Winter 480 A.D. The Pen is mightier than the Sword
His mind set on the hand of lady Rhoswen, Lucas paces the length and width of Dinton manor trying to make up his mind on how to proceed. Should he just leap onto his horse and ride into Silchester to pay Brookeley manor a visit to pursue his ends? But to show up unannounced…. Fingers stroke his beard as a smile spreads across his face. He shall write a letter. Or better said, he shall ask someone to write a letter. But who? Certainly a letter from mother would give just the wrong impression, and writing it himself certainly is no option.
In the early hours of the next day Lucas rides out through the mud and the snow to pay a visit to Sarum and ask earl Roderick for counsel. The journey – weather notwithstanding – turns out to be a smooth one, and Lucas leaves his horse with his squire Jestyn to seekk out the bushy white moustache and broad smile of sir Amig, Roderick’s dapifier. After all one doesn’t just storm in on the earl and demand an audience – and less so if one wants aid and advice. After a conversation on the weather, the war and families, Lucas convinces Elad to find some time in the earl’s busy schedule and is told to return after the noon meal.
A bit of sparring never hurt anyone…. much…
With a couple of hours to spare, Lucas strolls out to the courtyard, looking for entertainment or perhaps some sword practice. While squires spar on the other side of the courtyard, Lucas warms up his muscles practicing strikes against the wooden post while waiting for a suitable adversary to show. Alas, some days getting what one wishes for isn’t the best of things, and today turns out to be one of those days as a voice calls out. ‘I can show you how it’s done…" comes the mocking voice of sir Jaradan, known for good reason as ‘The Sword’. Pushing off from the wall he was leaning against, the knight saunters over “Unless of course you’re not up for it, Lucas.’
Well aware that he will probably take a beating, Lucas nods, ready to take this learning opportunity full on the chin. ‘Rebated swords, until one yields?’, he suggests. Jaradan accepts with a broad grin and beckons the squires over to assist. Squire Gwili joins Lucas and manages to squeeze in a warning ‘You know he really is very good, right?’ before rushing off to fetch a gambeson and a training sword. Realizing he just caught the eye of lady Elaine who turned up to watch, Jaradan takes his own sweet time stripping out of his tunic and flexing muscles before sending off his squire too. Nonetheless it is Jaradan’s squire who returns first, beating Gwili by a good while. Flush faced the young squire trots up with the gambeson for Lucas ’I’m sorry, I had to fight one that was the right size, and all the others were just off!’ he offers before helping Jestyn in the process of arming Lucas.
Jaradan teases Lucas some more, but failing to get a rise out of the knight he readies in a low guard and waits. Thus faced with having to make the first move, Lucas lunges forward only to find Jaradan winding the point of his sword around his sword for a stab straight for the chest. The next exchange ends worse, with Lucas finding himself flat on the floor, the result of Jaradan’s counter skillfully avoiding Lucas’s attack and bashing him straight of his feet. Jaradan just smirks as he waits for Lucas to rise, this time preparing in a high guard.
More blows are struck, with Jaradan’s connecting and Lucas failing to. An overhead strike proves to be Lucas’s undoing as Jaradan dodges under and knocks Lucas off his feet again, face first into the dirt.
Fingers brushing through his beard, Lucas nods to Jaradan ‘Impressive, I really did not see that coming… Can you show me how you just did that?’ Given the opportunity to demonstrate his superior swordcraft, Jaradan is only too happy to oblige, running Lucas through the exchange and possible counter. Back to their corners, the knights cross their swords for several more clashes before Lucas yields to the better swordsman, modestly thanking Jaradan for the lesson. (earning a check to modesty)
Brushing the dirt from his clothes, Lucas realizes that they had drawn quite the crowd – with earl Roderick having joined Elaine at the top of the stairs and watching the fight. His eyes meet Roderick’s, then glance to Elaine, taking in her flushed expression, the lady obviously well pleased with the spectacle of the two young bulls fighting.
Counsel given, aid rendered
Lucas joins joins earl Roderick at the stop of the stairs and is invited to the hall, where Roderick’s officers are going over the state of his domain, with sir Rufon reporting good harvest throughout Salisbury, the plundering by Aesc’s Saxon’s notwithstanding. Roderick invites Lucas to take a seat by the fireplace, where for a while they discuss the state of Dinton manor and it’s inhabitants. ‘So I gather you were looking for my counsel in some matter, Lucas?’, the earl quizzes. Lucas entrusts earl Roderick with his plans to pay Brookeley manor a visit to further his chances at Rhoswen’s hand and the letter he cannot write himself. ‘Well, with sir Dalan sharing your interest, I do not think I should be the one to write the letter and put one knight above the other…. No, but I there are people about with a quick pen who you could ask… Let’s see, you could ask sir Rufon, he is an able writer and I am sure will be willing to help. Or perhaps ask Lady Indeg . She can add a woman’s touch to the letter, and she has friends and acquaintances throughout Logres – just know she will surely want something in exchange. Hmmm. Abbot Brugyn, my diplomat, could also be a good choice. He’s got a flourish to his pen, and knows his way around words. Ask any one of them, and best of luck in your pursuits, young Lucas.’
Considering those options, Lucas is quick to discard lady Indeg from his options. Rufon looks busy, and Brugyn seemed approachable enough for one of the cloth…. Thanking earl Roderick, Lucas makes his way out the hall and castle, and down from the motte, squire Jestyn in tow. The town certainly is bustling in the early afternoon, the quiet around the ancient abbey of Saint Josephe making for a nice contrast. As the monks are singing hymns in the chapel Lucas decides to await the abbot just outside, pacing back and forth along the well tended path.
It doesn’t take too long for the mass to be completed and after monks of all ages make their way out, father Brugyn steps out onto into the light. He squints, then smiles ‘Ah! Young sir Lucas, to what do I owe the pleasure? Join me for a walk through the garden?’ Thus Lucas tells the tale a second time that day, relating of his journey to Silchester and the lady of Brookeley who has caught his eye. After telling the abbot how he itends to marry the young lady, he perhaps lays it on too thick when he insists that he truly needs the abbot’s help (failed courtesy roll). Brugyn nods slowly ‘Well… Certainly, I could help. I want to help a good Christian knight such as yourself. But between the two of us, it is a favor that I may some day collect on.’ Seeing Lucas nod in agreement, father Brugyn quizzes Lucas for input in the letter, what does the young knight have to offer the bride and her family that can help in making the case in the letter? Lucas of course if a manored knight from a family of good standing, so that will surely help. His father gathered fame with his role – and death – in the battle of Frisia, which also deserves mention. The family knack with the ladies probably does not make for good material, so Lucas leaves that out of his suggestions. Father Brugyn pats Lucas on the arm and reassures him that he will have the letter ready before the sun sets a second time.
Spring 481 A.D. A journey of the heart
The snow is turning to mush when a letter arrives at Dinton manor, a response to the one written by father Brugyn that tells Luca that he certainly is welcome to pay a visit, even though there is no hurry in deciding upon Rhoswen’s marriage. The handwriting is much more erratic than the abbot’s but at least sir Berwyn, Rhoswen’s father, confirms that they remember the bearded knight from his visit in the year previous.
Thus encouraged, Lucas sends a messenger to earl Roderick and father Brugyn to inform them of his travels and after investing in some gifts (a set of goblets and a vial of perfume from a faraway place) sets off for Silchester. Under other circumstances a visit to Winterbourne Gunnet would certainly be on the itinerary, but this time the knight and squire bypass the manor and travel straight for Silchester.
Of Sir Blains and similar interests
Making their way through mostly miserable weather, Lucas and Jestyn seek refuge for the night in the halls of sir Blains in Levcomagus. They are cordially – if not warmly – received and invited to join in the evening meal where Lucas mentions the objective of his travel. This inspires sir Blains to relate of his similar situation, with his eyes set on lady Ellen, in which he finds competition from earl Roderick more than anyone else. When Lucas compliments sir Blains on his choice, a young and promising lady indeed, he misses the narrowing of sir Blains eyes ‘So you have met the lady Ellen? Pray tell, when did you meet her?’ Lucas dodges the question – answering truthfully that it was the year previous, without mention of the cause of that meeting. All this certainly inspires Lucas to strike Levcomagus from his stays on the way back, even if it will make for a long and miserable ride bypassing these halls. The next day, Lucas and Jestyn strike forth again, and for most of the day they are warmed by the spring sun breaking through the clouds – the day turning into a fine day indeed, come afternoon.
Brookeley manor, and dealing with disappointment
The turn of weather certainly feels like a good omen to Lucas as he rides up to Brookeley manor, where he is welcomed by squire Sear – although that may be stretching the meaning of welcome. The squire’s expression is reserved to say the least when he sees the guest, his greeting civil, but only just so. The master of the house is much more generous in his welcome, instructing Lucas to drop the ‘Lord’ and ‘Sir’ when ‘Berwyn’ will do just fine. Watching the square-jawed squire stalk off to tend to the horses, Berwyn shakes his head and sighs ‘That squire had better learn to deal with his heart broken, as it will happen and I is his problem alone… Anyway! Come in and join us in the hall!’
That afternoon, while Lucas and Berwyn exchange small talk and rumors of the realm, a conversation that seems to go smoothly enough and Lucas can’t help but get the impression that Rhoswen’s father is warming up to him. (passed courtesy roll) Of Rhoswen or her mother the knight does not catch a glimpse until the evening when dinner is about to be served. As dinner commences Lucas faces the interests and questions from Ceinwyn, Rhoswen’s mother. In answering them, he tries to involve Rhoswen in the conversation as much as he can, yet finds himself tripping over his tongue and leaving less of an impression of himself than he’d like (failed courtesy roll).
Perhaps sensing the knight’s awkwardness, sir Berwyn attempts a rescue and asks where in the battle of Salisbury Lucas did fight. ‘Unfortunatley I was assigned garrison duty…’ stumbles Lucas, drawing a grin from squire Lucas who happens to be serving drinks. The father turns out to be more understanding ‘Unfortunate – but garrison duty is a duty like any others, and certainly not a shame on the knight who did his duty’ – while just within earshot it is squire Sear who points out to Jestyn that he, of course, had been present at the battle.
When dinner gets cleared away and Berwyn suggests a glass of wine by the fireplace, Lucas grasps the opportunity to introduce the gifts he has brought. Watched over by squire Jestyn like a lioness over her cubs, the glasses have survived the trip without damage and visibly please the parents. Offering the vial of perfume to Rhoswen, Lucas shows his more flirtatious side, sending Rhoswen of flushing and giggling – returning shortly after with clearly too much perfume applied. (Critical success on flirting!) The rest of the evening passes in pleasant conversation, with Rhoswen and Lucas always left in the company of either – the parents, a lady-in-waiting or all too often squire Sear. (Note: As a result of this exchange Lucas gains a passion for Rhoswen)
Over the next few days, Lucas engages in polite conversation with both parents, and slightly more flirtatious with Rhoswen, who seems to enjoy the attention. When Lucas mentions that he wouldn’t mind some sparring to keep his sword skills fresh in expectation of the campaign season, squire Sear is all too eager to offer himself as an opponent – the set of his jaw suggesting there’s more than a friendly contest in his mind. The next morning they meet in the courtyard, with both clad in thick gambesons and presenting rebated swords.
With fire burning in his eyes, squire Sear paces, glares at Lucas and reminds him that only one of the combatants was present at the battle of Salisbury. Lucas in turn calls upon his passion for Rhoswen, offering to fight in her honor. Sear hardly awaits the signal to start from sir Berwyn, who acts as marshal for this melee, launching himself forward screaming, sword held overhead, his defense neglected. Lucas deftly ducks under the attack and strikes Sear straight across the chest, possibly cracking a rib and certainly knocking him off his feet. Given time to rise, squire Sear does not change his tactics, however this time leading with a shield rush which again gets sidestepped by Lucas, sending the squire crashing to the floor once again with a strike to the shoulder. This time Sear does seem to get the message, the squire already battered and bruised and now a lot more timid. When he steps forward again, Lucas flicks him lightly over the helmet, causing the lights to go off in the squire’s eyes, the lad crashing to the floor in a heap of limbs.
With mother Ceinwyn and some of the staff rushing forward to check on the squire, Lucas looks around, only now realizing Rhoswen has long since fled the scene of the fight. Sir Berwyn walks on over to Lucas and grips him by the shoulder “Well fought, and I hope that oaf learned a lesson here. And don’t worry, his head will hurt for a couple of days, but other than that he should be fine soon enough.” With no sight of Rhoswen, Lucas spends the afternoon in conversation with Berwyn, who carefully broaches a favor that Lucas could do for him. Apparantly Count Ulfius has mentioned that any help to further sir Blains’ ambitions for the hand of lady Ellen would be well received. If Lucas could think of any such opportunity, Blains would certainly owe him a favor. ‘Anything else I might consider. But not going directly against the wishes of my liege lord, Roderick’ is the response offered by Lucas. And while it might not be convenient to Berwyn, the thought does not go unappreciated.
Of worries and reassurances
That evening, as dinner is being prepared in the kitchen, Lucas spies Rhoswen on the bench just outside the kitchen, crying from the looks of it. He heads on over to find out what has her so disturbed and to offer his comfort ‘I thought you’d get hurt, or worse!’ cries the young lady ‘I mean, he was at Salisbury and you haven’t seen battle yet!’ With an arm wrapped around her shoulder, Lucas comforts Rhoswen and reassures her he can look after himself, she need not worry. Not much later, they find themselves at most two heartbeats from removed from a kiss when Rhoswen starts, her eyes wide, and backs away to run over to her family by the fireplace. Not so much scared by sir Lucas, but by the her own emotions. (Lucas just rolled another crit on Flirting) When Lucas looks over to the fireplace, he realizes that Ceinwyn must have watched the whole exchange, and if she did not intervene it must have been a conscious choice.
The rest of the time at Brookeley manor flies past, and all too soon Lucas has to say his goodbyes again. Watching the horses being saddled with the young knight, Berwyn mentions that this visit has given him a lot to think about. They should certainly continue their conversations over the coming while. Lucas confirms that they certainly must, as Rhoswen has his interest alright – thus drawing a smile from Ceinwyn.
Rhoswen intercepts Lucas shortly before he mounts his courser, touching his hand and whispering how she will miss him, with Lucas confiding that he will miss her as much. Squire Seer – too far to overhear but close enough to guess – watches this exchange through narrowed eyes. Or is he just squinting at the glaring light?
On the return journey, the knight and squire press hard to bypass Levcomagus and make it into Salisbury before nightfall. All the while squire Jestyn gushes on about just how clearly Lucas was Sear’s superior, the squire still full of enthusiasm and admiration. He never questions the lack of response or notices how much Lucas is lost in thought as they ride. Nonetheless, they make Monxton manor before dusk, and return to Dinton several days later.