Knights of the Realm

488 A.D, Easter Court and a fight with Water Leapers

Easter Court

The Easter Court is held in Camelot this year. As Tristan and Lucas are still on their way to Sarum with the rescued Andreas, Dalan attends the Easter Court without his friends. The conversations are mainly about prince Madoc and his invasion of Frankland. In the last year, both Sir Luc of Wylye and Sir Miles of Dinton have married a younger daughter of a knight. Luc has a dowry of 6 gold, and Miles of 4 gold. They both have brought their new wives to the Easter Court.

“But I must say, it worries me! Attacking the Franks! Don’t you think it is foolish, I say, and terribly dangerous?! King Claudas has never lost a battle! What if the Franks start invading us too, like the Saxons?”
“Wonderful, I say, to help Praetor Syagrius! And by God, the cause is so just! Good for him.”
“The king is attacking the Franks! Well, I’ll say I guess we will see some plunder next year! I hope my husband brings me some of that French ribbon!”
“That’s what it looks like, but can the king be attacking Cornwall! That duke has insulted him by ignoring the summons too often. There can’t be that
many Irish raiding his coast!”
“Listen, darlings, the king is just training the new knights with this attack, because there is a new Saxon army pillaging up north. He’ll need veterans next year.”

Uther gives a speech how he’s sending his bastard son Madoc to Frankland to assist Sygarius, but states that he himself will stay in Logres, to ward of any attacks from Saxons. He mentions that it is now time for all the ‘good knights’ to serve their king and country. The emphasis on ‘good’ was not lost on Dalan. Uther seems to be uncertain about the loyalty of some of his vassals, especially Duke Gorlois. He also fears an attack by the Saxons, when half of his army is gone.

Luc and Miles have an enjoyable evening, but Dalan is bored. Luc recognizes Sir Sear among the Silchester knights, loudly complaining about the Salisbury knights. Not knowing what passed in Silchester the month before, Luc does not inform anyone and Dalan does not come across Sear, himself.

Dalan’s Modesty

The next morning at breakfast, Uther asks Earl Roderick what he has decided. Roderick informs him that he has consulted with his council and will stay in Logres with his knights. Uther is pleased to hear this, and looks around the room. He spots Dalan and asks Roderick where his other brave knights are. Dalan catches this questions, and jumps up to answer this question unbidden (crit reckless). He starts to tell the story of the rescue mission, but soon it becomes a story about Dalan and his prowess. (fail moderate, crit orate) The whole room is listening intently to his story. At the end there is a silence, and then Uther claps his hands and states that this story is a great example of the fight of Logres against the Saxons: we should all work together. He claps Dalan on his shoulders. (Dalan gains 100 Glory, Lucas and Tristan 50 Glory, Andreas 25 Glory)
When Uther has his attention elsewhere, Roderick speaks to Dalan: “A great story that was, but don’t ever do that again!!” “Yes Sir,” Dalan replies a bit abashed.

That evening Duke Edaris approaches Dalan and asks whether he can put the story to music. Dalan is honoured. Later that year minstrels sing about the story of Dalan and his companions. The next day some of the knights will venture to Frankland, and Uther will muster the remaining knights in Sarum, before they will go to a to the knights as yet unknown mission

Sarum and the Late Knights

When the Salisbury knights return to Sarum after Easter Court, they find that Tristan and Lucas are still in Sarum, having just returned. Andreas has been sent to the care of Abbot Brugyn, and the knights are in the main hall. When Roderick enters, he gives them a cool look, but ignores them otherwise. Dalan has been instructed to remain away from the main hall for the evening. After some time Sir Amig comes over to Lucas and Tristan and tells them that Roderick wishes to see them – their story had better be good!

The two knights approach Roderick a bit apprehensively where he is sitting in front of the hearth. He puts on a show of being angry with them, and for the time being they seem to fall for it. Tristan tries to give a detailed and factual report of what has happened, only to notice Roderick becoming increasingly impatient, and Tristan feels that he already knows what has happened. Roderick demands an apology for their tardiness, he gave them a simple assignment, to be back in time for Easter Court. He expects his knights to obey! Tristan and Lucas finally understand that Roderick is going through the motions here – if they failed to obey his command, at the very least he has to display his displeasure. Tristan plays along, and makes quite a show of groveling at his feet (crit modest).

A bit surprised, Roderick quickly sends the pair away: “I don’t want to see you for at least an hour!” and then gets up to look out of a window – mainly to hide his smile from the other knights present in the main hall.

Campaign Preparations

Sir Elad is assembling the knights for the upcoming campaign. Dalan, Lucas and Tristan are among the knights to go, but first they are allowed, even encouraged, to spend a week at home.

Dalan returns home to find Elaine doing well and quite blatantly pregnant by now. She still holds a bit of a grudge that she has lost her manors, but she is also happy to see Dalan. Dalan reacts in his typical way: “Yes dear, but look, I bought a horse!!” Elaine sighs, shakes her head, and lets it lie. The stone circle at Dalan’s estate is also getting along nicely, the semicircle of standing stones raised and cleaned of moss and foliage. Elaine, too, is charmed by this project, she finds it interesting, although she would have approached it in a different way, instead of just ushering the peasants away and destroying their vegetable lot in the process…

Lucas is also happy to spend some time at home with his family. He informs Rhoswen of his visit to her parents, and also mentions that she has a baby sister now. He gives a brief report of the mission, and says that Andreas needs now time to recover from his ordeal.

Tristan greets his wife Eryn when he gets home, and gives a brief report of his travels. In the week that he is home, he notices that Cothi is less in the house than first, the relation between Eryn and Cothi cool, but not hostile. Tristan tries to be a good husband to Eryn in his week home, but he just tries too hard, evoking a prickly response from Eryn: “I am not stupid, and I don’t forget anything!”

A day later Cothi approaches Tristan when he is near the stables: “What have I done wrong?” she asks with a little pout. Tristan says she has done nothing wrong, that he just has been busy, and he has to leave soon again. He does wish to see their daughter before he leaves, which puts Cothi at ease. Their daughter Caitlyn is well, she has been a bit ill, but Eryn has made a potion that helped cure her.

The Summerland Campaign

When the knights are back in Sarum for the muster, they hear that they will go to Sommerland, to bring King Cadwy in line, as he appears not to be overly loyal to Uther. They travel via Wells to Bath though a territory consisting more of bog and swamp than arable land. Halfway they set up camp on one of the drier spots of land. Knights are assigned their tasks, and thus Dalan, Tristan and Lucas end up on guard duty by Uther’s Royal tent. They can’t help but overhear the conversation inside, that Cadwy has promised Uther to accept his rule, but only if there are some knights who will end the plague of Water Leapers that terrorize the neighbourhood. Uther turns to his council, and asks for volunteers.

The Knights Volunteer

Upon hearing this, Dalan wants to impetuously rush into the tent to volunteer, but Lucas holds him back, this is not the time! A heated argument follows, the knights failing to keep their voices down, with Dalan expressing his wish to immediately go forth and deal with the water buggers. Apparently this is heard inside the tent, as the tent flap is pushed aside and Roderick looks at them. Shaking his head, he closes the flap and the knights hear him say: “Uther, I think I have just the volunteers for you” The knights see the tent flap being pulled aside again, and take their cue.When they enter, Roderick introduces them to Uther. Dalan immediately falls to a knee and offers his services to his king. Tristan and Lucas follow suit, although a bit slower and with slightly less vigor. Uther smiles and says: “It looks like we have our volunteers indeed!”

They still have to carry out their night guard duty, but when completed they sit together for breakfast. Lucas expresses the dear wish that he would know how to swim better. One of the other nearby knights overhears this, and gives him the advice that swimming goes better if he is not wearing his mail shirt… After breakfast, Dalan and Tristan make a small offer of food to the Gods, to ask their favour in the upcoming mission. They both feel strengthened. As the Water Leapers are seen most often at dusk and dawn, and they missed their dusk opportunity, they will set out this afternoon, before dawn. There will be two boatmen to guide the knights to the place where the Water Leapers are mostly seen.

In the time before they will have to leave, the knights are preparing themselves, and try to learn about these water creatures. A bard tells them that the Water Leapers are relatively big creatures, with wings and sharp teeth and a long tail. They bite unwary fishermen, and drag them below the water, never to be seen again.

Dalan is looking for 3 ropes, so all can be tied to the boats and have a life line if one of them is dragged below the water. Painfully aware they are very poor swimmers at the best of times, they shed their mail shirts, and wear leather hunting armour instead. They do of course take their shields.

The Knights Victorious…. But How?

When the time for departure arrives, a large number of knights follows them to the bridge where the two narrow boats await, all curious to see what will happen. Dalan and Lucas step together in the first boat, Tristan in the second, the boats not making much on an impression on the knights – but larger boats cannot navigate the swamp. The two boatmen carefully navigate them along narrow passages and across larger ponds. For a long time nothing is seen. When the water opens up in front of them, Tristan sees some bubbles in the distance and points them out to the others. The boatmen turn pale, but otherwise keep their calm. They order them to go toward the bubbles, one boat to the left, the other to the right. At 10 yards distance, the bubbles are clearly racing towards the boat with only Tristan. The boatman cleverly throws himself flat on the bottom of the boat while Tristan braces himself. Two Water Leapers jump out of the water to attack Tristan. The first narrowly misses him, and sails past him. The second meets Tristan head-on, but Tristan is prepared, and meets him squarely (double critical hit from both) The ensuing crash causing slight injury to both Tristan and the Water Leaper.

A third Water Leaper makes for Lucas instead, who hits him hard in his wing and leaving a big gaping cut.

Disappearing from sigh, the creatures are not seen until the knights spot three trails of bubbles racing to attack Tristan from behind. The boat with Dalan and Lucas turns to intervene on their behest. With some effort, and with Dalan and Lucas unstable on their feet as the boat turns and sways, the boat ends up between Tristan and the Water Leapers. Dalan recklessly goes for two of them as they burst from the water. He slices the first, already sporting a cut in its wing, straight through its arm. His sword remains stuck for a moment and he is too late to fend off the second Water Leaper which bites him in his sword arm, pulling the knight along into the water. Lucas is attacked by the third one, and manages to divert the Leaper with a solid strike of his sword. Unfortunately, in doing so he too loses his balance and falls over, but luck has him land into the boat with his sword scattering along the planks.

Tristan sees Dalan and his captor fly past him, and in a quick reflex he grabs the rope that is around the Dalan’s waist (crit strength). Due to the jolt that ensues, the Water Leaper lets go of Dalan’s arm, the teeth leaving a nasty wound. Having lost his shield, Dalan does manage to hold on to his sword, letting go running counter to all of the knight’s instincts. Still in the water, Dalan sees the water around him churn with activity. Tristan wants to pull Dalan into the boat, but has to abandon this effort to grab his sword, as he is attacked by one of the vile creatures.

Dalan is also under attack, and while flailing around in the water does manages to hit the Water Leaper. Tristan hits his attacker as well, catching it as it came flying toward him. A wing chopped off cleanly,the creature lands in the boat, flapping and trashing about frantically. Not wanting to be hit by an errant stroke of tail or wing, Tristan follows the boatman’s lead and tries to jump to the other boat. He miscalculates completely, and his jump is too short. Lucas, who saw this as it happened, makes a desperate grab for Tristan, overextending in the process and landing in the water alongside.

Lucas tries to get back to the boat via his life-line, but gets entangled and only manages to disappear beneath the surface. Dalan is attacked again, this time with teeth sinking in to his left leg is grabbed, pulling him under. Tristan alone manages to return to the boat where the Water Leaper is having his – presumed – death throes.

Lucas’ predicament only worsens, now finding his way to the surface blocked by the boat above. Dalan in the meantime does not resist as he is pulled down further, holding his breath at focussing on striking the Leaper. The beast has penetrated the leather armour of his leg, and his teeth dig in, tearing through muscle. Tristan is trying to finish of the one in his boat, but misses him completely.

Lucas trashes and flails as he runs out of breath and ends up gulping down water instead of air. Dalan does manage to hold on to his air, but is no more succesful in striking the water leaper, gritting his teeth as he feels the damage to his leg worsen.

Tristan notices Lucas in his struggle for life, and calls to the peasants in the boat for them to pull the rope, as Lucas is underneath the boat! Dalan finally manages to hit the beast hard enough for it to let go of his leg, and almost immediately afterward he feels a strong pull around his waist, as he is pulled up by the peasants. At the same time Lucas breaks the surface with a big gulp of air, at last he manages to get out from under the boat.

Dalan grabs the Water Leaper he just killed, and ties him to the boat, before he and Lucas climb into the boat with the two peasants. Tristan pulls himself up into the boat with the now dead Water Leaper. As the pole for moving the boat is lost, they tie both boats together, and with one boat with four people, and one with one knight and a dead monster, and another dead creature in their wake, they slowly make their way back to the bridge.

The peasants seem relieved, until Lucas asks them whether these were all of the Water Leapers in the area…

(All knights gain 100 Glory for the fight against the Water Leapers – Lucas now has a fear of water, after his near-drowning ordeal)

When they arrive back at the bridge with their trophies, and the peasants embellishing their efforts, the waiting knights are duly impressed. As especially Dalan is in need of medical attention, they quickly go back to the tents, where first aid is applied. Uther comes over to the knights and inspects the two dead Water Leapers. Tristan says that it has been an honour to have served him. (All knights gain 100 Glory for completing the task for the king)

They travel back to Sarum, and all knights go back to their homes. The rest of the year is uneventful.

Winterphase

Dalan has gotten a son by Elaine, his heir! Lucas also has a new son, who will see a life destined to the clergy, as it is his third son. Tristan welcomes a new daughter, again by Cothi… She is named Aneira. He also invests in an apple orchard, as was recommended to him by Lady Adwen. Rumours also spring up this winter about an illicit love affair of Tristan.

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488 A.D. The return of the prodigal squire/brother (side session, continued)
Of Murderous Britons and Mad Saxons

Onwards into Saxon Lands

After an uneventful night near the Sussex border, Dalan, Tristan and Lucas continue south deeper into Sussex on their quest to find Andreas, and at some point encounter a road that runs from east to west, seemingly running between villages. Without a clue either way, they decide to go east. The second night Lucas and his squire take first watch. Lucas is awakened by his squire, having fallen asleep during his ‘watch’. Dalan even wakes up from the snoring of Lucas. While Dalan does not mention anything to Lucas, he does take note for future use. The second watch is for Dalan, and he too has trouble staying awake but does not need his squires assistance. Tristan takes the final watch, and maybe because he is well rested, he has no trouble staying alert, and near the end of his watch he hears a cock crow in the east at false dawn.

A short while later Tristan wakes everyone up and after a quick breakfast they continue on horse to the east, where a village is expected. When they come close to the village, they rein in, and Tristan goes on foot towards the village to scout. The others wait with their horses, alert for any signal that Tristan may give to call them to aid.

After about half an hour Tristan reaches the edge of the forest, which opens out to some fields, the ground dipping after a hundred or so yards distance where he makes out some hovels. Tristan circles the fields for a bit, but he cannot see much more of the village, he needs to get closer. Hopping from copse to copse and even using some cows in a field as cover, Tristan edges nearer to the village. Due to the rolling hills he can only spy the thatched roofs and thus he cannot discern whether the village has a pallisade, but he can count at least six or eight hovels. A peasant nearly spots Tristan, at which point he he decides to go back to the others.

While Dalan and Lucas wait for Tristan to return, Lucas notices that Dalan becomes more and more restless when time passes. He decides to distract him by asking questions about Elaine. This helps a little. After over an hour, Tristan returns and reports his findings. They decide to go as a group on horseback into the village, to take them by surprise and hopefully catch a peasant or two to ask questions about Andreas.

Invading a Saxon Village

When they near the village, they encounter a woman walking a pig, who sees them coming from a distance. She drops the lead of the pig, and runs screaming back to the village. The three knights and their squires spur their horses into pursuit. Coming up on the village they see the low fence surrounding the village and its gate, through which the woman has just escaped. Lucas wants to barge through the gate, horse and all, but this does not work as well as he’d like. Tristan and Dalan jump the fence on either side of the gate, Tristans horse lands in a pigsty and slips, but manages to keep his footing. Tristan stays on the horse, but only just. Dalan has no problems, and is the first to reach the hovels on the canter.

From one of the nearest hovels a man comes out, and blows a horn in alarm. In a rash act, Dalan grabs the horn from his hand as he canters past. The pig woman disappears in a hovel to the right. Further into the village, a larger house is seen, and two men with spears and shields come from the other side of the village. The hornblower, now without horn, makes for his axe, but is struck down by Lucas before he can do any damage.

Dalan attacks one of the shield bearers, and downs him in one fierce blow. Tristan hits the other one, but this one remains upright. Then four other armed men, again with shield and spears, come from all across the village. They do not wear any armour, and appear to be peasants, but peasants who know how to fight. Dalan quickly turns his horse and runs towards three of the four peasants, and attacks two at the same time. He bashes one to the ground and with a mighty swing of his sword he beheads the other one (critical hit).

The weakened man with the spear is still in the fight and thrusts his spear between the forelegs of Tristan’s charger, causing it to go down. Tristan lands on his feet, in a fury that someone dared to try and kill his horse. The other Saxon now charges Tristan but does no damage, but he and Tristan are now locked into a fight.

Lucas – following the other knights – sees a saxon trying to flank Dalan and Tristan and attack them in the back. Lucas won’t let this happen and rides him down. Then, out of nowhere, two arrows are fired. One hits the horse of Dalan and causes a minor wound, the other arrow brushes the horse of Lucas. When they look around, they see some women between the hovels, armed with bow and arrow.

The Chieftain, the Smith, and Madness

Then the doors of the great longhouse are thrown open, a pair of fighting dogs rushing out, barking and snarling, followed by a man in a leather apron with a huge hammer and a grizzled mailed man with a greataxe. Dalan turns towards them to ride down the pair, drawing the attention of the mailed man. Squaring his shoulders and glaring at the invaders, clearly enraged by the carnage in his village, the mailed man shouts something in a language none of the knights understands, but his body language screams STOP!’. Dalan however already is inspired by his hatred for Saxons and does not heed this call, swinging his sword as he bears down on them. The chieftain bellows loudly “Wotan!”, but rather than meeting the knight inspired by his religion, the man starts to foam at his mouth, eyes rolling back. He drops his ax, utters an animal-like roar, and runs back into the great house. (fumble) The blacksmith looks on in surprise, shakes his head and glares at Dalan. He grits his teeth, snarls “Wotan!” which gets drowned out by an animal like roar before he rushes after the chieftain, similarly foaming at the mouth, his hammer left behind and forgotten. (both fumbled their passions)

Running out of enemies, Dalan then attacks the dogs, who are snapping at his horse’s legs. He hits the first dog in the ribs, which goes down with a yelp and does not get back up again. The second dog is treated with the same courtesy. Then an arrow whizzes past Dalan. The opponent facing Lucas flees into a hovel, out of reach of the knight. Tristan hits his one opponent hard, but it is only a minor wound and his opponent is still fighting on. He then hits the spearman, who goes down unconscious. From somewhere between the hovels, a rock is thrown and whizzes past Tristan at chest height. The man with the axe, having just seen the disappearance of his chieftain and smith, tries to run away but only makes it one step before Tristan kills him with one blow (critical hit).

The Aftermath

Dalan jumps off his horse to kick in the door and barge into into the longhouse. His plan however is foiled by the door opening outward rather than inward… He then opens the doors and goes inside. Inside the dim hall, a fire burns, next to it is a woman armed with a dagger of some sort. Pushing a child behind her back, the woman backs away from Dalan. A trail of scattered clothing and mail shirts leads through the house, and out the back door, which is standing open. The two men are nowhere to be seen. Dalan asks the woman whether there are any prisoners in the village, but she does not understand him and backs away further. Dalan then leaves her, and goes back outside, and closes the door behind him.

Tristan has looked at the injury of his horse, which has regained his feet, but only stands on three legs, as his right shoulder has a serious wound with lots of blood spilt. Lucas meanwhile interrogates the man he has struck to the ground, this man at least appears to understand the knight a little. Upon his question regarding prisoners, he points past the main house, towards the hovels behind it.

Tristan and Dalan go around the big house, and see there a pair of smaller hovels and a pigsty where something resembling a human is chained to a post. After looking three or four times, Tristan manages to recognise a thoroughly dirty and disheveled Andreas in the human form. Andreas looks with empty, unseeing eyes at Dalan and Tristan. The people in the hovels stay indoors, afraid of the two knights, but keeping a wary eye on them. Tristan quickly goes over to Andreas, tries to talk to him while he unties him. Andreas is totally oblivious of his surroundings, but he does not struggle against Tristan, and lets himself be led toward the horses. He has not uttered one word in the process.

In the distance a horn is sounded. Probably a sign of reinforcements headed their way, the knights make haste in their departure. Unable to ride his charger, Tristan switches to his riding horse, after helping Andreas on one of the other spare horses. They quickly leave the village, sticking to a moderate pace to spare the wounded charger. As soon as they leave through the gate, women exit the hovels to weep for the dead and take care of the wounded. (Tristan gains +15 Glory, Lucas gains +10 Glory, Dalan gains +20 Glory for the fight)

The Return to Salisbury

During the flight from the village, they lose all sense of direction, and after a couple of days they reach the shores of the sea… Realizing their mistake and after a quick reorientation, they turn right, now headed west. After a couple of days at a moderate pace, it appears that the charger of Tristan has no permanent damage from his wound, but they will have to keep him from serious exertion. During these days of travel, Andreas lets himself be led, he shows no initiative, and lets himself be washed, dressed and put on a horse. Very slowly some light comes back into his eyes, but he still does not talk, and barely reacts to being spoken to. Nonetheless, Lucas rides next to him all the time and tries to bring back some life in his brother by reminiscing their childhood and talking about Rhoswhen and his children.

They cross into Hampshire and realize that at this rate they will not be back in Sarum for Easter – thus breaking their promise to Roderick. They agree that Dalan will ride ahead at a faster pace to set the mind of Roderick at ease. Racing past Winchester Dalan reaches Sarum just before Easter, and reports their adventures to Earl Roderick. Roderick hears his story, and is satisfied with how things went, after all, they got Andreas back, but he is a little disgruntled by the fact that Tristan and Lucas are not back in time for Easter. Even so, the liberation of Andreas and the killing of a few Saxons help soften his mood.

Roderick then tells Dalan about the plans the King has shared with him: The King and some of the kinghts of Logres will stay in Logres to guard against attacks from Saxons, but a large part will be sent to the Frankland under prince Madoc, to fight the Franks and help the Praetor. Having to choose between the endeavours, the Earl asks Dalan what his preference is. Dalan speaks his mind and would rather stay in Logres, being newlywed with a child on the way just one part of his argument. The other Salisbury knights which are consulted show diverse opinions, but the majority is in favour of staying in Logres. Roderick thanks his knights for their advice and withdraws to contemplate his decision. The next morning he announces that he has decided to tell the King that he wishes to serve him here, in Logres.

A few days later, after the Easter Court has passed, Tristan and Lucas arrive in Sarum. Roderick scolds the knights for their late arrival, really only because he must, but in the end he is just glad his knights are back home safely. Squire Andreas is taken to the monks of the Josephe Abbeye to be nursed back to health and regain his sanity under the care of the monks.

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488 A.D. The search for Andreas (side session)

Winterbourne Stoke and a Wedding

The wedding between Dalan and Lady Elaine takes place at the end of January. (Dalan gains +1000 Glory) It is a relatively small event, but with Elaine the absolute center of attention, in a beautiful dress. Her dowry consists of 18 libra and her home manor, Dunford. Her other three manors, Little Cheverell, Lake and Middle Wallop, will revert back to Earl Roderick, to bestow on landless knights as he sees fit. The free revenue of Dunford is 4 libra per annum and will benefit the Winterbourne Gunnet household, however Elaine made it perfectly clear that she expects to maintain the rich lifestyle she has hitherto had, thus spending the additonal income on that… Elaine is just as clear about the dowry of 18 libra (minus the 2 libra spent on the wedding feast) which of course will be put in the coffers of Dalan, but if he ever touches that money without consulting her, she will make his life very unpleasant indeed. Yet somehow this doesn’t seem to weigh on Dalan’s pleasure at their union at the least.

Elaine now manages both manors, Dunford and Winterbourne Gunnet, and the mother of Dalan is asked to step back from her stewardship, which she does. According to Dalan it is better this way, as his mother is also getting along in her years, and she deserves some rest.And it leaves Dalan free to focus on the herd of magnificant horses he wants to raise.

The Missing Squire

In February, Lucas and Tristan start to seriously wonder about Andreas, as the missing squire has still not returned, after over a year. Tristan puts some efforts in talking to Andreas’ erstwhile friends, who were squires together with Andreas. He is successful in prying some information loose from Sir Gwili, who confesses to know what the intentions of Andreas have been. He has promised Andreas not to tell anyone, but Gwili is now just as worried about his friend’s well-being, he tells Tristan what he knows. Andreas had been very disappointed, to say in the least, that all his friends were knighted at the end of 485 AD, whereas he was not. After almost half a year of feeling sorry for himself, he made up his mind, and during one drunk evening spent with among others Gwili, he told him his plans to show everyone that he is worthy enough to become a knight. He will do something great, so that no one can ever doubt his prowess. “You know what I am going to do?? I know, I know! And I will tell you…. I will go into Sussex and find the sister of Sir Tristan, and bring her back! That will surely earn their respect!!”

Sir Gwili tells Tristan that he really tried to convince Andreas not to go to Sussex, that it is dangerous there, and almost a suicide mission. Andreas would not listen though, and a suggestion of taking some others along is dismissed, as then it would not be clear that it was him, Andreas, who was the brave knight who saved the damsel in distress. “But, friend Gwili, I beg you, do not tell anyone of this, I want it to be a surprise when I come back with Lady Maeghan!” When, after this evening, Andreas did not leave for another couple of weeks, Gwili thought he would not go, had realised when he was sober that it would be a fools errand, and had forgotten about it. But when Andreas went indeed missing at the end of August, Gwili started silently to worry for him.

Tristan thanks Gwili for his information, and then goes to find Lucas and Dalan to report what he knows, and to decide upon what course of action they will take. They decide to put the matter before Earl Roderick, to ask whether there are any convenient intentions to invade Sussex, or if not, that he will allow them to try to find Andreas. Earl Roderick is very sympathetic to their cause, if it were his brother that was missing, he would probably do the same. After some internal deliberation, he allows them to go, but with the provision that they will have to be back by Easter. He urges them to be very careful in Sussex, it is a dangerous area, and he does not want to lose three fine knights. He cannot spare other knights to go with him, so it will have to be the three knights. “Good luck on your quest, but please be careful, and do not do anything rash” he says, casting a pointed look at Dalan, and dismisses them.

On the Squire’s Trail

The weather at the end of February is still not very good, but better weather is expected. When the three knights and their squires (Bevan, bastard son of Sir Hyfaidd still acting as squire for Sir Tristan) are ready to leave, the sky is overcast, with a threat of rain, but fine enough to make good time on the road to Silchester. The plan is to cross Silchester and Windsor, and then go to the south into Sussex. Along the way they will try to gather information about Andreas and where he has been.

At the border with Silchester they see eight knights on patrol. They watch the progress of the knights. None of the Salisbury knights recognize any of their coat-of-arms before they are hailed and asked what their business in Silchester is. They explain that they are just passing through to Windsor, to look for a family member who went missing a year or so ago. The Silchester knights look at each other with a strange look, but in the end they step aside and let them pass.

In Levcomagus there is no one to challenge them or even ask them detailed questions about their journey, so before they know it, they are through the town and on their way to Silchester. When the evening falls, they reach Brookeley manor, where they visit the in-law family of Lucas. They are warmly received, and given a nice meal and a place to sleep. During the meal there is a lot of family talk between Lucas and Sir Berwyn and his wife. They have been blessed with another daughter the last year, the now one-year-old Aures. Lucas takes great pleasure in seeing the little girl and points out how nice it is that Aures and his daughter Rhona are of an age. The parents of Rhoswen express their regret that they do not see Rhoswen and their grandchildren very often, and ask Lucas if she can come to visit soon. Later during the evening meal, they inquire off-handedly into Andreas, whether he has already returned?

Surprised by this question, as Lucas had not yet told about their reason for this visit, he asks: “Pray tell, how did you learn of Andreas? He is now missing for more than 18 months, and as coincidence has it we are trying to find him just now!” Berwyn answers answer that Andreas had been a guest at Brookeley manor at the end of August of the year 486, but he has begged them not to tell anyone of his visit. He left soon after, headed in the direction of the city of Silchester. Sir Berwyn takes care to warn Lucas about Sir Sear, who has been holding a grudge against him for marrying Rhoswen. He discribes his coat of arms, a white chevron on a red background with four lozenges of gold around it. He advises Lucas strongly to avoid Sear, if at all possible.

Silchester and an Old Acquintance

Setting off early in the morning, the knights arrive in Silchester where they stop to water their horses at a trough in the centre of the town. From the west a group of five knights with their squires arrive at the square, among them the aforementioned Sir Sear, easily recognized by his coat of arms. Sir Sear initially glances over the Salisbury knights, but then he recognizes Lucas, and his face hardens. He briefly speaks to his comrades and they form a semi-circle around the group at the water trough. Their squires remain behind, standing together.

Sear looks at Lucas and the others and asks what business brings them to Silchester. Dalan rides toward Sear and congratulates him enthusiastically with his knighthood, and offers him his hand. A bit taken aback by this gesture, but thawing in his opinion regarding Dalan, Sear does take the offered hand, and shakes it while turning it into a petty contest of strength. Sear tries not to flinch when he ends up the loser in the contest of his own devising, but it is not lost on the others who turned out the winner. Dalan asks how he is doing in general, while Tristan asks whether he has already found a wife… Sear answers shortly: “No, I have no wife yet. You Salisbury knights take all that is beautiful from Silchester, you steal like a hoard of Saxons!” He looks fixedly at Lucas while saying this.

“You call me a Saxon?” Dalan asks coldly, while starting to take off his glove… It takes Sear a few moments to realize he has gone too far, especially when he looks at the face of Dalan. He swallows and then apologizes to Dalan: “Of course, I did not mean that you were a Saxon, Sir Dalan.” Dalan puts his glove back on and accepts this apology partially: “I think my fellow knights also need an apology” Sear, still not entirely comfortable with the big knight next to him, obliges, and apologizes to Tristan and Lucas, while looking mainly at Tristan. “You are not Saxons, but some of you have a tendency to plunder…”

Leaving a slightly flustered Sear behind, the Salisbury knights leave the square. They hear some of the knights speak to each other: “It is about time that the Salisbury knights are taught a lesson, that it is not right to take what they like..” They decide not to react on this, as a major fight in the town of Silchester is not a good idea. They quickly leave the town altogether, and near the evening they request shelter at a manor, which is owned by Sir Glanmor. This knight is not too pleased to have to host three knights from Salisbury, but when he discovers that they have fought on the same side in Malahaut, the tension softens a bit.

Nonetheless, the knights are offered only a simple meal, and are expected to leave first thing in the morning. During the meal Tristan asks about whether Sir Glanmor has seen a young ‘knight’ about a year and a half ago, traveling alone, with an unmarked white shield. Sir Glanmor indeed has heard about this young man, and says that he has been in Silchester and left the county to go towards Windsor. Tristan and Dalan feel that there is more to the story than this, and they press him into telling all he knows. As the young man rode through Silchester without wanting to give his identity, he surely had something to hide, and this was not appreciated. He was therefore ‘escorted’ by a number of knights to the Windsor border…

The next morning, before they leave, Dalan has a look at the horses in the stable of Sir Glanmor. He finds one handsome stallion that takes his fancy, and asks whether Glanmor is willing to sell him this horse. Eventually Glanmor agrees to part with this stallion for 5 libra. Dalan shakes hands on this, and says that he will pick up the horse on his way back.
When they leave, Glanmor and his household appear to be relieved.

Windsor, as the Trail Warms

When they cross into Windsor, they decide to call upon the first manor they see. They are received at the courtyard by a servant, looking at them suspiciously while asking their purpose. The knights greet the man and ask to speak to the master of the manor. Leaving them waiting, the servant goes inside to return somewhat later with a middle-aged man who introduces himself as Sir Oswalt of Winkfield. He invites them into his manor, and the three knights leave their horses to their squires.

After a round of introduction, Tristan asks Sir Oswalt whether he has perhaps seen Andreas, a squire with a blank shield. After a long thought, and with assistance of his servant Hugh, he remembers that indeed some peasants have mentioned seeing a rider with a blank shield, travelling at high speed, even knocking some of them over. He was pursued by about six knights. That is all Oswalt knows, and Tristan asks whether the peasants can be found so they could ask them some more questions. Oswalt thinks so and sends a servant to fetch the peasants, inviting the knights to join him for lunch while they wait. An hour and a half later, the servant leads a small group of nervous looking peasants into the hall. Tristan observes their state and figures they probably think they have done something wrong and are about to be punished for it. Quick to set their minds at ease he speaks up “Good people, do not fear, we only want to ask you some questions and then you are free to go back to your work.” The peasants visibly relax, until they hear what the questions are. There are some furtive glances between them, until Tristan persuades them in a sincere and friendly way to cooperate. One peasant is pushed forward to tell the story. “Well sir knight, once the one with the blank shield was past us, we saw him being chased into the White Woods” Tristan feels that there is more to the story than this, and despite Dalan’s ‘friendly’ smile, aiming to help but doing the opposite, Tristan manages to convince the peasant to tell all that he knows (2x critical on Folklore)

The peasants saw the six knights chase the lone knight and the return a while later from the woods, one of them seemed injured, but they nonetheless seemed in good spirits. They did not have a captive with them, nor did the peasants see the lone knight again. Later the peasants went into the White Woods where they found the horse of the unknown knight, dead on the ground due to a wound to its neck, but also sporting a broken leg, probably from where it got stepped into a hole and fell. They took the irons off the horse and sold them to the blacksmith, and used the horse itself as a supplement to their diet…

Tristan thanks the peasants for their information, grim though it may be. He asks one last favor, that the peasant will show him and his friends where he has found the horse. The peasant agrees, and Tristan asks whether Oswalt will give the peasants a good, healthy meal as a reward, and that he will compensate him for the expense. Oswalt readily agrees, but refuses to receive the compensation, he is pleased that he can help in this way.

Oswalt mentions that the White Woods is a special place (as a christian knight he gives a slight emphasis on the word ‘special’), and that a strange man named Garth lives there, all alone.

The White Woods

When they reach the place where the horse is found, and the peasant indicates the exact spot, Tristan thanks him and the peasant quickly leaves the woods. The place is a small open area, a dip in the ground sloping down ahead of them until it faces a semi circular cliff face, the bowl filled with a birch copse. Along the path rabbit holes are clearly visible, which have likely been the cause of the horse breaking his leg. Overall the terrain is challenging even for good riders going at a moderate pace.

Well before any of the others do, Dalan sees a figure approaching them through the woods, surprisingly at the distance as the man does not stand out against the background.The man, clearly a druid of some sort from the looks of him, moves nimbly between the trees and bushes, hopping over a fallen tree and ducking under branches where necessary. Only when the man is close enough do they realize he is fully blind.

Dalan, not sure whether the man is a druid or not, but not wanting to offend him, greets him with: “Greetings, oh druid” “No, no, no, I am but a simple ovate, not yet a druid” the man interrupts. “Greetings, good ovate” Dalan corrects, and asks him about Andreas and the horse that died here over a year ago. “Have you heard or noticed anything untoward around that time?” The ovate Garth indeed remembers something, he heard a horse scream, and a man fall.

He wanted to go and help the man and beast, but then others arrived on the scene, and the fallen man was challenged by one other. The fallen man was scared, he screamed something, and then attacked. Then a heavier voice called out, and retreated, the smell of blood was clear. Two others appeared to attack the single man, who called out again, and then something seemed to snap in him, the lone man screaming gibberish and unintelligible nonsense. Rushing forward in a frenzied attack while ripping off his clothes and throwing his shield and sword away, he seemed to take the others by surprise but caused no actual harm before fleeing into the birch copse. The surprised men did not pursue, instead all his belongings, and then rode off, laughing.

When quiet returned to the woods, with nothing but the sound of a horse in pain, the ovate then went to its side to end its suffering. For days after this incident, it seemed as if there was a wild animal loose in the woods, raving and raging at one time, quietly stalking the other. Patiently taking his time over several days, Garth had managed to calm Andreas enough to bandage his wounds, which were numerous, but not serious. After one last night in the woods, he vanished the next day – by the ovate’s reckoning through climbing the steep rock face to the south.

Dalan thanks the ovate and asks him to offer some food and drinks in their name to the Gods. Whether or not the ovate keeps something of the offerings to himself, that is a matter for him to decide. The knights leave the White Woods and travel south, trying to follow the year old trace of Andreas.

Headed South, Towards Saxon Lands

They ride cross country roughly towards the south, this does not go very smooth. They encounter some peasants on their way south, but when challenged no one recalls anything about Andreas. Come to a river, the knights spy a manor and head towards it. Upon reaching the the manor they are met by a servant, who tells them the lord of Deepcote manor is not at home. However when pressed on the matter of Andreas – the naked man – the servant is able to tell them he has seen a naked man running across the nearby ford, screaming all the while, and going south. Thus, the knights continue the trail toward the south, across the river.

They spend the night in the open, Tristan and his squire take first watch. Even though Tristan fails a couple of times to keep his eyes open, his energetic squire Bevan nudges him at those moments, to keep him from falling asleep completely. Dalan has the second watch, and although he too has some trouble staying awake, he also has a very energetic squire Parcel to keep him awake.

Near the border with Sussex are some walled manors. The knights approach one of the manors, and notice immediately the state of disrepair, fields not well cared for, broken fences, damaged hovels. A couple of people hastily hide inside one of the hovels when they see the riders approach. Tristan cautiously approaches them to put them at ease: they are not here to hurt them. This helps, they come forward and explain their behaviour: they have been attacked by bands of Saxons twice in the last two years, and are fearful of any group of riders. Tristan then asks about the naked Andreas, and indeed they recall him, as the incident was noteworthy.

The peasants tell how they were hiding in the woods outside the village, watching as a Saxon raiding party was going from hovel to hovel. Having found an elderly woman that had not made it to safety in time and pushing her about, they seemed just as surprised as the peasants when a naked man came running out of the woods, only to pick the fiercest and largest Saxon to tackle and rush him. Tackling the surprised Saxon, the naked man managed to bite his face before the others responded, dragging him off the warrior and proceeding to kick him until he stopped moving. Soon bound and gagged, the naked man was then taken away by the Saxons. Tristan thanks the two men for their information, grim though it is, and gives them a shilling each.

Tristan relates the story to the others, and it seems likely that since this was only a small raid that these are Saxons local to the area, maybe just across into Sussex.

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487 A.D. Of Brides and Brides to be...
one wedding leads to another wedding...

Preparation for a Wedding and an Unexpected Letter

After the mission to the north, when all knights are still in Sarum, a messenger arrives for Sir Tristan. It is Brother Talfryn of the Josephe Abbeye in Sarum, who has received word from a monk from Sussex to hand a letter to Tristan, which he does. Tristan thanks him, but asks him as well to read the letter to him. It is a message from Eaglemund, which confirms the presence of his sister Maegan in Sussex, but as ‘she is part of his entourage’ he is not willing to sell her, at any price. It appears his sister will remain in Sussex as long as this remains in hand of Eaglemund…

Not entirely happy with this message, but relieved nonetheless that he now knows his sister is alive, and as far as he can tell, not unwell, Tristan then puts his mind to his upcoming marriage to Eryn. While still in Sarum he arranges for all the necessities for the feast to be bought and delivered in time to Wylye. Invites are sent to almost all of Tristans friends and peers, including Lady Adwen and Lady Elaine, but somehow the invitation never reached Sir Jaradan… All in all the feast will host a hunbdred guests and their retinue.

The Grand Wedding of Tristan and Eryn

Taking place at the end of August, the wedding is a grand event, with Tristan spending lavishly to ensure it is a feast people that will be remembered a good while – much to the pleasure of the Orchestron household and his bride. When the guests start to arrive, they are welcomed by Alwena, the grandmother of Tristan and current mistress of the manor, as Tristan himself is too busy and possibly also a bit nervous for this day. This is probably all for the best, as Tristan thus does not notice that it is the famous Sir Sword (aka Sir Jaradan) who accompanies Lady Adwen to his wedding. Dalan and Lucas of course do notice this immediately and decide keep an eye on their least favourite knight, to be able to intervene if he is up to any mischief.

While the party awaits the official ceremony, Dalan finds the Lady Elaine, who seems happy to flirt with the knight. But then again she seems all too happy to flirt with many another knight too. In any case she seems distracted, her mind on other things than the conversation with Dalan.

Lucas, accompanied by his wife Rhoswen and his two young children, notices Lady Adwen standing together with Sir Jaradan, and she is looking altogetherbored by the stories of his own greatness that Sir Jaradan is lavishing her with. Together they make their way to the pair, and Lucas makes a subtly disparaging remark to Jaradan in reference to the joust that the Sword lost to Tristan. (+5 Glory for Lucas) Lady Adwen smiles and tells Lucas that there is progress in the possible match between her and Baron Duach. “He certainly isn’t a bad match, but he does get tiresome with the way he thinks the world of himself…. Of course he is hardly alone in that regard….” she comments with a sideways glance in the direction of Sir Jaradan.

Then the bride, accompanied by her father, Sir Cloyd, enters to stand next to Tristan. She looks radiant, as most brides are wont to do. When the ceremony progresses, Dalan that Elaine has becomes very quiet. He can’t miss how she’s staring at Eryn with a thoughtful look that speaks louder than words: what would it be to be a bride herself?? Thus Dalan puts a comforting hand on her arm: “It will be your turn soon enough”

With the pagan ceremony is completed, Tristan and Eryn are now husband and wife. They invite the guests to join them for a feast, held outside in the shade of the trees and the late summer sun, food and drink aplenty. Somehow the song of Sir Sword is sung (and will be sung a couple more times that evening) when Lucas hears behind him: “I know what you did, I am not stupid…” Lucas turns around and faces the scowling sir Jaradan with a friendly smile. Lady Adwen however defuses the situation when the walks over and touches Jaradan’s arm “My cup is empty…”, the both of them leaving Lucas and Rhoswen to find some refreshments. Throughout the feast Dalan is enjoying himself and indulging in drink. Lucas on the other hand is far more temperate.

Sir Roderick, guest of honour at the feast, is the first to address the newly weds and gives a speech in which hepraises Tristan, who is very brave and a valiant knight, despite his young age. Salisbury needs more men like him! More toasts follow, and then the newlyweds leave to attend to the final matter that makes the marriage definite. As per tradition witnesses are present to ensure the wedding is consumated. But at least tradition has evolved to the point the witnesses wait outside the bedchamber….

Not much later the feast comes to an end, and all go to sleep. Somewhere during the festivities, also Dalan and Elaine go missing together.

Thinking back, Tristan has noticed that whenever people saw the very pregnant Cothi, that there were remarks about the fertility of Tristan, and that offspring should not be a problem. Fortunately, Eryd misses all of this, the bride blissfully happy to be married.

The rest of the year 487 is uneventful, although occasional border forays do occur on the border with Silchester.

The Winter Comes Bearing Gifts and Takes Away

At the Dinton manor, Lucas is blessed with a third child, this time a a daughter, his third child. Unfortunately, his sister, who has been married off, has gone missing. Meanwhile at Wylye it is Cothi who gives birth to a daughter, named Caitlyn. The youngest brother of Tristan, Rodric, has not returned after the naval actions against the Franks, he is missing.

Of Dalan and Elaine – and a Belly

At the Christmas Feast in Sarum it becomes obvious to some – including sir Dalan – that Lady Elaine is pregnant. Not so much by her belly, but more by the way she dresses trying to hide it. A source of great anxiety for the lady, without doubt, as there would be severe loss of honor if it were to become known – rather than merely suspected – that she were with child and without husband.

Therefore Dalan decides on one last all-in attempt to win her hand from earl Roderick. In the new year he visits Sir Roderick to ask (again) for the hand of Lady Elaine in marriage. He is very determined, and reminds Roderick of his key role in the Sword in the Lake. “Are you sure? Call on that now, and know you can never call on that again, Dalan”, earl Roderick responds. Dalan nonetheless insists, knowing it is now or never. Finally relenting, Roderick agrees to consider this marriage, but does warn Dalan that Salisbury cannot allow the Lady Elaine to bring all of her lands into the marriage, some manors must fall back to Salisbury to be given away at the Earl’s discretion. These lands thus not becoming part of the dowry. Which manor the lady Elaine will bring into the marriage he leaves for the lady to choose.

With this good news Dalan goes to Elaine, to tell her they can marry. The marriage is to take place very soon, if it is up to Dalan. Although not at all pleased with being told she will be giving up her manors, Elaine grudgingly accepts the conditions – she does not have much choice, but she does not seem likely to forget all too soon.

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487 A.D. Easter Court and a ride North to Leir's Castle and Malahaut
Of Kings That Bow Their Heads and Those That Don't

Easter Court and the Feast of the Sword

Really the below exchange of gifts should have been at the Christmas feast of 486 A.D. However, due to the GM missing that bit, …..

It has pleased King Uther to hold the Easter Court at Sarum this year. The weeks before Easter there is a lot of activity in and around Sarum. A few days before Easter the people start to gather from around the kingdoms. In the end the complete retinue of Uther is present, and a whole week full of feasting commences.

At various times, gifts are given. All goes well, with the servants first getting gifts from the earl, then the knights (so that the player knights who are bachelors get their annual clothing and so on). The earl then gives his household officers presents, and then his own family members get their gifts.

The king next does the same for his household, knights, and officers. Finally, he gives his son a new set of armor and a generous grant of several manors of land on the Thames, and also the holding of Windsor Castle. This is a huge gift, but not unusual for royalty, who have many expenses.

Among the earls, Roderick gives Uther a beautiful cloak trimmed with the fur of white bears, imported from Norway. The dukes all have gifts to better that. Finally, Prince Madoc calls in his men, and ten retainers come forth carrying special stretcher-like frames to bear large treasure. They place them in a semicircle and, on the prince’s signal, open them all at once. All contain booty from the war: A chest of silver coin, another of gold; one of goblets and plates, another of jewelry; one of silver and gold, one of red and purple jewels; another of bolts of silk and samite, others of gold cloth and silver thread. Prince Madoc then unrolls a cloth as if it was a carpet. Everyone sees that it is a battle standard taken from a dead Saxon chief. The king descends, walking upon it, to admire the goods.

He then takes various things and fondly hands them over to his lords, pressing goblets, jewelry, and a bolt of silk upon one; a massive gold necklace and a book upon another; and so on, seeming to know the right gift for each man. Then handsful of silver for his knights, and a fistful for each visiting knight. (all knights present receive 1 libra worth of coin and/or silver jewellery).

During the feast Dalan remains relatively sober to keep his chances with Elaine in check. Lucas on the other hand quickly succumbs to the effects of drink. Tristan also drinks quite a lot, but still remains more or less coherent.

The Greatest Gift of All

When the giving of gifts has finally come to an end, a herald hurries into the great hall to announce a guest “Presenting the great wizard Merlin, the Guardian of Britain!” he says, just in time as the impatient mage enters the hall. He looks neither right nor left, but strides to the front, where King Uther sits on the earl’s throne.

“Welcome, Merlin, to these halls,” the king says. “You are always welcome in my court.” Merlin thanks the king, and speaks in a loud, clear voice. “Gold and silver, clothing from far distant lands; these are surely gifts worthy of a king. Yet you, Uther, deserve more, for surely no one in the world has ever sat as high as you, not even the emperors of Rome.” Uther is clearly flattered. “Yet, even you lack one thing.” The king frowns, the room murmurs. “Such a great man deserves nothing but the best, and he who would bring peace to the whole of our great land deserves all that would help him to obtain it. And so I, your humble servant, am pleased to offer you, from my weak hands, this.” And he pulls from beneath his robes a gleaming sword whose own internal light causes everyone to gasp in delight and wonder. A sword that Dalan recognizes (Lucas would have too, but his cup of ale was more interesting to him at this point)

Even the king is surprised and stands up. Merlin takes the sword by its point, his hands covered by his robe so as not to tarnish the blade, and extends the pommel to the king. “For the High King,” says Merlin, and with a loud triumphant statement, “Excalibur, the Sword of Victory!”

Everyone in the room gasps aloud, and when the king takes the sword they break into applause and cheer. It is clear that the king is highly pleased. “Surely, now,” he says, “no one can stand before me.”

“All you need do,” says Merlin, “is to remain just.”

King Uther holds the gleaming sword and stares at it in wonder. “Now I’m prepared to visit some friends of mine.” Ulfius, at a table nearby, chuckles. Uther names the nobles who will accompany him to visit Duke Lindsey, and among them is the Earl of Salisbury. “This is cause to celebrate then,” says Uther. “Bring forth the tables, and make a place at my right hand for Merlin, whose wisdom and truth guides our good land.” “Thank you, Lord,” says the magician.

Then, in honor of this moment and in honor of Merlin, the feast continues with renewed vigor. More food and drink is brought in. Merlin looks at Roderick and points at Dalan and Lucas: “These are a couple of knights you will have to keep an eye on, they are capable of great deeds” Everyone looks at the two knights so specifically praised by Merlin. (Dalan and Lucas each gain +50 Glory)

“I hate it when the king comes here! Everyone gets moved around… After a hard day of work I can hardly even remember where I am supposed to sleep!”
“Not me. I am glad to have him and his army here. Who knows what those Saxons are going to do next! They’re all over the place! The eastern lands have been devastated by the wars there.”
“Did you hear? The Praetor Syagrius went and visited the kings of Malahaut and Cornwall, but they turned him down flat. Too many Saxons and Irish on the island to leave their domains unprotected, they say.”
“Oh, by the way, where is that Merlin now?”
“Good riddance to that son of a devil, I say.”

And of course everyone wishes to hear the story of how Dalan and Lucas have helped with obtaining the sword. As Lucas is not capable of a coherent story, Dalan takes it upon himself to relate a somewhat embellished story of his adventures, almost neglecting to tell about the contribution of Lucas. (Dalan gains +10 Glory).

Dalliances and Discussions

At some point during the evening, Tristan seeks to make the most of his remaining time as a bachelor and engages in conversation with lady Becca, one of Sir Hyfaidd’s bastard daughters. His reputation and charming ways soon manage to convince the lady to retire to someplace quiet and more private. As Tristan leads her away from the feast, the pair catches the relentless eye of Tristan’s betrothed, lady Eryn, the betrothed of Tristan, her mouth twisting in annoyance. With lady Eryn now fully aware what to expect from her husband-to-be, Tristan can expect her intense stares to become even more so…

In the meantime, Dalan looks for Sir Amig to ask him for an audience with Earl Roderick. Not long after, Dalan is invited to join Roderick. Dalan again asks Roderick for the hand of Lady Elaine. With Merlin having praised him less than an hour ago in front of the King, his timing could not be any better, and Roderick seems to give Dalan’s request sincere thought. However, as he informs Dalan, Salisbury is still in the middle of negotiations for an alliance in which Elaine may be a part. “I cannot promise you anything this year, maybe next year. There still is a possibility.” Taking this answer at face value, Dalan asks whether there is something he can do to further his cause with Lady Elaine. “Try not to get her pregnant…” Roderick replies dryly, after which Dalan takes his leave, and returns to the hall to indulges in some more wine. Where he sees lady Elaine talking – and of course flirting – with Baron Duach. At the end of the evening, everyone finds a place in the great hall to sleep, even Roderick, as his quarters are given to the King.

The Coming Campaigns

During breakfast the next day the knights overhear prince Madoc telling that the King’s admiral is planning a raid along the coast to burn as many Saxon’s ships as possible and raid the settlements on the coast. They are seeking volunteers to take part in this endeavor. Duke Ulfius, at King Uther’s request, in turn instructs all nobles to meet up at Sarum four weeks after Pentecost with their knights, making sure their domain is left secure behind them and all enfoeffment obligations are met, while making sure they leave enough supplies and garrison in case of a siege. Lucas meanwhile overhears that the king and some nobles are making plans to invade Frankland, the country of the Franks.

At the same time as the naval campaign, the King intends to pay the Duke of Lindsey a visit to remind him of where his loyalties should lie. Duke Corneus Lindsey, 37 years of age, has been perceived as somewhat recalcitrant by the King, perhaps jealous of the appropriating of land by Uther. As a member of the High Collegium, Lindsey’s loyalty is all the more important to Uther. Also known as ‘the hammer of the church’, Corneus, like Uther, is no great fan of the church and may be useful to offset the barons of the robe in the Collegium.

Earl Roderick approaches the three knights. He addresses Lucas with respect to his sorry state the evening before, when he appeared to have a deep and meaningful conversation with his ale mug… The king has asked Roderick to accompany him to Duke Lindsey, but also to send men to participate in the naval campaign. Out of respect towards the knights Roderick asks them what their preference is. After a short deliberation they all three agree that they wish to join Roderick to on the road to Lindsey, on a diplomatic mission, pleased with the great honour to accompany Roderick and the king.

The Journey North, and Past Pleasures

The king travels north in a small company of knights, including Ulfius, Merlin as well as Roderick, the latter accompanied by Dalan, Tristan, Lucas and other knights of Salisbury with him. The journey North is smooth and mostly uneventful. That is, until the Royal entourage stays the night in Leir’s Castle, a town the Salisbury knights have also visited a few years ago. On the morning of their departure, Sir Canuc de Caerac, one of Uther’s thugs commonly known as ‘the Trio’ seeks out Tristan. “Last night I came across a fetching serving wench walking around with a toddler on her arm. She was asking around for a sir Tristan of Salisbury” he starts to Tristan’s unease. “Do you know anything about this?” Tristan tries to deny any connection with the woman, but the hot blush on his face betrays him. Sir Canuc laughs out loud: “Do not worry, I have taken good care of her last night, and I am sure she has forgotten all about you, since!” Still laughing, he rides off.

Arriving in the ancient Roman fortress town of Lindsey, the Royal entourage is received by the steward. Apologizing for the Duke, who is not at home at the moment, he expects the Duke’s return within the week. Clearly disappointed by this news, Uther announces that he will wait here for the return of the Duke, and some hunting will certainly make the time pass faster.

Tristan, Lucas and Dalan help drive the hunt, flushing out the game towards the king and the higher nobility accompanying him. It is Tristan who manages to finds a prize boar, causing it to run straight for duke Ulfius to kill. Ulfius takes notice of Tristan’s effort and thanks the knight (+5 Glory for Tristan)

Somewhat later Tristan and Dalan see at the far side of a clearing a deer, and a wolf stalking the deer. Dalan and Tristan signal to each other and remain silent. Lucas notices this exchange and remains silent as well, but fails to join the other two. Tristan and Dalan manage to separate the wolf from the rest of the his pack, which was lurking deeper between the trees, and once again it is Tristan who is seen leading the wolf towards the King, who dispatches it with ease (Tristan gains +10 Glory, Dalan gains +5 Glory)

That afternoon no more real hunting takes place. The company then returns and spends the night in the manor of one of the knights of Lindsey. The next day they return to Lincoln, only for the waiting to resume. Tristan and Lucas decide to practice their sword arm and eventually decide upon a duel until first blood. A small audience soon gathers and they start their fight. For a long time the two are evenly matched, but then Tristan missteps, and in his fall both loses his own sword and manages to get cut on Lucas’ blade. Seeing his fellow knight wounded – albeit lightly, Lucas quickly kneels by his side and bandages the cut.

Dalan in the meantime is looking for horse stock, and he finds a good mare (for the price of 2 libra) and a very impressive stallion (for the small sum of 10 libra this could be his). Dalan buys the mare, as his funds do not allow for the purchase of the stallion, regrettably. In the afternoon Dalan goes hunting again, but without success.

Corneus Returns, the Tale is Retold

The next day Duke Corneus returns home, and Uther goes outside to meet him. Duke Corneus welcomes him and invites him to a feast in his honor this evening. He then excuses himself, as he wants to refresh himself after a long journey. That evening there is a feast, which is grand enough to honor the king, but not exuberant. There is music and there are stories of heroes.

At one point Uther request that the story of the sword is told again. Dalan, inspired by his loyalty to Roderick, regales the audience with the story of the Sword in the Lake, pointedly refering to the intended bearer of the sword as High King Uther. Uther interrupts the story when Dalan gets to the point that the Lady of the Lake hands over the sword to Merlin, and he thanks Dalan. (+10 Glory to Dalan, +5 Glory to Lucas)

Uther asks Merlin about the ancient history of the sword, named Excalibur. When Merlin finishes his story, Uther draws the sword again, and again there is a soft glow emanating from the sword. Much impressed with the sword and the story, Lindsey’s attitude towards Uther is seen to change – later upon the evening Corneu and Uther are even seen in warm, friendly conversations. (All knights present gain +15 Glory) The next morning Uther wishes to invite all of the Nothern kings to Lindsey , and instructs for messengers to be sent. Roderick asks Dalan, Lucas and Tristan to ride to Malahaut and invite the Centurion King.

Returning to Malahaut

The three knights and their squires ride north the next morning. As Andreas, Tristan’s squire and the brother of Lucas, is still missing, Tristan has for this trip a 17 year old bastard son of Hyfiadd named Bevan, as a (temporary) squire. On the way to Eburacum they spend the night in various manors and farmsteads. When they arrive in the old city of Eburacum from the south side, they are welcomed, but they soon learn that the king is absent, he is fighting Saxons. Stopped at the gate to the Royal City, they are told by the steward of Eburaceum “You are welcome to stay in the Old City and wait for the king, but it can take a while before the Centurion King returns from the North. Please note that the Royal City is off limits.” Loth to spend more time waiting, Dalan, Lucas and Tristan quickly decide to try to find the king on his campaign, and only stay long enough in Eburacum to inquire into the most likely place where the King can be found.

A Knight’s Wake

They follow the instructions and after a few days travel they reach a hovel near a waterfall, as was predicted. They spend the night there, the squires keeping watch during the night. Then they follow the path through the forest towards the hills, where they are likely to find the camp of the king of Malahaut. When they travel through the woods, Tristan is the first to notice that they are being watched. He spots a peasant in between the trees. During the day they all see him a couple of times, but he keeps his distance. It may even be more than one peasant. That night they are still in the forested hills. They set up camp at a defensible spot, and keep a double watch. When they sleep, they take of their mail shirts, as with the mail not much sleep will be had.

Lucas and his squire Myrddyn take first watch, but for some reason both are unable to keep their eyes open and fall asleep. Somewhat later Dalan wakes to a noise near the horses. He wakes his squire Parcel, and tells him to wake everyone else. Dalan puts on his mail shirt and takes his shield and sword. This process makes some noise. He then approaches the horse line where some whispering is going on. He sees a figure on one of the horses, the charger of Lucas, and two other men that have cut horses loose. The two men, seeing Dalan approach, are in doubt whether to mount the horses or to run away. Tristan follows Dalan, but without his mail shirt, Lucas follows later.

Dalan charges fully at the horse thieves, he rams the single rider of the horse, and hits one of the others. The third would-be thief tries to stab Dalan, but misses. Tristan hits him, and then he tries to run away, straight into the arms of Lucas, and out of better options, he attacks Lucas. Lucas manages to put his shield between himself and the attacker, but still suffers some damage from this desperate attack. Dalan, having disabled the other two, was already on his way to attack the remaining man from the rear, but Lucas puts him down. (All knights gain +10 Glory)

The thieves that still are able to talk are questioned, and they learn that they are impoverished farmers from a village near this place, and that the village has been sacked by the Saxons. They try to appeal to the mercy of the knights by telling a story about their poor wives and children who have nothing left. The plunder has been 4 to 8 weeks ago.

Although the first inclination of Dalan is to kill the horse thieves on the spot, the other two manage to convince him that this is not his right, and that the local lord should dispense judgement. They decide to take the peasants, wounded though they are, along on their way to the king of Malahaut. Tristan asks Lucas how it is possible that the thieves almost got away with their horses. Lucas, too embarrassed to tell the truth, says that he does not know exactly how it is possible that he missed their activity…. Dalan and Tristan do not notice his deceit.

Meeting the Centurion King

As it is still night, Dalan decides to take over the watch, and keep an eye on the prisoners. The others can still sleep a few hours. During his watch the sky lightens, and at dawn he wakes the others. After a short breakfast, they resume their way. After a few hours travel, they come to a junction in the road. They come upon and follow a road when they find it marked with many hoof prints and tracks of foot soldiers, dragging the horse thieves along with them. Soon two of the thieves falter and collapse, dying of their wounds. Seeing no further point in bringing the bodies, the knights decide to leave them where they fell by the roadside. Then, cresting a rise, the knights spy a large encamped army, looking neatly laid out and strictly regimented. After a while they reach a big camp, clearly one of Logres knights. Riding up to the camp they are greeted by sentries, who upon hearing the identity of the knights and their message from Uther, escort them into the camp.

The knights and squires all dismount inside the camp, for the knights to be led to a nobleman dressed in armour of ancient times, sitting under an awning of a large tent. The squires remain with the horses and their remaining prisoner. The nobleman – the Centurion King himself – asks the knights for their business. They convey the request from Uther for all of the Northern Kings to to convene in Lindsey as soon as possible. The king scowls and casts his eyes about “I have no time for such affairs when Saxon still roam my lands. As you can bloody well see I am far too busy fighting the barbarians.” He shakes his head and dismisses the knights “Pray tell Uther that I will find my way when I can spare the time, and not sooner.”

Return to their squires and horses, the knights leave the remaining horse thief in the care of the Centurion’s King kinghts to face the King’s justice. Thus they take their leave, and return to Lindsey where, a couple of days later, they relay the Centurion King’s words to King Uther, who does little to hide his displeasure.

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487 A.D, Spring ~ Tristan's Search for a Bride
... and of friendship, luck between the sheets and Bludd's curse

Early 487 A.D, Wylye Manor

In the early days of spring, the weather still wet with snow and rain, Tristan spends his time at home – Wylye manor. With nothing urgent at hand, he can’t help but notice how his mistress and servant around the manor, Cothi, and Bludd, the mother of Beti, spend a lot of time huddled together talking. One evening after dinner, Cothi, alone with Tristan in his private quarters, seems to be working up her courage to broach a subject. After a few aborted attempts she manages to say that she fears that the lack of firewood in the servants’ house during the winters past may have contributed to the pneumonia of Angharad, their daughter, and thus possibly her demise. Even though the servants asked for more firewood to see off the cold nights, Alwena denied them this comfort. Startled by this news, it nonetheless makes some sense to Tristan, given Alwena’s notorious shrewdness. He promises Cothi to raise the subject with his grandmother about this, and to make sure the servants no longer freeze in winter.

The next morning Tristan finds his grandmother and presents her with the issue: the lack of warmth in the servants’ house is not good for their health, especially if there are small children present. Alwena blanches a little when Tristan mentions small children, but she recovers quickly and says: “If they are cold, they should wear more clothes, we give them enough!” Tristan insists that there should be more wood available, after all, ill servants cannot work, and ill servants only cost more for no gain.

Alwena slyly remarks: “Speaking of costs, more firewood will cost more, and in that respect, why do Bludd and Cothi still remain at Wylye? Bludd does make herself useful from time to time, but Cothi seems to feel too good for some of the tasks she is asked to do. Besides, they don’t have to care for children anymore…” Tristan is a bit shocked by her bluntness, but sees her point immediately. “Hm, you are right” he muses and dodges with “Maybe we should send Bludd away…” Alwena looks directly at Tristan and says: “Good, will you tell her that?” before she turns and walks off towards the kitchen – leaving Tristan wondering who got the upper hand in this argument.

A bit overwhelmed by the situation, Tristan goes to look for Bludd and finds her in the servants hovel. On the way over he rehearses his argument. She has received food and shelter at Wylye for five years and this is much more than what could reasonably be expected, and that it is time for her to move on. He would allow her to stay at Wylye for a few weeks longer, until the weather clears enough for good traveling, and this time she may also use to find another employ. Certain that his case will be understood by the older servant, he is relieved to find her and get this ugly matter over with. Unfortunately his tongue runs off with him (another fumble by poor Tristan) and he makes a grand mess of it, the old woman glaring at him as she backs away to grab her belongings and storms off into the pouring rain, hissing all the while. Tristan remains behind, scratching his head in confusion wondering what just happened. Surely he wasn’t at fault? Thus, he misses the scene just outside – that of Bludd cursing the Wylye manor, wishing its occupants nothing but ill.

Asking for a Bride

When the weather turns for the better, Tristan rides to Sarum to raise the topic of a potential bride with Earl Roderick. Apparantly the earl has more visitors, as he recognizes the squire of Baron Duach tending to the baron’s horse. Arriving at the hall, Tristan takes off his damp cloak and greets Roderick’s dapifier, Sir Amig, explaining the purpose of his visit. Amig welcomes Tristan and invites him into the hall, where at the moment Roderick is still in conversation with Baron Duach and Abbot Brugyn, all seated by the hearth. Roderick will certainly have time to see Tristan, but not until he finishes his business with baron Duach. Therefore Tristan is to wait and perhaps join the others by the great table. Tristan thanks Sir Amig, and walks over to the great table, where Lady Indeg and Lady Marian are seated together with some embroidery, as well as Sir Kenian. Tristan seats himself across from Lady Indeg. After some small talk, the conversation goes to the visit of Baron Duach with whom Roderick is keen to craft an alliance between Wereside and Salisbury, reinforced by marriage. Lady Indeg asks Marian whether her handmaiden, Lady Gwiona, may be a candidate for Duach. Marian doubts the baron would be interested, given the untimely demise of each of Gwiona’s previous suitors.

Eventually the conversation also reaches Lady Adwen, with Lady Indeg commenting that her aid is too feeble to counter the damage Tristan has caused every time he puts his foot in his mouth. “Don’t remind me,” responds Tristan, groaning. He defends himself, explaining that his interest in Adwen is purely for her, and not her money. He admires her greatly, respects her in the way he handles her estates, and she is also a great beauty. “I wish I were born a baron, so I could marry her” he sighs. (This insight gains Tristan a passion of Amor for Adwen)

“But surely, if money is not an issue, there should be plenty of women to choose from to marry, who are both beautiful and capable?” Lady Indeg points out. “Yes, well, that is why I am here, actually, to ask Earl Roderick just that!” Tristan says as the conversation at the hearth comes to a conclusion with Roderick promising “I will let you know soon what I have decided.” and Baron Duach takes his leave.

Raising the Question with the Earl

A short while after, Sir Amig invites Tristan to join the earl at the hearth. Roderick welcomes Tristan and asks what he can do for him. Tristan explains that he is looking for a suitable bride for himself, and hopes that Roderick knows an eligible lady? Earl Roderick nods and inquires whether Tristan has indeed come to understand that the Lady Adwen is out of his reach, which Tristan confirms while admitting that he still hopes to admire her from afar. Not unlike what he already told the earl two years previous.

Before discussing the subject of a bride for the knight, Earl Roderick mentions his discussions with Baron Duach who has expressed interest in both Lady Adwen and Lady Elaine. Roderick now has to decide who – if any – he will give away in marriage to the Baron. “Who do you think would be best suited to be a baroness?” Roderick asks Tristan. After a brief pang of imminent loss, his loyalty to Roderick wins out and Tristan honestly admits that this would definitely be Lady Adwen, as she is the most competent of the two ladies, far more level-headed, and would be a very good baroness in his mind. But maybe he neglects the skills of Lady Elaine in that area, Roderick could ask Sir Dalan if he can tell him more about her? Roderick, having just drank from his glass, only barely manages not to hold on to his wine “I think that the knowledge of Dalan of Lady Elaines abilities lie in another direction!” Tristan must admit that Roderick is likely right on this account. Somewhat forlorn, Tristan returns to the subject of lady Adwen, how he still admires Adwen greatly, and how it would please him to marry her, if he only could, but as this is not the case, he would very much like to remain her friend, if she would have him as such.

Roderick then cuts in to ask Tristan what it is he most looks for in a bride. Tristan says that he needs a bride to mind the manor in his absence, as his grandmother is getting along in years, and starting to show it more every winter, and likely has not long to live. He also wishes to sire an heir to ensure the future of Wylye. He would not be opposed to a good looking bride, favoring good looks over wealth.

A Choice in Brides

Earl Roderick leans back in his chair, sipping his wine. “Let me think,” he says, and remains silent for a while. Tristan fidgets a bit with his wine cup, slightly nervous. Then Roderick speaks again: “I can think of one eligible lady, who is very able in running a manor, the only thing is that she is already forty years of age… So that might be an issue….?” Tristan explains that his need for an heir is becoming more urgent, and everyone knows that the chances that ladies over forty will bear healthy offspring are very slim indeed. Roderick nods, like he had expected this answer. “Then there is another possible match, she will inherit several manors in due time, but you will have to wait a couple of years before she is ready to give you an heir, as she now is only ten years of age.” Tristan frowns a little at this, but does not immediately dismiss the idea. “Then as a third option, I know of a daughter of one of my knights who is already of suitable age, she would be 19 now, and is also very capable in running a manor. She would also come with a respectable dowry.”

Tristan has to think about these possibilities, and even though the prospect of inheriting several manors is very tempting, his desire for an heir on short notice wins out, and he expresses his interest in the 19 year-old daughter. Earl Roderick seems pleased, and says to Tristan that he will have a word with the father but expects that Tristan will hear from him soon.

Word Arrives at Wylye

Some time later Sir Rufon, on his way to the western parts of Salisbury, calls at Wylye with a message for Sir Tristan. He is requested to travel to to Sarum two weeks before Easter, to meet with Sir Cloyd and discuss the potential marriage with his daughter. Sir Cloyd is relatively well known to Tristan, as Sir Dalan used to squire for the pagan knight. He vaguely recalls that Cloyd has a few daughters, but he cannot recall any of their faces. It surely has been at least five years that he has seen any of them.

As a forthcoming marriage now seems to become more real with the day, Tristan goes to Cothi, and tells her that it is likely that he is to be wed before the end of the year. It would be best if Cothi would leave Wylye before his wife-to-be arrives. This is met with big watery eyes, and Cothi clings to Tristan, weeping openly “Is there no way that I can stay?” Tristan softens by this onslaught of tears and promises that if she proves her worth to his grandmother, if she truly is an asset to Wylye, that she then may stay. “But there is no way! Your grandmother hates me!!” Cothi wails. “Well now,” Tristan says awkwardly, “I’m sure it is not all that bad. Just make sure that she sees your worth, and I will let you stay. But mind you, if my future wife says you are to go, then it is her word that counts!” Still very distraught, but slightly comforted, Cothi leaves. In the following weeks, Tristan notes the vigour Cothi puts into her tasks, even doing the chores she previously would not do. She also makes sure that Tristans bed is rarely empty…

Visiting Chitterne Manor

As there is still ample time before Tristan is expected at Sarum, he decides to pay a visit to Lady Adwen. He sends a messenger to her, to ask whether she is in and able to receive him. He is not entirely sure what her sentiments towards him are at the moment, and he does not wish to embarrass her arriving unexpectedly. The messenger soon returns with good news, Tristan is welcome to visit her at his convenience. The next day Tristan sets out to Chitterne Manor, and he brings an offer of good wine along as a small gift. Tristan is welcomed upon his arrival, and Adwen receives him in the hall of the manor. “To what owe I the honour of your visit?” Lady Adwen asks Tristan, somewhat tersely.

“It is always an honour to be in your presence, gracious lady” Tristan responds courteously. Adwen is pleased by these words and makes an remark about Tristan not being this eloquent in their earlier meetings. Tristan looks embarrassed, and tries to apologize by saying that he still does not know what had come over him that evening. Lady Adwen brushes his apology away with the statement that it must have been the wine, and she firmly closes the subject. They spend the time then talking about various things, about their respective manors and whether they have plans for further investments. Tristan expresses his interest in establishing an orchard on his manor, but he is not yet sure whether to have apples or pears, and asks the advice of Lady Adwen. She thinks apples are the better choice, and Tristan agrees with her.

Explaining his motivation saying that he thinks apples to be more robust, and they can also be used to make cider, Tristan impulsively promises Lady Adwen the first keg of cider that comes of his orchard. Lady Adwen laughs, and says that that will take some years yet. Tristan confirms this, and then says that he hopes that he can be a good friend to her, to help her when needed and where he is able, and that this friendship may last long, that he can at least offer the cider as a token of this friendship. Lady Adwen appreciates this offer, and accepts it, as good friends are always hard to come by, and she does enjoy Tristan’s company.

As a token of their renewed and official friendship, Tristan tells Lady Adwen of the visit of Baron Duach to Earl Roderick, and that he has expressed his interest in marrying her. He also says that Roderick has not yet made his mind up about this matter. Lady Adwen is very interested in this fact and thanks Tristan for informing her. She muses: “I must plan a visit to Sarum soon, I think, to talk with Earl Roderick.” Tristan says that if she thinks that best, she must do so. They then talk a bit more, but the day wears on and not wanting to impose much longer on her hospitality, treasuring his friendship with Adwen, Tristan takes his leave, promising he will keep in touch, and again reminding Adwen that if there is anything he can do for her, she has but to call.

Meeting the Bride of his Choice

A few weeks before Easter, Tristan stands on the motte of Sarum with Earl Roderick, watching the approaching party that they have been waiting for. Tristan recognizes Sir Cloyd, and sees that a young lady is riding next to him. With them are the knight’s squire and a maid for the daughter. Roderick mentions to Tristan that Cloyd has brought his daughter along as she is curious to meet her possible husband-to-be.

Meeting the travelers in the yard, by the stables, Earl Roderick warmly greets Sir Cloyd and his daughter Eryn, and introduces them to Tristan, insofar introductions are necessary, as Sir Cloyd and Tristan have met regularly before. Tristan knows he should have met Eryn also a couple of years before, she must not have made an impression then, with Eryn being of medium build, with black hair and a large, dark coloured birthmark on her left cheek. The way her eyes set on him – or anyone for that matter – however is hard to forget, an intense stare that stays far longer than comfortable. Even Earl Roderick finds himself looking away in mild discomfort when he greets her. Under this penetrating look, Tristan has to swallow once or twice, while he keeps smiling at her. “I am honoured to meet you, sir Tristan” she says, with a startlingly loud and shrill voice. He recovers quickly and responds: “The honour is completely mine, dear lady.”

Small Talk and Conversation

The group then goes into the great hall, where they seat themselves at the table for a glass of wine and small talk. Tristan is in conversation with Eryn, and he notices that the shrillness of her voice is definitely something that will require getting used to, something he truly he hopes that he can. But what she says makes a good impression on Tristan. He finds her quick of mind, and knowledgeable about running a manor. Vague suggestions by Tristan for possible improvements to the manor are quickly turned into an almost complete plan of action, with all advantages and disadvantages set out in detail. Talking further, she impresses Tristan with her skill in chirurgery, and her willingness to read anything she can get her hands on. Offering Tristan a small gift that she made herself – an embroidered handkerchief, which shows a small but greatly detailed hunting scene – he can’t help but be impressed with her industrious nature. Duly impressed , Tristan almost forgets about her shrill voice and intense stare. And if he looks at her from the right side, he cannot see the big ugly mark on her left cheek at all…

The Arrangements of Marriage

Then Roderick invites Cloyd and Tristan to sit with him at the hearth to discuss the offer of marriage. At the same time, Lady Marian takes over the conversation with Eryn, who is thus not left to sit alone at the table. When the trio is seated at the hearth, Roderick asks Tristan what he thinks of Eryn. Tristan answers that he is very impressed with her knowledge and skills of running a manor. Sir Cloyd sits a bit straighter at this praise, but as nothing more follows, his looks darken a bit and he says: “You can also just hire a steward if all you are interested in is having your manor run well…” to which Tristan answers a bit awkwardly: “Well, no, that is not what I want, I want a wife, so I can keep things in the family” Cloyd grunts a bit, but lets the matter drop.

Roderick states the marriage would have his blessings and rises, leaving knights to come to an understanding. With Tristan having declared his interest, it falls to Cloyd to offer a dowry – in this case a healthy sum of 8 libra as well as lands worth 3 libra per annum, to be considered the widow’s portion in case of Tristan’s demise. Knowing Cloyd has two more daughters to marry off, Tristan understands that the knight already has put all his cards on the table. All in all this seems to Tristan a good business arrangement, but he wishes to know the opinion of his grandmother before he makes a final decision. Thus, he expresses his sincere interest in the offer, but also asks for time to confer. Sir Cloyd thanks Tristan for his interest “We shall be waiting for your message” For which Tristan promises that they will not have to wait long.

Back at Wylye

When Tristan gets back to Wylye, he relates the meeting and subsequent proposal to his grandmother. He speaks very enthousiastically about her skills of running a manor, and says: “Look at this embroidery, grandmother, does the stag not look alive?!” showing her the embroidered handkerchief. Even Alwena must admit that the embroidery is very fine. “But you have not yet mentioned what she looks like, dear one” she says questioningly. Tristans enthusiasm dampens a bit at his recollection of the way Eryn looks and her voice! He really must get used to that, or ask her to speak in whispers only… When he truthfully admits that Eryn may not be the best looking girl in the county, and that is an understatement, Alwena is pleasantly surprised. Who would have thought that Tristan of all people would select a bride with less beauty than brains? When Tristan tells her what the dowry is, this is also not to her dislike. “Tristan”, she says, “this sound like a very suitable arrangement, and I have no objection, so have a message sent so we can arrange your wedding! What is more, I will write the message for you myself.”

Pleased with her approval and support, there still remains one other issue on the mind of Tristan. Cothi. In a burst of openness towards his grandmother, he tells her about the deal he struck with Cothi in a moment of weakness, that she could remain when he married, but only if she would work harder. Alwena had noticed that Cothi worked harder in the last weeks, and had wondered… To Tristan she says: “Well, you know my opinion, I never wanted the wench in the manor in the first place, she is your responsibility and your problem if you choose to look at her that way”

Troubled and full of indecision regarding Cothi, Tristan walks up and down the hall. It would be fairest to Eryn to send Cothi away before she arrives, but then again, Cothi is a very attractive young woman. In the end his loins win the battle from his brain, and he makes up his mind not to send Cothi away. And if there will be trouble later, he’ll deal with that, later.

When Alwena finishes the letter to Sir Cloyd with the request of Tristan for the hand of his daughter Eryn in marriage, Tristan looks for a messenger to send it. Of all the times that his squire has gone missing! This would have been a perfect job for Andreas to do. Where has that boy run off to??

He finally finds someone to send the message, and then he goes to look for Cothi, to tell her the news of his upcoming marriage. But before he can even say anything about her staying or not, she interrupts him and blurts out: “Tristan, I am with child again!”….

The Forgotten Sister

During all of the business of getting a wife and dealing with his mistress, Tristan had almost forgotten about his sister, who has been missing for some years already. Where could she be? Is she all right? As it is not a good decision to walk into Saxon occupied territory to look for himself, Tristan finally decides to have a message sent to Eaglemund, to ask him whether he has taken his sister captive, and if so, what would be the price to get her back. In Sarum he finds someone to write this letter and also a messenger, who will deliver this for 60 den. Satisfied with this, Tristan returns to Wylye.

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486 A.D. ~ The Sword in the Lake
Oh, and a Giant and a Nukalevee....

At the Royal Easter Court

The Easter Court is held at Wynchbank Castle, with a foreigner, the Praetor of Soissons, Sygarius, in attendance. Earl Roderick is not present, attending the Easter feast in Sarum. Merlin is back, having apparantly recovered from the Malhaut campaign.

“But isn’t it terrible about Maldon and Colchester! My ma has three cousins living with her now! Those horrible savages! Oh, it’s the end of Britain, I say. I am praying every day that King Uther strikes every one of them dead!”
“Listen, darlings, it’s everywhere. My last lover, that monk, told me that the vile Franks are even worse! They’ve overrun the last Roman outpost in Gaul. The barbarians are everywhere.”
“And who can be surprised? Since the Great City of Rome fell, everything there has been dismal. Maybe it’s the end of the world.”
“But aren’t you afraid that they’re coming here? Those savages are probably marching here right now!”
“We have nothing to worry about. When I was in the king’s chambers I saw that Merlin is back. The kitchen had his usual plate of food out there. He’s looking a little wan and tired.”
“Well I’ll say you would, too, if you had to sleep for six months without eating! Like a bloody bear, he is!”

Prince Madoc declares he will be raiding the Saxons around Colchester, expecting them to be spread out and easy picking. King Uther readily agrees, and orders his vassals to send half their knights to support prince Madoc. It is this very summons that is the first news of the Easter Court arriving at the Castle of the Rock, in Sarum.

Uther meanwhile bids the Praetor welcome, but does not commit to supporting the Praetor’s military campaign – not even when the Praetor offers half the treasure in Paris, when Paris should be taken.

At Earl Roderick’s Court

Earl Roderick paces and voices his concern that Salisbury should be too poorly defended while prince Madoc draws most of the knights to Colchester. Thus, he commands sir Elad to stay behind with a mix of fresh knights and knights with more military experience – enough to keep the Saxon or any enterprising neighbours at bay.

Thus, sir Elad approaches sir Dalan and sir Lucas that they shall stay behind on garrision duty, while sir Tristan is amongst the knights campaigning against the Saxons around Colchester. Sir Dalan takes this in good humour – even if this may not be as glorious as campaigning against the Saxons, he has heard that lady Elaine has no plans for travel either. Sir Lucas however does feel slightly offended, feeling that he is assigned garrison duty suspiciously often. Still, he is happy to spend more time with his newborn son, Sion, and his wife, Rhoswen.

On the Border With Summerland

The knights under Elad’s command spend their time riding the borders of Salisbury – and in particular those to the east, with Silchester, and those to the west with Summerland. With few knights to spare, they mostly ride in twos and threes, accompanied by their squires. One such patrol is that of Lucas and Dalan, and their squires Myrrdyn and Parcel. Setting off from Vagon they follow the border with Summerland, into the woodland of Wheelwell hundred. A half day into their ride, so far uneventful, they see an old man waving at them, the man leaning into his staff for support, his clothes mostly turned to rags, his hair long, grey and unkempt.

“Sir Knights, good sir knights! I must beg for your aid…”, the man calls in a shaky voice, bowing when the knights come to a halt “My best goat ran off up that hill, and my old bones have difficulty climbing that high….” He points with his shephards staff, polished from years of use and showing it’s age as much as the man does.

Peering up the hill, Dalan does see a goat slipping between the rocks and comes to an impulsive decision. He spurs on his horse and canters up the hill, where he sees the goat browsing between the ruins of an old manor. When Dalan’s warhorse kicks away a stone, the goat starts and bolts for the clusters or bushes and patches of denser woodland behind the ruins, down the other side of the hill.

Seeing Dalan vanish over the crest of the hill, Lucas mutters “Wait here, old man…” before he sets off after his fellow knight – only just remembering to call out “_With me!”_ to the squires. He reaches the same ruins just in time to witness the goat as it scampers into a patch of clustered trees, only to bleat out in terrible fright.

A Giant of a Problem

Enthusiastically giving chase, Dalan blinks when he hears the goat call out in fright – as at the very same time he witnesses one of the trees moving, being pushed aside. A wild looking giant with green hair and three eyes instead of the usual two pushes past the trees, holding up a goat in one hand, and uprooting a tree with the other. Seeing the knights, the giant roars threateningly, dropping the goat and getting a firmer grip on it’s tree.

Both knights do not hesitate to valorously charge the monstrosity, even if it is frightful enough to give most mortals pause.
“FOR THE OLD GODS!” shouts Dalan as he recklessly (passion) charges into the monster, reaching it well before Lucas can be of aid. Ducking under the swinging tree, Dalan takes a slice out of the Giant’s hide, causing it to bleed, but only just.

When Lucas joins the fray, it becomes something of a bullfight, with Dalan grabbing most of the giant’s attention, who only manages some distracted strikes towards Lucas. Time and time again the knights and their horses nimbly charge in and out while slashing at the Giant, who becomes more and more frustrated because he cannot seem to hit the knights.

Dalan taunts and shouts at the giant to draw it’s attacks, so that sir Lucas may land a fatal blow, but fate didn’t allow it to happen. So enraged it forgets to hold on to it’s weapon, the giant dully watches it fly from his hands. Perhaps it had gotten too slick with the giant’s blood, bleeding from so many cuts and scrapes. For a moment the giant seems to consider fighting the knights barehanded, but instead it turns and trundles for the trees it got separated from in the fight, looking to uproot a fresh one.

Dalan however does not allow it past, ducking under the giant’s reach and disembowelling it with a single strike (crit). Coated in a spray of blood and gore, Dalan almost forgets to urge his horse aside as the giant crashes topples over, landing on the ground with a loud, dull, thud. Only then do the knights realize that somehow, miraculously, neither they nor their horses took as much as a scratch.

The Old Man Shows His True Colours

With the giant toppled, the old man hurries down the hill, cheering and at a much faster pace than anticipated. Passing through a puff of mist, the old man shifts in front of Dalan’s eyes and suddenly it’s not the old shephard but Merlin striding towards them.

Both knights bow deeply from the saddle, too surprised to speak up. Merlin on the other hand hardly pauses “Very good sir knights, you will do.” he declares. Glancing at the giant, then back at the knights, he hurries past ”No time for that, sir knights, follow me!”, leading the knights and their squires deeper and deeper between the clumps of trees and soon extensive woodland.

When the path narrows and finally comes to an end amidst brambles and dense undergrowth, Merlin turns to the knights “Leave your horses here with your squires, and proceed on foot.” Without waiting for a response, the sorcerer turns and makes an obviously magical gesture. Nodding, he leads into the narrow footpath that was just revealed “Follow me.”

Dalan and Lucas look at each other and then start to dismount – Dalan in particular showing some reluctance to leave his horse behind.

As the trail winds its way between the trees and undergrowth, the knights make out the shine of water ahead just as they hear branches break off to their right. “There! Protect me now, good knights, for the sake of your king and your lives!” commands Merlin, pointing in the direction of the noise.

Fighting a Green Monstrosity

Turning to face the perceived threat, Lucas and Dalan raise their shields in preparation when a monstrous green horse with a green rider charges through the undergrowth, the horse impossibly nimble as it makes it’s way through the obstacles in a way no natural horse can. “Do your jobs know, sir knights!” calls out the sorcerer as he hurriedly strides down the path and away from the threat.

Both knight steel their resolve, inspired by their loyalty to Roderick and Uther to not let this foul appearance pass. Sir Lucas gives voice to his surprise “Just what is that?” not at all expecting an answer and more then a little surprised when Dalan responds “That’s a Nukelavee, see how the rider and the horse are one?” Standing shoulder to shoulder, the knights expect a tough fight.

Instead, Lucas only just manages a clean strike at the Nukalevee before Dalan removes the green horse’s head in one clean strike, the Nukalevee disintegrating in a shower of foul water that drenches Dalan and a splash of algae, the water quickly seeping into the forest floor. Sir Lucas waits to see if the water will form a monster anew, but when this does not seem the case both knights follow the path that Merlin took.

The Sword in the Lake

Hurrying down the winding path, the knights come upon the small lake they espied earlier, to see Merlin standing in a barge as it drifts out to the middle of the lake, a swirling fog hanging low above the water. When the boat comes to a halt in the middle of the lake, something metallic breaks the surface of the water, rising to reveal a very shiny sword held in a ladies hand.

Merlin leans over to respectfully receive the gift, cradling the sword in his arms as the barge starts it’s slow, steady, process back to the shore where the knights await.

Feeling he is in the presence of the Goddess, Dalan kneels humbly, with Lucas following suit. Stepping out of the barge as soon as it touches shore, Merlin addresses the knights “Well done, knights,” he says “Britain is in your debt. Let us go now.” As he brushes past the knights, he slips the sword under his robe and marches back up the path.

Following Merlin back to the horses and squires, the knights bid Merlin farewell. In the blink of an eye, Merlin is gone – did he vanish into thin air? Is it a trick of the shadows? Surely it is magic… Awed by this experience, both knights promptly lose their bearings and get hopelessly lost in the woods.

Lost in the Woods

They stumble across an abandoned manor house, but find nobody home. Without a clue if they are heading in the right direction or not, they are happy to stumble across a small hamlet and a peasant who gives them directions towards the road to Sarum.

Even though following the peasant’s instructions, they are far from sure that they are on the right track when – with dusk calling – they happen across a hermit in front of a shallow cave. “Say, old man, is this the path towards Sarum?”, calls Lucas. Looking surprised to see anyone here, let alone knights, the hermit rises.

After finding his voice witch he clearly hasn’t used in a long time, he directs the knights to Sarum, but also tells them they will not make it this night. Thus, he welcomes the knights to spend the night if they can respect his silence. Both sir Lucas and sir Dalan have no problems with this but their squires seem to have a harder time at keeping their lips tight.

After an uneventful night, where both knights let their squires get some rest, they set out for Sarum in the morning. They seem to be lost again, but sir Lucas suddenly has a flash of insight and knows exactly where they should go (crit hunting). Breaking from the woods on a hilltop, they see the motte of Vagon off in the distance. A stroke of luck as they were supposed to report back with sir Elad at Vagon castle.

The Tale of the Sword Unfolds

The knights report what has happened with great humility, nonetheless sir Elad is much amazed by their tale. Dalan elaborates “Really, we were clearly blessed by the old gods”, leaving Lucas somewhat puzzled by the sudden reverence of his fellow knight. Patting the knights on the back, sir Elad states that this calls for a feast that very evening and instructs the knights to report to sir Roderick as soon as he gets back.

When sir Roderick and the Salisbury knights return from campaign, they look downcast. The campaign did not turn out well. Expecting to outnumber the Saxons and force them onto the back foot, the knights found strong opposition wherever they ventured. Nothing much was achieved, and the losses sustained seem to have been for nought. Thus, good news is more than welcome.

Prepared by Elad for an epic tale, sir Roderick listens full of expectation and at first looks rather disappointed when Dalan starts: “Well there was this old man and a lost goat, and we decided to chase the goat for him…” But as both knights humbly and almost nonchalantly tell of their adventure, Roderick eyes widen, with words such as giant, Merlin, Nukelavee, magical sword following each other in rapid succession. The minstrel present hangs to their every word and after their report asks them to repeat it, Sir Dalan orates at length – an epic story that only gets embellished further as the minstrel spins his yarn.

Much pleased with the activities of his knights, Roderick orders a great feast and gives both knights a place of honour at a table close to the high table.

Of course the other knights are not the only ones to pick up on this wild story, with young ladies – noble and servants alike – hanging on the knight’s lip as they have to retell their tale again and again. Lucas and Tristan manage to avoid the temptation of the wine and good food, Dalan less so. Later that evening, and in absence of lady Elaine, Dalan rises to escort one of the ladies for a walk, neither of them seen for the remainder of the feast. Tristan, in sharp contrast and perhaps more surprising than Lucas, abstains from these temptations as well, spending the evening in conversation with his fellow knights.

Winter Comes

Earl Roderick is pessimistic about the defeat in Caercolun, but realistic about the relatively light losses suffered by his men. He discusses events and plans with all his knights. He is with the knights as they check their horses, and provides healthy steeds to all who need them.

During the winter sir Lucas and lady Rhoswen become parents again as Rhoswen gives birth to another son, Mervyn. Elsewhere in Salisbury Tristan’s old squire, Andreas, goes missing shortly before he is due to be knighted.

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485 A.D, Spring ~ Dalan's Quest for a Fey Presence
A Story of Knights, Druids, Mushrooms and Marriage

Sir Dalan has a strong interest in the fey and having heard that in years gone by a sacred grove had been present within the Winterbourne Gunnet manorial lands he yearns to restore the grove. If only he knew where it was located or how to go about restoring it…

Seeking a Druid’s Guidance

Seeking guidance from a druid or perhaps even directly from the Old Gods of Logres, he decides to travel to one of the better known pagan sites of Salisbury. The Giant’s Dance (Stonehenge) would be an obvious choice, but for some reason the White Horse of Epona appeals to him more. Thus, together with his new squire Parcel, he sets out for Modron’s Woods due west. Figuring he may well have to make an offer to Epona, he brings a foal along with the intent to set it free.

After a brief stay at castle Vagon he turns north into the woods at Warcastle, down a path that quickly narrows to a game trail. Just as he starts to wonder whether he is on the right path afterall he comes across a lone peasant “Pray tell the way to the White Horse?” he adresses the lowly sort. The peasant looks uncertain, but finally points out that the good sir is on the right path, that he should continue the same direction to find the horse carved into the hills on his right. Puzzled, the peasant tilts his head as he looks up at the knight “Aren’t you a Christian, sir?” he speaks. When Dalan’s expression darkens and his horse takes a step forward, the peasant ducks his head and hurries off. “Insolent peasant, speaking to me in that way just because I’m not Christian!”, mutters Dalan. Parcel pipes up “Sir, I don’t believe the peasant was a Christian either… He sounded surprised that there were still those of the old religion amongst the knights…” Dalan pauses, looking at his altogether Christian squire in some surprise “Huh…”

Lost in the Woods

As the day progresses, the knight and his squire fail to come upon the hill with the horse. Instead they make their way deeper and deeper into the woods, and only by the time that the sun drops from the sky does Dalan appreciate that they truly are lost. Rather than try to keep going in the dark and probably make matters worse, Dalan decides to make camp and instructs Parcel to collect firewood, make a fire and see to the horses.

With the small fire going, Dalan sits back and enjoys some of the wine they brought. Casting a glance towards his squire, he notes Parcel just put another few branches on the fire, the squire looking decidedly nervous. “Scared of the dark, Parcel?” “No sir, just making sure the fire is high enough to keep the lions and other creatures away, sir!”, the squire answers. “Nonsense, nobody has seen a lion in these parts for years!” Shaking his head, Dalan stands up and tells Parcel to follow him, away from the fire and into the dark.

“Now just wait and your eyes will grow used to the dark”, Dalan tells his squire – the latter looking decidedly uneasy. “See, you can see much more than when you’re blinding yourself with such a high fire.” “Yes sir, you are right… Wait, what’s that!” exclaims the young squire when one of the horses snorts, scrapes at the ground. Dalan immediately rushes back towards their camp site, to the horses where they are tied up. He just manages to make out a couple of creatures as they scurry off. Smaller than bears and four-legged, that’s all he is able to make out. “Better keep a guard at night. You’ve got the first watch, Parcel – wake me in four hours” he instructs his squire.

Dalan sleeps peacefully until he is woken by a damp sensation in his face. Without hesitation he grabs for whatever creature it is and manages to wrestle the young foal to the ground, the poor animal motionless in fright as Dalan keeps it pinned. “Parcel? Did you fall asleep?!” he roars, getting up and taking stock of the situation. The fire is almost out and the squire only now shocked asleep “I… I… Sorry, sir….”

Having tied the foal back up, Dalan instructs Parcel they are breaking camp, squire and knight working together until horses are saddled and they mount up. Riding off, Dalan impresses upon Parcel just how harsh the punishment for falling asleep while on guard can be, but decides to let the squire off with just a verbal reprimand this once.

The Tree with a Face

When Dalan and Parcel finally figure out they are going around in circles, Dalan decides to keep the stream they keep running in to on his left hand side and make his way upstream, hoping to find his way back to the hills in that manner. They spend most of the day struggling through heavily overgrown woods before they suddenly emerge into a clearing that sports a single majestic oak. A face stands out in the bark, a natural growth enhanced by careful carving. With the even green tint of the bark it has obviously been there since ancient times.

Dalan dismounts and walks up to the tree to kneel in prayer to Epona, asking her guidance to find their way out of the woods. With most of the day behind them, the knight decides to stay at the clearing, taking advantage of the mossy surface and Epona’s protection for the night. This time Dalan will take the first watch, tending the fire while Parcel falls asleep alongside.

Dalan awakes with a start with the sun beating his face – the knight haven fallen asleep during watch, this time. Blinking blearily he sees his squire stir, stretch under his cloak. “Did you sleep well, Parcle?”, the knight addresses his squire “You know, I almost fell asleep there”. Sitting up, Parcel glances at the last remnants of the fire, then back at his knight, only for Dalan to wink at him and thus confuse the squire further.

That day the knight and squire, perhaps aided by Epona’s blessing, manage to find their way out of the woods, emerging at the foot of the hills and right beneath the chalk of Epona’s White Horse. Pausing at the edge of the forest, Dalan spies an older man in drab clothing by the stream, under the horse. Dalan’s destrier neighs, causing the man to turn towards the noise and wave at the small party. Dalan returns the wave and hops off his horse to tell Parcel to wait and see to the horses while his master leads the foal over to the druid.

The Druid and the Dreams

When Dalan strides up, the mystic introduces himself as Ovate Cadwgan – much lower in rank than the druid Dalan initially assumed him to be – and invites Dalan to join him by a small fireplace below the horse, the ovate sitting down facing the horse.

To the ovate’s surprise, Dalan sits down across the fireplace, with his back to the white horse. Catching on to his faux pas, Dalan quickly scoots around next to the ovate and explains the purpose of his visit – to request the blessing of his mansion by both the Goddess and the Fey, and that he has absolutely no idea how to go about it. Hopefully the ovate can make this request for him?

“I’m afraid that I can’t… But I can help you do it yourself. A sacrifice is a good start, but mostly you’ll need to allow the mother goddess to speak to you. This is something that comes more naturally to my kind, but for other men it is harder. And dangerous, too….” Something to which Dalan agrees all too readily. “You will find new sides of yourself. Sides you don’t know or may not want to know…”, the ovate continues. Dalan isn’t afraid of any of those, as he is convinced he has no sides he would not like to find. The ovate nods and tells Dalan he has to gather some things and will be back later. Rising, the ovate wanders off into the woods, leaving Dalan on his own.

Night falls while Dalan is still waiting. Figuring this to be a test of some kind, Dalan is determined to hold a wake until the ovate’s return. Behind him he hears the crackle of a fire, where Parcel has made his camp for the night. Resolute to stay awake or not, it doesn’t take long for the knight to fall asleep again. When he wakes, the ovate has returned and is seated across from him. Embarassed, Dalan apologizes for falling asleep, but ovate Cadwgan will have none of it “Sir, you fell asleep in the embrace of Epona… Surely that is not something to be ashamed of?” he suggests, while mashing together herbs and several kinds of mushrooms in the bowl in his lap. “This will be better with wine, if you have any… Without it will be difficult to swallow.”

Dalan rises and joins Parcel by his campfire, greeting his squire. Going through the supplies they brought, he is surprised to find only one wineskin remaining. Suspecting his squire had been seeking courage in the wine skins, he is left puzzled when Parcel swears he absolutely has not drunk the missing wine. Returning with some food and the wineskin, Dalan is offered the bowl with the filthy looking paste “Chase it down with wine, sir knight, that should help”. Struggling through every mouthful, Dalan manages to empty the bowl of foul, bitter, gunk that the ovate gave him, having to wash his mouth, his throat with wine after each mouthful. At first nothing seems to happen, and Dalan just starts to wonder when he suddenly finds himself back home, opening the mansion door to let in a guest.

Dalan rolled against his passions and more key traits, with the below key results (highest results that passed the test):

Loyalty to Roderick: 10
Hospitality: 15 (crit)
Lust for Elaine: 10
Valorous: 14
Spiritual: 11 (crit)
Receiving earl Roderick

The door opens, and Dalan finds himself face to face with his liege lord “Welcome, earl Roderick, what a surprise!”, Dalan greets the earl of Salisbury “Thank you, Dalan. I trust you are well? I have come to ask you a favour….”

Dalan nods solemnly as he leads his earl into the manorial hall “What can I do for you, my lord? I am your loyal servant.” “It would please me greatly if you would offer your hall for me to host a marriage. Will you be so kind?” Dalan nods “But of course, sir Roderick.” Further conversation follows, with Dalan and the earl discussing the practicalities of the feast, and Dalan’s mother joining in with helpful suggestions.

The First Groom

Time stops and starts again, for Dalan to once again open the door to a guest. This time it is another knight, and not one of Dalan’s friends either, as it is sir Jaradan “The Sword”. “Ah, Winterbourne Gunnet, thank you so much for allowing the use of your mansion for my marriage. I am sure you are most pleased to host such a noble event at this… place.” Dalan grits his teeth but nods “You are welcome…”.

The arrogant knight saunters past to inspect the mansion “Well, at least you will be able to seat enough. And the roof does not leak…” He looks around, then heads straight for the private quarters “Ahh, and a nice and sturdy bed, we will need that.” Finishing his inspection, Jaradan thanks the host, shaking Dalan’s hand before he bids his farewell.

The Second Groom

His mind still reeling from the visit of sir Jaradan, Dalan again answers the door for a guest. An elderly, wrinkled, man whom he does not know stands in front of him, his voice grating “Sir Dalan, I presume? It is most gracious of you to host my marriage. I am so looking forward to the night….”, the old man cackles. Dalan is too stunned to respond, as he tries to determine who this man might be. A noble of some sort, going by his attire. “My apologies, we have not met. I am baron Kindrick…”, the old man states “I was most pleased riding up to your estate, what a beautiful place it is… Care to show me around?”

Once again Dalan shows the guest around, the old man commenting on the seating arrangements before he too checks the private quarters to comment on the softness of the bed. “Truly this will be a moment to never forget. Again, most kind of you, sir Dalan….” Dalan meanwhile still struggles trying to recall if he ever came across that name before, but finds himself drawing a blank.

The Third and Last Groom

Opening the door once more, Dalan stares at the vision in front of him. Towering over him stands a night in a beautifully detailed, green tinted armour of a style the like Dalan has never laid eyes on yet. From behind the visor a voice adresses him – a voice he will never forget, so beautiful and kind “Sir Dalan of Winterbourne Gunnet? My most sincere thanks for your hospitality.” Ducking down to fit through the doorway, the slender knight lifts his visor for Dalan to see his face. Almost reeling back in shock, Dalan stares at the hideously disfigured visage, the bulging eyes, the warts, the gnarled, pointy teeth.

Yet the same sweet voice continuous “Please do show us around the site for my upcoming marriage…” And this Dalan does, showing the yard with the apple tree, hall and finally towards the private quarters. Dalan grits his teeth when the fey knight bounces on the bed “Oh, this will do… This will most certainly do!”, laughs the hideous knight.

And Finally the Bride

Dalan has hardly opened the door when he finds the lady Elaine in his arms “Oh Dalan! To be finally married at your mansion!” she cries out excitedly. Dalan wraps his arms around Elaine, while his mind works feverishly “Elaine, wait! Just who are you getting married to?” he insists to find out. “Hush, don’t be a spoilsport. Let’s not talk…” responds the fair lady, a finger to Dalan’s lips. Together they make their way back into the mansion and to the bed that so recently was tested by the three grooms….

The Tourney of Dreams

Dalan wakes to the sound of someone insisting he answers a question. “Sir Dalan… Which of the three grooms do you choose to challenge? You can choose two, and should you best them they will not get to marry the lady Elaine…”, the herald repeats and waits for Dalan’s response.

Dalan considers briefly, and states “I challenge the Green Knight and sir Jaradan!”, drawing a roar from the spectators. “And why is it you choose these two and not Baron Kendrick, sir?”, insists the herald. Dalan considers telling the truth, but in the end chooses to deceive (with a crit roll in Deceitful) when he answers “Because I do not consider it honourable to challenge an elderly gentleman” while really thinking “That old man will not make it through the wedding night!”

With the herald satisfied, Dalan feels a hand on his shoulder, and the voice of lady Elaine in his ear “Please, Dalan, tell me what you really think?” Dalan smiles when he responds “Elaine, I truly want it to be me that you marry, en if you marry the old man, I still stand a chance – your beauty will surely stop his heart before snow falls.”

Dalan blinks, and in the next instant he finds himself facing sir Jaradan – both knights clad in nothing but their drawers, and with but a shield to protect them from the sword the other wields. Calling on his passion of lust for Elaine, Dalan charges forward against the suddenly dour looking Jaradan, with loud calls from the crowd encouraging both combattants. Dalan strikes, cleaving straight through Sir Jaradan, with the opposing knight vanishing into thin air.

Still skyclad but for his drawers, Dalan realizes he now is mounted on his proud destrier – without a saddle, stirrups or reins. Opposing him is the fey knight, still clad in his splendid green armour and with his visor shut. Grabbing the lance from his squire, Dalan intends to recklessly charge forward. Yet instead of digging in his heels, he finds himself struck by doubt. Will the fey knight hit him? Will he breathe out his last breath? He’s only just up to a gallop when he stares at the point of his opponent’s lance, watching it grow bigger and bigger until it drops and spears him straight through the heart. His senses fade and the last that Dalan hears is a beautiful voice stating “Old man, it’s you or me now.”

Back at the White Horse

Dalan bolts upright when he wakes, only to throw himself to the side and violently empty his stomach. Tears run from his eyes as he gasps for breath, his head spinning and the full moon dancing in his vision. Blinking away the tears he finally sees the ovate patiently, silently, watching him.

“Ovate, I have seen many things en experienced still more… And it’s all failing to make sense to me.”

“Indeed, life is a mystery” answers the ovate with a gentle smile.

Dalan retches once more before he responds “Visions like this are not an exact message… There were weddings at my manor but not for me…”, his confusion speaking loudly in his voice.

Cadgen nods, tilts his head “Wasn’t one f your questions related to inviting something to your manor?” He rubs the bald patch on his head “And there was something intimate regarding a lady Elaine?” In response to Dalan’s startled look, he holds up his hands and smiles kindly “You were talking out loud in your dreams.”

Dalan scowls, swills from the wineskin to try and clear the foul taste from his mouth “So why was earl Roderick even asking to hold a marriage at my manor?”

Cadwgan rises “I see the Gods have given you much to think about. I wish you much wisdom.” Dalan thanks the ovate and watches him rise and step backwards, just as a cloud covers the full moon. When his eyes adjust, the ovate is nowhere to be seen, and neither is the foal.

The Grove at Winterbourne Gunnet

A week later Dalan and Parcel have returned to Winterbourne Gunnet, the knights mind still reeling from all the questions that have been raised. What does it all mean?! Also he realizes he never got around to asking the ovate how to go about creating that sacred grove in the first place. Discussing this over the dinner table with his mother, it suddenly strikes him that there could be guidance closer to home. Afterall the castellan of du Plain, sir Hyfaidd seems to know the pagan ways fairly well. The next day he rides off again, this time to du Plain castle.

To du Plain for Advice

Sir Hyfaidd welcomes the younger night to his household – a bustling place with his many offspring, some of whom legitimate. Hyfaidd insists that Dalan stays to dine with the knight, his wife the lady Syoned and his daughter Rhian, for whom he is seeking a suitable marriage. After many boastful tales of the antics of his offspring and his eldest Camm in particular, Hyfaidd hears the purpose of Dalan’s visit. Breaking out in a broad smile, he commands the bard at his household to join them and introduces Dalan to bard Morys.

Morys listens to the knight and nods “Aye, I do recall there used to be a grove of sorts at Winterbourne Gunnet. The woods used to run all the way to the river, and right by the bend of the river, under the hill, there was a grove marked with a stone circle and surrounded by oaks. All that is now farmer’s fields, but I hear the stones are still there, under the field.” With the description he provides, Dalan figures he knows exactly the spot, and thanks the bard. As far as Dalan is concerned, the ground isn’t very good as it’s not suitable for grazing horses.

Unearthing the Grove

Staying the night, Dalan rushes home the next morning and doesn’t waste any time in finding the field the bard mentioned. Tying his horse up by a fence post he strips to the waist and proceeds to pull the plants from the ground and digs into the soft soil with his bare hands. Peasants rush up in surprise, and quickly offer to remove the plants themselves, carting them off in as good a condition as they can. They are considerably less enthusiastic to start digging, but when Dalan commands them to they show up with shovels and picks. It never dawns on Dalan that this is half of the village’s vegetable garden and that he might be causing them some distress with his impetuous action, mistaking the peasants’ complaints for lack of enthusiasm. The end result of the first day is the discovery of one buried stone – half a man’s height if set upright, it bears no markings.

That night, a filthy and sweaty Dalan arrives home to be berated by his mother. “Surely you know better than this? It is the knight’s duty to be the lord of his domain. To protect his peasants and to rule them. Not to fool around in the muck with them!” He should order the peasants for their work and leave it to them. In the weeks thereafter the peasants continue the work, baring the stone circle and setting the stones upright. After an inspection of the circle, Dalan leaves clear instructions not to use the field for other purposes. His mother in the mean time compensates the peasants for the damage caused as well as the hard work.

Visiting lady Elaine

With the grove unearthed, Dalan soon rides out to meet the lady Elaine. Elaine is pleased to see him, as well as squire Parcel – who is a cousin to Elaine. Over a glass of wine she does wonder why Dalan has been getting himself filthy in the fields with his peasants – the rumours having travelled fast.

Sheepishly Dalan tells that story, leading in to the visit to Epona’s Horse and the dreams he had. When Elaine hears how Dalan chose to let her marry the old man while he fought Jaradan, she laughs out loud “So you’d rather have me marry some wrinkled gnarly old man than a handsome piece of work like Jaradan?”, she teases. “Yes, as it would leave more for me…”, he responds. She smiles, eyes sparkling as she appreciates the thinking behind it. Soon after they send Parcel and Elaine’s handmaiden away and retire for the night…

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485 A.D. ~ The Battle of Mearcred Creek

Meanwhile at Wylye Manor

Just before the Easter Court, the Wylye manor is paid a visit by a man with his 18-year old daughter, who looks very much pregnant indeed. They demand to see Sir Tristan. Against the odds, the knight happens to be at home. Tristan’s face turns a shade paler when he recognizes Cothi as the lovely serving maid from the tryst in the haystack, the night before his duel with Jaradan. At while he feels his heart soften when he sees her kind, pretty face again. Mistaking his expression for rejection, Cothi breaks out in tears and hugs her father’s side, sobbing quietly. Furious with Tristan, the father can barely restrain himself “You,… you…” he starts to say, but he doesn’t manage much more. Being the gallant knight he is, Tristan invites Cothi and her father inside, to have some refreshments, and to calm down a little…

When they walk inside, Alwena, the grandmother of Tristan suddenly appears at his side, as if she had a sixth sense of the goings on at the Wylye manor. With one look at the girl and the enraged father, she knows what is afoot, and she manages to soothe the father a bit that he is at least coherent in his words again. The fact of the matter is that his daughter is with child by Tristan – a fact Tristan does not deny – and as such she cannot longer work at the Earl’s manor in Sarum, gossip aside. Since this child is Tristan’s responsibility, the father insists that Tristan takes Cothi in his employ at his manor, where she can work as she is able. The plus side would be that Tristan will see his child grow up, the father adds as an afterthought. A bit overwhelmed by all of this, Tristan really should take the time to consider this. Can Wylye afford to feed another mouth or two? But when he looks at Cothi again, his loins stir, and his mind is made up even before he has the opportunity to confer with his grandmother.

But confer he must, as she effectively runs the manor. Leaving Cothi and her father by the fireplace, a short conversation follows. Alwena wants the wench to stay only until she’s given birth, but Tristan insists. Alwena will have to make ends meet one way or the other, but Cothi is staying. Returning to the fire, Tristan makes his offer known. The father tries to haggle for a better wage, but his heart clearly isn’t in it, so relieved is he that his daughter will have a roof over her head. Wylye will employ Cothi, and keep her and her baby fed and clothed, and she will also get an annual compensation of half a libre. Satisfied, the father leaves his daughter at Wylye and returns to Sarum. Tristan leaves Cothi to the care of his grandmother, to find her a place to sleep and chores to attend to. When Tristan walks off into the yard, he finds himself secretly hoping Cothi will bear him a son, as a bastard son may be useful yet in the years to come given his current lack of heir.

Easter Court

The Easter Court of 485 is held in Leir’s Castle in Lambor county. The various rumours of the court eventually also reach the Salisbury knights.

“It’s so terrible! I heard that a thousand Saxons landed to reinforce King Hengest! He’s the devil’s son, that’s for sure.”
“I’ll trust Prince Madoc to take care of us. He’s handsome enough, and he talks boldly enough. But the truth will depend on how he fares in battle, of course.”
“Well, I’ll say it’s too bad he is illegitimate. No bastard will automatically inherit. It’ll be difficult, you can be sure, unless his glory is truly great when the old king dies.”
“Listen, darlings, it’ll take something monstrous to get rid of tough King Uther. Madoc will have to be waiting a long time for any inheritance!”
“But don’t you think it’s bad luck to talk that way?”
“Say, did you know that Merlin has gone away?”
“Well, he comes and goes at his will.”
“Yes, but he is gone again, and at such a time…”

A new Saxon army has landed on the eastern shore, but King Uther is determined to face the Sussex Saxons under King Aelle first, possibly at the urging of Duke Ulfius of Silchester. The defence of the eastern shore he leaves to Duke Lucius of Caercolun – or rather the infant’s warden. Thus, Uther instructs his vassals to muster in Salisbury with at least a third of their knights in May. The differences between Salisbury and Silchester are to be set aside in the fight against their common enemy.

The Campaign against Aelle

When Roderick‘s knights of Salisbury arrives at muster, the tension with the Silchester forces is tangible. Still, both sides remain civil and other than a few words over a mug of wine, no harsher words are spoken. To everyone’s surprise and concern, Merlin is absent in the gathering of the army, even though his assistance is clearly desired. Uther is known to be reckless and rash when going to war without Merlin’s tempering influence. Tristan understands however that Merlin is still recovering from the tremendous amount of energy he spent to turn the battle at Mount Damen from defeat into crushing victory.

Merlin isn’t the only prominent absence, as Duke Gorlois of Cornwall once again fails to turn up at muster. When Uther, furious about Gorlois’ absence, decides to wait no longer he orders the army to march out towards the Saxon lands.

At last, when all knights but Cornwall have gathered, they march into Sussex and meet a horde of Saxons at the place called Maercred Creek. Looking at the forces facing them, the knights determine it to be smaller amount than they faced the year previous in Malahaut – but still enough to match the Logres army man for man and then some. Forming up in the line of battle, Sir Dalan, Sir Tristan and Sir Lucas are part of the eschille led by Sir Amig, a total they are with 10 knights. As has become his habit, Dalan claims the posion of the most danger, on the right flank of the eschille.

The Battle of Maercred Creek

Almost before the army is ready to attack, Uther gives the signal to attack. Charging forward, the eschille of SIr Amig crashes upon a unit of warriors in maille equiped with sword, spear and shield. Dalan, on the right flank, charges a spearman and thrusts straight through him with his lance (critical hit) Tristan also hits an opponent and takes him out of action. Lucas hits one, but his lance breaks and this one remains standing. With their compatriots similarly succesful, they triumph over the opposition, forcing them back and breaking free.

When they next charge forward, Amig’s eschille comes upon a group of rough looking fighters in leather armour, armed with great axes. In this charge Dalan again hits his opponent, Tristan breaks his lance on contact and leaves it stuck in his opponent. Lucas however takes a crashing axe strike to the head (critical hit) and falls of his horse, unconscious. Seeing him fall, his fellow knights take immediate action. Tristan dismounts to protects the body and try to get him on a horse to be taken away from the melee. Dalan in the meantime tries to ward of several attackers to give Tristan the opportunity to save his friend. A Saxon tries to hit Tristan, only to break his axe in the process. Dalan is fighting two at the same time, of the first he cleaves the head straight off (critical hit), while breaking the axe of the second in his parry. This gives Tristan enough room to throw Lucas across a loose horse that was brought by his squire and have him brought to the rear by his squire. Quickly remounting, Tristan rejoins the battle again just as Sir Miles joins the eschille to fill the gap Sir Lucas left.

Unfortunately they did not manage to fight free of the Saxon hordes and thus they are forced to face new opponents at the halt, this time a group of Saxons trained to fight in close formation to defeat cavalry. Dalan roars out his hatred for Saxons, while Miles and Tristan call upon their love of family and their loyalty to Roderick respectively ~ in vain. Suddenly feeling melancholic, they fight only defensively, their spirits have dropped. Dalan suffers no such hesitations, and kills both his opponents with mighty strokes of his blade (critical hits). Tristan manages to block only one of his opponents, and suffers a minor wound while Miles blocks both attacks.

Seeking a more advantageous position and wanting to charge in rather than fight at the halt, sir Amig calls for an orderly withdrawal. Seeing the knights pull away, a group of lightly equipped spearmen rushes forward to throw javelins at the knights. They miss Dalan, but hit Tristan who is saved from a wound by his maille armour. Miles manages to knock an incoming spear out of the way.

Seeking new foes, and with the battle still raging around them, the knights charge forward into a unit warriors with spears and two-handed weapons, who are equipped with cuirbouilli but without shields. Dalan calls upon his passion of loyalty to Roderick, and is greatly inspired (critical success). He immediately kills the nearest Saxon with a thrust through the chest (critical hit). Tristan and Miles both hit their opponent, wounded but not killing them. Perhaps it was their charge that made the difference, for at that very moment Saxon warhorns blare and the Saxons turn tail to run for the safety of the woodland behind them, thus ending the battle.

Only then do Tristan and Dalan become aware of a black banner with a red boar in the Saxon ranks, the knights left wondering whether it is the banner of Eaglemund, the saxon warrior who took Tristan’s sister captive.

A victory for Uther, but maybe not as sweet as he had hoped as there are numerous dead and wounded amongst the Logres ranks. Back in camp Tristan, Dalan and Miles tend to their own wounds before heading off to see how Lucas is doing. One of the monks from Sarum, acting as chirurgeon, is tending to Lucas and managed to keep him alive and strong enough to be carried slowly on a cart back to Salisbury.

All participants of this battle gain +150 Glory, in addition the different knights each gain: +160 Glory for Dalan, +80 Glory for Tristan, +25 Glory for Lucas and +55 Glory for Miles.

Back at the Wylye Manor….

When Tristan arrives back home again after the battle, he finds that Cothi has given birth to a daughter, which she has named Angharad. Both mother and child are doing well, and Tristan goes to look at his daughter, happy to see a healthy child, but deep down slightly disappointed that he did not have a son. He quickly returns Angharad to her mother, and then leaves to attend to other business.

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484 A.D. ~ Duelling Knights and Other Affairs

The Challenge

After the battle in Malahaut, Uther is asked to stay with his army to help drive out the Saxons for good, but Uther declines, as his losses were too great, and there are other regions in need of protection. It is time the knights also get home to settle before winter sets in.

On the way back to Salisbury Sir Jaradan speaks again to the wounded Tristan about his challenge. As there is no challenge in fighting a crippled man, he graciously allows Tristan to heal before the duel. It takes Tristan almost two months to get his health back, and all this time the challenge of Jaradan is not far from his thoughts. In the end he decides not to accept the challenge, as the reason for it is moot anyway, none of them will ever win the hand of Lady Adwen, that much is clear to Tristan. And Jaradan is after all a very good fighter, even if with a bit too much bravado…

The decline of the challenge does not go down well by Jaradan, and throughout Salisbury the people are talking about it. While nobody would want to go up against Jaradan’s sword, backing down from the duel is seen as somewhat cowardly and certainly not honourable. Especially since Jaradan wastes no time in making it known to everyone that the proud sir Tristan backed down with his tail between his legs. (Tristan loses 1 point valorous and gains 1 point prudent)

Each time Jaradan sees Tristan, and that is far more often than Tristan’d like, he makes some remark about Tristan being ‘too afraid to fight a duel’. This goes on for a while until finally something snaps in Tristan and he slaps Jaradan in the face. Before he knows what he has done, he has accepted the challenge for a duel. “Finally he shows some backbone,” Jaradan sneers, “I was afraid you did not have a spine,”

Tristan, angered, says between clenched teeth: “I will show you what I am capable of. You just be sure to bring your horse and a good lance!” Hearing these latter words, and suddenly aware it is not going to be a duel with swords, Jaradan blanches a little, but tries to put a good face on it. “I will see you tomorrow then,” he says, and stalks off.

Tristan is still a bit awed by what happened, but a grand determination fills him, he will teach this oaf a lesson! He goes to the stables to find his horse, who certainly seems fresh and up for it, as if somehow he already seemed to know what was afoot. With his destrier looking well, Tristan goes to find Lucas, who is also at Sarum with his wife, Rhoswen, and tells him about the duel that is about to take place. They also send a messenger to Dalan, who would not wish to miss this duel.

Tristan takes his squire Andreas to the stable area and they set themselves to preparing some lances. After a while squire Gwili comes up to them and, of course already knowing what has happened earlier that day, asks if he can help them. Tristan accepts his help, and with his usual great attention to detail, Gwili puts himself to work, meticulously removing any irregularity on the lance. This takes him of course forever, but the end result is admittedly very good. Gwili hopes that Tristan is able to put Jaradan down a notch, his bragging starts to bore even him.

Then Preece, squire to Jaradan, stops by the group. He is a tall, gangly young lad, and he cautiously approaches Tristan. “My lord wishes to know when and where the duel is to take place,” he says, with a slight disdain in his voice. Tristan describes to him the location near the old oak just outside the Eastern gate of Sarum. The duel is to take place mid morning. Preece thanks Tristan for the information, and after a short hesitation also asks: “Are you certain you wish to have a duel by the lance?” “What do you mean” Tristan asks. Preece seems on the verge of saying something, but says nothing. “Yes I am sure, " Tristan continues, “and you better make sure ‘your Lord’ does not forget his horse, he may need him…” Preece gives Tristan a dirty look – not at all amused – and after a brief nod he walks off.

Lucas in the meantime has been busy trying to find Jaradan, to see what he is up to, but he has no success in finding him.
Early in the evening Tristan is completely ready for the duel the next morning. His horse is in good condition, he has a number of fine lances, and after the conversation with Preece he even feels that his chances of winning may be larger than he could ever have hoped for. Then Dalan arrives, and after Tristan relates the story how he accepted the challenge of Jaradan, Dalan claps him on the shoulder and says: “Good for you, man!”

Dalan looks briefly in the stables and at the lances, and orders his squire Will to stand guard over Tristans horse and the lances during the night, ‘so that nothing untowards should happen to them’. Tristan tells Andreas to join Will, and then the two knights go to the main hall for dinner and drinks.

The Evening Before The Duel

They meet up with Lucas and the three of them spend most of the evening together, covertly strategizing how Tristan will defeat Jaradan. But as it is a public area, this soon is given up as they did not want to be overheard. The duel certtainly is the talk of the evening, and several knights come over to Tristan to wish him luck. The ladies also take notice of both knights who are to duel the next day, both Tristan and – on the far side of the hall – Jaradan receiving ample attention. Finally, unable to resist her pretty face and charm, Tristan takes a serving wench by the name of Cothi to the stables ‘to show her his horse and his lances’…

Dalan seeks out a number of serving girls and pays them to entertain Jaradan and ask him about his prowess with a lance, as they only knew about his sword skills. This works well enough, with Jaradan all to keen to regale of his prowess with the lance and the sword He mentions that he killed one Saxon with the lance, and then 15 by sword. It is that his sword skills are so good that he is known for that, and that his lance skills are therefore not as visible, but truly, he is also very good with a lance… With Jaradan safely occupied, Dalan seeks out a minstrel and offers him some coin to write a song of the duel to follow – and promising further coin if the song turns out to be especially embarassing to sir Jaradan.

About an hour after Tristan disappeared, Lady Adwen enters the main hall. She seems to be looking for someone, but is not successful in finding that person. Dalan notices her, and assumes that she is looking for Tristan. He quickly goes out to find him, and guesses correctly that he is in the stables, on the hayloft, busy with Cothi. Dalan calls Tristan, who appears after a short while, in his underclothes, and covered with bits of hay. Dalan says that Lady Adwen has arrived in the hall, and that she is looking for him. Tristan, flustered, immediately starts to gather up his clothes and dresses himself. Cothi in the meantime also gets herself more or less decent, and escapes past Dalan towards the kitchens. When Tristan is finished dressing, he asks Dalan if he looks okay, if not too much hay is showing… After Dalan confirms that he is good to go, they leave together for the main hall.

In the meantime, Lady Adwen has joined Lucas and Rhoswen, and asks them about the duel between Jaradan and Tristan. She sees Jaradan with a number of young serving wenches around him and on his lap, some looking quite disheveled. She shakes her head in disapproval, and asks: “Where is Tristan?” Lucas says that he is in the stables to inspect his lances for the duel tomorrow. Lady Adwen then turns to move away, but Lucas manages to stall her for a while, until Tristan enters the hall, and walks up to them. Lucas does not notice anything untoward, but Adwen gives Tristan a strange look. She asks him about the duel with Jaradan, and what he was doing. Rather than fess up to the truth, Tristan opts for deceit and convinces her that he was in the stables just with his horse and the lances, busying himself with innocent tasks.

While he tries to be courteous with the lady Adwen, whom he still likes a lot, in the back of his mind Tristan still hears the words of Earl Roderick that she is out of his league and deep down he is starting to realise just that. Thus, his courteous words come across as as a rude rejection (fumble courtesy – Tristan loses his +1 on courtesy rolls towards Adwen) causing Adwen to walk off, offended. Tristan has no idea what he did wrong, but Rhoswen has a keen ear for this, and tells Tristan why his words were so poorly chosen.

When Tristan exclaims that this was not what he meant, and that he would spend all his time with Adwen if only he could, Rhoswen offers to go and put in a good word with lady Adwen in his stead. Tristan gladly accepts this offer, and Rhoswen goes over to Adwen, finding her in conversation with a number of other ladies of the court. After some talking and glances towards Tristan, Rhoswen returns to Tristan and Lucas, carrying not only her own cup, but also the lady Adwen’s empty cup.

Tristan quickly fills the cup and goes over to Lady Adwen, rejoicing that he can make amends, and apologize for his brusqueness. This however again goes horribly wrong as Tristan stumbles over his words and manages to say all the wrong things (fumble courtesy) Redfaced and seeing that carrying on any longer will surely make things even worse, Tristan excuses himself and goes back to join Lucas, Rhoswen and Dalan.

The Duel Proper

The next day, in the morning, when Tristan is about to mount his horse and go outside for his duel, Earl Roderick comes to the stables and asks him what he is about to do. After being initially a bit vague, Tristan eventually tells him what is going on and that he is about to duel with Jaradan. When Earl Roderick asks him whether this still is about Lady Adwen, Tristan answers that for him it has gone well past this, as he himself knows and accepts that Lady Adwen is not to be his wife, and that he just wants to temper the pride of Jaradan. He will only admire Adwen from a distance from now on, and is keen on his lord’s advice on a prospect for marriage. Earl Roderick appreciates this unexpected honesty, and expresses his hope that he will still have two knights in good health after the day is done.

Dalan checks Tristan’s horse, which is looking brilliantly brushed and polished, like it never has before. Apparently Gwili has gotten up early today… Near the old oak outside the city walls a small group has gathered. A few ladies are present, among which are Lady Adwen and Lady Elaine. Also a number of knights are present. Jaradan and his squire are already there, and when Tristan arrives, he rides towards him and asks: “Until first blood?” Tristan confirms this, and they each ride a bit apart, to make the final preparations. Then Sir Elad comes forward, and steps in between the two knights. He hopes that this will be an honest fight, and that the best knight may win. He then goes back to the group of onlookers.
Tristan calls upon his passion (honor), but fails (Tristan gets -5 on all skills). Jaradan calls upon his pride, and is successful.

Then the knights lower their lances and spur their horses towards each other. Jaradan hits Tristan, who manages to divert most of the blow with his shield, but nonetheless is left shaken and a bit bruised, but no blood is drawn. Dalan rides towards Tristan and tries to snap him out of his stupor: “Get a grip man! Don’t be such an embarassing pushover, you can do better than this! Be a man and show Jaradan how to wield a lance!!” This certainly manages to grab Tristan’s attention, the knight severely enraged (critical throw on honor), but he now is so furious with Dalan that he draws his sword and throws himself at Dalan, swinging his sword. Lucas quickly joins in, both friends desperately trying to keep the enraged Tristan at bay and praying he will cool down soon enough. After frantic hacking and slashing, all getting parried without ill effect, Tristan finally seems to tire and realise that his fight is not with his friends, and that he should not spend his energy thusly.

Now even more enraged with Jaradan, who had been watching the exploits of Tristan with amusement, Tristan puts his sword away, and barks a command to his squire: “Get me a fresh lance!” Andreas quickly complies, and almost is too slow in letting go of the offered lance as Tristan is already on his way to Jaradan. Maybe blinded by his anger, or because of his hastened attack, Tristan fails to hit Jaradan again, this time taking a serious hit on the ribs. He is sure he heard something crack and give.

Inwardly groaning with pain, he clenches his teeth and goes back to his starting point for another lance, Andreas handing up the lance that was so brilliantly polished by squire Gwili. Too proud to give up, Tristan goes for a final charge, death or glory! He finally gets his focus right, and hits Jaradan perfectly, lifting him clear off the saddle and unhorsing him. Jaradan crashes down hard to the ground, and squire Preece rushes towards him. A bit dazed, Jaradan struggles to get up again when Preece pulls out a big piece of the lance that has pierced the mail shirt of Jaradan, clearly covered in blood.

Taking the chunk from the lance, Jaradan lifts it and shows it to the crowd, the proof of his defeat. He rises and bows towards Tristan in acknowledgement, but still his bow does not show any respect. Tristan accepts his victory, nods briefly to Jaradan and then turns his horse quickly to go back to Sarum. His riding looks uncomfortable, it is clear that he is in a lot of pain, and he cannot avoid some groans escaping his lips. Those closer to the knight certainly notice, and word of his poor state soon goes around.

(Tristan gains a passion: Hate (Jaradan) of 16, and gains +50 Glory for his victory in this duel)

After Tristan leaves, Dalan walks up to lady Elaine to have a word. Emboldened by his passion for the lady, he manages a conversation that, while superficially polite and innocent, is thick with double entendres and suggestive remarks. Lady Adwen misses this altogether, but another lady of the court is very much aware of the spirit of the conversation, and starts to giggle with her ears turning red. The conversation wraps up with Elaine informing Dalan that her door is always open for him….

Dalan’s paid minstrel certainly lives up to expectations, and it does not take very long that songs about Sir Sword who failed to wield a lance go around the various halls in Salisbury.

Winter Court

At the Winter Court the songs about sir Sword with the lance still is quite popular, much to Dalans satisfaction. The knights are told that a couple of weeks ago Lady Ellen has given birth to a daughter, Jenna. Both mother and child are doing well. “Also,” Sir Roderick says, “due to the great losses of knights last summer, we need more knights to protect our land. Who of the squires is ready to become a knight?” Among the squires who are deemed able enough are Gwili (squire to Sir Elad), Jesstin (squire to Sir Lucas) and Will (squire to Sir Dalan). Andreas, the squire of Sir Tristan is not yet old enough, and will need at least another year of training to hone his skills before he too can become a knight.

Andreas seems a bit disappointed that his friends, who are only a year older, will already become knights and he is to remain a squire. As Lucas and Dalan are now without squires, they ask around, and replacements are quickly found. Tristan has another cousin, Myrddyn, who is 14 years old, and happy to become a squire to Sir Lucas. Dalan is allocated the 15 year old Parcel, who is a cousin to the Lady Elaine and was already given into his care earlier that year.

Winterphase

  • Dalan had a normal harvest and is looking to invest in the restoration of a sacred grove on his manor
  • Tristan had a rich harvest, and invests in a fishery, which doubles the income of his weirs
  • Lucas had a poor harvest, but nonetheless invests in a herd of sheep
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