The Easter Court is held in Camelot this year. As Tristan and Lucas are still on their way to Sarum with the rescued Andreas, Dalan attends the Easter Court without his friends. The conversations are mainly about prince Madoc and his invasion of Frankland. In the last year, both Sir Luc of Wylye and Sir Miles of Dinton have married a younger daughter of a knight. Luc has a dowry of 6 gold, and Miles of 4 gold. They both have brought their new wives to the Easter Court.
“But I must say, it worries me! Attacking the Franks! Don’t you think it is foolish, I say, and terribly dangerous?! King Claudas has never lost a battle! What if the Franks start invading us too, like the Saxons?”
“Wonderful, I say, to help Praetor Syagrius! And by God, the cause is so just! Good for him.”
“The king is attacking the Franks! Well, I’ll say I guess we will see some plunder next year! I hope my husband brings me some of that French ribbon!”
“That’s what it looks like, but can the king be attacking Cornwall! That duke has insulted him by ignoring the summons too often. There can’t be that
many Irish raiding his coast!”
“Listen, darlings, the king is just training the new knights with this attack, because there is a new Saxon army pillaging up north. He’ll need veterans next year.”
Uther gives a speech how he’s sending his bastard son Madoc to Frankland to assist Sygarius, but states that he himself will stay in Logres, to ward of any attacks from Saxons. He mentions that it is now time for all the ‘good knights’ to serve their king and country. The emphasis on ‘good’ was not lost on Dalan. Uther seems to be uncertain about the loyalty of some of his vassals, especially Duke Gorlois. He also fears an attack by the Saxons, when half of his army is gone.
Luc and Miles have an enjoyable evening, but Dalan is bored. Luc recognizes Sir Sear among the Silchester knights, loudly complaining about the Salisbury knights. Not knowing what passed in Silchester the month before, Luc does not inform anyone and Dalan does not come across Sear, himself.
The next morning at breakfast, Uther asks Earl Roderick what he has decided. Roderick informs him that he has consulted with his council and will stay in Logres with his knights. Uther is pleased to hear this, and looks around the room. He spots Dalan and asks Roderick where his other brave knights are. Dalan catches this questions, and jumps up to answer this question unbidden (crit reckless). He starts to tell the story of the rescue mission, but soon it becomes a story about Dalan and his prowess. (fail moderate, crit orate) The whole room is listening intently to his story. At the end there is a silence, and then Uther claps his hands and states that this story is a great example of the fight of Logres against the Saxons: we should all work together. He claps Dalan on his shoulders. (Dalan gains 100 Glory, Lucas and Tristan 50 Glory, Andreas 25 Glory)
When Uther has his attention elsewhere, Roderick speaks to Dalan: “A great story that was, but don’t ever do that again!!” “Yes Sir,” Dalan replies a bit abashed.
That evening Duke Edaris approaches Dalan and asks whether he can put the story to music. Dalan is honoured. Later that year minstrels sing about the story of Dalan and his companions. The next day some of the knights will venture to Frankland, and Uther will muster the remaining knights in Sarum, before they will go to a to the knights as yet unknown mission
Sarum and the Late Knights
When the Salisbury knights return to Sarum after Easter Court, they find that Tristan and Lucas are still in Sarum, having just returned. Andreas has been sent to the care of Abbot Brugyn, and the knights are in the main hall. When Roderick enters, he gives them a cool look, but ignores them otherwise. Dalan has been instructed to remain away from the main hall for the evening. After some time Sir Amig comes over to Lucas and Tristan and tells them that Roderick wishes to see them – their story had better be good!
The two knights approach Roderick a bit apprehensively where he is sitting in front of the hearth. He puts on a show of being angry with them, and for the time being they seem to fall for it. Tristan tries to give a detailed and factual report of what has happened, only to notice Roderick becoming increasingly impatient, and Tristan feels that he already knows what has happened. Roderick demands an apology for their tardiness, he gave them a simple assignment, to be back in time for Easter Court. He expects his knights to obey! Tristan and Lucas finally understand that Roderick is going through the motions here – if they failed to obey his command, at the very least he has to display his displeasure. Tristan plays along, and makes quite a show of groveling at his feet (crit modest).
A bit surprised, Roderick quickly sends the pair away: “I don’t want to see you for at least an hour!” and then gets up to look out of a window – mainly to hide his smile from the other knights present in the main hall.
Sir Elad is assembling the knights for the upcoming campaign. Dalan, Lucas and Tristan are among the knights to go, but first they are allowed, even encouraged, to spend a week at home.
Dalan returns home to find Elaine doing well and quite blatantly pregnant by now. She still holds a bit of a grudge that she has lost her manors, but she is also happy to see Dalan. Dalan reacts in his typical way: “Yes dear, but look, I bought a horse!!” Elaine sighs, shakes her head, and lets it lie. The stone circle at Dalan’s estate is also getting along nicely, the semicircle of standing stones raised and cleaned of moss and foliage. Elaine, too, is charmed by this project, she finds it interesting, although she would have approached it in a different way, instead of just ushering the peasants away and destroying their vegetable lot in the process…
Lucas is also happy to spend some time at home with his family. He informs Rhoswen of his visit to her parents, and also mentions that she has a baby sister now. He gives a brief report of the mission, and says that Andreas needs now time to recover from his ordeal.
Tristan greets his wife Eryn when he gets home, and gives a brief report of his travels. In the week that he is home, he notices that Cothi is less in the house than first, the relation between Eryn and Cothi cool, but not hostile. Tristan tries to be a good husband to Eryn in his week home, but he just tries too hard, evoking a prickly response from Eryn: “I am not stupid, and I don’t forget anything!”
A day later Cothi approaches Tristan when he is near the stables: “What have I done wrong?” she asks with a little pout. Tristan says she has done nothing wrong, that he just has been busy, and he has to leave soon again. He does wish to see their daughter before he leaves, which puts Cothi at ease. Their daughter Caitlyn is well, she has been a bit ill, but Eryn has made a potion that helped cure her.
The Summerland Campaign
When the knights are back in Sarum for the muster, they hear that they will go to Sommerland, to bring King Cadwy in line, as he appears not to be overly loyal to Uther. They travel via Wells to Bath though a territory consisting more of bog and swamp than arable land. Halfway they set up camp on one of the drier spots of land. Knights are assigned their tasks, and thus Dalan, Tristan and Lucas end up on guard duty by Uther’s Royal tent. They can’t help but overhear the conversation inside, that Cadwy has promised Uther to accept his rule, but only if there are some knights who will end the plague of Water Leapers that terrorize the neighbourhood. Uther turns to his council, and asks for volunteers.
The Knights Volunteer
Upon hearing this, Dalan wants to impetuously rush into the tent to volunteer, but Lucas holds him back, this is not the time! A heated argument follows, the knights failing to keep their voices down, with Dalan expressing his wish to immediately go forth and deal with the water buggers. Apparently this is heard inside the tent, as the tent flap is pushed aside and Roderick looks at them. Shaking his head, he closes the flap and the knights hear him say: “Uther, I think I have just the volunteers for you” The knights see the tent flap being pulled aside again, and take their cue.When they enter, Roderick introduces them to Uther. Dalan immediately falls to a knee and offers his services to his king. Tristan and Lucas follow suit, although a bit slower and with slightly less vigor. Uther smiles and says: “It looks like we have our volunteers indeed!”
They still have to carry out their night guard duty, but when completed they sit together for breakfast. Lucas expresses the dear wish that he would know how to swim better. One of the other nearby knights overhears this, and gives him the advice that swimming goes better if he is not wearing his mail shirt… After breakfast, Dalan and Tristan make a small offer of food to the Gods, to ask their favour in the upcoming mission. They both feel strengthened. As the Water Leapers are seen most often at dusk and dawn, and they missed their dusk opportunity, they will set out this afternoon, before dawn. There will be two boatmen to guide the knights to the place where the Water Leapers are mostly seen.
In the time before they will have to leave, the knights are preparing themselves, and try to learn about these water creatures. A bard tells them that the Water Leapers are relatively big creatures, with wings and sharp teeth and a long tail. They bite unwary fishermen, and drag them below the water, never to be seen again.
Dalan is looking for 3 ropes, so all can be tied to the boats and have a life line if one of them is dragged below the water. Painfully aware they are very poor swimmers at the best of times, they shed their mail shirts, and wear leather hunting armour instead. They do of course take their shields.
The Knights Victorious…. But How?
When the time for departure arrives, a large number of knights follows them to the bridge where the two narrow boats await, all curious to see what will happen. Dalan and Lucas step together in the first boat, Tristan in the second, the boats not making much on an impression on the knights – but larger boats cannot navigate the swamp. The two boatmen carefully navigate them along narrow passages and across larger ponds. For a long time nothing is seen. When the water opens up in front of them, Tristan sees some bubbles in the distance and points them out to the others. The boatmen turn pale, but otherwise keep their calm. They order them to go toward the bubbles, one boat to the left, the other to the right. At 10 yards distance, the bubbles are clearly racing towards the boat with only Tristan. The boatman cleverly throws himself flat on the bottom of the boat while Tristan braces himself. Two Water Leapers jump out of the water to attack Tristan. The first narrowly misses him, and sails past him. The second meets Tristan head-on, but Tristan is prepared, and meets him squarely (double critical hit from both) The ensuing crash causing slight injury to both Tristan and the Water Leaper.
A third Water Leaper makes for Lucas instead, who hits him hard in his wing and leaving a big gaping cut.
Disappearing from sight, the creatures are not seen until the knights spot three trails of bubbles racing to attack Tristan from behind. The boat with Dalan and Lucas turns to intervene on their behest. With some effort, and with Dalan and Lucas unstable on their feet as the boat turns and sways, the boat ends up between Tristan and the Water Leapers. Dalan recklessly goes for two of them as they burst from the water. He slices the first, already sporting a cut in its wing, straight through its arm. His sword remains stuck for a moment and he is too late to fend off the second Water Leaper which bites him in his sword arm, pulling the knight along into the water. Lucas is attacked by the third one, and manages to divert the Leaper with a solid strike of his sword. Unfortunately, in doing so he too loses his balance and falls over, but luck has him land into the boat with his sword scattering along the planks.
Tristan sees Dalan and his captor fly past him, and in a quick reflex he grabs the rope that is around the Dalan’s waist (crit strength). Due to the jolt that ensues, the Water Leaper lets go of Dalan’s arm, the teeth leaving a nasty wound. Having lost his shield, Dalan does manage to hold on to his sword, letting go running counter to all of the knight’s instincts. Still in the water, Dalan sees the water around him churn with activity. Tristan wants to pull Dalan into the boat, but has to abandon this effort to grab his sword, as he is attacked by one of the vile creatures.
Dalan is also under attack, and while flailing around in the water does manages to hit the Water Leaper. Tristan hits his attacker as well, catching it as it came flying toward him. A wing chopped off cleanly,the creature lands in the boat, flapping and trashing about frantically. Not wanting to be hit by an errant stroke of tail or wing, Tristan follows the boatman’s lead and tries to jump to the other boat. He miscalculates completely, and his jump is too short. Lucas, who saw this as it happened, makes a desperate grab for Tristan, overextending in the process and landing in the water alongside.
Lucas tries to get back to the boat via his life-line, but gets entangled and only manages to disappear beneath the surface. Dalan is attacked again, this time with teeth sinking in to his left leg is grabbed, pulling him under. Tristan alone manages to return to the boat where the Water Leaper is having his – presumed – death throes.
Lucas’ predicament only worsens, now finding his way to the surface blocked by the boat above. Dalan in the meantime does not resist as he is pulled down further, holding his breath at focussing on striking the Leaper. The beast has penetrated the leather armour of his leg, and his teeth dig in, tearing through muscle. Tristan is trying to finish of the one in his boat, but misses him completely.
Lucas trashes and flails as he runs out of breath and ends up gulping down water instead of air. Dalan does manage to hold on to his air, but is no more succesful in striking the water leaper, gritting his teeth as he feels the damage to his leg worsen.
Tristan notices Lucas in his struggle for life, and calls to the peasants in the boat for them to pull the rope, as Lucas is underneath the boat! Dalan finally manages to hit the beast hard enough for it to let go of his leg, and almost immediately afterward he feels a strong pull around his waist, as he is pulled up by the peasants. At the same time Lucas breaks the surface with a big gulp of air, at last he manages to get out from under the boat.
Dalan grabs the Water Leaper he just killed, and ties him to the boat, before he and Lucas climb into the boat with the two peasants. Tristan pulls himself up into the boat with the now dead Water Leaper. As the pole for moving the boat is lost, they tie both boats together, and with one boat with four people, and one with one knight and a dead monster, and another dead creature in their wake, they slowly make their way back to the bridge.
The peasants seem relieved, until Lucas asks them whether these were all of the Water Leapers in the area…
(All knights gain 100 Glory for the fight against the Water Leapers – Lucas now has a fear of water, after his near-drowning ordeal)
When they arrive back at the bridge with their trophies, and the peasants embellishing their efforts, the waiting knights are duly impressed. As especially Dalan is in need of medical attention, they quickly go back to the tents, where first aid is applied. Uther comes over to the knights and inspects the two dead Water Leapers. Tristan says that it has been an honour to have served him. (All knights gain 100 Glory for completing the task for the king)
They travel back to Sarum, and all knights go back to their homes. The rest of the year is uneventful.
Dalan has gotten a son by Elaine, his heir! Lucas also has a new son, who will see a life destined to the clergy, as it is his third son. Tristan welcomes a new daughter, again by Cothi… She is named Aneira. He also invests in an apple orchard, as was recommended to him by Lady Adwen. Rumours also spring up this winter about an illicit love affair of Tristan.