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Ursalmas

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We were setting up Barb's seneschal's tent at the Ursalmas event, myself and the new couple in her household, Hans and Elsa. Everything was going well, we were joking and getting along fine until I pulled out the enormous old bear claw that belonged to Steric, the seneschal. It was an antique, passed down in his family, ribboned and beaded and decorated. I put it in pride of place above the camp stove and stood back to admire it.

"What is that? That's a demon thing, take it down!" Elsa hissed.

"No, it's just an heirloom that belongs to Steric. His father gave him to him when his grandfather died," I suddenly felt very uneasy. I knew Hans and Elsa actually believed in demons and played at being 'hunters', but I didn't believe they would actually do anything, and certainly not here in front of groups of witnesses.

Elsa drew a wicked knife from her belt, not just decorative, but a thick, jagged tooth monstrosity belied by its relatively small size, "It must be killed," her tone took on a wheedling air, I'm sure meant to convince me to their way of thinking, "Help us. If we don't rid the world of demons, how will it ever be safe for our children?"

She was crazy! Hans...I looked at Hans but he had drawn a similar blade, advancing on me as I backed out of the tent.

"You're crazy! Crazy! He's not a demon, he's a good man, and lots of people have those! Everyone who celebrates Ursalmas, in fact," I could only think to find Steric or Barb and warn them. Wait, there were lots of people here, I wasn't alone. I screamed, as loud as I could, past the panic and fear.

"You shouldn't have done that," Elsa pointed her knife at me, preparing to lunge. But I was desperate, and she wasn't that determined to hurt me. I caught the knife, blade against my palm. It bit, but not too deep, and I managed to take it from her just out of surprise.

Hans rolled his eyes at her but kept coming at me, "You should not defend him, little girl, you want to end up as Bear food? They aren't your nice people, they will turn on you as soon as you stop being useful to them."

They were wrong, Barb and Steric, their entire household, had been so kind to me when I first joined the SCA. I had been an orphan, alone and adrift. I screamed again, rage mixed with my fear, and grabbed for his blade.

The teeth of it bit deeper than Elsa's had, and he didn't let go, "We don't want to hurt you, just give up and we'll take you in. We'll get you away from these nasty Bear things." His accent and leer gave me a greasy feel in my stomach and I backed up as far as I could.

We had reached the main thoroughfare by then, people just starting to realize my screams were in ernest over the sounds of setting up and early partying. Suddenly, Hans and Elsa were grabbed and yanked behind a large truck unloading it's contents. I heard a single grunt, then nothing.

Barb ran up to me, catching my wrists to see how badly I was hurt, "Are you ok? What on Earth happened?"

"They were crazy, they thought you and Steric were some kind of Bear demon, just because Steric has that old bear claw from his dad!"

Her eyes got that uneasy look in them and she pulled me over to her truck to see to my hands. "They've been dealt with. Tara..."

"No, no, no! There's no such thing! Lots of people have bear claws just like that! Heck, we're having an event based on a bear-protector!" I was in tears, overwrought from her kindness more from the blades that cut my hands.

"Tara, honey, everyone who has a Claw..." Barb began, but I didn't let her finish.

"No," I looked at my friend with tears running down my face, willing her to understand, "I have one of those. It's the only thing I have left of my birth-family. It's what led me to join the SCA. It doesn't mean what they think it does!"

She looked at me, understanding my fear at last and walked me back to my Champion, my protector, and, soon to be, my husband. Steric folded me in his arms and walked us back to the tent so I could rest.