Two monsters chat after having their costumes judged and before being sent into the woods to be hunted by knights at Cornet Bay. Members of Empire of Medieval Pursuits met over the weekend at Deception Pass State Park to engage in historical and mythological reenactments. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Two monsters chat after having their costumes judged and before being sent into the woods to be hunted by knights at Cornet Bay. Members of Empire of Medieval Pursuits met over the weekend at Deception Pass State Park to engage in historical and mythological reenactments. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Knights battle monsters and more at Empire of Medieval Pursuits ‘Winter War’

Monsters and the armored knights hunting them roamed the woods Saturday near Cornet Bay.

Over 90 mythical creatures, lords, ladies, magisters and other medieval characters set up camp all weekend at the Cornet Bay Retreat Center at Deception Pass State Park.

Members of the nonprofit organization Empire of Medieval Pursuits, or EMP, came together from all over the country and Canada to participate in the storytelling, fighting and revelry that was “Winter War – Fae Wilds.”

The group reenacts both real-life events and mythology from between the 1st and 16th centuries.

“I just like the general society of it all, being around people who are interested in similar parts of history” said Megan Thune, the queen.

The particular period of history changes between groups. Members of the local chapter Iron Eagle Island, named for the Growlers on Whidbey, are interested in Vikings. Kori and Megan Speece, of Oak Harbor, lead the group as jarl and karl respectively — keeping with Norse titles.

“We’re just here to have a good time,” said Megan Speece.

The 17 members use almost exclusively handmade items such as clothing and armor, and soon they will start brewing their own beer, according to Kori Speece. Some of them are in it for the art and history aspect and some are there for the fighting.

When becoming a member of Empires of Medieval Pursuits, one must sign a waiver to acknowledge the risk associated with the battles that take place. Although this group uses stunted wooden swords instead of real ones, many of the knights say it can still be painful.

“It’s like hockey, except we just beat each other up,” Colin Campbell laughed.

Although the whole event is governed by King Ryan Thune and his wife Megan, local leaders like the Speeces are there to ensure their own members are properly protected and being as safe as possible.

The combat rules differ between scenarios involved in different events, but they are mostly driven by the honor system for someone to admit if they’re “dead.” The fighters are also expected to not intentionally injure each other beyond bruising.

“The number one rule of the EMP is be excellent to each other,” Megan Speece said.

Activities are also kid friendly.

Several little reenactors were scattered throughout the park, dressed in a similar fashion to their adult counterparts— although the children didn’t participate in the combat portion of the event.

Members of Iron Eagle Island will march in Oak Harbor’s Holland Happening Festival in late April.

They should be identifiable by their large red flag that portrays a stag’s head, which is the “relic” of their faction.

Megan Speece said the group is always accepting new medieval enthusiasts.

“We welcome everyone,” she said. “We want everyone to come have a good time with us.”

From left, Megan Speece, Dorothy Rotter and Sara Ray Arnold, stand in their camp Saturday at Deception Pass State Mark. The Oak Harbor residents are part of the local chapter of Empire of Medieval Pursuits. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

From left, Megan Speece, Dorothy Rotter and Sara Ray Arnold, stand in their camp Saturday at Deception Pass State Mark. The Oak Harbor residents are part of the local chapter of Empire of Medieval Pursuits. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Dave Arnold, of Oak Harbor, holds up his costum helmet used in reenactment battles. There are a number of rules around armor used in combat to ensure the safety of the fighters. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Dave Arnold, of Oak Harbor, holds up his costum helmet used in reenactment battles. There are a number of rules around armor used in combat to ensure the safety of the fighters. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Photo by Laura Guido/ Whidbey News Group
                                Kori Speece, leader of the local Iron Eagle Island chapter, hold’s up the group’s relic. The Viking-themed group is represented by a stag skull.

Photo by Laura Guido/ Whidbey News Group Kori Speece, leader of the local Iron Eagle Island chapter, hold’s up the group’s relic. The Viking-themed group is represented by a stag skull.

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