Through the Door

Their swords flashed in the sunlight, sparking like bolts of lightning, the radiant impressions fading slowly in the spectators’ dazzled vision. The female fighter Helene spun and dodged with lithe quickness. She fought with two swords, wielding them like lethal silver torches while her male opponent struggled to keep up.

Then two knights took the stage with sword and shield, their weapons leaving solid thumps on the wooden barriers with each blow. There was satisfaction in each hearty crash, as the audience cheered either for the strength of one knight or the determination of the other. Many perched on the edges of their seats, fists clenched subconsciously as they imagined themselves in their patron knight’s place.

And then there was the Blue Knight. With gentlemanly kindness, he gave his blue rose not to the prettiest maiden but to a little girl, whose eyes gleamed as she accepted the prize and whose voice ran hoarse cheering for her sweetheart. The Blue Knight fought fiercely, enduring countless blows from his fearsome foe. It was with increasing difficulty that he rose time and again after being knocked down, until finally he lay collapsed in the grass, unable to fight any longer. It was with disappointment that the little girl watched her knight be carried off, and doubtless there was despondence in his own heart to have failed her.

But there were yet more rounds to be fought, yet more fighters to test their mettle, and none could yet say how the tournament would end…

***

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The tip of my beautiful hair wand, into which is carved the elvish word for “hope”. 

So I went to a medieval festival yesterday! I’ve mentioned before how much I love them and yesterday was just a reminder of the fact. All the costumes–armour, dresses, feathers and leather!–all the wanton cries of “Huzzah!”, all the amazing stuff to buy. Oh, the stuff to buy. Some girls drool over new shoes. I drool over hand-carved wands, pewter and sterling silver, and leather books. I picked up a couple things, a hair wand and a hobbit hole necklace (as well as a Claddagh ring for my sister), but really what I picked up was inspiration.

Guys, this is going to be me one day.

You’ll find me wandering through a medieval festival, lost in a world of fantasy, brave enough to play a part I’m yet too shy to act. You might find me competing in a tournament, or simply admiring the sights, or playing a fiddle, or telling stories. But that’s what I’ll be doing–going to all the medieval festivals not just as a spectator, but as somebody who belongs there.

I know I’m going to write fantasy for a long time, likely the rest of my life, but sometimes I forget why I do it. It’s easy to forget, since I just sit at the same laptop every day to write, surrounded by technology and electricity and running water, but when I go to medieval festivals, I remember.

I love the chivalry of the knights, men and women alike. I love the dresses and cloaks. I love the music by fiddle and flute. I love the hearty pewter, the elegant sterling silver. I love the leather, love it, love it, love it. I love the magic and the rawness and the unpredictability.

But most of all, I love the adventure.

I love that you’re stepping into a different world where anything can happen and anyone can become a hero. I love looking at people not in terms of status or wealth, but in terms of strength, cleverness, and bravery. I love that there are people in the world who love fantasy just as much as I do, and who are constant reminders that as long as the hero endures, so too does our hope.

Hope is an open door, through which the light glows most radiant. Hope is our guiding star, our flaming brand, our solid shield. Hope is the sword with which we cleave doubt, fear, and evil itself.

Coming back from the festival, I am full of it, this hope stuff, and that is a gift more precious than my money can buy.

What are you hoping for this week?

May you see hope as your door and have the courage to find your way through it.

-Alex

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My hobbit hole necklace, inside which I also wrote the elvish word for “hope”, to remind me that hope is a door waiting to be opened.

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12 thoughts on “Through the Door

  1. Haha, some girls drool over shoes indeed, but I drool over exactly the same stuff you mentioned!

    I LOVE the sound of these medieval festivals you go to! And you always ring back such cool stuff ^^ We have something a little similar here in the UK… If ever you visit England, Alex, I seriously recommend you go the English Heritage sites, such as castles! They nearly always have some event going on, and they are so marvellous. As you wander the grounds of the castle, medieval life goes on around you as though you have stepped back in time: knights jousting (horses all over the place), knights arguing over a fair maiden, tournaments and celebrations, dancing, musicians playing the flute and the lute, commoners making baskets or what have you outside their huts, bowman practising archery etc, etc. Sometimes they even re-enact ancient wars, such as the Battle of Hastings. It’s not just medieval times, either: Romans, Cavaliers, Victorians, the World Wars! Oh, how I love it all.
    It’s funny how you should say you want to be a part of those medieval festivals; whenever I see English Heritage events on, I always pine about how I love to be a part of it. I wish I was! I love history.

    I consider myself so blessed to be English! Such a vast, rich history we have everywhere you look, and you never have to travel far to find a castle! As a child, I spent so many a time sitting upon the hillside watching the knights and celebrations. Now I think back about this, it’s no wonder I love fantasy and the olden times as much as I do!

    I always end up writing essay comments to you. Apologies ;) I’m glad to hear this festival has boosted your hope :) Such a brilliant way to restore it, too ^^

    Have a look at these videos and get a taster of English Heritage! :D Hope to see you there someday ;) (I actually went to my local Festival of History one year and I took my dog, and the knights/soldiers/commoners wandering about stopped to fuss over him. It was quite funny).


    • I’m so envious!
      All these talk about medieval festivals is making me drool – we don’t have it where we live, don’t really celebrate the culture here, too. Being a relatively ‘young’ country, there isn’t much to celebrate either. My little island of a city state lacks exactly this sort of escapades. I’m surrounded by a concrete jungle where I live, and no matter how much I love technology, fantasy is still ever endearing.

      Okay, until I get a chance to visit them, I’d mope in the corner of my room with my robot vaccum. ):

      • Oh no :( Where is it you live? New Zealand? One day, you will see such a medieval festival! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t ^^

      • I’m sorry to hear that! :/ Hmm, that’s a shame, but as Jenny said–one day you shall see one! You’ll either have to come over to one of our countries or we’ll have to drag the festivals over to you but this will not stand! You must see a festival! :P

        But what!–you have a robot vacuum?! I have a feeling one of those would entertain me endlessly…

        • I know, right?! It’s on my bucket list to be at one of these festivals. Plus, robot vacuums aren’t actually that useful, it’s more of a novelty gadget. Sometimes I’d rather do the chore myself and get it done faster, especially when your vacuum tends to teeter precariously off the top of the stairs._.

          • Haha well, I hate vacuums so even if it does a crap job, it’s good enough for me :P And I think seeing it about to topple down the stairs would probably just entertain me even more.

    • Hehe, we have such similar interests! :D

      Aggh!! I would DIE to go see a castle! It sounds beautiful–a world I would love to find myself wandering through. It baffles my mind a bit, though, that this is all historical for you. Our Canadian historical events are mostly just Aboriginal or Pioneer settlements and demonstrations–I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Aboriginal culture, but not as much as I love medieval times :) So medieval history feels so magical to me, despite it actually being history. I think I’m going to have to plan an extensive trip to the UK at some point in my life though to see all the castles and heritage!

      We shall both have to find a way to become part of them then! I would love to experience first-hand that time period.

      My goodness, that sounds so wonderful. Blessed indeed! That’s likely why you love fantasy so much–I can imagine it would have a powerful influence on you :D

      Oh no worries! It just takes me FOREVER to respond, that’s all :P But I love hearing from you!

      Hehe, knights fussing over a dog! How cute an image! Thanks for sharing the videos–I loved the kids making the shield formation in the second one–so cool!

      • I find it so strange a concept to think that people on the other side of the pond can’t just pop down the road to the castle. Like… mind-boggling. It’s funny what we get used to! But I really do think many take the heritage here for granted. You need to see a castle!! There are so many beautiful ones here ^^ You will love it. You must come someday :) I’ll give you a guided tour ;)

        It sounds like you would have liked British school history lessons! Medieval times, Victorian, Anglo-Saxons, Tudors, etc etc. We are so lucky. I used to love History.

        And then you get to A level (the exams you take before uni) and they make you study American ‘history’, which is just totally ludicrous and criminal when America doesn’t even have any history and ours is so rich and extensive. I’m not biased at all ;) But seriously though….

        A very powerful influence ^^

        Glad you enjoyed the videos!

        • “Pop down the road to the castle.” Are… are you serious? I can’t help but laugh–that is so awesome, but if I said that here, people would stare like I’d gone insane. It really is funny what we get used to :D I certainly will come and see a castle! I would be glad to have a guided tour from you ;)

          Ah, I probably would’ve liked history a lot better if I grew up in the UK. I hated history with a burning passion. I only had to take it grades 7 and 8, and then grade 10, but really there’s not a lot to teach. Canadian history is weird, where all the “interesting” stuff happens because of Great Britain owning Canada, and Canada getting roped into wars. So it’s sort of British history, but… not. I just remember having to learn a lot of names of Prime Ministers and dates… not my strongest suit :/

          • I’m completely serious! You can literally pop down the road to castles. Haha, you should say it, just for the laughs ;) And I’d be more than happy to give a guided tour! Not sure how much use I’d be, though… “And this is a… stone wall.”

            Aww, that’s so sad to hear you hated History so much! It’s such a rich and extensive subject. Though, admittedly, there are awful elements to it, such as the dates and names etc. Oh dear, look at Britain dragging you into war. Sorry about that. You know, only the other day was I talking to my mum about Canada (for some reason), and we were saying, “What is the history of Canada? I have no idea.” Genuinely no idea. We never, ever learnt it here. But, of course, we learnt about blumin’ America and Columbus and the Boston Tea Party. Sir Walter Raleigh brought back potatoes from the Americas for Queen Elizabeth I in 16th century. There’s a fun fact for you.

          • I still can’t even comprehend, wow! Haha, well, at least I’ll know where all the stone walls are then ;)

            Mhm, the dates and names killed it for me :S Haha, well, considering Britain gave us the means to become our own country, I don’t suppose we should complain too much :P Yeah Canadian history is rather low-key. Like, just take all the major North American/worldwide events and Canada will be there in the sidelines. I don’t think we did much that was tremendously significant. I think if you’re gonna study Canadian history, you’d have to study it from a very in-depth societal perspective. But what do I know? :P

            Oh wow, what important potatoes those must have been, haha!

          • Haha, it’s very important to know where those stone walls are ;)

            Well hey, maybe being on the sidelines isn’t such a bad thing; at least Canada can’t be blamed for anything! aha. As a country, you really have peered from the shadows, though – I can’t even recall hearing about Canadian involvement during WW2. You surely were involved… right??

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