Knights of the Realm

484 A.D. ~ Defeat at Eburacum and Victory at Mount Damen

Also how to save a king

The Spring of 484

In the year 484 the knights are regularly sent on missions to guard the border with Silchester along the River Test. Several raids have already occurred into the lands of Salisbury, and the unrest has increased since Earl Roderick married Lady Ellen. From the Easter Court there is some gossip that reaches the Salisbury knights.

“The foreigner is surely coming to ask for help! He has no need to inform our king of another Saxon invasion.”
“Oh dear, that means more war. I hope King Uther sends them away promptly.”
“Oh dear one, do you really think that is possible? King Uther is probably girding his sword right now.”
“I hope Merlin is around then. Merlin will make everything well for us.”
“Really? I had no idea you were such a pagan lover!”
“I’m not, and he isn’t. Everyone knows he was baptized at birth.”
“Well, I don’t care what he is. My father says that Merlin can do anything.”
“We may just see if that is true this summer.”

It turns out that the king of Malahaut has asked King Uther for help as his land is under threat of a Saxon invasion from the north. Lindsey, the county bordering Malahaut, was of mind to let the Saxons and Malahaut fight each other, and then sweep to the north to overtake both weakened players. But Uther would have none of that, and he agrees to come to the aid of Malahaut. It seems to Lucas that Uther is a bit too eager to go for a campaign against the Saxons, as if he is tired of all the obligations and of holding court that come with being king.
Uther commands his vassals to send their knights to muster in Linden Pool to face this threat. Earl Roderick is one of his vassals that most readily agrees to aid him.

In the meantime, between winter and the call to arms, the three knights have not been idle. Apart from spending time in their manor and going on the various missions relating to the Silchester issue, they each had a separate agenda.

Tristan has visited Lady Adwen, who had invited him to come over for some dance lessons. Tristan spent an agreeable afternoon in her company, but did not seem to improve his dancing skill too much.

Lucas went in search for his mother, who went missing in the winter. He asks around and his aunt informs him that at some point his mother had a serious argument with his wife Rhoswen. This fight was of such intensity, that his mother finally decided to leave and join the convent in Ambrius. Lucas pays her a visit, not with the aim of getting her back to the manor, but just to hear her side of the story and to pay his respect. The conversation between mother and son is a bit cold, but Lucas learns that her decision to join the convent was made so that she could distance herself from the way Rhoswen runs ‘her’ manor, and thus would not be so much aggravated by everything. In the end, she understands that Lucas must side with his wife, and she has made her peace with the situation. She is very happy though that Lucas came to visit her. Lucas also abides by the situation, and decides not to say that what his mother sees as the correct way to run a manor is in fact exactly the same as Rhoswen is doing right now, and lets the issue rest. He does decide to visit his mother regularly, whenever time allows it.

Dalan spent some weeks in his manor, a bit restless, and finally his desire for the Lady Elaine wins out and he decides to pay her a visit. Elaine is surprised but not displeased to see him. Dalan puts his flirting skill (combined with his passion for Elaine) to good use, and the protests of Elaine that they agreed to not see each other privately again, die quickly. They retire to her rooms and have a grand time together…

The Ride North

In the beginning of May the knights assemble in Sarum. They see many familiar faces, Sir Elad is present, and of course also Sir Jaradan. Sir Rufon remains behind with about a quarter of the Salisbury knights to guard the county and the border with Silchester in particular.

During the long ride to the north (not surprisingly circumventing Silchester), Sir Jaradan comes to ride next to Tristan, and talks to him about Lady Adwen: “Again, she is not for you…” Tristan pretends at innocence, and after some banter about for who Lady Adwen is, and whether it really is the decision of Earl Roderick anyway, Jaradan challenges Tristan to a duel for the privilege of courting Lady Adwen. Tristan says he would much rather prefer to fight the Saxons, as this makes more sense, and maybe they could keep score with how many Saxons they each kill to prove who is the better knight. But to no avail, Jaradan has set his mind to a duel, but he relents a little: “All right, we will both fight the Saxons, and then, after the battle, we will have our duel. I will even grant you some time to recover from your wounds, which you will surely have.” The disdain is clearly heard in his voice. Tristan mumbles something noncommittally, and seeing that he will not get a better answer than that, Jaradan rides off. When Jaradan is out of earshot, the squire of Tristan, Andreas of Dinton, mentions that with Jaradan having issued the challenge for a duel, the choice of the weapon is for Tristan. And Jaradan is not known for his skills with a lance like he is with the sword…

Knowing that he will surely lose in a swordfight against Jaradan; despite his foul character, he is a very good swordsman after all, Tristan sees a sparkle of light, and thanks Andreas for reminding him of this fact. Not that Tristan is of mind to fight a duel with Jaradan if he can avoid it, but if he has no honourable way of getting out of it…

Later during the trip north also Earl Roderick comes to ride with the knights and he asks Lucas what he thinks about life as a newly wed man. Lady Ellen is already showing a swollen abdomen, as sign of her pregnancy. Unfortunately Rhoswen is not yet pregnant. Then Roderick asks Lucas if he has heard anything from his in-laws, regarding the whole Silchester business. Lucas mentions that his marriage to Lady Ellen has set some bad blood in Silchester, as it was widely known that Sir Blains also coveted her hand. Lucas also promises to keep an ear out for any news coming from Silchester.

Turning to Tristan, Earl Roderick asks how he is doing. His conversation with Jaradan fresh on his mind, Tristan asks whether Jaradan has already expressed his interest in Lady Adwen to Earl Roderick. Roderick does not answer directly, but says that Lady Adwen is way out of the league of both him and Jaradan. And he warns Tristan not to pursue Lady Adwen too long, as it will likely be in vain, and he has certain obligations towards his family line after all. When Tristan asks, Roderick says that at the moment there are no serious candidates for the hand of Lady Adwen, and that is all he will say about it.

Then Roderick rides up to Dalan and asks about Lady Elaine and the rumours regarding him and Elaine during his wedding in particular. Dalan confirms that the rumours are true, and then quickly adds: “What is it that I have to do to win her hand in marriage?” Roderick is surprised to see that his knights are all aiming too high for their standard, Elaine also being out of league for Dalan. And without another answer he rides of, shaking his head.

When the army arrives at Linden Pool it becomes clear that the Saxon threat is very close, they are already marching towards Eburacum and are expected to reach the city soon. Without a respite, the army continues directly northward to head off the Saxons. The one prominent person missing in the gathering of Logres warlords is Duke Gorlois. A messenger has arrived and informed Uther that due to the invasion of the Irish around Tintagel he is occupied at home, and cannot leave to join Uthers campaign.

The Battle of Eburaceum

The army of Saxons that threatens Eburacum is led by Octa and Eosa. The army of Uther is hastening to arrive at Eburacum before the Saxons do. At about 10 miles before the city, having just passed across a ford, the army is surprised by a horde of Saxons coming over a hill and also from the sides, practically pinning Uthers army to the river, and surrounding it from three sides. There is no time for a good formation or real counterattack, eschilles hastily and individually forming up to face the Saxon onrush.

Dalan, Tristan and Lucas are in an eschille of twelve knights led by Sir Kenian. A group of Saxons in chainmail, armed with javelins and two-handed weapons attacks the knights on foot. The passion ‘hatred for Saxons’ is invoked by the knights, but Tristan fails and becomes melancholic and is engulfed by a wave of despair: we are all going to die!!!
Dalan has none of those reservations and hits his first opponent to the ground. Tristan only fights defensively, and not good at that, he gets a small wound. Lucas also has no mercy for the foul Saxons and kills one (critical hit).
There is a lot of chaos on the battlefield. The tail end of the army is already running for their lives, especially everyone on foot is trying to get a safe retreat. Fighting off their immediate opponents and driving them back, a brief lull has formed around the eschille of sir Kenian and some room to maneuver has been created.

The squires pass their knights their lances, but suddenly they are surprised and surrounded by a group of Saxons specially trained to fight cavalry, wielding spears and wearing mail shirts. The end result is that each knight now has to fight two opponents. Dalan invokes his Reckless passion, and critically hits one opponent, who goes down with a major wound. The second spearman is also hit hard. Tristan manages to hit his first opponent, but then loses his sword (fumble), and is hit again by a Saxon (minor wound). Lucas manages to hit both of his opponents, and avoids being hit himself.

Trumpets sound the order to retreat and knots of knights under the banners of their lieges try to break out of their predicament. Looking for a way to fight clear of the mass of Saxons, sir Kenian then chooses the path of least resistance – straight through a Saxon shieldwall. Dalan goes for two opponents at the same time, he hits one, but is hit by the other. Tristan follows in his wake and as Lucas also hits his opponent well, they break through. Dalan turns around to try and slay another Saxon, but he is then called back by Kenian: “Stay with the eschille!!”

Still not free, the desperate break-out continues, as the Saxon noose tightens around the army. Our group of knights is set upon by a band of Saxons clad in red leather. Dalan hits his opponent who just manages to break spear on Dalans shield. Tristan and Lucas also hit their opponents.

At that moment Uther and a large group of knights manage to break through and reach a relatively safe area, while being pursued by the Saxon horde. This takes some off the pressure off the rest of the army and gives the knights with Sir Kenian more room to maneuver. Finding their squires have almost miraculously managed to stay with them through this mayhem, the knights ask for their lances and charge a fresh group of Saxons, a mixed band of archers and men armed with a mace. The archer wastes no time in shooting at the oncoming knights and the horses of both Lucas and Tristan are hit. Dalan and Tristan hit their opponents, Lucas also hits his opponent and shivers his lance upon impact, before serious damage is dealt. The group manages to break through the Saxon line and they ride towards the ford in the river. “Keep riding,” Kenian calls, “Let us join Uther!”

In the carnage they leave behind it becomes quickly evident that few, if any, foot soldiers have survived this ambush. With heavy losses the army of Uther assembles at Mount Damen to lick their wounds. The morale of the army is very low, and Tristan is in a dark mood, full of despair.

The Battle of Mount Damen

Then a rumour reaches the camp: Merlin has arrived! And indeed, he can be seen to ride through the army towards Uther. Merlin says to him: “You only have one chance. Attack this night, when the Saxons are drunk with wine and euphoria.” Merlin dismounts and walks through the camp, briefly talking to the knights and putting a hand on their shoulder every so often. Where he passes, the spirit of the army seems to return. Merlin also reaches the group of Sir Kenian, and he also puts a hand on the shoulder of Tristan, saying that not all is lost. Tristan immediately feels his despair dissipate, and his melancholy is replaced by a new hope.

While the army waits until nightfall, they prepare for attack. Tristan and Dalan receive first aid for the wounds they received. Tristan judges his wounds of such a degree that he thinks it is more sensible to sit this attack out, he does not want to hinder his comrades. He bitterly regrets the fact that Jaradan was right about him getting wounded in the battle. He only hopes that Jaradan too has suffered some injuries, possibly more serious than his, even though that is not the most chivalrous thing to do…

Squire Luc, cousin to Tristan, is very eager to go. He is twenty-one years of age, and as he has shown his bravery earlier this day while trying to save his knight, who unfortunately did not survive a spear thrust in his neck, it is decided by Earl Roderick to knight him on the spot. More squires are knighted that evening, as all extra knights to join in the fray are more than welcome.

The new Sir Luc takes the place of Sir Tristan in the nightly mission. The army, a fraction of its original size, quietly approaches the Saxon camp. When they are near, Uther calls out loudly: DEATH!!” and the army crashes onto the camp of drunk Saxons.

The Saxons are utterly surprised, and they hastily try to grab some weapons and try to form some sort of order. While most Saxons fail horribly at this task, Sir Kenian then sees just in time that one group, probably had been less drunk than the rest of the Saxons, tries to flank Uther and his bodyguard. Kenian leads the charge into this group, stopping their flank attack entirely. Dalan immediately knocks one out, Luc kills one, and Lucas also hits one. A momentary eye contact between Uther and Kenian confirms he is all too aware that things could have gone otherwise had the Salisbury knights not intervened, the king nodding to Kenian in appreciation before charging into the Saxon ranks.

There is great chaos in the Saxon camp, yet some archers have gathered their wits and start to shoot at their enemies. Dalan and Lucas again taket a Saxon out cold and Luc kills his second Saxon (critical hit). The Saxon army breaks, every Saxon running for his very life, at which point the knights halt their pursuit rather than charge blindly into the dark.

The knight taken prisoner earlier that day had not been killed, but were tied down. These knights are all freed, and there is a complete plunder of the Saxon camp. Of the spoils, Uther grants each participating knight a generous share in the loot of 10 libra. The knights gain the following Glory: Dalan +785 Glory, Lucas + 735 Glory, Tristan +350 Glory, Luc + 385 Glory.

Merlin bids the army farewell as he leaves to recover the immense strength he exhausted in turning this battle for Uther.

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