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I finally arrive at the park. The feeling of excitement pulses through my body as I spot
the gates ahead opening the portal to the new world. Watch towers much like the ones that
belong to a castle surround the gates and the massive metal doors seem to be beckoning me. As I
approach, I begin to hear the sounds of raucous music and laughter. The much
anticipated Renaissance Festival has finally begun!
“What! Young knaves, come hither and bear thy arms! Prepare thee for battle.” A
barbaric looking man covered from head to toe in animal skins and bones yells at my friend
Jerad and me. With a confused stare, we question the substance of his words with our eyes.
Quicker than our hands can react, he throws us each a weapon that seems to be crafted of
plastic and foam. Before we know it, we are being herded into a crowd of men in a forward
march, uncertain of our destination. Surrounded by trees, we trudge along the dirty path, the
stench of sweaty bodies filling the air around us. I begin to think we have made a mistake in
allowing ourselves to follow this barbaric pied piper.
As the trumpets blare to signal our arrival, I feel like a Connecticut Yankee in King
Arthur’s court. We appear to be in the middle of an enormous arena where the crowds have
begun to fill the stands. The Arena floor is covered in sand and the high walls tell us that there in
no escape. I look to Jerad with questions, still not sure why we are even here, only to receive
the same puzzling expression from Jerad. On top of that we both are parched of water. The roar
of the crowd is soon silenced by the head barbarian, all listening, hoping to find out why we are
“The rules are simple- kill your enemy ...or be killed” announces the scruffy barbarian.
Lining up on each side of the arena floor, we face our opponents to prepare for battle. “Charge!”
screamed a voice among our brothers. I stand not sure what to do as everyone blows by me and
begins engaging in battle. I start to run forward when a fellow solider is crushed to the ground by
a large man covered in sweat and swinging his mighty hammer. I look to the large man wishing I
was invisible just when his eyes fix upon me.
As the giant charges after me, I ready myself to anticipate his swings to come. The first
swing is a full out base-ball swing coming at me hard from the right. I evade the bone snapping
strike just to ready myself for round two. This time, he tries crushing me with an aggressive over
head swing, aiming to punish me for dodging the first attack. I jump to the side, missing the hit
just by inches and am sprawled out on the ground with no escape from his finishing blow.
Closing my eyes, I prepare myself for what the Spartans call “A Glorious Death” just when I
hear the large man give out a loud bellow.
I open my eyes to see what is going on. Just in front of me, the man is lying face first in
the sand, dead as can be with nothing but a large boulder lying next to him. I look among the
battle field to see whom I so greatly owe my thanks to and spot no one other than my best friend
Jerad, hand still cocked from releasing the large boulder.
After more battles with many worthy opponents, Jerad and I seek much needed
sustenance. Perhaps some buxom wench in passing by might be so kind as to offer us a hardy
drought of ale. The Renaissance Festival has been more than just a journey into the past; it has
actually been a real life experience. For a few hours that day, I was actually a gladiator,
competing for my life in the arena filled with blood-thirsty spectators.