Spear at the ready, Murphy, aka Bobby Parker, battles his foe Acrid the Scarecrow, aka Dustin Macari. During the week they’re normal guys, but come Saturdays at Desert Breeze Park, they’re fierce warriors.
They’re members of the local group Barad’Dun that plays Dagorhir, a full-contact medieval-themed combat sport — think men and a few women beating each other with foam swords, shields, arrows and spears. Barad’Dun is just one of many LARP (live-action role-playing) groups that congregate locally, bringing a little old-school chivalry — and wild battles — to the valley.
On this day, 20 players — some in full medieval outfits, others in shorts and T-shirts — fight for glory. Amid a pitched battle, one player holds her ground and pays the price. “Dead!” she yells, putting an arm above her head indicating she’s out this round. “Nice chest stab, bro,” she says to the victor. “I felt my soul shake.”