Before I get into our regularly scheduled Medieval fantasy content, I want to say a few words about what happened last night. This isn't another meltdown post--we've had enough of those--nor is it a post chastening posters for throwing coaches/players under the bus the first time we lose a game. Rather this is more of a brief reflection on what it means to be a fan and what it means to invest passion and emotions in a team of people who you likely have no direct personal connection to, and who don't even know you exist.
When your team loses it's tough. I woke up this morning with no energy, feeling glum and dejected. But I didn't feel depressed. I didn't feel angry. In meltdowns past, I did feel like that, but I think I've learned not to take it so seriously. And if there's one thing that does make me happy it's knowing that Tyler Trent, the Purdue fan battling cancer, will wake up with all his ordinary discomfort, possibly even pain, but that that pain when he opens his eyes will be at least palliated with the rush of last night's memories of a great, impossible victory of his favorite team over a juggernaut. We call ourselves "the good guys," yes, but in sports everything is relative. But for a few exceptions, no team ever "deserves" to win a game. The team that had more to play for, the team that wanted it more, clearly won last night. I'm all right with Purdue tasting a little glory for once.
Now, all that said, I hope to see changes in this team. I hope to see Urban Meyer shake up his staff, if not now then at least in the offseason. I want to see Meyer make some of his players feel the heat. Maybe this team would try harder if our army of captains weren't all certain that they were guaranteed a starting spot regardless of game-to-game performance. And if the problem really is Meyer? Well, then I'd hope Meyer would recognize that, and decide if it's time for him to hang up his spurs. A disinterested coach who's just going through the motions is bad for everyone.
Anyway, that's the end of my spiel. On to the story. Buckeye till I die, in defeat as well as in victory.
Day the First-and-Twenty of the Tenth Moon, Year Two Thousand Ten and Eight
"...and so he spoke, and so he spoke, that Lord of Columbus,
and now the rains weep o'er his halls..."
There are dark days in the annals of Ohio history. The ambush in Iowa, the massacre at the savage paws of the Tiger-Men of Clemson, and of course, the rout at Rossademere, where Lord Urban of Meyer was bested, humbled, and quite nearly put to the sword by the host of Purdue and their daring commander, Duke Geoffrey of Brohm.
Even before the armies of Columbus departed on their ill-fated march to the Duchy on their western frontier, there were baleful omens and signs of impending defeat. The knights of Columbus had become fat and effete from the spoils of easy victories, had let the edges of their blades dull, had let rust grow fat upon their shields. A lethargy had taken hold of the train of the army as it marched, sagging the every footfall of the men of Columbus. Wherefore had such indolence taken root? It was, ultimately, the fault of the Lion of Columbus himself, Lord Urban of Meyer. Lord Urban, perhaps still blight'd by the lingering effects of the curse placed on him by the much shamed and exil'd Lord Zachary, could not see the festering rot manifesting malignantly in the soft, doughy underfoot of his once unconquerable army, could not see his own generals neglecting their duties and allowing disorder to grow in the ranks of the men-at-arms.
By the time they arrived at the borders of the Duchy of Purdue, the battle had already been decided. The Lord of that small realm, Duke Geoffrey of Brohm, was a cunning strategist and bold leader of men. In their black armor his soldiers were a daunting force, and though the men of Columbus outnumbered them three to one, their hearts were the more valiant on the night. And it was on the night that they attacked, taking Lord Urban of Meyer entirely by surprise.
The sound that shook the men of Columbus from their slumber was one entirely unwonted, horrific, cacophonous: a shrill whistle and shriek as of whirring gears and belching steam. For the knights of Purdue rode not on steeds of meat and bone but on metal monstrosities that spat clouds of white steam. These metal beasts they called boilers, and it was in Purdue that they were fashioned in fetid manufactories beneath the earth.
A full hundred men of Columbus were wholly crushed beneath these monsters before even the first warning bugle sounded. Many more were captured before they had even time to fit their armor or even lift a shield. Sir Haskins of the Strong Arm was the hero of the day, the sole reason Lord Urban's forces were not routed entirely. It was Sir Haskins who mounted his steed and drove off attack after attack, slaying more foes than any knight of Columbus had ever before in a single engagement. But t'was not enough by half.
Not by the dread goblin horde of Michigan, nor by the Weather Wizard Dantonius and his army of icy Spartans were the men of Ohio bested that night upon the chaff and fannings of broken corn. Nay, for t'was the lowly Duchy of Purdue that hoisted Lord Urban of Meyer upon his own standard, and paraded him in ignominious defeat throughout their realm before ensconcing him in a high tower, that his bannermen might gather the treasure to pay his ransom.
It was not the end of Columbus, nor was it the end of Lord Urban of Meyer. But it was a dark time nonetheless, a time of shame and tears and much remonstration. For the Lord of Columbus had fallen, and with him, perhaps, his dreams of conquest.