The Search Begins
After the events in the north, Tristan finally finds time to seriously look for his lost sister Maeghan, who went missing at the time of the battle of Salisbury. Since he last saw Maeghan along the road by Grovely, Tristan goes to visit the knight Maddox in Grovely manor. Unfortunately Tristan is too brusque and demanding in his manner of asking after his sister and whether sir Maddox has seen anything, and all he earns is a terse reply that sir Maddox is too busy with other personal matters to worry about a lost sister of another knight. It turns out his wife and his son both are also missing, and he is pretty much occupied with his worries for them.
Further downstream in the small fortified town of Wilton Tristan learns that around the time Maeghan went missing, a number of Saxon boats have passed Wilton, and on their way back they seemed much heavier loaded, presumably with loot and plunder, and some cattle could be spotted on board. They could not see if any humans were among their spoils of war. What was remembered that one of the ships had a banner with a red boar head on it.
When Tristan returns to Salisbury, he relates his suspicions about a Saxon kidnapping of his sister (and other people of the region) to Earl Roderick, and asks him whether any attacks in the Saxon lands are planned in the near future.
“Not anytime soon”, Roderick replies. “At the moment it is not opportune to pursue the Saxons, and Uther has some other issues on his mind. So you must have patience.”
Suppressing his disappointment, Tristan asks earl Roderick permission to follow the trail of the mentioned Saxon boats, to see if he can find out for certain if his sister was taken prisoner. Dalan and Lucas have indicated that they are willing to help Tristan in this quest. As the Saxons likely have abducted quite a number of people from the land around Sarum, Earl Roderick allows them to pursue this personal matter.
But, he warns, be aware of any remaining Saxon raiders, it may be that some are still lingering behind south of Salisbury. Taking his advice to heart, but secretly hoping there will be some Saxons to fight, the three knights leave for Dorset, following the river Avon. They reach a small settlement, where the initial reaction to the foreign knights is one of fright, some people hide when the unknown knights arrive. After Tristan calls to them that they come in peace and are knights of Logres, they seem to calm a little and one of the villagers comes forward and asks what it is they want.
Tristan asks him about the Saxon boats and a banner with a red boar head. The farmer does not know much, he tells about ships coming upriver, and later back again, with many wounded aboard. But he could not tell much more, as all in the area hid when the boats were near.
This reference was likely to the main force, and as the farmer does not have any more relevant information, Tristan thanks him for his help and the party of three knights and three squires moves on.
Somewhat later they reach Ibsley, a somewhat larger settlement with a fortified manor. A fair number of fishermen are at work on the river, which is quite broad and calm here. The current ruler of the area is Lady Aderyn, who is a 45 year old widow, but who is not yet remarried. She has a son of 14 years old. She welcomes the knights in her manor, and asks them what their business in Ibsley is. Tristan tells her the reason of their quest. Lady Aderyn reacts shocked and asks what she can do to help. She rants a bit against the Saxons, and while she talks, Tristan notes a certain relief in her, especially when she hears their reason of coming here. Her son Barri will also fight the Saxons soon, but first he needs to complete his training to become a knight, but eventually, in a couple of years time, he will become the terror of the Saxons, Lady Aderyn predicts.
Barri asks Dalan whether he has fought the Saxons in the battle last year. Dalan gives a magnificent and far from humble report about his participation in the battle and his near death experience, and his rescue by Tristan. He manages to tell the story in such a way that Barri wistfully mutters: “I wish I had been there…” and Tristan also thinks that he would also liked to have participated in THAT battle…. (Dalan gains +2 Glory)
Barri, keen to hear more about Saxons being killed, turns to Lucas to ask how many he has killed in the battle. Lucas regretfully admits that he was not present during the battle as he had garrison duty. Barri does not understand, and his mother explains the necessity of garrison duty to him. It is part of the duty of a knight, it may seem less glorious, but it is nonetheless an important task in order to keep the country safe.
When Tristan steers the dinner conversations back to the more important stuff, being his sister, Lady Aderyn confirms that a ship with a banner with a red boar head has passed Ibsley they year before, and also in this region some men and women are missing, so it is likely that prisoners were taken. Near Ibsley a Saxon warrior is held hostage, apparently they are still waiting for his ransom money. If he is still there, maybe he could be brought over here to answer your questions. Tristan is very keen to this prospect, and Lady Aderyn promises to send a messenger to arrange the matter. The evening further progresses without any incidents.
The Saxon Hostage
The next morning a nobleman arrives at Ibsley together with a huge man on horseback, who has his feet chained together underneath the horse’s belly, and the horse is led by a squire. Lady Aderyn welcomes sir Rhobat and he greets her and asks after the knights who wanted to talk to his prisoner. Tristan, Dalan and Lucas quickly come out to meet them, and they look up to the Saxon on horseback. He looks cool and calculating, but his eyes narrow when he looks at the three knights. Sir Rhobat dismounts and orders his squire to help the Saxon dismount, when he sees that the knights need to crane their necks to look at the Saxon. Rhobat explains that he took this Saxon, going by the name of Cynwulf, hostage in a skirmish around the time of the battle of Salisbury.
Tristan ask whether it is true that the Saxons have taken some innocent people prisoner on their raids in the lands of the Britons. The Saxons reacts as if asked whether the grass is green: But of course we take prisoners! Livestock and other plunder will yield some money, but slaves are much more valuable. Tristan only just manages to keep his composure. Sir Rhobat mentions that they must be careful with his prisoner, he enjoys his protection and as long as he does not initiate an attack, he would prefer it if he remains unmolested. as he expects to earn a fair ransom for this huscarl.
Tristan then asks him where these prisoners may be now. The Saxon answers that he does not know exactly. It may be that they are in Sussex, or they may already have been sold overseas. When specifically asked about the red boar head, he says that this banner belongs to a leader of a band of huscarls called Eaglemund, and that he has a farm in Sussex and needs a lot of slaves to work for him there. No doubt all the MALE slaves will be put to work on this farm. And while he says this, he looks Tristan straight in the eye, a whole world of insinuation in that look as to what happens to the female slaves…
The images in Tristan’s mind’s eye all too vivid, he is not able to restrain himself and he tries to punch the Saxon in his face. But he sees the hit coming, and is able to dodge the blow by stepping back. Dalan and Lucas see no reason to interfere – if the Saxon takes a beating it certainly seems well earned. Sir Rhobat gives the Saxon a hard punch between the shoulders: “Behave yourself, or the only company you’ll have the coming weeks are the rats in the basement!”
The Saxon moderates his tone and says: “This is about all I can tell you.” Tristan, his anger still high, nods briefly to Rhobat and quickly turns away to cool down somewhere else. Dalan asks one final question, about the location of the farm of Eaglemund. The Saxon gives some brief directions, it is about one day riding into Sussex. Then Rhobat takes his leave, the Saxon is put back on the horse and chained again. Rhobat mentions that the negotiations about the ransom money for this Saxon take quite some time, but he hopes to have everything settled by the end of the year. “It is about time we throw the Saxons out of our country for good.” Dalan says. The Saxon looks at him, frowning…
The three knights decide not to linger in Ibsley, but to go directly back to Salisbury to report their findings. Dalan is a bit disappointed that the three of them do not directly go for a rescue mission into the Saxon occupied land of Sussex…
Back home – Wylye Manor Seems More Crowded
After they have made their reports to earl Roderick, Tristan also wishes to tell his family about the fate of Maeghan. When he arrives at Wylye manor, he notices an older woman sweeping the floor, unbeknownst to him. He dismounts and hands his horse over to his squire. He meets up with his grandmother Alwena, and tells her about the likelyhood that Maeghan is abducted by the Saxons, and that it is possible that she is held as a slave at a manor in Sussex.
After Lady Alwena has processed this dire news, Tristan asks about the woman sweeping the floor. “Oh her,” his grandmother says, “Her name is Katryn, she came here a few weeks ago, carrying a toddler girl, claiming that you would know her daughter, Beti, who is the mother of the girl, and that you would be the father of the child. Is that true?” Tristan blinks a few times to process this news, and confirms that it is possible that he is the father, but what of Beti herself? The girl unfortunately died during childbirth. With a brief pang of regret hearing this news, Tristan decides that it is alright that Katryn and the little girl stay at Wylye manor, and with Maeghan gone, an extra helping hand may be welcome. He then goes to find his daughter, who seems a happy little girl, content, and not very demanding. Tristan names her Beti, in remembrance of her mother. Tristan notes that the girl is accepted in the household only as belonging to Katryn, but not as part of the main family, as a bastard child of him might have been. He agrees with this behaviour of his family.
Winter Comes and Goes
The last months of the year appear to be quite uneventful, the Saxons remain calm, probably still licking their wounds of the battle the year previous. The Winter Court is held at Salisbury this year, and earl Roderick invites also the knights Tristan, Lucas and Dalan to attend the gathering. It is a merry gathering, and Uther is very exuberant. Tristan notices that whenever mention or reference is made of Duke Gorlois, the temper of Uther darkens. Gorlois himself is also not present at Winter Court. When Tristan mentions this reaction to Gorlois to his fellow Salisbury knights, earl Roderick mentions that Duke Gorlois is in dire need of improving his loyalty to Uther.
Of Dalan and Rhoswen
To be published later. Patience….
Tristan: Normal harvest, +1 gold and +6 Glory. Unbeknownst to him, his night with a serving wench before going to battle in Bedegraine has also given him a daughter. During the winter his daughter Beti has succumbed to a fierce cold, and died. Tristan invests 1,5 gold in building a wicker Weir in the river near his manor. +17 Glory for skills/traits above 15.
Dalan: Poor harvest, no gold and Glory. His charger has pulled up lame, which is so serious that he has to be permanently put to pasture. He has only one good charger left, and he spends the winter trying to increase his horse flock. He manages to get some mares pregnant in an exchange program. In about five years he should have a new stock of good chargers available to him. Investment in stables (?) +? Glory for skills/traits above 15
Lucas: Normal harvest, +1 gold and + 6 Glory. His grandmother has gone missing. Investment in ? +? Glory for skills/traits above 15