Friday, July 13, 2012

The Llyrian Tourney Circuit

The kingdom of Llyris, born from the tribulations at the end of the Eighth Age, has a long history of horsemanship. Originally, Llyris was settled by colonists of the ancient and powerful kingdoms of Llernea and Llynder though it did not gain its own status as a kingdom until the early 7th Age, after the Wars of the East with the Moon Goblins. The free peninsula was forced to unite, and great numbers of Thegnari horse-men crossed the mountains into Llyrian territory, being driven before the goblins.

This marked the foundation of the modern chevalier (Varan, cavalirus, milite) or knight, an ideal developed within Llyris after the arrival of the great Thegnari herdsires. Indeed, the breeding of huge war-mounts (Varan, destrirus) began in the middle 7th Age and resulted in a society devoted to what has been come known as the Llyrian Ideal, i.e. knighthood.

As the years progressed and the notion of knighthood became entrenched in Llyris (and spread throughout the north of Arunia), the tourney circuit began to develop. It was common for Llyrian knights to engage in mock-combats to test their mettle and this eventually became the capital-T Tournament. While other kingdoms hold tournaments (most notably the Three Kingdoms region and the Empire) none do so with such aplomb as the lords and ladies of Llyris.

The tournies of most other nations are seasonal, but in Llyris it is possible to be engaged in tournaments year-round. With some planning, a hopeful knight can arrive in Llyris in Thaw and fight right up until Thaw of the following year, hopefully winning some acclaim and a large purse or two. The imperials have an expression for Llyris: cavalirorum laudica terre, which means the "land of knightly acclaim." A somewhat more cynical expression is common amongst those less inclined towards warm relationships with knights, namely: cavalirorum clamica, "knightly clamor."

As that may be, nowhere in Arunia is the knight more renowned and beloved than Llyris. Below you shall find a list of the great cities and towns that hold tournaments, and in what months, so that if you so desire you too may go and test your lance and sword against the mettle of other warriors. For each month I have selected the best (so I feel) tournament for a knight to attend.

The cantons of Llyris

The most prestigious tournaments are generally held in summer, but several of the spring tournaments are worth cutting your teeth in. The Grand Tourney is Greatgrove cannot even be entered unless you've won a purse at an earlier tournament, so this is a good place to start trying.

Dalios, Canton Lengyr. The city of Dalios holds the First Night tournament (on the 1st of Thaw) along the Lengreth River every year. This tournament is attended by every knight in Llyris who can make it without angering their liege lord. It is a huge affair, and has everything a tournament can offer from a melée to a joust. There are crafts-prizes as well, and yearly the best judged armorer and weaponsmith are granted money by the Count of Lengyr. If you seek to win a purse, there is no better place to do so; small-scale matches are promoted and though you may fail at the Great Joust or the Grand Melée, you may still win a qualifying purse in one of the opening rounds.

Tavera, Canton Rionen. The Count of Rionen has started a Greening-month tourney near the shores of Grovewater Lake in the little town of Tavera. This is a particularly interesting tournament: as the numerous orcs of the Lengyrweld must be culled to keep them from pouring into the Rionen plains. Therefore, every year at this tournament there is held an orc-count whereby the number of orcish heads that can be collected at the end of the week's festivities is awarded another, separate purse. Note, my friends, that this purse does not count towards a qualifier in the Grand Tourney!

Mountjoy, Canton of Middlemount. The Mountjoy Tourney is one of the oldest in the kingdom and was once held in the month of Swording. However, Count Alvys Mountjoy has moved the tournament earlier in the year so that he himself may spend the summer fighting in the mountains to keep the population of troublesome goblin peoples down during the rest of the year. The Mountjoy Tourney can be considered a trial-run for the Grand Tournament; I urge you to explore Mountjoy, for its dwarven-inspired walls and five-course city are certainly without compare in Llyris! Indeed, dwarves themselves sometimes compete in the tourney here though clearly not as tilters!

By now you'll want to have tried yourself at a few tourneys. If you don't have a purse yet, you have one month left to get one before the Grand Tourney. Do note that if war breaks out, the Grand Tourney is the first one to suffer as the royal levees must necessarily be present to make a show of crown authority in any Llyrian conflict.

Oldcastel, Canton of Oldcastel. The ancient seat of Old Llyria, Oldcastel is a remarkable place. The High Count rules from amidst the rods-wide ruins of the ancient royal castle, secure in a towered-courtyard amongst its crumbling walls. However, the Oldcastel Tourney is held not in Oldcastel proper but in a little town some 20 or 25 rods distant called Suralist. The entire High Count's curia moves to Suralist for a week and a half and then immediately departs southwards for the Grand Tourney.

Greatgrove, Canton Régal. This is it, my friends! The Grand Tourney! I know you may be wondering why I would drag you all the way north to Oldcastel, but you have plenty of time to make it back for this two-week tournament. Greatgrove teems with nobility from all over the kingdom during this month, and revenues (including tax revenues via the markets) soar! Merchants love the Grand Tourney, as you can well imagine. Days and days of jousts, duels, melées, archery competitions, plough-pulls, even Aellonian-style boxing envelope the capitol in a festival atmosphere that cannot be missed! The Great Purse, awarded to the knight who is victorious in the final joust on the second week of the tournament, grows each year but is said to be nearing 5,000 groves, more than a knight-bachelor could make in a half year of service!

Driftstone, Canton of Seawood. You can travel just down the coast to the tip of Llyrian peninsula to Seawood for the next tourney. Be prepared for some maritime events, however! There are invariably a number of elves that attend this tourney, particularly from the great sailing nations of Vesimia and Sidabrinia. The naval maneuvers are more dangerous than those on land; while you may get one or two deaths at a tourney every year in the joust or melée, falling overboard during the mock sea-battles is a sure a way as any to meet Akem.

By now most of the tourneys are starting to wind down. The cantons each have their own tournaments in the summer, but they become a little more sparing in the autumn. This is where knowledge of the land helps: knowing the order to hit the cantons and the path to take can ensure that you are paid (at least a few times) and that you don't waste any vital traveling days.

Three Forks, Canton of Valding. Most autumn tourneys are colorful, but none are so strange as the River Battles of Three Forks. While this is not a long tourney and there are not a great number of events here, the River Battle is one that you should not miss. The contestants are randomly divided by a herald into two sides: one defending the fords and one attacking. Whosoever wins the day, every surviving member of that side is awarded a small purse.

Veddesbank, Canton of Amberdon. Traveling north, you will find that Reaping is the month most dry of tourneys in all Autumn. Men are busy with the last harvest and the harvest-tide rights. No one wants to attend a tournament in that condition! However, at Veddesbank the tourney has been made into part of the Eleian celebrations. Harvest-tide and tourney all together serve and honor the glory of Eleia and help to send prayers to her down in the underworld where she will reside until the next Thaw.

Stonebridge, Canton of Widethorpe. The Stonebridge tourney is a somber one, with the hard knights of the northern marches riding down to participate. Much of the festival atmosphere vanishes with the coming of winter; this is the first tourney where you will see it is dominated by those hard-bitten men and women who's only goal is to pound the snot out of someone, make some money, and ride home to defend their steads from the encroaches of goblins or Stonemarkers. This tourney is filled with tough folk from the March of Stones, Canton of Winter's Rest, the March of Anar, and the Canton of Lindry. Fight well, or sit this one out and watch, because come winter these men and women will be your constant foes.

Winter is the hardest time to fight in a tourney. This is where you truly begin to understand the Llyrian spirit. While few folks will come out to cheer for a knight in the snow over in the Empire (maybe more in the Three Kingdoms, but the difference is negligible) now that the harvest is in many peasants in Llyris will come to support their favorites as though it were summer!

Lonestand, Canton of Langridge. This tourney takes place atop a lonesome bluff in the middle of the (quite unsettled) Canton of Langridge. There is always the added chance of wild-men attacking nearby villages, so the knights never let down their guards here. Like the Stonebridge tourney, the Langridge jousts bring knights from most of the northern cantons. Unlike the tournies of Longing, some of the southern knights will come to participate again. This is a gruff tournament, but not so much so as the one you'll have just come from.

Roseshadow, Canton of Sweetmede. Sweetmede stands out amongst the northern cantons as one of relative peace. While you may hear that the Winter's Rest tourney is a better one at this time of year (or be told to travel back south so you can begin your Thaw jousts all over again in Lengyr), it would be a shame to miss the Sweetmede jousts. Why, you ask? Well, Roseshadow is the home of a great temple of Raya and though it may be the dark of winter, the Goddess of Beauty showers this town with the bounties of pale winter roses, blue winter violets, and all manner of other wondrous things.  

Windshome, Canton of Windhaven. So here is how you will get back south: joust at the little tournament in Windshome at the headwaters of the Lindryn River, and then take passage on a ship south, along the Coast of Olives, through the waters of the Ishtrian Sea, and arrive in time to joust again in Dalios in Canton Lengyr.

This completes the circuit, but know of course that your own experience will count for far more than anything I could tell you. You will find the tournaments you like most, and perhaps a more efficient or luxurious route of jousting in them. This is the basic tourney-list that I myself have followed for years, so I hope to see you at the lists!


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