Knights of the Realm

481 A.D., Spring - The search for Roderick's bride continues

Of knights and their peculiar blindness

The King is dead, long live the King!

The coronation of the new king, Uther, was a momentous event, to which only the noblest of knights were invited. Through some contacts, Colbert found out that when the vassals each swore fealty to the new king, Uther kept Duke Gorlois remained kneeling much longer than any of the others – surely an intentional slight. Apparently there is some tension between Uther and Gorlois. As one of his first actions as a new king, Uther installed two new dukes to replace the fallen: Edaris, Duke of the Marshlands, and Ulfius, Duke of the Vale. One title remains empty after the death of Duke Ventrius, who has a son who is only one year old: The duchy of the saxon lands.

Also Sir Gwylon died in the battle against the Saxons, which means that his daughter, Lady Ellen, has now become the ward of King Uther. Which ultimately means that he will have the final say with respect to her marrying anyone. At the moment, of all the nobles that have shown interest, only Sir Roderick and Sir Blains are seen as serious contenders, but Uther deems her still to young to marry. Sir Roderick is also looking elsewhere for a potential bride and does not yet commit to one or another.

Meanwhile for Salisbury the past year was a relatively good year. Good harvests, and apart from some local raiding, and of course the battle against the Saxons, a quiet year.

To be the earl’s eyes again

Early march, the four young knights receive an invitation to come to Sarum. Sir Roderick wishes to send a party to Leicester, to visit Sir Edaris and more specificallly his daughter Rosalyn, who Sir Roderick may consider as a potential bride. Sir Amig receives the four knights, and tells them that Abbot Brugyn will be the envoy of Sir Roderick during this mission. He also mentions that the neigbouring kingdom of Bedegraine is refusing to recognise Uther as high king of all Logres, and is not paying taxes. There may therefore be some unrest in the northern region. He then brings them to Sir Roderick.

Sir Roderick requests the knights to accompany Abbot Brugyn to help him judge the character of Lady Rosalyn, to see if she could be a suitable bride to him. The knights consent, and their squires are instructed to make sure they are ready to depart at first light the next morning. Then they are invited to join the dinner in the great hall. Seated at the middle table, they take notice of one of the other guests, Lady Gwiona. After the meal a bard plays his harp and a few couples venture forward to dance. Lady Gwiona is regularly looking at Dalan, and he notices this where none of the others do.

He takes some wine and goes over to Lady Gwiona, who suddenly appears to be sitting alone at a table. Lady Gwiona mentions that Dalan looks a lot better now than when she saw him last, referring to his state after the battle against the Saxons. Dalan sits down next to Gwiona and offers her some wine. “You do not seem to be a dancer”, she says. “That’s right”, says Dalan, “but I am proficient in other things. But this does not mean that we cannot have a go at dancing.” “I thought you’d never ask…” Dalan leads Gwiona to the dance floor. The dancing does not go very well, they bump into people, and all in all Gwiona is very disappointed and leaves Dalan to mope in a corner. Dalan follows her and tries to mullify her with some smooth talking. This helps a bit, and she thanks Dalan for the interesting ‘experience’.

Much to Tristan’s delight, the Lady Adwen is also present. Tristan goes to her, and noticing her empty goblet, he refills it with wine. They watch the dancing couples, amongst which Dalan and Gwiona. Tristan mentions that this is quite an interesting dance, unknown to him, but then again, he would probably not fare any better. (fumble courtesy). Lady Adwen says: ‘You probably dance better than you can jump on a horse…’ This hurts Tristan a bit and he remains silent, clenching his lips together. She continues: ‘You seem to be more afraid to enter the dance floor than engaging Saxons on the battlefield’. Tristan gives some awkward replies, but realizes that this is not his night. Lady Adwen bids him farewell.

Somewhat later, Colbert looks at the bard, and he is offered to play a little on the harp. He chooses to play a dance song. (Colbert gains +5 Glory for playing a song) Lady Indeg is dancing with the much younger Sir Briant, and it is hard to miss just how close together they dance. The somewhat miffed look of Lady Gwiona – still annoyed with her disappointing dance – disappears when she listens to Colbert playing , and after a short while her face lights up as she looks at him. Colbert notices this, and after he finishes playing the song, he returns the harp to the bard and goes over to talk to Lady Gwiona. She request him to play a ballad. Colbert indulges, and the bard quickly finishes his song. Colbert plays the ballad very properly, but without any spark. The bard joins in, singing the accompanying lines of the ballad. All in all it was a very pleasing quart of an hour of music. Lady Gwiona thanks Colbert, and says that he is most welcome to play more often here. She only regrets that there are not a lot of good dancers present.

The road to Leir’s Castle (Leicester)

The next day they set out for Leicester, a trip that will take them about ten days. They stay at the manors of local nobles when possible, but when not, they pitch their tents and make a camp near the road. Altogether there are ten people in the group; the abbot and an attending young monk, and the four knights and their squires. When the time allows it, Dalan trains his squire in the arts of fighting. During their travels, Abbot Brugyn talks to all of the knights and asks them about the past year, whether they participated in the battle against the Saxons or not. He also mentions that he thinks that Uther is a very able warrior, but whether is also fit to be a great king like his brother Ambrosius, he is not certain.

But then again, who will ever be the like of Ambrosius? His unfortunate and suspicious death was a tragedy. Soon people pointed to his physician, and after some extensive questioning, he confessed that he had poisoned Ambrosius upon the request of the Saxons, who paid him handsomely for it. The three knights who questioned him severely are Uther’s favourite thugs commonly known as the Trio : Sir Heliandor de La Montagne, Sir Canuc de Caerec and sir Carac. They are big, mean upon command, experienced, and brutally cruel, so it really should come as no surprise that the remains of the physician were thrown in an unmarked grave. Dalan is just able to restrain himself, and does not utter his treasonous thought: this is all very convenient for Uther….

At the residence of a local noble, about one day’s ride from Leicester, they meet the esquire Henry, who returns from a mission in Bedegraine. His face looks grave, but he does not want to comment on his mission. He is on his way to St Albans, where Uther should be at this time of the year. He hopes to catch him there before he leaves again. Abbot Brugyn is making some comments on the political situation with respect to Bedegraine and in relation to that why Uther is not High King.

After about half a day’s ride they reach Leir’s Castle. They are welcomed, and their mounts are put in the stables. They are invited to join Sir Edaris for lunch. Somewhat later also Lady Rosalyn joins. The first impression of the knights is that Lady Rosalyn is very much loved by the servants. She seems to emanate an air of simplicity, but Lucas feels this is just a ploy, and that she is much more intelligent than she looks.

The stay at Leir’s Castle and the lady Rosalyn

In their time at Leir’s Castle, the knights get the chance to hone some of their skills. Remembering the disastrous dancing evening at Sir Roderick’s manor, Tristan and Lucas are looking for someone who can instruct them a bit in dancing. Dalan is initially looking for some horses that show potential for his breeding program, and while he is test riding some or the local steeds, Lady Rosalyn sees him and is very much impressed with his riding skills. She asks whether he would like to escort her and her handmaiden on a ride out. Dalan agrees readily. The three of them make a lovely ride in the forests and fields around Leir’s Castle, they are out and about for a couple of hours, but all Dalan has observed is that the surroundings are very accomodating to a riding excursion…

In the evening, after dinner, there is music and dancing. The lady of the castle, the wife of Edaris, invites the knights to dance. Tristan mentions that he is not very skilled at dancing, and if possible, would she be so kind to teach him a little bit? She agrees, and also finds a handmaiden who will try to teach Lucas some knacks of dancing. Tristan manages to pick up a few things, but Lucas seems to get nowhere. At some point Lady Rosalyn also wishes to dance, and Tristan asks whether she dares to go dancing with him. She takes the risk, saying that she is not a very good dancer herself, but it seems Tristan has forgotten all he had learned, and the dancing is not proceeding very well. Dalan notices however that Lady Rosalyn is trying her very best to ensure that the dance does not completely wrong, thus saving Tristan from some laughter. She clearly lied about her not being a good dancer…

The next day, Colbert joins in on a hunt, and also Lady Rosalyn is present in the group of riders. Colbert does not manage to get close enough to any deer or other wildlife to even try to hit it. “You cannot always be succesful in a hunt”, Colbert remarks. On their way back to the castle, they find a group of peasants standing next to the road. Lady Rosalyn rides towards them, talks to them for a little while, and then joins the hunting group again. Colbert did not notice anything strange in this exchange. She then rides next to Colbert, and asks him about the battle against the Saxons. As he had garrison duty during that fight, he hopes that soon there will be another possibility for him to fight the Saxons, or even better, the Irish, as Colbert hates the Irish more than the Saxons…

After some leavetakings the next morning, the party sets out to return to Sarum, to report their findings regarding Lady Rosalyn to Sir Roderick. However, after a day or two from Leicester, they encounter a messenger who says that King Uther is gathering his forces to ride to Bedegraine to teach the baron a lesson in obedience. He calls upon all the lords and knights of his kingdom to support him. Thus, the knights and envoy hurry to Sarum to join Roderick as he musters his forces.

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