Outlands had done at the Duke's Gate and the breachable wall, and the rest of the allies had done at the Sally Port and the East Gate. And we still had 20 resurrections left! Where we had killed a thousand the day before they had killed less than 300.

What's more we discovered a few minutes later that in the final minutes of the battles at the Sally Port or the East gate, where the enemy forces had been much weaker, a lone Trimaran had managed to get out past the enemy. Somehow he was forgotten about, and made his way behind the enemy lines to a redoubt which was very lightly guarded (No one? One man? Two? Stories differ.) Killing the guard (or just moving in) he took the redoubt and sat down to await the end of the battle. Thanks to his ploy, we did not only tie the battle, we won!

This battle is the stuff songs and legends are made of. In days of old, at Pennsic's past, the shield wall had withstood charges like this. But never had a foe continued to throw charge after charge at us like this. Even the Tuchux learned better over time. v So great was our defense, that Their Majesties Atenveldt, and Duke Mathghamhain himself agreed to allow us to rename Mathghamhain's Gate. A plaque shall be carved and placed there next year, and from this day forth the front gate of this castle shall be known as Phaedra's Gate, in memory of our inspiration that day.

To Their Majesties Joe Angus and Phaedra who granted me the honor of commanding Their army, I owe a debt I can never repay. I have received wonderful awards from Crowns of Calontir, but never one with memories like this attached. The view of the Calontir Army as it came over the rim down into the pit behind us. The respect given Calontir's forces by His Majesty Martino of the Outlands. The smiles at the end of our victories and the rueful grins of our opponents. The words of my fellow soldiers. And so many more.

To my unit commanders: Marcus, Nazir, and Dietrich and their subcommanders; to the men and women of the Falcon Host who followed us on the field to defeat or to victory; to Kirk, Rolf, Ariel, and Dongal who acted as advisors; to all those who ensured the army was well fed and well watered; and to each and every one of you who made the trip to enrich our presence at this war, I also owe a great debt. Calontir, I salute you!

Sir Fernando Rodriguez de Falcon (Fernando Vigil)
General of the Falcon host by the Grace of Their Majesties Joe Angus and Phaedra

The maintainer of this page is Mistress Sofya la Rus [Lisa Kies].

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