The other night I looked out my apartment window, and two feudal armies were squaring off on the soccer field again. “Hey, it’s past eleven!” I yelled down to them. “I assume you know the bylaw!”
It was pretty windy that night, though, so I’m not sure if anyone heard me. Besides the wind, there was a lot of war chanting going on, a lot of intermittent screaming. I mean, I can appreciate when you’re facing your own death you might want to let loose a primal scream or something. But people have to work in the morning. I’m not even really talking about me. Most days I can sleep in. But there’s a lady down the hall who works at a cleaning business, and she gets up at like, five thirty.
There’s always this awkward moment when the opening skirmish is going on — like, maybe after the first volley of arrows, when the screams really start coming in — that I sit on my couch and seriously wrestle with the question: Should I call the cops? I mean, are the soldiers from Lord Edmund’s side really consenting to this whole thing? Sure, everyone’s sworn their oaths of fealty, and that’s great. I just think there’s some major serf exploitation going on. When one of these guys takes a mace to the teeth, does he even get dental?
Now, I will admit when you first see a cavalry charge into a whole line of pikemen, it gets the blood pumping. It’s not the soldiers per se that I have the problem with. There’s a lot of skill and experience that goes into hand-to-hand combat. I can really respect the discipline. And it’s not the battle itself that’s the problem. It’s just the disregard for other people’s schedules. That’s the thing that really gets on my nerves. I appreciate there’s pillaging and broken oaths on both sides, and that’s not cool, and tensions are especially high since King Theomund’s coronation (hardly democratic — he poisoned everyone in line ahead of him) but that’s not an excuse to, you know, be insensitive to other people’s schedules.
And, I mean, I don’t want to sound like a wimp. But you get a crossbow bolt to the arm when you go out on the balcony to water your plants, and it hurts. It hurts like hell. To be honest, I haven’t even regained complete use of that arm. That was over two weeks ago. But I haven’t complained. Not once. And let’s not even mention the towels I’ve lost to bloodstains.
This is what I’m getting at: I have no problem with medieval butchery on a massive scale right on my doorstep. I would never say I don’t support the medieval troops, because I do. I’m just a little irritated by the lack of consideration. I just want to be involved in the decision-making process.
So, tonight I might call the cops. I can play real hardball when I have to. Just ask my nephew’s elementary-school bake sale. Those kids will never run out of complimentary serviettes again, not on my watch.
Oh, wow. Edmund’s guys are really taking a beating today. I keep telling them they need to watch out for those flank charges, but all they keep saying is, “It’s above my pay grade” in Anglo-Saxon. Or at least I think that’s what they’re saying. It’s been a while since I snuck a peek at the old Beowulf.
Personally, I think a large part of why these serfs allow themselves to be exploited is a lack of self-confidence and ten-year plans. Ask any one of these men-at-arms what they see themselves doing in even five years, and you get the same thing across the board:
“Till my fields and try not to die.”
“Till my fields and hope my village doesn’t burn down.”
“Till my fields and hope I don’t get plague.”
With aspirations like that, it’s no wonder they’re so easily routed at the first sign of mass slaughter. I’ve tried taking a few of the guys to see some inspirational speakers I like, but they usually end up just pillaging the place and bragging about their manly achievements. Or they sit in the back and yell, “Heretic!” and “Burn the heretic!” So embarrassing.
I know it seems like I’m painting a pretty dreary picture of these medieval butchers, but the guys are really nice once you get to know them. Just the other day one of them killed a rabbit that had been messing with my neighbour’s garden. Skinned it clean and left it on her doorstep, all ready for the pot. Turns out it was a pet rabbit from 409 just down the hall, but it’s the thought that counts.
Whether it’s a feudal king leading by divine right, forcing you away from your home and into armed service, or those hacks at City Hall who can’t put aside enough funding for bike lanes, we’re all getting screwed by the system, right? So I hope the guys don’t hold ratting them out against me. They keep saying they’re going to take me on a campaign one day, or help me wolf-proof my kitchen. “There are no wolves in the city,” I say, but they just laugh. I’m not sure I get the joke.
Sometimes I think joining their crusade could be fun. But then I look at the entrails they leave all over my floor and I think, It’s just not worth it, guys.
All right, the cops are here now. They’re walking onto the field, just two officers. They look a little confused, to be honest, a little like they were expecting some kind of false alarm. But I’m sure everything is going to be okay. The police can explain to King Theomund that when Lord Edmund refused to marry Theomund’s daughter, it was nothing personal, it’s just that the dowry didn’t contain enough livestock. It’s not that big a deal.
Oh. The cops just got flattened by a rogue trebuchet boulder. I really hope no one thinks that’s on me. I told the police dispatcher to bring at least twenty score of their finest Welsh longbowmen, the best Bohemian swordsmen, and all the peasants they could muster, but (guess what!) the police ignored me. And now Theomund’s forces are looking in my direction. His Lordship himself is pointing up at my balcony window and making threatening gestures across his throat and raising a rousing call of “Disembowel the betrayer!” They are aiming catapults and poisoning our water supply (fortunately, they think our water supply is our outdoor pool, but say goodbye to networking in the hot tub).
I really should have paid more attention to that siege master when he was explaining proper balcony defence. With the police pancaked, it’s all up to us now. Can’t remember if he recommended boiling olive oil, or was it motor oil? In the meantime, I’ll ask the landlord to board up our front entrance and supply each tenant with a good supply of skull-crushing rocks. It’s a band-aid solution, I know. Speaking of Band-Aids, I’m going to need a few, because my arrow wound reopened while I was pushing siege ladders away from the balcony with my Swiffer, and I am bleeding like crazy — not to mention the gaping axe wound in my side. Where did that come from?
I wish it hadn’t come to this. I really thought my letter to the tenant board would scare off these medieval marauders, no matter how many fingers and ears the board got back in the mail, but no. That’s how you stand your ground in a situation like this. You know your legal shit. You know your shit. Know your knit. Knit your know. Knight yer non?
I’m losing quite a lot of blood right now. Luckily, there’s a doctor in Lord Edmund’s camp who does wonders with bloodletting. Has the best leeches. Though this time I might actually have to go to a real hospital; his ear of newt did absolutely nothing for my gangrene.