We were mighty. We were a band of warmongers, at times forty strong, battling to the death with swords of PVC pipe, padding, and duct tape. We were the UCA sword-fighting club, and our battleground was Old Main.
Our founding father and great leader was Steven. With a sharp eye and careful hand, he fashioned weapons for those of us that recently joined the ranks. With the help of the veterans such as Cyrus and Matt, he kept us in line and trained us in the laws so we didn’t get thrown off campus. Our rules were simple; lose both arms, you’re dead. Stabbed in the stomach, chest, or back? Dead. No head shots, no boob shots on girls, and no hits below the belt. Honor was key; it was important to admit your death, lest you were called to an honor duel and miserably defeated before onlookers.
There were many battles to be fought. One-on-one combat reigned when our numbers were low, but the best times were when we had at least fifteen people. Splitting into two or three groups, we would plunge into a game of capture the king. Our castles; Old Main, Irby, and Harrin. The goal; to kill the king of the other two armies before they killed yours. One fine moment in this pseudo-warfare was when Cyrus’ entire party had been massacred and he was left to defend himself from the onslaught of eight bloodthirsty enemies. They were no match for him. Using his quick wits and the soggy environment of Old Main Circle, he defeated each of his opponents by standing in a large water puddle. He taught us newcomers an important lesson; wear old shoes.
As time passed, we learned other techniques for gaining an advantage on the battlefield. Many female warriors had discovered that the power of seduction had its place here, too. A skimpy sports bra added maneuverability and distracted a challenger of the opposite sex. A fallen tank top strap would successfully stun a fighter long enough to slay them. One woman’s tactic was enough to make men flee when she picked up a sword. She was known as Nutcracker.
One the other side, the guys created other strategies to get the upper hand. For instance, one man became an assassin. Short and quick, he could slip up behind an opponent easily and lay his blade across their back before they had a chance to turn around. Others leaped bushes and even climbed walls to gain the high ground. All were brilliant strategies though sometimes they fell short upon execution. Occasionally a foot would snag in a bush, or a newcomer would try to lunge forward on one foot and consequentially fall on his face. One experienced swordsman bounded backwards off a wall–and into a brick casing around a basement window of Old Main, which in turn called out the Three Forces; police, fire, and ambulance. He was not seriously injured but, alas, regulations must be followed.
The elder fighters made us rookies look even more awkward and clumsy than we already were. Cyrus moved like a cat, and Nathan could kill you in a move. They and the other veterans had honed their battle skills long before in the club’s beginnings in Toad Suck Park. It was amazing to watch two of them sparring against one another.
And then tragedy struck. As with many powerful armies of the past, we fell with the loss of our leader. Graduation had come to take Steven from our ranks and cast him to the world of careers. On were passed the bags of swords; the official swords and the white, double-padded rookie swords, and handed down was the book with our laws, names, and sword fees. As graduation whisked away our founder, our elders were carried off by evil forces like jobs, Tai Chi, feuds, and the looser laws of the newly created Hendrix club. Those of us left carried on awhile longer, but the spirit had died. Our numbers decreased as one by one, we sacrificed our war-hungry natures for schoolwork, anime clubs, and personal relationships. Gradually, the swords fell into disrepair, for there was no craftsman with the knowledge to repad them. Soon after, even the most determined of us fell to the traps of the world, and the fights ceased as he was shipped off to perform his military duties. The swords were lost somewhere in an art major’s apartment, and the fights were all but forgotten.
****It has been a few years since a battle was waged on the steps of Old Main, and my cluster of swords gathers dust in my closet. There are a few former members left on campus, but we’ve drifted apart and no one has time to cross swords. Still, I hear tales that a few of the old ones continue to fight in Laurel Park. One day, maybe I’ll get the urge to lift my blade and challenge them once again. Until then, every time I pass Old Main and look up at its brick porch and concrete steps, I will smile and remember the bouts I won and the many deaths I died, and I will relish every moment that I was a warmonger.