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.
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.
- 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