How Roland Agricola Got His AoA

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How Roland Agricola Got His AoA

A Baron Ernst Nuss von Kitzingen Tale

Early fall in 1997, I was at an SCA event called Legends of Chivalry in Massachusetts, sitting having lunch with my SCA Household (House Toddington) and we were having our usual banter when the matriarch or our household piped up that I was probably one of the 5 dumbest people she knew. (She said this in a most loving way, ya know.) So, I piped up, "Well, Margeray, at least I'm not a member of the Order of the Basset, like you. I've never done anything THAT stupid. (An unofficial award, to receive a Basset you hafta do something really stupid in front of other people.)

In retrospect there are times when you say incredibly dumb things or make statements of great portent that should be accompanied by thunder and lightning to let you know that something is coming. At the very least you should hear John Williams' theme from Jaws.

I was the royal herald for Their Majesties Hanse and Moruadh (pronounced More-uh), the King and Queen of the East. We'd just finished a rather long court and I'd worked my little brain to the bone trying to keep it interesting and funny and felt I'd done a fairly good job. Court was over and we were in the "Royal Room," a space which had been set aside for us to go over court business before court and to wind down after court and before the evening feast. Someone walked up to me and asked, "What happened to Roland?"

"Roland who?", I asked.

"Roland Agricola. We called you to confirm that he was getting his AOA (Award of Arms) and he didn't get his AOA in today's court. What happened?"

"I dunno… lemme look."

Basically what had happened is that Roland's name didn't get transferred from the original court report of anticipated activities to the real one I used during court. OK, so I screwed up. So what? I could fix it. I turned to Their Majesties and said, "Um, Your Majesties? We have a slight problem. One of the AOA's didn't get done at court. Tell ya what I recommend. Let's form a procession, go to Roland's campsite and on the way I'll cry the camp and get a big crowd together and you can present him with his AOA. It'll actually be special for him."

In his most regal way, King Hanse said, "Kewl! Let's do it."

So we formed the procession while I filled out the promissory scroll for Roland (his real scroll never arrived so I used one of the promissories we keep on hand. I got to the front of the parade and began heralding the crowd.

"Make way for the King and Queen of the East! Make way!"

I was pretty much in auto pilot and trying to figure out the best way to get to Roland's encampment all the while trying to make sure I used my voice properly, etc., etc. Suddenly Jarl (Count) Bjorn Karlsson came up to me and asked, "Does this mean I'm a duke?"

Was I confused or what? You become a duke when you've been king twice and Bjorn had only been king once so he was a Count (Jarl) and not a Duke. What the hell was he talking about?

"You said, 'Make way for Bjorn and Morgen, King and Queen of the East.'"

"Get outta here! I never said that!"

"Yup! Clear as a bell. Does that mean I'm a duke?"

I turned around and Hanse and Moruadh had taken a sharp right, walked to a picnic bench and sat down with Moruadh saying, "I'm NOT following him. He forgot who we were."

Bjorn and Morgen had been the King and Queen last year and I'd been their herald. Seems my brain had slipped into neutral and immediately called out their names. Eek! I was in deep and serious doo-doo now! I walked over to them and tried to gloss over matters by saying, "Your Majesties, I'm sorry I made such a silly mistake. We REALLY must move on and give this award to Roland." Moruadh refused to move.

"Nope. I'm not going anywhere with you. You forgot who we were."

"But Your Majesty, you're stepping down in two weeks anyway. It was a simple mistake."

"So you're trying to dethrone us early?" asked the Queen.

Bjorn asked, "Does this mean I'm a duke?"

Hanse, Moruadh and I all looked toward Bjorn, "No!"

I figured I was gonna be a target and I figured that I might as well let everyone see what a REAL target looked like, so I stepped up onto the picnic table. A crowd was gathering so I figured I'd play it for all it was worth.

"But Your Majesty, I'm a simple herald with human foibles…"

"Who forgot who we were. You're trying to fire us early!"

"Does this mean I'm a duke?"

Everyone within ear shot hollered back, "NO!"

I heard someone mutter, "Here comes Roland."

Not one to let an opportunity pass me by I immediately called out, "Their Majesties command the presence of Roland Agricola!" Roland walked up to me and gave me his best deer-in-the-headlights look.

"You called me?"

I turned to Roland, "Yes, Roland. I've been told that you are an actor and a member of the Commedia. I've been told you're a past master at extemporaneous and improvisational theater and that you think on your feet. I have dire need of someone with your talents. While crying the camp and heralding Their Majesties I called them by the names of the King and Queen from last summer. Now you have to get me out of this. I look to you to provide me with a spirited defense. Meanwhile, I'm outta here!" And I left, leaving Roland to sputter and stammer. People in the background were offering him advice, "Tell them about his recent release, Roland." "Plead insanity, Roland!"

As I walked off to one side I heard King Hanse mutter, "Damn! He got out of it! How'd he do that? He got out of it!"

I saw Countess Morgen standing off to one side obviously oblivious to what was going on. I walked up to her, "Morgen! I got myself into trouble and Bjorn is in the middle of it and you hafta help. Just follow my lead."

Morgen, being really quick on the uptake said, "Huh?" and assumed HER best deer-in-the-headlights look as I took her over to where Bjorn was. He wrapped her in his arms and said, "Hang in there, honey, I'm making you a court duchess."

I circled around behind Hanse and Moruadh, who were raking poor Roland over the coals for my transgressions, when Moruadh said, "Well, Roland, we can't let you go unpunished for Ernst's sins. So we'd like to do this…"

Then I read the scroll and Roland got his AOA. When it was over I heard Bjorn turn to Morgen and quietly ask, "Does that mean I'm a duke and you're a Duchess?"

It turned out to be a very special moment. A moment in which I learned two very valuable lessons. Never tease anyone about their stupid moments. (Margeray tossed Tygart's teeth into the bushes thinking someone had left old soup in her tea cup overnight which became the filk song Ghost Dentures in the Sky.) And never give Bjorn the chance to seek Dukedom through your own stupidity.

Still, somehow it got overlooked and I never did get my basset ears. What's the sound of a basset on the hunt? YORP!