Onwards into Saxon Lands
After an uneventful night near the Sussex border, Dalan, Tristan and Lucas continue south deeper into Sussex on their quest to find Andreas, and at some point encounter a road that runs from east to west, seemingly running between villages. Without a clue either way, they decide to go east. The second night Lucas and his squire take first watch. Lucas is awakened by his squire, having fallen asleep during his ‘watch’. Dalan even wakes up from the snoring of Lucas. While Dalan does not mention anything to Lucas, he does take note for future use. The second watch is for Dalan, and he too has trouble staying awake but does not need his squires assistance. Tristan takes the final watch, and maybe because he is well rested, he has no trouble staying alert, and near the end of his watch he hears a cock crow in the east at false dawn.
A short while later Tristan wakes everyone up and after a quick breakfast they continue on horse to the east, where a village is expected. When they come close to the village, they rein in, and Tristan goes on foot towards the village to scout. The others wait with their horses, alert for any signal that Tristan may give to call them to aid.
After about half an hour Tristan reaches the edge of the forest, which opens out to some fields, the ground dipping after a hundred or so yards distance where he makes out some hovels. Tristan circles the fields for a bit, but he cannot see much more of the village, he needs to get closer. Hopping from copse to copse and even using some cows in a field as cover, Tristan edges nearer to the village. Due to the rolling hills he can only spy the thatched roofs and thus he cannot discern whether the village has a pallisade, but he can count at least six or eight hovels. A peasant nearly spots Tristan, at which point he he decides to go back to the others.
While Dalan and Lucas wait for Tristan to return, Lucas notices that Dalan becomes more and more restless when time passes. He decides to distract him by asking questions about Elaine. This helps a little. After over an hour, Tristan returns and reports his findings. They decide to go as a group on horseback into the village, to take them by surprise and hopefully catch a peasant or two to ask questions about Andreas.
Invading a Saxon Village
When they near the village, they encounter a woman walking a pig, who sees them coming from a distance. She drops the lead of the pig, and runs screaming back to the village. The three knights and their squires spur their horses into pursuit. Coming up on the village they see the low fence surrounding the village and its gate, through which the woman has just escaped. Lucas wants to barge through the gate, horse and all, but this does not work as well as he’d like. Tristan and Dalan jump the fence on either side of the gate, Tristans horse lands in a pigsty and slips, but manages to keep his footing. Tristan stays on the horse, but only just. Dalan has no problems, and is the first to reach the hovels on the canter.
From one of the nearest hovels a man comes out, and blows a horn in alarm. In a rash act, Dalan grabs the horn from his hand as he canters past. The pig woman disappears in a hovel to the right. Further into the village, a larger house is seen, and two men with spears and shields come from the other side of the village. The hornblower, now without horn, makes for his axe, but is struck down by Lucas before he can do any damage.
Dalan attacks one of the shield bearers, and downs him in one fierce blow. Tristan hits the other one, but this one remains upright. Then four other armed men, again with shield and spears, come from all across the village. They do not wear any armour, and appear to be peasants, but peasants who know how to fight. Dalan quickly turns his horse and runs towards three of the four peasants, and attacks two at the same time. He bashes one to the ground and with a mighty swing of his sword he beheads the other one (critical hit).
The weakened man with the spear is still in the fight and thrusts his spear between the forelegs of Tristan’s charger, causing it to go down. Tristan lands on his feet, in a fury that someone dared to try and kill his horse. The other Saxon now charges Tristan but does no damage, but he and Tristan are now locked into a fight.
Lucas – following the other knights – sees a saxon trying to flank Dalan and Tristan and attack them in the back. Lucas won’t let this happen and rides him down. Then, out of nowhere, two arrows are fired. One hits the horse of Dalan and causes a minor wound, the other arrow brushes the horse of Lucas. When they look around, they see some women between the hovels, armed with bow and arrow.
The Chieftain, the Smith, and Madness
Then the doors of the great longhouse are thrown open, a pair of fighting dogs rushing out, barking and snarling, followed by a man in a leather apron with a huge hammer and a grizzled mailed man with a greataxe. Dalan turns towards them to ride down the pair, drawing the attention of the mailed man. Squaring his shoulders and glaring at the invaders, clearly enraged by the carnage in his village, the mailed man shouts something in a language none of the knights understands, but his body language screams ‘STOP!’. Dalan however already is inspired by his hatred for Saxons and does not heed this call, swinging his sword as he bears down on them. The chieftain bellows loudly “Wotan!”, but rather than meeting the knight inspired by his religion, the man starts to foam at his mouth, eyes rolling back. He drops his ax, utters an animal-like roar, and runs back into the great house. (fumble) The blacksmith looks on in surprise, shakes his head and glares at Dalan. He grits his teeth, snarls “Wotan!” which gets drowned out by an animal like roar before he rushes after the chieftain, similarly foaming at the mouth, his hammer left behind and forgotten. (both fumbled their passions)
Running out of enemies, Dalan then attacks the dogs, who are snapping at his horse’s legs. He hits the first dog in the ribs, which goes down with a yelp and does not get back up again. The second dog is treated with the same courtesy. Then an arrow whizzes past Dalan. The opponent facing Lucas flees into a hovel, out of reach of the knight. Tristan hits his one opponent hard, but it is only a minor wound and his opponent is still fighting on. He then hits the spearman, who goes down unconscious. From somewhere between the hovels, a rock is thrown and whizzes past Tristan at chest height. The man with the axe, having just seen the disappearance of his chieftain and smith, tries to run away but only makes it one step before Tristan kills him with one blow (critical hit).
Dalan jumps off his horse to kick in the door and barge into into the longhouse. His plan however is foiled by the door opening outward rather than inward… He then opens the doors and goes inside. Inside the dim hall, a fire burns, next to it is a woman armed with a dagger of some sort. Pushing a child behind her back, the woman backs away from Dalan. A trail of scattered clothing and mail shirts leads through the house, and out the back door, which is standing open. The two men are nowhere to be seen. Dalan asks the woman whether there are any prisoners in the village, but she does not understand him and backs away further. Dalan then leaves her, and goes back outside, and closes the door behind him.
Tristan has looked at the injury of his horse, which has regained his feet, but only stands on three legs, as his right shoulder has a serious wound with lots of blood spilt. Lucas meanwhile interrogates the man he has struck to the ground, this man at least appears to understand the knight a little. Upon his question regarding prisoners, he points past the main house, towards the hovels behind it.
Tristan and Dalan go around the big house, and see there a pair of smaller hovels and a pigsty where something resembling a human is chained to a post. After looking three or four times, Tristan manages to recognise a thoroughly dirty and disheveled Andreas in the human form. Andreas looks with empty, unseeing eyes at Dalan and Tristan. The people in the hovels stay indoors, afraid of the two knights, but keeping a wary eye on them. Tristan quickly goes over to Andreas, tries to talk to him while he unties him. Andreas is totally oblivious of his surroundings, but he does not struggle against Tristan, and lets himself be led toward the horses. He has not uttered one word in the process.
In the distance a horn is sounded. Probably a sign of reinforcements headed their way, the knights make haste in their departure. Unable to ride his charger, Tristan switches to his riding horse, after helping Andreas on one of the other spare horses. They quickly leave the village, sticking to a moderate pace to spare the wounded charger. As soon as they leave through the gate, women exit the hovels to weep for the dead and take care of the wounded. (Tristan gains +15 Glory, Lucas gains +10 Glory, Dalan gains +20 Glory for the fight)
The Return to Salisbury
During the flight from the village, they lose all sense of direction, and after a couple of days they reach the shores of the sea… Realizing their mistake and after a quick reorientation, they turn right, now headed west. After a couple of days at a moderate pace, it appears that the charger of Tristan has no permanent damage from his wound, but they will have to keep him from serious exertion. During these days of travel, Andreas lets himself be led, he shows no initiative, and lets himself be washed, dressed and put on a horse. Very slowly some light comes back into his eyes, but he still does not talk, and barely reacts to being spoken to. Nonetheless, Lucas rides next to him all the time and tries to bring back some life in his brother by reminiscing their childhood and talking about Rhoswhen and his children.
They cross into Hampshire and realize that at this rate they will not be back in Sarum for Easter – thus breaking their promise to Roderick. They agree that Dalan will ride ahead at a faster pace to set the mind of Roderick at ease. Racing past Winchester Dalan reaches Sarum just before Easter, and reports their adventures to Earl Roderick. Roderick hears his story, and is satisfied with how things went, after all, they got Andreas back, but he is a little disgruntled by the fact that Tristan and Lucas are not back in time for Easter. Even so, the liberation of Andreas and the killing of a few Saxons help soften his mood.
Roderick then tells Dalan about the plans the King has shared with him: The King and some of the kinghts of Logres will stay in Logres to guard against attacks from Saxons, but a large part will be sent to the Frankland under prince Madoc, to fight the Franks and help the Praetor. Having to choose between the endeavours, the Earl asks Dalan what his preference is. Dalan speaks his mind and would rather stay in Logres, being newlywed with a child on the way just one part of his argument. The other Salisbury knights which are consulted show diverse opinions, but the majority is in favour of staying in Logres. Roderick thanks his knights for their advice and withdraws to contemplate his decision. The next morning he announces that he has decided to tell the King that he wishes to serve him here, in Logres.
A few days later, after the Easter Court has passed, Tristan and Lucas arrive in Sarum. Roderick scolds the knights for their late arrival, really only because he must, but in the end he is just glad his knights are back home safely. Squire Andreas is taken to the monks of the Josephe Abbeye to be nursed back to health and regain his sanity under the care of the monks.