Meanwhile at Wylye Manor
Just before the Easter Court, the Wylye manor is paid a visit by a man with his 18-year old daughter, who looks very much pregnant indeed. They demand to see Sir Tristan. Against the odds, the knight happens to be at home. Tristan’s face turns a shade paler when he recognizes Cothi as the lovely serving maid from the tryst in the haystack, the night before his duel with Jaradan. At while he feels his heart soften when he sees her kind, pretty face again. Mistaking his expression for rejection, Cothi breaks out in tears and hugs her father’s side, sobbing quietly. Furious with Tristan, the father can barely restrain himself “You,… you…” he starts to say, but he doesn’t manage much more. Being the gallant knight he is, Tristan invites Cothi and her father inside, to have some refreshments, and to calm down a little…
When they walk inside, Alwena, the grandmother of Tristan suddenly appears at his side, as if she had a sixth sense of the goings on at the Wylye manor. With one look at the girl and the enraged father, she knows what is afoot, and she manages to soothe the father a bit that he is at least coherent in his words again. The fact of the matter is that his daughter is with child by Tristan – a fact Tristan does not deny – and as such she cannot longer work at the Earl’s manor in Sarum, gossip aside. Since this child is Tristan’s responsibility, the father insists that Tristan takes Cothi in his employ at his manor, where she can work as she is able. The plus side would be that Tristan will see his child grow up, the father adds as an afterthought. A bit overwhelmed by all of this, Tristan really should take the time to consider this. Can Wylye afford to feed another mouth or two? But when he looks at Cothi again, his loins stir, and his mind is made up even before he has the opportunity to confer with his grandmother.
But confer he must, as she effectively runs the manor. Leaving Cothi and her father by the fireplace, a short conversation follows. Alwena wants the wench to stay only until she’s given birth, but Tristan insists. Alwena will have to make ends meet one way or the other, but Cothi is staying. Returning to the fire, Tristan makes his offer known. The father tries to haggle for a better wage, but his heart clearly isn’t in it, so relieved is he that his daughter will have a roof over her head. Wylye will employ Cothi, and keep her and her baby fed and clothed, and she will also get an annual compensation of half a libre. Satisfied, the father leaves his daughter at Wylye and returns to Sarum. Tristan leaves Cothi to the care of his grandmother, to find her a place to sleep and chores to attend to. When Tristan walks off into the yard, he finds himself secretly hoping Cothi will bear him a son, as a bastard son may be useful yet in the years to come given his current lack of heir.
The Easter Court of 485 is held in Leir’s Castle in Lambor county. The various rumours of the court eventually also reach the Salisbury knights.
“It’s so terrible! I heard that a thousand Saxons landed to reinforce King Hengest! He’s the devil’s son, that’s for sure.”
“I’ll trust Prince Madoc to take care of us. He’s handsome enough, and he talks boldly enough. But the truth will depend on how he fares in battle, of course.”
“Well, I’ll say it’s too bad he is illegitimate. No bastard will automatically inherit. It’ll be difficult, you can be sure, unless his glory is truly great when the old king dies.”
“Listen, darlings, it’ll take something monstrous to get rid of tough King Uther. Madoc will have to be waiting a long time for any inheritance!”
“But don’t you think it’s bad luck to talk that way?”
“Say, did you know that Merlin has gone away?”
“Well, he comes and goes at his will.”
“Yes, but he is gone again, and at such a time…”
A new Saxon army has landed on the eastern shore, but King Uther is determined to face the Sussex Saxons under King Aelle first, possibly at the urging of Duke Ulfius of Silchester. The defence of the eastern shore he leaves to Duke Lucius of Caercolun – or rather the infant’s warden. Thus, Uther instructs his vassals to muster in Salisbury with at least a third of their knights in May. The differences between Salisbury and Silchester are to be set aside in the fight against their common enemy.
The Campaign against Aelle
When Roderick‘s knights of Salisbury arrives at muster, the tension with the Silchester forces is tangible. Still, both sides remain civil and other than a few words over a mug of wine, no harsher words are spoken. To everyone’s surprise and concern, Merlin is absent in the gathering of the army, even though his assistance is clearly desired. Uther is known to be reckless and rash when going to war without Merlin’s tempering influence. Tristan understands however that Merlin is still recovering from the tremendous amount of energy he spent to turn the battle at Mount Damen from defeat into crushing victory.
Merlin isn’t the only prominent absence, as Duke Gorlois of Cornwall once again fails to turn up at muster. When Uther, furious about Gorlois’ absence, decides to wait no longer he orders the army to march out towards the Saxon lands.
At last, when all knights but Cornwall have gathered, they march into Sussex and meet a horde of Saxons at the place called Maercred Creek. Looking at the forces facing them, the knights determine it to be smaller amount than they faced the year previous in Malahaut – but still enough to match the Logres army man for man and then some. Forming up in the line of battle, Sir Dalan, Sir Tristan and Sir Lucas are part of the eschille led by Sir Amig, a total they are with 10 knights. As has become his habit, Dalan claims the posion of the most danger, on the right flank of the eschille.
The Battle of Maercred Creek
Almost before the army is ready to attack, Uther gives the signal to attack. Charging forward, the eschille of SIr Amig crashes upon a unit of warriors in maille equiped with sword, spear and shield. Dalan, on the right flank, charges a spearman and thrusts straight through him with his lance (critical hit) Tristan also hits an opponent and takes him out of action. Lucas hits one, but his lance breaks and this one remains standing. With their compatriots similarly succesful, they triumph over the opposition, forcing them back and breaking free.
When they next charge forward, Amig’s eschille comes upon a group of rough looking fighters in leather armour, armed with great axes. In this charge Dalan again hits his opponent, Tristan breaks his lance on contact and leaves it stuck in his opponent. Lucas however takes a crashing axe strike to the head (critical hit) and falls of his horse, unconscious. Seeing him fall, his fellow knights take immediate action. Tristan dismounts to protects the body and try to get him on a horse to be taken away from the melee. Dalan in the meantime tries to ward of several attackers to give Tristan the opportunity to save his friend. A Saxon tries to hit Tristan, only to break his axe in the process. Dalan is fighting two at the same time, of the first he cleaves the head straight off (critical hit), while breaking the axe of the second in his parry. This gives Tristan enough room to throw Lucas across a loose horse that was brought by his squire and have him brought to the rear by his squire. Quickly remounting, Tristan rejoins the battle again just as Sir Miles joins the eschille to fill the gap Sir Lucas left.
Unfortunately they did not manage to fight free of the Saxon hordes and thus they are forced to face new opponents at the halt, this time a group of Saxons trained to fight in close formation to defeat cavalry. Dalan roars out his hatred for Saxons, while Miles and Tristan call upon their love of family and their loyalty to Roderick respectively ~ in vain. Suddenly feeling melancholic, they fight only defensively, their spirits have dropped. Dalan suffers no such hesitations, and kills both his opponents with mighty strokes of his blade (critical hits). Tristan manages to block only one of his opponents, and suffers a minor wound while Miles blocks both attacks.
Seeking a more advantageous position and wanting to charge in rather than fight at the halt, sir Amig calls for an orderly withdrawal. Seeing the knights pull away, a group of lightly equipped spearmen rushes forward to throw javelins at the knights. They miss Dalan, but hit Tristan who is saved from a wound by his maille armour. Miles manages to knock an incoming spear out of the way.
Seeking new foes, and with the battle still raging around them, the knights charge forward into a unit warriors with spears and two-handed weapons, who are equipped with cuirbouilli but without shields. Dalan calls upon his passion of loyalty to Roderick, and is greatly inspired (critical success). He immediately kills the nearest Saxon with a thrust through the chest (critical hit). Tristan and Miles both hit their opponent, wounded but not killing them. Perhaps it was their charge that made the difference, for at that very moment Saxon warhorns blare and the Saxons turn tail to run for the safety of the woodland behind them, thus ending the battle.
Only then do Tristan and Dalan become aware of a black banner with a red boar in the Saxon ranks, the knights left wondering whether it is the banner of Eaglemund, the saxon warrior who took Tristan’s sister captive.
A victory for Uther, but maybe not as sweet as he had hoped as there are numerous dead and wounded amongst the Logres ranks. Back in camp Tristan, Dalan and Miles tend to their own wounds before heading off to see how Lucas is doing. One of the monks from Sarum, acting as chirurgeon, is tending to Lucas and managed to keep him alive and strong enough to be carried slowly on a cart back to Salisbury.
All participants of this battle gain +150 Glory, in addition the different knights each gain: +160 Glory for Dalan, +80 Glory for Tristan, +25 Glory for Lucas and +55 Glory for Miles.
Back at the Wylye Manor….
When Tristan arrives back home again after the battle, he finds that Cothi has given birth to a daughter, which she has named Angharad. Both mother and child are doing well, and Tristan goes to look at his daughter, happy to see a healthy child, but deep down slightly disappointed that he did not have a son. He quickly returns Angharad to her mother, and then leaves to attend to other business.