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A Conflict of Interests by MercenaryBlade (AKA Derek Cottrell)

[Author’s Note: So I think the idea for this story was just laying dormant in my mind until the right time. Years ago when I was in High School I did renfaire on the weekends.

Near the same town was an old Civil War encampment, and at the same time as faire season there would be a living history presentation there. At one point I saw civil war soldiers and some ladies in 17th century dresses in a gas station. It was such a surreal thing to see that the image stuck with me through the years.

Added to this was the fact that one of the knights at the faire also participated in a civil war reenactment every year. Again not too far from the faire.

Years went by and I just had this random story idea of LARPERS and reenactors double booking the same area and the funny consequences that would follow. The absurdity and surrealness really appealed to me, and I ended up throwing in a bit of romance too.

Usually LARPERs and Reenactors are at odds with one another, but in the end both just want to pretend to be someone they’re not and wear nonmodern clothing.

The romance is also inspired by my own real-life romance with the woman who is now my wife.]


After the months that went into planning the event the coordination between people across states and the advertising that went all over to the public. After everything, something still went wrong. Something had we known in advance, we would have just rescheduled, but thankfully we didn’t and I’ll tell you why.

It started out disastrous. Here we were trying to put on a civil war reenactment despite the fact that we lived further away from the actual battlefields. So instead, we pretended we were fighting the battle of Bull Run. Reenactors and living history groups had come from near and far, as well as crowds to watch us shoot each other with blanks and pretend to die.

I was a Union soldier of the 3rd Maine Volunteer Infantry. I was decked out in my blue wool uniform and kepi, with a pair of boots. I carried a long Springfield Muzzleloader and had a bayonet at my belt. This was my second time in a battle and my third living history event. This event would last for the whole weekend.

We had an encampment set up full of people ready to explain how things were in the Civil War from weapons to daily camplife. Sutlers sold wares and campfires burned merrily. Blue and Gray together to teach history and put on a spectacle with muskets and cannons. We even had cavalry.

But what was it that ruined this perfect event? The campgrounds had double booked on us. A LARP was taking place on the same day too. Our event was too big to cancel and apparently so was theirs. So we were forced to share.

We were told it wouldn’t be a problem and that the campgrounds were large enough to accommodate both of us. They’d stick to the other side and not interfere with our battle, campground, or historic presentations.  

But it didn’t work out that way. Often times some fantasy quest group would blunder over to our side of the campgrounds. It got really bad when neither side would get out of character. Once I saw a paladin with a foam mace strolling among the sutler tents and inquiring on how much gold to buy a satchel.

Some of our soldiers blundered into the LARP side too. Apparently firearms were considered OP and so were actual steel weapons. Finally it got so bad we marked our “border” with bits of rope. My company commander, not content with this, took things a bit further and assigned guards. I got picked for that. We’d all take turns, so I didn’t mind just as long as my relief showed soon.

I was on duty with Frank, a fellow reenactor from my company, he was quite a few years older than me, but we got along okay since we both loved history. We stood guard with our muzzleloaders, bayonets fixed. A rope was tied around a tree marking our “territory.”

“This is stupid,” he muttered.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“I mean how the hell did those idiots double-book this place?”

“Dunno,” I replied as we watched orcs fight a band of humans. Foam weapons clashed against each other and upon shields.

“That’s dumb too,” Frank grumbled.

I chuckled, “Yeah. Ooh, foam weapons.”

Frank shook his head, “Yeah. I mean I like fantasy as much as the next guy, but this is just too geeky.”

The battle ended with a victory for the humans. As we stood guard we saw people in skull masks walk by presumably these were undead soldiers or something like that. One made grunting noises at us. We ignored him.

Some time passed and a ranger with a bow hailed us.

“What do you guard, strange soldiers? There’s a fight over here.”

Frank snorted, “I’ll give you a fight.” He took aim with his musket. “Want to know what a powder burn feels like?”

The ranger decided foam arrows weren’t a match for blackpowder and ran off.

“Ugh,” Frank grunted.

“I think I knew that guy from class.” I said.

After a time Frank left me, “I got to go relieve myself. You’ve got this.”

I waved him off before taking a swig from my metal canteen, at least it was fall and the weather was perfect. Otherwise I’d be sweating bullets. How did actual civil war soldiers stand the summer battles?

My musings were interrupted as I suddenly noticed something. From the LARP side, a figure peered around a tree trunk at me. I could make out a single blue eye.

I narrowed my eyes in response, showing I knew they were there.

Just ignore them. I thought.

“Magic missile,” a feminine voice shouted.

A white packet of seed landed right by my boots.

“What the,” I grumbled looking over to find a brunette with very real looking elf ears. She was dressed in leggings, boots, and a simple shirt that bared just a bit of midriff. Vambraces adorned her arms and a foam dagger was thrust through her belt. A cloak completed the look.

“You throw like a girl,” I grunted.

In response I got smacked in the chest with another “magic missile.”

“Alright that’s it,” I scowled as I brought my gun up.

The elf let out a squeak and ducked down, I aimed over her as I pulled the trigger. One never aimed directly at someone even with blanks especially with blackpowder. The gun coughed and smoke and flame came from the barrel.

The elf ran for it.

At that point Frank returned, “What the hell are you shooting at?”

I shrugged, “Elf.”

He shook his head, “Why do you even have that thing loaded?”

I shrugged, “No idea. Guess I got bored.”

He groaned, “That’s how accidents happen.”

“It’s blanks. Mom won’t let me get real bullets.”

“Still… Anyways, so what we’re at war with Mirkwood too?”

We forgot the incident when it was time for the battle to actually commence. We formed our battlelines with shouldered firelocks. Crowds had gathered to watch us and, much to our company commander’s chagrin, a lot of them were wearing fantasy clothes. It was a surreal scene with civil war soldiers lined up ready to fight while spectators in modern clothing, period costumes, and fantasy clothes watched.

The cannons started the battle with deep thunderous booms. Explosive charges were set off shortly afterwards to simulate cannonballs landing. I felt a sensation much like rain, but I knew it was only raining dirt.

The skirmishers went out first, and I was in the skirmish line. We fired blanks, reloaded, and repeated as our confederate counterparts did likewise. The drums beat and the bugles called as the main forces began to march.

Several men in my line “died” and we retreated to the edge of the woods. The same place Frank and I had guarded. It was at that point I knew it was my time to die. It had all been arranged, I suddenly fell back feigning death. My fellow soldiers cried out and swore to avenge me.

The battle raged on and the rest of the skirmishers withdrew as the main battlelines began to exchange fire. I laid there spectating. I didn’t mind being picked to die. I had a great view of the reenactment. Then I heard a slight sound behind me in the treeline.

I looked up curious to see the elf from before. She silently crept toward me. I was confused, what was I supposed to do? I was supposed to be dead and they weren’t supposed to interfere with our battle.

“Oh, brave soldier. You’re wounded,” she said.

“I’m dead,” I whispered back.

“Not yet I have the means to heal you.”

Without waiting on my reply she said a few words presumably in magic and proclaimed me healed.

“No I’m not,” I replied.

“Come on, stop being such a stick in the mud.”

“I’m not a stick in the mud,” I shot back.

“Then come on!”

I looked at the battle. No one was paying a corpse any mind. I followed her into the LARP territory. The sounds of the battle echoed throughout the forest as she took me toward a large tree.

“Can you climb,” she asked.


It was a bit hard to climb wearing infantry boots and a full length rifle but somehow I followed the lithe elf to a large tree limb, big enough for the two of us. From there I had a full view of the battle, but the leaves concealed us from view.

“Oh, wow.” I said as I watched the cavalry engage one another and break off. All the while the battlelines of infantry and cannons fired. There were even a few mock mêlées.  

“So I am Trianna, of the wood elves. Daughter of Obryn,” she introduced herself.

It was so obviously her character name so I returned the favor. “Private, Lucas Carpenter. 3rd Maine Volunteers.”

“Nice to meet you, sorry for attacking you earlier.”

“Oh well, misunderstanding I’m sure.”

We spent time talking to one another. We played a game and that game was, were we ourselves or our characters? She intrigued me, but soon the battle began to wind down and it was a dark day for the Union. The blue coats were retreating as the gray advanced with rebel yells, much as the original battle had happened I suppose.

I climbed down as taps played.

Trianna waved goodbye, “See you again!”

“Wait…,” I called after her but it was too late, she was in the forest.

No one had noticed my absence. As the day wore on, the spectators left to return to their homes, as we reenactors settled in for a camping experience unlike any other. As we sat around campfires and cooked food, there was a commotion. Looking up we saw a whole band of LARPERS heading our way.

They weren’t all dressed up anymore, much like us. Curious all of us faced them, some stood in defensive postures.

One of the LARPERs wearing a crown approached, “Hail, friends! We thought since your events were done for the night and many of us are too tired for night questing, we’d come visit you in camaraderie and friendship.”

“No don’t let them…,” someone started to say but was quickly overruled.

“Oh pipe down no one cares right now. The event’s over till tomorrow. Come on in!”

Together LARPERs and reenactors sat around the fires, swapping stories, and trading snacks. Foam swords and steel sabers were exchanged. I saw one man showing off his cap and ball revolver and explaining how it worked to an orc. Gradually, we both began to understand one another better. The passion we had to dress up in odd clothing and pretend to fight battles.

People from both sides brought out instruments and an odd band was made with guitars, harmonicas, fiddles, and drums.

I found Trianna amongst them talking to two ladies in period clothes. I approached her.

“So can I hear your real name,” I asked. “Or are you still in character?”    

“It’s Triss.”

I smiled, “My first name really is Lucas.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” she said.


When the night ended, we parted ways. The next day went well, much like the first. After I dragged myself home on tired feet and a sore shoulder, I dialed the number I’d been given.

“Hey, Triss. Want to catch a movie sometime?”

So, that is how I met the girl who after several years would become my wife. We’re still very much involved in our hobbies, and sometimes we’ll even do them together. I went on to write a historical civil war fantasy inspired by my meeting with her. After a dozen rejections, I finally found a publisher. I won’t say I’m famous, but I’ve got a small fanbase and that’s enough for me.

I owe all of these blessings due to a stupid double-booking mistake. It was unlikely to have happened, but it did and now here I am.


Author bio:

MercenaryBlade: AKA Derek Cottrell is a writer of fiction, and small-time author. He enjoys writing adventures, fantastical worlds, and memorable characters. His cast includes human and nonhuman characters, and many fascinating worlds to explore.

A veteran of the Air Force, and a man of many interests, he has lived in many places and seen many things across the world. He loves history, scifi, and fantasy.

To see more of his works check these links out.



Published Works……


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