Preparation for war
After it became clear that the threats of both Saxons and Irish were very real indeed, all knights are asked to prepare themselves and assemble at a selected number of locations in Salisbury. The four new knights are put in the eschille of Sir Hywel of West Lavington, and are stationed at castle Vagon. A few weeks later a very dusty messenger approaches the castle and it is soon evident that all need to ride out immediately, as a battle is expected. Among all preparations Tristan manages to get his squire Andreas to write a message home, announcing the upcoming fights. Sir Hywel asks his eschille, a group of 9 knights and their squires if they are ready for the fight. This is confirmed. There are a lot of knights for who this will be their first battle. On the way to Sarum, near Grovely, a number of people are waiting next to the road, one of which a lady on horseback. Tristan recognizes them and rides towards his sister Maegan and some of his retinue. She asks him to be careful, and gives him a coloured piece of fabric to tie to his lance: “Give the Saxons hell for Wylye!”. Tristan takes his leave and joins his rank again.
Just south of Sarum camp is being made, and Sir Hywel joins the other leaders with Earl Roderick to learn what has happened and what the plans are.
A message was received that the Saxons had left their lands by ship and had managed to sail up the Avon River, and would be relatively close to Sarum already! The hopes are now that the foot soldiers would arrive soon in Sarum, so they would be able to assist in pushing the Saxons back into the river, else a tricky battle on the plains before Sarum would be inevitable.
The Battle of Salisbury
That night, before the expected battle, Dalan and Tristan go to the old oak and ask for the blessings of their ancestors. Also prayers and offerings are made to the gods Beli Lugh and Bran. Dalan sends his squire to fetch a goat for offering, but he does not return. Another squire brings a fat goose and this is offered to the Gods and ancestors. Wine is also offered, and drunk of course. Some knights drink more than what is sensible, but maybe this way they get enough courage for the fight. Dalan and Tristan are moderate in their drinking, partially because Sir Hywel told them not to drink too much. The offering and drinking continues until late in the evening.
Marching to war
The next morning, the various knight of the different households also arrive, together with the foot soldiers. Then preparations are made for the battle. The eschille of Sir Hywel is placed at the left flank of the army, which is under command of Sir Roderick. The center is led by the High King himself, while the right flank is commanded by baron Ulfius. There are different eschilles in Roderick’s wing, some with clearly less experience than others. Dalan and Tristan are happy with the experienced Sir Hywel.
Sir Jaradan comes riding towards the new knights and finds time for some gossip: ‘Have you noticed that KIng Ambrosius looks a bit poorly today? Do you know what is going on?’ As the knights deny any knowledge and Dalan says that this is not something to be discussed at the eve of a battle, Jaradan eventually shrugs and boasts: “Well, have a good look at me during the battle, I will show you how proper swordfighting is done!” And he rides off. Somewhat later Sir Elad rides up to Sir Hywel, his face concerned. They exchange a few words and Sir Elad rides off again. Sir Hywel announces that we do not have to worry about the condition of the King, his physiscians are attending him and all should be well.
The first charge
When the army approaches the river, a large number of Saxons was already present on the land, and a shieldwall is quickly put up. The army of Saxons appears to be of similar size to the army of King Ambrosius. Dalan notices that the majority of Saxons is poorly armoured. Duke Gorlois rides past the army to encourage the knights. He is the leader of the centre of the army.
Sir Hywel gives a quick final instruction: “We charge quickly into the Saxon horde, and regroup after the first strike. Then we charge again. This is the strenght of cavalry. We stay together, and as one we go in. Do not linger in an extended fight. If you want to kill a lot of Saxons, stay with me!”
Sir Roderick calls out: “For Salisbury, for Logres, For Ambrosius!!”, which is followed by a lot of cheering, and also by King Ambrosius riding forward a little with his bodyguard. A messenger is sent to the Saxons, to tell them in no uncertain terms that they should leave, and preferably hang themselves. A huge Saxon warrior comes forward, and in front of the messenger, pulls down his pants, and pees on the ground. Then he pulls up his pants and returns to his ranks.
This cannot be left unpunished, and a big charge throughout the English ranks follows. The eschille of Sir Hywel is the first to go from trot to canter, and he veers a bit to the left, and flanks the group of Saxons, equipped with great spears and leather armour. Dalan charges a Saxon, and hits him (10 points damage), but he remains standing. Tristan also hits a Saxon with his lance, and the man topples over (16 damage). Then swords are drawn. Tristan is hit on his shield, but Dalan hits his opponent hard (another 22 damage), and causes a major wound. (Dalan gains +10 Glory for dispatching a saxon spearman).
Then the trumpet signal for regrouping sounds. Some javelineers try to prevent us from retreating. They miss Tristan, but Dalans horse is hit (10 damage), but all knights of Sir Hywel’s eschille get away safely. When they regroup, they seem to be outnumbered. Hywel gives the signal for the second attack, and charges a group op axe and spear wielding Saxons. Tristan effectively kills a Saxon with his lance (20 damage), the Saxon goes down gurgling blood (Tristan gains +15 Glory for killing a saxon). Dalans spear bounces of something, and does no damage. Then the knights regroup again.
Regouping, a knight falls
Some whispering and rumouring goes around among the knights: apparently the King is not feeling well. Sir Hywel tries to suppress these rumours, as there are more important things to worry about right now. Dalan quickly attempts some first aid on his horse and removes one damage point.
The next battle round is announced by a group of horse skull wearing warriors coming towards us, wielding big axes, waving them in the air.
Both Dalan and Tristan put in a passion “Hatred for Saxons” successfully, and they both hit a Saxon warrior, but both remain standing (8 and 13 damage respectively). Then swords are drawn, and Tristan kills a saxon (18 damage). (Tristan gains +15 Glory for killing a saxon) Dalan critically hits his opponent, and chops off his head. (Dalan gains +30 Glory for killing a saxon)
Retreat is sounded again. One knight had to leave his horse, which was killed, and managed to get away and mount another horse. During the retreat a number of rich fur clad warriors storm at us, armed with axes and spears. Tristan breaks the spear of one attacker with his sword. Dalan is critically hit by an axe (29 damage), he slides off his horse, and falls into unconsciousness. Tristan sees this happening, and calls to a neighbouring knight who has just dispatched his opponent that he needs help saving Dalan. With the aid of the other knight, Tristan is able to put himself in between of the axe wielding warrior and the fallen Dalan, who is already approached by his squire. Tristan is also hit by the axe warrior, but only lightly (7 damage), and manages to get away. Dalan, though rescued by his squire, is out of action for the remainder of the battle, it is even not certain whether he will survive his grievous wound.
A very young looking squire with a high voice fills the vacancy that Dalan left. Sir Hywel leads his eschille towards a group of Saxons with spears and shields. Tristan hits a saxon (7 damage). The young squire, Ian by name, calls upon a passion (vengeful) and attacks with a lance. A critical hit (26 damage) and the Saxon goes down. (Ian/Iola gains +30 Glory for killing a saxon)
Death of the High King
Then retreat is sounded again. As the eschille turns to fight their way back to their ranks, a scream is heard and echoes throughout the ranks: “The King is dead, the King is dead!!”. First individual eschilles, then the complete army retreats in a somewhat disorderly fashion after this shocking news. At the horizon, with the oncoming darkness of the dusk, a bright star suddenly appears. This is clearly an omen that a great man has died.
Recognizing the advantage offered by the confusion, a group of older Saxon warriors with grey beards, wearing chain mail and carrying great spears, charge toward the knights. Tristan hits one of the warriors (9 damage), but Ian again manages to kill a saxon with one strike (23 damage). (Ian/Iola gains +30 Glory for killing a saxon) The army is pushed back slowly, morale dropping and the chance for victory seemingly gone.
All is not lost, Gorlois saves the day
After some more chaos, from the centre of the army a loud voice is heard: “Revenge for the King, Kill the Saxons!!” Duke Gorlois of Cornwall leads his group with renewed vigor towards the enemy. Sir Hywel also calls: “And now we go back in!”
Tristan calls a passion (Love family) and Ian calls also a passion (Hatred for Saxons). Tristan kills a javelineer in one stroke with lance through his chest (35 damage). (Tristan gains +16 Glory for killing a javelineer) Ian has a mild hit (4 damage), but together the group manages to break through the Saxon lines. The Saxons retreat and the hunt is on. Victory on the Saxons is a fact! The mood after this victory is of course dampened by the death of the High King Aurelius Ambrosius. It is now clear that he did not die fighting, but was poisoned, and at some point fell dead of his horse, with foam on his lips.
More losses are soon becoming evident as well. Two knights from Sir Hywels eschille did not survive the battle, and also Lord Ventrius died, laying slain where he fought to reach his dying king. On a more personal note to Tristan, his bastard brother Gareth Buell also died, whilst in the thick of battle.
(Tristan gains +630 Glory for participating in a victorious battle, Dalan gains +450 Glory, and Ian/Iola gains +180 Glory)
After the battle
Squire Ian is knighted by Sir Hywel after the battle in recognition of his fighting prowess. (Ian/Iola gains +1000 Glory) Sir Hywel tries to heal the would of Tristan, but he does a very poor job, he even makes it worse! (3 damage). Ian is busy fussing over Dalan, and with a passion (Love family) he heals Dalan for 3 points, ensuring he is fit enough to be transported to Sarum, to receive chirurgery from the Abbot Moriad. The total healing process of Dalan takes about four weeks, before he is fit again to leave his bed. During his recovery Dalan learns that Tristan has saved him, at the risk of his own life.
Uther’s army meets the Irish at the seashore of Menevia where the Irish have beached their ships. The King of Estregales closes himself and his army into his castles, refusing to fight for either side. Though outnumbered by the Irish, Uther’s troops are both superior in quality and mounted. The battle rages all day, the Irish fighting back savagely to prevent being driven into the sea, their numbers allowing them to absorb the knight’s charges without breaking.
It is almost dark when a bright star appears in the sky, Uther is encouraged and orders a last, all-out, charge. This charge crushes the Irish foes and puts them to rout. The Irish try to flee to their ships, but the Britons chase them and butcher them at the seaside, the sea turning red with their blood.
The King is dead, long live the King!
A few days after the battles, Aurelius Ambrosius is interred with great ceremony and sorrow in the Giants’ Dance, an ancient monument in Salisbury that had been prepared for this by the arch druid Merlin. All knights who were present at this burial ceremony gain + 50 Glory.
Uther is subsequently crowned King of Logres, but to the observant knights, NOT as High King of Britain. Uther surely is aware of this, and is not pleased. Apparently there are more contestants for the title of High King…
Winter and family
After time, when the winter approaches, all wounds received during the battle with the Saxons have healed. The Winter Phase commences.
Dalan’s recovery, a secret exposed
While Tristan is visiting Dalan, also Ian comes to the heavily injured knights bedside. In his ravings due to his injuries, Dalan calls Ian by another name: “Iola! my sister! what are you doing here!” Tristan quickly puts one and two together, and exclaims: “You are a girl! And Dalans sister!?” Iola admonishes Dalan to lie still, and looks intently at Tristan, a subtle threat in her eyes: “Please do not tell anyone!!”
Tristan remembers the fighting skills of Ian/Iola, and prefers to have someone like her next to him when fighting the bloody Saxons than some other inept knights he has seen, and says: “Your secret is safe with me”.
The Wylye household
Unbeknownst to Tristan, the night Tristan spent with Beaty after the knighting ceremony, has given him a daughter. Beaty had unfortunately died in childbirth. Shortly after the battle with the Saxons, it became also clear to Tristan that his sister Maegan was missing. He had last seen her on the road to Sarum, near Grovely. Could it be that Saxon raiders had somehow managed to abduct her? This is something Tristan intends to find out. He will not rest until he finds his sister.