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Well, That Escalated Slowly - A Run through the GPC (+BoU)

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One of my players enjoys writing up our sessions, so I thought I might share them with everyone.

Background: We play for about four hours on Discord once a month. Most of the group has some RPG experience, save one. The others are familiar with BRP, but none has played Pendragon before. We are sometimes a bit loose with details of medieval society and Arthurian canon, whatever the latter is.

Our starting knights:

Sir Nerys (le Sorciere) of Broughton - A child of another knight known for Aurelius’ continental campaigns, who died along Sir Owain’s sire. Known for her warm feelings for her family, her generosity, and her love of books.

Sir Owain (of the Four Heads) of Stapleford - His father fought with distinction with Aurelius from Galicia to Mount Snowdon, gaining great honor and the king’s appreciation until he died in the Frisian raids. Notable for his loyalty to the count, and his recklessness.

Sir Rhian (the Mad) of Shrewton - Her mother died under Aurelius in Galicia with great glory. Notable for her excitement, her welcoming nature, and her affection for her family.

Sir Tyngyr (Baronbreaker) of Cholderton - His family were staunch Vortigern loyalists; his father renounced the High King shortly before dying of plague. Known for being just and honorable, but most of all for hating Saxons.

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...And with that done, we must now turn our attention to the younger generation, that of the noble Rhian of Shrewton, Owain of Stapleford and Nerys of Broughton, as well as the scion Tyngyr of the loyalist house of Cholderton. Testimony suggests that Cholderton’s estate holders (one of which was a victim of the Night of Long Knives) were more diffident to the conflict than loyal to Vortigern, however. The households of Stapleford, Shrewton and Broughton were considerably more remarked upon in history, having won acclaim in not just a few battles fighting for King Ambrosius in Brittany. Nerys will, of course, be known to any avid reader and I am much indebted to her family’s famous and delightfully eclectic library for much of this volume.
    Of these four, little is known before the end of their squirehood in the year of Our Lord 479, however living witnesses to the events of their knighting were amenable to an interview. In the test of their abilities, all proved marginally capable at horsemanship and jousting, belying their eventual prowess. Owain won the races, with Rhian suffering a minor injury and the Cholderton heir passing her by without checking. Perhaps this is what drove Rhian to win in the round-robin joust which ended between those two. The day’s exhibition over and all four having proven themselves capable of sitting a horse at least, they were given the task of hunting a bear which had made itself a nuisance to the locals.
    Here we look to the Cholderton text on hawking, an anecdote in which is the only known first-hand account of the expedition:

    ...after a night at [Old Garr’s] home, Rhian of Shrewton assigned me to accompany Owain of Stapleton, and he shewed much familiarity with the wild and tracking in particular; we set to the beast on not just one occasion, but two, and, though Owain gained the better of it…
    Owain was awarded its pelt for his skills in tracking and the numerous blows struck despite…

    An encounter with rustlers the group had on the return journey is also described in the rolls, two of the four culprits being apprehended and the other two being shown justice in the moment. One bandit recounted fearing Owain’s retribution after having struck him through his armor, but he received undue mercy. Both were executed at the Count’s pleasure, so justice was served.
    Records show all four knights were inducted into knighthood on their return, assuming the titles of their respective houses. I had the honor of attending this, but being but a young child, I cannot recall the details. Fortunately, many extant journals record the feast and a few details pertaining to the new knights before they slip back into the shadows of history for a time: Tyngyr’s dancing was remarked upon by a few notable women, as well as Owain and Tyngyr’s failure in arm wrestling against Lycus (who will already be familiar to anyone acquainted with my other works). Nerys was most noted, however, for her impassioned speech to the count on the topic of honor.
    For the next few years, only household records exist to track the deeds of these knights, so let us continue on. A brief note from Sir Tyngyr’s chaplain notes his frustration that he lacked the funds “even to keep a mistress, due to the infertile land.” The reference is likely due to the legendary “blasted heath” near Cholderton, supposedly cursed due to the family’s support of High King Vortigern...

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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…preposterous, of course.
However, in the year of our Lord 480, the duty of ascertaining the suitability of a match with a certain lady Ellen fell quite naturally to the younger generation and more particularly upon Sir Nidian as the lord’s constable, so the knights journeyed to Windsor in Silchester lands and imposed upon that lady’s hospitality before returning with their report. Although no record of the conversation exists, judging from the wariness of the knights regarding Silchester, it might not have been the most glowing praise. A servant I had the pleasure of speaking with once remarked upon the group’s oration, even all those years later.
    Some months later, records show the knights upon the rosters in the service of King Aurelius in that fateful Battle of Salisbury. Infamously, the knights also happened upon the young, then-prince Arthur as his procession headed toward Westminster. More than a few accounts declaim the sheer impertinence of Sir Rhian in suggesting that the Prince was a notorious bandit.* Unfortunately, court documents do not recount the King Aurelius’s exact words as the knights of our province presented themselves to him, but surely that particular gaffe weighed upon their minds. Sir Owain, in his cups at the feast, was heard to praise the late king’s diplomacy and I believe he had this incident in mind.
    After the meeting, the knights and their levy marched to meet the Saxon incursion. The Cholderton hawking text has a significant account of the battle, but the language is too florid to be recounted here. Other texts cover the tactics of the battle, but I shall attempt to lay out the actions of the four households in question...

    ...Sir Owain was quite noted for his use of the tooth of Saint Germanus, which gave him strength against the Saxons in the opening sallies. During the ensuing feast, Sir Rhian was widely recognized for having cried out for the glory of the lord of our desmenes before charging a wave of peasants. Cholderton, on the other hand, bellowed a challenge to a berserker and shattered the Saxon’s axe with his blow, though what stood out to observers was the sheer rancor of his epithets.
    Much ink has been spilled regarding the fate of King Aurelius, so I hope my gracious audience will forgive me for merely noting that the laments of True Britons at the king’s death, the blood-red sky and the rumors of his poisoning had the expected impact upon the morale of the knights, though the might of Sir Elad and the ardor of Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, bolstered their resolve.
    Following the battle, Sir Tyngyr and Sir Rhian seemed despondent and were comforted by their friends. A couple accounts mention Sir Tyngyr drawing steel against Sir Owain and another claims that Sir Rhian attempted to strike Sir Nerys, though I hardly credit the latter.
    The battle was followed by the funeral for King Aurelius, God rest his soul, the coronation of King Uther, and King Uther’s first royal feast. As my reader will well know, King Uther failed in his bid for High King, to the surprise of many. The feast was where Sir Nerys met her husband, Edar, a match which is still fondly remembered as one of spontaneous and unexpected love. Sir Owain was put in a place of honor, but found the wine too strong amongst such rarified company. Sir Tyngyr was also known to have accompanied Lady Indeg, the daughter of a vassal knight. At this feast, there was a lady whose presence caused something of a stir and whose identity is still much disputed, but what many are certain of is that Sir Rhian was seen in her company more than once.
    Now, several sources claim the identity of the lady…

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni

Fumbles at Recognize are fun

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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481 AD:

..and preparations complete, they arrived at the Easter court.
    Sir Duach, Sir Lycus and Leo were all in attendance. This is also when Sir Owain started his infamous (if somewhat unequal) rivalry with Sir Caradoc of Marlborough, perhaps in an attempt to win favorable attention for a special mission that members of the court were speculating about. Sir Caradoc was not satisfied with the result, nor Sir Owain’s insults regarding the lord of Marlborough. If his intent was to garner attention, it worked: Sir Owain, Sir Tyngyr, Sir Nerys and Sir Rhian were all sent to the home of Lady Rosalyn, at Leir’s Castle in Leicester, ahead of the main force, led by Sir Elad. 
    Lady Rosalyn was famous for her hospitality and notable generosity and the knights indulged themselves. Sir Owain and Sir Nerys went hunting and missed Sir Rhian’s harp recital, which silenced the entire hall for its duration and was said to haunt those who heard it.
    Rumors say the count was evaluating a match with Lady Rosalyn, due to the challenge to his suit for Lady Ellen of Windsor from Sir Blains, Steward of Levcomagus and vassal of Duke Ulfius. I have not been able to confirm this. It is known that the knights spoke with Duke Edaris near the end of their stay, however.
    Battle called, however, and they joined the muster at Leir’s Castle to march on Bedegraine.  Duke Gorlois was absent due to weather, which became a point of contention between him and the new king. With few dissenters (Sir Tyngyr among them), King Uther gave orders to loot the area to draw Bedegraine out of his battlements, leading him to ride his force of 75 against Uther’s 400.
    While the battle was decidedly one-sided, our valorous knights did not fare as well as their army. Sir Tyngyr acquitted himself adequately, but all the others sustained serious injuries and Sir Nerys was unhorsed. Sir Rhian was injured quite gravely, a situation not improved by the singularly unimpressive healers. It should be noted that there was a reported fire which set some of the medical supplies ablaze; the journals of many knights noted their poor service.
    The battle was decided in single combat between Bedegraine and Uther, with Uther triumphing. The knights stayed for some time to accompany Sir Rhian in her convalescence. King Uther ruffled some feathers by fining Gorlois for his tardiness, with the assertion that the weather was predictable for that time of year. Many also disapproved of his handling of the situation with Bedegraine. Some asserted that Uther was still bitter about the vote for High King and that this is why he wanted Bedegraine to pay him the tribute due to his brother.
    It was while waiting for their friend’s recovery that the knights became fascinated with the story of Black Annis, whose claws snatched naughty children from their beds. Sir Rhian knew of the paths leading to her and the knights convinced Sir Elad to allow them to pursue this matter. He directed them to Sir Bronwyn, who, as you will have read in previous volumes, was well acquainted with the habits of dread creatures. Sir Nerys’s journal mentions that the locals believed dogs might drive Black Annis away, though they pointed to Merlin or the Ladies of the Lake as proper authorities on the matter.
    They then returned to Salisbury. Of note after their return is Sir Rhian’s composition of a rather trifling poem and her heart-felt and moving recital of it, in her attempt to woo a lover.
They accompanied Sir Bronwyn to the festival of Epona, though not before Sir Tyngyr revealed his deep ignorance of Epona, as noted in Sir Bronwyn’s journal. The knights all made their way to what they believed was the festival site, the White Horse at Uffington, only to discover a monk who warned them away, but no sign of a festival. The monk informed them that another white horse could be seen in nether valley of Westbury. Leaving their squires and armor behind, they rode the intervening distance- nearly forty miles- to make the festival, refusing to be waylaid by revelers and maternity stags, but pausing at a checkpoint set by other knights, where Sir Caradoc met once again with Sir Owain. They resolved to compete in a jousting competition for right of passage and set to one another, finishing with Sir Owain throwing Sir Caradoc well clear of his horse with a mighty blow.
    Sir Rhian and Sir Tyngyr did not fare quite as well against their opponents as Sir Owain and Sir Nerys did. Sir Tyngyr, it must be noted, lost consciousness required a chirurgeon after his duel and, once passage had been cleared, decided to rest and pass the night at the checkpoint with Sir Rhian and the rest. Sir Caradoc, watching from the sidelines and tending to his own injuries, wrote this:

    …on the final pass, Sir Llawr struck Sir Tyngyr with such force that he was thrown from his horse. We found him lying some distance from the path, so still as to appear dead. Water resuscitated him, but...

    Three knights rode on to the festival: Sir Owain, Sir Nerys, and Sir Bronwyn. I can scarcely credit it, but all accounts tell of the three knights riding their magically revived mounts to a green field outside Westbury, where the horses and riders found succor in a cerulean trough and a chest of Epona’s coinage. Sir Nerys took from both, and it is believed that led to the hardiness of her manor’s herd in years to come. Sir Owain related that Epona’s priestess recommended Vivian, Lady of the Lake for advice on taming Black Annis.
    I’ll comment that this is around the time Cholderton’s elder sister Helen disappeared, but this story is common knowledge. More interesting is the suggestion that, later that winter in judgment, Sir Rhian sided with one widow over another due to her having the more pleasing profile…

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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...and so in the early days of 482 AD, three of our knights went searching for Sir Helen, who had been on patrol in Chute Forest, adjacent to Silchester while Sir Helen’s brother, Tyngyr, was with the chiurgeons, but they were unable to follow her trail in the heavy snowfall. She had ridden off alone and unarmed. These circumstances fed the rumors of a curse upon Cholderton.

    Happier circumstances prevailed with the wedding of Sir Nerys to Edar and a notably bawdy feast. Sir Nerys used the occasion to discover that Sir Helen’s patrol had previously run into a London merchant by the name of Quintus Symmachus, who had shown them a silver dagger that had fascinated Sir Helen. Sir Rhian, meanwhile, gave a full-hearted speech (of no particular position) on the relation of nobles and peasants and thereby gained a benefactor.

    That year, court was held at the fortress of the Bishop of Colchester before the muster against the Summerland. Sir Caradoc sought out Sir Owain to renew the friendship they had forged in the search for Epona’s festival, only to have his candor dashed against Sir Owain’s snub. The engravings don’t do justice to the anger recorded in Sir Caradoc’s journal. On the way to the muster, the knights stopped by the court of the Lady Llylla, whose unkind disposition is still widely known.

    Their experience of London was as unpleasant as one might expect. Records show that they stayed with the trader Symmachus. The dagger he had shown Helen was commissioned around the time of his birth and was one of a pair; the other was carried by his father. He was in Bath shortly before the time when Sir Helen disappeared, renewing contracts that his father had set up before his disappearance while on pilgrimage to St. Albans, along a path leading past Cholderton.

    From there, the knights mustered at the Summerlands with a troubled deployment, largely owing to the departure of Merlin from court after King Uther ignored his advice to avoid conflict with the Summerlands. Sir Gorlois arrived late and other lords also noted difficulties in joining the muster. King Uther’s looting strategy failed and so began the long siege of Wells.

While in this position, something remarkable was said to have happened: the Salisbury knights met with the Lady of the Lake. After trading Epona’s token for entry, they supposedly waded into a lake when they were pulled underwater and into her court. They were greeted by servants and, to Sir Nerys’ delight, a library. Sir Rhian partook of the lady’s larder before Sir Owain warned the group against it. A bargain was struck, wherein the knights promised three services to her with the understanding they would not compromise their duty to their lord.

    The knowledge the Lady imparted about Black Annis was strange indeed.

  • She has iron claws longer than swords, an acid spit, and a fearsome wail.
  • Item, they should seek out Livia of Bath.
  • Item, they were warned against bringing horses to the battle.
  • Item, she must be buried in her bower and rites performed.
  • Item, a dead cat must be soaked in aniseed, tied to a horse, and chased by hounds past the mayor’s house
  • Item, every year thereafter a feast must be held on Easter Monday

    Though I’ve long sought it, there can now be found no trace of a book that Sir Nerys is said to have gained from the lady, offering a future book of her choice in repayment. Once this deal was struck, their squires swore up and down that their knights appeared from nowhere to return to the field.

    The siege continued until the parley. One hundred knights from each side were to meet upon the field. It is said that King Uther was gravely agitated before the meeting by his opposite’s late arrival and lone presence, but he was oddly amiable after the meeting with King Cadwy, more so than his usual demeanor would allow. The terms, as all should know, allowed Summerland to continue with its usual independence.

    The armies quit the field and the Salisbury knights went to Bath. It is said that Sir Tyngyr saved Lady Livia from a ruckus known as Owain’s Riot at Bath. I will confess ignorance of Lady Livia’s part in the coming battle, though a surviving squire said she “used lead tablets in a lake to seal Black Annis’s jaw shut,” whatever that means.

    The struggle against her, as all did, went poorly, though Sir Rhian is known to have crippled one of Black Annis’s hands* and the knights survived**. Black Annis' armor blunted all attacks against her. This is also where Sir Owain picked up his distinctive facial scars. The recovery took months.

    Recovered before his comrades, Sir Tyngyr rode home with Lady Livia. Once there, it’s said that he had an impassioned discussion with his mother while a silver dagger stood on the table beside them. His mother departed the home with no declared destination. The trader Symmachus wintered at the manor and they rode out to the blight, unearthing some bones at the center. Sir Tyngyr made a gift of the silver dagger to Symmachus, who departed once winter broke. Records suggest that this occurred shortly before the blight healed.

    It must be noted that the father of the trader Symmachus was a guest of the household some months before Sir Helen’s birth and his own disappearance. The servants thereafter were ordered to treat the trader Symmachus and Lady Livia as members of the household.

    Scandalous, even by the standards of the pagan Cholderton household...

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

* I misinterpreted the effects of a melee weapon vs. a natural weapon attack here, but it did lead to some interesting storytelling later.

** Black Annis, using only one claw and no other attacks, managed to nearly take out all four knights.

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(I'll probably update these every other day or so, until we catch up with the present campaign.)

[483 AD]

...En route to King Uther’s court at Lonazep, Count Roderick and his entourage were attacked in a melee known as the Sauvage Ambush. The assailants quit the field as suddenly as they engaged, wholly defeated. One of their members was captured and revealed the horsemen working with the Saxons to be mercenaries from Malahaut. This combat made court awkward that year, as the count was convening with Sir Uther for adjudication between his suit and that of Sir Blains for the hand of the Lady Ellen. Tensions rose between the knights, peaking with a duel between Sir Tyngyr and Sir Hyffaid of Silchester. Also, Sir Owain snubbed Sir Caradoc again.

    Rumors suggested that Uther had not abandoned his ambition to become High King, among many other intrigues. The nephew of Baroness Pomponia was knighted and made duke, at the mere age of four. Sir Tyngyr, having received a deservedly brutal rebuff from Lady Llylla, made scurrilous suggestions to her brother, Sir Ederyn. His reception was frosty. The knights witnessed the fatal duel between Sir Martinus and Prince Arthur over the honor of the Lady Rhianneth, though it seems unlikely that they witnessed the brevity of her mourning period.

    Returning home, Sir Owain discovered that his mother had gone missing on a day-long excursion. Unexpectedly, records suggest that the knights made their way across the border without permission to seek out Sir Caradoc who was on patrol near the border of Marlborough with Somerset, purportedly to seek his aid. Sir Caradoc’s family accounts are full of speculations suggesting less noble motivations for their visit. Lacking permission, the knights were scolded upon their return.

    Some time after, Lady Olwyn, mother of Sir Owain returned to court with her son, with little effort made to explain the matter. Rumors abound, with the most common being that she was ensorcelled by fey magicks and that Sir Owain traded one of his subjects, a local cunning woman, for her. The more mundane explanation circulated is a tryst, though her paramour’s identity varies by the telling.

    Perhaps this matter motivated the planners to place Sir Owain with the squires at the count’s wedding feast. This year also saw Sir Nerys bearing a child and Sir Tyngyr’s younger brother marrying into Lady Nerys’s family. Sadly, there is no record of her reaction to the news.

    There are many sources suggesting the identity of Lady Olwyn’s lover and I believe history demands we explore them in detail. Prince Arthur was….

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni

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...Sir Bronwen, who rode with them to the White Horse, was called to his eternal peace in the year of our lord 484. Shortly after, the count’s family was blessed with a daughter. 

In court that year, the knights were told that Black Annis had yet to reappear since their conflict. Sir Owain and the count were seen in company with Marshall Bedwor, perhaps in relation to Sir Owain and Sir Caradoc’s near-meeting last year. Sir Rhian sent a token of her affection to her unnamed lover with a letter which seems not to have survived the years. It was at this court that Sir Brastias had to inform King Uther of the Irish invasion which would hold Duke Gorlois’ troops from the coming battle; the message raised Uther’s ire, and their absence left his armies vulnerable to the coming attacks.

While in the camp, Sir Owain, unsettled by a reminder of his feud with Sir Caradoc, was made the target of a lampoon by a traveling bard: 

Oh, if you go down to Salisbury Plain
Down to the banks of Avon,
There’s many knights bold, and many knights fair,
And many knights brave, all save one.

Owain, Owain,
He’s ugly and vain,
He doesn’t know which way to go
Owain, Owain,
He’s really a pain,
He eats with the squires down below.

Owain was dissuaded from violence by Sir Nerys, instead discovering the composer, Eliavres, a man competing with Sir Caradoc for the hand of the lady Ysave. It was perhaps here that Sir Owain first heard of her. Who knew that Eliavres’ tales of her vibrancy would have inspired Sir Owain to join the competition for her hand?

    During the army’s march, our Salisbury knights were ambushed by Saxons. Sir Tyngyr was incapacitated as the knights were withdrawing, which caused the loyal knights to valiantly cover his squire’s retreat. Sir Nerys was unhorsed and Sir Owain fell so that she could be mounted again; only Sir Nerys and Sir Tyngyr escaped to the forest. Sir Rhian attributed her survival to her family’s underjerkin, but the Saxons captured her and Sir Owain.
    Sir Tyngyr and Sir Nerys were witness to the reappearance of Merlin, who rallied Sir Uther’s troops and caused a wall of fog to obscure Uther’s famous charge against the Saxon camp, rescuing their comrades from a grisly fate on that bloody day. Sir Tyngyr’s violence was lauded in this battle as much as it was condemned in the prior one. Sir Nerys fell unconscious off her horse at the end, and she and the other knights spent much time recuperating at Eburacum.

    Sir Rhian discovered that a man named Cuthwulf had a tome of great value, the Red Book of Cyprian, and it seems the knights decided it was their duty to retrieve the volume for Christendom, leading to a daring raid on his estate. The Lady of the Lake asked for it in return for the book that Sir Nerys had been granted from her library. Sir Rhian lost her composure in the battle with Cuthwulf’s thralls and galloped towards the woods, eluding her companions and written histories for some time. Surprisingly, the lady’s envoy requested that Sir Nerys donate the book to Ambrius’ Abbey.

    Sir Nerys honored her husband Edar with a feast and delivered a stirring speech on his utility, but of more interest are the insults which Sir Rhian’s grandmother delivered to a local friar….

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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In the year of our lord 485, Cholderton continued his relentless pursuit of the vaguely amused Llylla by reciting a poem at court. Other scholars have described it as a “clever way of spinning his lack of finances.” The Lady Llylla seemed unconvinced, being courted by her third baron at that time.

    This being a year when Merlin was in repose and Gorlois again absent, the offensive against the Saxons in the battle of Mearcred Creek was nearly mooted with mounting losses on both sides causing our knights to retreat without the rout Uther had hoped for. The kingdom suffered further losses as Maldon and Colchester to the east were overcome by the Saxons.

    Still lacking Sir Rhian, our own Salisbury knights faced some raiding Salisbury knights in a skirmish at Allington, with Sir Blains, the Steward of Levcomagus, watching from the distance. Lady Nerys’s famous sword was broken in this battle, only to be reforged shortly after.

    Eliavres, the magician competing with a noble for a Lady’s affection, was known to have contacted our knights with the news that he could deploy a malediction to weaken Black Annis.

    Unusually this year, the knights attended court a second time, this time at Harborkeep, where Sir Tyngyr was known to have made himself a nuisance to Lady Llylla. Perhaps defending her from his unwanted advances, Baron Bassianus of Chichester had words with Sir Tyngyr, who responded with a duel over the fair lady. In what many regard as a bad idea, the Baron refused a proxy and met the impassioned knight on the field. The Complete Histories of Baron Bassianus described that tragic day thus:

...and whilst both the lady and Prince Arthur gazed on, the two charged oon another with lances set and tho my lord did acquit himself wel, that love bysotted knight gayned the bytter of him yn both passes, unhorsyng him yn the second. Afoot, his sword proved no match for the knight’s spear, leavyng him a bloody ruyn, but clyngyng to life nevertheless...

    The Lady Llylla was noted to have curtly returned to the castle she might have made home (were it not for Sir Tyngyr’s interference) without exchanging a word with him. Our knights returned home with haste.

    Sir Tyngyr’s sister, Helen, not to be outdone, leapt upon Sir Nerys as they progressed homewards. She was known to have been stunned speechless by the appearance of Civilized Christians (and also Cholderton) until she and her bastard, Hector, were escorted to their home estate. One servant described her appearance as “savage” on first seeing her.

Also returned from the wilds that season, Sir Rhian made an appearance at the count’s court, bearing scars to match the ones she gave Black Annis, as well as words of prophecy:

“Terrible shall be the death of the great.”
“Two horns shall lead you to greatness.”
“Sir Owain owes a lady a cask of wine.”

    The next spring brought the usual spate of (politely hurried) marriages...

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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486 was the year that Prince Arthur led our noble troops in raids against the Saxons, and much glory was to be found for many Salisbury knights, but not for these four. Sir Rhian had insulted the prince, and Sir Nerys was unfairly tarnished by her association with Sir Tyngyr and Sir Owain, both of whom had incurred the ire of their count. Thus the new season found them in garrison duty, attending to the complaints of the peasantry.*

    This suited Sir Nerys just fine, as she attended to the hunger of her people, even going so far as to add her own honey to ease their woes. She earned herself a mention in the volume On the Nature of the Nobility and their Duties to the Common Folk, a controversial text that…

...Something most odd occurred near the end of their three months of garrison duty. They happened upon a wizened gentleman who was bemoaning the loss of his goat. Sir Tyngyr demeaned himself by hastening to catch the goat, but it eluded him until they stumbled upon a giant. With an uprooted tree, the giant smashed the hapless Sir Tyngyr and then set upon doing the same to Sir Nerys. Sir Owain rose to the occasion. The record of deeds read at the feast describes it thus:

"Unbesein, Sir Owayn rasened on the eten in defens of his compaignyones with launce bigripened and with a swift strik to the beste’s eies, freen the kingshipe of that misviled manace. His token enchevened and his friends savete acertened..."

    History does not record the fate of the goat.

If their claims are to be believed, the old man then revealed himself to be Merlin in disguise. He healed the injured knights and led them to a wood unknown to them, despite the area’s familiarity. A creature even more fierce than the giant lurked there. Their description was of a creature that grew arms, wielded unshorn branches as clubs and, though in appearance a mounted man, both horse and rider were of one piece, making a two-headed, 10-limbed monstrosity that melted into a brackish puddle upon its defeat at the hands of the knights. It matches the description of a creature known as the Nukalevee in a pagan text I found in Sir Nerys’s library. It also reminded me of Sir Nerys’s journal, which contained an account of these events:

"After killing yet another monster that Merlin probably could have dispatched himself, we found him on a small boat in the middle of a lake, accepting a sword from a hand rising from the pure lake waters. On the return trip, he wouldn't let me inspect the sword or tell me about the hand and refused to entertain enquiries about his personal library."

Sir Rhian made an explanation of the day’s events to the count, who held a feast honoring their place in Salisbury’s storied history. Furthering the county’s festive mood, Sir Owain hosted a lavish hunt. Breaking all rules of hospitality and decorum, Sir Caradoc challenged Sir Owain to a duel and was promptly broken against Sir Owain’s steel, though he lived. Our own count was the first to find the day’s quarry.

    Sir Rhian, returned from his journeys, tried to renew his courtship of Lady Adwen, though his letters were met with little success. Sir Owain was much more successful in his courtship of the Lady Ysave, despite the complaints of Sir Caradoc. Sadly, this was the year Sir Owain's mother passed, so she was unable to attend the wedding. This was also the second year that Sir Nerys donated funds to ensure the welfare of her people.

Returned from her wild years and having accompanied Prince Arthur on his raids, Sir Helen le Sauvage became the steward for Cholderton*, as Sir Tyngyr joined the defense of the Saxon border, which had recently overwhelmed Caercolun, Lady Llylla’s family hold.

    Even as a God-fearing man, I do wonder about Sir Rhian’s prophecies. The goat would most obviously be the two-horns, and the cask would be Sir Rhian’s misstep with the Lady of the Lake’s wine, or perhaps the donation of some of Owain’s vineyard to the kingdom. The death of the great, though...

“Terrible shall be the death of the great.”
“Two horns shall lead you to greatness.”
“Sir Owain owes a lady a cask of wine.”

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

* Here's a side benefit of running the BoU years: PKs have sufficient time to get into trouble to justify their reassignment to garrison duty.

** Here enters Sir Helen le Sauvage, household knight, known for her recklessness***, her love of her kin, her burning hatred of Saxons, and her skill with the two-handed axe.

*** The second of three PKs so far to feature Reckless as a distinguishing trait. 


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King Uther and his court graced our fair land during the winter of 487. It was here that Prince Arthur presented the spoils of the previous years raids on the Saxons and the knights of Salisbury benefited from the king’s largesse. Merlin presented Excalibur to King Uther and reminded him to rule with honor on this fair occasion. King Uther met the challenge with a solemn vow.

    Later in court, Tyngyr recited a poem, which apparently prompted Sir Arnoullant to challenge Tyngyr for the freedom of Lady Llylla from his terrifying passion. Sir Arnoullant survived long enough for surgeons to fail to save him from his wounds, and the poor Lady Llylla remained in Sir Tyngyr’s clutches.

Our knights were amongst those honored to sail for the Saxon coast and joined the raids on Pevensy, Dover, Blackwater, Colne, and the Wash. At the final battle, exhausted and injured by rigorous combats, Sir Rhian reminded Sir Owain that their mission was for the benefit of the realm and not their personal glory, so our knights declined the challenge from the Saxon berserkers. This did not prevent Sir Rhian from succumbing to the pressures of being separated from her love, the Lady Adwen. Some knight comforted her and prevented her from running wild. Sir Tyngyr split from the group to prosecute the war against the Saxons in the occupied territory that was the Lady Llylla’s home.

    Our Salisbury knights celebrated their victorious return at Sir Owain’s wedding to the Lady Ysave. Though records of this event are scarce, there are some scandalous rumors of what happened in Sir Owain’s household after the wedding. Apparently Owain appeared to be various animals to his wife in the evenings - a dog, a pig, and finally a horse. This only ended when Owain invited the bishop to his household, who released him from this enchantment with prayer.  In addition, some men of questionable virtue were in the area. Surely this work by Sir Owain was done for the benefit of Salisbury, though what transpired eludes me.

    Sir Nerys petitioned the count for permission to visit the Abbey of the Exe River in the duchy of Cornwall, which is forced to sell off some of its library due to rivalry with the king. He put her off until a subsequent year, lest the cold war with Duke Gorlois turn heated.

And perhaps most fortunately of all, Sir Rhian received permission from the Duke to finalize her marriage to the Lady Adwen. Even years later, I remember the rumors I heard as a child about the years of suffering Sir Rhian endured to see this event come to fruition. My family, as friends of the Lady Adwen, were overjoyed at such a favorable match and the joy of two lovers brought together in matrimony..

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...Sir Rhian and Lady Adwen’s ceremony in 488 was quite memorable, even for a beardless youth still yet to squire like me. My only memory of Sir Helen in person was of her touching toast to the couple’s future (and one of the ladies’ matronly fuss over Sir Helen’s disordered outfit shortly thereafter). Sir Rhian’s flirtations with her wife were endearingly bad and the evening was proceeding apace, but the feast’s unexpected visitor - a destitute grandmother that Sir Nerys had shown kindness, winning a debate with Sir Owain - turned out to be quite a bit more. I woke from my cups to find her denouncing Sir Rhian and laying claim to her heirs in pure hatred. The name was whispered in hushed awe: Black Annis. Moments later, she slipped into the dreadful darkness and my nightmares. Surely the evening would have ended in bloodshed if Sir Nerys had not granted the old lady the bread and salt of hospitality.

    Though Sir Rhian no doubt worried over her bride, the knights sailed to France, where they served as honor guard to King Syagrius, to whom King Uther had pledged their service and the assistance of Prince Arthur. In a Frankish ambush, the group was waylaid heavily, with Sir Owain taking a hard hit, Sir Rhian dropping her sword, and Sir Nerys fighting with distinction in service to her fellow knights. In questioning the prisoners, Sir Rhian le Fou’s practical questions were followed by Sir Helen beheading one of them...

    At the siege of Bayeux, the group led a small contingent of knights through a ravine to a postern gate. Stories of pagan beasts drawing Sir Rhian into their dance are rampant, though I’m loath to admit there may be some truth to them. Still others say she was replaced by a doppelganger, which is why she was absent from the subsequent battle and failed to return to Salisbury with the others.

    Having won past this supernatural being, they stormed the postern gate of Bayeux, with Sir Helen in the lead, eager to meet the fate that a Frankish axe delivered to her. She was known to be humming Sir Hector’s Lament as she passed. She was buried with honors near the temple of Belenus in Cerisy-la-Forêt. Upon her return, Sir Nerys would take the young Hector into her service as a page.

The city taken and their duty satisfied, Prince Arthur ordered the knights home, despite a noble desire to help King Syagrius further. Sir Nerys is known to have contributed toward the cause, and later Sir Rhian would join his banner, unaware that the king and the prince had parted ways.

    That winter was cold, but more harsh than the weather. Returning to Cholderton, Tyngyr laid Livia and her unborn child to rest. In the aftermath of the raids from Silchester, Edar, husband of Nerys, was thrown from his horse while inspecting the property and departed this mortal coil, may God rest his Soul. The famous vines of Stapleton withered in the vineyard, and the new walls of the motte and bailey of the newly-minted castellan Owain did little to protect them.

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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The following year would see the knighting of Harri of Newton Tony. He had charged the gates of Bayeux with Sir Helen as her squire and, as I’m sure my illustrious readers will already know, his family had found much glory in their previous domain in Totnes. His grandparent fought valiantly to protect Constantin and died to protect Constans: for good or ill his family was tied to the crown. His mother returned from Brittany with Aurelius, and she fought at the battles of Exeter, Maisbeli, Carlion, Mount Snowdon, and the excursion to Ireland of the Sacred Stones, among many other glorious campaigns. Even though he was known to have the immodesty and lust common to British pagans, his ancestors' courage flowed in his veins.

[The chronicler here omits the appearance of Sir Nidian of Shrewton, twin of Sir Rhian, noted for his mercy and piety.]

His first campaign as a knight was King Uther’s march on Duke Gorlois, which held the promise of a slaughter of good Christians and British. Yet reason - or the power of Excalibur - prevailed, and there was no civil war. Gorlois’s lands were restored to him. After the cathartic celebrations between the two forces, newly rejoined, Sir Nidian was known to have courted a fight with Sir Brastias, bodyguard of the Duke, who remarked unkindly upon the young knight’s sister.

Our knights then rode straight forth to the Saxon territories, where they were ambushed under the auspices of Cholderton’s command. While the battle was a thorough success for his forces, our Salisbury knights were sorely tried and many grievously wounded, particularly Sir Nerys and the young Sir Nidian, fresh from the invasion of France with his sister. It was here that Cuthwulf, former owner of the Red Book of Cyprian, died, overridden by Sir Harri and Sir Tyngyr. Our knights were long in recuperating from Sir Tyngyr’s leadership.

    The Easter court at Cirencester that year saw Sir Tyngyr pressing his case with the lady Llylla and reading another poem in court; much later, it was revealed that he was supposed to have been disguised, though there was no effort of note. Nerys, still in mourning for the dearly departed Edar, was so despondent that she was rarely seen reading during her stay. The young page, Hector, was seen playing his mother’s lute for Sir Nerys at the edges of her estate on at least one occasion. Sir Nidian, on the other hand, was present more in the cathedral than in the company of other knights.

    Alas, we have come to the end of Sir Caradoc’s tragic fall from grace. Having abandoned his honor with his disgraceful breaking of etiquette years prior, he tossed his wine on Sir Owain, who righteously responded with a duel. Sir Owain injured Sir Caradoc nearly mortally on the first pass, causing him to lose his nerve, but he rallied long enough to be killed on the second sally. In what I’m sure was an accident, the corpse was mangled beyond recognition beneath the hooves of Sir Owain’s mount. As all surely knew, the wrath of Sir Owain was not to be trifled with… yet this would not be the end of the matter.

    Far more tragic, Lady Llylla finally acquiesced to Sir Tyngyr’s years of unrelenting obsession and a grand wedding was held. From a private letter an anonymous guest authored:

"I could find only pity in my heart... perceiving the bride’s rather keen personality and the groom’s demanding devotion to her. The wedding had the mien of a beheading."

Sir Nerys’s journal for the day reads only: Nausea.

    Sir Nidian, perhaps underwhelmed with the proceedings, was known to have left in the company of another… Sir Harri, on the other hand, was the recipient of some stinging, often physical, rebukes from several prospective partners at that same feast. Sir Owain stormed out of the hall after hearing the melody to a certain song in his honor. A chronicler detailing the life of Sir Owain has been causing a furor among scholars attempting to discern the author of that particular event...

    Sir Nidian was probably unaware that his sister would make landfall later that month in the company of Syagrius and that they would soon seek Prince Arthur out...

-From Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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AD 490

Our Salisbury knights rode to join the king’s forces to repel the Saxon kings, Octa and Eosa. Sir Rhian, accompanying King Syagrius, made her way there as well, meeting the King’s court. Sir Rhian publicly pled Syagrius’s case, but was denied; scholars suggest King Uther believed the affairs of his own land came first. King Syagrius, still furious at Prince Arthur, challenged him to a trial by combat, but Sir Blaen acted as the Prince’s champion and, after an arduous battle, proved Prince Arthur’s innocence with strength of arms. This year, Sirs Owain, Tyngyr, Elad, and Baron Ederyn, brother of Lady Llylla, were known to have gone hawking, which perhaps explains the next year’s events. Some have suggested Sir Harri of Newton Tony was chasing rumors during this time.

    Sir Robert, once the overworked squire to Sir Tyngyr and now a knight of Count Roderick’s court, was spotted in the company of Sir Nerys. One source wryly quoted an overheard quip by Sir Nerys: “If you want to win her heart, you have to take advice from the great scholars. Which means the first step to wooing her is to learn to read.” There’s no evidence Sir Robert attempted this advice.

    Internal matters between the Prince and Frankish king settled, the knights rode to war against the Saxons. The battle was decided in a single day, with the Saxons routed and their kings dead or held hostage. It was still early in the battle when Sir Tyngyr was rendered unconscious and Sir Rhian killed. The stress of battle and their surging passions drove Sirs Nerys, Owain and Harri from the field of battle shortly before Duke Gorlois captured Sir Eosa. Sir Nidian, fueled by a desire to avenge his sister, charged the fleeing King Octa alone. The King turned to face him in single combat and Sir Nidian struck him mightily before King Octa injured him badly enough that his squire had to drag him from the field of battle. Other knights were able to pursue the king after this delay, however, allowing his capture.

    Only Sir Nidian and Sir Tyngyr were able to attend the feast celebrating the victory, with the others lost in the wilderness. Even then, Sir Nidian was still convalescing, but nevertheless, he was enchanted by Duke Gorlois’ new wife, Ygraine. and her beautiful voice.  Afterwards, they joined the king’s retinue in Malahaut, where they were rejoined by Sir Owain, who had been kindly restored to sanity by a faithful hermit. Sir Harri had a similar experience with a gentle knight of Lambor, who then endowed him with a mysterious wealth. Sir Nerys, however, was still missing at the end of the year.

    Sir Harri received permission to become a castellan, leveraging his new wealth. Sir Nidian befriended Sir Brastias, who shared in mourning his lost sister, which proved problematic a few months later. King Uther had kept the Duke and his wife in court months longer than usual, asserting the royal right to a vassal’s counsel. Sir Brastias, in an unknown company, was seen leaving without the king’s dispensation.

    Sir Harri was asserting the importance of hospitality, but relented, perhaps dissuaded by Sir Nidian and his new friendship. Rumors suggest it was a pagan Lady of the Lake who assisted Duke Gorlois in his retreat home. Regardless, such a short time after Gorlois and Uther had mended their differences, this event precipitated more calls to war, even as our knights were returning home for the winter.

    With that new calamity and one final matter, I must close this volume. The death of Sir Rhian, I believe, is a fitting place to close this volume. She had been in company of the other Salisbury knights for over a decade and had earned her sobriquet, “the Mad.” The calls of passion had driven her into the wilds on more than one occasion and given her the insight of prophecy. It was only the one time that she mistook Arthur for a bandit. She injured Black Annis where no one else had and earned her undying ire. She was the only one to drink the Lady of the Lake’s wine. Her celebrated romance with Lady Adwen and the generosity of their household in adopting children were of note. It is tragic that she died without having seen her wife in so long or her twin brother’s twins.

-From the end of Volume 3 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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AD 491 

-though many might question the wisdom of King Uther in this matter, what remains beyond dispute is the outcome. Duke Gorlois’s breach of etiquette in leaving court without the king’s permission resulted in war on Cornwall; the battles would cost the lives of many brave soldiers of Logres...

    Another unit of knights was comprised of the houses of Stapleford, Broughton, Cholderton, Newton Tony and Shrewton, represented by Sir Nidian the Hammer, Sir Owain le Terreur, Sir Tyngyr the Baronbreaker, and Sir Harri, who had yet to earn a title then despite being a castellan. Sir Nerys le Sorciere was still absent of her senses and in unknown whereabouts, so Sir Neilyn, cousin of Sir Nerys and then a household knight, was riding in her stead. Sir Neilyn has thus far eluded the Annales, so allow me to enlighten the reader as to his character: It was known that he was a devotee of astrology and often found portents in the sky. Less charitable sources have also noted him for being an incorrigible flirt, terrible dancer and perhaps a mite paranoid, doubtless all attributable to faults in his humours.

    Easter court in London adjourned, this group rode with the others to the Castle Tintagel and its formidable causeway. The siege was fairly fruitless; though most scholars agree that Merlin appeared and shortly thereafter a fog rolled in from the sea, the castle’s walls remained unbroken. Many knights complained of strange dreams in their slumber for days afterwards, though surely that is not magic. There is an amusing anecdote which I do not have the space to repeat in whole, involving a mocking dance that Sir Neilyn performed.

The stalemate was only broken with the fall of castle Terrabil, when Duke Gorlois was slain in combat. Many will already know of the fall of Prince Arthur here, and the grief King Uther suffered in the loss of his son and only heir.

    However, this is the saga of Salisbury, so the losses we suffered must be noted as well. Death came even to the household knights, such as Sir Robert, once the squire to Sir Tyngyr, slain protecting the unarmored Count Roderick from an enemy’s lance.

    Duke Gorlois’s body was returned to castle Tintagel, disheartening the defenders. Shortly thereafter, peace came again. Events seemed to cascade from there: Sir Brastias surrendered to the king and swore fealty, before becoming his bodyguard and, later, his captain of the guard. The Duchess surrendered to King Uther. The Centurion King prevented the convention of the Supreme Collegium, frustrating Uther’s efforts, though unlike previous attempts, King Uther was so dispirited that he hardly noticed.

    They were all garrisoned at Tintagel under the command of Sir Thebert, where Sir Neilyn made the acquaintance of Sir Alain de Carlion, a servant of King Nanteleod of Escalavon. They returned briefly to Salisbury for the funeral of Prince Arthur. 

Happier circumstances prevailed, however, and King Uther was wed to the Duchess. There is much to note in the extravagant feast. It was the first time that Sir Harri met Lady Gwiona, one of the heiresses of Salisbury (about whom rumors of ill omen had been spreading). Sir Owain’s behaviour was not his best: after gambling frivolously with the squires that he was seated with, the squires took umbrage with the band’s decision to play a song mocking Sir Owain, leading to their expulsion, as well as Sir Owain’s. This is known to be one of Sir Owain’s smaller riots. Sir Nidian had a lapse in his Christian virtues and got drunk with Sir Brastias, before losing his balance while standing on a table and being ejected, unconscious, from the feast. Sir Tyngyr disappointed a monk.

    Princess Morgan’s attendant recounts a meeting between her charge and Sir Neilyn where Sir Neilyn dissuaded her from removing an illuminated page from an abbot’s book for her own keeping by performing another dance.

    While on garrison duty, there was yet another apocryphal sighting of King Pellinore of Gomeret, this time in pursuit of a strange hybrid beast. The knights who bore witness maintain that he, astride a coursing mount and radiant in his royal arms, was ceaselessly hounding the creature which had aspects of a half dozen animals in the same beast.

    Sir Nerys was found by friars and returned to duty, though they reported that she spoke words of prophecy during her madness:

All shall see the shame of the King.

Watch for the Bear.

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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AD 492

Despite the many other notable events, this would be a year that would live in infamy for our knights.

Court was held in Tintagel, followed by a feast for the royal marriages to tie our kingdom to the northern ones of Lothian and Garloth. Sir Owain, showing restraint that had been lacking in prior years, despite a misstep or two, served dutifully as the cupbearer for Queen Ygraine, a position of marked honor. Sir Nerys spent much of her time in a furor over the presence of a certain Ivimarus, a merchant out of Silchester who had a reputation for odd philosophies and a love of books. Sir Tyngyr, true to his past behavior, was known to have consorted with a witch before getting drunk and mistaking another lady for his wife when asking for a dance. Sir Harri continued his amorous pursuit of Lady Gwiona, ignoring the ill rumors which surrounded her, as opposed to Sir Nidian, who was rumored to have spent a night of restrained passion with someone shrouded in history.

    Sir Nerys, who had repeatedly asked permission to head to the monastery at Exeter for the sake of her library, was granted permission to do so, provided she was accompanied by her fellow knights- or so it was said. Officially, they were given orders to reconnoiter. En route, they encountered some knights of Cornovii. One of their number, Sir Grein, challenged Sir Harri to a duel and lost his life. After arriving, Sir Nerys negotiated with the monks over the disposition of their books and then made peace with Ivimarus before inviting him to her place for the purpose of reading.

    This next event is a black mark on the history of our land: On patrol, the knights encountered Merlin, who apparently asked their aid as he always did: with orders and no explanation. They awaited his return and he asked them to delay his pursuers, even as he rode ahead with a small bundle in his arms.

    His pursuers, it turned out, were Sir Argan the constable, Sir Brastias, and the members of King Uther’s personal guard. Sir Nidian attempted to misdirect them, before Sir Tyngyr corrected them. They split and continued their pursuit of Sir Merlin, with our knights joining the pursuit and encountering another group tasked as ours had. Merlin eluded pursuit and, eventually, the knights gave up and returned to court, where they were charged with treason. They were held for weeks, visited by Bishop Roger, Sir Elad and Abbott Dewi of Estregales, known as the “Water Man” for his prohibition of alcohol.

    They were brought to trial in front of the court and the king. Each pleaded their own case: Sir Nerys famously made the case that, as a mother, she would never willingly participate in the theft of another’s child. Sir Nidian claimed that his family’s proven loyalty unto death would prevent treason. Sir Harri’s family, similarly, had died in the service of their kings for generations. Sir Owain centered his arguments around his fealty to Roderick. Tyngyr leaned upon Merlin’s previous duties to the king. Still, almost all were willing to blame their participation upon Merlin's magic, thus becoming the knights who condemned Merlin.

    Our own Count Roderick’s statement personally vouched for them, tying his fate to theirs, but it was perhaps Sir Dewi’s argument which was most persuasive, denouncing Merlin as a heathen devil; it was that which King Uther proclaimed at the end of the trial.

    Proven innocent, the knights returned home, to their families and the welcoming arms of their lord, Count Roderick, who introduced them to his new son, Robert.

    A messenger from Norgales arrived to inquire about the meeting with King Pellinore the year before.

    Less welcoming, Sir Nidian discovered claw marks which he attributed to Black Annis on the door of his hall.

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni.

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...In the following year of 493, court was held in Silchester. This was the year that, following his absence from the public eye, the King was known to have been challenged by a furious Sir Argan to single combat over the honor and life of his wife. Some have speculated that King Uther’s loss is the shame that Sir Nerys’s prophecy referred to. A certain lady’s correspondence suggested that the uncertainty the event created was worth it to see Sir Argan’s new estates.
    Those particular five knights were at court, of course. Unsurprisingly, Sir Tyngyr inevitably found trouble with a friend of Sir Hyffaid, whom he slew years before, though most accounts suggest he managed to end the encounter affably. Sir Harri commissioned and had read a poem for Lady Gwiona, copies of which still exist, but their existence can only be explained by the significance to posterity, rather than quality. 

    Their trip to Eburacum on the king’s behalf was slightly delayed for Sir Nidian’s marriage to the Lady Marged. Sir Nerys and the merchant Ivimarus continued their courtship, though a few people noted that the knight was, at one point, carrying books while perhaps a little intoxicated, which is not often noted as a strong fashion move. Sir Harri was also known to be drunk, though whether it was from alcohol or his pursuit of Lady Gwiona is debatable. Perhaps worse than Sir Harri’s poem is the one Sir Tyngyr helped another knight write at this feast; why he chose to compare the knight’s amorous target with his wife (not favorably, mind you) is unknown. Lest you think that Sir Nidian avoided shame because it was his own wedding, he started the evening’s final dance with his new wife by tearing her dress with clumsy footing.

    Before departing for Eburacum, determined to protect his family, Sir Nidian sought and received the Count’s permission to slay Black Annis on the return trip, acquiring a monk named Cibno to assist in the rituals and the assistance of Sir Lycus, a household knight of Salisbury and friend of Sir Nerys’.

    While their envoy to Eburacum seemed to progress normally, Sir Harri discovered that they were also receiving a group from the Saxons, the knowledge of which threw Sir Tyngyr into such a rage that he made a scene that shamed the count, and the group departed. They were crossing the river Humber by ferry on their return. While the count was berating Sir Tyngyr for shaming his office and Sir Tyngyr was, by most accounts, listing generations of complaints about the Saxons in increasing volume, they were ambushed by Saxons, giving Sir Tyngyr yet another grievance.

    It did not prove to be a particularly dangerous ambush, and the knights had departed the count’s company to deal with Black Annis shortly afterwards. Accounts vary, but some have mentioned an encounter with Merlin shortly before their combat with Black Annis; most sources agree that magic was used in the battle, however. Sir Owain and Sir Nidian entered her lair as she slept and poured something on her, before her scream stilled their courage and they departed for the safety of the outdoors, where the group subdued her with violence. Sir Nidian smashed an object into her corpse that burned as brightly as the sun, before burying her in her cave, and performing the rites which they hoped would seal her evil. According to Sir Lycus, in his retellings, her last moments were spent cursing the mortal realms. Sir Owain took one of her claws for a purpose of which he did not speak.

If these stories are to be believed, a lapse in ritual will allow her to walk among us again, much as Kings Octa and Eosa did when treachery freed them and they returned to lead the Saxon armies once again.

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni

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AD 494:

The King’s illness continued at court in London in the year of 494, as well, where deals were being made as the kingdom reeled in uncertainty. Sirs Nidian and Nerys busied themselves with gossip, while Sir Tyngyr recited poetry and Sir Harri went to spend some of his wealth in the big city on a gift to the Count.

    Summoned to the king, they were met by Duke Ulfius of Silchester, who tasked them to meet with Estregales as a royal envoy; in anticipation, they hired a diplomat and upgraded their wardrobes. Their trip involved several stops: Duke Eldol, whose sleeping form they made their courtesies to; King Nanteleod of Escalavon, who provided some gossip and who took great interest in the battles the knights had fought; Carmathen, where Nidian attended church and Sir Nerys investigated Merlin’s hometown. On the trip, they met the quarrilous Sirs Heli and Chaleins, as well as Sir Nerys having the chance to meet her brother’s beau, Sir Alain. The three eagles at the red castle near Tonwynglais made a brief cameo, as well.

    After making cursory civilities, King Canan assigned Sir Orcas, his steward, to show the Salisbury knights around. They participated in a hunt (unsuccessful), though Sir Nidian brought back a boar, with the aid of the king’s son, Prince Dirac of Estregales, after it slew his horse. Prince Dirac and his brother Lak later spoke with Sir Tyngyr about Saxon giants and other curiosities. At the feasts thereafter, our knights strove to entertain during dinner, as was local custom, with middling success. Rolls show Eliavres to have been in attendance at some point, though there’s no record of Sir Owain killing him during this particular feast.

    One of the kings of the hill tribes challenged our knights to a contest of horsemanship, which Sir Nerys won. The glory was short lived, as the feast soon thereafter sealed King Canan’s fate. To this day, conspiracy theories run amok about the politics leading to this, but most accounts agree that Prince Dirac was the one to hand the poisoned goblet to his father and Sir Orcas was the one to provide it. Sir Nerys’s account mentions squire Lak, but his involvement was overlooked when Sir Nidian, taking the situation in hand, brought Christian justice to Sir Orcas in a duel. Sir Orcas ignored the agreement to end with first blood after the knight inflicted it upon him, dying ignominiously at the end of Sir Nidian’s sword.

    The Prince took the lands amid the clamor of the nobles and, hoping to cement his rule after a controversial ascension, declined to offer aid to Uther.

    Their return was considerably less storied, as they brought this news to the king. Duke Eldol passed on, may God rest his soul. Kings Octa and Eosa were on the warpath once again. The Lady of the Lake, who our knights owed a boon to, was attempting to aid King Uther. The year was full of other portents, as well: our own Lady Minifer’s renowned and notorious garden...

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni. 

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King Uther was still in seclusion in 495. The knights were given to idleness as the coming battle against the Saxons loomed. Sir Tyngyr and Duke Ederyn gambled at hawking, while Sir Owain bought apology jewelry for his wife. Sir Nerys was known to have raced with Sir Brastias. Sir Nidian bested his competitors as the most humble in a contest of deeds, and Sir Harri continued his pursuit of Lady Gwiona.

    This was also the year of Sir Nerys's marriage to the merchant Ivimarus, a bright spot in a year of highs and lows. As the evening wore on, the entire company got progressively more drunk, as evidenced by Sir Nerys’s first, halting compliment to her new husband and ending with a passionate, even unseemly, declaration of her affection. The count used the occasion to introduce Sir Harri to a partner he found more appropriate to Lady Gwiona: Lady Angharad.

    The next day our knights rode forth and came to the Battle of St Albans, against Kings Octa and Eosa. King Uther was present, albeit drawn by horses on a litter. First blood belonged to the Saxons who drew a charge from King Uther’s troops by a message stating that they felt pity for the King’s sorry health. Those in front - including Sir Owain - charged and were met with an ambush and boiling oil, rebuffing them for the day.

    The next day, the Saxons marched against Uther’s troops. An anecdote from a missive noted that Sir Nidian broke his lance in the answering charge, only to be struck a solid blow moments later. Sir Owain also met some acclaim for his violence in the next melee. The ground was stained red with the blood of Saxons and good Englishmen. 

    Count Roderick was mired in Saxons and, as marshal, Sir Tyngyr lent aid. Sir Tyngyr decisively killed a berserker after shattering his axe. Again, Sir Owain was noted for violence, and Sirs Nerys, Nidian, and Harri all acquitted themselves well.

    As the combat raged over the course of the day, King Uther’s standard faltered several times, though our Salisbury knights never did manage to thread their way through the enemy hordes to its defense. Sir Brastias took the brunt of that assault, and was badly wounded. The Salisbury knights had to pause in the combat to tend Sir Nidian’s wounds at one point. They did manage to take captives from the day’s final melee as the Saxons fled the field of battle. This was the day that King Octa finally died.

    Other chroniclers have written of the royal feast of Saint Albans: the day our king, our count, and many other nobles lay dying. It was Sir Nerys who found the sign of treachery afterwards, emblazoned over Stapleford’s crest; the mark of Black Annis on a fateful barrel of wine. It is difficult to track the events of the day, as chaos seized everyone. Sir Tyngyr was the first to call for aid, as the others near him fell sick and then he, himself, was seized by the poison, vomiting blood, his lovely countenance pale and shaking. His cousin, Sir Nerys, found him there before death claimed him, but all his thoughts were for Llylla.

    Sir Nidian found Count Roderick in similar straits and was there to tend him in his final minutes and to pass his love on to the countess and children. Sir Owain secured the gates against the threat of treachery by the Saxons or another kingdom, but there was none - only the revenge of the comatose Black Annis. The pain and fear.

    The last of our knights who made a mark on that evening was Sir Harri, who found himself lending his strength to King Uther’s arm as he drove his sword into a stone holding up a table. He was the first to announce the king’s passing and the last to guard his form before he was laid to rest. As always, his family found itself mired in the wake of royalty, helpless, as all were, to help their friends and family who died as they watched.

    That night claimed many more, including Lady Llylla’s brother, Baron Ederyn. Those from Salisbury, Sir Tyngyr and Count Roderick, were laid to rest in our Cathedral, while Uther was laid to rest with Prince Arthur and his brother, King Ambrosius at the Giant’s Dance. Sir Brastias and Duke Ulfius, injured severely in the battle, survived and eventually recovered, but not unmarked.

    Uther’s reign started bloody and victorious, and ended with his own human failures: envious of Duke Gorlois, a failed high king coveting the wife of his brother in arms. Even his son and Merlin were lost to him. The future of Logres was uncertain.

    The inevitable anguish of an uncertain line of succession was felt in many places, our home included. Count Roderick was scarce in his grave before it had to be acknowledged that his only child, Robert, was too young to assume his office. It was agreed that the countess should serve as regent, but also acknowledged that she had little in the way of military experience. Sir Harri’s suggestion of a triumvirate to advise her in military matters was taken well; it was Sir Nidian’s support that solidified that choice. The triumvirate- and our knights- helped fill the void left in the absence of the Count, with Sir Owain becoming constable, Sir Harri succeeding Sir Tyngyr as marshal, and Sir Nerys and Sir Nidian becoming castellans of the new bailey of Broughton and Tilshead, respectively.

    It would be hard to overstate the esteem that Count Roderick was held in by his knights; he was known to be, at turns, untiring, generous, protective and kind; he extended understanding where many might have faltered. His rule lasted over several periods of turmoil and I believe it can be fairly said that Salisbury was a linchpin in the kingdom under his rule. From his wife’s letters, the only fault she could ever find with him was that he didn’t live to see her grow old or share her joy in their child’s accomplishments. May God rest his soul.

    Sir Tyngyr of Cholderton, Axebreaker and Baronbreaker, is a child of Salisbury whose deeds will resonate beyond our borders, so I find it my duty to eulogize him in the histories. He was noted for his honesty, his honor, his acumen as a commander, and his middling horsemanship, but his wife, his love, his passion, his Llylla was his raison d’etre for many years, despite her relative indifference. She was never entirely cold to her husband, and wrote of him with warmth in the last years of their marriage, but wrote far more about the prospect of marrying a baron. He might have become the man she wanted him to be if he had lived, but perhaps they both might have lived better lives if they hadn’t met. {Marginal note in another hand: Definitely.} He was known to have been intimate with a witch before marrying his wife, but converted to Christianity for Llylla. So, too, did he change his interests to match what she wanted, assuming an office of Salisbury. With every accomplishment, he credited his love for Llylla or hate for Saxons, who hated him in turn. Here follows a Saxon dirge lamenting they didn’t kill him themselves…

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni. 

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496 A.D.

This was a year of chaos. That year’s court was held locally; Sir Brastias, still nursing wounds, was in attendance, as were a courier from Ulfius and a Saxon named Sledd, Aetheling from Essex. A scholar by the name of Pertoines, having disgracefully left the church for non-ecclesiastical matters, begged Sir Nerys’ aid in establishing a college outside the church’s influence. Sir Nidian bonded further with Sir Brastias, extending his sympathies for his guilt. Sir Harri was the one to entertain the Saxon envoy with a hunting trip. Sir Owain went riding with a messenger from Duke Ulfius. Sir Cait attended to religious matters.

    I’ve noted previously the pagan eccentricities of Sir Cait, sister of Neilyn and cousin of Nerys, but this is the year that she began acting as the steward of Cholderton, as Tyngyr’s heirs were not yet of age. She was a noted adherent of the Pagan worship of Math fab Mathowny and Elvygyr (her husband and Tyngyr’s younger brother) was notably mad by this time.

    The council of Salisbury met afterwards: it was determined that they would pay the fee for Essex’s protection in the void of a functioning kingdom, as it seemed the entirety of Britain began vying for position the moment King Uther died. Many of the knights were known to contribute to the fund for Sarum’s walls. The disposition of Lady Llylla’s hand was also of much interest, according to some servants*.

    The next order of business was to take the scholar to Oxford to Rydychan. Passing the Marlborough border, Sir Owain debased himself in an effort to avoid being recognized. En route, Sir Cait’s horse became unshod and they agreed to stop at a place known as Govannon’s Smithy, where she offered a librum and left her horse; it was reshod once they returned. Also notable, Owain left a librum behind and found Black Annis’s claw missing and a sword waiting near Cait’s horse. It doesn’t deserve much note in the histories, but Sir Nidian became uncomfortable with this occurrence.

    They spent the next night in the monastery at Abingdon, where some members partook of their alcohol and others their religion. This is where they heard of Countess Violette’s plight, besieged as part of an insurrection led by three brothers from Wallingford. Sir Nidian also heard that the Forest Sauvage near Rydychan was becoming a matter of concern with the death of King Uther. On exiting the monastery, they encountered a patrol which wanted to know of their business there. They were led to Sir Belleus de Wallingford at Oxford, who introduced himself to them in an attempt to curry favor and expressed a great interest in pursuing the Countess’ or Lady Jenna’s hand in marriage (despite the extreme age difference in the latter case.)

    Returning home, they decided to send Sir Belleus an envoy to see what he could offer for Lady Llylla. Other envoys from Chichester asked for aid in an imminent battle of the forces of Hampshire and Chichester against Saxons coming by the sea. Marshal Harri collected his forces and rode forth, but a Saxon messenger came to inform Salisbury that the battle was over and the forces of Logres were routed.

    The messenger, bearing Saxon jewelry from the continent, was from the Gewessi, the tribe of then-High King Vortigern before his death and their flight from Britain. The knights followed the messenger to a meeting with Cerdic, where he declared himself the son to King Vortigern and this land to be Wessex, a land that belonged to both Britons and the Saxons.

    The knights returned to the countess with the news and a cheap token from Cerdic. Their advice, apparently, was to join a coalition with the other fragments of Logres.

    More interesting, was the renewal of Sir Harri’s intent to marry Lady Gwiona, ignoring some of the Count’s last wishes...

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni

* Mainly to see how fast they could get her out of Salisbury.

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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497 A.D.

-and that’s why Nidian, burdened by guilt, went on pilgrimage to Cambria.

    The countess’s court that year saw many envoys; Sledd from Essex was known to have spent much of his time bragging, somehow besting Sir Owain, who slew a demi-god. Cynric of Wessex went riding with Sir Nerys. Sir Eiffen, seeking Llylla as a bride on behalf of Rydychan, went hunting with Sir Cait. Sir Harri absented himself to ferret out more information on current events.

    The countess’s council that year discussed who they wanted to pay tribute to and decided against Essex, despite the offer of waiving some libra in favor of troops. They chose Lady Llylla’s match: one of the usurpers of Rydychan, Sir Bege.

Sir Harri and the Lady Gwiona finally wed in a ceremony that was spoken of for months afterwards. Sir Nerys was in particularly high spirits and showed her husband much affection. Sir Owain kept his temper in check despite a minstrel composing a song in his ‘honor’. Cait was seemingly content to go with the flow of the party. Harri spent much of it conferring with the countess.

The knights of Salisbury rode to Somerset in search of allies and found none, though Sir Melwas and his father King Cadwy demonstrated their legendary hospitality and graciousness. Duke Ulfius visited Salisbury after their return; Sir Harri marked the occasion by offering a gilded shield, while Sir Nerys crafted a fine poem, a copy of which is in this volume’s appendix. No official record of their conversations exists, but it’s believed that Duke Ulfius remarked upon Llylla’s coming marriage to one of the usurpers of Ulfius’s sister-in-law and upon the Kingsguard hundreds; what is known is that they discussed, at length, Salisbury’s anti-Saxon position and the delicate balance it would upset. His comments were received favorably. He revealed his alliance with King Aelle of Sussex and conferred with the Salisbury knights about Rydychan.

His visit ended when they all rode to visit Castellan Jarred at Duplain, a visit which ended abruptly when Jarred suddenly doubled over after drinking some wine. Sir Cait rallied the guards to stop the servant responsible; in the chaos, Merlin revealed himself and apprised them of the coming Saxon invasion. The knights and Sir Ulfius rode out to the invading force led by the Knight of Tusks, who did not survive the encounter with Sir Owain.

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni

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Interim: Sir Owain's Sword

Forged by the fairies, this sword was made of a claw of Black Annis infused with the solar essence that Sir Nidian broke over her at her death. It remains unnamed, despite the GM's efforts to encourage a moniker.

The sword inflicts an additional d6 damage to humans and creatures of darkness. It also glows in magical darkness. aAyone who owns it or wields it, however briefly, gains 1 Energetic and 1 Vengeful during the winter phase each year.

(I'll admit it's probably overpowered.)

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7 hours ago, piersb said:

One Energetic and one Vengeful in the winter phase each year? Until they die?

Or only in a year in which they own or wield the sword?

(Either way "Here try my sword!" "Nice sword!" Repeat until everyone who wants extra Energetic/Vengeful this year has got some.)

I'm going with "in which they own or wield the sword," until someone tries to circumvent that in the manner specified, at which I will try something different.

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A.D. 498

Court at Vagon was joined with many Saxons in attendance, including Cynric of Wessex, Sledd of Essex, and Celyn of Sussex. Sir Nerys appeased Cynric and Sir Owain was known to have learned kennings from Sledd. Sir Nidian was known to have employed subterfuge with Celyn, pointing out how the other Saxons were snubbing him. Sir Cait, meanwhile, was advised by a druid that she needed to find a cup that her husband stole. Try as I might, there is no explanation in the histories about how this came to be. In counsel, the knights continued to try to balance the dangers the Saxons presented, offering tribute to only Sussex and Wessex, while offering alliance to Sussex.

Next in their agenda, they escorted Llylla to Rydychan and her marriage to Sir Bege, youngest of the usurpers. Some who attended noted that Sir Harri was short with Sir Belleus, the middle brother. Their toasts at the wedding, likewise, were perhaps unkind to second brothers. Sir Belleus shortly became intoxicated and, with little provocation, started a fight with his elder brother about his youngest.

    The night appeared to go normally otherwise, with the exception that Sir Cait excused herself to offer Sir Belleus some sort of Pagan palliative for hangovers. The knights retired to tents outside the feast hall at the end of the night before chaos erupted from the castle; the eldest brother Basile had died* and knights sallied out to fight our Salisbury knights, despite their being absent from the violence inside. There were a few casualties before the fighting ended and our troops returned home.

    Summons from the countess interrupted some bizarre behavior where the knights were having squires and the like interrogate the contents of refuse from the Cholderton household. The Countess sent the knights to escort her daughter, Lady Jenna, to the sea. Hector, then a squire, was known to publicly embarrass himself attempting to attract the Lady’s attention. It is perhaps fortunate, then, that the lady did not turn her eye to Hector, as it turned out to be Merlin in disguise.

    He broke his disguise before they encountered Sir Brastias, working as a mercenary, and Sir Nidian was forced to persuade Sir Brastias to let him pass. This was slightly before the knights fought dogs conjured by Merlin’s sister. Those dispatched, the path to the boat that Merlin took was open and the knights were able to return to Salisbury. Bad news waited for their return: Sir Nidian’s wife, Marged, had passed. Virtue is no shield against fate.

-Excerpts from Volume 4 of Brother Wymar’s Annales Sorvioduni. 

* A complete mystery, definitely not based on a deal with Morgan la Fay that put a cursed artifact into circulation.

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499 A.D.

I am honored to continue the Annales Sorvioduni. Though he passed into our lord’s care by eating a bad date some time ago, I hope that Brother Wymar can guide my hand to accurately convey the history of our fair Salisbury.

-Brother Mordecai

...despite the consensus that Sir Owain did not seem to be himself, he was surprisingly active in Salisbury’s endeavors this year. Neither he nor Aetheling Cynric of Wessex are noted for their singing ability, which did not stop them from the possibly drunken attempt. Cynric took some umbrage at the lack of reciprocal encouragement from Owain. Others at court were noted in gossip to have gone hunting or spent time socializing with the countess. Nasty rumors spread about Sir Nidian and Tathan the Hunter, who apparently got lost in the forest.

The politics of the time continued as expected: tribute was paid to Sussex and Wessex, and their alliances went untested. There are two other matters known to have been discussed in private counsel. The first was a proposed alliance to Cornwall, whose influence had been expanding. The other was the Countess’s objection to Hector’s continued pursuit of Lady Jenna, which seems more than prudent in light of historical events.

The focus of that year’s marshalling was the fate of Rydychan. The knights of Salisbury, with the support of both Rydychan and Silchester, were invited by Sir Bege, the usurper of Rydychan, to discuss him becoming a vassal of the Countess of Salisbury, which the council turned down to keep on good terms with Silchester. For his part, Duke Ulfius contributed some funds and advice to the venture as they passed through Silchester and Sir Balan, the Countess of Rydychan’s marshall, escorted them partway to the castle.

    Before arriving, however, their procession encountered a knight who arrested their procession at a bridge with the demand for a challenge in strength of arms. He requested the Knight of Cups - apparently, Sir Cait-, but she demurred, possibly overcome by the lustrous quality of the knight’s armor. Only Sir Owain stepped forward to meet the challenge, which caused the knight some frustration due to Owain’s poor reputation. These misgivings were redoubled when Sir Owain soundly defeated him. Once roused, he introduced himself as Sir Tustin of the Silver Lance. To Sir Owain, he offered the services of the Forest Sauvage as tribute for his victory.

    In the meeting with Sir Bege, diplomacy prevailed: Sir Nerys and Sir Harri convinced him that, with the backing of the Countess of Salisbury, he could pledge his fealty to Countess Violette and retain his position long enough to prove his loyalty. There are unsubstantiated rumors about the Lady Llylla approaching Sir Nerys with a plan to murder her husband which, while lacking in evidence, are still fascinating.

    Sir Harri and Sir Nidian engaged in a conspiracy to ensure that the young squire Hector would follow through on the arranged marriage to the Lady Tagan that his nearly step-father Sir Owain found for him, thus ensuring that he wouldn’t meddle with Lady Jenna’s marriage prospects. Given that Hector appears to be one of history’s favored idiots, this might have been needlessly complicated; it was not long after he saw her in the marketplace that he agreed to the marriage. Sir Nidian, still grief-stricken and gaunt with the recent loss of his wife, also met Lady Sara of South Weston here, though nothing would come of that.

    The Countess arranged a hunt; on that hunt, the knights encountered Sir Tustin and his entourage, who invited them to join him. Again, to Sir Tustin’s dismay, Sir Owain proved his family's skill at hunting and found the unicorn with great swiftness. For his boon this time, he asked for Sir Tustin’s hunting leopard.

    Hector asked Sir Tustin who his father was, which Sir Tustin explained he could not answer directly; instead, he indicated that, were Hector to navigate the forest to its center, he would be able to meet him. As a parting note, Hector asked Sir Tustin to let his father know that he was getting married.

    This caused quite a lot to happen. Hector quickly became Sir Hector (after a mere two years of being a squire), swearing fealty to Countess Violette of Rydychan and shortly thereafter married Lady Tagan, who had a generous dowry, and shortly after that he was a father. He named his son Cet, after Sir Owain’s brother. At the feast, he paid little attention to anything other than his wife. Given that he was sixteen...

    The knights were quite active in this feast’s revels, with Sir Nerys taking fashion tips, Sir Harri dancing, and Sir Cait playing King of the Bean in disguise.  Sir Owain tried to sit with the squires, but his potential future son brought him up higher where he could tell onlookers a particularly bloody tale about how he’d treat Saxons. He also tried to get Sir Nidian married off, though the good knight had misgivings on the topic. There was a song about Sir Harri that debuted here, the Golden Knight. He took it in good humor, given that it was about his decision not to honor an arranged marriage (and how that reflected on his manhood).

    The Countess of Rydychan, low on forces, also offered Sir Cait the opportunity to become vassal knight, which she accepted. Her husband, who had only recently regained his faculties, was murdered by bandits on the way to his new home. Tragedy also struck the Stapleford family, as the younger Owain was killed in a vicious, drunken brawl. That incident would set into motion a series of events that none could have expected.

-Excerpts from Volume 5 of Brother Mordecai’s Annales Sorvioduni

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