The making of knights
During the meal the next evening, Earl Roderick speaks to Sir Elad, in a louder than normal voice that carries easily to the neighbouring tables: “So I understand that we have in our company a number squires that you deem are ready to become knights?” Sir Elad nods “Indeed we do, earl, they have proven themselves valiant and worthy to my eye”, leading on into a description of the feats of the four squires, Colbert, Lucas, Tristan and Dalan – the bear of Imber and the bandits are mentioned, as well as their service to the earl on a mission of diplomacy.
Earl Roderick calls the four squires forward one by one to ask each of them a question. After Colbert has answered his question, Lucas is also asked what would make him a suitable knight to Salisbury. Lucas answers somewhat vaguely and fails to make an impression. Tristan, upon being asked the same, gives a reply which is slightly over the top with respect to his prowess and mostly demonstrates his pride. Dalan however, gives such a splendid reply, that the room is silenced. This is what one would call a ‘humble brag’, and is appreciated all around (Dalan gains +10 Glory).
Earl Roderick then declares: “It pleases me to knight these four squires. Tomorrow evening, after the knighting ceremony, there will be a great feast. But tonight will be a time for reflection…”
The vigil and the oak tree
The squires retreat, and Abbot Brugyn takes Colbert and Lucas under his wing, and leads them to the Josephe Abbey. Lucas dresses in the ceremonial clothes for his vigil; a white over-tunic which symbolizes purity; his black tunic, hose, and shoes denote death; his red cloak indicates blood (both that which may be shed and that which runs in a nobleman’s veins); and his white belt denotes the chastity of a good Christian man. Meanwhile the three younger brothers of Lucas bring his spurs, mail shirt and coat of arms and his sword and place them by the altar. Colbert joins them in the chapel and kneels next to Lucas, similarly attired.
It has been a long evening for Lucas, and only then does he realize he did not even have anything to eat, and is very hungry and tired by now. His weariness increases and he must fight against sleep. He does this successfully, and stays awake and altert all night. Lucas is filled with an inner peace and a feeling that this is the right path.
In the meantime, Dalan and Tristan are taken away by the castellan of Borders and a well respected pagan knight, Sir Hyfaidd, to an old oak just outside Sarum. Each is given a bag of wine to carry along. Sir Hyfaidd also brings two long tunics, which Dalan and Tristan are told to wear. They gather under the old oak, and have some drinks. Some deep conversations follow. At some point, Sir Hyfaidd leaves the two squires and orders them to stay with the oak tree and spend the night in reflection and in respect of the Mother and their ancestors. He will return at dawn. The two wine bags are emptied during the night, but the squires do not drink excessively, a lot of wine is also offered to the spirits of their ancestors.
Dalan somehow gets an energy boost, and has no problem staying awake all night. He feels very much in touch with his ancestors. Tristan however, loses this fight and dozes off. When dawn approaches, Dalan wakes Tristan, just in time before Sir Hyfaidd returns, who clearly notices a difference in appearance between the bouncy Dalan and the groggy Tristan. They return to the castle and meet up with Colbert and Lucas. There they also change in their mail shirts.
The knighting ceremony
The knights then find themselves waiting outside the hall for what seems forever, as inside the hall everything prepared for their knighting ceremony. When the time is finally there, the squires are led into the Great Hall, and kneel before Earl Roderick, at about a 6 meter distance. First Colbert, the squire with the highest honour, is called forward, and is knighted and takes off to jump on his horse.
Lucas is called forward by the herald. A servant carries the sword, spurs and the shield bearing Dinton coat of arms.
Dubbing Sir Lucas
The herald addresses the crowd, reading from a scroll “Be it known to all men that I, earl Roderick earl of Salisbury and baron of the Castle of the Rock and numerous other domains, am minded to raise squire Lucas of Dinton by virtue of his honor, loyalty, valor, and skill at arms, to the high rank of knighthood.” Turning to Lucas, he continuous “Squire Lucas, do you swear and acknowledge earl Roderick to be your true and lawful liege?” Lucas nods solemnly and responds “I do so swear.” “Do you also swear fealty to high king Aurelius Ambrosius, to defend and obey him until he depart the throne, or death shall take you?”, the herald asks squire Lucas, to which he answers “I so swear.”
Rising from his throne, Earl Roderick joins squire Lucas “Let this be the last blow you receive without just recourse.” he speaks and strikes Lucas across the face, with sufficient force leave a stinging red welt on his cheek. Lucas then kneels before his liege, raising his hands palm-to-palm. Roderick places his hands over the knight’s as the herald continues.
“Repeat after me: I, Lucas of Dinton, do solemnly swear and pledge my sword to earl Roderick of , Salisbury my liege, to defend and obey him until he depart his demesnes or death shall take me, and to uphold the honor of knighthood.”, which Lucas repeats the words without stumbling.
Roderick, hearing these words, address the squire: “And I, for my part, do swear to defend and honor Lucas of Dinton as befits a true knight.” Having received the sword from a servant, he taps Lucas lightly on both shoulders with the sword. “I dub thee Sir Lucas of Dinton. Receive now your spurs , your right to suitable arms , and take this, my sword , to your side to serve and defend me well. Arise, Sir Knight.”
Once all these accouterments are put on, Lucas breaks into a run to the end of the hall, outside, to where his horse is waiting , held by a servant. In one smooth jump Lucas leaps and lands in his saddle (critical throw), causing the servants and other public that have gathered to cheer loudly.
The next up is Tristan. He also swears the oath, is struck and dubbed Sir Tristan henceforth. Whether it is overconfidence, or just plain bad luck, we shall never know, but Tristan unceremoniously falls of his horse after his less than elegant jump to try to get in the saddle. The audience remains in silence, thus not hurting Tristans pride anymore than was already done, but of course the excitement and the potential of failure secretly is what they have come for.
The last knight-to-be, Dalan, of course understands by the lack of cheering what must have happened, and is very determined not to suffer the same fate. In his recklessness, he makes an impossible jump, but somehow manages to stay in the saddle. He then lets the horse rear as well, to show off his horsemanship.
After all of this the great feast starts. All seem to enjoy this enormously, although Tristan seems to be a bit downcast… Lucas approaches Earl Roderick at some point, asking him about Lady Rhoswen, the daughter of Sir Berwyn. He would like to pursue her with the aim of a marriage. Earl Roderick tells him to speak to Abbot Brugyn, as he can tell whether Sir Berwyn would be coming to the Easter Court of Ambrosius Aurelius. He also mentions that he will put in a good word to Sir Berwyn for him, if the opportunity comes.
To Earl Rodericks surpise, not an hour later, Dalan approaches him with exactly the same request. He gets the same answer, but is also told to have a word with Lucas. When Dalan looks for either Abbot Brugyn or Lucas, he finds them together, and also learns that it is expected that Sir Berwyn will travel to the Easter Court, but it is unknown whether his daughter will accompany him. Dalan then confronts Lucas about Lady Rhoswen. They talk about their options, and Lucas decides that he would like to leave the choice to Lady Rhoswen and Sir Berwyn. Dalan complies, but he would have preferred to settle the matter between the knights themselves…
Tristan in the meantime is still hurt in his pride about his failed attempt to jump on a horse, something he has been able to do without a single thought since his early years. His family tries to cheer him up, it is a party in his honour after all, but this has not much effect and they soon leave him be. One appealing serving woman, Beti, does not give up so easily, and manages to cheer Tristan up. He pulls her on his lap and steals a few kisses, and as the evening progresses he takes her to a hayloft and spends the night with her. The next morning, Tristan appears to have forgotten his little mishap the previous day, and is almost beaming. He does notice that the air between Dalan and Lucas is a bit strained. Dalan notices some hay in Tristans hair and adds that to the happy face: “good on you” he mutters in his ear.
The Royal Progress and Easter Court
A few days later a company leaves Sarum to go to Castle Du Plain, to attend the Easter Court of High King Aurelius Ambrosius. It is very crowded in and around the castle with nobles and their retinue from across Logres in attendence, and a huge tent encampment has been set up just outside the walls.
The new knights now also have squires. In a trade off the brother of Lucas, Andreas, is made squire to Tristan, where the nephew of Tristan, Jesstin, is made squire to Lucas. The squire of Dalan is called Will, but seems to have no family connection to any of the others. Lucas and Dalan treat each other civilly, maybe a bit too much so. Dalan does seem to approach Lucas much more than before, and is very amicable, trying to get to know Lucas better. Beneath the surface, he has one main goal: to find Lucas’s weaknesses so that when the time comes, Dalan use these with lady Rhoswen to crush Lucas and increase his odds. (He is awarded a check to ‘Deceitful’ for this!)
The Easter Court is a very smoothly run machine in the charge of Sir Sadinal, Dapifier and Herald to the high king who seems to be at all places at the same time to make sure everything goes as planned and nothing is left to chance. At one of the evenings, the four knights overhear some gossip by the ladies:
“Who is that handsome young man who is at court so recently? Do you think it’s true he is the king’s bastard?”
“Well, if he is recognized then we can expect another dozen or so to show up!”
“You are terrible! Maybe he’s just another warrior come to save us from the Saxons.”
“Saxons? I’m watching out for the Irish! That Estregales isn’t worth trusting, sure as a horse has four legs!”
“Oh dear, what if both the Saxons and Irish attack? We’ll surely be doomed. I’m too young to die — or worse!”
The same evening a squire by the name of Madoc also approaches the foursome, and mentions as one of the first that he is a (bastard) son of Uther. He is very adamant, but it is known that his heritage has not yet been confirmed by Uther. One of the knights notices a golden ring worn by squire Madoc, that is supposedly a gift from his mother.
A conversation between Baron Ulfius of Silchester and Earl Roderick is also overheard, and they learn that indeed the Irish are setting foot in Cambria led by their king Gillomanius and joined by the traitor tyrant’s son Pachent, and at the same time the Saxons to the east are getting restless. The two nobles seem respectful of each other, but not exactly close friends. Baron Ulfius is a very powerful noble, well known for his network of spies and informers and is a close advisor to the high king.
Later, during the evening meal, Aurelius Ambrosius announces that Uther will venture north towards the Irish, and he will take his son, squire Madoc, with him, who will first be knighted. Meanwhile the high king himself, with the forces of Salisbury and Silchester, will defend against the Saxon threat from the east.
Tristan, in his hopes to marry above his station, tries to get in contact with Lady Adwen. When he sees her on her own, her standing at the palisade, looking at the stars and the countryside, he spies a chance. He decides to fetch a pair of goblets of wine, and returns to the palisade – only just missing the sight of squire Madoc’s departure. Offering lady Adwen a goblet of wine, Tristan and strikes up a conversation. Some pleasantries are exchanged, and when Lady Adwen announces her worries about the Irish and Saxon threats, Tristan vows to ensure that she comes to no harm, and that he will fight the Saxons to protect her, even if it is the last thing he does. Tristan is very courteous towards Lady Adwen (even so much so, that he gains a +2 on courtesy rolls with Lady Adwen). Teasing the knight, Adwen briefly mentions that she hopes that he will not need to mount a horse in front of the Saxons in the course of batle. After a brief pained look, Tristan reassures her that when he faces the Saxons, he will already be on horseback, and that the Saxons then should be afraid. After some more exchanges, Lady Adwen gives Tristan a now empty goblet back, thanks him for the drink and his company, and returns to the great hall.