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Salisbury Knights - a playthrough of the Great Pendragon Campaign


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The Starting Cast

  • James, a strapping lad hailing from Imber. His father fought on the March of Aurelius Ambrosius.
  • Cedric, from Woodborough, he has always had an interest in all things fae.
  • Esmee, a thick set young woman from Allington, her father had no sons but Esmee has proved as able and stands to inherit when she is knighted, a goal she keenly looks forward to.
  • Luc, a hot tempered young man. His family came over from Acquitaine with Aurelius Ambrosius and was rewarded with the manor at Seend by the new High King.
  • Willem, a proud young man from Grafton, his father was a close compatriot of Earl Roderick until being killed fighting against Saxon raiders.
  • Reynard, a famously honest young man from Ford, he is well schooled in courtly skills.

Spring 485

Spring of 485 finds our young squires at Vagon Castle, for their annual fortnight of training with Sir Elad. After a week of training, the squires got their one day off, coinciding with the evening of the local spring fair.

Numerous events and competitions were scheduled to take place over the day. James and Cedric both signed up for the evening poetry competition, Cedric also entering the dance competition. Esmee, James and Cedric all signed up for the Dressage competition.

First up was Dressage – an integral part of the squires training with horsemanship. Esmee, while very knowledgeable about the event, did not perform well on the day – perhaps because she was doing too much coaching of the other squires during the event. James and Cedric both did well, with James coming out on top and winning the admiration of the many observers (mostly children and the occasional tradesman).

That evening, the competition during the poetry event was fierce – it came down to James against a couple of locals in a 2nd round of composition, something the locals referred to as ‘slam’ style. James took out one of the locals before being left speechless by some quick quips, coming up just short in 2nd place.

Cedric was in over his head in the dance competition, but at least did not embarrass himself.

Later, while out celebrating, the squires were approached by Sir Aaron, a vassal knight of Sir Elad. He explained that a wandering minstrel had been seen approaching his daughter – an occurrence he wished to discourage, but for reasons, could not do so himself. The squires took on the task, finding the minstrel, a slovenly looking fellow named Martyn in the informal tavern that had been set up for the fair. Despite his appearance, Martyn did indeed possess a fine voice so it was seen how he might succeed in charming Sir Aaron's daughter. Esmee took the non-subtle route of grabbing Martyn by the scruff of the neck to explain the situation to him – playing bad sheriff to James’ good sheriff. Martyn, more of a singer than a fighter, was intimidated by the gruff young woman and promised to be gone by morning.

The squires were roused from their sleep early the next day by they sound of Sir Elad's voice summoning them to the courtyard. Once there, Cedric, James and Esmee were joined by Luc, a squire freshly arrived at Vagon, who’s family originally hailed from Acquitaine. Sir Elad greeted Luc warmly, as it seemed he knew of the young man's father, a knight of renowned valor.

The first hour of training was with the Quintain, a nasty piece of business which more often than not had given the squires many a bruise. This time however, all of the squires save Luc succeeded at hitting the target and avoiding the swing of the lead ball. Luc did not take his failure lightly and exhibited a quick temper grumbling none to quietly about why he should be subjected to training so soon after his arrival.

With the quintain done with, the morning was rounded out with a horse race between the squires. The course - through the village to the woods and back. All of the squires road well, save James – who fell twice from his horse, and ended up quite bruised. Cedric ended up winning the final sprint back to Vagon's courtyard by 3 lengths to much congratulations from the other squires, save James.

At this point, Sir Elad called the squires over he had a task for them. They were being sent to investigate reports of a man-eating bear near the village of Imber, which was preventing the local peasants from working the fields. James, who hailed from Imber, had not been back to his home since he was 17, and he looked forward to the chance to do so. He offered to lead the squires, and after a leisurely ride there, the group overnighted with the local priest, a grumbly old man named Garr. In the morning, the squires set off in two groups to hunt down the bear. One group led by Willem, with Reynard, Esmee and James immediately started tracking the quarry. The second group consisting of Luc and Cedric raced off in a different direction, confident in having found a set of tracks that matched the bear (oh how I love fumbled rolls). The first group quickly located signs of a large animal in the woods and Esmee's hunting skills led them to a clearing where they found the bear. While Esmee and Willem distracted it by throwing their weapons into the forest (more fumbled rolls), Reynard and James hacked the beast down. Meanwhile, lost in the woods, attacked by wolves, cold and wet, Cedric and Luc were forced to spend a sleepless night before early the next day they stumbled upon what looked like an old shrine some local druids might have erected. Stopping there, they started to loudly blame each other for their predicament.

The other squires, after enjoying a feast and the company of a few of the young men and women of the village of Imber the night before, set off to find their lost companions the next monring. Esmee's hunting skills again did not let her down and they finally tracked down their bickering companions and led them safely out of the forest.

Reporting back to Vagon castle, the squires related their tales to Sir Elad, much to his amusement. He ordered the squires to make ready to head for Sarum.

The squires accompanied Sir Elad to Sarum, to meet Earl Roderick at court. All, save Luc, had been to Sarum before, but never had they been asked to speak to the Earl. The Earl was impressed with how the squires dealt with ‘that Imber situation’ and invited all to a feast that evening. Most of the squires spent the interim day-drinking at ‘the best pub in town!’, which was so busy, that most of their attempts at flirting with the serving wenches failed. It did not stop Cedric, however, from recounting some fanciful tales of his and Luc’s time in the forest to any who would listen.

At the feast, the squires were treated to a fine meal (Loach and capons). As they ate, an unexpected guest turned up - Sir Madoc, bastard son of King Uther. He was immediately given a place of honour next to the Earl. Esmee and Willem surreptitiously positioned themselves near the head table during the last course and overheard talk of a new Saxon army landing in the east in the Duchy of Caercolum, and also of Uther’s intention to attack the Saxon King Aelle in the south this summer. Willem, feeling outgoing after enjoying the ale all evening thought about interjecting at that point, but erred on the side of courtesy and kept his mouth shut.

Because of the impending battle with the Saxons, Earl Roderick called for all squires deemed ready for knighthood be brought forward. Sir Elad stood and proudly called for Esmee, Willem, Reynard and Cedric, notably leaving out James (who’s horsemanship he deemed needing work) and Luc (who’s persistent French cursing seemed to grate on Sir Elad’s nerves).

Amidst much pomp and circumstance, the squires were knighted, swearing homage to Earl Roderick and Fealty to Uther. After the ceremony, the new knights were girded in their gear and expected to ‘leap’ on to their horses. This proved to be more problematic for the day drinkers than Reynard, who had spent the afternoon in quiet spiritual contemplation.

The new knights then joined the rest of Earl Roderick’s forces in heading to the muster at Silchester City. The young knights were given new squires, with Luc being appointed to squire for Cedric, and James squiring for Esmee. At Silchester, they joined the army of a thousand knights and several thousand footmen. Reynard circulated amidst the army, taking in the martial power that Uther could command. He also heard rumours swirling amidst the camp that several of King Uther’s vassals had not reported to the muster – most notably Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall. As the army set out, Uther ordered Duke Lucius to return to his duchy of Caercolum to meet the new Saxon threat there. Reynard, after doing a little more digging, heard that the saxons had landed a force of at least a thousand, fresh from the continent led by a warlord named Aethelswith.

Despite splitting his forces in this manner, Uther remained resolute in pressing the attack into Sussex to meet King Aelle, and so the army set off and shortly across the border engaged a slightly larger Saxon force in what became known as the battle of Mearcred Creek.

The Salisbury knights were dispatched to the left flank – where the weakest troops are usually deployed, under the command of Sir Elad. Battle raged for 5 hours, and resulted in some mixed success. Many Saxons were killed, and despite taking a few wounds, none of the knights were greatly hurt . Sir Reynard seemed to grow melancholic during the course of the battle, despairing over never seeing his family again and quit the field. Sir Esmee grew melancholic right as Uther had the horns sounded to signal the army to fall back, perhaps perceiving herself failing in some way to live up to her knightly honor. The two armies withdrew, seemingly in an inconclusive result, which left a somewhat bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. Of note, Sir Luc seemed to approach his continued squiring with gusto, distinguishing himself with the amount of loot he was able to pillage from the Saxons during the battle.

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You mixed up the adventure of the Bear of Imber and the battle of Mearcred Creek. A classical move for 485 ;)

A few questions:

14 hours ago, BioKeith said:

Sir Reynard seemed to grow melancholic during the course of the battle, despairing over never seeing his family again and quit the field.

Why did Reynard make love (family) roll in the Battle? There was no real reason.

14 hours ago, BioKeith said:

Of note, Sir Luc seemed to approach his continued squiring with gusto, distinguishing himself with the amount of loot he was able to pillage from the Saxons during the battle.

How Luc manage to loot anything with a retreat? By the way,what battle rules did you use?

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I'm being a bit more liberal in allowing Passion rolls, especially in battles. I figure the life of a knight is short enough as is, so if they want to take the chance on a passion roll, I'll err on letting them. Being inspired to return to see their family because of an imminent threat of death works for us. YPMV.

We're mostly using the Book of Battle II rules. Luc crit his squire roll a couple times, each of which allows him to capture a horse. We've expanded those rules to allow for a slight chance of a roll on some of the luck tables from the Book of Knights and Ladies since leading a train of horses isn't the most exciting reward for a crit and since it's a pretty rare occasion to crit the squire roll. Again YPMV.

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Winter Phase – 485

The year drew to a close with the new knights becoming accustomed to their inheritances – riding their manor grounds, meeting their servants and peasants.

At Grafton, Willem was sorrowful at the death of his old nanny, and undertook to spruce up the decrepit Statue that was on his manor grounds to make it more attractive site in the hopes of attracting some pilgrims. He had the nanny burried nearby.

At Woodborough, Cedric oversaw the marriage of his younger sister, gaining a kinsmen in Sir Owin of Stanton.

At Ford, Reynard was seen practicing his horsemanship with his ‘fantastic saddle’, an heirloom from his father. He also continued in the training of his squire, his younger sister Rose.

At Allington, a steady trickle of pilgrims made their way to the church and it was the site of a few neighborly gatherings at which Sir Esmee became better friends with Sir Dane of Boscone.

At Imber, James spent the time training his spear skills, intending to make a great showing of himself at the next battle.

Spring 486

At Sarum, the Earl held a Pentecost feast for all of his knights, including Luc and James who were knighted for their conduct in the Battle of Mearcred Creek. The Earl presented his knights with their yearly gifts (a new courtly outfit and a Libram in cash). There, the knights heard rumours of a Saxon victory over Duke Lucius in the east, with the Duke now hold up in Colchester. Refugees had made their way west, although a great number of peasants had been enslaved by the Saxon invaders. Prince Madoc, who was also in attendance, spoke of leading raids to relieve the area.

In other news, the last Roman outpost on the continent, Soissons, had fallen to the Franks. A Praetor was seen in Uther’s court asking for assistance in taking it back, although Uther, by all reports, was reluctant.

While some of the senior knights of Salisbury rode off to join Prince Madoc on the raids in Caercolum, the younger knights were asked to stay behind on Garrison duty. After a long planning session over which route to take, the knights set out, seeking hospitality along the route as they made their way to Du Plain castle before heading north. On the road to Greatly, the knights came across a party of four Romans heading to Sarum. The leader introduced himself as Syagrius, and stated he was visiting the counties of Logres, attempting to drum up support for his mission to fight King Clovis and the Franks. The knights were impressed with his bearing and escorted him to Earl Roderick in Sarum.

Continuing the patrol, the knights heading east to Clatford manor and the border with Silchester. Not wanting to provoke any incidents with Levcomagus, the knights skirted the Chute Forest and Collingbourne Wood before making their way to Sir Willem’s estate of Grafton for the night. Upon arrival, however, it appeared that something foul was afoot. While some local peasants had been trying to clear the ground around the large pagan statue as Sir Willem had directed, a sink hole had developed. In the sinkhole was revealed a collapsed Roman Villa, the entrance to which seemed to be covered in a strange black fog of spores. Climbing down to investigate – Cedric and Esmee started exploring the villa, but Cedric collapsed after opening a door. Esmee pulled Cedric back to the entrance, but not before hearing a faint voice crying ‘help’ from within.

All of the knights remembered stories that peasant children told each other that all such roman places were cursed after the Romans left Britain. Removing anything from the villa would be sure to bring the curse with it.

Still - emboldened by Sir Reynard’s valorousness, all of the knights except Luc re-entered the villa (Luc was famished after the long days ride and retired to the estate to seek refreshment). A lone skeleton was found, cause of death indeterminate. Cedric then appeared to speak, not with his own voice, and pointed to a nearby door. Within, a library was discovered, filled with books and manuscripts and one ceramic tile that was moved to reveal another leather-bound manuscript. Cedric claimed it. Finally a study was discovered that contained a pagan circle on the ground, complete with wax encrusted candles, and a strange lens on a large desk. Cedric again was given the lens to carry, and discovered that different writing could be read in the book when viewed through the lens.

The book turned out to be a diary of a wealthy Roman equite. He had transcribed his experiences since coming to Britain and pacifying the tribes. However, viewed through the lens, the diary spoke to his obsession with the magic of Britain, and the apparent lengths he went to to harness it – including making a deal with some creature of fae named Disperfal.

Determined to see this cursed place sealed, Sir Esmee has ridden back to Sarum to inform Sir Amig – one of the Earl’s knights who had made it his business to pursue and stamp out pagan sites with a touch of zealotry.

Sir Willem gave orders to have the sinkhold boarded up and guarded while the rest of the knights resumed their patrol. Willem and Cedric were determined to take the book and lens and seek out a druid for advice. Reynard could be seen brooding slightly, unhappy with that solution. Meanwhile Sir James was feeling a bit set upon by the other knights for his own christian faith.

The patrol continued with the knights moving counter clockwise around Salisbury. Peasants were seen out working, preparing to sow the fields. Some minor issues were dealt with as the knights passed by a few manors. At East Chisenbury, a new knight Sir Garedos joined the patrol – directed there by Sir Amig. A slight detour led to a stop at Cedric’s manor at Woodborough, where Cedric consulted with a druid by the name of Logan who was local to the area and known to Cedric's family. Cedric wished to know anything he could about the book, the lens and the slight matter of him perhaps being possessed? Logan promised to study the matter further.

Back on patrol, an old man was encountered near the road – a goat herd missing his prize goat. Happy for a slight change of pace, Garedos, Reynard and Luc rode after the goat, only for it to bound away. Hot in pursuit, the knights were surprised when lumbering out of a copse of trees came a large 3-headed giant, who had the goat grasped in one hand. As it saw the knights, it tossed the goat aside as it eyed up better eating. In the melee that ensued, Reynard was smashed off of his horse (to the demise of the poor creature), but Garedos fought against the giant with a stout heart. Arriving late, Cedric and Willem joined the fight. Reynard was again smashed by the tree branch the creature was using as a club and went flying, crashing lifeless to the ground. Unfortunately Cedric was overcome with the sight of his dead comrade and became useless in the fight. The rest of the knights fought on and soon were able to prevail and bring the giant down.

Futilely attempting to provide first aid to Reynard, the knights were surprised by the site of the old goat herd bounding up to them, and then in a flash of smoke, the goatherd had transformed into Merlin – Archdruid of Britain, someone the knights had only seen at a distance at court when they were squires. Merlin casually healed Reynard of his grievous wounds, and brought Cedric back to his senses as well before saying, ‘You’ll do.’  With that, Merlin strode off into the forest, with the knights in tow – leaving their squires and horses behind. Their path seemed to lead them somewhere strange – with Garedos - who proved to have an uncommon knowledge of fae – realizing that they were no longer in Britain, but in a faerie forest.

Entering a clearing near a lake, Merlin bid the knights, ‘Defend me'. As Merlin walked towards the lake, a strange slime-green rider/knight appeared. Sprouting extra limbs, the being (a nucklavee) took on four knights at once, while Garedos fired his bow, ineffectively. Together the knights were able to hack it down, whereupon it dissolved into a puddle of foul green slime.

When they looked up, they saw that Merlin was now on a barge in the middle of the lake, the surface of which was growing misty. Suddenly - out of the water thrust a female arm grasping a shining sword. Merlin took the blade, wrapped it in some robes and returned to shore. Thanking the knights for their ‘service to britain’, Merlin led them back to the mortal realm, and bid them to continue their patrol as he strode off. The somewhat incredulous knights continued on, and the rest of the patrol passed uneventfully. After reporting back to Sarum and Sir Elad, the knights were dismissed to their estates.

When Willem returned to Grafton, he found that Sir Amig had quarantined his entire estate, while trying to determine what was in the Roman villa. Naturally, the villagers at Grafton were grumbling as it meant they could not take any of their goods to market. Sir Amig appeared to be fixated on Merlin, believing him to be responsible for the place and its gate to 'the devil's realm'. He was very much surprised to learn that Willem had seen Merlin, as Merlin has not been at court in 2 years, and this made him immediately more suspicious of Willem.

The year ended with an invitation to the Christmas feast at Sarum – and this year, it was to be a royal feast as King Uther himself would be attending. Earl Roderick wanted his knights dressed in their finest feast clothes. Reynard arrived unhappily, as a rash of thefts from his estate continued, as well as a strange sickness in the village at Ford. Sir Cedric did not arrive at all, and none could speak to his whereabouts. Both Sir Luc and Sir Gerveskin (of London) arrived hoping to win the hand of fair Rose Starling.

The feast itself was a grand affair, with many notables in attendance; Besides King Uther, Sir Madoc (Uther's son), and Duke Ulfius of Silchester were amongst them. The usual practice of gifting was extravagant this year, with Madoc bringing much loot for his father from his recent Saxon raids, some of which was given out to the knights by Uther, being in a generous mood. With the feast about to commence, the festivities were interrupted by the sudden appearance of Merlin – striding in, bearing his own gift for Uther – Excalibur, the ‘Sword of Victory’. Uther seemed mesmerized by this gift, which Merlin told him would serve him to lead Britain ‘as long as he remain just’. Merlin also pointed out the knights who had aided him in it’s retrieval, telling the assembled lords to ‘watch these knights well, and give them rein to help Britain’.

With that, the Feast was on. And a magnificent setting it was. The knights were all sat ‘near the salt’, within view of the high table. The food was plentiful and libations flowed freely. The knights occupied their time variously. Sir Reynard enjoyed all of what the feast offered in between episodes of saving his sister from the attentions of the two amorous knights. Luc managed to woo Rose, hire a valet, and save one Sir Geoff from choking. James’ serving techniques came under scrutiny, as the feast table became more and more sodden with wine and ale, and perhaps overserved, he succeeded in insulting Lady Feunete of Silchester. Garedos worked the tables seeking out rumours of happenings around the kingdom. He learned that Duke Lucius of Caercolum had been killed in the fighting to the east, and that the Saxons had consolidated their gains, calling their new holdings Essex. Garedos also unfortunately attracted the attention of Earl Roderick’s hounds, and spent much of the feast fighting with them over his plate.

All of the knights attempted to join in the caroling, an annual tradition in Sarum – Sir James stood out as his carol proved too bawdy for the assembled company. Later, deep in his cups, Sir James attempted to join the dancing, but again his technique needed improving.

As the feast drew to a close, Earl Roderick asked the knights to recount the story of ‘Sword Lake’, and they did so – with Sir James finally finding a moment to shine, as the gathered audience looked on, rapt, as he told the story. So amazing was this retelling, that the knights who had partaken became the centre of much attention afterwards. James stealing away with one Lady Zoe, and Reynard also taking the opportunity for a dalliance.

With that, the knights all returned to their manors for the winter – and news came that two weddings were in store. Sir Luc and Rose Starling, and James and Lady Zoe.

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The cursed villa was very interesting. I like how you combine the GPC with your own adventures, and I think it's the only way to play it.

About the poor Reynard, lethality is part of the game. Merlin is not a nice man, not a healer, and his healing of Reynard is a bit of a deus ex machina. I think his death would have been more powerful. As you said, YPMV.

Just be careful about the balance of the game.

 

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Reynard was actually just at 0 or -1, so while technically dead - would have most probably recovered from some first aid roles, but been effectively out of the adventure, so I decided to have Merlin do his thing to keep that player involved. We hadn't gotten around to making any backups yet. :)

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56 minutes ago, BioKeith said:

Reynard was actually just at 0 or -1, so while technically dead - would have most probably recovered from some first aid roles, but been effectively out of the adventure, so I decided to have Merlin do his thing to keep that player involved. We hadn't gotten around to making any backups yet. :)

You could come back to this later by having Merlin hijack Reynard for some task in the future to "make up for" the magic that Merlin had to use (not to mention the 3 moon nap he suffered later) to heal him. You could make some sort of nasty quest that the knight was fated to do and thus Merlin healed him for a specific reason.  That would allow you to keep Merlin from seeming like some sort of paramedic or D&D cleric - especially if Merlin mentions it in an non-flattering way before  (and after)sending Reynard off on a quest.

"Hurry along, you're the one fated to delay the dragon long enough for me to fetch that moss I need. Wha? Will it kill you?, That's for you to find out."

 

Then later on..."Yes, the moss, now I can finally have a decent cup of tea."  

 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

ou could come back to this later by having Merlin hijack Reynard for some task in the future to "make up for" the magic that Merlin had to use (not to mention the 3 moon nap he suffered later) to heal him. You could make some sort of nasty quest that the knight was fated to do and thus Merlin healed him for a specific reason.  That would allow you to keep Merlin from seeming like some sort of paramedic or D&D cleric - especially if Merlin mentions it in an non-flattering way before  (and after)sending Reynard off on a quest.

Nasty ! Love it ;)

1 hour ago, BioKeith said:

Reynard was actually just at 0 or -1, so while technically dead - would have most probably recovered from some first aid roles, but been effectively out of the adventure, so I decided to have Merlin do his thing to keep that player involved. We hadn't gotten around to making any backups yet.

I understand your position. But it was very nice of you. After all, it was only one fight to witness.

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2 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Nasty ! Love it ;)

So much of Gming comes down to presentation. A gm can make the kindest act appear cruel or vice versa just by presentation. Having Merlin say" Sir Reynard, hmm...what did I save him? Oh, yes, I remember, dragon bait!" can change how the whole thing plays out-even if the GM doesn't get back to it. 

2 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I understand your position. But it was very nice of you. After all, it was only one fight to witness.

"out of Story" is always a troublesome situation. Obviously the GM want's all the players to be active participants, but actions have to have consequences, so it's a bit of a juggling act. I think magical healing is okay as long as the players don't think they can rely on it. A trip into Faerie so Merlin could replenish his stash is always a possibly too. Player tend to latch onto any perks and never let them go unless given a reason.

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487

After the flurry of weddings in the fall, the knights retired to their manors for the winter. As the Pentecost feast approached, everyone gathered again in Sarum where Earl Roderick held a hearty feast for all of his vassals. Afterwards, the knights were invited to a private audience where the Earl gave them a choice; accompany him and the King on an embassy north to visit Duke Lindsay at Lincoln or accompany Sir Madoc on naval raids against the Saxons on the south shore. The knights, unaccustomed to such freedom, had a quick debate and decided to head north.

The journey to Lincoln was pleasant enough, with Uther maintaining an informal nature, joining the knights for tales around the campfires at nights. Upon arrival at Lincoln, it was apparent that the King’s visit had not been announced, and that Duke Lindsay was not present. In fact, the reception for Uther was quite cold, and there seemed to be much stalling as apartments were set up for the royal party. Uther could be seen to be visibly furious and everyone tried to steer clear of his path. The knights of Salisbury sought out Earl Roderick who quietly suggested they might wish to partake in a hunt while waiting for the Duke and so they set out, Sir Luc and Sir Cedric forming one hunting party and Sir Willem leading the remaining knights in the other.

Willem’s group proved to be able hunters and were able to quickly track down and succeeded in bagging a fallow deer. Luc, on the other hand, while also tracking a deer only succeeded in leading his party astray (Luc seems to be developing a habit of fumbling his hunting rolls, and for some reason Cedric is always with him when he does. Fortunately I had something ready for the next hunting fumble!). Once again lost within a forest, Luc and Cedric conferred on what to do when a strange sound was heard. Like the braying of hounds following some large beast. Looking about, they spied a nearby spring where suddenly a most strange beast appeared. It had the head and neck of a snake, the body of a leopard, the haunches of a lion, and the feet of a hart. Its appearance gave Luc and Cedric a start, with Luc emitting a high-pitched scream due to his fear of fae. The startled beast (later identified by Cedric as Glatisant, the ‘questing beast’) bounded off into the forest emitting the ghostly sound of hounds from inside its belly. Shortly after, a mounted knight crashed into the clearing, apparently hunting for the beast. After a quick interaction, he rode off in pursuit. The knights took off after him, eventually catching up in another clearing as the strange knight had lost his quarry. Seeing that Luc was looking around confused, he suggested that he lead the lost knights back to Lincoln. Sir Cedric spent the entire ride back talking with the knight about the questing beast, which he seemed consumed with knowing about.

Back at Lincoln, as they road through the gate, the guards deferred to their guide, and the knights learned that he was none other than King Pellinore of Gomeret, an important Cambrian king. The evening was passed at a feast with the deer from Willem's successful hunt serving as the main course.

A week later, Duke Corneas finally returned, and paid stiff courtesy to the king and the knights. Uther could be seen fuming inside, but did not lose his temper. Another feast was held and half-way through King Uther stopped the proceedings and asked the knights of Salisbury to again recount the tale of sword lake. Willem gave an adequate retelling, at the end of which Merlin appeared and recounted the history of the 'Sword of Victory' before revealing it and giving it to Uther. The Duke rose, entranced by the sword. He turned to Uther and begged forgiveness for his demeanor- even offering to hold a new ceremony to affirm his loyalty to the King. The mood in court then changed and the rest of the feast passed with much celebration. Earl Roderick, caught up in the merriment, and perhaps after imbibing some northern ale approached Sir Esmee. He had found an excellent match for her, he said - a wealthy merchant from Lincoln. Sir Esmee not seeing any way to refuse the Earl, reluctantly accepted. The rest of feast passed in merriment and Sir Willem even finally managed to impress one of the local ladies after finding them quite unreceptive earlier

The next morning, Earl Roderick approached the knights and told them that Uther had personally requested for them to ride forth in embassy to Malahaute – home of the Centurian King – the most powerful man in Britain, after Uther, and to get him to come to Lincoln to see Uther (with the unstated intention of having the Centurian King swear homage to Uther). The knights gulped, and accepted their mission.

Embassy to Malahaute

After a week of preparations in Lincoln, the knights were ready to ride to Eburacum. On the eve of their departure, they received a summons and were led by a servant to a room in the castle they had not seen before. There, two men awaited them - one Logan, the druid from Woodborough. The other - Merlin, holding the book that Cedric had returned with from the roman villa at Grafton. With a glance at Logan, Merlin began. He said Cedric had been 'Dragon touched'.

Merlin explained that Britain and Ireland together formed Mythic Britain. "These lands are the body of the Great Red Dragon from whose dreams is born the Spirit World. Side by side with the Red Dragon is the Great White Dragon, but it is a baleful force that favours enemies and invaders. Normally it sleeps and the Great Red Dragon is all-powerful, but things changed with the coming of the Romans and the massacre of the druids. The Great White Dragon has awoken and the Great Red Dragon sleeps, making the Saxon’s inroads across Britain possible."

Merlin did not know which dragon had touched Cedric, but said 'Either way, it will prove useful.'

"The Romans knew that to break Britain, they had to control its power. So they found and stole the Thirteen Treasures of Britain and hid them carefully. Some, I have found. Some, I still must locate. I need your help in fetching these treasures as I locate them. Uniting the Thirteen Treasures will help smash the Saxons. Failing to find them all could result in the death of the Red Dragon and the ruin of everything. You, Cedric, being dragon touched, will be able to sense the Treasures when you are near them.'

The knights sat in shocked silence. The Christian knights, Reynard and James both seemed put off by this pagan talk.

"I will find you when the time is right." said Merlin. and he and Logan strode off.

The next day the knights set off for Eburacum. The ride was quiet, each contemplating what Merlin had told them. The road north was quiet and patrols at the border waved them through when they saw the party were knights of Logres. Arriving at Britain’s second largest city, the knights took in the sight – a roman fort on the north of the river, and a shanty town with a new motte and bailey castle on the south. The sentries informed them that they would be permitted into the South half of the town only. They were told that the Centurian King was off skirmishing with the Saxons to the East. Not wanting to wait for the King's return, the knights waylaid a group of Malahaute knights who were riding off to join the king’s army and convinced them to allow them to join.

Riding north and east, the party entered disputed lands on the border with Deira. There they encountered a small village of Saxons. The knights of Malahaut formed up to charge, seeking to flush out any men defending the village. Sir Esmee and Sir Cedric gave in to their hate of Saxons and joined them for the charge. Sir Cedric, however, suddenly seized up - looking blankly ahead. Sir Luc rushed over to give aid to his friend. Sir Reynard and Sir James rode behind the main group of knights, seeking to prevent any kind of massacre of the women and children. What few warriors there were in the village mounted a feeble defense and were quickly dispatched by the attacking knights. Reynard and James then interposed themselves and saw to it that the women and children were sent to find their way back to Saxon lands. Several cymric slaves were freed and sent back towards Malahaute. 

The group continued and found the encampment of the army of Malahaute. Let by the knights they had joined, the Salisbury knights made it known that they had a message from Uther for the Centurian King. Sir James was a model of courtesy and they were led to a tent to wait. Eventually, the King returned, sweating and dirty, accompanied by several advisors. Obviously they were returning from a skirmish. He looked over the knights, seemingly unimpressed and asked their business. Despite James’ proper and courteous relaying of Uther’s message, the King and his advisors, Aetius and Flavius, dismissed Uther’s call, saying he would visit when he had the ‘leisure time’ to do so. The knights were then summarily dismissed and given a shabby tent half full of supplies to sleep in for the night.

The Quest for the Horn of Bran Galed

While considering their next course of action, the knights tent was thrown open and a soldier strode in. Closing the tent behind him, he was enveloped in a swirl of mist and standing before them was Merlin. He stated that 'the time was indeed, right.' for he had located one of the Treasures in nearby Saxon lands – the horn of Bran Galed. Merlin said it was hidden in an old abandoned roman outpost on the coast called Bietlinton. The knights then set off on this quest – with Sir James leading the small party towards the coast. They managed to avoid any other living souls, but before proceeding to far into Deira, the knights left their squires at a small camp with orders to return to the Earl if they should not return within a week, and then tracked northwards to their destination.

The knights, led by Luc’s scouting skills skirted around a Saxon fishing village they came across - though they did surprise one of the locals who Luc quickly grabbed. Cedric ran through the poor soul, failing to catch on quickly enough that Luc’s intention was to take a prisoner. Pressing on to Bietlinton, the knights arrived to find that it still had the look of an abandoned Roman town, but nearby was an old hillfort that the Saxons seemed to be in the process of rebuilding using stone from the roman town. Studying the movement of Saxons, the knights decided to ambush a patrol and lay in wait to pounce on the next approaching group of warriors.

Sir Esmee and Sir Reynard were first to drop down on the unsuspecting Saxons, with Esmee, in a flury of swordwork, quickly taking down one of the Saxons. The other knights rushed up and all fought well, with Sir James and Esmee delivering most of the damage and the Saxon patrol was quickly dispatched. Disguising themselves as best they could in the Saxon garb, the knights awaited nightfall as slave parties, guarded by Saxon warriors, continued taking stone from the old roman town and bringing it to the hill fort. The work parties continued until the sun began to fall and then the slaves were led back into the roman town.

At dusk, the knights split in to two parties, disguised as Saxon patrols and made for two different gates that led into Bietlinton. The Saxon guards, standing overhead on the walls, seemed mostly concerned with watching inside for possible escaping slaves than watching for enemies outside, and so the disguised knights were able to infiltrate into the town. There was some illumination from sconces the saxons had set up near the walls and on several of the streets. Sir James, leading one group, quickly identified a likely looking temple, and then went to find the other knights. The other knights, led by Sir Luke were poking around some ruined roman villas, but followed Sir James back to the temple when he found them.Together, they all went in to investigate.

The temple had been defiled by the Saxons, broken pieces of statues lay strewn about the floor. Reynard knew that to the saxons, breaking and defacing the statuary made them feel they could deny any power to the Roman gods. The Outer temple led to an inner temple which led to a small inner sanctum. Inside, Sir Cedric’s hair stood up on the back of his neck and he was able to pick out a stone plinth that could be moved. Meanwhile, watching for Saxons at the temple entrance, Sir Esmee noted two strange ravens watching the temple.

Moving the plinth revealed a skinny pit, 7 feet deep. Sir James lowered a near naked Sir Reynard down, being the only one small enough to fit, and he was just able to grab on to what was contained within, a small object wrapped in leather. Sir Esmee, hearing Cedric call out, came back to join the other knights as they unrolled the package to reveal a horn, not especially impressive, but Sir Cedric's hair was standing on end and he knew that they beheld - the Horn of Bran Galed.

Quickly trying to leave the temple, the knights were confronted by a strange sight - a Saxon Laece (pronounced Leech) - a devotee of Wotan. The Laece warned them of his leader, Thegn Wiglaf's, lack of hospitality and swept out, having alerted the nearby Saxon patrols. Sir Cedric impulsively decided to blow the Horn, which sounded loud and clear, but seemingly had no effect other than to alert the rest of the Saxons. Escape seemed the only course of action.

Sir Esmee, Sir Garedos and Sir James attempted to cover the other knights, advancing on the saxons as the others took off for the nearest gate in an attempt to reach the woods. A fierce fight ensued. Cedric and Luc, being the quickest, managed to run out unscathed. Sir Reynard stumbled in the darkness, but was covered by the fighting of the other knights. Before being overwhelmed, Sir Garedos and Sir James both managed to make a break, helping Sir Reynard up as they ran, but Sir Esmee was struck down by a large Saxon warrior.

Luc and Cedric reached the woods first and realized that the group had not arranged a rendezvous spot. They quickly set off for the coast, deciding that everyone would try to meet back up at their squire's camp but quickly found themselves lost (yes indeed - Hunting roll fumbled again!). Sir James, Garedos and Reynard were next to reach the woods but with Saxon's pursuing them, they plunged on blindly, desperately trying to get away.

Meanwhile, Sir Esmee's last sight was of the Saxon Laece murmuring, 'Yes...she will do nicely...'

The knights in the north all made their way home, despite some misadventures in the forests. Luc and Cedric wandered until some local peasants were attracted by the sound of French cursing and led them to a manor in Lindsay after a week or so. Reynard, James and Garados were pursued for some distance by Saxons with dogs hunting for them. They plunged deeper into the forest in an attempt to lose them. After 3 weeks, they too emerged in Lindsay, ematiated and starving, but still alive. Back at Allington, a ransom note arrived where Esmee's fiance Tathan was anxiously awaiting his betrothed. Thinking nothing of the expense, Tathan immediately dispatched the money and so Sir Esmee was returned - the Saxons sent word that she would be found at a nearby set of standing stones, and so it was she was found and returned to recoup at her manor. She had large gaps in her memory of her time in captivity - it seeming like maybe it had never happened. But the image of the Saxon Laece oft haunted her dreams.

Meanwhile...

(We finally rolled up some backups, so we had a quick adventure to break them in)

Meanwhile – another set of knights had set out with Sir Madoc to raid the Saxon Shore by sea. Penelope - younger sister of Reynard, Elisabet - cousin of Luc, Faith - cousin of Esmee, Alder - Cedric's younger brother and Petra - James' cousin. Gathering at the port of Hantonne, along with about 100 other knights from around Logres, Sir Madoc discussed the plan. The knights were to serve as protectors for the sailors as they attempted to burn all of the saxon ships they found along the shore on their way up the coast. And so the young knights of Salisbury set out to sea with Sir Madoc on the Black Swan, the flagship of the expedition. Most of the knights were immediately hurling their breakfasts over the side – unused to the rolling waves of the British Sea.

Shortly after crossing over to the Saxon Shore, boats were spotted outside of Pevensy. The sailors beached the boats and quickly the knights were over the side and on tot he shore, setting up a defensive perimeter as the sailors proceeded to burn the Saxon boats. There was no sign of any resistance, only a few saxons had been on the beach and they scurried away as the navy landed. Flushed with victory, the expedition pressed on. Shortly up the coast at Dover, they put to shore again. This time a few saxon warriors tried to resist the landing, but they were no matched for the knights, and many boats were burned. As the boats burned, Madoc called together his knights and told them that he was confident enough to press on and try to prevent fresh Saxon landings in Caercolum.

Most of the knights started to gain their sea legs, although Penelope still clung to the side of the boat looking most green. The fleet rounded the east coast and settled in the estuary of the river Yar to lay in wait. It was not long before their positioning proved fortuitous, as a Saxon fleet was caught coming in and starting to sail upriver. That is when Madoc ordered the fleet to attack.

The rowers quickly closed the distance between the two fleets. The saxons tried to flee, but Madoc's ships had a better angle and the Saxons again tried to turn as a collision seemed inevitable. The Black Swan rammed a large saxon vessel and the knights fought a boarding action. Their ships agility allowed them to seize the initiative and the knights rushed up boarding planks as they were thrown down – except for Elizabet who’s fear of the sea seemed to trump her hatred of the Saxons and caused her to hang back. Petra, who was first to board, found herself up against a huge Saxon warrior wielding a great axe. With one fell blow, she was smashed back, flying over to the edge of the Swan, gravely wounded. She teetered on the edge before toppling into the sea. Penelope rushed to see if she could throw her a line, but Petra had sunk beneath the waves. She stared out into the blue grey sea slowly losing all hope, but then seemingly with one tremendous last burst of strength, Petra managed to get back to the surface, despite being in her armor. Penelope was able to throw out a rope and Petra was able to grab on and was hauled back on board. Meanwhile Faith and Alder were in the thick of the battle, dispatching Saxons left and right and soon the remaining Saxons surrendered. The knights relished in their accomplishment

The fleet returned to friendly waters, basking in their victory. After a quick feast and the personal thanks of Sir Madoc, the knights all returned to their various manors to attend to them for the winter.

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Love it! Beware with back ups. I ended up with running two campaigns, instead of one 🤣

Anyway, I like how your married the GPC with your owns ideas. The 13 treasures of Britain took me by surprise, in a good way^^

Your players left the poor Esmee behind? The rascals!

9 hours ago, BioKeith said:

He had found an excellent match for her, he said - a wealthy merchant from Lincoln. Sir Esmee not seeing any way to refuse the Earl, reluctantly accepted.

My favorite bit. I love the randomness of it (Book of Feasts, I guess), and how this event alters the story in a good way.

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3 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

My favorite bit. I love the randomness of it (Book of Feasts, I guess), and how this event alters the story in a good way

Yeah - good old Book of Feasts event. I'm glad Esmee's player went with it. I love the opportunities for story that come out of the feast events, as well as the modified winter phase events.

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On 9/24/2020 at 10:26 AM, BioKeith said:

That evening, the competition during the poetry event was fierce – it came down to James against a couple of locals in a 2nd round of composition, something the locals referred to as ‘slam’ style. James took out one of the locals before being left speechless by some quick quips, coming up just short in 2nd place.

OMFG. You NEED to have an adventure where his slam poetry style goes up against the satirist poets of Ireland, you NEED to.

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488 

Spring Court

Winter began with the knights taking care of their manors. Sir Luc found time to arrange for a marriage for his sister, seeking to gain closer ties with his neighbours at Melksham. Luc's wife, Rose Starling insisted that she would be Luc's squire from this point forward - Luc wasn't sure about this, but acquiesced. Luc also engaged a valet to help him better prepare for any future feasts. Meanwhile, Sir Cedric’s dreams had begun to take a darker turn - images of running through a village at night, his hands dripping with blood.  Sir Reynard's sister had always been prone to intuitions while growing up, so when she predicted a troublesome time at Ford manor, he hired a proctor to aid his steward and together they were able to salvage something from a poor year. A feud started between Garedos’ family at Newton manor and that of neighbouring Wilton. Although he was unable to determine who had started it, the feud escalated when his cousin was killed in a duel with Sir Harms. Sir Esmee spent the winter happily with her new husband, Tathan and in the early spring time, slightly earlier than the usual 9 months, gave birth to a son.

At Pentecost, the knights all attended the traditional feast at Sarum with Earl Roderick. Having arranged her marriage the year previously, the Earl spent much time with Sir Esmee. It was from him that Esmee learned of Uther’s plans for an impending expedition to the continent to help Praetor Syagrius retake his lands. Garedos, spent time with Sir Elad and heard rumours of new Saxon armies to the north. Sir Elad also knew that it would be Uther's son, Madoc, leading the expedition to France, while Uther stayed in England to bring more duchies to heal. Other happenings at the feast saw Reynard flirting with Sir Theo, a noted lady knight from Newton Tony. Garedos, meanwhile, turned down offers of company from several ladies, seemingly consumed with plotting revenge against his neighbours at Wilton – disappointing Earl Roderick.

Following the feast, the knights were invited into Earl Roderick’s council, where, to their surprise, he gave them the option of joining the expedition to France or remaining here with Uther’s army. After some debate, the knights decided to remain in Britain with the King and soon they found themselves with the army journeying east to the border with Jagent and Somerset. There, after Uther again displayed Excalibur, Sir Gwythyr, Baron of the Castle of the Pinnacle (Jagent) reswore his fealty to Uther. Uther then turned to Somerset and met with King Cadwy. King Cadwy had been king in Somerset for longer than Uther had been alive - rumours were that he had a touch of fae blood in him. But he did possess a key vote on the Supreme Collegium who would determine if Uther would be elected High King, so Uther was determined to win him over. Seemingly King Cadwy promised his vote to Uther at the Supreme Collegium, but first – he needed someone to take care of a problem his people were having in the swamps – beasts were terrorizing the villages there. Sir Reynard and Sir Luc were on guard detail outside the tent where the council was occuring and Reynard could not help but overhear King Cadwy's demand (mostly because his ear was to the canvas). Reynard burst into Uther’s tent to volunteer. Rather than being upset, Uther smiled and turned back to Cadwy, who accepted their offer. After learning what Garedos had done, the rest of the young knights were on board as well (after some mild groaning). The knights then set out into the swamps on shallow punts to see what they could find. ‘Why are we worried about some giant frogs?', wondered Esmee.

 

Into the Swamps  (in which Esmee discovers why we should worry about Giant Frogs)

 

The knights discussed boating strategy for quite a while, leary of the swamps of Somerset. In the end it was decided to split the party into two separate rafts. Reynard, Luc, and Garedos on one with their squires. Cedric, Esmee and Willem on the other. At first, the punting seemed to come naturally. Willem allowed Reynard's raft to pull into deeper water while he determined to stay in water that was only waist deep. Soon after, Luc was the first to see trails heading towards Reynard's raft rippling on the surface - and then the water leapers appeared.

Rather like a large, legless frog with finny wings – six of them leapt from the water, gliding over the surface to try and snatch the boaters from their raft and drag them under. The knights were relatively unscathed except poor Rose Starling, Luc's esquire (and wife), who was bitten and knocked into the water. Willem quickly poled his raft over to aid the others. Both Reynard and Esmee grew impassioned as they fought to save the young squire and fought back gallantly. Willem and Cedric discovered a new aptitude for boating and were mostly able to keep the boats stable enough for the others to fight.

Luc, Esmee and Garedos bravely fought to get Rose back on board, with Luc finally succeeding with a burst of energy. One of the rafts split apart in the confusion of the fighting, but the knights managed to kill all but one of the water leapers, with it retreating to a nearby island.

Punting to the island, the knights set ashore, where they tracked the beast to a muddy den. It was then that Cedric remembered some childhood tails of these creatures and recalled that there was another, larger type of leaper, and that they were known for setting ambushes when they hunted. Right on cue, two of these large spotted leapers and a pack of the smaller ones attacked the knights. Garedos suffered another bite and collapsed to the ground, but the remaining knights all fought courageously. Soon all the beasts were dead and all would have been well, except for Reynard choosing this moment to forget some of his basic anatomy training when attempting first aid on Garedos and bringing that poor knight dangerously close to death.

Building a makeshift stretcher, the knights managed to repair the broken raft (or at least make their squires repair the raft) and get Garedos as themselves back to the shore and the army. There they reported in, much to King Cadwy's delight. They had won the day. King Cadwy committed his support for Uther’s bid to become High King. The knights retired to their manors for the rest of the summer, apart from Sir Garedos who remained at an abbey in a village in the swamps of Somerset recovering from his wounds. Willem and Cedric both spent their time reminiscing of their new found love of boating.

 

Christmas Mushrooms

 

As Cedric returned home he felt not a care in the world. That changed as he rounded the last rise and Woodborough came in to view. He could see the manor house surrounded by a red haze and he stopped in his tracks. A shake of his head later, and the haze had disappeared leaving Cedric feeling slightly uneasy. Perhaps to make up for this unease, Cedric spent 7L on a feast for his first anniversary with his wife Violette. Unfortunately, on the morning of the feast, Cedric heard rumours from a few of the local peasants - they had seen some half snake/half leopard creature in the woods nearby – Glatisant, the questing beast! Cedric was off like a shot, and did not return till after dark, coming home to cold food on his table and a cold shoulder from Violette.

Luc returned to Seend and had a far happier anniversary with Rose, now that she had recovered from her wounds. Luc hosted a slightly more moderate feast, which he in fact did attend.

Meanwhile at Allington, a firebrand preacher calling himself ‘the Arbiter’ had set up camp near the pilgrimage site, causing a bit of a ruckus and distracting the pilgrims who had come to visit. Sir Esmee cast about for connections in religious institutions to see what could be done about him. All the while, a large black raven seems to have taken up residence in the woods near the manor, and was seen nearby whenever Sir Esmee was out on her grounds.

At Ford, a ‘mystery of the disappearing stuff’ seems to have been solved at last. Sir Reynard dismissed the serving girl who was caught stealing things for a bandit amour. She said he was from a band calling themselves ‘the Men of the Hood’.  All of this excitement left little time for his courtship of Sir Theo.

At Grafton, a strange red fungus has been found growing around the area of the sinkhole that had been discovered on Sir Willem's estate previously. It was thought that this fungus had led to the death of 2 peasants who caught some kind of skin wasting disease from getting to close to it. Sir Amig was furious with this new development and petitioned to Earl Roderick to have the entire estate of Grafton disbanded, peasants moved and Sir Willem made a household knight. The Earl thanked Sir Amig for his diligent service but declined. Sir Willem vowed to get to the bottom of whatever was going on.

The rest of the summer passed, and the knights were invited to Sarum for Christmas. Both for the annual Christmas feast with Earl Roderick, and this year for the wedding of Lady Sewain of Estregales to the Count of Rydychan in Sarum Cathedral. Winter storms blew in early, making travel to Sarum difficult – only Sir Willem made it there on time, and once there he proceeded to petition, somewhat forcefully, for the Earl to arrange a marriage for him. The Earl introduced Sir Willem to a comely peasant lass, but there was no spark between the two, and Willem was somewhat insulted to be matched with someone so below his station.

Sir Willem spent some time gathering tales from around the realm and heard of the results of Sir Madoc’s expedition to France over the summer. Apparently the expedition had made it to the town of Bayeaux which was sacked and looted, but Praetor Syagrius was then abandoned to his fate at the hands of the Franks while Madoc and the army returned home. The next day, while out walking with the peasant lass and her chaperone, Sir Willem was surprised when the chaperone revealed himself to be Sir Ricus, chamberlain to Earl Roderick. Sir Ricus pulled Sir Willem aside and enlisted Willem’s aid to stop a potential poisoning at the upcoming feast - Sir Ricus had been informed that someone meant ill to the wedding party.

With the arrival of the other knights, they investigation was afoot. The knights had the city watch more diligently check on merchants entering and leaving the city.  A certain mushroom seller, an old peasant woman named Bellatrix was caught with a load of deathcap mushrooms. She told the knights that she had been recruited to deliver them to a go between - a young lad from the kitchens named Brynn. She swore that the person who recruited her concealed their identity. The knights went to the kitchens and found he had not been seen. He was known to spend time down by the Damas gate, so the knights proceeded there where they heard, from another street urchan (Brian) that he had seen Brynn leave in the company of a 'fancy lady' earlier in the day . They tracked Brynn and discovered his body outside of Sarum’s walls, strangled, with two sets of tracks leading away, one seemingly heavy footed, and one light. The tracks led back to the road before being lost in the general bustle returning to the city. Returning within the walls, suspicion quickly shifted to the newly arrived contingent from Silchester; Sir Awli, Sir Cecily and Sir Gadwich who had been put up in a nearby warehouse and seemed to be doing something shady inside (and from where construction noises could be heard).

Suspicions were further heightened when Sir Luc, who had remained at court to see what he could discover, found that Lady Sewain’s rival for the hand of the Count had been a daughter of Duke Ulfius of Silchester. With 2 days to go before the feast, however, the knights still lacked any proof of Silchester involvement, or indeed of any plot against the feast in particular.

The next morning, the knights continued their investigations amidst a flurry of new arrivals in the city – King Canan (the bride’s father), the twin bannerets of Gloucester, Sir Alain of Escavalon, and Sir Madoc all arrived for the wedding.

Also arriving was Sir Garedos after having recovered from his wounds from the summer, and his estate being raided while he was gone. He was brought up to speed by the others and then set off for the castle, determined to find out if any new rumours would come to light with the arrival of all these new guests. He quickly learned that one of the ladies of the Silchester contingent, Lady Gwendolen, had disappeared the previous day.

Sir Cedric and Reynard returned to the pub to 'listen for rumours'. Sir Cedric let himself get too deep in his cups, however, and disappeared with a bar maid for half an hour. Outside, Esmee and Luc sought out the urchin Brian to question. He divulged that Brynn had been delivering large quantities of the mushroom to 'some roman' these last few months, and that he had also seen a roman leaving the city in the company of a fine lady yesterday before dusk.

Sir Willem sought out the knights of Silchester, and after some conversation with Sir Gadwick, was shown into the warehouse where a nativity scene was being constructed by some artisans from Silchester as a present to the Earl. He also learned of Lady Gwendolen’s absence, which was greatly perturbing her brother, Sir Awli.

With all the knights bringing their information together, the knights returned to the castle and received permission to question Lady Gwendolen’s maids, in the prescence of Sir Awli. Sir Awli intimidated the young woman, who at first wished to remain silent and the truth came spilling out. Lady Gwendolen had plotted revenge against the Count of Rydychan after having been spurned by him. But that plot seemed to have changed late in the summer, when Praetor Syagrius returned from the continent, betrayed by Uther and Madoc in the attempt to retake his homeland. Apparently, he pursued some kind of relationship with Lady Gwendolen, and the shipments of poison mushrooms began. Lady Gwendolen told her maid that she was running off with the Praetor and they left together yesterday, with the maid sworn to secrecy. Surely however, the quantity of mushrooms that had been delivered far exceeded what would be needed to poison the Count, or even the entire high table – the state of the poisoning plot remained something of a mystery. Perhaps the former Praetor had something bigger planned.

The knights informed Sir Ricus of everything they had found and Ricus was extremely grateful. He had the kitchens ensure that no mushrooms would be used in any of the dishes during the feast. The Earl was happy with the knight’s investigations, and after the wedding went off without a hitch, he showed his appreciation in his annual gifts to the knights:

  • Garedos: New Feast Clothes and 5 L to rebuild the damage the raid had done to his manor. But, he also dictated a peace between Garedos and Wilton.
  • Cedric: A Roman Cloak (due to his interest in Romany things), and a shiny new Punt.
  • Alder: A Saxon Axe, taken from a Saxon Thegn slain during raids
  • Willem: A set of ivory dice for gaming
  • Esmee: A book of Songs
  • Faith: A Saxon war banner, taken during raids
  • Luc: a jewel from Lady Ellen’s collection – to commemorate his great love of Rose
  • Elisabet: a pouch of earth from Sarum – to keep her feet grounded if she should take to sea again
  • Reynard: A Marvelous saddle to replace the one that he had lost
  • Penelope: a small mantle sized statue of Saint Erasmus – saint of sailors, for saving Petra
  • James: A vial of Beag’s water
  • Petra: First to board, first to be struck back – for her bravery – the Bow of the Sagittarii, a finely crafted Roman bow

Spectacular amounts of food were then brought out at the feast and the knights indulged. Luc, with new feasting clothing (a fumbled valet roll) was resplendent in polka dots, and quietly scoffed at all those who had worn stripes this year. Rose tried to look unconcerned with her husband’s appearance.

Main events from the feast (including an epic amount of fumbled rolls😞

  • Garedos soon fell into a sulk, unhappy that his plotted revenge with Wilton could not be enacted. 
  • Cedric got roaring drunk.
  • Luc stunned the hall with his crystal clear melancholic caroling (1 crit, at least), and then also became roaring drunk.
  • Garedos also stunned the hall with his own caroling, but not in a good way (this time fumbles to sing and courtesy!) – a horrible limerick about torture and death. He spent much of the night insulting ladies and laughing at his friends.
  • Willem spent much of the evening atoning for his boarish behaviour towards Lady Nicole of Silchester (a fumbled flirt roll), going so far as to give a family heirloom to her. By the end of the evening, his efforts had paid off and a wedding was being arranged. (I gave him another chance - crit to flirt, and she fumbled her chaste :) )
  • Esmee spent the evening in the company of her husband Tathan, putting on a fine display of dancing, until the actual formal dance during which she caused a pileup between her, Cedric and Reynard (yes - of course she fumbled the dance roll when we did the actual dance 'competition').
  • Reynard spent much of the evening courting Sir Theo, and by the end of the night, they were inseparable. To what end remains to be seen.

After the feast, the knight’s retired back to their manors for the winter, told to gather again come Pentecost to be ready to provide their service to the Earl.

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21 hours ago, BioKeith said:

Surely however, the quantity of mushrooms that had been delivered far exceeded what would be needed to poison the Count,

Surely...^^ I loved that bit. Otherwise, your players did well with the water leapers, one of the deadliest encounters of the GPC IMO.

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In the midst of all this anticipation over the 6th edition announcement, and post-Canadian-Thanksgiving food coma, our own playthrough continues. I'm starting to feel trepidations as 495 draws ever nearer. My ideas on who I want to make the villain have been starting to coalesce, but this session just threw a bit of a wrench into things.

489

 

Winter Phase

The winter saw two more weddings amongst the knights of Salisbury, but that joy was mixed with some family tragedy. Sir Reynard continued his courting of Sir Theo. She finally consented to the match, but only if Reynard could best her in a one on one fight to first blood – something she saw as most unlikely, given Reynard's reputation as more of a courtly knight. However, in a stroke of luck (otherwise known as a fumble for Theo), one of Reynard's wild swings managed to nick the young knight, and Theo, true to her word, accepted his proposal.  Sir Willem's marriage to the Lady Nicole of Silchester was sparsely attended, as both sides - Silchester and Salisbury- were not approving of the match. Nevertheless, Willem put his best foot forward and was determined to start forging some ties between the two counties.

In Imber, joy mixed with pain for Sir James, as his new wife Zoe bore him a son, but died from blood loss in childbirth. At Seend, Rose Starling also suffered a miscarriage and suffered some complications, but was fortunately able to recover.

Sir Reynard, in an attempt to comfort his sister, Rose, and his friend, James saw to it that his Steward hired some carpenters from Sarum and provided both Luc and James with magnificent new bedrooms with which to forget and move on from the horrible events of the winter. A few other knights did come to visit Luc at Seend, ostensibly to pay their respects to Luc and Rose, but all of them did impose on Luc, looking for fashion advice from Luc’s valet for the coming feast season.

Cedric’s ‘episodes’ seemed to get worse over the winter – with the onset of regular weekly blackouts. From sunset every Wednesday till sunrise of the Thursday, Cedric had no recollection of anything. He started to dread the coming of that day. His wife Violette claimed to have seen nothing, but Cedric thought he could see fear in her eyes whenever he brought it up. Then in late march, there was a murder at the village in Woodborough. It happened on a Wednesday night. Cedric told his steward to look into the matter and left for Sarum the next day.

At Sarum, Esmee’s sister had been taken on as a lady in waiting to Lady Ellen, but otherwise Esmee and Tathan had a quiet winter.

As the rest of the knights gathered at Sarum in the spring - news quickly reachem them that Uther had summoned the army to march on Cornwall. His purpose – to get Duke Gorlois to bend the knee and support Uther in his bid for high kingship, or to see Gorlois destroyed. The knights marched as part of a large force towards Cornwall. Cedric made sure to stay in a tent, along, near the outskirts of the camp, but if anything happened to him on Wednesday nights - the other knights were not aware. Some weeks later, the two armies met just across the border of Jagent. Things were shaping up for a bloody battle, with Gorlois’ ranged troops occupying the high ground on either side of a valley where the forces met. Uther and Merlin rode out to parley with Duke Gorlois, as the knights of Salisbury watched on. They saw Uther brandish Excalibur, which still caused a stir in them, but seemingly had little effect on Gorlois who stood with two bodyguards 30 yards from Uther. Straining to hear the negotiations, the knights heard Gorlois yell, ‘what’s in it for me’. Then Uther appeared ready to explode. Merlin, however, seemed to calm the king, whispering something in his ear. Uther composed himself and then shouted back his offer - ‘All the land from here to the sea to hold for the king’, which Gorlois accepted. With peace at hand, the two armies celebrated and came together for an evening of much revelry. The knights were glad to have avoided a battle and enjoyed conversing with the cornish knights, and all indulged greatly in drink.

The next day, by the time the knights were able to rouse themselves, the army of Cornwall had departed, and Uther gave orders to head north to harass the new Saxon armies of the warlords Octa and Eossa who were pillaging in Malahaute. One evening, the knights of Salisbury found themselves alone in one of the army's pavilions when a young guard entered. The knights looked up and in a flash of smoke, Merlin stood before them. He had a new job for them. He had tracked down information on another of the 13 Treasures of Britain – the Coat of Beisrydd. This is what he said.

  • The full name of Beisrydd is Padarn Beisrydd ap Tegid. The name translates as Paternus of the Scarlet Robe, son of Tegid, and the name Tegid is a pronunciation of the Roman name Tacitus. Beisrydd hails from a Roman family that was among the first to come to Britain, settle, and learn the way of the Britons rather than subjugate them, as was the general way. Beisrydd’s ancestors learned the ways of the Old Gods, married into the local clans and, although they remained Roman, were accepted as Britons and became very much like them. Beisrydd lived two hundred years ago and, accompanied by a druid of the north, went in to the Other World where he performed a great service for Arawn, the King of the Other World. Beisrydd was noted for the scarlet cloak and tunic of his family, and was known as the Prince in Scarlet: such was his service to Arawn that he was rewarded with a coat of armour impervious to rust, mortal weapons, and which will fit any person, of any size, who is deemed suitable to wear it. The Coat passed into the hands of the tribes of Cambria where it became a treasure in the care of Vortigern’s family. However, after Vortigern’s death, the coat was stolen by the Circind who claimed it rightly belonged to them. It was hidden by the Druid-Kings and is said to be well-protected. Only a handful of Circind know the coat’s true whereabouts, and they are not going to surrender it to anyone, even someone such as myself.

Merlin wanted the knights to travel to Carlion, there to meet with one Sir Alain who seemingly had knowledge of the coat’s exact whereabouts. Receiving permission from Earl Roderick to leave on Merlin's task, the knights departed. En route, they stopped at at Gloucester. It was a Wednesday. In Gloucester, they met with two strange knights - one dressed all in red, the other all in green. Brother's apparently and sons of the Duke of Gloucester and apparently incapable of conversing about anything without falling into an argument with each other. After a courtesy visit to the Duke, the twin Bannerets treated the knights of Salisbury to a night on the town (at the local tavern). At sunset, as the tavern was filled with the noises of great revelry and merrimaking, some of the knights observed Cedric seemingly stop and suddenly walk out of the bar. James and Reynard tried to follow him, but their tracking was interrupted by a drunken Garedos (2 failed hunt rolls as well as Garedos becoming drunk as a skunk!), who was trying to see where is friends were going. Cedric reappeared the next morning, seemingly unaware of his absence.

The knights continued their journey and made their way to Carlion where they were met by Sir Alain, seemingly an influential knight at court. He brought them in to the court proceedings where the knights were introduced to King Nanteleod. Taking his leave of the King, Alain brought the knights to a quiet room where they told him of their quest. Alain then told them, ‘The allegiances of the tribes of Cambria bend back and forth like wheat in the wind. I have fought with the Circind and against the Circind. Several of them bragged about this coat of mail made by the gods and how it was now a Circind prize and treasure. All of them claimed they touched it or wore it. When drunk, a couple told me where it’s meant to be. No reason not to believe them. Many’s the truth uttered through drink.’

Alain told them that the coat was being kept somewhere near the isle of Anglesea – the Circind homeland. It was decided the fastest way there was to go by sea. The knights went to Cardiff where they engaged a boat piloted by a fisherman, Nubh. Leaving their horses and squires behind, the knights departed. The seas tossed and turned – some of the knights found their sea legs, and some (Esmee) did not. The knight’s made it as far as Aberstwyth as sunset approached.

Aberstwyth, according to Nubh, was a common stop for any fisherfolk who venture this far – home to a druid who, provided with a little ale, usually blessed any travelers. Shortly after making camp, the druid, who introduced himself as Ofydd, appeared and joined them. Plied with a little ale, the druid became effusive, telling of a Christian priest who had come a couple years previous, but who had slipped on some kelp and dashed his brains out – he pointed out the cairn he had built.

After some more chit chat, Ofydd said that it was customary for him to repay the knight's small kindness by communing with Lindis and requesting calm seas. He sprawled out on his back, arms and legs spread, staring at the sky, and lapsed into a trance, calling Lindis’ name over and over. His eyes rolled back into his head and he passed into the Spirit World. Shortly after, as the knights stared at Ofydd, they heard a thump. It appeared that Cedric had passed into a trance as well. The knights observed as the druid started to spasm and fit, his lips foaming, limbs flailing violently.

In his own trance, Cedric saw a wide, grassy, peaceful place filled with buttercups and bird-song. Lindis herself appeared as a dark-haired maiden sitting by the sea strumming a harp and calming the local nature spirits with her songs. Ofydd, tall and handsome, presented her with gifts of food and drink brought from the Mortal World. Suddenly, from the north, the sky grew dark and rapidly become black. Thunderheads rolled across the waves, turning the peaceful sea into a roiling storm. Two chariots were born over the waves, bearing down on the cove. Each chariot driven by a fierce, tattooed, scarred, spiky-haired warrior, eyes blazing with fury. Spears were hurled as the chariots closed on the beach: one struck Lindis and the second struck Ofydd. The warriors laughed and spurred their chariots forward so that the wheels crushed the bodies of Lindis and Ofydd; then they wheeled and rode north, back the way they had come.

Back on the beach, Ofydd spasmed - Blood streamed from his eyes, ears and nose. He was dead, and as Luc and Willem pondered what to do next, Reynard rushed to Cedric's side - his breathing remained stable.

Luc and Willem decided to give Ofydd a proper burial and stayed up late building a proper cairn for him. After finishing it, and saying a few words, Luc and Willem saw Cedric sit bolt upright. He appeared to be talking to someone. Reaching up, Cedric appeared to draw back a knife from nothing. Coming out of his trance, Cedric claimed that the goddess Lindis had thanked them for burying her servant and gifted them this knife to take back to ‘the High Druid’. Luc quickly took the knife from Cedric and tucked it away. Alain was pensive. He warned that the spirit Ancestors of the Circind were to blame and must be behind Ofydd’s death. He expected that ‘Mawgaus and his headtakers’ would now be on alert to the knights’ approach.

In the morning, Willem convinced their captain Nubh to continue onwards. Another rough day’s journey by seas, left most of the knights heaving over the sides of the ship, but by nightfall they had reached their destination, the holy isle of the Circind. Stashing their ship in a secluded cove, the knights had a fitful sleep before heading out predawn to scout where Sir Alain thought the Coat of Beisrydd was being kept. Approaching via the beach, the knights beheld a Broch (a watchtower) on the cliff above a beach which held entrances to three caves.

Seeing nothing about, the knights entered the first cave, the walls of which were covered in runic writing – something to do with nature spirits was all they could determine. Sir Luc was brandishing the knife, and although it appeared quite plain to the other knights, Cedric could see lines of power emanating from it. At the back of the cave was a natural spring and after much, loud, debate, Luc reluctantly gave the knife back to Cedric. Cedric followed the knife to the pool and pierced its surface. The water seemed to boil and bubble and suddenly, a water spirit emerged. It seemed delighted to be talking to mortals again. It engaged the knights in a riddle game, which Sir Cedric, harkening back to his childhood, aced. The spirit said something about Cedric 'cheating because he had two souls' and then revealed a concealed trap door in the back of the cave before vanishing back into the pool.

After moving the stone, Luc led the knights down into the dark corridor that was revealed below. Apparently, the knights were still distracted by the spirit's talk of Cedric, because they were surprised by a group of Picts in a chamber at the end of the corridor. The fight was furious against the small group of heavily tattooed Picts. In the midst of the fight, Cedric drew the knife, waving it around in the air before a glazed look overcame him and he ran back down the corridor (once more, Cedric's fumbled passion roll plays right into the story). Luc was surprised by Cedric’s disappearance mid-swing and ended up losing his grip on his sword. Fortunately, Sir James and Sir Reynard proved more than a match for the picts and were able to keep any from escaping up a nearby ladder, killing the last one just as he reached it.

The Picts dealt with, Willem found a bundle of furs in a nearby shrine. Looking inside he beheld - the Coat. He quickly tucked it away and turned around, just in time to see Luc coming back in to the chamber. Luc had chased after Cedric but found that Cedric has apparently resealed the corridor from the cave above, which meant the knights would have to exit via a ladder up to the Broch above.

Steeling themselves, the knights crept up. A fierce fight began with the Pict’s in the Broch. Eventually the knights prevailed, but they heard the sounds of more picts approaching and so fled through the nearby woods back towards their boat. With the Picts hot on their heels, the knights took to sea, with no sign of where Cedric could be, now a wandering, possessed, madman with a magic knife.

 

Hope you're enjoying our tale. I especially liked the Indiana Jones-like escape sequence. Now...what to do with Cedric.

 

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With the 6th edition quickstart, we've started to debate which rules we want to incorporate. I think I'm in favour of changing to the new passion rules right away. I'm wondering how the horsemanship cap for combat skills will play. I must read through all the new rules some more. On to our session report!

490

Fall and Winter saw the knights taking care of their family business back at their manors.

At Seend, Sir Luc’s valet was confident that he had outdone himself this year, as knights from around Salisbury anxiously awaited Luc’s new feast outfit to be revealed. Even Rose did not cringe at this year’s edition (Finally, he didn't fumble his valet roll! ;)).

At Imber, there was an incident in the village - a pregnant young lady, an angry peasant. Sir James banished one of his brothers, Alvin, from Imber for committing these dalliances (as it turned out there was more than one young lady with a similiar problem).

At Allington, Sir Esmee’s estate was still plagued by groups of large ravens that seemed to be watching her.  She had had a new Mews constructed with hopes that she could hunt the ravens, but three especially large ones easily took down any Falcons that were sent against them, and now the Falcons would have nothing to do with preying on the ravens. Also it became known that 'the Arbiter' – the firebrand preacher that had been plaguing Emsee's estate - was actually Sir Reynard’s cousin. Reynard and Esmee together built a Hermitage near Ford manor with the hope that the Arbiter would settle there. Reynard also took possession of a relic – the cross on which Saint Andrew had been crucified, which he had procured via a Byzantine merchant. The cross was now featured at the pilgrimage site at Ford – with the hope that it would be further enticement for his cousin to come to Ford and take charge of looking after it.

In the spring, when Earl Roderick returned from the royal court at Warwick, he passed on Uther’s message. There was to be war this year! Uther intended to move against the saxon kings, Octa and Eossa (The knights had heard rumours that Eossa was an actual giant). The Saxons had been pillaging Malahaute the previous year. Octa was said to have a magic axe from the continent and was moving south to claim Excalibur as a present for his brother.

Uther ordered the army to gather at Lincoln. When assembled, the knights had never seen a greater force – 2000 British knights and 5000 foot. However, the Saxons had also come prepared with 10000 warriors – and outside of Lincoln, the two armies met. Giant Ravens circled above the Saxon army and chants of ‘Wotan..Wotan..Wotan’ could be heard. Merlin busied himself with some kind of ritual, and before the armies clashed, several large eagles dive bombed and destroyed the ravens, bringing woe and bad omens to the Saxons.

With that, the charge was ordered. The knights were part of the centre of the army, with Uther and Earl Roderick. The first charge saw them thunder through the front ranks of the Saxons, but the Saxons soon recovered, and the knights found themselves in the midst of fierce combat in the killing zone. Fighting off Saxons two at a time, the knights were harried from all sides, taking many wounds before regrouping.

Sir Reynard was unhorsed and knocked unconscious with his squire able to bring him back to the medical tents. Sir Willem was also unhorsed and became lost in the melee so Sir Penelope was dispatched by the Earl to assume command. Penelope stood in front of the knights, overwhelmed by this sense of command (Yup - fumbled passion attempt for her battle skill). Her mind snapped as she looked out over the vast amounts of Saxons and the chaos of battle. She took one look back at her troops before riding off obviously unhinged forcing Sir Esmee to assume command. She led the knights of Salisbury forward once more.

Sir Garedos was brought low by vicious blows from a pair of Saxons. As the fighting ebbed, none could say if he would survive to make it to the medical tents. Sir Luc knew that he must act. And yet, despite his most vigorous, yet somewhat unorthodox first aiding efforts (Fumbled first aid roll), Garedos could not be revived (and that's how you go from 1 HP to -2HPs :( ). Luc was sure that none could have given a better effort at saving Garedos. Garedos’ squire returned with his body to the medical tents.

Sir James too was nearly felled by an accumulation of axe wounds, but bravely stayed fighting.

Many of the other knight's squires became lost in the chaos of battle, but as Luc was knocked down, Rose Starling, his wife and squire, rushed forward to face the peril together with him. Luc and Rose fought well in tandem, keeping the eschelle of knights from being overwhelmed by their enemies. They even managed to capture a wealthy saxon warrior for ransom.

Finally, late in the afternoon, hope dawned. Just when Duke Gorlois was unhorsed and seemed destined to fall to Eossa the giant, Sir Penelope, riding a magnificent charge, rode in from nowhere to lay the giant low. The Saxons of the left flank began to collapse.

The knights, led by Esmee, flanked the center force of Saxons and found themselves close to King Octa and his bodyguards who were desperately trying to restore order to the saxon forces. Ordering the charge, Sir Esmee held off three of the bodyguards with Sir James, while Sir Luc and Sir Willem layed low King Octa with their furious charge.

With that, the Saxons turned to flee and the day was won. The celebrations were boisterous, despite the pain of the casualties suffered and the friends that had found a glorious death. The British army returned to Lincoln castle for a great feast.

The great victory feast that followed the triumph on the fields outside of Lincoln was spectacular. The entire castle was turned over for the feast, with makeshift tables setup all throughout the bailey for the army. Those who had survived the battle were in a raucous mood and the ale was flowing fast and freely. Not all of the knights of Salisbury were as indulgent, perhaps remembering their lost comrade.

Willem, Luc and Esmee were invited into the main hall with King Uther and the rest of the nobility, while Garedos’ brother (It's always good to have a backup ready!) - Gared - along with James, and Sir Alder (Cedric’s brother) feasted with the army. Sir Reynard remained unconscious in the medical tents, a little the worse for wear, but having received successful Chirugery from the attending doctors.

The feast in the great hall began with a raucous telling of Octa’s death by Sir Willem, which brought the assembled nobility to their feet and caused the floor to become awash with spilled ale. Sir Luc told his own version of events, much to everyone’s continued delight. Merlin then rose and the hall quieted as he told his own tale of the battles:

  • The battle raged, the Saxons fumed. I could sense the foul magic of their Laece’s trying to summon the White Dragon. Eossa was like a great engine of destruction. Bravely Duke Gorlois and his knights were facing him. Things looked grim, but just when I had lost hope, inspiration appeared.”

Sir Penelope then entered the hall at Merlin’s beckoning and went to stand by his side to a great cheer from the gathered throng

  • “A knight appeared in my tent practically glowing – like a lightning bolt. And like a lightning bolt, I shot Sir Penelope at Eossa’s heart (Another great cheer rose from the crowd) and felled was the giant, and so the Saxon’s back was broken.”

At this, mad cheers erupted from even the most stoic of nobility. Duke Gorlois himself then embraced Penelope and gave her a seat next to him at the high table.

Out in the bailey, the knights engaged in much frivolity. Sir James began flirting with Lady Sarah of Silchester, whereas Sir Gared seemed to have inherited his brother’s ability at flirting and so had much less success. Sir Willem cast about for any possible news of Sir Cedric, but the gathered knights had no further news.

In the main hall, more entertainment was provided, in the nature of a bevy of beautiful noble women, led by Duke Gorlois’ wife, the Duchess Ygraine – a beauty beyond compare. After delivering a most lyrical poem dedicated to Uther’s victory, the ladies departed, but not without Luc noting Uther’s leering stare at the duchess, and Gorlois’ scowl at Uther.

The feast concluded and the knights gathered the next day in the company of Earl Roderick. Because of the gallantry of the knights of Salisbury the Earl explained that Uther had awarded them all majestic new warhorses - large warhorses known as Chargers that few had seen up close up until now. The Earl then offered the knights the choice of accompanying himself and Uther on the King’s progress to Malahaute, or in joining Sir Madoc in retaliatory raids on the now undefended northern saxon kingdoms.

Before leaving, Sir Luc was approached by one of Duchess Ygraine’s handmaidens, who pleaded with Luc to help keep the Duchess safe from Uther’s advances, to which Luc agreed.

The knights who went on the raids stayed until autumn, plundering the defenseless saxon villages. The knights with Uther went on a victory lap throughout Logres with the King, who as the autumn drew closer began releasing his vassals to return to their own counties, all except Duke Gorlois and Duchess Ygraine. Sir Luc and Sir Alder also remained with the King’s party as they returned to London.

In London, the winds of winter came early, and one night in the midst of a sudden snowstorm, Luc was again approached by Ygraine's handmaiden. She confided that the Cornish were preparing to depart – a violation of Uther’s hospitality – and begged Luc to aid them, by distracting Uther. Luc agreed and went to the main hall where he shared a long-winded toast to Uther. When he was done, aides were finally able to interrupt with the news that Duke Gorlois and the Cornish had fled. Uther raged and dispatched men to capture the Duke. Sir Alder led the party to track them down and succeeded in doing so despite the driving snow. A sole figure turned to confront him, a woman who’s face he could not make out in the storm. She raised her hands and the storm grew ever stronger and the Cornish party vanished. Sir Alder returned slightly frostbitten to the castle to tell of the Duke’s escape. Uther’s rage seemed ready to explode when Sir Luc confronted him and eloquently pleaded for Uther to see sense (I let him make an orate roll to dig himself out of the King's anger and he critted!) – the King stormed off, and would only see his closest advisors for the rest of the winter.

As Sir Alder and Sir Luc struggled through the snow to return to their manors, the rest of the knights stayed safe inside their own estates. It was at Ford that a party came one night in the midst of a snowstorm. It was Duke Gorlois and his party. Sir Reynard offered them hospitality and resupply. The Cornish departed early the next morning for their home in Tintagel, and it was not until Spring that Reynard heard the details of Gorlois' departure from London.

And so the winter came, with the winds of war blowing in cold from the Duchy of Cornwall.

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On 10/14/2020 at 4:50 AM, BioKeith said:

I especially liked the Indiana Jones-like escape sequence. Now...what to do with Cedric.

Poor Cedric. As usual, I liked the 13 treasures of Britain bit.

On 10/19/2020 at 8:03 PM, BioKeith said:

The British army returned to Lincoln castle for a great feast.

The whole battle was epic. Your players suffered, I see ^^

On 10/19/2020 at 8:03 PM, BioKeith said:

Before leaving, Sir Luc was approached by one of Duchess Ygraine’s handmaidens, who pleaded with Luc to help keep the Duchess safe from Uther’s advances, to which Luc agreed.

Why Luc is helping Cornwall? I didn't understand his motivations.

On 10/19/2020 at 8:03 PM, BioKeith said:

Sir Luc confronted him and eloquently pleaded for Uther to see sense (I let him make an orate roll to dig himself out of the King's anger and he critted!) – the King stormed off, and would only see his closest advisors for the rest of the winter.

He was lucky to crit, to be sure. As Uther is both vengeful and arbitrary, I fear for his future. Anyway, good campaign.

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5 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Why Luc is helping Cornwall? I didn't understand his motivations.

Luc had generated an amor for Ygraine and I had him roll against that when the Handmaiden came to him. The player's haven't had any real hatred of Cornwall, and in fact you might recall that the knights of Salisbury and Cornwall all partied together in 489 when Gorlois and Uther came to terms. Apart from that, I think most of the players are struggling with their support of Uther because of the High King's behaviour (apart from Alder, whose rolls left him oblivious to Uther's lust). Luc was just the one that acted based on his personal honour and ideas of knighthood over top of any allegiance he felt to the King.

I like this aspect of the GPC (at least my version of it) - that Uther is holding the realm together against the Saxon threat, but at the same time he is a deeply flawed misogynistic character. It will help draw out the contrast when Arthur comes on the scene).

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Another fun one! But first, I forgot to introduce our newest knight/player (someone brand new to roleplaying who wanted to join our group for a few sessions)

Sir Garedos (and his cousin Sir Gared): Sir Garedos was a household knight and apprentice of Sir Amig - a zealot who was determined to stamp out paganism in Salisbury. He dispatched Garedos to keep an eye on Sir Willem and Sir Cedric after the discovery of the buried roman villa at Sir Willem's estate

491

The Rites of Spring

The year began with Sir Luc sending out invitations to his friends to attend a Feast marking the Spring Solstice. (I love it when players come up with their own things!)1868221062_FeastduLuc.thumb.jpg.38e855f62ca53b1fdcd778f884e6415e.jpg

Perhaps it was the excitement around the pagan rites to come, but for whatever reason, the late winter saw several…complications... to a few of the knight’s relationships. Sir Esmee and Sir Luc both having dalliances (The old 'Relations' roll on the Winter events table) leading up to…the Rites of Spring at Seend Manor.

Luc's feast was the talk of Salisbury. Luc's friends were only some of those gathering for the celebration, along with Earl Roderick, Sir Hightower, Sir Percyvallus, Sir Alain, Sir Robyn, Sir Gerveskin, Sir Awli, Sir Gadwich, and a few other eligible knights and ladies. Sir Hightower made it known early on that he was only here as a favour to Earl Roderick and a chance to see for himself the poor quality of Salisbury’s newest knights.

The first evening saw those who so desired, gather near the natural springs that lay in the woods near the manor, and join in frivolities lasting till early the next morning. Sir Esmee stood by observing in a disapproving manner, perhaps angered by the continued presence of Ravens wherever she travelled.

One surprise did emerge as King Pellinore emerged from the woods, seeking a small respite from his hunt for the Questing Beast, and decided to avail himself of the hospitality of Luc’s manor.

The second day saw the contest for Lance in the lists. The various knights were paired off and ‘jousted’ to determine who was the best spear in Salisbury. Most of the knights crashed out of the contest early, much to the delight of Sir Hightower, who did nothing to disguise his opinion of the skills of the young knights of Salisbury. 

Sir Faith did manage to acquit herself well, but unfortunately, her blows grew slightly wilder, as she downed Sir Gerveskan with a painful blow, and then skewered Sir Percyvalus’ horse (perhaps feeling self-conscious from Sir Hightower’s constant goading).

Unfortunately for the knights, they were unable to say anything to contradict Sir Hightower, as he proved to be the winner of the joust. The sound of his laughter grated on the knights and perhaps kept them from truly enjoying the event.

Another surprise was the appearance of Merlin, who barged into Sir Reynard’s tent demanding to know Cedric’s whereabouts. After dressing, Sir Reynard’s attempts to make Merlin aware that he should not just barge into someone's tent seemed lost on deaf ears. The knights gathered and made Merlin aware of the latest information they had on Cedric’s whereabouts (which wasn’t much). Merlin promised to do some more looking into these rumours of a new Pict leader in northern Cambria and see if they might be connected to Cedric’s disappearance. He seemed to brush off Esmee’s concerns with the Ravens.

The third evening saw the actual feast take place. The feast started with a fashion contest. Luc confidently strutted out his valet’s newest creation, a somewhat more modest affair than previous years (A mere success for his valet. Everyone at the table was dissappointed, having grown use to a fumble on this roll :) ). Sir Esmee committed the most flagrant of faux pas, her outfit being the cutting edge of fashion…for the year 490 – a year too late! (Aha - there was our fumble - on her APP roll)  Sir Reynard stole the show, strutting confidently in his feast clothes, despite the disapproving stares and comments from Sir Hightower. Sir Theo delighted in her husband’s appearance.

The feast itself was a lively affair, the knight’s flirting merrily with the serving girls and getting up to other frivolities. Sir Willem regaled the crowd with the tale of Octa’s fall, while Sir Luc wowed everyone with a beautiful harp tune that he had feverishly practiced throughout the wintertime for this occasion. Sir Hightower was asked to be the guest carver, and badly hacked up the roast goose – exclaiming loudly about the poor quality of the meat. Sir Luc had just about had enough of Hightower’s boorishness and it seemed a challenge was about to happen, when the main doors of the hall were flung open and a peasant walked in with his daughter – her clothes covered in blood. The feast came to a sudden halt.

 

The Wael-Wolf

The girl, a local sheep herder named Oswen, claimed to have seen a ‘wael-wolf’ at Canter’s farm. Sir Luc pulled the two into a nearby chamber away from his guests, where he talked to them. Luc sent for the local priest for any information he might have on these local superstitions. The priest spoke of the locals belief in the wælwulf, a mythical wolf historically worshipped by several of the Pagan tribes in the Severn Valley (Somerset), at least before Christianity arrived. The tribes sacrificed infants to the creature in dark rituals to slake their god’s hunger. When St. Colfeadd of Mercia came, he struck down the Pagan altars and burned the sacred groves, proving to the Pagans that the Christian God was the one, true God and that the Pagans’ deities were powerless in God’s presence.

Luc returned to his unsettled guests and apologized. He quietly called several of his friends over and asked them to investigate immediately, while he remained to look after his remaining guests. Sir James arrived with a summons for Earl Roderick from Uther, so the Earl took his leave with a stern look for Luc. While Sir Luc remained at Seend, Sir Esmee (along with Sirs Alder, Willem, James and Reynard) went to investigate. Alder, having enjoyed Sir Luc’s feast to the fullest, was seriously drunk. He insisted on leading the hunt, but promptly passed out after clambering on to his horse. His squire dutifully led him on as Sir Reynard took over leading the hunt.

Sir Reynard proved to be an able hunter and was able to follow the girl’s tracks back to Canter’s farm, about an hour from the manor on the edge of Blakemoor Wood, just as dusk was setting in. The farmhouse was a scene of horror. In the house, what must have been Canter was found with his chest caved in, his wife had been torn apart by some great beast, and a child’ cradle overturned – with no sign of the child.

Outside, Willem was attempting an old family cure for drunkenness on Alder (repeated dunkings in a water trough) when he heard labored breathing from a nearby lean-to. When Sir Willem approached, Canter’s teenage son burst forth crying out about the wael-wolf and his brother Inric. Willem sent the boy back to Seend in the company of his oldest squire, and the knights set off in pursuit – riding through the night.

Tracking by torchlight at night was slow and difficult, but the knights persisted. The tracks led through the forest towards Somerset. With the tracks growing more and more muddy, Sir Esmee perceived a light slightly off the trail. Investigating it with Sir Willem, she can to a clearing within which she saw a huge tree, adorned with thousands of infant’s bones. Sir Willem, however, could see nothing in the clearing and looked strangely at Sir Esmee. To Esmee, a strange old crone then appeared and walking slowly up to Esmee, she spoke with her sadly about 'her children'. Suddenly she grabbed Sir Esmee by her arms – at which point she had a vision of two large wolves ripping apart a Roman army. The crone then disappeared. Willem saw Esmee fall over in a faint, but she proved to be none the worse for wear as they made their way back to the group.

The knights camped before continuing to follow the tracks into Somerset in the morning. Eventually, they came upon a strange, decrepit village. In the center of the village was a tall, tapering pole with a mirror on top, focused on a strange stone alter beneath it. The knight’s rode into the village and were confronted by a group of villagers - almost primitive in their appearance. In a heavily accented tongue, they disavowed any knowledge of wolves or a missing infant – but while they were talking, the cries of a baby were heard. The knights forced their way past the peasants and around a nearby building, coming across a giant wolf suckling a human infant. It growled and got up to attack. Sir Esmee, perhaps because of the vision she received, was alerted as a second wolf attempted to circle behind the knights.

In a fierce fight, Willem and James fought one wolf, Alder and Esmee the other, while Reynard went to see to the child. Strange tentacles burst from the wolves, grabbing and slowly crushing Willem and Alder. James and Esmee, inspired by their passions were able to wound the wolves, but those wounds seemed to be healing themselves. Sir Reynard, growing desperate, had an idea. Shedding his mail coat, he, climbed up the pole to put his fist through the mirror at the top – at which point the wolves seemed to feel the full effect of the wounds upon them – and the fight was soon won.

With the fight over, and the villagers either subdued or hiding, the knight’s made for home. They brought the child, as well as a cart with the bodies of the two wolves, back to Seend, with thoughts of telling Sir Amig in hopes he might be able to do something about cleansing the village. Awaiting them at Seend, however, was a call to muster at Sarum. Uther was marching to war with Duke Gorlois in Cornwall.

 

 

To Cornwall

With Luc freed from his duties as host, a fierce argument broke out between he and Sir Willem regarding what was to be done with Carter's teenage son, Elwand and the baby, Inric. Luc was adamant that Elwand should be locked up for everyone’s safety. Willem thought this was crazy and in the end dispatched his squire to take Elwand back to Grafton where he was to be put to work in the manor. The baby was to remain at Seend where Rose would remain as well. With that decided, the knights answered the muster and reported to Sarum.

There Earl Roderick greeted them and told them Uther’s army was on the way, ready to march to Cornwall and attack Duke Gorlois for violating Uther’s hospitality at Christmas. With reports that more saxons had landed in the south, the Earl was loathe to dispatch all of his forces on Uther’s fancy and so determined to leave the footmen behind to guard the county while only the knights would join Uther. In other rumours, it was learned that there had been an assassination attempt on Prince Madoc (by poisoning) but he had not taken a fatal dose.

Madoc and Sir Brastias arrived soon afterwards, as vanguards of Uther’s army. They greeted the Earl and the knights warmly, urging them to quickly deal with Cornwall so they could turn to face the true threat - the saxons. Sir Madoc bore warning of Uther’s rage at Gorlois’ escape and his call to find any that had aided him, branding them traitor.  However, none knew of Reynard’s hospitality to the Duke, despite Gared having heard rumours. No one spoke up, leaving Reynard shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

Soon Uther arrived with the army and urged everyone to press on, with stragglers to catch up as they may. At the Cornish border it became apparent that Gorlois had pulled his forces back, to Tintagel on the coast (for his wife and treasure) and to Terribel, 10 miles inland (for the Duke and the bulk of his forces). In a council of war with the Earl, the knight’s decided to go with Uther to the coast, leaving Madoc and Duke Ulfius of Silchester to go inland.

The siege of Tingagel proved a waste of time for the knights - the fortress being nearly impregnable by virtue of its natural features. It was built on top of an island with cliffs all around and could only be approached from the mainland by a natural stone causeway that spanned the water, wide enough for only 3 or 4 men, with troops subject to missile fire the whole way. The knights watched a few assaults across the causeway, all of which ended in disaster. Even after getting across the causeway, the castle's walls and gates stopped would be attackers. Uther set up some trebuchets that hurled rocks and burning balls of pitch against the walls, but to little effect. The knights were bored. They watched King Uther rage in his command post.

One afternoon, Merlin arrived in the camp and had a secret conference with Uther. The knights of Salisbury were on guard duty that night and (apart from Reynard who had passed out at his post) saw the king and Merlin silently depart from the royal tent and leave the camp entirely. Luc, looked around and seeing as he wasn't observed, discretely followed the pair as they went to a nearby sacred stone. Luc could see Merlin raise his arms and begin to chant. A great thick fog formed at sea and moved in like a huge wall to envelop the castle, the causeway, and the entire besieging camp and standing stones.

Some of the more aware knights shortly thereafter heard the hollow clattering of hooves, the faraway shout of “The duke! The duke! Open the gate!” Some remained awake and before dawn heard the duke depart again, riding from the castle and becoming lost in the fog. For those knights who retired, the night was cold and long with strange sounds intruding into a sleep troubled by dreams of dragons and blood. In the morning, messengers came with news both good and bad. The good was that Duke Gorlois had been killed and Castle Terrabil taken in a fierce night battle. The bad was that Prince Madoc, the son of the king, had also been killed in the fighting. When Uther heard the news, he glanced sharply at Merlin, who as always remained entirely impassive. Uther, hard as iron, took on the visage of a man who had lost a son; he departed from the public eye to weep in private. Merlin showed no emotion but appeared exhausted.

The Next Day: The body of the duke was brought to Tintagel. Under flag of truce, it was borne across the causeway and taken into the castle. Even across the straits, the keening and weeping of those inside was easily heard. After a day, the king sent Sir Brastias, under flag of truce, to the castle. He was admitted. Some time later he returned, with word for the king that the duchess had agreed to surrender. Uther was triumphant. The king announced that justice had been done: The traitor was dead and now peace and unity had returned to the land of Britain. The duchess came forth with her household, all dressed in mourning black, and surrendered to the king, who placed her into his protective custody.

As the duchess' party was being led away, the knights saw one of the handmaidens have a short exchange with Sir Luc. Luc was left feeling chastised and confused as to what he could have done differently.

Uther appointed keepers of the castles he had conquered, but not another Duke of Cornwall. He appointed Sir Thebert, a notable knight from Marlboro, as the temporary warden of Terrabil. Uther also, with permission Earl Roderick, appointed the young knights of Salisbury, along with some others, as the temporary garrison at Castle Terrabil. Uther announced that he was going to remain at Tintagel, at least until the funeral for his son. As the army packed up to leave, messengers brought word that the Saxon King Ælle had conquered another city in the south, Pevensey. After starving the residents for weeks they assaulted the walls and slew everyone. Men, women, and children had been sacrificed to Wotan, the bloody Saxon war god. Uther accepted the news, but it did not seem to make him particularly unhappy.

In Mid-Summer – the Royal Funeral for the prince was held at Stonehenge. Many nobles, including Earl Roderick, and many of the knights came to pay respects. Madoc was buried at Stonehenge, near his uncle Aurelius Ambrosius.

Shortly after, the king announced his impending marriage to the duchess Ygraine, only a couple of months after the death of her husband; many courtiers consider it a clever and wise move on her part to secure the friendship and protection of the king. The preparations for the wedding were lavish and costly, and though many warriors complained that it was time to attack King Ælle to keep him from consolidating his victory, the king laughingly brushed them off and prepared for the wedding, which occured in the late summer.

 

Uther's Wedding

At the wedding feast, the knights of Salisbury were determined to enjoy themselves, no matter what their personal feelings about Uther were.

A singing contest was held, with Reynard and Gared holding a lovely duet, only to be outshone by Willem who sang a soulful ballad to honour those who had died in the summer's battles. (I've never seen so many successes at Singing!) But then Luc stepped up and delivered a beautiful rendition of a song in his countertenor voice – pointedly directed at Uther – about the valorous and just nature of knights (insert record scratch here…). Uther did not look impressed.

After more feasting, guests were invited to play their harps (or other instruments they might have brought). Sir Luc and Sir Alder both snapped strings on their harps and stalked off disappointed. Sir James  could not hit a note and also stalked off in a fit of melancholy afterwards.

Ale flowed as the feast continued, although Sir Gared did not indulge. In between courses, Gared was approached by the King. Uther again sought out information about who might have helped Duke Gorlois escape, but Gared had only heard rumours, not a specific name, so Reynard’s identity remained hidden from Uther. (Lucky for Luc that Gared keeps failing his intrigue roll when he looks into this)

Next up, knights were invited up for a telling of high tales. Sir Reynard found his tongue tied and despite gallantly trying to tell a story about Uther’s heroic fights with the Saxons, he became tongue tied and stumbled through it. Uther was unimpressed and Reynard stalked off in embarrassment afterwards.

As the remaining knights dug into the next course, one of the guests started choking on some food. Fortunately, Sir James was seated nearby and leapt in to try and solve the situation. Unfortunately, James’ methods were not terribly effective, and in fact seemed to be having the opposite effect, as the guest continued to turn blue, now while also being pummeled on the bck by James. James was shoved out of the way by Sir Esmee in the nick of time and the food dislodged. James fell into a bout of melancholy and stalked off – leaving the feast and immediately returning to Terribel.

Sir Esmee found herself the 'belle of the ball' after her heroics and even earned a toast from Earl Roderick and King Uther himself at the end.

With that, the remaining knights also returned to castle Terrabil, and their assignment – Garrison Duty!

 

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Another new player/knight joined us. Sir Archer - a young knight from a Salisbury family of some reknown (a nephew of Sir Hightower). Young and eager to prove his mettle in battle.

492

The knights spent the winter as part of the garrison at Castle Terrabil in Cornwall. Sir Esmee received word from home that husband Tathan had been managing the estate just fine without her, in fact expanding it and making a greater profit than they ever had before.

Sir Luc and Sir Reynard found themselves seeking excuses to visit Tintagel in hopes of catching a glimpse of Ygraine. However, once there - Luc only succeeded in angering Ygraine’s handmaiden even further. She made it clear that she blames Luc for his failure to protect her Lady, and he was the recipient of many hateful glances during his visit.

Sir Alder spent his time in Cornwall wooing a recently widowed Cornish lady and was set to petition for her hand in marriage.

The Freshly knighted Sir Archer had been sent to bolster the garrison at Terrabil by Earl Roderick, although he was disappointed that he had missed any of the actual fighting.

At Christmas, gifts of new feast clothing were given to all of the knights by Sir Thebert, castellan of the castle and their temporary commander. Sir Archer stood out at the christmas feast – amazing everyone with his crystal clear counter tenor at the caroling.

In the spring, King Uther held court at Tintagel and most of the knights were there to here him proclaim “Perhaps it is time to slow down for a little while, to let the land and the people have peace. War is not everything, and it is a time for families. I have sent for great men to marry my step-daughters, and this will forward the cause of peace and love.”

This did not sit well with all the knights, as they wanted to do something about the Saxon incursions from the southern shore, but Uther brushed off these concerns. Queen Ygraine was visibly pregnant and due to give birth early in the summer and this seemed to consume all of Uther’s attention. Other rumors swirled at court:

  • None knew who it was that had slain Gorlois, but some say it was Penelope who had done the deed, after Gorlois had killed Madoc and led the charge to storm the castle, before vanishing again. (Penelope is still a GM character at this point, having succumbed to madness last year. I thought adding to her reputation from the battle of Lincoln appropriate)
  • Uther was said to be looking to marry off Ygraine’s daughters to northern kings
  • Sir Alain reported that King Canan of Estregales had been beset by fierce Pictish attacks from the north. Canan might not be in a position to support Uther until that situation had been dealt with.
  • And a Saxon named Wiglaf is said to have taken over from Octa – his kingdom now powered with the forces of dark Saxon magic behind it. Perhaps Octa would have been better.

In early June, at least some of the rumours proved to be true. The knights all attended the double wedding of Ygraine’s oldest daughter – Margawse – to King Lot of Lothian (the most powerful of the northern kings), and Elaine, the middle child, to King Nentres – one of King Lot’s vassals. Ygraine’s youngest, Morgan, remained brooding throughout the ceremonies.

After the wedding, the knights were tasked with continuing their garrison duties at Terrabil. Their first assignment – patrol. Packing up to leave, Merlin appeared and pulled Sir Esmee aside, telling her that he may have found a ‘cure’ for Cedric – something involving waters from the ‘4thtset of pools in Bath’. Since their patrol was bringing them near Somerset, he asked if they could attempt to procure this. Sir Esmee agreed, but in asking around, all that anyone had heard of Bath was that there were only 3 healing pools.

On patrol, under Sir Willem’s lead, the knights proceeded uneventfully along the border with Somerset and meeting the road north, struck out for Bath. Rounding a hill, they came upon two portly monks, who after recovering from their exertions, asked for the knight’s aid for a problem back at their abbey, The knights accepted and were led back to Mulchelney Abbey – 2nd oldest abbey in Somerset. On arrival it was apparent that all was not well – new construction scaffolding covered the walls outside the abbey, but it was shaking and screams of terror could be heard. The knights rushed forward only to find a most strange sight – a small (4ft), but powerful creature was shaking the scaffolding fiercely while two dozen men held on for their lives. Sir James and Sir Esmee immediately recognized it as a Spriggan – a type of mischievous earth fae. Sir Luc, Sir Reynard and Sir Alder set about fighting the creature. Sir Esmee and Sir Archer did their best to distract it, while Sir Willem and Sir James went to see what they could do for the workmen.

While the creature did not seem to be damaged by the knight’s blows, it did at least stop shaking the scaffolding, and picked up a fallen log to swing as a club at the knights. The spriggan grew progressively larger in size as it fought. A mighty blow from the creature felled Sir Alder, crumpling him to the ground just as his eyes glazed over with madness from confronting the beast.  Seeing that he could do no damage, Sir Luc switched tactics. First he tried ‘dirt to the face’ and then ‘denari to the face’ trying to distract the spriggan. Indeed, it did seem enticed as a handful of shiny coins went bouncing around. Eventually it stalked off into the woods before disappearing.

Meanwhile, James and Willem were doing their best to stabilize the scaffolding, allowing some of the workmen to clamber down and escape. They were joined by Luc, who added his ‘significant’ strength to holding the scaffolding. Reynard clambered up, using a rope to try and secure some of the scaffolding just before the entire structure collapsed. Fortunately only 2 workers were left in the collapse – 22 had been saved. The monks crowded around cheering (and tending to the wounded Alder, and the dead workers). The Abbot arrived and introduced himself as Constantine. He insisted the knights stay for a feast in their honor, where he would tell them of the Abbey’s troubles.

The knights found the abbey to be strangely opulent, and the feast proved to be beyond what many nobles could have provided. So too the monks proved oddly indulgent, partaking in much libations and flirting with the many pretty serving girls (“there to earn an honest penny” according to Abbot Constantine.) Eventually, the knights withdrew to a quiet office where the Abbot filled them in about the abbey’s problem with the Spriggen. The Abbot conjectured that the new construction was taking place on the creature’s den, but that was no matter – 'no unholy creature would stand in the way of progress', so he asked the knights help in destroying the creature. To do so would require a holy sword, and the Abbot pointed the knights at the resting place of Saint Octavius, who was well known to have wielded one. The knights, though suspicious, decided to follow up on this rumour of a holy sword, and journeyed to the Saint’s tomb, joined by Sir Tedes, a knight who had been sent to find out what had happened to the knights, who were now off of their patrol route.

At the Saint's tomb, a most amazing experience happened, as a blinding white light appeared at the tomb entrance and a disembodied voice calling itself “Jezrael, servant of the Lord Almighty and protector of the mortal remains of St Octavius” called out. Sir Reynard was overcome and fled the tomb. Sir James and Sir Esmee pressed onwards and were admitted to the Saint’s resting place. Sir Tedes pushed through as well, but was quickly thrust out by some force for speaking blasphemously. Inside, the tomb was empty save the desiccated body of the saint – an empty armor stand and no sword. Jezrael told the knights that another knight had come the previous month and taken the armor and the sword of the saint. The only clue being a description of the heraldry which made it plain that it was a knight of Silchester who had the relics now.

At this point, Sir Esmee thought that they could not afford a further detour and the knights decided to pursue their other mission – the cure for Cedric in Bath. Arriving in Bath, the knights were shown around by the friendly Brother Barados who introduced them to Brother Arnauld – keeper of the scriptorium. Opening up about the reason for their trip, Brother Arnauld looked about and ensured no one else was listening before he told the knights of the ‘Greek Baths’, hidden beneath the chapel hall. With Sir James distracting Abbot Sinclair (by requesting him to hear a confession), the other knights descended through a trap door they discovered and followed a long spiral staircase down to the Greek Baths. There, as the knights entered, a terrible shadowy form arose, and the knights engaged in a fierce fight. Upon destroying the creature, the altar in the middle of the room cracked, revealing a recipe – perhaps for the cure, they hoped? The knights filled their waterskins, but noticed a strange black tarry liquid running from the shattered altar that they could not stop from entering the baths – turning the water black as well. The knights retreated back up to the Abbey.

The next day, the knights awoke to a commotion. Inquiring what had happened, some frantic monks informed them that there was a problem with the baths. Indeed, it appeared that the main three baths had all now succumbed to the same black tarry substance the knights had seen in the Greek Baths, leaving a perplexed crowd of monks looking at them. Sir Willem confided in Brother Arnauld what had happened, and a shaken looking Arnauld advised them to leave, so the knights departed to finish their patrol.

Back in Cornwall, with the patrol finally winding down and the knights in the vicinity of Tintagel and Terribel, who should the knights encounter, but none other than Merlin. He entreated them to follow him and led them on a small trail into the woods. He left them in a clearing, telling them that he expected to return shortly, but he thought he would be pursued. He wanted the knights to delay his pursuers. A few hours later, with Reynard nodding off in the saddle, Merlin did indeed reappear, carrying some small package. He strode off into the woods, and was shortly followed by a group of pursuing knights. The knights of Salisbury blocked the pursuers ‘in the name of the king’. Unfortunately, it turned out the pursuers were led by Sir Brastias, the king’s bodyguard. They claimed that Merlin had kidnapped the king’s infant son and labeled the knight’s as traitors for delaying them. Sir Willem then directed them off down a path, but not the one taken by Merlin and Brastias and his men thundered off, leaving the knights to make camp.

The knight’s completed their patrol, and at the advice of Sir Thebert, they sent word of what had occurred to Earl Roderick. A few days later, a summons arrived from Tintagel. The knights were being charged with treason and were ordered to appear for trial. At Tintagel, the knight’s were greeting icily by Sir Brastias, and placed under house arrest. Sir Elad, having been sent by Earl Roderick, arrived and questioned the knights – seeking to help in their defense. The Arbiter – now one of Uther’s religious advisors was next to question the knights – spending extra time with Tedes who had sent a note describing the knight’s actions, which he saw as questionable. The next day, the trial began.

Everything was done formally and legally. Court opened and Uther was flanked by Duke Ulfius. Standing to his right was the Arbiter; and, on the left, Queen Ygraine dressed in mourning black. Sir Brastias stated his charge - Treason. Uther asked on what basis: Brastias cited his experience. He did not lie in the least, but described exactly what happened to him from his own perspective. When everyone had spoken their peace, Queen Ygraine was heard to whisper to the King, “They stole my baby. Kill them.”

“Soon enough, my queen. We must follow procedures” was Uther’s reply

Sir Elad took over the defense and with flowery rhetoric and legal jargon he stated that the knights were innocent because they had been enchanted by Merlin. And wizards, as all know 'move in mysterious ways'.

With the court looking decidedly against the knights, the Arbiter stepped forward to speak. He said that in his investigations he determined that the knights were, without question, all ensorcelled by the magic of Merlin. He went on to say that the king had been wrong to depend upon that 'son of a devil' for advice at all, and that if the king did not purge his court of Merlin’s magic, it would surely bring only ruin to the king, his family, and to all of Britain. “Cast out the son of the devil from your court,” said the Arbiter, “Cast him out of Britain!”

Everyone looked ominously at Uther. All was silent except for Ygraine whispering “Kill them”. Finally, Uther spoke.  “I know these men,” he said. “They have helped me and Britain greatly in the past, and are an honor to their liege lord Earl Salisbury. And I know this wiseman, the Arbiter, who has traveled all over the wide world. Let Justice reign. Here is the word of the King of Logres. These men are innocent of treason. They, and all with like charges, are dismissed and ordered to see Bishop Dubricus for blessing and purification from pagan taint. Furthermore, this court determines that Merlin the Enchanter was behind this, and he is hereby condemned to death by this court as an exile and traitor to the crown, who has willingly and knowingly harmed the throne. Let this news be sent forth to all the lords and guilds for reading in public places. “God bless us all. This court is adjourned.”

The knights caught whispers as ever afterward they became known as “the knights who condemned Merlin,” even though they may not have done just that.

With that – the knights were discharged from their duties at Castle Terrabil and returned to their manors in Salisbury.

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We continue - and I take some more liberties with Pictish culture/lore/geography.

493

The year began with the knights petitioning to Earl Roderick for permission to go in search of their lost colleague, Sir Cedric. Sir Willem spoke eloquently and the Earl was of mind to allow it but, he required Sir Willem and Sir Esmee accompany him on a mission for King Uther. This left Sir Reynard, Sir Luc, Sir Alder (Cedric's cousin), Sir James and Sir Archer left to begin the search, bringing along the potion they had concocted from their visit to Bath. First stop was Carlion to find their old friend, Sir Alain, their contact in Cambria who they hoped might have more rumours or information on Cedric’s whereabouts.

Arriving at Carlion it was found the Sir Alain had gone to King Canan’s court at Pembroke castle. King Canan of Estreglaes was effectively the high king of Cambria, having received vasallage from many of the hill tribes and smaller kingdoms. Proceeding there, Sir Alain was indeed found at the King’s court, and after some pleasantries, the King gave permission for him to take his leave. Sir Alain did not have any specific news of Cedric, but there were rumours from the hill tribes of a new warlord named, 'The Carver' who was a new overlord of the northern Cambrian pictish tribes. Alain offered to guide the knights north as Cedric was now in the middle of the Carver's territory.

Sir Alain saw to hiring a boat as he suggested the best place to begin would be leading the knights back to the Holy isle of the picts and the cave that marked Cedric’s disappearance. Finding the site mostly deserted, the knights returned to the cave of the water spirit. Sir Luc managed to converse with the creature who recalled Cedric ‘leaving with the others’ but did not know where he could currently be. The water spirit did seem to indicate that the Broch above was only lightly defended. After a friendly riddle game, which was only rescued when Sir Renard stepped in for a fumbling Luc, the water spirit was also extracted from the pool into the groups water skins, as she was eager to be gone from this lonely cave. Luc was of a mind to bring it back to the spring at his estate.

Proceeding up through the tunnels to the Broch proved impossible, so the knights stealthily approached the main entrance. Luc and Renard quietly climbed the stairs until Luc took a tumble on the top stair. Reynard rushed inside and succeeded in capturing a pict named Gaarl. Joined by Alder and James, the Pict seemed taking aback by Alder’s appearance. Taking advantage of his confusion, Sir Alder presented himself as the Carver’s brother, ‘the Painter’, and with a flourish of tribal hand signs, they succeeded in convincing Gaarl to take them to Cedric’s fortress on the island of Taryn.

Arriving at the island, the knights could see an old fortress sitting up above the village and docks. With Gaarl and Alder in the lead, the Picts seemed not to know how to treat the party. Sir Luc accompanied Alder and Gaarl ashore to try and seek an audience with the Carver. With most of the attention on the party as it wound it's way up to the fortress. Sir Reynard and Sir Archer attempted to sneak in after them.

Left alone at the boats, eventually Sir James walked up through the now deserted village to find most of the picts up at their main hall – there he also discovered the other knights now being restrained by Pictish warriors, and a transformed looking Cedric looking down on them from a makeshift raised dais. Though recognizable, Cedric no longer looked like a knight, but was covered in blue tattoos. He was busily taunting the knights, slashing his knife in the air in front of their faces. Alder was able to convince Cedric that they had brought him a gift - sacred wine from Bath and after he quafed it, Cedric's ravings ceased and the knights could see that he was himself again.

Quietly trying to suss out the situation, Cerdic ordered the knights to be freed and the hall cleared. And only just in time as Cerdic’s body was wracked with spasms and a great gout of energy burst from his mouth, forming into a huge white dragon which promptly exploded out of the roof of the building, showering stone and masonry everywhere. Exiting the hall, the fortress and village were in chaos from the explosion, which seemed to have been worse outside. The knights fled back to the boat through fighting a running battle as the pictish warriors slowly recovered their senses. The knights raced to the docks and leapt onto their departing boat with Alder and James barely making it – Alder being dragged by the anchor rope, and was half drowned before he could be dragged on board.

And so the knights returned to Salisbury with Cerdic in tow, but what scars Cerdic bore on his soul, none could say.

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And we are full steam ahead, with the Infamous Feast on the horizon and my plans still swirling for how to handle it.

494

The year began with mixed news for the knights. Sir Esmee and Sir Willem returned from a diplomatic mission with Earl Roderick – they had gone to Malahaute to treat with the Centurian King. They spent nearly a week being led on as Roderick grew impatient for any kind of meaningful negotiations. It was Esmee who discovered Saxons in the castle - apparently with full knowledge of the Centurian King. She overheard talk of an alliance or some kind of accord - and one that featured a captured Earl Roderick being led back to the Saxon Laece's. Roderick, Esmee and Willem were forced to leave quickly, stealing away in the middle of the night and managing to escape an ambush before they reached the Duchy of Lindsey.

On return to Salisbury, Esmee discovered that her husband Tathan had vanished without trace - her in-laws were blaming an improper relationship with Earl Roderick, after Esmee had spent much time in close contact with the Earl while on various missions, despite Esmee’s protestations of innocence.

Sir Luc spent long hours at the spring on his estate playing at riddles with the Water Spirit that had returned with him from the pict cave in Cambria. Perhaps there was more than riddling going on because in the springtime, a baby with elfen features was left on Luc’s doorstep. Needless to say, Luc's wife Rose remained unimpressed with Luc’s wandering interests. As well, one of Luc’s cousins, Fleur, had also disappeared without a trace.  In the spring, Luc’s valet again outdid himself (yet another fumbled valet roll - really we should just not bother rolling anymore :)), turning out a feast suit of startling originality – featuring paisley and peacock feathers.

Court was held in London in the spring, but Uther remained out of sight – rumours of his continued illness swirled around the court. Duke Ulfius was acting as his go-between, and after the episode in Malahaute, determined to seek in other directions for allies. Seeing as they had met with King Canan of Estregales personally during their adventures of the previous year, he dispatched the knights with a note from Uther to sway Canan into an alliance.

Making their way through now familiar territory, the knight’s arrived at Pembroke castle, where they were met by young Sir Dirac - freshly knighted son of King Canan, and Sir Orcas - King Canan's steward. Sir Orcas saw to it that the knights were put up in very comfortable guest quarters. At feast that night, with the unusually dressed Luc given a ‘special’ seat in the kitchen, the proceedings were interrupted by an alarm from one of the gate guards – it seemed a knight in black had waylaid one Lady Francis who had been riding to the court. With some cheerleading from Sir Dirac, who had been impressed by the worldliness of the party from Salisbury, the knight’s leapt up to pursue, not even pausing to put on their armor.

The black knight proved to be an unusual foe, however, as just when Sir Reynard and Sir Luc were about to ride him down, the black knight’s mount took to the air – proving to be a Gryffen - not a horse, and flew to a nearby ruined stone tower.

With Luc chasing off some ruffians encamped at the base of the tower with a string of french slurs, the knights pursued into the tower. The first floor contained an otherworldly feast, which proved too tempting for Sir Esmee to resist. The other knights continued up the tower where the second floor contained mounds of treasure. Resisting this temptation, the knight’s continued to the third floor, where a fae woman awaited, bidding them to swear on their honor to enter the door behind her if they chose to find the Lady they sought. So swearing, the doorway opened to reveal a stairway filled with terrible flames. Luc and Reynard steeled themselves and went up the stairs unharmed, however Sir Cedric could not bring himself to enter the flames.

On the roof, the knight in black awaited, challenging one of the knights to single combat for the Lady. With Reynard in the middle of calling the knight an honourless cur for suggesting such a thing, an unarmored Luc stepped forward to face the black knight, but at the last moment, his courage failed him and he fled down the stairs, peacock feathers flapping in his wake (and that's what happens when you fumble a passion roll just entering combat).

Reynard watched the swiftly departing Sir Luc and turned back to see the Black knight drawing his sword. Reynard stepped forward to face the challenge, despite his trepidations. The black knight proved to be a superior warrior, and battered Reynard to the ground. Reynard took to attempting to wrestle the knight off the roof, and despite succeeding in pinning the knight over a crenulation, was not strong enough to hurl him off. Reynard took to his famous oratory, and at last his doggedness seemed to impress something in the black knight, who threw the Lady down to the floor before taking off on his Gryffon, vowing to see Reynard again. (I let Reynard make an orate roll to make some kind of impression on the knight and then allowed the Black Knight his own Valorous roll to see how he'd react. Wouldn't you know it - crit for Reynard, fumble for Black Knight. Sigh, well now I guess I need to figure out some more backstory for this black knight)

With the departure of the Black Knight, the magic of the tower faded away. Sir Esmee found herself engorged from a feast of maggots and worms, the treasure had also proven to be illusory. Sir Cedric hunted down SIr Luc, and succeeded in snapping him from his melancholy. The knights then returned with Lady Francis to Pembroke castle.

At the castle, they were greeted by King Canan personally and were treated as heroes for rescuing Lady Francis. They were moved to the most luxurious quarters in the castle (apart from the Kings) while the King promised to look over Uther’s letter. At feast the next day, it was rumoured that the King was inclined to join Uther in alliance - even Sir James’ temper with another knight at the feast could not put a damper on the evening.

As the feast drew to a close and the King rose to toast the new alliance, everyone was full of optimism, until Canan began to sputter and choke. Poison. Canan collapsed in a sluice of bodily fluids, dead. Sir Dirac was the one who had handed Canan his goblet just before and immediate suspicion fell upon him. But both Sir Reynard and Sir Esmee both had seen that it was Sir Orcas who had given Dirac the goblet just before this. Sir Esmee leapt to Dirac's defense and immediately charged and tackled Sir Orcas and accused him of the foul deed. Sir Orcas demanded satisfaction and a trial by combat was called for.

As the combatants prepared, the other knights could ascertain little about where the poison had come from, other than it was definitely in the wine, so just one hour later Sir Orcas and Sir Esmee faced each other in a duel to the death.

Sir Orcas quickly advanced, moving much faster than Sir Esmee had expected from the middle aged knight. Esmee was wounded several times and things looked dire. Sir Esmee called upon her honor and began to fight back, finally ending the fight by beheading Sir Orcas, thus proving his guilt. Despite this, the rest of the court seemed reluctant to fall in line behind the young Sir Dirac - now King Dirac. Cambrian tribal politics seemed inscrutable to the knights, who soon departed, leaving Dirac in the difficult position of trying to hold together his father’s alliances.

After delivering the news to Duke Ulfius/King Uther, the knights returned to their manors and finished out the summer.

Sir Esmee found her manor plagued by huge numbers of ravens and began having dreams of a white dragon and waking up in strange places. She also seems to have had another bastard of unknown origin over the course of the winter.

Sir James heard rumours that his banished brother, Alvin, had taken up with Syagrius’ bandits, and had been the one targeting his friends (Esmee’s missing husband Tathan, Lus’s missing cousin, Fleur).

The notoriety of Luc’s valet seemed to have spread far and wide, as he was the subject of talk at many halls throughout the lands.

News came that the Saxons had come south and overwhelmed Lincoln. When Lincoln was attacked, Duke Lindsey and every other nobleman had shut themselves into their castles and cities while the Saxons ravaged the countryside before wintering in Eburacum.

Earl Roderick told the knights that the northern army would be a great loss, but Logres had fought without allies before. He warned them that if Wiglaf and Eosa entered Salisbury next year, the knights were to bring their herds and families to Sarum.

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