We have chosen a different road. The use of the weapon to defend one's life on the street or the battlefield is certainly a valid period context that would have been trained for in the period. If we want to be as complete a swordsperson, as an authentic a swordsperson as we can we should also embrace the self defense context as well as the salle and the duel. The scenario based exercise is designed to test our skill at tactical analysis and flexibility under stress. While we cannot be completely authentic and still be safe we can include a reasonable amount of realism and induce stress by using time as a measure of performance.
These are potential scenarios for this year's competition. They are provided here so that participants will not be totally unprepared.
Scenario One. After the Battle
27 July 1689 at Killiecrankie near Pitlochry Scotland It has been a tough day for Redcoats like you. As you run exhausted from the battlefield you see many of your friends are already dead or like your comrade Donald McBane have fled the field. You watched amazed as he leapt nearly twenty feet to freedom across the river Garry. Your route of escape appears in front of you; a narrow defile in the gorge. Blocking your way stand two men; one Highlander armed with a musket and plug bayonet and behind him an aristocratic man armed with a smallsword. You are unarmed having thrown down your musket and accoutrement so as to run faster. As luck would have it a smallsword lies at your feet. The Highlanders are not taking prisoners. You must dispatch both of your opponents to live. As you reach down to pick up your only chance of survival you say boldly so all can hear " Well now, we shall see if those fencing lessons were worth the money!" And the fight begins . . . . .
Scenario Two. Unintended Consequences
April 3, 1730 Natchez Mississippi. Spring in the American Deep South. You sip your tea in the courtyard of a tavern as the morning sun warms your face. You close your eyes and breath deep. The Magnolias are in bloom and the air is heavy with their scent and that of the other myriad of flora which has burst back into life after a long winter of hiding. You to have had your own season of hiding. Six months ago you left New Orleans in a hurry. It was not meant to be a duel to the death but those damned smoothbore pistols are incredibly inaccurate . Usually this meant a clean miss but this time it meant a messy and fatal head shot to the only son of one of the leading citizens of the city. The seconds and most of the town understood but the father of the dead man, Don Francisco, was inconsolable. He has sworn to hunt you down and have his revenge. So it is not then a total surprise as you open your eyes that you see Don Francisco with his old fashioned Rapier in hand advancing across the courtyard toward you. He is restrained suddenly by another man. A man with the cool confidence and demeanor which betrays his experience and a familiarity with death. The other man speaks as he draws his smallsword and comes on guard. "This is what you paid me for Don Francisco. Please stand back and let me earn my pay". You draw your sword certain that this is a professional killer and in a moment your blades meet . . . . .
Scenario Three. Mistaken Identity
April 3, 1755 Just outside of Nice France. You are traveling to the home of your sick uncle in town. Anxious to rejoin your new wife who nurses him you have ridden all night. As your horse ambles east along the coast road from Monaco the birds begin to wake and celebrate the day. The sun burns off the dew releasing the rich warm smell of the wild sage. Suddenly there is a gunshot and another. Your horse bolts and you are thrown to the dusty road. You are not wounded. You look up and ten yards away two men re-holster their heavy cavalry pistols on their saddles and dismount. Their clothes are rather plain and humble in contrast to their surly and imposing arms-across-the-chest pose. " I Sir am Louis Mandrin and you are the new agent of the Ferme générale , and so you must die. " "Me" you protest " A tax collector? You are mistaken I am just a humble traveler. I hate the Gabelle and the Aides and those leaches who farm not for crops but for gold in the name of the king as much as any Frenchman. I go to my new wife. Pray let me pass monsieur." There is a pause. The highwayman speaks " It is sad, She has awoken this day as a wife and yet will sleep tonight as a widow. " There are no more words as you and your attackers simultaneously draw your smallswords and engage, . . . .