Back in the days before everything was bought on the internet the most important event for us to attend was the Gathering run by Lorien Trust. This ran over the August bank holiday weekend and doing well at that made the difference between having a good Christmas or eating beans until the next Easter. To help us attract people to the stall a friend wrote a series of advertorials which we gave out to people sitting in their cars in the queues waiting at the gate and at weapons check.. I've just found a couple of these advertorials on a 3.5 inch floppy, so here, with suitably updated links is one of the installments in the adventures of Arnie.
“MOVE YOURSELF YOU ‘ORRIBLE LITTLE MAN. LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, MOVE IT!” Sergeant Benjamin’s harsh barking slowly penetrated the fog inside Arnie’s head. He remembered the drink. He remembered the girl. He remembered more drink. He remembered making his mark at the bottom of a sheet of parchment. The nice man had given him a silver coin for making an X on a…..Oh Dear.
Hot air poured from the drill sergeant’s lungs to scorch Arnie’s backside. He speeded up and quickly passed into a wooden hut, coming to a smart stop in front of a desk. The benign figure of Quartermaster William sat there, a happy, welcoming smile playing across his misshapen features. He wore a military tabard over his heavy-duty battlecoat.
“Did I join the army Sergeant?”
Benjamin and William exchanged bemused glances.
“Do we have to go through this rigmarole every time you go out for a drink Arnie? You joined up six months ago.”
Arnie ran his hands across his own body. Unarmoured. Not good. His hand went to his temple. At least he still wore his rather fetching jewelled headband leather headband. That one always went down well with the ladies. He smiled at that thought, the QM’s words slipping neatly through one ear and out the other. If only he’d been wearing his helmet.
“We’ve got to you kitted out in double-quick time son. The commander’s got a special mission for you. I hope it doesn’t involve playing cards. Now, put your arms out.” The QM fished under the desk and came up with a huge pile of equipment (no room to list everything here but if you come to see us we’ve probably got it). Arnie smiled sheepishly.
“DO AS THE QUARTERMASTER SAYS YOU ‘ORRIBLE LITTLE MAN! MOVE YOURSELF.” The smell of scorched trouser seat wafted into Arnie’s nostrils even as he felt the warmth. He held out his arms.
As the QM began to deposit items onto his outstretched limbs Arnie recognised the workmanship immediately - the regiment obviously had a deal with Darkblade. The trader obviously had his fingers in lots of pies. Arnie’s stomach rumbled.
“Item. Greaves - one pair. Legs for the protecting of. . Benjamin ticked the items from a list as he barked.
“What pattern of plates or studs would sir prefer this time? I trust that the choice I’ve made for you is acceptable? Yes, I think so. Suits you sir.”
“Vambraces. One pair - as previous but for arms.”
“Perhaps full articulation sir? Built in gauntlets or would you prefer them separate.”
A dark thought crossed Arnie’s mind, overtaking tumbleweeds as it went. He remembered a phrase oft-used in the mess - special needs for special missions - how come he was always the one to get volunteered? William and Benjamin continued to dole out the items.
“Battlecoat. One - stabbing implements for the foiling of.”
“I think that one’s for officer’s only Bill”
“Right you are. He won’t need armour where he’s going anyway.”
Arnie raised an eyebrow. Perhaps his mission wouldn’t be so dangerous after all. He saw the QM retrieve another pile of equipment. There were tankard straps bottle carriers and tobacco pouches lying on the desk now as well trousers and tunics. There was even a spell card holder as part of the disguise. His heart sank as he realised he was to be sent into the lands of the drunken tribes.
“Brigga” stated Benjamin as the trousers were handed over.
“Socksniffer,” retorted Arnie, unsure why he had just been insulted.
"Bog roll bag including bog roll"
"What's that for sarge?" replied Arnie.
"Barbarian lands son," said Benjamin "You never know where the next sheet of soft paper's coming from!"
Soon he was loaded with gear. He noted with surprise that he had not been given any weapon harness. Things were looking bad.
“Excuse me Sir. Shouldn’t I be getting something to defend myself with?”
“Step right this way” invited QM William, limping out through the rear door into an enclosed courtyard. Arnie limped along after him until Sgt Benjamin cuffed him about the back of the head.
“Don’t take the persistence son,” he hissed in Arnie’s ear.
Arnie stopped short, his eyes wide with wonder. Hanging from pegs all around the walls were weapons of quality. Axes, maces and swords of all descriptions were arrayed there. Each weapon was sheathed in its own scabbard.
Looks like the regiment had started buying decent quality weapons at last thought Arnie.
“Saved me a load of time has that,” confided QM William. Now you don’t have to spend an hour searching for the right scabbard to fit your sword. It’s already done for you. Corporal suggested it. It means you fine soldiers will have more time to spend in the beer tent.
“That’s the mess isn’t it sir?”
“Only after you lot have been in there.”