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Salisbury Knights - a playthrough of the Great Pendragon Campaign


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5 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I loved the waelwolf. Very creepy.

Cthulhu dark ages adventure. So much good stuff in that game that can be repurposed. 
 

 

5 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

The quest of four holy waters. Love it! Except, your PKs failed miserably, didn't they ?

Depends who you ask. They did manage to get a cure for Cedric. Sure, they might have ruined the baths for who knows how long now, but really it’s a small price to pay, right? ;)

5 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

You follow the script, but do you have fun?

This has been my favourite campaign I’ve run, regardless of system. A lot of that comes from the group and their reactions to events and each other. The personal interactions and humorous things that happen every session don’t come across in these transcripts. What my players and I have discovered is that Pendragon, unlike any other system I’ve tried, gets you invested in the world outside of the adventures the characters are having because of the way it handles the passage of time and its multigenerational aspect  

 

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Here we go...this was a big one and took a couple sessions.

495

As Spring came, Sarum was picked as site of the royal court. Uther was there but remained sick and rarely seen, with Duke Ulfius remaining his go between. Nimue, Lady of the Lake, was also present and seemingly in charge of taking care of Uther.

Word was that the army would assemble, and the combined forces of Logres would march to face the Saxon army as they came south. Other rumours swirling about. One whispered by a few spoke of Merlin working with the Saxons, but most seemed to dismiss it out of hand. Another that Saxon King Wiglaf had a spy in the royal court. This one had the knights looking askance at anyone they did not know. The Ravens that had been seen infesting the Tower of London of late, seem to have tagged along with the royal entourage to Sarum, perhaps fueling these rumours.

In early spring, with an army of 1500 knights and 5000 footmen having gathered, Uther ordered them to begin the march for Lincoln. As they left, Earl Roderick approached Sir James and Sir Esmee, announcing his choice to have Sir Esmee move up in rank to become second in charge of the forces of Salisbury after the Marshall, Sir Elad.

As they marched, refugees streamed south and west along the roads - forced to the sides by the passage of the army. The knights passed one old woman in a cart who had been traveling in the same direction as the army, looking unhappy as she had been forced off the road. The knights, feeling pity, stopped and had their squires lend a hand to get her cart going again.

As the army neared St. Albans, refugees reported that the city had been taken by the Saxons in a surprise attack, and as the city came into view the smoke rising from the town seemed to confirm this, but…the gates remained open. Uther, now out and riding was seen observing the situation, but some knights of Gloucester took it upon themselves to seize the moment and charged the gate on their own initiative. Sir Esmee looked to the Earl to see if they should follow, but the Earl was just observing, wearing a growing frown. Esmee maintained her composure and held the men back. The knights of Gloucester did not lack in bravery, but their attack proved most foolish as the Saxon's sprang their trap. Just as the knights were able to get through the gates, the gates creaked and began to close and defenders appeared all along the walls. Only a few survivors returned, those lucky enough to not be inside when the gates snapped shut. Uther's foul mood spread to the entire army and no one slept well at camp over night.

The next morning, in the pre-dawn light, sentries woke up the camp and the horns called for the army to assemble to fight. Wiglaf and Eossa were leading the Saxon army out of the city – 9000 strong – and they set up their battle lines. High above the battle flags could be seen circling, a small white dragon. (I mean, why not? :) Not only the biggest battle they've been in, but I figured I had to pay off some of the saxon laece Isen's plans!)

 

The Battle of St. Albans

Before the battle, Earl Roderick rode up and down the lines of Salisbury's forces speaking with the knights. He called them Salisbury's 'greatest generation'. Seeking to live up to the Earl’s words, Sir Esmee led the eschelle into the first charge against the Saxon lines. The knights smashed into a group of veteran Drilled Guardsmen and the clash saw Sir James and Sir Luc unhorsed and Esmee’s squire lost in the crush. With James and Luc's squires providing replacement horses before trying to make their way back to camp, only Sir Reynard remained with a squire, and this was only one hour into the battle.  Esmee tried to shake off the feeling that she was somehow to blame. The fighting was fierce, and the white dragon circled overhead bringing feelings of trepedation and fear to all the troops underneath it as it circled, but it did not attack, seemingly looking for something or someone. What it sought was confirmed only a short time later as it dove directly at Sir Esmee, raking her horse and leaving it mutilated and Esmee bruised from the fall. 

Suddenly, in rode Sir Petra on a white charger, firing her bow rapidly. One of her shots pierced one of the dragon’s wings, which seemed to drive it off temporarily. (Petra pulled off a crit at the most opportune time). Sir Petra rode off whooping madly. (Fumbled passion roll on the next round, of course)

The knights regrouped and fought on in the killing zone for several hours. Nearby could be seen the forces of Silchester. At one point, Sir Esmee noticed Duke Ulfius’ banner fall, and she chose to turn her lance of knights and try to ride to his aid. After smashing into Ulfius’ assailants, It was found that it was none other than King Wiglaf and his Laece that were responsible. They and several large Saxon Heorthgeneats had unhorsed the Duke and killed his bannerman. The Duke was fighting desperately on foot, obviously wounded. Sir Esmee and Sir James rode to challenge Wiglaf, while Sir Reynard and Sir Luc rode at the laece and the others confronted the Heorthgeneats. Just as Reynard's spear touched the laece, he exploded into a flight of ravens which flew off. Meanwhile Sir James and Sir Esmee fought together without mercy against Wiglaf and against the two of them, he was outmatched. James thrust his sword into Wiglaf’s heart while Esmee triumphantly drove her sword through his mouth and out the top of his head.

Though one of the main villains had been dealt with, still a lot of hard fighting remained. The knights continued to press on. Sir Luc was knocked unconscious after a series of wounds, but at last the Saxons were broken and routed. The exhausted knights did not have the strength to pursue, but instead saw to their wounded comrades and brought them back to the medical tents.

Thus ended the battle of St. Albans – a decisive victory for Uther. British losses were significant, but not horrible. The worst was Duke Ulfius and Sir Brastias (Uther’s bodyguard) who had received grave wounds and were in the hospital recovering. The rest of the army and even the general populace of St. Albans were ecstatic, believing the Saxon threat to at long last be crushed. Cooks and servants began to prepare a huge feast at the castle in St. Albans.

 

The Infamous Feast

Though losses had been heavy – the mood became more and more jubilant amongst the army. The entirety of the bailey of St. Albans had been laid out for the feast, with tables set up around the battlements and in the courtyard. The High Hall had been set aside for the nobles of Logres, and the army took over the rest. Libations flowed freely, both outside and within the main hall. Although Sir Luc remained in the hospital tents, the rest of the knights of Salisbury enjoyed the feast. Some of them had distinguished themselves in the battle, standing out from the rest. Sir Petra having taken down the dragon, Sir James and Sir Esmee having killed the saxon king Wiglaf. Since Sir Petra was still missing, both Sir Esmee and Sir James were the ones who had earned invitations into the main hall to join the nobility.

Passions amongst the knights in the bailey were inflamed, and soon Sir Willem, Sir Elizabet, Sir Cedric and Sir Archer had all found comely young lads and/or lasses to secret themselves away with in hay lofts or other hideaways that could be found.

Up in the great hall, James has not touched a drink all night (As he crit his temperance roll at the start and I breathed a sigh of relief. For Esmee, I had other plans :) ), content to drink in the atmosphere instead, a half-smile on his face, as he brushed off advances from many a lovely lass. Some talk was heard of a 'roman' who had been in St. Albans earlier in the week - and this peaked James' attention. Part way through the evening, James noticed Esmee depart the hall, but thought nothing of it and returned to observing the celebrations. A few hours later, Uther rose to toast the assembled crowd, “Logres’ greatest generation”, he called them, borrowing from Earl Roderick's turn of phrase. Surely nothing would stop Uther from being high king now.

Around midnight, some of the knights in the Bailey outside begin hearing screams emitting from the great hall. Reynard, who remained at the feast, was the first to rush up the steps. A few of the knights in the hay lofts paused their activities to take note of the screaming.  The doors of the hall burst open and a man collapsed through the door, vomiting blood onto Reynard's boots.

As Reynard entered he beheld a scene from hell. Uther was standing at the head table coughing and retching. He then vomited a bit on his shirt. Around the hall the nobles were reeling and spasming, and vomiting food and then blood before collapsing and becoming still. It was clearly too late for them. The men were blue and purple, heaving up foaming red blood upon the tables, themselves, and each other. Everywhere they staggered, gasping, and then crashing upon the tables and floor, thrashing spasmodically. Reynard hurried to those nearby but his First Aid was useless, as this was a poison unlike any he had seen before. The carnage was terrible to behold; man after man falling to the floor, dying a horrible death.

The other knights slowly arrived to join Reynard. They waded through the blood and vomit, searching. Uther? Dead. Earl Roderick? Dead. They were all dead. All of them. Panic, hysteria, and frantic, meaningless activity seized everyone in the castle, the town, and the nearby countryside.

At last, Sir James was able to assert some measure of order. He ordered the castle and town secured. Guards were sent to the medical tents. Servants began the grim job of removing the corpses. It was clear that someone had treacherously poisoned the meal, probably the ale or wine (or both). Everyone who survived was devastated. Hundreds killed! Terrible enough, but look at the roster of dead! The ruling class of Logres had been virtually wiped out. The High King and just about all of his barons (except those in the hospital) had died. Earl Roderick was dead. The land had no rulers.

Sir Esmee, who seemed to appear from the kitchens, and Sir Archer gathered the servants to question them. (For those wondering, Sir Esmee had a quick one on one session - when she came to her senses, she was standing by an open 'secret' door that led outside the castle where she could see an unhitched wagon. Panicing, she headed back to the main hall where she reentered shortly after Reynard and the others were scrambling amongst the dying, so they all failed to notice where she had come from)  The castellan was shattered and did not know how this could have happened. It appeared that some ale had been procured from somewhere other than the castle cellars. Sir Esmee led the Castellan and Sir Reynard through the servant’s corridors and through some kind of secret passage, to the amazement of the castellan, to a door leading out of the castle, where a wagon half full of barrels was found. She did not explain how she knew that it was there. Sir Reynard used a local dog to prove that this indeed was the ale that contained the poison.

Questioning the servants revealed that one servant, a young teenager going by the name of Brynn was missing, and no one could locate him. As the knights of Salisbury continued the investigation, the knights of the other counties and duchies were all hurriedly preparing to depart back to their own lands. The unity of Logres had been broken. Though loathe to leave, Sir James thought it prudent to return to Sarum as quickly as possible, and having exhausted all of the angles he could see, he ordered the forces of Salisbury ready to depart.

The mourning was keen and grievous for the many noble dead.  The bodies were all returned to their families, the dead borne on wagons with their best horses tied behind. A hundred black-shrouded processions crisscrossed Logres. The bodies of Roderick and Uther traveled together, both taken to Salisbury for display, amid a mourning procession. Though it was the king, only a few nobles viewed the corpse: All had their own dead fathers, brothers, uncles, and so on. Hundreds of commoners visited every day of the journey, however.

Earl Roderick was buried in the cathedral. Uther was buried at Stonehenge, between his brother Ambrosius and his son Madoc.

Back at Sarum, Sir James delivered an account of the battle, and the feast to Lady Ellen. who was obviously distraught. Her son Robert was now 3 years old. Rightfully she would be his regent until he comes of age. The surviving knights of Salisbury gathered to discuss what was next and a raucous argument broke out. James on one side arguing that fealty must be declared to Ellen. Sir Hightower on the other arguing that now was not the time to be led by a woman. After fierce, passionate debate, Hightower led a group of 43 knights (including Sir Luc) who would not swear fealty out of the room and back to their manors. The 57 knights remaining declared their fealty to Lady Ellen. A tear could be seen in the corner of Lady Ellen’s eye as she individually thanked each knight who remained.

With that, the knights retired to their manors to see out the year.

(Phew - now that was a year! I wanted to try and leave the knights lots of different angles about who might be responsible for the poisoning. Sir Esmee is now freaked out about the Saxon's having some kind of control over her. Sir James has rumours of the 'roman' in mind - who was responsible for the other poisoning they've been involved with. Plus the old lady they passed with the wagon on the way to St. Albans, they sure wish they had passed their recognize rolls. I'm happy to let the ambiguity live for a bit - I'm actually not sure if I'm ever going to answer who it was, but that is for another day.

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And so we begin the Anarchy. It feels like this part of the GPC is way more freeform and it will be interesting to see what direction things take. The players have way more control over the fate of the county.

496

The year began with all of Salisbury still in a dark mood from the events of St. Albans the year before. Countess Ellen looked to those knights who had remained loyal for advice as well as her new marshal, Sir Esmee. Sarum needed new walls, both for the castle and the city as a whole. As well, the losses of St. Albans needed to be replaced – new squires needed to be brought forward. Lady Ellen's council debated a course of action before returning to their manors. With about 40% of the county’s knights (including Sir Luc) following Sir Hightower’s lead and not swearing fealty to Countess Ellen the knights were unsure of how to deal with the situation. In the end, messengers were dispatched to Silchester, to speak with Duke Ulfius as well as several other nearby independent counties - allies would be needed in these dark times. As well, some of the knights took on 2nd squires to try and speed the process of restocking Salisbury's army, although the quality of some of the squires was sorely lacking.

Easter court was held at Vagon castle, the marshal’s traditional holding. Sir Brastias was there and he had much news from around Britain.

  • It seemed that Duke Ulfius had summoned the Supreme Collegium to meet in Silchester this year to select a new high king. Candidates were coming from all over Britain.
  • In London, at Saint Paul’s, there appeared a sword struck through a stone that had miraculously appeared in the courtyard. It had writing on it that said, ‘Only the true king will pull me out,’ or something like that. Brastias reported that it hadn't budged for him!
  • Saxons everywhere were moving. They were in small groups, so Brastias thought the should be dealt with.
  • The King of Malahaute sent word that Pict scouts were being seen all across the north. Merchants were saying that Irish ships were massing in the west, the Saxons were already on the march in the east, and 'that bastard Idres' from Brittany was going to attack from the south
  • Queen Ygraine had taken refuge at Amesbury, putting her trust in God rather than leaderless knights. Her youngest daughter was with her.

As the knights reached the great hall to confer with Countess Ellen, they saw that she was already in conference with…a Saxon! Esmee and Cedric both could not contain their anger and went for their swords. Only quick thinking by Sir Reynard prevented a breach of hospitality as she tackled the two knights.

‘Und ze call us ze barbarians. We vill return in un month, Countess” is all the saxon said as he left.

The Countess then told the knights that the saxon was Prince Aescwine, the son of the King of Essex. He was here to ask for tribute, 'and if we pay, he will guarantee peace for us and protection from any enemy who invades'.

This left the knights in an uproar as to what to do. Ellen seemed in favor of paying the tribute to buy time, but the knights were unsure. They were also left with the issue of stomping down any resistance to the Countess’ leadership so as not to appear weak.

As the debate continued, messengers from Hampshire arrived, panicked and worried, asking for help to resist a new fleet that had landed in the south. More Saxons! After consulting with Ellen, Marshal Esmee summoned the county’s forces. 16 knights and 50 foot were readied to go to Hampshire’s aid. But before they could leave more messengers arrived carrying a flag of truce. The Saxon king had sent an offer to parley for peace. He wanted to talk to the knights of Salisbury (and of all Britain). The messengers said that their lord was the rightful King of the Gewessi (which some knights recalled was King Vortigern’s old tribe – Vortigern the king who had invited the Saxons to Britain in the first place), but that he wished to explain things himself. They said that King Cerdic wanted to speak to his neighbors about peace. The king guaranteed hospitality to whomever would come to listen to him.  “Our lord wishes to explain for himself,” they repeated. “You are invited to come in peace to a feast. We are your guides and your guarantee of safe conduct.” One of the messengers introduced himself as Cynric, son of the King and offered to be a hostage as a guarantee for their safe return. Cynric was a handsome young knight, well-dressed and well-mannered in the Saxon way.

The ride to Hantonne was uneventful. The land did not seem devastated, though of course the peasants were mostly in hiding. The city showed signs of plunder, but that was normal, given the circumstances. The castle of the former Count was occupied by the Saxon lord, and there the party was welcomed into the Great Hall.

King Cerdic welcomed everyone and spread a lavish feast. To judge from the service and food available, the people of Hantonne must have already been accustomed to their new lord. After dinner, King Cerdic made his presentation, welcoming everyone and expressing hope that they could continue to be friends and peaceful neighbors. 'For after all, that is the way among fellow Britons'.

“Yes, fellow Britons,” he said, “For I am one of you more than I am a Saxon, as measured the civilized way where all of importance comes from the father’s side. And my father was British. Measuring that civilized manner further, we know nobility is superior to normal humanity. I could not come from more noble stock, for my father was the High King of Britain. Indeed, my father was King Vortigern, the noble lord who ruled this island before the Pendragons. And indeed, though it counts less, my mother’s own father was a king as well. I have many powerful connections among the Saxons. They are not as savage as you seem to believe, and in my future kingdom they will be my subjects, just as the British shall be; and both shall be equal, if I do not have to conquer.

“So I invite you to join me and my army, for surely there will be battles in the future, and I am sure you would wish to be on the winning side. I will be happy to accept your homage and loyalty, and I would treat you well and justly. Join me.”

The meal and drinking went on for some time. Some of the other British knights serving Cerdic talked about their great and honorable lord. They stressed his generosity and his battle prowess.

In the morning – the knights returned to Sarum to confer with the Countess.

There it was decided not to pay tribute to Essex.

On return to their own manors, further distress was discovered, as the spate of kidnappings had continued. Children of Reynard, Willem, Esmee and Cedric had all been kidnapped by mysterious bandits. Bandits who had started to raid the north-eastern part of the county.

The rest of the summer passed uneasily for the county's inhabitants, but no further raiding occurred. The knights began to investigate the bandit gangs, and with help from an unexpected source. It seemed the diplomatic overture to Duke Ulfius had paid off, for Sir Reynard was summoned to Silchester, where he was allowed to 'interview' a captured bandit in the Duke's dungeon. Reynard was able to learn that these particular bandits were part of a larger gang based out of the Great Mire. Reynard returned to Sarum to discuss would could be done with his fellow knights and many councils were had throughout the fall and winter. Sir Esmee was urged to free up some knights to deal with these bandits, while still providing for the defense of the county.

 

The first year of the Anarchy felt a bit jarring - for me and the players, I think. Without someone ordering them what to do and where to go, it's a big change of pace that everything is dependent on the players themselves. I think we started to hit our stride near the end of the session, so more good things to come. We'll see where this bandit angle leads. 

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494. I like the year. I would not have the adventure of the Gryffon played during Uther's reign, but why not after all ^^ It makes the poisoning of king Canan more impredictable.

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As well, one of Luc’s cousins, Fleur, had also disappeared without a trace.

Not Fleur! ^^ Luc is very unlucky by the way.

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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.

It was unexpected... Love the randomness of KAP, and the knight of the Gryffon will be a good nemesis ;)

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She also seems to have had another bastard of unknown origin over the course of the winter.

I never noticed before Esmee was unfaithful to her husband. Did I miss something?

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8 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I never noticed before Esmee was unfaithful to her husband. Did I miss something?

It might have been glossed over in a couple winter phase updates. She has had a strange tendency to roll 'Relations' on our random winter events table and then generally 'failed' her love of husband rolls, which has meant she's 'flirted' with someone. The players tend to think that Esmee has an unfortunate habit of getting carried away at the feasts over the winter. They used to think she had something going on with Earl Robert, as she spent so much time with him (as a prominent, trusted adviser), which became a bit of a running joke. Gotta love the random events tables and where they take things for our characters. :)

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I like your 495 session, especially the bit about the suspects. Your Players are bold to even try a passion roll, after so many fumbles ^^

I didn't notice sir Petra before. I suppose she is a "she".

You are sweet with your players. I would have kill one player in the infamous feast. You know, make it personal.  Otherwise, it's good. How many have lady Esmee in battle?

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4 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I would have kill one player in the infamous feast. You know, make it personal. 

I was fully prepared to, but then James went and crit his Temperate. :) I think the players have been so invested in being top aides of Earl Robert that killing him off was a personal enough connection, and now having all of Logres fall apart and having to pay tribute to the Saxons is really grinding their gears.

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A double sized action packed session this week

497

The year began with the usual holiday feast at Sarum hosted by Countess Ellen. It was a raucous year with much celebrating. Sir Reynard Starling was the standout of the annual caroling contest and the rest of the knights happily brought in the new year. Countess Ellen was in a strange mood, and a few of the knights noted that she left the feast early with Sir Willem escorting her. Rumours of their involvement continued to make the rounds of court throughout the winter, but only when she was not present.

Rose Starling was displeased with her husband, Sir Luc's, behaviour over the winter – either cavorting in the estate’s springs, or running off to continue his personal quest in search of Merlin, Luc did not spend much quiet time at home. That continued in February as Countess Ellen visited Seend Manor for a conference with Luc, as she tried to personally sway him to rejoin the fold of loyal knights. It seemed Sir Luc’s main issue has to do with Sir Esmee being named marshal. Things remained at an impasse as the Countess' visit ended.

The mood at Imber Manor was also not a happy one, as the common folk had started to lump James in with his brother Alvin, after the deprivations his brother committed alongside the bandit gang the previous year.

At spring court in Sarum, there was much news from home and abroad.

In London, The Sword in the Stone remained a spectacle visited by many gawkers, and the occasional knight who tried his hand at pulling it.
In Sarum, the rebuilding of the walls of Sarum Castle had started – and was forcast to be finished this year. 100 Librum was still needed for the walls of Sarum proper and various knights had started to contribute to that fund.
Sir Brastias brought news that the Supreme Collegium, who had met the previous year in Silchester, had not been able to do anything about appointing a king. The nine surviving legates had spent their time arguing about protocol and precedence and in the end - did nothing. It seemed to be the end of the Collegium as a functioning body.
Lady Sewain of Rydychan was in court. Three usurpers had seized the county of Rydychan, refusing to be led by a woman (her husband, the Count, had died in the Infamous Feast in 485). Lady Ellen was quick to take her in, but what could be done about Lady Sewain's situation remained a topic of debate.
Reports were received of a small battle the previous year between the Saxons of Essex and the knights of the Duchy of Caercolun, which apparently the Saxons had lost, although not decisively.
It seemed that almost all the counties of Logres had paid tribute to the Saxons - even the two dukes (Silchester and Lindsey) had paid. But Duke Ulfius, still hurting from the wounds he got at the Battle of St. Albans, went further and agreed to an alliance with King Aelle of Sussex. Sir Willem was determined to find out Ulfius' intentions.
Brastias also reported that war in Cornwall was expected as representatives of both King Idres or Cornwall and Brittany and the Earl of Tintagel were in court looking to hire mercenaries. 
Also in court were two aethelings, Prince Cynric of Wessex and Prince Aescwine of Essex, both of whom were asking for tribute. They both were saying the same thing: 'pay up or be attacked'. Lady Ellen's council were all annoyed at the cavalier attitude of the princes, but they did point out that the Saxons had kept their word and caused no trouble for any who had paid tribute the previous year.
War was expected in Norgales. With King Pellinore’s  continued absence (hunting the Questing Beast) a group of brothers (The Three Cadlews) had seized control of Gomeret. The tribes in that land were still broken and divided, seeking a strong hand to unite them.

With this sea of troubles before them, Ellen’s council of knights debated the best course of action. The debate raged through much of the night, but in the end it was decided to pay tribute to Wessex and go so far as to have them as allies to help defend Salisbury’s borders. A group of 15 knights were sent, as part of this agreement, to patrol with the forces of Wessex. It was also decided not to pay tribute to Essex, as it was thought they were too far away to cause trouble. Prince Aescwine left in a huff.

The knights themselves had something more personal to follow up on – their kidnapped loved ones. Sir Esmee assigned duties to the loyal knights that had showed up to honour their service to Countess Ellen, ensuring that patrols focused on the eastern border. With that she allowed for an expedition to set out towards the The Great Mire – the rumoured home of these bandits.

Making their way through Silchester, Hertford and Huntington, the knights were greeted at the various courts, if not warmly, at least courteously. Hertford and Huntington had been most worried about Essex, but were eager for news of the other Saxon kingdoms. Leaving the relative safety of civilized land behind, the group left Huntington led by the capable hunting skills of Sir Reynard.

Unfortunately while giving a botany lesson to his fellow knights, the group was ambushed by a group of bandits with blackened shields. A wild fight ensued, with the group acquitting itself very well. Sir Esmee cleaved several bandits in twain – including their leader. Sir Reynard made up for his hunting lapse with a feat of horsemanship and acrobatics, tackling one of the bandits. With the rest of the bandits dispersed, the survivor was questioned by Sir Reynard (holding off an angered, arrow ridden Esmee).

It was learned that the bandit leader - known as Black Reg - was indeed making his base in the mire. The kidnappings themselves had been arranged by ‘Friendly’ Alvin (Sir James’ banished brother), so named by the bandits for his penchant for targeting his brother's ‘friends’. It was also learned that the bandits seemed to take orders from a beautiful young blonde woman who they called the Lady of Misery. Suspecting it to be Lady Gwendolin, the knights were set to head deeper into the Mire.

Sir Esmee rode with the bandit captive to ensure he did not try anything funny while they were led into The Great Mire. The knights were not used to the swampy terrain and were surprised by a flight of goose – who had themselves been surprised by a large wild boar. With several of the horses startled, the knights were disorganized, and the boar rushed between them. Sir James was thrown from his horse and the boar rushed at the fallen knight. He fought skillfully to hold it off, but the boar was managing to fight its way past his defenses when Sir Willem rode up and cleaved the boar in twain. With first aid administered the knights continued.

Their bandit captive led them within sight of an old Roman fort across a causeway on a small island. The causeway was lined with bandits spiked to poles every 30 yards or so. As the knights discussed their course of action, their captive became increasingly fearful. As Esmee walked up to intimidate the man, he seemed to come to a decision and threw himself into the mire nearby and rapidly sank into a sinkhole the knights had missed.

Sir Reynard Starling then called out to the fort and a beautiful, and powerfully built female soon approached across the bridge. She introduced herself as Albia and after the knight’s explained the nature of their quest, she led them back to meet ‘her grandfather’.

Her grandfather turned out to be the chief of the fort – Coel One-Leg (yes – so named for his condition). The fort, Caer Daun, was the last vestige of the Corieltauvi tribe in the Mire – and they had been hard pressed defending themselves from the same bandits, so the two sides soon found common cause. The knights and the villagers then feasted on the boar that had been killed and Sir Cedric and Albia soon found common cause as well, stealing away from the feast.

In the morning, the knights set out by swamp boat, led by Albia to a nearby village known to be an outpost for the so called ‘Men of the Hood’.

After landing there, one of the villagers attempted to warn off the knights, but as that was to no avail, he ran inside his hovel. Soon afterwards a group of bandits appeared, strangely unafraid of the armored knights. It was soon revealed why, as many bandits soon joined in an ambush.

As the fight progressed, it became evident that the bandits had some among them who were proficient warriors, and Sir Cedric was brought nigh unto death by a mighty blow from one - Cedric’s strange, wild knife carving tactic had proven to be an unsuccessful tactic (I should clarify that Cedric still has the 'magic' knife he held from his days with the Picts and the player insists on trying to use it despite not having a very good dagger skill). Sir Reynard nimbly dispatched the bandits who had lain in wait on nearby roofs. Sir Esmee and Sir James fought bravely against a group of outlaws and then were confronted by the one they called ‘Friendly’ – Alvin of Imber, brother of Sir James.

As Sir Reynard Starling attempted to tackle Alvin of Imber and knock him off his legs, a new complication emerged in the form of a deadly crossbow bolt fired by a woman hidden between some buildings, who also had two children at her side, her face obscured by a cloak. The woman called out for Alvin to leave with her but Alvin, too enraged by the sight of his brother in front of him refused, choosing instead to try and bash James' brains in. 

The fight became desperate. Sir Esmee, fighting desperately, continued to smash the remaining bandits with savagery. Sir Willem finally dispatched the bandit seargent, as Albia rushed to the fallen Sir Cedric. Sir Esmee ran after the mysterious cloaked woman, but one of the children seemed to trace some runes in the air and Sir Esmee narrowly avoided falling into a pit of quicksand. The woman and children made it to a raft and punted off into the swamps with one of the children looking back impassively at Esmee. Sir Esmee only caught a glimpse of blonde hair, but did not get a good look at the woman's face.

Meanwhile – Alvin and Sir James continued their ferocious battle, with Reynard still trying to intervene, but being flung off. Finally, Reynard managed to roll into Alvin’s legs taking him down but could not hold him in place. Alvin flung Reynard asisde and then struck out in great fury with his mace, just as James ran him through from behind. The Mace crushed into Reynard’s chest, cracking his ribs and collapsing his lungs. The knights of Salisbury desperately tried to give him first aid, but he remained unconscious. Sir Willem found the last vial of the miraculous water from Bath, but even that could not awaken the fallen knight.

First Aid was given to Sir Cedric and both injured knights were loaded onto the raft and the group made for Caer Daun while Willem and Esmee stayed at the village where they discovered two of the kidnapped children (Reynard’s and Esmee’s).

Back at the fort, Albia personally saw to Sir Cedric’s care, while Coel waited with the knights at Reynard’s bedside. With gasping breathes, Reynard spoke of his love for his wife, Sir Theo, and his wishes for Ford Manor to go to Penelope. With one last rasping breathe through his shattered body, Sir Reynard was no more.

 

(As we still had some time, we had a small extra session, mostly for the player's alts.)

The grieving knights headed back to Salisbury, excepting Sir Cedric who remained in Albia’s care. The solemn procession was met by Sir Luc and Rose Starling…and a strange goat herd. Indeed, as the knight’s watched the goatherd suspiciously, he transformed before them into Merlin. He was again seeking help from the knights with a ‘Saxon problem’, a small raiding party led by one calling himself ‘the Knight of Tusks’ had been seen in the west of the county.

While Rose took charge of Reynard’s body and Esmee stalked off home, Merlin led Sir James and Sir Luc to a few other manors of Salisbury recruiting a few more knights. Many leagues seemed to pass quickly as they followed the archdruid and within a few days the small party found themselves crossing the border into Somerset and found themselves staring at a Saxon encampment. Sir Penelope Starling, Sir Cyril and Sir Alder snuck down towards where the Saxons were guarding some workers who were loading various cargo boxes onto boats. Sir Luc led a party down a newly cut road to ensure no Saxons’ could sneak up on the knights. Sir Luc keenly observed a side trail and led the knights off the cart track and into the surrounding forest. (The return of Luc to our sessions, and he starts off with a fumbled Awareness roll. Good times!)

Meanwhile – at the docks, the knights fell upon the Saxon guards and a fierce fight ensued. Things started off well but started to feel more and more desperate. Luc’s group found themselves near a Saxon encampment and lunged out to grab a Saxon guard only to find that they were back near the boats and had grabbed a worker. Fortunately, they were in time to observe more Saxons advancing on the unsuspecting knights by the boats. Sir Luc and Sir Faith chased a group of archers into the woods. Sir James, rounded on the new Saxons, shaking his head sadly as his backup disappeared into the bushes.

The knights at the boats got a handle on their attackers but were soon set upon by the new Saxons and one large saxon riding a rouncy who wore a Walrus mask.

Sir James was being battered by two Saxons and doing his best to fight defensively. At last Sir Luc reappeared from the woods and rushed to help his friend. Sir Penelope, after hurling away a succession of her weapons (unable to grip them in the mud and rain) deftly sidestepped the charging knight of tusks and caused him to fall from his horse. Showing her battle prowess, she quickly dispatched him, and soon after, the rest of the Saxons were dead.

The knights caught their breath, only to observe that Sir Faith had not returned from the woods.

(Passion fumbles are proving to be quite a regular occurence for the players. Another good reason to have extra alts on hand. We'll wrap up 497 next time and then plunge onward to 498. I enjoyed the political debates the players are having around what advice to give to the Countess. Especially with Sir Esmee being the marshall, the players feel they have real agency in determining the fate of the county).

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4 hours ago, KungFuFenris said:

How do you balance Sir Esmee being Marshal with the rest of the knights being the lower rung people?

The rest of the knights (at least the original ones) serve as Esmee's advisors. Esmee gets the final call for what to recommend to Countess Ellen as far as who to pay tribute to, where to send patrols, etc... It makes for some fun dynamics from some of the players (Luc's player has been RPing Luc being jealous of Esmee), as they all give Esmee their viewpoints.

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We start with a quick wrap up scene from 497 and then press on

497 - Wrap Up

Merlin thanked the knights for their help with the Saxon raiders and then left, saying only that ‘I am going to leave these Isles shortly. Uther’s son will be revealed in due course’. The knights divided up the Saxon spoils, with Sir Penelope Starling claiming the Walrus helmet from the Knight of Tusks and Sir James and Penelope donating some of their share to the poor unfortunate Somerset villagers that the Saxons had been using as slaves, before returning to their manors.

In other news:

As Cedric recovered from his injuries in Caer Daun,  his romance with Albia flared much to the disapproval of her family. Cedric spirited Albia away in the dead of night and they returned to be married at Woodborough Manor. The warrior woman sent away Cedric’s squires as she was determined to do that job herself (once she recovered from the birth of their first child).
King Cerdic of Wessex invaded and took the Isle of Wight after they had refused to pay tribute to him. He turned around and gave it to his son Prince Cynric.
Tintagel fell to King Idres, who is seen to be taking advantage of the power vacuum in Cornwall, since Uther never appointed a new Duke.
Sir Reynard Starling's funeral was a magnificent affair in the cathedral of Sarum, with most of the renowned knights of the county attending. Sir Luc broke down while trying to give the eulogy (why not fumble when trying to impassion your orate at the funeral), throwing his cloak down and departing the cathedral in tears, blubbering about women and ponds. Sir Cedric stepped up and delivered a proper eulogy, although which of the two will be remembered longer remains to be seen.
Sir Penelope was awarded her own manor by Lady Ellen, as Sir Reynard’s last words requested. She assumed the mantle of Fittleton manor.
The Saxons of Essex had attempted to raid Salisbury, but were fought off by the combined patrol of Salisbury's and Wessex forces. Unfortunately 2 knights were killed, bringing the total number of knights loyal to Ellen down to 44.

The year came to a close with the annual Christmas feast at Sarum. Sir Archer's crystal clear counter tenor voice once again was the talk of the annual caroling contest.

498 - Part 1

In the spring, as the knights gathered at Sarum there was much debate about what to do with the Usurpers of Rydychan. As the debate raged a messenger from Imber Manor requested to have speaks with Sir James. The messenger turned out to be Old Garr who had arrived with a tale of woe – the young men of Imber - seven of them - had been mysteriously led off by a beautiful woman. No one in the village had seen her up close, but only saw them being led towards the old mill pond. Almost concurrently, the village was beset by a flock of Quillcrows and goods had started disappearing.

Receiving permission from Sir Esmee, James and several of his friends (Sir Faith (Esmee's sister), Sir Archer, Sir Willem, Sir Cedric, Sir Luc, and Sir Penelope) travelled to Imber to seek out the truth of these matters. There they met the herbalist Bramble, who told them her theory that a hag was to blame. Old Garr accompanied the knights as they decided to check out the mill pond as dusk approached. The knights observed a flock of unusually large quillcrows overhead. They crows started behaving aggressively, and as the knights were distracted, they were ambushed by a group of cultists. Once they recovered from the surprise, the cultists proved no match for the knights. After defeating the cultists, the quillcrows fled – seemingly diving into the pond itself. When the knights collected themselves and looked around, Old Garr was dead - eyes pecked out by the quillcrows.

The next morning, an impatient Sir Cedric fearlessly, but perhaps foolishly, stripped off his gear and plunged into the pond, as he was certain that such places could hold portals into the lands of Fae. As the other nights awoke, they discovered Cedric's absence and soon learned from his squire where he had gone. Finding his gear next to the pond, the other knights shrugged and also plunged in, whereupon they indeed found a glowing portal at the bottom of the pond through which they all vanished.

One by one the knights plunged through the portal and found themselves in a swift moving river, tossed and turned by a strong current, crashing into rocks and stones. After struggling through, the knights pulled themselves up on the riverbank cold and exhausted. Sir Luc spied Sir Cedric being led away, seemingly willingly, by a hideous crone. Collecting himself, Luc ran to pursue but their trail was lost amidst the trees, and only a crow's feather could be found as a possible trace of their passage.

Sir Faith’s upbringing had been steeped in pagan lore, and with her help, the knights were able to track down the lair of the hag they believed responsible. There they found Cedric - seemingly entranced by the thing. They moved to attack and were beset by the hag’s coven of cultists, as well as a flight of seven quillcrows. A mighty struggle ensued, with Cedric fighting to protect the hag. Her razor-sharp talons soon proved too much and she rent Sir Luc from neck to navel, a fatal blow. His body crumpled to the ground twitching. Strangely, the grass around his body seemed to grown and wriggle, pulling the body down into the earth.

This seemed to shake Cedric out of his entranced state, and he flew at the Hag stabbing wildly with his dagger. The knights slowly took out the cultists and Sir Willem and  Sir James joined Sir Archer and Cedric taking turns attacking the hag and they were finally able to take it down with some tremendous blows. As the hag crumpled, the quillcrows also crashed to the ground, transforming back into the missing youth of Imber. Sir Cedric was able to find another portal in the hag’s lair, and although some knights stayed momentarily to seek Sir Luc’s body, all soon returned to Imber where a somber feast was held. The feast was interrupted by Merlin, who informed the gathering that he intended to leave Britain and required an escort to the coast of Dorset where he was to seek ship. He needed an escort to protect from the many enemies he has made over the years, ‘just in case’.

With Sir Penelope Starling leading the party through back routes, the found themselves being tracked by something. Forming up into a defensive position, the knights found themselves assaulted by a group of large, black wolf like creatures with glowing red eyes.

 

(Leaving the main group on a bit of a cliffhanger, but I will add in a bit of a 'cutscene'/solo I had with Sir Luc's player the next day.

The Tale of Sir Luc

Sir Luc awakens. He feels pain all over his body. He seems to be suspended, spread eagled with roots holding his arms and legs against the wall of some dirt encrusted chamber. Roots protrude from the roof, hanging down. Nearby, an old woman is puttering over a cauldron that is merrily bubbling away. Around her are shelves lined with glass vials and containers filled with mysterious substances and creatures - some still alive. 

(Luc rolled his fear of faerie magic, but did not succumb)

The woman continues pottering, not paying attention to Luc. She goes back to the shelf and pulls something that gives a hiss before she hits it with a large wooden spoon and throws it into the pot.

Luc strains and one arm starts to move away from the wall - but then the roots constrict and it snaps back, slamming into the wall. The crone looks up and chuckles and slowly walks in his direction carrying something in her hand that looks like a turkey baster that she pulled from the cauldron

She sidles over - peering closely at Sir Luc’s limbs... before running one long bony finger from neck down to your naval, tracing a huge scar.

"Fine work, if I do say so myself."

Luc struggles to strike the crone but can’t move. Roots reach out and grasp his head - aiming it at the crone, forcing him to always look at her

"Mostly dead, is somewhat alive..."

“What are you doing?” Luc’s voice sounds cracked and weak as he tries to speak.

"Where am I?"

"You though, Sir Luc. you were all dead."

"What do you want with me?"

"There's less that can be done with cases like that."

"You and your friends have killed the Brown Woman. That makes me happy. It won’t make Annis happy though and your friends won’t stand much of a chance with her when she turns her attention their way – so I decided to help them out, and you as well, I guess - although you seem less happy with being alive than I thought you might be."

"Wait, who are you?"

"My name is Imane"

"If you mean to help, why have you bound me to the wall so?"

She looks Luc up and down again, before turning and walking back to her cauldron and giving it a stir.

Luc has ceased struggling against the vines. "I apologize for my reaction. The last thing I remember was lunging at someone I thought was you. I was trying to save my friend. Finding myself here and bound I was confused.

I thought I was dead. So unless this is the afterlife. You can either do me no harm, or you don't mean me ill and have saved me. So I owe you a debt of gratitude. Please let me down and tell me what I can repay you."

The Crone walks back in Luc’s direction and smiles a grin missing a couple teeth.

"Dead - not exactly, although alive might not be the best description either." She looked Luc up and down before continuing.

"First – you’re going to need to return here every year before midsummer for a treatment, or I’m sad to say even I won’t be able to keep you around. You’ll need to procure a certain something before you come.
Second – you’re going to need to find my sister if and when you want to learn more about old Annis. She can also fill you in on what you will need to bring.
Third – I’ll send you back to your friends, I think they might be in need of some help about now – parading around with that fool of a druid. Harrumph.
Fourth – my help isn’t free. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a man in my chambers – I’ll be needing a quick bit of work from you now, and a promise of a favour later – on your honor, sir knight, when I ask for it.
Do we have a deal?"

A sinking feeling passes through Luc. "Am I in any position to bargain? Perhaps I could ask one more favour and I will agree to your terms?"

"You can always ask, Luc. For one as pretty as you, I might even say yes." She laughs.

Luc gives a weak smile. "You are clearly a woman of immense power, to bring someone back to near life from assured death. I've lived my life trying to be faithful. Can you appear as my wife?"

She smiles and we fade to black

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and we continue on from the cliffhanger of last time.

498 - Part 2

As the knights tried to find a defensible position, the creatures circled and took turns charging at the group before vanishing! Black Dogs. Sir Penelope knew what they were – creatures controlled by a Saxon Laech. Some of the knights became mesmerized by the dogs tactics and then suddenly the dogs attacked. Sir James bravely faced three of the creatures and fought a desperate defensive struggle; Penelope and Sir Cedric fought well against individual beasts. Merlin looked on impassively, seemingly peering into the forest beyond.

From the ground nearby burst another figure that charged at the knights. At the last moment, it was recognized as Sir Luc, looking quite ragged. Between the knights and Sir Luc, and with a small bit of aid from Merlin, the dogs were defeated. A flight of ravens took off from a nearby tree.

As they patched their wounds, the knights looked incredulously (and suspiciously) at Sir Luc, who claimed little memory of what had transpired. Merlin regarded Luc with an inscrutible look and then urged the group to finish their journey. And so Penelope led them on through the night to the port of Hantonne where a ship was waiting for Merlin. At the docks, he bade the knights farewell. He told them he did not know when he would return... “It is time to let the stew simmer. All that is best is in hiding.”

The knights spent that evening carousing in Hantonne, with Sir Luc’s memory seemingly returning in direct proportion to the amount he indulged. (and so the other players became aware of The Tale of Sir Luc).

The return to Salisbury was an uneventful ride of a few days, as Penelope led them back via the main roads. Just past Castle Du Plain, a storm was seen approaching so the knights took shelter at Marshfield Manor where the lord of the castle was Sir Barius, a gruff, middle-aged knight who seemed to be lacking in good humor. Sir Barius agreed to give the group shelter, but only for the night. He was holding a feast the following week, and claimed not much room or provisions to spare. The dour knight seemed to be willing to offer only what hospitality he must by the laws of chivalry, and that only grudgingly.

At the modest feast that evening, the group was given a table far away from the table of Sir Barius and his two daughters Elin, and Megan. Sir Cedric did not see this as an obstacle and found opportunity to occupy Megan’s time, much to Sir Barius’ dismay. Sir Luc’s time was occupied by a lusty serving wench, Agatha, who traded crude flirtations with him throughout dinner. Later that evening, Sir Luc took Agatha up on her offer of a tour of the pantry, after all the others had gone to bed.

Come morning, Sir Barius stormed into the room where the knights were sleeping, with a meek looking servant, and a tall, powerful, fully armored knight in tow. The servant said, “I don’t know which it was, sir”. Pointing at them, Sir Barius demanded to know which of them had committed the foul murder of one of his servants. It seemed that the wench Agatha had been found dead in the pantry! Sir Barius had heard she had dallied with one of the knights but with none of them owning up to a dalliance with her, he gave the knights a chance to prove themselves. Sir Luc feigned outrage, but Sir James pulled him aside and managed to talk Luc out of demanding an immediate trial by combat. Sir Barius gave the knights until evening to gather evidence and present their case to him.

The knights investigated the pantry and the body – discovering that Agatha had been killed by a knife and also discovering a bloody footprint. After Sir James insisted on examining Sir Luc’s knife (spotlessly clean – something he claimed to do every evening) and Sir Luc’s boots (polished to a tee, another habit he claimed to have had for a very long time), the knight’s turned to questioning the servants.

Sir James proved a fine interrogator and it was discovered;

  • that the steward, Sir Ortel has had designs on Barius' daughter, Megan.
  • that Sir Barius might have had a bastard with Agatha (and that if he ever acknowledged the bastard, Megan’s claim on the manor would be lost)
  • that the cook was a recent hire, and not too good at his job.

Sir Penelope and Sir James sought Sir Barius' and after courteous words were given permission to search the rooms of the manor. No clues were turned up in Megan or Sir Ortel’s rooms, but in the cook’s room, the keen eyed Penelope found a hidden compartment with a message and sigil – from Sir Hightower!

Confronted with the evidence, the cook broke down and revealed it had all been part of a plot by Sir Hightower to discredit Sir Barius in Countess Ellen’s eyes so that he would turn to Sir Hightower and the holdouts. By revealing the vile plot, the group saved Sir Barius from suffering much disgrace. He apologized to the Knights and asked what he could do to make amends. With this sordid affair behind them, the knights returned to Sarum to report in. Curiously, the knights observed that Sir Luc drew the anger of any dogs they passed on the way.

Back at Sarum, the knights convened as part of Countess Ellen’s council. Both Sir Esmee and Sir James were not in attendance – word was that both had recently fallen ill. Three Saxons were in attendance, seeking tribute for their kingdoms - Prince Cynric of Wessex, Prince Aescwine of Essex and Prince Celyn of Sussex. Paying three tributes was too much for Ellen so she sought the knights’ advice on what to do, while playing for time. After some debate, it was determined to maintain the county's current alliance with Wessex, sending 15 knights to King Cerdic to serve with him, and to spurn the other two groups of Saxons.

In other news:

  • War was expected in Devon as King Idres was expected to invade, seeking to fill the power vacuum left by the absence of a Duke of Cornwall. Both Idres and the Earl of Devon were seeking mercenaries to join them.
  • Lady Sewain of Rydychan remained in Sarum, and Countess Ellen was anxious for some solution to the three usurpers who now ruled in Rydychan.
  • Duke Ulfius’ alliance with King Aelle of Sussex appeared to be holding.

With the knights dispatched to Wessex to fulfill their treaty, and another two groups of 5 knights ordered to patrol, the remaining knights made ready to pay Sir Hightower a visit to put an end to that problem when... riders from Allington Manor arrived. Sir Esmee had disappeared and the Steward was panicked and asking for help. Sir Luc, Sir Cedric, Sir Penelope Starling and Sir Archer rode to see what had happened.

Outside of Allington, they came across two peasants, one of whom appeared very sick. They were seeking an old wise woman they hoped would be able to give them a cure. Apparently a Hag had appeared in the middle of the night and breathed on the unfortunate man causing him to fall ill. Penelope recognized the symptoms as coming from the ‘Hag Breath’, which caused men to fall sick and die, and women to turn into crones in service to the Hag. The knights hurried to the manor.

There the steward revealed that Sir Esmee had fallen sick a week previously, and then vanished in the middle of the night 3 days past, apparently leaping from the window in her room. Sir Luc searched for clues but could find no trace of where she had gone. It was determined to try and find the peasants they had seen, so Penelope tracked them down. They were enroute to the Chute Forest where this wise woman was rumoured to live. Apparently she was known to visit some of the manors nearby once a year to trade, but they had no other information about her.

After spending the night at Cholderton, where they were able to receive some slightly better directions, they headed off to the Chute forest. Penelope and Cedric spent the ride arguing about their knowledge of crones and where they would prefer to live (Penelope crit her faerie lore and Cedric fumbled, so they were each totally convinced of their knowledge), but eventually Penelope was able to follow signs to a small glade with a rustic hut in it and there the knights met a mysterious old woman, 'the Woman of the Mist'. She seemed to be expecting Sir Luc, which he shrugged off.

The knights explained what they had heard and the Woman of the Mist recognized the signs of a Hag. She said it must be one she knew as the Yr Hen Wrach. She said she could tell the knights how to defeat it, but for a price. They needed to travel to the shores of the 'Singing Lake' where grew the most succulent blackberries in all of Logres. She normally would gather them herself, but a fearsome griffin has taken roost nearby, so she wanted the knights to gather the blackberries AND clear out the griffin.

Again Penelope took the lead, showing her fine hunting skills, and was able to guide the knights to the Lake. The Blackberries were easy to gather, but the griffin presented another problem, as it’s nest was way up on the mountainside. Sir Cedric and Sir Archer argued that griffins were known to be vegetarian. Penelope shook her head sadly at their naivete. Eventually it was decided to try and lure the griffin out by having Cedric parade around a clearing carrying a plate of blackberries. This proved to be not as effective as Cedric had hoped, so the next day the knights tracked up the mountainside to the nest – a collection of boulders and uprooted trees woven into a wall 20 feet tall. As they approached, there was a screech and the Griffin launched itself out of the nest and towards the knights. All but Sir Archer were frozen with fear. He threw himself into the griffin’s path and bore the full force of its attack, being slashed down with two terrible wounds.

The other knights recovered and rushed in. Sir Penelope fought bravely and Sir Luc, seemingly impassioned by Sir Archer’s fate, hacked at the beast with the strength of 10 men. Soon the beast was felled, but not before Sir Cedric had also taken a most heinous wound. After collecting themselves and dealing out first aid to the wounded, Sir Cedric took a talon from the griffin to serve as proof of its death. Penelope climbed up to make sure that the nest was empty (which she assured the other knights it was upon her return). Sir Archer was still near death. Penelope had the idea to use half of the blackberries as a salve for his wounds and then cared for him on the long ride back to the old woman’s abode.

There the Woman of the Mist thanked the knights, and despite the crudeness of her home, performed Chirurgery on both Archer and Cedric. To the amazement of all – the wounds healed cleanly and the two knights stabilized. Both were welcome to remain while they recovered, she said. She then gave the other knights a salve of blackberry juice that she said must be applied to the Yr Hen Wrach after killing it, lest it return, and told them where to search for it in the Harewood.

The knights sent for more backup, and met up with Sir Cuz and Sir Alder at Monxton before Penelope led them into the wood in search of the Hag. Finding themselves in a swampy part of the forest, the knights came across a peasant with a dilapidated boat who offered to guide them to the Hag. Punting deeper into the bog, the peasant dropped them off on a dry bit of land near a small hillock and pointed out the way. Sir Cuz was the first one to spy the cave in the side of the hill and went to closely investigate a pile of bones outside of it. The other knights soon saw a shadow emerge and the horrible sight of the Yr Hen Wrach, unbeknownst to Cuz. It moved into the light and the knights could see its twisted form. 7 ft tall, with long, thin wisps of red hair flow limply from its head, coming to rest upon its drooping breasts. Cuz stood up with a smile on his face, having recognized the type of bones in the pile only for the Hag to breathe a cloud of black fetid mist in his face. Turning to face the other knights, the creature smiled a cruel, malicious smile, her black rotted teeth long and pointed. "Who disturbs the rest of Yr Hen Wrach? Is it more meat for me to feed upon?" A cackling laugh echoed across the cave mouth as the fight was joined, her long clawed fingers ready to rend them apart.

Sir Cuz was consumed with a coughing fit as he could not escape the black mist, and again did not see two more equally ugly, but smaller crones emerge from the cave. Sir Penelope and Sir Luc set upon the Yr Hen Wrach with wild abandon – once again Sir Luc impassioned with hatred as he saw what had befallen Cuz. Alder rushed to try and join in, and the two crones fell upon Cuz, rending him with claw and tooth. With mighty blows, the knights quickly felled the Yr Hen Wrach, and with that, the two other crones fell off of Cuz and transformed before the knights eyes into women – one of them being Esmee. Esmee slowly came to and said she did not know what had befallen her since she'd fallen sick back at Allington the previous month.

Applying the blackberry salve to the Hag's body, the knights returned to Allington with Sir Esmee and the other unfortunate woman.

Back at Sarum, further news awaited. The war in Cornwall had been a success for King Idres. The army of Devon was outclassed and took refuge in the city of Exeter, which was besieged for a time before Count Erbin surrendered and paid homage to Idres.

In Huntington, the Count had paid homage to the King of Essex. This formal vassalage was a real change in relationship. The county will not have to pay tribute any longer but will have to help the Saxons in war. This means that the King of Essex now has a contingent of knights at his call. A chilling thought for the rest of Logres.

No news was heard of Sir James' condition and he still had not been seen at court.

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498 - Wrap Up

Sir Cedric and Sir Archer spent 7 weeks recovering in the company of the Woman of the Mist. She and Albia spent much time discussing herblore and gathering medicinal supplies. One day, after a week of convalescing, while Albia and the Woman were away, Cedric and Archer heard riders approaching. Several armed men strode in to the hut, led by Syagrius, also known as Black Reg – the Bandit King.

He rifled through the woman’s hut while the injured knights were powerless to react. Smiling and chatting to the knights as he went through her things, he could be seen to take several books. Seemingly satisfied, he paused over the injured knights, sneering at them and then kicked a leg out from Sir Archer’s cot and leaving.

When Albia and the Woman returned, she made plain how bad this was - the books that were stolen were her 'thaumaturgical tomes' – they 'described powers that one such as Black Reg should not have'.

The knights returned home after they had recovered and reported these events to Sir Esmee. Countess Ellen. The Countess also asked Esmee to come up with a plan to restore the Lady Sewain to her place as countess of Rydychan. Both of these matters weighed heavily on Esmee throughout the winter.

499

As the knights returned to court at Sarum court in the spring, the city was bustling. Many 'guests' were present petitioning the countess including:

  • Prince Cynric of Wessex asking for an alliance, not simple tribute! The message was 'if Salisbury allied with Wessex then there would be no need to pay tribute, but otherwise, tribute would be doubled'.
  • A messenger from Earl Tegfan of Jagent was looking for some help in defending his lands against King Idres of Cornwall and Brittany. However, he had no money and was seeking volunteers.
  • Prince Mark, son of King Idres was also in court. He scoffed at the messenger from Jagent and suggested that any knights who wished, would be hired for the 'winning side' and join his father. He also suggested that perhaps discussions of an alliance with Cornwall would be profitable for the Countess.

In other rumours swirling around the court:

  • Several bands of warlords from the continent had been going from king to king among the Saxons, seeking who would provide them the best terms to join up with them.
  • Reinhard Starling ("The Arbiter"), who had taken up residence at Windsor Castle, had been ever present in and around London, preaching 'the end of the world' was nigh – unless a high king could be crowned. He proclaimed that he would hold a great ceremony to take place at new year’s eve at Windsor Castle where he would crown the new king.

Countess Ellen's council retired to discuss matters over the course of a week. Sir Penelope took the opportunity to flirt with Prince Mark, and the two of them spent much time together. At last the council came to an agreement, and Countess Ellen agreed - it was decided to formalize the alliance with Wessex if Cerdic would agree to contribute to a force to unseat the three brothers in Rydychan. King Cerdic did agree but demanded that Salisbury’s army be put under his control the following year for his own plans. Sir Esmee also sent several people out with the task of learning the secret of how to reach Boston, the hidden base of Black Reg's bandits in The Great Mire.

With Sir Willem seemingly retired to his estate (sadly, we had one player retire from the game) – Sir James undertook a diplomatic mission to the Duchy of Silchester. Showing the utmost courtesy, he was able to arrange a meeting with Duke Ulfius. The two quickly established a rapport and James was able to arrange for a mutual defense pact with the Duke. Silchester would spare some of its forces to protect Salisbury if Salisbury was attacked by Idres, and Salisbury would do the same if Silchester came under attack from the Saxons. In another show of good faith, a squadron of 25 Silchester knights and 100 footmen were dispatched to join the muster in preparation for Salisbury's attack on Rydychan.

The Battle of Rydychan

Sir Penelope led Salisbury's forces into Rydychan. Reports were that the three brothers were hold up in three different castles, Sir Basile, the eldest at Wallingford, and the two younger ones at Oxford and Shirburn. Penelope determined to take out the eldest brother, Sir Basile, first. She split the force into two, with Sir Cedric leading a blocking force north while she led the main force to Wallingford.

At Wallingford, Sir James attempted to parley, but was rebuked by Sir Basile, who retreated into the keep. And so Penelope had to begin preparations for a siege – a task for which she felt totally unprepared for and after issuing orders to ‘bloody go and build some ladders’, she retreated to her tent in a fit of melancholy (Failed passion roll trying to impassion her Siege skill). The army tentatively set up for the siege, but with no further direction from Esmee, it was really just the army having camped nearby.

Meanwhile, as the days stretched on, Sir Cedric’s force grew complacent in their blocking position and were surprised when the other two brothers, Sir Bege and Sir Beleus led their respective forces in relief of their brother. A skirmish broke out which went disastrously for the Salisbury knights and they soon retreated in disarray having suffered quite a few casualties. Seeing the retreating knights, and his two brothers approaching, Sir Basile issued forth from Wallingford to join in attacking the routed Salisbury forces who were now slightly outnumbered by the army of the three brothers. Sir James flew into Penelope’s tent and with a rousing speech of doing honorable duty for Lady Ellen, he snapped her out of her state, and she rushed to lead the troops.

Sir Cedric and Sir Archer succeeded in regrouping their forces and fought with Sir Bege and Sir Beleus – fighting them to a standstill. Sir James dueled with Sir Basile in a fierce fight while Penelope held off his bodyguard. Finally, James struck Sir Basile unconscious and Penelope finished off the bodyguard, and with that the rest of the brother’s forces lost their nerve and fled the field.

Casualties were suffered on both sides, but Rydychan had been freed. Sir James had first aid performed on Sir Basile, and then had them imprisoned in Wallingford awaiting Lady Sewain's arrival. Several days later when she arrived, she was visibly jubilant. She promised to fulfill her alliance with Salisbury moving forward.

The rest of the summer passed uneventfully in Salisbury, but outside, forces continued to move.

  • King Idres had marched against Jagent, besieging several castles and finally the city of Ilchester. The earl resisted for as long as was reasonable, then surrendered and paid homage to Idres.
  • Messengers from all four of the Saxon kingdoms visited Sarum Castle again, all wanting the same thing — an alliance and an agreement to send soldiers. They hinted that the Saxon kings were about to settle their argument about who was the most powerful and deserving among them to be the 'Bretwalda', the Saxon High King.

New Year's Eve

At New Year’s, the knights made their way to Windsor castle to see what would transpire. The Castle itself was awash in unfamiliar banners and lit by fires around it's base. Throngs of people (mostly peasants) were everywhere. A makeshift stage had been assembled in the field outside the gates that large groups of people had gathered around in anticipation of the Arbiter’s appearance.

When he arrived, the excitement in the crowd was palpable. He was flanked by several more hooded monks. He made his way to the stage and called for silence and then he began his sermon. With his firebrand style, he brought the crowd to a fever pitch. It soon became apparent to the knights that the Arbiter was intent on crowning himself high king. They glanced at one another, unsure of what to do. One of the monks flanking the Arbiter raised high a crown of thorns for all to see, but just as he was about to pass in to the Arbiter, he dropped his hood – it was Black Reg. He whipped out a knife and slashed the Arbiter’s throat – throwing his body off the stage - the crowd was stunned into silence.

“I will give you a high king – the king of bandits” he said as he placed the crown on his own head. The crowd erupted into chaos, and Black Reg leapt onto a waiting horse. The knights rushed to stop him, as other monks around the crowd also removed their hoods revealing themselves to be more bandits - the Men of the Hood. Sir James was able to reach the path in front of Black Reg. Rather than running him down, the bandit king challenged Sir James to face him one to one. Sir James agreed with a snarl, drawing his sword. With a wave of his hand, Black Reg seemed to trace some symbols in the air. The other knights rushing to get close saw the bandit king and Sir James fade from view and vanish. Sir Cedric was attempting to throw a knife at Black Reg, but was shot with a crossbow bolt from a heretofore hidden attacker -Lady Gwendolin. She fled as Cedric threw a knife into her horse.

Sir Archer, Sir Cedric and Sir Penelope took on the remaining bandits, and Penelope proved most fierce, dispatching three of them.

Where did Sir James Go?

Meanwhile, Sir James found himself in a strange fae version of Windsor in the moonlight. The shadows seemed to sway around him. Black Reg was to his front and dismounted and immediately came at James with a glowing mace and insults about 'the no good brother of Alvin'. The fight was fierce and James thought he had caught Reg unawares a few times, but each time some kind of energy flared around Reg which seemed to protect him. Reg landed several heavy blows from his mace which flung James to the ground. Reg stood over him, scoffing. He allowed James to scurry backwards, and then traced more symbols in the air. A wounded James found himself back in the real Windsor as the other Salisbury knights had just finished off the bandits and Penelope was slapping Sir Archer about, shaking him out of his own melancholy state.

The grounds of Windsor were still in chaos, and the knights chose to return to Sarum to regroup for the remainder of winter.

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A relatively tame year compared to some recent ones- short and sweet, since we only had time for a short session. I did manage some setup that will start paying off next time, though.

500

As the year began, Sir Esmee was determined to discover more about the nature of the Bandit’s hidden lair in The Great Mire, the mythical town of Boston. She sent for help from the scribes of the nearby monestary of St. Swithins who promised to conduct research in their scriptorium.

At Easter, Nineve – one of the Ladies of the Lake, was in Sarum to see Countess Ellen. The Countess summoned Emee and revealed that Nineve was seeking an escort of knights to take her into the Forest Sauvage. At the Countess’ insistence, the knights of Salisbury were to provide that escort.

Esmee chose her knights and the party left Sarum, travelling north through Rydychan to reach the forest. The lady, accompanied by 2 handmaidens, seemed to know where they were going and led the party along the river. Breaking for a midday meal, a small, grubby, beggar emerged from the woods and approached. He had awfully nice shoes but asked for the knights to spare a cloak. Esmee generously gave him hers, which did not seem to fit the small man, somehow. Two more cloaks were given and still the beggar’s shoulders were not covered. It seemed to take all of the groups cloaks before he was satisfied and ran off. Indeed something was very strange about the forest they traveled through.

The next day – now headed away from the river following a narrow trail, the party took a break at midday in a small clearing. A gaggle of pretty young noble women emerged from the forest and approached. The tallest among them introduced herself as the lady Blanche les Blanche and asked the knights to teach her handmaidens what it was that made for a ‘good’ knight. The handmaidens all listened attentively to the explanations of the various knights, curtsied and then walked off. Sir Esmee raised one eyebrow, but did not follow.

The next day the group emerged from the forest into a large meadow, swimming with red poppies. Some of the lady’s handmaidens were seen resting their heads on their horses. The group tried to quickly ride through the meadow, but upon reaching the far side, Esmee noticed that Sir Penelope was not on her horse. Sir Archer led a few knights back into the meadow and found Sir Penelope Starling passed out amidst the poppies. Quickly scooping her up, he rode out of the meadow to safety.

On the fourth day – mid-afternoon – the group arrived at a small hut – a peasant home, in a nice little glade. The Lady Nineve went in and emerged some minutes later to say, ‘This is the woman that I wish to see, an old friend, a keeper of these woods in earlier better times. Now she suffers from a wasting illness and has asked to die. I have agreed to help her. I must first pray and gather some herbs”. She then went into the woods, gathered some herbs, returned and reentered the hut. The handmaidens sang a soulful song, and when it was finished, the lady emerged and nodded. After a short silence, the Lady led the group back into the forest. After a few more days of travel they arrived at Castle Tribruit, where Nineve said she would stay. The knights of Salisbury were escorted back to the border with Rydychan by several Tribruit knights and then they returned to Sarum in time to find Court in session.

At Court, Prince Celyn of Sussex and Prince Kinnian of Kent were both there, scowling at each other. Each wanted Salisbury to send 15 knights to fight with them, in return for no demands for tribute and a promise that they would protect from the other Saxons. It seemed that war was coming amongst the Saxons, as they argued over who would be their Bretwalda - the Saxon High King. Also making an appearance was Prince Cynric of Wessex – here to demand that the army of Salisbury accompany him for the season as was promised the previous year.

As the countess and her advisors debated a course of action, the other knights were free to wander court. Sir Archer heard news from Rydychan, that the three Usurpers had been sent into exile. Other news was that both King Idres of Cornwall and Brittany and the Earl Jonathel of Dorset were hiring mercenaries at the usual rates. In Cambria King Nanteleod was hiring footmen. He was going into the mountains to fight the wild tribesmen there.

When Countess Ellen and her council emerged, the decision was made to live up to the agreement with Wessex, and a sizable contingent of knights was sent to join up with King Cerdic.

As the bulk of Salisbury's forces rode off for Wessex, news arrived shortly after that a huge fleet of Saxons had landed off the Duchy of Caercolun's coast – sacking Yarmouth, and assaulting Norwich.

In Wessex, King Cerdic greeted his Salisbury allies warmly. He promised them much plunder and revealed to his newly assembled forces the plan - an assault on Sussex in an attempt to claim the city of Magouns for Wessex.

The Battle of Magouns was a strange affair, as the knights were fighting both for and against Saxons and many of them felt conflicted. Sir Esmee led one eschelle, while Sir Luc led another. The knights of Salisbury proved to be far superior to their foes, smashing through the saxon lines while taking relatively few casualties themselves. There were a few injuries however, as Sir Archer was felled by one group of rich Saxon warriors in the midst of battle, and Sir Cedric by some mounted French mercenaries near the end, but with the addition of the knights, Wessex's forces were far superior and they prevailed in the end. Many of the knights joined in the looting of Magouns before returning to Sarum for the rest of the year where they learned what else had been happening.

In Caercolun, the Saxon horde had gone ashore to sack Yarmouth. They then re-embarked and sailed upriver only to disembark again near Norwich. The Duke of Caercolun marched his army to battle, but the Saxons proved more numerous than expected, and his army was butchered. The Saxons assaulted Norwich, then starved out Buckenham and Thetford. They occupied those larger cities, and groups of Saxon warriors wandered the countryside, robbing and killing. Thousands of refugees fled. When caught by the Saxons, they were beaten and tied and became thralls, or slaves, of the Saxons. Cwichelm was the name of the Saxon king. In fact, he and his people are not really Saxons at all, except in the generic sense. They were the Angles.

In Dorset, King Idres had besieged Dorchester, but the city had stout walls and good supplies and Cornwall was forced to withdraw before he conquered anything significant. Earl Jonathel claimed a great victory, for even though all he did was stop the Cornishmen, he was the first one to have done so.

At the same time as the battle of Magouns, King Ælle’s Saxon warriors were also forced to fight with the Jutes of Kent. They marched against each other and met in battle deep in the Perdue Forest.. The battle, however, was indecisive, and both forces withdrew.

In Gales, King Nanteleod of Escavalon won many small battles, bringing the hill tribes to his side. Then, with his newly allied hill men, marched west and attacked the Irish in their own kingdom of Estregales. King Dirac was unprepared, but with his small household forces and local muster he fought a battle anyway, and was soundly defeated. Now Estregales has sworn vassalage to Nanteleod of Escavalon. In Norgales, a group of brothers called the Three Cadlews had seized much of the country since King Pellinore was again absent, off hunting the questing beast.

And so the new century began, with much bloodshed and slaughter.

Edited by BioKeith
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On 12/14/2020 at 10:40 PM, BioKeith said:

Earl Celyn of Sussex and Sir Kinnian of Kent were both there

This is actually a misunderstanding caused by the obscure way that GPC presents these two fellows. They are actually Cymric conquerors, granted their new estates by Arthur after the Battle of Badon. 4th edition was clear about Earl Celyn of Sussex and Earl Kynniarc of Kent (Kinniarc in GPC) being Cymric/Christians. GPC lists them amongst the Saxon kings, and then compounds the error by referring to 'Prince Celyn of Sussex'.

Again, Rule 0. If you don't care about it, no worries. It is your game, have fun. I just figured I'd let you (and anyone else reading this thread) know.

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2 hours ago, BioKeith said:

Oops - Thanks @Morien - I've edited the summary to reflect that.

Well, you still have the names of the Cymric conquerors in there. :)

Again, that is up to you, but if you want to check this link out, it has some suggestions for the Saxon princes:

https://greathall.chaosium.com/Pendragon Forum Archive/index.php/t-2617.html

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And just in time for Christmas - things start getting a bit weird. I've taken some liberties in pulling some ideas from Cthulhu Dark Ages over and throwing them at the knights. Everyone seems to enjoy a touch of the supernatural.

501 - Part 1

The old year ended with Sir Luc becoming ‘involved’ with a niece of Sir Hightower – whether it was his intention to find a backdoor way to influence the rogue knight, or if it was merely his rakish ways, none could say. Sir James spent the winter bolstering Salisbury's relationship with Silchester and spent a month in Duke Ulfius' court. He also spent many hours in the company of Mania, youngest daughter of the Duke (and sister to Lady Gwendolin, the Lady of Misery). With the approval of the Duke, the two of them were wed late in the year solidifying more connections between Salisbury and the Duchy of Silchester. The annual Christmas feast at Sarum was a pleasant affair, where Sir Esmee delighting the assembled crowd with her voice at the annual caroling contest. She sang a tale of the Questing beast, including a new verse about recent sightings of the Beast in the Harewood, nearby Allington Manor.

Court at Sarum in the spring was again a busy place and one filled with portent as word of warning arrived from Duke Ulfius - through Sir James - that King Aelle of Sussex was furious with Salisbury for their support of Wessex's attack the previous year and had vowed revenge. Essex had sent messengers yet again demanding tribute and warning of consequences if they were again ignored. A messenger from Duke Corneas of Lindsey arrived with a warning of King Nanteleod’s designs to expand outside of Cambria, and news from Cambria seemed to confirm this. 

In news from the North, it was rumoured that King Nentres had died in some kind of accident, leaving Queen Elaine (Ygraine's daughter) to rule. And finally messengers from the Counts of Hertford and Huntington came spreading worry about an impending invasion from the Anglish hordes

On a more personal note, the Countess Ellen’s daughter, Lady Jenna, turned 18, and had begun to attract many suitors. Her hand in marriage would certainly be a significant bargaining chip in any future diplomacy. As the knights of Ellen’s council mulled over their options, a final messenger came – this one from Sir Hightower - leader of the rebel faction. He sought a parley with the Marshall and some of the senior knights of Salisbury and offered to come to Esmee’s manor at Allington to conduct negotiations, apparently seeking some kind of rapprochement.

The council suggested to the Countess that maintaining the county’s alliance with Wessex was still in their best interest, to which she agreed. Marshal Esmee then assigned some knights to various patrol routes before Esmee and the senior knights left for Allington to prepare a feast. Sir Hightower was joined by several from his faction, as well as being accompanied by his niece, Tanica, much to the delight of Sir Luc.  In fact, part way through the feast, Sir Luc and Tanica seemed to vanish from the proceedings for a time. Sir Hightower motioned to Esmee for them to converse privately, so Esmee led them to a private balcony overlooking the manor grounds. It seemed that Hightower had recognized the threat from the Saxons and the danger to the county of remaining divided, but he also found that he had backed himself into a corner with his inflammatory rhetoric to his own faction. He did not see a way for him to council a return to Ellen's rule that allowed him to save face - apart from one. His offer was simple, a duel between the two of them, with the winner becoming (or remaining) Marshall. As Esmee mulled this over, staring across her fields something caught her eye. A nearby hilltop pyre was alight, warning of a raiding party close by.

Hightower and Esmee quickly moved to put aside their discussion as Esmee rushed to prepare the estate’s defenses. As torches appeared and raiders advanced both on the village and the manor, Sir Luc reappeared, somewhat disheveled, and rushed down towards the village without even donning his armor. Sir Penelope and Sir James both finished arming and followed, while Esmee and Hightower saw to the main manor house's defenses. Sir Luc was first on the scene as Saxon raiders advanced. He succeeded in saving a young woman and her infant, catching the baby as he slew the Saxon that threatened them. Sir James rushed to the mill but was too late to prevent it from being set alight. In a rage, he single-handedly took on the raiders he found there. Sir Penelope Starling rushed to the stables when she heard the horses calling out in terror and found the building on fire. Inflamed in passion she used her incredible horsemanship skills in calming and saving all of the animals even as the building burned.

At the manor house, the Saxon raiders had brought ladders and as some pelted the defenders with arrows, the rest climbed over the walls of the manor house's grounds. Sir Hightower and Esmee both fought valiantly, both taking turns saving the other and at last the raiders retreated.

From a prisoner, it was revealed that many groups of raiders had been dispatched by King Aelle in revenge for the previous year. Sir Hightower clasped 'Marshal Esmee' by the arm and swore to bring his renegade knights back to Sarum to swear homage to Lady Ellen and departed. As the peasants put out the last few fires in the cool night air, a lone rider approached the grounds.

It was a monk from the nearby monastery of St. Swithun’s who said that the monastery was also being attacked and asking for aid. Sir Esmee led the group on a night ride to get there as quickly as possible. Upon approaching, the trees started to thin and a red glow could be seen above the monastery. Shouting could be heard and the smell of wood burning was strong, the source of which soon became apparent -  several of the monastery’s support buildings were on fire and the entire monastery was backlit by an unnatural red haze. Monks and a few Saxon raiders were out front, but something odd was noted in their behaviour. One monk ran at the group of knights brandishing a table leg and Esmee quickly knocked him out. The Saxons and monks could be seen either drinking together or stuffing their faces with food or lolling about listlessly.

To everyone’s mounting horror it became clear that they were acting out the seven deadly sins; Luxuria (lechery), gula (gluttony), avaritia (greed), acedia (sloth), ira (wrath), invidia (envy), and superbia (pride). The knights began investigating, carefully moving through the grounds and into the main building. The Abbott was found staring at the walls in his office, which were covered with writing - in blood - which read; “Relinquo totus spes” (Abandon all hope) scrawled over and over on the walls.

The Byzantine merchant, Mousoulios was found arguing with a monk in the kitchens over the quality of the wine he had brought. Another monk was found cowering in the supply room, apparently unaffected and from him it became clear that the trouble had started when the merchant had sold them some wine. Sir Cedric and Sir James were in the kitchens and the impulsive Sir Cedric sampled some wine from a strangely marked keg and quickly flew into a rage before fleeing the kitchens with blood running from his eyes, ears and mouth.

Another monk was found in another part of the abbey raving wildly, “The monastery burns! It burns in the sweet smell of Pan’s pissings. And lo, I am King Solomon, come to render unto thee. I am the master of the air, the earth, the flame, and the wave. The red glow is his coming. The twenty-seventh of Lord Sabaoth. Bathed in the pressing of uva Phêth has come. If one exorcise me in wine, sweet-smelling and unmixed by the eleventh aeon, and say: ‘I exorcise thee by the eleventh aeon to stop, I demand, Phêth,’ then give it to the patient to drink, and I at once retreat. Bathed in the blood of many, he lurks below.”

Sir James found some unmixed wine and forced it into Cedric, seemingly bringing him back from whatever madness he’d fallen into, but it also seemed to awake something in the monastery, as the walls started to shake and bleed, and outside Sir Penelope and Sir Luc were assaulted by some of the Saxons who had been standing idly by. From the small cemetery at the back of the grounds bodies arose and lumbered towards them. Fighting a fierce defensive battle as they retreated inside, Sir Penelope and Luc were on the verge of being overwhelmed. Inside, Sir James had dragged the only sane monk to the kitchens and had him trying the same exorcism on the strangely marked keg which was bubbling and hissing fiercely. Just as the undead creatures burst inside, the exorcism rites were completed and whatever evil had taken form here was banished.

Upon questioning the survivors, it became apparent that Mousoulios had acquired the keg in question while trading in the Great Mire, “from a beautiful blond woman” he said. The knights knew who this referred to and quickly returned to Allington to formulate their plans.

At Allington they found the Woman of the Mist waiting for them. She impressed on them how bad things would get if Black Reg, the bandit king, grew any further in his understanding of her stolen spellbook. She said she could enchant a sword that would be able to kill him, if someone could bring her something of his - a lock of hair, a drop of blood, something personal. She could not help them get to Boston, but she said that if they 'questioned' a creature of Fae, it might reveal the ritual that would lead them there by the Shadow Road. When pressed, she pointed them at one Fey creature she knew of, a Sluagh she knew by the name of Knuckletooth, found in the Harewood. The knights pondered their next course of action. 

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14 hours ago, BioKeith said:

n news from the North, it was rumoured that King Nentres had died in some kind of accident, leaving Queen Elaine (Ygraine's daughter) to rule.

What??? ^^

14 hours ago, BioKeith said:

On a more personal note, the Countess Ellen’s daughter, Lady Jenna, turned 18, and had begun to attract many suitors. Her hand in marriage would certainly be a significant bargaining chip in any future diplomacy.

Considering the events of your campaign, a wedding with the prince Cynric seems the best option ^^

14 hours ago, BioKeith said:

From a prisoner, it was revealed that many groups of raiders had been dispatched by King Aelle in revenge for the previous year. Sir Hightower clasped 'Marshal Esmee' by the arm and swore to bring his renegade knights back to Sarum to swear homage to Lady Ellen and departed. As the peasants put out the last few fires in the cool night air, a lone rider approached the grounds.

I was very surprised with this change of heart of Hightower. I am unconvinced ^^

Otherwise, I didn't like the adventure with the abbey.  It looks out of place with KAP to my taste.  I think the Anarchy is the best when you fight against the Saxons. They are the real threat. IMHO, with all your adventures with dark powers, the Saxons are forgotten, I'm afraid.

Edited by Tizun Thane
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I don’t know.   It’s obviously different from how the GPC expects play to be.  But I think there’s room for adding this kind of horror to something that’s already a bit of a genre hybrid.   After all, the entire Anarchy is one single sentence in Malory.  The appearance of weird and disturbing supernatural events can be seen as a symbolic reflection of the absence of a king.

I personally am going to let my players dictate quite how things go, but if (as I suspect) they will be getting a bit bored with battles against Saxons at that point, I am provisionally hoping to play up more the way in which the death of Uther throws Logres itself into chaos with many people trying become king.  Which is, after all, what Malory says, and what gives the Sword in the Stone episode its greatest significance.

There is a whole subtext to the reception of the “historical” Arthur as a modern myth that flourished in the postwar era.   Some of that’s admirable - Arthur as last defender of Romano-British civilisation against the Saxons reflects Britain’s self-mythologization of its opposition to Nazi Germany.  Which was, you know, a very good thing.  But some of that postwar subtext is not so great,  at least from my perspective - many of the key texts in the rise of the idea to popularity appeared at the same time as the postwar backlash against immigration, and I think there is a connection there (which is not to say that it was necessarily a conscious connection on the part of any individual author).

So I think it’s fine for GMs and players in the 21st century to revisit that element if they want and change its emphases, and rethink it as a different sort of myth.  It’s interesting to me, for instance, that in BioKeith’s adventure, the Saxons are also victims, in a way, and the *real* enemy is something else.

Edited by Voord 99
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50 minutes ago, Voord 99 said:

I don’t know.   It’s obviously different from how the GPC expects play to be.  But I think there’s room for adding this kind of horror to something that’s already a bit of a genre hybrid.   After all, the entire Anarchy is one single sentence in Malory.  The appearance of weird and disturbing supernatural events can be seen as a symbolic reflection of the absence of a king.

I agree with you (especially the symbolic part, well done!). There is room for this kind of stuff (and I loved some previous creepy adventures before). It's just...this last adventure was too much to my taste, altering the tone if you want. It's a matter of personal taste.

In the campaign of Bio Keith, I like Syagrius as the Big Bad. But I always think you have to be especially careful with the dark powers in KAP, in order to be faithful to the genre.

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