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Old warriors rise again

Utah County group finds fun escape — Dark Ages

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SPRINGVILLE — Andrew Snyder's alter ego is Andrek, High King of Ered Duath.

And he doesn't hesitate escaping into the imaginary world of his royal highness.

Snyder, 24, leads a Utah County group of nearly 100 who have as much fun with foam weapons as they do getting decked out in colorful Dark Ages armor to do battle.

In this make-believe world, many are teenagers, but others range in age through their 30s looking for a way to vanquish stress, Snyder said.

The participants give each other names and divide themselves into kingdoms. And to many, the warlike play-acting is intoxicating.

"This has taken over my life," said Janene Orton, 17, of Provo. Orton fights under the name of "Sphinx," with a long sword, knife, a bow and arrow and javelin.

Across the country, more than 3,500 "war-riors" like Snyder and Orton dress up in bright tunics and armor to fight as they did in the medieval times — except all of the weapons in this land are foam rubber and plastic.

The Utah County realm practices at North Park in Provo on Saturdays.

Snyder's dream is to acquire enough land in Utah County to build a medieval village, complete with castle.

"I think it's a great thing," Timothy Buck, 30, said. He goes by "Beorn" on the battlefield.

Snyder wants to attract others to the sport. Some are drawn to it because of its athletic nature.

"It's a cross between rugby, football and a pillow fight," said Jeremy Tuck, 25.

"You get to learn about your history," said Nels Quinlog, 23, whose Norwegian ancestry bespeaks his flaming red hair. Fighting under the name "Vela" he looks forward to the big Medieval feasts that follow the contests.

Blows to the head are forbidden, unless it's with a foam padded arrow, javelin or rock.

If a player receives a blow to an arm or leg, he loses the use of that limb. If he receives a blow to the body he's "dead" and must drop to the ground and stay there until the fighting is over.

E-MAIL: rodger@desnews.com