Greetings, Good Gentles!

Heed the words of Her Majesty’s herald. The following constitutes my best recollection of the high points of al-Barran Midwinter and War Practice. I apologize for misspelled names (I’m sure there will be some) and please know that anything that is left out or incorrect is solely the fault of the herald, and none of Her Majesty of the Outlands.

The site of the Midwinter Event was the Menaul School, in al-Barran. It was a pleasant site, and activities took place in three separate buildings. The day was clear, albeit cold, and there was ample room and places for people to take their comfort and enjoy the activities of the day, whether it be music in the feast hall, or the silent auction, or classes, or the merchants present. Their Majesties met with the various orders of Peerage or other worthy groups they saw fit to consult, and both a hearty lunch and a delicious feast were served over the course of the event.

All members of the Kingdom, who wished to swear Fealty and had not yet done so, were given the opportunity during the Royal Court on Saturday.

Of note, during the day and the early evening Lady Rhiannon (MKA Rachel Rodgers) set up a photographic booth and took professional quality photos of people for 10 dollars a shot, half of which was donated to the Kingdom Travel Fund. All in all, I believe over 300 dollars was raised during the course of the day.

Also of note, it was announced that the White Stag Herald will be stepping down. All members of the populace who are interested in this position should send a letter to Their Majesties, the Kingdom Seneschal, and the current White Stag Herald.

Their Majesties held Court in the morning and evening of Saturday, and on the morning of Sunday in which they conducted business for the benefit of the Outlands. It should be noted that Cinéad Mac Amhlaoibh, Mistress Lydia of the Pines, Lady Alexandria Vitalis, Lady Violet Bertran, and Lord Ragnar Starki all offered their service and were accepted into the Royal Retinue of Their Majesties.

On Sunday morning Their Majesties saw fit to recognize Thorgrim of Drygestan with an Award of Arms.

Mistress Brigitta Olavsdatter and Sir Gottfried von Zollern were both offered admittance into the Legion of Gallantry, on Saturday night and Sunday morning respectively.

Their Majesties saw fit to recognize great prowess, and THL Gere Thorkelsson, Warlord of the Outlands, was made a Thegn of the Iron Hart in Saturday evening’s Court.

HG Berengaria de Chinon presented her Majesty with a Tabard from ancient days, to be worn on the fields of Estrella. Before Her Grace left Her Majesty’s presence the Crown saw fit to admit her into the Order of the Stag’s Heart for her excellent service.

Mistress Monika von Zell has been serving her Kingdom for a long time, and Saturday evening Their Majesties recognized this by making Mistress Monika von Zell a Stag of the Outlands. Her Majesty made note that Mistress Monika never received this most assuredly deserved recognition for the simple fact that she was made a Pelican before the Order of the Stag of the Outlands had been created.

On Saturday evening Mistress Catriona nic Aoidh was offered admittance into the Order of the Laurel, and she will give Their Majesties her answer at a later time.

On Sunday morning THL Adrien de Calais was offered admittance into the Order of Chivalry, and she will give Their Majesties her answer at a later time.

Their Majesties, in Their Wisdom, admitted Sir Dennis the Wright into the Right Noble Order of the Pelican at the end of Court Saturday evening. Sir Dennis was not aware that this would be taking place.

On a personal note…. I have a terrible memory, and much of an event tends to blur in my mind afterwards. Sometime, though, I take some things with me, like snapshots that I know I will keep in my heart. I have some from this event. I remember a beautiful Lady (Her Excellency Danielle de la Rochelle) bending into her harp. I remember the grace of her hands as they moved along the strings, and the pure sound of it. I remember the pure sound of her voice and the beauty of the song he sang. It was a lovely moment, and it makes me smile even now as I type these words.

In my mind there is a picture of the Baron of al-Barran. No, nothing so crass and modern as a picture. In my mind there is a painting of a man. He faces away from me, towards a crowd of people. His back is straight, and his feet are spread apart. Over his head he raises a blade of shining steel, and in a ringing voice he answers his King’s call to War.

And lastly, I remember the sight of a strong and worthy man weeping as he knelt before his King and Queen, overcome with true emotion as he was, once again and rightfully, recognized as a Peer of the Outlands.

It was a lovely event.