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Hláfordswícung


Betrayal of one’s Lord

They awoke the next day with sore heads. Uthric spent the morning vomiting and Duncan just felt sorry for himself. It was almost midday before they felt better and Dunstan swore that he would never touch alcohol again.  They had planned that they should go and speak with Rowena. She had not made any overtures towards them but neither had they sought her out. They arrived at her Hall which was magnificently decorated with rich tapestries and inlaid carvings of the Æsir and Jotuns on the wooden posts. They found Rowena sitting at her high seat discussing something with her men. Wulfhere introduced himself and his brothers and asked that if the Lady Rowena had time, would she mind talking about what was happening in the area. Rowena was cold at first but once Wulfhere convinced her that he did not blame her for the attacks on the Artrebates, or more importantly for her disastrous assault on Calleva, she was more agreeable to discuss matters.

Rowena said she had been thinking over the situation and wished she had not been so hot-headed on the previous day. She had not been able to understand why the Artrebates were indiscriminately blaming Saxons for attacks on their settlements. As far as she was aware no-one from Taddenlæge had attacked the Artrebates and she told them that just before the Hrothgarsons had come to her Hall she had been discussing that it may have be outlanders or outlaws who were responsible. She now thought that as Tadda seemed to be dying there was no longer any way to communicate with the Artrebates. Wulfhere asked if the main Artrebate settlement was Calleva but Rowena said that Calleva had been deserted for years and was now a ghost town, full of howling winds and decaying buildings. She told him that the Artrebates had 10-12 villages in the area and many other smaller family settlements. However the Artrebates now seemed to have re-occupied Calleva as the centre of their fight against Taddenlæge. 

Dunstan said that he had noticed that things had only started happening when the leæce, Dunric, had come to Taddenlæge. Rowena said she had not taken much notice of leæce at the time, considering him just another wandering healer but she did wonder why anyone would mistrust a leæce as they more often than not served the community. Dunstan said that they had had difficulties with this particular leæce before. He told her that Dunric had been disowned by his patron and fled the area after summoning shadow creatures that he had sent to kill warriors. Dunstan said that in his opinion all evils flowed from Dunric. Rowena said this might be so but Dunric was no longer here and she thought the priority but was to start talking to the Artrebates. She had not been aware until earlier that day that their villages had been destroyed. Wulfhere said this would be one posable way to begin to understand about the difficulties in the area and he asked her how she intended to do this. Rowena said that she has called a council tonight to elect a new Þegn. In her opinion, Brecca has been inept and has not shown leadership. She thought it was time to replace him and she felt that needed to happen sooner rather than later.

Wulfhere and Dunstan left Rowena's Hall and returned to Uthric who was trying not to move too much to allow his wounds to heal. They told him what Rowena had said but it did not add any more to their knowledge. Wulfhere thought Taddenlæge might have a new þegn tonight but he was unsure what would happen next. Dunstan helped Uthric strap up his leg so that if he had someone to help him he could get around slowly without opening his wounds again.

All three brothers attended the Þegn's moot that night. The moot was held outside the Þegn's Hall in the cleared space where on market day the farmers and merchants would put up their stalls to allow as many as possible of the townsfolk to attend. The torches cast a flickering light on the faces of the people who watched the proceedings. Rowena had opened with a speech declaring that Brecca had not provided the leadership his father did. She said that Tadda was ill and probably dying but Taddenlæge deserved strong leadership and needed it now that there was a crisis. Rowena said that she was putting herself forward as the new Þegn. 

Gorbold who had been standing watching the crowd from the raised platform of the Þegn’s Hall, asked for permission to speak. He said that he had not been thinking to stand for Þegn but since Rowena had brought it up, he said he thought that he might be a better candidate than Brecca or Rowena. Gorbold said he thought that they had to show strength to the Artrebates and that was likely to be the only way Taddenlæge would be respected. Equally he thought it would be important to find out why the Artrebates had taken up arms when they had lived in peace for so long with their neighbours in Taddenlæge. Gorbold said that he would take a more pragmatic approach to this conflict, reaching out to the Artrebates to negotiate but always with the view of protecting the people of Taddenlæge. He said he thought that Rowena was too impetuous to be Þegn. She had lost over half her men in a futile attack on Calleva. He said that these men had been their friends, warriors that had stood in the Shieldwall beside them, men who had families and had hoped to see their grandchildren but had died because Rowena decided to seek vengeance for herself. Gorbold said that if he was Þegn, no-one would lose their life without reason. He said that Brecca had shown indecision and lack of leadership. Gorbold thought that there was no doubt that if Tadda had not been sick things would have looked differently. However, Tadda was dying and Brecca had not the same skills as his father. Gorbold said that he was the only person who could bring peace and security to Taddenlæge.
Uthric and Dunstan thought Gorbold had spoken well and had no doubt that he would bring a resolution to the troubles in Taddenlæge. Wulfhere was unsure about Gorbold and said to his brothers that he did not truly trust him but could not say why he thought that way. The Carls and villagers felt the same as Uthric and Dunstan and elected Gorbold as their Þegn. Brecca had only four votes from his father’s house Huscarls.

Gorbold held a victory feast in his Hall that night but the Hrothgarsons did not attend. Uthric's leg did not allow him to move freely and he thought it best not to exert himself too much. Wulfhere and Dunstan thought that they should think about how they were to achieve their mission. Wulfhere said they were no closer to understanding what had happened in Taddenlæge. They decided they would sleep in the bur again that night.

In the morning they were awoken by the door of the bur being kicked open and loud shouting in Brythonic for them to surrender or be killed. Uthric could not even stand unaided so while Wulfhere and Dunstan would have considered trying to fight they agreed that it would mean the death of Uthric. Dunstan said they were already in enough trouble with their mother so it would probably be best to live a bit longer rather than tell her they had left Uthric to die on his own.  Wulfhere said that still might be the case but they agreed to put down their weapons. They were bound and taken outside. Taddenlæge was surrounded by over one hundred British warriors. Some were well armed and some only had hunting spears or bows but all were focused on a conversation that was occurring just out of the Hrothgarsons hearing. Eventually three men came over and one said in halting Saxon that he had work for them. Uthric said that he spoke Brythonic if the man would prefer to use that language however since he was a prisoner he was happy to leave the choice to his captor. The man smiled ruefully and said he wished all Sais had such curtesy but then again being in threat of your life tends to provoke compromises that might not otherwise be agreed to if a person was fully armed and healthy. The man introduced himself as Orin ap Brinn, a Chieftain of the Artrebates. He said he had thought about killing them but he did not much like killing prisoners and had therefore thought that rather than death they might wish to convey a message to Tadda. Uthric said that this might be difficult. When Brinn signified his displeasure at this seeming reluctance, Uthric said it was not that he would refuse to do what Brinn had asked nor that he was unwilling. It was that any message sent to Tadda could be delivered but it was unlikely that there would be any answer that Orin would understand. He told Orin that Tadda was delirious and looked as if he was going to die of his illness. Orin nodded and asked who was in charge of Taddenlæge now. Uthric said that from the previous night it was Gorbold. Orin said he had asked for someone to come out and talk with him but they had refused. Orin said that Uthric should perhaps be thankful for that refusal to talk had helped Uthric and his brothers live at least another day. He asked them to take his demands to Gorbold and he would allow him a day to consider a reply. Orin said that she would return tomorrow at noon to listen to Gorbold’s words. Orin said that he needed them to be aware of the Artrebates’ demands which were that 

1.     They wanted all Sais to be gone from their ancestral lands 

2.     They could no longer trust the Sais. They had promised peace but had killed innocent villagers

3.     If there are some Sais who could prove they were not involved in the murder and torture of their women and children and wanted to stay then they must accept Artrebate Chieftains

4.     They wanted the men who murdered and tortured their children and women to be given up for justice 

5.     Failure to agree to these terms would mean that Taddenlæge will be declared besieged and there would be no ingress or egress

Orin asked Uthric if he understood these demands and asked him to repeat them back. He said he was curious about how Uthric spoke Brythonic. He said that the Sais rarely bothered to learn their language and relied on slaves or captives to translate or on shouting loudly and waving weapons in the air. Uthric said that where he came from Saxons and Britons mixed freely and had equal rights under the King. Orin said that this was unusual but he was interested to learn if the Chieftains were Britons or Sais. When Uthric replied that they were Saxon, Orin said that he thought that would be the case and at some point, when the Britons became inconvenient, they would be turned out of their lands.

Uthric asked Orin if they could keep their weapons and armour but Orin refused. Orin then signalled to his men to withdraw and Wulfhere and Dunstan supported Uthric to walk to the gate.

Wulfhere and Uthric told Gorbold of Orin's demands. Gorbold was angry that Taddenlæge was being threatened but decided he would call a Moot that night because he thought it best if all the townspeople were in agreement to any tough decisions and if there were going to be harsh measures people would need to be willing to back him. Uthric said that seemed a good idea but he was curious why Gorbold had not spoken to Orin directly. Gorbold shrugged and said he was considering options. Wulfhere said that in his view that it had been a good decision not to talk as he and his brothers had not been killed.

Dunstan was unhappy with the situation and said that they were now down and out in Taddenlæge. Uthric said they at least were still alive and reasonably healthy even if their weapons and equipment were gone. Dunstan said he thought it might be time to take up Gorbold's offer of accommodation and that he was no longer quite so keen to sleep outside the walls in the bur. Uthric wanted Dunstan and Wulfhere to leave and get some warriors either from Cerdic or Tæthle but neither Wulfhere or Dunstan wanted to leave yet. Dunstan said the brothers needed to stay together besides travelling through enemy territory without weapons was not the greatest idea he could come up with. 

Just after midday there was excitement in Taddenlæge. Thirteen men, led by a grizzled warrior called Leofstan, had arrived from the Southlands to reinforce the defence. Everyone said this was unexpected except for Gorbold who said that he would reveal all at the Moot.

Most of the adults of Taddenlæge attended the Moot which had to be held in the market place again to allow people to hear what was happening. Gorbold told everyone that he had secretly sent a Messenger south several weeks ago when the troubles had started. He said he had foreseen that the situation would get worse and had sent one of his man to visit all the great Lords of the Saxons to ask for aid. He pointed out that Aelle had been their oath Lord for years but not once had he helped Taddenlæge. No-one was sure of Cerdic as no-one could predict what he would do. Gorbold said that he had hoped Cerdic's ambition to rule more lands would have helped to get a favourable response but he had refused to send help. The only Southern Lord who had responded was King Octa and he had sent men immediately and had promised more to come. 

Gorbold said that they should make no mistake. The demands of the Artrebates show that they were intent on taking Taddenlæge for themselves. He said this was their land and that Saxons had built it up from nothing with hard work, sweat and blood. He said that no-one would take the homes from the people of Taddenlæge particularly since they were innocent of the crimes the Artrebates had accused them of. Gorbold said that he had spent the afternoon thinking about this and he had come to the decision it was an Artrebate plot to take their homes and goods but he would resist them with the help of King Octa.

Gorbold was a good orator and the people gave him his support. They agreed they would reject the Artrebate demands and hold the town until Octa's reinforcements arrived in two or three days. Rowena was the only one to object to Gorbold’s speech. She said she thought maybe the Artrebates might have a point and Gorbold should at least negotiate about their grievances. She was shouted down by the crowd and the people agreed with Gorbold that they would resist the Artrebates despite the short-term discomfort. 

Gorbold invited the Hrothgarsons to come to his Hall and when they returned Gorbold called for food and ale. He said he was happy with the outcome and asked the brothers for their opinion. Uthric said that Gorbold should be aware that Octa was treacherous and this might be a case of Octa stirring things up. Gorbold said that he needed warriors now and Octa was the only Lord to respond. He thought if he had to wait for Aelle or Cerdic there might be nothing left here to defend particularly if the Artrebates carried through with their threat to destroy Taddenlæge. Octa had sent a message with his men to say that he had sent Ealdorman Coelfrith with a large Warband north to subdue the Artrebates and protect Taddenlæge. Wulfhere and Dunstan were dismayed. Dunstan said that Coelfrith was Aelle's Ealdorman, not Octa's but even so he had been untrustworthy in all dealings with all the villages around his town. He was also the Ealdorman who was Dunric's patron. Gorbold dismissed Dunstan's opinions and said that he was doing what he could for the best of Taddenlæge.

The Hrothgarsons spoke privately together after the feast. Wulfhere said that someone was playing a game. They knew that they could not trust Octa or Coelfrith and they were certainly not keen to be in Dunric's company. They again discussed if they should leave, Dunstan asked if they really wanted to be in Taddenlæge when Coelfrith and Dunric arrived. Uthric agreed and said that he would not be getting good odds on their survival after Dunric arrived not to mention Coelfrith. They again decided they should wait and Dunstan pointed out that they had no weapons and armour yet. Uthric wondered if it was on purpose that no one had offered any weapons to replace the ones that Orin had taken. They hoped that they would be safe to wait until Uthric could stand on his leg unaided.

The next day they decided to go and see Rowena again. Wulfhere did not like the idea of staying in Gorbold's Hall if Coelfrith was coming and thought that it might be very easy for them to get a knife in their ribs when asleep or vulnerable. Rowena was happy for them to stay and even gave them weapons and armour from her store for which they were grateful. 

They discussed the situation with her further. She said she was not aware of Octa but thought if he had offered help then they would do well to accept it. None of the other Lords had offered any aid. She admitted that she had heard rumours that Octa's army were comprised of men who were desperate, landless or outlaws and had a reputation for cruelty and this worried her as there were likely to be more Artrebates in the area than Saxon warriors. Wulfhere said that Coelfrith was not known for actively supporting his Þegns or their villages, nor did he follow his Lords commands in their own experience of him. Rowena thought that although she did not necessarily agree with Gorbold’s decisions they had been made for the good of Taddenlæge. Dunstan disagreed. He said that someone associated with Octa and Coelfrith had been causing trouble. He thought it likely that Rowena's husband had been killed by those people and it was no coincidence that Tadda was sick because he is friendly with the Artrebates. Rowena was not wholly convinced by their arguments and wondered what purpose it served if it were as Wulfhere and Dunstan said. Wulfhere said that he had also had these worries and the only reason he could come up with was that Coelfrith and Octa wanted more power and land.

Their discussions were interrupted by the news that Orin had arrived for his answer to his demands and Gorbold was going to meet him. When they arrived at the gate they watched as Gorbold talked to Orin. They could not hear what was spoken but they could see that Orin was visibly angry. Gorbold started to return to the gate when Orin ran forward and pointed to Leofstan. They could hear Orin’s words as he accused Leofstan of being the leader of the Warband that had attacked their villages and killed women and children without mercy. Orin spoke in Saxon and his voice was loud enough for all who were at the gates or walls to hear his accusations. Gorbold stopped momently but continued walking and ordered the gates to be closed.

Orin came forward and announced that Taddenlæge was besieged. No-one would go in-out until either the Sais were dead or the Atrebates had died in the attempt. He turned and left without saying anything further. 

Rowena had been listening to what Orin had said and she had confronted Leofstan but he had denied any knowledge of killing Artrebates. He said that Orin must have been mistaken as he had only come north two days ago. She said that she was not sure about that and asked Gorbold to hold a town Moot that night. She thought it best that the allegations were aired in public and some agreement reached because if the Artrebates would not allow anyone to leave or come in then Taddenlæge was under the greatest threat in its history. Gorbold would need to devise a plan and that plan needed to have the support of the whole town. Gorbold agreed with Rowena and invited everyone to attend the town Moot that night.

Wulfhere asked Rowena if she could talk to Brecca about seeing Tadda. He thought that if he knew more about the illness then they might be able to get help for it. Rowena agreed and took them to see Brecca. She persuaded him that Wulfhere might be able to help. When they entered the room, Tadda was lying in bed. The bed clothes were drenched with sweat and he tossed fitfully from side to side. Sometimes he would mumble words but they could make no sense of what he said. They noticed he was painfully thin and the woman who was tending him said that she even had difficulty getting him to drink. It was clear to Wulfhere and Dunstan that Tadda was dying slowly. The only question appeared to be how long he would continue to hold on. Wulfhere asked if there was a leæce in the town but Brecca said that sometimes leæces would make the trip north but they could never tell when they would come. Wulfhere delivered Cerdic's greetings to his cousin, Tadda, and Wulfhere said he hoped that he would recover. Tadda did not respond and they doubted that he had heard them. With that they left as the smell of death was already in the room and they could not abide it any longer. 

At the Town Moot that night the market place was packed. The Hrothgarsons had decided to stay at the back of the crowd. Rowena told the crowd that she had grave misgivings about Gorbold’s behaviour. She said she felt that he had acted duplicitously with this new alliance with Coelfrith and Octa. No-one knew who these men were and why they suddenly had an interest in the north and in particular with Taddenlæge. All their difficulties had started when the leæce, Dunric, had visited Tadda and he had fallen ill shortly afterwards. She said that she had become aware that Dunric had fled the north after summoning a Déaþscufa to attack people he had an argument with. She reminded them that it was customary that if you have an argument with someone you bring it to an Ealdorman or the King. She felt it was an underhand to summon creatures from the shadows rather than accuse people in the daylight. She said it was interesting that the attacks on the Saxon traders, including her husband’s murder, and on the Artrebates had begun at that time of Dunric’s arrival. She asked what purpose had this been for and who had benefitted. She said she knew that it was not the people of Taddenlaege. She asked the crowd to consider what Orin ap Brinn had said about Leofstan. Orin had been their friend and now he was their enemy. She said that not only had the people of Taddenlaege suffered but the Artrebate villages had been destroyed and women and children killed. Orin had blamed Leofstan and he needed to account for his actions.

Leofstan slowly got to his feet from where he had been lounging on one of the mead benches that had been brought out of the 
Þegn’s Hall. Leofstan denied that he had been involved in any killing of the Britons in the north. If it had been a Saxon that had killed the Artrebates then he thought it must have been outlaws. He believed Orin was mistaken and was only following his own agenda to rid the north of the Saxons who had made Taddenlæge wealthy. There were loud cheers for Leofstan’s speech and muttering throughout the crowd about Rowena.

Dunstan had had enough. He moved to the front of the crowd and asked if he could say something. Before anyone could refuse him, he started by saying he had been sent north with his brothers to deliver a message to Tadda and had come here in good faith. He said that he found these times troubling and the prospect of an all-out war now seemed likely. He said that people needed to consider what had happened three weeks ago. Dunric was a leæce who had been banished from his homeland. He murdered people in the south, unleashed a 
Déaþscufa on innocent people and then visited Tadda who immediately had fallen sick. At the same time attacks had started on the Saxon traders and on the Artrebate villages. The people of Taddenlæge have said it was not them and the Artrebates deny attacking Saxons. He asked the people to think about who might be attacking both sides and for what purpose. He also said that they should remember that Orin accused Leofstan of being behind the attacks. He said that people needed to think for themselves and look at the evidence. Coelfrith was devious and Octa was a desperate man, a King without a kingdom or power. He asked why would they want or be interested in lands in the north. Leofstan stood up and said that they could not believe Dunstan as he was an outlander. He asked if Dunstan was here to help why had he not brought any warriors. He thought it was strange that Dunstan was choosing to believe an Artrebate rather than a Saxon and wondered if Dunstan and his brothers were actually behind the attacks. Dunstan was infuriated and demanded Leofstan apologise for the remark. Both men drew their seaxs and the crowd parted to let them fight but Gorbold moved in between them and asked both men to put away their weapons. He said it was unbecoming of either warrior to fight the other when the real enemy was besieging Taddenlæge. Gorbold said that this is what Orin wanted. He had sowed mistrust and doubt in people who should be allies. He thought it was likely that Orin had recognised Leofstan as a stranger and decided on this ploy to weaken Taddenlæge. Gorbold said he was sure that Coelfrith would arrive soon with a Warband and together they would defeat the Artrebates and have peace once again.

Rowena said that she did not believe any of Gorbold’s words and Leofstan had been identified by Orin as a murderer. She said that if people really wanted to trust Coelfrith and Octa they were free to do so but she for one was reserving judgement and would be seeking the truth. The Moot broke up and Uthric said to Wulfhere that he had no doubt that Orin could tell the difference between a stranger and the man who had led a Warband to destroy villages and kill women and children. Dunstan was still angry when they got back to Rowena's Hall and said he would still like to fight Leofstan but Rowena made him sit and gave him ale. Uthric's wounds had bled again because he had been moving around too much and it was agreed that from now on he was to say in Rowena's Hall. They discussed what they should do. None of them wanted to fall into Coelfrith's hands particularly if Dunric was with him. The leæce had a cruel reputation and the death he gave anyone would be long and painful. Uthric wanted his brothers to leave that night and seek out Cerdic and tell her what was happening. Wulfhere thought that would be a good idea. Cerdic would not want to see Coelfrith establish a base in the north and he would likely send reinforcements. Dunstan said he was reluctant to leave Uthric behind but Rowena said it would be necessary because he could not walk unaided and any sustained walking would open his wounds. She said that Dunstan had now made an enemy of Leofstan and he would need to have eyes in the back of his head. Rowena said that they should not be concerned about Uthric as she could keep him safe in the secret room in the undercroft of the Hall. He could recover while Wulfhere and Dunstan sought advice from Cerdic. Wulfhere said that this was the best plan they could make but thought they might have difficulty in escaping the Artrebate blockade. Rowena said that this was true but she thought if they travelled east along the banks of the river Alre and keep on until they reach the Moen then they should avoid any Artrebates. She thought the difficult bit might be getting out of Taddenlæge. Wulfhere said both he and Dunstan were more than capable of sneaking through woods so he was not particularly worried. Rowena ordered her cooks to bake thrice-baked travel bread and gave Dunstan and Wulfhere the pick of weapons and armour. They agreed that if the next night was cloudy they would attempt to get away.

Brecca came to see Rowena but was happy to include the Hrothgarsons in the discussion. He was concerned that the delicate peace and relationships that his father had built up with the Atrebates had been shattered. He was concerned that Taddenlæge would be destroyed and that they were being manipulated by outside forces. Wulfhere said he agreed with Brecca's views but was unsure what they could do about it until the outside forces showed their hand and they could react. Brecca said he was tired of reacting and that he wanted to go on the offensive and let others react as they saw fit. Dunstan suggested that if he was intent on seeking help from others then he could talk to Tæthle in Cædering. She would likely give him warriors to come north because of her close relationship with the Hrothgarsons. Brecca thanked them for their advice and said he would think about how he would react to that information.

In the morning there was a new development. It seemed the Brecca had left with his remaining four loyal Huscarls had gone over the wall in the night. No-one knew where or why they had gone. Gorbold was angry that five warriors had left and he gave orders that no-one else was to leave. When he heard of the new order, Dunstan said that he for one would not be taking any advice from Gorbold.

Dunstan said that they should remain together until they had six working legs between the three of them. He said that he had noticed that Leofstan had become very brave after Gorbold had told everyone there would be no fighting. He said he was still annoyed by Leofstan's insults and he planned to take it up with him again. Uthric still said that they should leave as soon as possible and get help from Cerdic. He thought every day of delay would bring Coelfrith and Dunric closer and trying to hide three men was much more difficult than hiding one man. Wulfhere said he would have difficulty telling Cerdic why he needed to ask for help. He still had no real idea what was happening and who was doing what. He reminded them what Cerdic had asked them to do and how he had said that he wanted Tadda to send him men therefore it might be likely Cerdic had no warriors to spare. Wulfhere also said he had difficulty in seeing what the advantages in this were for Gorbold. He had become Þegn but that was a poisoned cup. He wondered who might be pulling the strings. Dunstan said that in his mind it was clear that the rogue leæce, Dunric, was behind this and probably Coelfrith. He doubted Octa would have thought of this on his own. Dunstan was sure that Gorbold was somehow involved but he could not prove it. Wulfhere said that Gorbold had definitely benefitted from the upheavals and conflict but they had no proof that he was in on it and may have only taken the opportunity to take control. Uthric said that in this case they had two options given the lack of evidence. They could attempt to get out of Taddenlæge and tell Cerdic and ask for his advice or alternately they could wait to see what happens. 

In the late afternoon, Orin came to Taddenlæge and asked to talk to Gorbold. He gave Gorbold the body of Brecca who he said had been killed when he tried to evade the blockade. Orin said that he was sorry Brecca had died but too many good men had also died and he thought that if Gorbold was willing they should think about agreeing a peace. He said that he would like to know if Gorbold had made a decision about the Artrebates’ demands. Gorbold accepted Brecca's body and said that he would see that Brecca was treated with respect. Gorbold said that he thought maybe the killing should end and asked Orin to come back tomorrow and he would give him an answer. He said he needed time to talk to the people of Taddenlæge and make them see that further killing was unnecessary.  Orin said that there was an exception in any peace deal with regards to Leofstan. He would need to be given over to be tried for murder. He said that Gorbold should know that it was likely he would be tried, found guilty and executed. Orin said that it would be a better death than he deserved and better than the deaths Leofstan had given many of the women and children he had captured.  

Gorbold laid Brecca's body in the marketplace on a table he had bought from the Þegn’s Hall and dressed him in his richest clothes and wrapped him in an embroidered cloth to hide the wounds. Gorbold let it be known that he would hold a Moot that night. The people of the town came to see Brecca and added small items that he might find useful in the afterlife.

Gorbold made a great speech that night. He told the people of Taddenlæge that they had two choices. Firstly, they could stay and fight or else they could gather their portable belongings and leave. He said his own choice would always be that they needed to stay and fight. Some of the Carls asked Gorbold about Orin’s claims that the Artrebate villages were attacked by Leofstan. Many of the Carls had been friendly with the Artrebates and some had Artrebate wives. Gorbold said he had not really had time to think about the claims and had not been able to investigate it. Leofstan said that they should not believe the word of a Briton over that of a Saxon. The Carls were not happy with Leofstan's answers and there was murmuring which Gorbold tried to unsuccessfully stop. The Carls and other townsfolk demanded Leofstan's arrest and Gorbold reluctantly agreed. He was not keen to lose another warrior but he recognised that the people would not agree to any other outcome. Leofstan began to say something but Gorbold tore a piece of cloth from his tunic and put it in his mouth. He said that in his opinion warriors needed to face their wyrd bravely and he was not keen to hear Leofstan’s pleadings. Leofstan looked for a way to escape but was held by two strong carls and he was then bound with ropes. Gorbold ordered that Leofstan be taken out of the palisade and tied to a stake for the Artrebates. Leofstan could be heard whining even with the cloth stuck in his mouth.  

When Leofstan was led away Gorbold ordered that a pyre be built in the marketplace. Gorbold lead the procession that carried Brecca’s body to the pyre and the townspeople all watched solemnly while Brecca's body was consumed by the fire. After the fire had cooled his ashes were gathered and put into a sealed Roman urn to bury under a mound when there was peace again.

Much to the surprise of the watchers on the walls Leofstan was still there the next morning and throughout the day. The people were angry that Brecca had been killed and they blamed Leofstan. Nothing much happened that day and people tried to go about their business. Children watched Leofstan and wondered what would happen to him.  

That night Leofstan was taken and in the morning, there was a severed head on top of the stake he had been tied to. Orin stood beside the stake and waited for Gorbold to come. Gorbold had planned this moment. He had warriors hidden behind the stockade near the gates. He himself went out with four of his best warriors to talk to Orin. After some minutes of discussion, Gorbold suddenly seized and held Orin. One of his warriors hit Orin with his spear butt and the Artrebate Chieftain went limp. Gorbold was quickly reinforced by his men who had hidden behind the palisade whereas Orin's men were slow to react. They had not been expecting treachery and when they ran to help their chieftain they were either killed or captured by the Saxon warriors. Gorbold was pleased with his treachery. He had captured Orin and five other men and told the people he would use them to bargain for a peace settlement.

 

 

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This was a hugely difficult session to write up as there was so much interplay between PCs and NPCs and even between the PCs themselves. I had actually played it in mid January and had completed other write ups before I did this one. 

Part 3 will be published soon and then I can edit and publish the other sessions we have played since hopefully a lot quicker than I have been doing.. including one of my favourite sessions so far ..the Beatification and Canonisation of St Hywel, the martyr of Dunum 

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