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

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A.D. 500

The blood of Staplefort had been spilt and Sir Owain would see his heir avenged, not just upon the hand who slew him, but their family as well. He would miss court and deployment this year.

On the opposite spectrum of emotion, during court this year, Nerys would find in Aetheling Celyn, perhaps not a kindred spirit, but a Saxon whose company she enjoyed. Speaking with Oswine of Kent, Sir Nidian heard the first news of the Angles. Sir Harri heard that Cornwall had brought the countess a secret offer, which she declined. Sir Hector spent yet more time with Lady Jenna, which likely did not sit well with any of the powerful women in his life, but it should be noted that they grew up together, so his intent may not have been entirely ill.

Sussex was offering to receive military service in lieu of tribute this year, in support of their offensive against Kent. Observing the many burnt out churches on the road to the battle, Sir Nidian made a point of renewing his devotion at some of them. The night before the battle, there was a disturbance in a tent near the knights; Sir Harri’s investigation reminded many of the knights present at the gambling tent of the imminent morning, but also found a man he mistook for Sir Balan quite drunk and funds exhausted. After reminding him of his station, Sir Harri took it upon himself to return him to his tents in the hope that he would be roused for battle in the coming hours. So he was quite surprised when Sir Balan welcomed his brother, Sir Balin, into his tent with a resigned sigh.

Perhaps if Sir Harri’s assessment of the terrain and the enemy’s forces had been heeded (and shared with Sussex’s generals), the fight would not have gone as it did, with most of Sussex’s reserves untapped and the knights of Logres unblooded. Sir Nerys and Sir Hector went scouting to see if Sir Harri might contribute to the battle and lost themselves in the woods so badly that exiting was considered success. The battle was a diffident victory for Sussex.

Once the battle had passed, the mercenaries that Sussex had hired were negotiating for their pay. Thinking, perhaps, that Sussex might demand its tribute after they failed to utilize the knights from Salisbury if they didn’t agree to pay the mercenaries, Sir Hector disrupted the scene with a song extolling the virtues of fair pay. Shortly after, Sir Harri came in and did the real work.

An excerpt of the song:
With the wind at your back
And your allies at your side
Heedless you can attack
with a long, confident stride
Knowing that your faith will be repaid
By the strength of their blades.

And it’s just awful, but the beat sticks with you.

    At Silchester, there was a summit of its neighbors, hosted by Duke Ulfius. In attendance were Lady Ellen of Salisbury, Lady Violette of Rydychan, Duke Ulfius, Sir Blains of Levcomagus, and Count Uren of Hertford (who took power after the previous Count died at St. Albans). Lady Joene, countess of Marlborough, declined to attend.

    The year's campaigns were discussed. Dorset repelled the Cornish invasion despite the land being sacked. Escavalon, led by Nanteleod and bolstered by foot soldiers from Salisbury, swept through Brycheiniog, Estregales and Cardigan so that the whole of the southern coast of Cambria was in its hold. Caercolun and Caerwent, previously held by a pretender “Duke of the Saxon Shore”, fell to an invasion from the continent and was renamed Anglia, under King Cwichelm.

    Sir Uren of Hertford, bordering Essex, Anglia and Huntington (a vassal of Essex), expressed some dismay (and noted that Huntington could likely not rely on Essex to defend it). Most there agreed that Wessex’s presence should not be tolerated and agreed that King Aelle was somewhat reliable and thereby agreed to support him. The attitude towards the quickly expanding Cornish and Escavalonian kingdoms was largely to wait and see, though it was suggested that a marriage between Lady Jenna and Cornwall might delay any hostilities. No one was quick to support Dorset against Cornish predations.

    Being that they were idle noblemen in a savage age, they adjourned to a hunt, which the adept Count Uren won. Sir Nerys was silent on what she saw that afternoon, although it may have involved Sir Blains, who had once vied (including raiding Salisbury on one occasion, according to Brother Wymar) with Sir Roderick for her hand.

    On returning to their manors, they discovered that Sir Elad, a mentor to most of them, was missing. A search found his body, maimed by a single powerful blow; his squire lay nearby, peppered with arrows. Searching deeper into the woods nearby, they came upon a construction site, inhabited by bandits and a giant, who declared himself to be Jongon. The knights split their attention between the bandits and the giant, with Sir Harri facing the giant first. After the first blow nearly shattered him, Sir Harri’s courage failed him and Sir Hector found himself subject to the giant’s attention. Though the giant struck him with no blows, Sir Hector was unable to pierce his hide. Their opponents dispatched, Sir Nerys and Sir Nidian joined Sir Hector; striking wildly around him, he devastated both of the joining knights, knocking Sir Nerys clear of her horse and into unconsciousness, and striking Sir Nidian so strongly that he claimed to have been saved by his miraculous underjerkin to his dying day. His courage rallied, Sir Harri assessed the situation and called for a retreat. Jongon declared the Westfort hundreds his and finished his fort.

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

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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A.D. 501

This year's court was held at Amesbury Abbey, where Queen Ygraine and most of the embassies were also in attendance: Aethling Celyn lost a race to his friend Sir Nerys, Sir Harri gossiped with Oswine of Kent, and Sir Owain hunted with Sir Collwen of Hertford. Sir Nidian, ever faithful, toured the grounds of the new Amesbury fort with Abbot Dilwyn and made suggestions about its disposition and supplies. Sir Hector paused mid sentence while speaking with Queen Ygraine and she fidgeted in increasing discomfort before he wandered off.

During court that year, they decided to pay tribute to Sussex and planned to meet with their allies to repel the Angles. While debating whether to ally with Jongon, news of Wessex’s invasion of Salisbury came and they rode to meet the threat, though unusually poor weather impaired the invasion. Sir Harri marshalled the troops and rode to meet them, dispersing them at DuPlain and Broughton before he led the troops back to court post haste. Sir Owain was seen out at the woods at twilight, whispering into the air, shortly before a tremendous rainstorm swept over the border with Wessex.

However, the raiders had spread out along the Bourne and Avon raiders and seized the queen and Princess Morgan from Amesbury Abbey, although the Countess’s guard got her to safety before they could reach her as well. Sir Owain led the pursuit, but they began to find discarded Saxon armor, still sizzling with heat and naught but scraps of charred flesh fused to it. Finally, they found the two royals unharmed and alone in the Chute Woods, a most curious occurrence.

The decision was made to take Princess Morgan to the north with her mother. Gorre was one of the Cymric nations north of Hadrian’s wall, allied with Lothian. King Lot ruled Lothian and his native Pictish nation, Orkney, while his brother, King Uriens, ruled Gorre and his other brother, King Nentres, ruled Garloth. King Lot and King Nentres were already married to Queen Ygraine’s other daughters, Morgawse and Elaine, respectively. The knights were assigned to escort Princess Morgan to her wedding with King Uriens.

Morgan, known to be very practical and knowledgeable, spoke at length with Sir Nerys about her reading and her rather dismissive attitude towards men; she also gave a private lecture to Sir Hector on fairies, and perhaps more on a misty night. Sir Nidian spent much of his trip guarding Queen Ygraine, while Sir Harri was largely concerned with the forces as a whole. It is not hard to see Sir Nidian, still recently bereaved, heading into middle age and in the midst of international upheaval, trying to rekindle his amor for the queen (he was having a midlife crisis, to be frank), but she could only see one of the men responsible for the loss of her son, Arthur. Sir Owain, on the other hand, was preoccupied with Cameliard. He dispatched his squire to oversee an invading force with a bounty for the family responsible for killing his son. It’s said that he displayed the four heads taken for bounty on his mount...

In any event, the knights arrived at long last in Gorre and were greeted earnestly by King Lot in his high castle, as he knew many of them by reputation. At the feast, Sir Harri was known to give the new couple a great toast, while Sir Nerys was known to be seen in the company of several influential people. Sir Hector somehow merited a seat above the salt and was known to spend much of his time practicing his lute. Sir Owain, seated well for once, let many other attendants know about his wine. The feasting over, the four knights carried Sir Harri back to their quarters. The day after, there was hangover hawking, but after that, the feast was over and they returned home to the chaos.

Among the deaths at this time was Sir Rufon, whose role as seneschal was assumed by Sir Nerys. The countess sent a smaller force than planned to Hertford; regardless, with the delay, they didn’t arrive in time to meet the Anglish forces, which swept through Hertford and then Huntington, killing their rulers. Escvalon had similar martial success, claiming all but the northwest of Cambria. 

Following court, offers for Jenna’s hand were made by Cornwall and Escavalon: a match with the tactician and twin brother of Prince Mark, Prince Boudwin, or a match with Arguais, King Nanteleod’s nephew, respectively. 

From Rydychan, there was news of Sir Bege, who died in a feud; Lady Llylla assumed command of his castle and banished the killer. This was the year of Cait’s marriage, as well.

Wessex was invaded by continental Saxons, who established the territory of Port in what was east Wessex, while the Wessex raiders were mired in the aforesaid terrible weather. In the chaos of the year, Sir Tathan of Warminster built a castle for himself and declared himself independent, claiming all the county’s bog iron his property.

No doubt fueled by the turmoil and need to be unified, this year was the advent of rumors about making Dorsette a suzerainty of Cornwall to avoid conflict and strengthen the defenses against the Saxons...

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

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A.D. 502

It was a busy season in court. Sir Nerys began her duties as seneschal, which took much of her attention this year, though she managed time for her annual ride with Aethling Celyn. Sir Owain entertained the Anglian ambassador with discussions of stewardship, ignoring the ambassador’s expressed desire to hire them as mercenaries in the coming battles, and his opinion that Cwichelm should be Bretwalda, lord of all Britain. Sir Nidian, probably still dazed by the news of his arranged marriage falling through, spoke with the Cornish ambassador about Anglia, who dismissed Nidian’s concerns as “distant.”

Sir Harri went out to answer a commotion in the courtyard, which it turned out was a belligerent messenger demanding to see the countess. The messenger was Queux, from Sir Alain of Escavalon, the beau of Sir Neilyn, asking the knights of Salisbury to squire the bearer of the message, who was noted for his quick wits and skill, but more for his impertinence. Sir Harri took him into his service.

    Deciding to forgo participating in the conflict over the new Bretwalda, the knights of Salisbury rode as envoys to Marlborough, their neighbor to the north, out of which little had been heard for some time. They were greeted at the border with more hesitancy than expected, even considering they traveled with Sir Owain, who had slain Caradoc of Marlborough. At the countess’s residence, they discovered a pall had blanketed the area, turning the manor into an inscrutable shadow. Sir Thebert, the marshal of Marlborough, explained that Countess Joene had sought comfort from a traveling magician by the name of Ganieda after the death of her husband at the feast of St Albans and had hired her to protect her daughter. Nearby, there was a desiccated footman, whose very life essence had been drained out of him. Something the magician had done had conjured the pall some months ago.

    The group ventured into the darkness and discovered that the sword made from Black Annis’s claws, which Sir Nidian had blasted with the magically contained light of the sun, shone even in the darkness. Navigating by this light, the knights made two trips: one to rescue the countess’s daughter and return her to the light, and the other to find the countess herself. On the second trip, their exit was interrupted by a beast of pure darkness. Sir Owain found himself dropping his sword and recoiling from the creature; Sir Harri, after a moment’s hesitation, took up the blade and with two sure strikes, sent it hurtling from our mortal lands to whence it came. He turned and handed the sword back to Owain with a bow. With the beast’s destruction, the darkness dissipated from Marlborough. The knights of Marlborough and Salisbury had a drinking session and bonded, as they had not for some time. The good mood was soured, however, upon discovering that the Countess’s daughter Nimue had disappeared after her safe return. Apparently on this occasion Sir Owain also informed his squire, Masha’allah, that he was the bastard son of Sir Caradoc, a claim for which I can find no other source.

    With the coming of summer, the whole force of Salisbury turned its attention to the traitorous Sir Tathan, self-declared Baron of Warminster. Sir Harri called upon assistance from Silchester and Rydychan, and Sir Nerys prepared for the siege. When they arrived, they discovered that some attempt at entrenchment, albeit in miniature, had been done in advance of the army’s arrival. The Baron rode out to inform them that he would accept surrender, under the terms that he be formally declared Baron of Warminster under Countess Ellen and given pardon. It was arranged that he would be given pardon, but he would have to beg Countess Ellen for the position; with that, the combined forces would have to stand with him on Midsummer against an unknown threat.

    When it came, it turned out to be an army of goblins, who insisted that they be given the castle so that they could prevent the humans from possessing more iron, which was anathema to them. The message was delivered by a huge goblin with a club, riding a massive black war hound. No other castle would do, and of course the knights refused to stand aside. Battle was waged, although it grieved Sir Nidian, who remembered his twin sister’s fondness for fairies. It was a short fight, with the goblins realizing that taking the castle meant dealing with treacherous human iron and abandoning the attempt with little effort. Some of the traitorous troops, now free from the threat and once again in the employ of Countess Ellen, preemptively begged pardon from Sir Harri, their marshal. Sir Nidian, for his part, helped Sir Tathan beg God for forgiveness for his transgression before he returned to the countess.

    Before the knights could turn to their final task for the year, they were commandeered by Lady Nineve, a Lady of the Lake, who called in one of the three services that their ancestors had pledged to the ladies, with Sir Harri coming to support his friends. They were to escort her into the Forest Sauvage. 
Along the way, they met with a peasant with fancy shoes, who asked the knights for their cloaks; with just one cloak, not even a single shoulder was covered; with two, both shoulders, but nothing else; finally, with ten cloaks, he had a cloak of his own and he gave them passage to their destination. Their journey took them to Tribuit, which had been lost in the woods for years. There, they were given passage through the lands of Earl Meilyr.

They met another denizen of the forest: Lady Blanche de Blanche, who inquired of them what made them good knights. Each had their own answer: Sir Owain simply remarked that he was good at hitting things. Sir Nerys sought to deal with others with intelligence and compassion. Sir Harri never shirked responsibility or his service. Sir Nidian never forgot his family or God. Sir Hector, in song, extolled his lack of hesitation in battle. They also passed a field of poppies, which tempted them to sleep; but the knights shrugged it off. Then they arrived at their final destination: Lady Nineve was there to render the last rites and an elixir to bring peace to the lady of the forest.

    Having left the forest, they headed back through Marlborough, where they happened upon a knight by the name of Sir Bryn of Stonesleigh, who informed Sir Owain that he had killed her brother and she was to have satisfaction. In the first pass, she not only unhorsed him, but knocked him unconscious. Sir Owain was, even in his youth, not the most handsome man. Black Annis’s claw scars on his face, which had never seemed to heal correctly, had of late become red and inflamed to the point that it seemed like his face was a repulsive mask; this final hit, knocking out most of his remaining teeth, seemed to leave the mask hanging off by a thread, filling those who gazed upon him with dread. Sir Hector interposed himself between Owain and Sir Bryn. She informed him that she would not strike a fallen foe, but that the matter was not finished.

    Upon their return, Sir Nidian threw himself at the feet of Countess Ellen and begged for her assistance with his marriage; thus, the date was set for the next year. Sir Owain, his consciousness recovered, sent some of his remaining children to squire with some mercenaries. In an effort to curry favor, Sir Owain sent his eldest, Adda, to squire in Escavalon. This year, news arrived about another killing by the thing in the Ebble River, as well as the joyous news that Queen Morgan and King Nantes of Gorre had twins. They also heard of Escavalon’s massive expansion and a battle between the Saxon factions taking place in Anglia...

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

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Court was filled with the usual business in the year 503. Sir Owain spoke with Baron Tathan. Sir Nerys and Sir Uffo busied themselves with conspiracies. Sir Harri went hunting, and Sir Nidian discussed the changing lands with the representatives from Escavalon. 

This was also the year that the council decided to marry Lady Jenna to Sir Arguais. The council had favored Cornwall last time, but Sir Owain seems to have been swayed by his son Sir Hector, who had in turn been visited by Llylla of Shirburn the previous winter. The biggest campaigns this year were expected to be Escavalon’s expansion, the Saxon assault on London, and Lindsey fighting against assaults from every quarter.

At the marriage of Sara and Nidian, Sir Owain made a speech about his fealty to the Countess; the others made small talk, with Sir Harri impressing a lady with his knowledge of fairies and Sir Nerys exasperating a feast-goer with her opinions on religion. Sir Nidian danced, while Sir Hector sang a well-received song.
They traveled next to Escavalon. King Nanteleod greeted them, though Sir Owain was noticeably distant during the affairs, possibly because of the great hatred that the knights of Cameliard felt towards him. Sir Hector, his son, felt the brunt of that anger, though Sir Nidian intervened on his behalf, preventing the situation from escalating. At the feast, Sir Nidian was momentarily seated with the servants, until a steward made a point of fixing the issue. Sir Harri was at the feast only briefly, making himself sick in an eating contest early on. Sir Nerys missed much of it, fixing a terrible mistake in her choice of ensemble. I can find no record of Sir Owain’s deeds that night, though Sir Hector was noted to have made a stirring goodbye to Lady Jenna (and spent much of the night being mistaken for Sir Achilles).

    The next morning, the group was summoned to court in a hurry. There Prince Lak praised the deeds of Sir Nidian many years ago in securing the throne of Estregales and the glory he won fighting the boar and his father’s murderer. He sealed his praise with a hug (during which he discreetly fixed Sir Nidian’s wardrobe, whose squire had failed him) and granted him the estate of Treddiog, in Cambria.

    The next excursion was to Silchester, where they met with the united forces of Silchester, Salisbury, Marlborough, and Rydychan, which Sir Brastias had joined for the year. En route to London, the Kentish forces attempted to cut them off; Sir Ulfius had his forces turn to face them. It was a success for Sir Ulfius, if only to keep his forces intact; for the knights of Salisbury, it was even more of a middling success. Sir Owain was overwhelmed by his emotions and left the field of battle early. Sir Hector and Sir Harri were both unhorsed, and retrieving them impaired the group’s effectiveness, especially with Sir Harri dropping his sword repeatedly. Despite this, Sir Harri’s tactical mind and command of the left battalion was a great asset in the fight. Sir Nerys and Sir Nidian both fared better. After the battle, the knights joined the group to protect the baggage train and engaged in a melee, with no serious injuries, thanks to the help of Sir Balin, with whom Gwefrfawr, Sir Nerys’ daughter, was squired. Nonetheless, Thamesmouth and London were now in the hands of Essex and Kent.

    Owain returned to the group several days later, babbling how “blood shall make steel as nothing,” and “the rain brings a fresh breeze from the west.”

    In the autumn, the group began to travel north to deliver Owain’s son, Roderick, to Lothian for his squirehood. It was a welcome trip for some of the others; Sir Nerys wished to reconnect with her correspondent Morgan, while Sir Hector hoped for something else, to his wife’s disappointment.

A group of Cameliard knights, headed by Sir Bryn, blocked the way. Sir Hector rode to meet her; she challenged Sir Owain to a duel. Sir Hector, with his father’s permission, stood in his stead. Sir Bryn won the first charge and unhorsed Hector, giving him his first scar. Sir Owain rode between them and offered himself in Hector’s stead. When Sir Bryn went to take Owain’s head, Sir Hector interceded and continued the conflict. After a flurry of small wounds on both sides, Hector finally collapsed from blood loss. When she moved to take his life, Sir Owain begged her to kill him instead. She obliged, while Roderick looked on. She took his head with her, despite the cries of indignation from Sir Owain’s friends, particularly Sir Nidian, who Sir Harri ordered not to interfere. Our knights returned to Salisbury in defeat. Sir Nidian took Roderick as her squire.

Sir Owain, le Terreur, of the Four Heads, Constable of Salisbury and Castellan of Staplefort, died by the hands of Sir Bryn of Stonesleigh in 503. He incited several riots, some when seated below the salt, and others plebian revolts riled up against his actions. He was known among his people for his bravery, his vigor, his lack of self-control, and his capacity for grudges. He was noted for bravery at the battles of Salisbury, Eburacum, Mearcred Creek, Lindsey, and St. Albans. He disputed with Caradoc, whom he defeated in combat several times, snubbed, publicly shamed, married his beloved, and finally killed him, trampling him with his horse. When Sir Owain’s eldest son was killed in a fight in his hall, it led to a string of retaliatory killings at Sir Owain’s behest - according to Sir Bryn, some of those killings were unmerited - which led to his death. He hosted a famous hunt, was cupbearer for Queen Ygraine, and he struck down the fairy knight Sir Tustin and gained his hunting leopard. He killed a bear, a giant, a Nukalevee, Black Annis and the Knight of Tusks, among others. He was a paragon with a spear, and with the sword the fairies made from Black Annis’s claw. When King Uther died (incidentally and unknown to Owain, of Owain’s cursed wine), he guarded the walls of St. Albans against enemy subterfuge. He adopted, squired, and gave a favorable marriage to an orphaned bastard, but couldn’t remember the names of his own children. He was an enemy of troubadours, due to the popular song “Owain, Owain,” which is still popular in Marlborough and Cameliard. He was once turned into a dog, a pig, and a horse, traded a peasant for his mother, and finished the race to the White Horse festival. He made enemies of entire territories, but he died to save the life of his adopted son. His family’s motto is Prodesse Quam Conspici, but Chaos might have been his personal motto.

His adopted son composed a song in his honor, le Petit Lu Bu.

(Thanks for reading - you've caught up with our group's play. I hope to have another installment next month.)

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504 AD:

Unable to travel to Lothian after his father’s death, Roderick squired instead with Sir Nidian. The young man was known for his honeyed tongue, and although he had put many of the unfortunate aspects of Owain’s personality behind him, he cleaved to the affections and hatreds of his father.  

Although most of the group had assumed a position of anger against the Cameliard knights, Sir Owain’s adopted son Hector counseled them to put aside their anger so that they could retrieve Owain’s head and end the feud. Most in the group relented in their anger, having adopted the bitter grudge only recently, but Roderick embraced peace as a deception for future revenge.

    Court that year featured a perhaps unintentional snub;: Prince Cynric was seen to by Roderick, then a lowly squire, rather than more famous knights. This is perhaps due to Sir Nerys’s unsuccessful bid to learn heraldry more thoroughly. Sir Harri met the envoy from Somerset, Sir Melwas, winning a horse race against his famous black steed. Sir Nidian played chess with Prince Lak of Estregales, his new liege. Sir Hector played his ode to his father, which was moderately well received. After festivities and social activities, the council convened.

    Wessex went without tribute this year for a list of reasons too long to include here. Prince Lak sought alliance against the Saxons for the following year. Cornwall beset Somerset this year; Sir Harri wanted to keep the territory as a buffer between them and their larger neighbors. They opted to seek Sir Ulfius’s advice on both matters, as interceding could bring the entire alliance of Logres into conflict with Cornwall. Given that this could ease the border conflict with Somerset, he agreed that the alliance could assist their neighbor and aid Nanteleod next year. It was noted in some journals that they again met Sir Uffo, Sir Ulfius’s son.

    So it was that the alliance rode into Somerset during Cornwall’s deployment, disrupting their plans to seize the city of Wells. During maneuvers, they met with a party of dwarves, led by a fearsome Cornish spriggan named Djejj who wanted to seize land in Somerset, noting their lack of respect for his kind. Sir Hector attempted to convince him that Cornwall was tricking them because the Cornish were deceitful, but his failure to differentiate Cornish humans and fairies in this regard enraged Djejj. Battle was joined, and Djejj struck Sir Hector a grievous blow. He was joined by Sir Nerys and Sir Harri, who struck the fairy; the spriggan diminished with each blow he suffered until he faded into the ground.

    Their military duties discharged, Sir Hector brought his friends to Camelliard in an attempt to woo favor from the people there and convince Sir Bryn to return his father’s skull. Upon their arrival at Stafford, Hector was met by a pair of twin girls, who enquired of him the identity of him and each member of his party, his purpose, the cause of the feud, the results of the feud, the nature of feuds in general and such. The steward Cleodalis called them off before Hector accidentally authored a premature Cogito.

    King Leodegrance greeted the Salisbury knights in his hall and received the heads that Owain had severed years prior. Unfortunately, Roderick had not wrapped them properly, and, when he went to present them, they tumbled from his grasp onto the floor unwrapped. A flurry of apologies from all the knights of Salisbury were flung into the silence. Roderick made a fumbling attempt to blame the incident on a “lame arm”, which was a questionable claim from one in line for knighthood. (Thus it was that Sir Queux mockingly labelled him “Strongarm.”) Fortunately, nothing much seems to have come from it other than frayed nerves.

Hector followed up with a short feast for the local nobles. Sir Bryn and others from Stoneleigh declined to attend. Although quite enthusiastic and earnest about the process, sadly Sir Hector lacked tact and experience in this realm, so the feast had paltry offerings in the way of food and a worse offering in the way of a host. Notably, Sir Nerys was granted a divine blessing; the king invited Sir Harri to falconry the next morning; Sir Nidian heard many juicy tales about local infidelities; Sir Hector pined for Queen Morgan, neglecting his hostly duties.

    Most notable, however, was the offer of marriage that Sir Hari received. The marriage  would have brought wealth and acclaim to any who accepted it, particularly given that it was to a vassal of Escavalon, with which Salisbury desired deeper ties. Due to his marital status and fearing a faux pas if he declined it outright, Sir Harri passed the offer on to the only unmarried member of his party: Roderick. To Roderick, however, the mere idea was an offense and he showed it by loudly declaiming the offer, the king and the known world before stalking out of the hall in a huff.

    The next day, perhaps ruing his impulsivity, he authored a letter of apology to the king with the help of Sir Nerys. Or perhaps he sat nearby while Sir Nerys authored and penned it. Regardless, the king received a well-written though perhaps ill-conceived letter of apology.

    With the king’s permission, the group sans Roderick rode to meet Sir Bryn. Sir Hector made a heartfelt and well-met plea for peace and reconciliation, as did the others. They rode back to Salisbury with Sir Owain’s head and hope in their hearts. Cameliard in general had received most of the knights well.

    There was another most curious occurrence as they rode back: on an unnaturally dark night they saw a headless figure on horseback, with the blazon of Staplefort, ride past the edge of the campfire’s light before departing. The next day they rode back to Salisbury and laid Owain’s head to rest, and hopefully his revenant spirit as well.

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

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504 Interlude - The Forest Sauvage

Sir Hector and the young Roderick ventured into the enchanted Forest Sauvage with Sir Balin, the younger, more irresponsible twin of Rydychan’s marshall, Sir Balan. Roderick brought along the hunting leopard won from Sir Tustin by his father.

They arrived at Sir Yves’s motte and bailey castle at Buckingham. The lord offered his hospitality under the condition that the travelers observe his family’s ritual of a race beforehand, with no stakes upon it (beyond that which Roderick chose to gamble). Sir Hector took him up upon it and promptly got lost. Sir Yves offered Sir Balin and Roderick hospitality, but they sought to find Sir Hector, becoming lost themselves.

They all spent several days wandering the woods, completely without direction. Of Sir Hector’s wanderings with no equipment or company, I know nothing, but it’s said that Sir Balin unsuccessfully hunted a fallow deer. Sir Hector happened upon some local knights, who offered to escort him out. They were kind enough to wait a day with him as he entertained them with his lute. Sir Balin and Roderick found an herbalist’s hut after a few days, unoccupied except for the remnants of a life, including an ivory swan-shaped comb that was once a possession of Sir Balin’s mother and an ornamented gravesite with no name.

Then they heard Sir Hector’s lute and were reunited, finding him in the company of soldiers of Earl Meilyr of Tribuit. Once they returned to the hut, Sir Hector recognized it as the last resting place of the lady of the Forest, who Lady Nineve and the Salisbury knights had seen to the next world a couple years back when she gave her an elixir that sent her along the way. Conferring, they realized that this woman was Sir Balin’s mother, the goal of Sir Balin’s quest. Overcome with grief, Sir Balin thrust his sword into the ground and resolved to stay at the hut and erect a cairn dedicated to his mother. Sir Hector played a dirge for him and bade him well.

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

AD 505

In court that year, the fear was high; Wessex and Portchester were marching upon Logres. Cynric of Wessex was still in attendance at court and continued his tradition of riding with Sir Nerys. Sir Alain was present as a representative of Escavalon and he went hunting with Sir Harri, while Sir Nidian gamed with Prince Lak. Sir Hector attempted a song, but no one paid him mind, while Roderick surveyed the fortifications and the preparations for siege.

The plan was for the combined forces of the four counties and a contingent from Escavalon and its vassals to muster in Wandborough, in the northwest of Marlborough, thence sallying out to the Saxon forces. All of the knights of Salisbury had heavy hearts at leaving their home, but Sir Harri assured them the plan was sound.

At the mustering, Silchester was nowhere to be found. Sir Hector informed Marshal Balan about his mother’s passing and the last known whereabouts of his younger twin, who had not joined his brother’s forces.

The combined army ran Cerdic’s troops away from Sarum and the border, then pincered them against Ulfius’ forces at Levcomagus. The Wessex and Portchester forces chose to withdraw south. Next King Nanteleod achieved a victory, if not a decisive one, against the forces of Essex at Royston. At this point, the martial obligations of the troops were completed, but Sir Harri rallied the Salisbury troops to ride against yet more Saxons.

As they made camp and planned the rest of the campaign, King Nanteleod debuted a surprise: a young man named Ursus, bearer of Uther’s ring given to Arthur to legitimize him. King Nanteleod claimed Ursus would lead them to victory against the Saxons. With that declaration, the knights rode out to “**** up some Saxons” and met the Angles at Cambridge, where King Aethelswith met his demise and the knights of Logres and Escavalon achieved victory. Sadly, Sir Lycus, a knight of the old guard and Constable of Salisbury, would sustain wounds that later proved mortal.

During the battle, Sir Harri, doubtlessly distracted by his steady command, was briefly unhorsed. Squire Roderick gave him a mount before Sir Harri’s squire, Queux, had the opportunity. After the battle, Queux conferred with Roderick about their respective duties, which abruptly turned into a brawl which the much smaller, older Queux won handily. They made peace shortly after*, deciding together that they should be knighted so they might participate fully in future battles.

Their duties discharged, the knights of Salisbury rode out to the Forest Sauvage, with Sir Nidian’s interest piqued by the riding challenge of Sir Yves. Though Sir Nidian gave a better showing than Sir Hector, the ride ended the same way, but this time Sir Hector prodded Sir Yves to aid them in finding their friend. While wandering, Sir Nidian struck down three bandits.

The group reunited and they explored deeper, only to hear the howling and see the huge eyes of the dogs of the Wild Hunt. Sir Harri and the squire Roderick fled as it approached, and the rest managed a more considered withdrawal. Thoroughly dispersed, the remainder of the group decided to exit the forest, but not before Hector spoke with some crones who advised him to do everything Morgan asked to win… well, if not her love, then her affection. Hector was probably planning to do that anyway, so I’m not sure he learned much by taking that risk.

The wife of the late Sir Owain, Ysave, contacted her friends and, though she didn’t manage to find the Countess of Marlborough’s daughter Nimue, she did find the witch Ganieda, who had counseled the Countess. The witch was last seen at the court of King Leodegrance of Cameliard.

Sir Harri’s squire, Queux, decided it was time to return home to Penlyn and be knighted; Sir Harri bid him farewell and offered the position of squire to Sir Tyngyr’s daughter, Cery, which would deepen the bonds between the two families. She declined, electing to stay with Sir Brastias.

It occurs to me, dear readers, that I have only referred to them as ‘our Salisbury knights’ and that this was around the time the inter-generational group adopted their new moniker, which was… (an inky cat print covers part of a page here - Ed.)

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

* Checked Boy King for his stats - Cruel 16 - and rolled to see how he'd react. He fails Cruel, then criticals Merciful. An unexpected and fortuitous friendship blossoms...

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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  • 4 weeks later...

A.D. 506:

It was this year that Sir Nidian repaired finally to Treddiog in Estregales to view his new estates, with his squire Roderick in tow. 

In Salisbury, Sir Brastias, the newly-named Prince Alain and Prince Mark were in attendance at the Countess’s court. Sir Nerys invited Prince Mark on a hunt, at which he failed to do well., Sir Harri proposed the novelty of swimming to Prince Alain. Sir Hector played battle marches for Sir Brastias, who apparently has a mind for aught else but combat.

There was a feast to toast the year’s new knights, Jaradan the swordsman and Masha’allah the future constable. At the feast, Sir Hector continued to pester Sir Brastias and pine for Queen Morgan. Sir Harri fumed at a lampoon, and Sir Nerys delivered a marvelous toast.

Service that year took them to Somerset, where Cornish raiders were plundering the land. After several odd occurrences, including a sighting of the colossal giant Gorm, they happened upon a band of Cornish knights. Combat was engaged with a mighty lance charge. After dispatching his first foe, the next gave Sir Hector a facial scar; once Sir Hector was rehorsed, the Knights Perylous chased after and slew him, with Sir Hector cruelly inflicting a comparable scar on the dead man’s face..

During Sir Hector’s long recovery, King Cadwy invited the Knights to partake in a competition of skill and art at his castle at Bristol. Sir Harri and Sir Nerys competed with oratory, while Sir Hector composed (another) song for Queen Morgan. Sir Hector’s singing beat a druid and a troubadour, though no one was particularly impressed with that competition. Sir Nerys and Sir Harri were pronounced a tie in the initial contest. When charged with speaking on the virtues of knighthood, Sir Harri spoke most eloquently on the duties of knights to their commanders, overshadowing Sir Nerys speaking of the good they can do for the common folk.     

That evening, Sir Nerys recognized a woman from Sir Bege’s feast, wearing an emerald necklace. After a brief conversation, the knight left to ask King Cadwy if he had any particular reason to suspect treason. Sir Harri, publicly questioning the woman, drove her from the feast. Finally, Sir Hector returned from a private conversation with Sir Rhys of Lega, and brought his trouble to the Knights Perylous: Ill omens surrounded his newborn son, and a “wise man” wanted to divine the cure.

As it turned out, that man was Eliavres, one-time friend and foe of Sir Owain. He led them to a lonely churchyard, where a variety of demons attempted to sway the knights’ courage (already fortified with drink). Unflinching, they finally bound a beast of metal to their will. Sirs Hector, Harri, and Rhys, proving themselves with their bravery,  all asked him a question and received a scroll in turn.     

On the ride back, Eliavres inquired after Roderick’s health. After returning to Bristol, Sir Rhys hurried home to family, to Sir Hector’s disappointment, and then the Knights Perylous returned to Salisbury.

When Sir Harri opened his scroll, he read the following:

The Angles, Saxons, Franks, and Jutes,
Shall not fall to worldly boots.
See the bold red dragon rise
To chase the white across the skies.
Salisbury leads Logres to mend;
Badon shall stand tall in the end.

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

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The court in Anno Domini 507 was full of poetry, song, and politics. Sir Nerys went hunting with Ulfius and Ursus, Sir Hector sang for Prince Mark and Sir Nidian raced Prince Alain.  Sir Harri and Ursus both failed to catch anything with falconry. Sir Queux, in attendance, renewed his relationship with his frenemy Roderick, chivvying him about his knightship. Roderick won their drinking contest, with nary a sign of inebriation. 

During council, the knights reserved funds for the defense of Salisbury, with much love for each other being displayed as they outfitted Hillfort, DuPlain, Broughton, and Newton Tony  with their personal funds. The Countess had also retained mercenaries to bolster the territory, while their main force marched to Somerset to secure its borders against Cornwall.

Sir Roderick was knighted with the ceremony and pain due to it. Sir Nerys and Sir Harri got quite inebriated, though they stayed vibrant for the evening. All were asked to give toasts, but Sir Roderick’s shone above the rest. Sir Hector sang beautifully in his brother’s honor.

Sir Hector got his brother in trouble when he overheard a man commenting on Sir Roderick’s lack of resemblance to Sir Owain. Sir Roderick did well, for his first duel and, eventually, ran the man through. Rather than going quietly to his maker’s kind embrace, the man shoved himself forward on the spear, laughing as he approached Sir Roderick. Infuriated by their friend’s situation, both Sir Nidian and Sir Hector stabbed him as well, to no effect. The lunatic introduced himself to Sir Roderick: Eliavres, the magician and Roderick’s supposed father. The claim that he had Lady Ysave’s romantic interests produced quite a lot of anger in both Sir Roderick and Sir Hector. Sir Roderick stalked off to find some peace, but Sir Hector, with the realization that Eliavres knew the location of a certain saint’s ring, decided to take him for a drink and a conversation about manners.

The group marched on Somerset and found themselves bloodied and blooded. Sir Nidian, in particular, took a hard blow and was dismounted, leading the group to rally around him. Sir Nerys, in this glorious venture, took on two Cornwall knights and acquitted herself well. Their next sally brought them against Cador of Cornwall, whom they blooded. 

On their return home, they discovered that Port and Wessex had marched upon their Southeastern border and overrun the outer defenses of both DuPlain and Sir Nerys’s own Broughton.  They called for their allies, Duke Ulfius and Sir Brastias, and got forces from both to help them retake the fortress of Broughton, giving up DuPlain as a lost cause. Sir Nerys, incensed by this intrusion, struck down a berserker with a single terrifying strike. Perhaps she knew the fate of her dear husband and the loss that her home had suffered. The barbarians had injured him mortally and torn down the statue to her prior husband, as well, but the knights retook her land. Stapleford and other families suffered losses, including the loss of Sir Owain’s children Cain and Amhar. 

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

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A.D. 508

Spirits were high as the Knights of Peryl met the leaders of the coalition forces at court in Salisbury - absent Sir Nerys, who had vanished after the death of her husband Ivimarus. King Nanteleod discussed troop strengths and tactics with Sir Harri. King Dirac of Estregales won a race against Sir Nidian. Sir Roderick accompanied Marshal Balan on a hunting expedition. Sir Hector, his mind clear for once from thoughts of Morgan le Fay, played “**** up the Saxons” on his lute to acclaim exceeding the quality of the performance.

Thus did the combined forces of Logres and Cambria ride forth Sarum under King Nanteleod. Spirits were high; their scouts told them their army was larger than that of Cerdic. The Knights exchanged expressions of devotion by the campfire, and Sirs Nidian, Hector, and Roderick wagered on who would kill the most Saxons on the coming day. Sir Nerys was notably quiet and absent a book before the battle.

As Nanteleod and Cynric met on the fields near Netley Marsh, more troops could be seen in the rear. Some identified these as King Lot’s forces, while more trained eyes noted the banners of King Aelle of Sussex with many horsemen. These, as the first charge proved, turned out to be Cornish knights and a hitherto-unknown troop of mounted heorthegeneats.

The Knights of Peryl were an unstoppable force on the battlefield, to some degree. Certainly Sir Hector was sent screaming off the field when he tried to invoke his love of Rydychan, but the other knights did their duty with vigor, striking Saxon and Cornish alike, under the steady hand of Marshal Harri. When the call came regarding an assault from the rear, they turned to meet their fate. 

Prince Cynric and his mounted Saxons sought King Nanteleod’s life. Sir Roderick called upon the tooth of Saint Germanus to frighten the Saxons, but bereft of comfort, sought God’s grace off the field of battle. Sir Nerys and Sir Nidian were both unhorsed, rendered badly injured and unconscious respectively. Sir Harri rallied, killing his foe with one blow and coming to their aid. Yet the cry went up - Nanteleod was dead. Sir Harri ordered Sir Nerys to accompany Sir Nidian to safety as he returned to the front, but his efforts were a remedy, not salvation- most of the Salisbury knights survived thanks to him, but the battle, a charnel house for both sides, was a loss for Logres.

The Knights Perylous healed and regrouped after the battle. A hasty council was called with the Countess and Sir Brastias, to determine their course. They decided to make peace overtures to both Cornwall and Escavalon, postponing the question of vassalage for Robert’s ascension the next year. Sir Brastias left to seek his own answers.

Choosing to prioritize Escavalon, the Knights traveled to Carlion, where they met King Alain and Prince Lanceor of Estregales, but the alliance under Nanteleod was dissipating. Sir Nerys had received amorous letters from one Alardin, but she was distressed to find that he could not read - his letters were written by his chaplain!
We then come upon a curious circumstance. The blessed Sir Nidian sought out the abbess of the convent at Usk, with a curious request that they remove the ring of Saint Aled from her tomb in order that he might lend it to Sir Hector for a while. Despite his prowess and service to the faith, his request was refused. That night, St. Aled’s tomb in the cathedral was found desecrated and the ring missing. Some said that a wind passing through the halls was a sign from God bearing away a holy relic from the ungrateful, although that did not explain how a nun who had recently taken her first vows became pregnant that same night…

Rumors swirled around Sir Hector until that winter, when his lute startled his horse and he was trampled to death. People whispered that he had angered Cameliard, Morgan, Eliavres, or roving Saxons; others credited his death to the mysterious silver-clad knight seen on the scene in the following days, who vanished into the mist.

Sir Hector of Buckland was a pagan knight of some repute, though not nearly of the stature of his uncle, Sir Tyngyr of Cholderton, the Baronbreaker. His mother, Sir Helen le Sauvage, was known primarily for her extended madness and for bringing home a child of unknown provenance. Sir Hector was later adopted by Sir Owain and embraced his new family, with all its flaws, and he showed many of the aspects that family was known for: violence and a penchant for stabbing those who irritated him, though he also had a deep love for music and was the author of many songs, many of which featured Saxons, butts or Morgan (not mutually exclusive subjects). Nonetheless, he served with distinction at the Battles of Levcomagus and Cambridge, although his madness kept him from serving at Netley Marsh. He was known as le Chanteur and le Putain, both of which are probably better than le Batard. Also, he had a giant in his backyard, leading to the Adventure of Nearly Getting Eaten by Half a Giant for No Good Reason.

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

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  • 4 weeks later...

Court in the year 509 was dismal and strained. Along with the purported death of Sir Hector, the winter had also brought the deaths of one of Sir Nerys’ daughters, and the beloved Esclarmonde of Sir Nidian.

Duke Ulfius was in a deep depression that Sir Nerys could not lift from him, perhaps because of her own struggles, or perhaps because a squire named Cery kept pestering her with questions about her father. Sir Roderick spoke with Prince Cynric, while Sir Nidian favorably received Prince Mark’s suggestion of a marriage into Cornish lands - Sir Harri’s ancestral lands, as they discovered later. Sir Harri rode forth to hunt with Robert and give him counsel.

The countess’ council was bleak. Wessex had requested vassalage or triple tribute, along with the delivery of Sir Hector’s lute (conveniently, already broken). This, along with the aid collected for the count, cut deep into the purses of the people of Salisbury. The sole bright spot came afterward, when Sir Brastias approached his friend Sir Nidian to write an important letter to Archbishop Dubricus.

Sarum saw a great celebration, as the heir to Salisbury brought together multiple celebrations in a cost-cutting move. Sir Nerys was married to Dwyai of Escavalon, and Sir Nidian was united with Kelyn d’Ipplepen - with Sir Harri realizing that his home estate of Torbryan was included in the dowry at the last minute. Fortunately, the two men had enough affection so as not to come to blows.

Afterward, at a grand ceremony at Sarum Cathedral, Count Robert was knighted by Sir Harri. He was deemed the best knight in Salisbury by his peers, though all the elder Knights of Peryl were under consideration. Count Robert then knighted Sir Gwefrfawr of Broughton (known as Sir Gwef through the rest of this chronicle), Sir Betrys of Newton Tony, and Sir Cery of Cholderton. Rumors persist of Sir Betrys making the Leap backwards, though this is surely hyperbole. 

Sir Cery joined the Knights Perylous in her cousin’s sudden, explicable absence. She was the daughter of a founding member, Sir Tyngyr, and the ambitious Lady Llylla, and she squired with Sir Brastias, the mercenary. She shared her father’s hatred of the Saxons, as well as his bluntness and his sense of fair play.

The knighting / wedding feast was subdued, perhaps because of a pervasive air of doom. Sir Brastias counseled his protege to decorum when she wanted to test her skills against his in sparring, while Sir Harri was challenged by Sir Briandanz to a duel to first blood; he lost at first light to a brilliant stroke by the younger knight. Sir Roderick won a contest to toast Sir Robert’s honor by recalling how Sir Robert was named in honor of Sir Tyngyr’s former squire from the Nemo estate, and recalling the pride that Sir Roderick’s namesake took in his son.

Count Robert called a second council, in which the knights of Peryl recalled the kings and leaders they had met over the years. He then asked them to write those they had met over their careers to invite them to Sir Brastias’ peace conference in London, to choose a ruler for Logres once and for all.

Before the conference, Sir Harri led the other knights on a hunt for the Red Stag. He hoped to win himself a knightly son with his beloved wife, but the stag eluded him after a day’s pursuit. As they regrouped, moans of pain drew them to the site of a slaughter, where they found Sir Cador the only survivor of an escort for his niece Guinier, his leg broken beneath his mount. The group could not track the bandits responsible in the evening, and patrols turned up no traces. Sir Cador spent some time with his one-time combatant Sir Nerys, bonding over their best interests in the people who served them.

The conference was held in the storied city of London, which also happened to be home to Excalibur, the sword in the stone. The extensive list of participants has been recorded elsewhere; I will highlight the attendance of King Uriens of Gorre and his wife Morgan, invited by  Sir Nerys, along with the king’s kinsman King Lot of Lothian. Duke Ulfius joined at the last minute, but only as an observer.

As he confessed to our knights beforehand, Sir Brastias was of the opinion that the matter of kingship could be settled through controlled violence rather than the usual deadly and wasteful battlefields, favoring a tournament of wooden swords and blunt lances. Despite considerable concern that this was silly, the Salisbury knights said they would support him - especially if this was suggested as a backup possibility. The Knights Perylous (and many others) tried to pull Excalibur from the stone for sport, but it remained firm.

As the conference began under the archbishop’s blessing, the knights were tasked to discover the source of Sir Queux’s absence. They found that Sir Balin had grievously injured him in a rage and slain three other men, seemingly mad. Cet, the late Sir Owain’s brother, also made himself known, helping to prevent bloodshed as a group of knights sought to put the Salisbury knights in peril.

At the conference, King Lot and King Alain both made cases for themselves as High King, and there were few others who could dispute that status. Sir Cery made a reasoned suggestion of forming a triune, with a high king to represent each region - until Cynric of Wessex, appeared to put himself forward for the southern province. He brought with him Prince Ursus, who had sworn homage to Wessex, thereby joining the sons of Vortigern and Wessex in purpose. The prince was shouted down, with a vehement chorus of “F*** up the Saxons'' rising from the audience, despite its awful three stomp/ two clap beat. He retreated, but the divisions in the attendants were plain, with much of the crowd dispersing into the city. Ulfius and Cador vanished with their men, to free Ursus, regardless of the cost to peace.

The Knights Perylous left the cathedral, to be met by Sir Bryn, an avowed enemy of the Stapleford clan. Sir Bryn delivered a challenge to Sir Roderick for his stream of insults toward Cameliard, and both drew swords just before they were swept up into a crowd running towards the Cathedral, where Sir Queux’s squire, Dalan, drew Excalibur in front of everyone.

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

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A.D. 510

This year was when Sirs Sara and Betrys rode with the Knights Perylous for the first time. Sir Sara, daughter of Sir Nidian, was known at this time for her piety, battlefield loyalty and her toasts. Sir Betrys, related to Sir Harri by less official bonds, was known for her modesty, loyalty, and her sharing the hatred of the Saxons with her father.

    You’ve likely heard of this king before so I shall not dwell much upon the circumstances as much as I shall on the place of the Salisbury knights within them. A few knights pledged to Dalan’s cause before the others, but Prince Lanceor of Estregales, King Leodegrance of Cameliard and Sir Brastias were among the first and most notable, followed shortly thereafter by Sir Cery. Sir Harri and Sir Nerys approached as one, but Count Robert and Sir Roderick were more cautious, waiting until Candlemas when Duke Ulfius pledged his support. Sir Nidian and Sir Harri were chosen as the most glorious and honorable knights. They in turn chose their friends and relations to guard the sword, through its repeated drawings at Candlemas, Easter, and Pentecost, until he was crowned king in London and elected High King in Carlion.

    The feast lasted hours and, so the story goes, Sir Sara had a toast for each toll of the bell, always better than the last. This feast would also see Sir Betrys engaged and Sir Roderick in possession of a brooch that… [Worms have eaten this passage]. Regardless, Sir Roderick continued to request donations for the statue of his missing elder brother, Hector, with his Uncle Cet seeking to commission it at a discount. Sir Cery had a small entourage with her for most of the night, perhaps in an attempt to emulate her mother. Sir Harri was known to be indiscreet with a lady that night.

    But perhaps he should have saved his courage for the day after, when he was brought to war council with the new High King. His famous fear of kings finally manifesting, he fled immediately from the chamber when they asked him for tactical advice. Indeed it was necessary, as King Lot brought what seemed to be the whole of the north to bear upon Carlion. Despite early defections to King Dalan’s side, the battle seemed lost against King Lot’s tactical genius, until the boy king called upon Excalibur and rallied his troops. Sir Cery, eager for blood, was known to have laid waste to many of Lot’s men.

    Sir Brastias and Count Ulfius departed for Gaul to seek assistance from Kings Ban and Bors. Seeking to minimize the damage of Lot’s retreating army, King Dalan met them at Bedegraine in a battle that lasted two days. Sir Harri and Sir Cery fell unconscious early in the day, leaving Sir Nerys to ably command of the Salisbury troops. The next day, the Picts’ foul attacks against the horses consigned Sir Nerys to commanding a unit of foot soldiers, with Sir Nidian commanding the Salisbury knights, both of whom acted with skill and distinction. The battle was won at the last second when the Gaulish arrived, brought quickly to the field due to Merlin’s magic.

    Despite the eventual victory, Sir Harri had to have his fears assuaged, due to his concerns about performing the duties of his office. The year - and the fighting - was not over yet…

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

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King Dalan’s new court, after his first two victories, was bustling with anyone of any import in Logres; some of the Knights of Peryl chose to converse, while others were convalescing. Sir Cery related a strange dream in which Sir Hector was killed by a man with a facial scar, which didn’t narrow it down much. Sir Harri, by contrast, was woken by Sir Brastias, who related the King’s desire for him to perform a service to the crown. At court, Sir Harri delivered a speech about his deep loyalty to the king and Logres. Marshall Balan and Sir Nerys raced, with a perfectly tied outcome; she wrote to King Dalan on behalf of his profligate twin brother, Sir Balin, who was imprisoned. Sir Sara, meanwhile, spent her time flirting with the future count of Marlborough. Dear reader, you shall have to wait to see what crop those seeds of impropriety brought. She also had a kind word with Ursus, offering to hunt with him and counseling him to avoid the Merlin-assigned sobriquet of Griffet.

Once healed, however, the group was sent to retrieve some silver buried in the woods, to make up for the plunder given to Ban and Bors. With the money they met a hunter who claimed he needed the money to feed his family… which records suggest was Merlin in disguise. Would a man of such import really expend his powers on such a trivial matter, though? I suspect that the records are mistaken.

Rest would have to wait, however, as Norgales had captured Leodegrance, king of Cameliard. At the Battle of Carohaise, Sir Harri finally commanded the center of King Dalan’s forces. The knights acquitted themselves well, driving back the ill-trained forces of Norgales with few injuries in this battle. Sir Nerys and Sir Cery were particularly notable as they rode down the enemy forces. Afterward, Sir Bryn’s challenge to Sir Roderick had to be met. Sir Roderick suggested three passes with a lance, leading to him being struck off his horse. Even his request for a fourth pass did not make him victorious.

With that resolved and their border secure, Sir Harri set the Knights Perylous a task of love, once again seeking the Red Stag to secure himself an heir with his wife, Gwiona. And in this instance, he was successful, bringing the stag down, but also resulting in the group being lost in the forest. Sir Nerys sought counsel from a fairy, who asked if she would pursue the way out or adventure. She chose adventure.

The knights came upon a group of bandits, who responded to them announcing their presence with violence. Sir Cery’s face was marred and both Sir Nerys and Sir Sara were also knocked over, with Sirs Harri and Roderick coming to their rescue. The bandits fled after realizing that they were doomed, but a knight came forward, claiming to be the unknown Sir Amalar.  After a little bickering, Sir Roderick challenged him for the fate of Lady Guiomar, who he had taken hostage. He beat Sir Amalar, but Roderick offered Sir Amalar a place in his household, as well as paying the half of the lady’s ransom that Sir Nerys didn’t cover. Sir Amalar accepted and came to Stapleford for the winter.

    The long year finally came to an end with a bitterly cold winter.

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

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There was something novel at the court of Logres this year: peace. All the country’s luminaries attended court in Carlion, where the knights tested themselves against the new ideals of chivalry that King Dalan had presented. (None measured up, but what is to be expected?)

Court activities were the usual: Sir Roderick went hunting with Briadanz of Salisbury, and Sir Sara went hunting with Gawainet, the young son of Queen Margawse of Lothian. Sir Harri tried to speak with Sir Queux about the recent robberies of the king’s tax collectors by raiders wearing Cameliard colors. Apparently the seneschal became dramatic in his refusal to answer, especially surprising given how he had squired for the marshal. Sir Brastias instructed Sir Cery on how to use the tourney equipment while she fixated on his bare arms. Sir Brastias didn’t even notice she was visibly flustered, which only made their audience titter more.

In the midst of this peace came danger. When warding off late-night attackers who vanished, Sir Roderick found a bronze serpent in his belongings. Before he could respond, it had bitten down and slowly constricted his arm. He hoped the serpent was sent by an angel and that the church would bring salvation, but after repeated failures of church officials to explain the situation, his companions convinced him that the hated Merlin might do better. 

Merlin offered his services in exchange for retrieving a necklace from Carys, the dame of Middlewich, who was visiting the court. A fellow historian made the scandalous accusation that the necklace in question was linked to the death of Sir Basile of Rydychan and Carys, who then profited from the necklace. After numerous efforts to bribe or cajole the necklace from her, Sir Gwef eventually prevailed by discovering why she was intent on keeping the necklace: to protect herself and her son from King Ryons of Norgales. Sir Roderick offered the protection of his manor in exchange for the necklace. 

Merlin told them how to save Roderick’s arm. Before the end of the year, Roderick had to sit in a vat of vinegar while a woman who loved him sat in a vat of milk, which would cause the snake to leap toward the woman. This would allow another knight to destroy it with a sword. Roderick had to find such a woman before the year ended. 

Apparently, Eliavres had cursed Roderick with the snake after Sir Roderick locked his own mother in a tower as a chastity belt. Sir Cery discovered this when she advocated using Ysave as the woman in the ritual, which resulted in a relatively safe duel with tourney equipment between Sir Roderick and Sir Cery. Sir Cery won (largely because Sir Roderick decided to sulk instead of continuing the bloodless, pointless combat), and Sir Roderick released his mother to Sir Cery’s care, although he refused to apologize to her.

The others pursued avenues for Sir Roderick’s benefit, with Sir Harri giving him love advice and admonishing him for his behavior. Even a match with Sir Bryn, who had slain Roderick’s father, was suggested for a moment. Eventually Sir Roderick realized that Carys was a good match. The two fell in love (?), and they undertook the ritual. Sir Harri performed the serpentine bris. The lady Guiomar left in disappointment to return to her uncle Cador.

Near the end of the year, Knights of Peril attended a holiday celebration at Amesbury Abbey which all but Sirs Nidian and Nerys found frightfully dull. The group killed time boasting about their accomplishments which Sirs Harri and Gwefrfawr “won”. They were spared the remainder of the party when a raggamuffin messenger advised them that there was another White Horse festival - and Saxons crossing the border from Winchester were riding there.

The Knights were administered various trials. One was of truth, when the Marlborough guards called upon them harshly to give their names. Sara and Cery initially passed, with Harri passing once Sir Sara encouraged him. The next was of valor, when they were challenged by the fairy knight Sir Tustin. Although Harri, Gwefrfawr, and Cery overcame their fear, no one unseated the Silver Knight. Before his departure, he passed on the news that Sir Hector was indeed dead.

Next they met a woman that they had sought, but not found, who asked them to rest their horses before making the final sprint. As they came upon Uffington, the knights saw mounted Saxons on the road and charged them, taking serious damage that left Sir Harri unconscious. Their opponents turned out to be Jutes from Kent, there for the celebration of the White Horse; the woman came and asked both Saxons and Cymri to attend the celebration. All but Sir Cery agreed. Harri drank of the water and gained himself and his horse a blessing.

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

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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  • 1 month later...

AD 512

The Knights Perylous joined the royal progress at St. Albans, where Count Robert and Sir Cery reflected upon the night their fathers and a unified Logres died in the castle’s great hall. The Queen Dowager Ygraine asked Sir Harri to speak about King Uther’s last moments. Sir Ulfius, pretending offense, protested at Ygraine’s infidelity. This moment of theater allowed Ygraine, Merlin, and ‘Ector to clarify that King Dalan was not, in fact, a stranger, but the child of her and King Uther, albeit conceived before wedlock and with the aid of sorcery. (But does Arthur take more after Gorlois or Uther?) After elaborating on their relationship, Ygraine passed to King Dalan the gift of a name, taken from his older brother the day he died and the day Dalan was conceived: Arthur.*

Court that year was lively, as it always was. One of the High King’s first acts under his new name was rebuffing envoys from the distant and sundered Roman empire for their requests for tribute. Sir Nerys, naturally, availed herself of the monastery libraries along the route. Sir Harri made the acquaintance of the Brown Knight of the Wilds, who tested his pride to seek out the flaws of his nascent chivalry. Sir Roderick and Sir Queux renewed their friendship with drinks earned after a scramble about the household. Sir Cery, apparently enthused by King Arthur’s new name, pledged her loyalty to him once again; everyone was deeply embarrassed on her behalf. Sir Sara was troubled by Sir Ulfius’s participation in the courtly theater this year, particularly in light of his promotion of Ursus, and looked into his motivations.

Sir Sara also encountered the youthful sons of Lot. Disguised in traveler’s garb, Gawainet, Agravaine, and Gaheriset presented themselves and pledged allegiance to King Arthur. He dispatched them to Fort Broughton on the Saxon border.

In attendance at court, there was also a maiden with a sword on her belt that no one could draw. Her irritation at how the sword was treated as a curiosity was explicit, from all accounts.

During the royal progress’ stop in Rydychan, a gravely wounded knight was carried into the king’s audience, with a plea for justice against his attacker. Ursus, once an unwitting pretender to Arthur’s inheritance, begged royal sanction to become a knight and seek justice against this bandit. At Sir Harri’s urging, Sir Cery and Sara joined him. The newly minted Sir Ursus, though not Uther’s son, was in fact quite well versed in strategy and impressed Sir Harri. He was not quite as adept at combat, so his insistence that King Pellinore, apparently the man’s assailant, quit his pursuit of the Questing Beast and return to court to meet justice was answered with a challenge at which Ursus did not fare well. Sir Harri expertly staunched his wounds, while Sir Cery insulted her way into a duel with the king by making obvious and true assessments of Pellinore’s life and character. She won, but the king continued his pursuit, opting to show up for court another time.**

The next morning, King Arthur and Merlin were absent from court with no explanation. The Knights Perylous sought King Arthur, with the trail leading them back to King Pellinore, rendered unconscious by Merlin’s magic. The knights arrived just in time to see Arthur retrieving Excalibur from a ghostly hand in the lake, having apparently broken it in a duel that Pellinore won. Merlin offered no explanation, but nobody bothered to ask this time, either.

Sir Roderick’s wedding to Lady Carys was attended by the High King, who spoke with Sir Nerys about her hatred of Saxons, a subject that she had a great deal to say about. Sir Sara snagged a wealthy heir(ess), as one does at a wedding. Sir Roderick, perhaps borrowing his deceased brother’s talents, astonished everyone by meeting the high king’s demand for song with a beautiful voice and a quick foot at dance. There are several well-regarded toasts made to King Arthur at this feast, but the most noted is Sir Nerys’; she compared the king to a book and found the King wanting.

Marshal Balan’s request for mercy for his brother, Balin, was answered at Cirencester. The knights met the brothers in the bailey and were wishing them well on their return home when the Sword Maiden also passed by. Balin had not tried his luck before, so he attempted to draw the sword with the Maiden’s permission and succeeded. She asked him to return the sword, warning him (more than slightly belatedly) that should he keep it, he was accepting an adventure and the destiny of killing the one he loves dearest. Balin was okay with this, perhaps because he was possessed by an evil sword that the Maiden did not warn him (or anyone) about prior to their attempt to draw it. Surely this would have consequences years minutes hence.

Balin returned to court and was greeted warmly by the king, who restored his arms and heraldry to him. The king requested he stay, but he excused himself. Then Nineve, one of the Ladies of the Lake, her robes flowing around her as she carried herself with the grace of water, entered court and pleaded for the head of Sir Balin. Balin, in full arms and armor, stormed the court and beheaded her where she stood before anyone could respond, departing just as quickly. Squires were summoned to arm the court as knights rushed to pursue him, but it was too late. Sir Balin encountered Prince Lanceor and left him dead at a crossroad. Prince Mark found him there and lamented the assassination, followed by a conversation with Sir Roderick. Marshal Balan, aggrieved by his brother’s madness, resigned his post and swore to rectify the situation, despite Cery’s insistence that his brother was destined to kill him.

Finally, it was time for the year’s martial service. King Arthur led his troops against the forces of the Centurion King and King Garloth of Nentres at Bassus River (a tributary of the Humber in Malahaut). He found himself at a disadvantage as the forces of the north swarmed down a hill toward his position. The tide swiftly turned, however. King Pellinore, like a singular force of nature, destroyed the Malahaut formation, struck at the Centurion King, and killed his foe in the first charge. King Garloth soon followed, and the battle seemed all but won. Then King Garloth’s son Galegantis rallied his troops and started driving the forces of Logres back. Combat for the Knights Perylous became dangerous; Sir Sara was unhorsed and Sir Roderick was severely injured. The Brown Knight of the Wilds captured Galegantis, yet even in the pursuit, knights of Malahaut unhorsed and grievously hurt Sir Harri. Sir Bryn, beheader of Sir Owain, also died in this combat. 

Sir Harri spent the fall recovering, and the group was able to rest, save for Cery attempting to convince Sir Harri and his wife to take a nymph to their marital bed.

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

* A welcome development for the players, who were unimpressed with Madoc/Arthur.

** This was also just one pass of the lances. It was enjoyable seeing Ursus and Pellinore play off each other, and the group play off them.

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Interlude, in which Two Players Plot and Meditate on the Morals of Arthurian Legendary Figures

Player A: Cery has previously planned to get an enchanted spring by basically adopting a young naiad, but that plan is complicated by the lack of young naiads and the lack of male knights in our group that haven't imprisoned their mom for banging

(be honest, you would want to raise a kid related to a guy who did that?)

Anyway, Cery requires someone who has a fairie lore that isn't 1 to give her advice on this issue

Player B: Okay

Neyrs wil point out that her fae lore is like... still not that high?

What may she kniw about this, [Sax]?

Me: This is Fairy Lore. I can roll it, or you can.

B: You can, I'm in a blanket roll and not moving

Me: 8 out of 14

B: That's okay, right? We want under

A: Just so

Me: Nymphs are shifting, changeable, lustful creatures. They can be shy, but they also love flowers, music, and dance.

Now you can decide if you want to tell the other knight this.

B: She'll share the news, why not?

Why does Cery want to trap one, anyway?

A: There's a spring called... my brain is sun addled, so the name's escaping me. but there's a famous roman bath that's considered to be a healing spring

anyway, cery wants one of those because she doesn't want her face getting mangled by her job?

but considering that the process appears to involve getting a naiad to hook up with a knight so she can adopt the kid and use it to power her beauty pool a) makes her sound like a fucking disney villain and b) her motivations are getting a little clouded by the method of doing this

not even one of the more sympathetic disney villains

Me (catching up): There’s a well of the dubiously named St. Hawthorn without a Roman bath up a small mountain in hostile Welsh territory, that is.

B: Okay, but hear me out

Morgan can probably help?

A: The gloomcookie her cousin banged/ wanted to continue banging?

B: (And arguably make things worse?)

The like queen or whatever of that area

A: morgan's up north, wales is mostly westish of us

B: Yes, but Nerys (or Very)could write to her to see if she has a solution

Merlin may also know a way, but he won't do it

A: I feel like magic intervention would only make consent even trickier here

B: And Morgan might

A: and yeah, merlin's a dick.

the one and future dick, rather

B: (Yes, definitely, she'd actually be a bad plan, but Nerys would totally mention her)

A: Cery's idea right now is to go to there, talk with the Naiad and get her thoughts.

Which I will point out is an uncharacteristically reasonable plan, for one of my characters.

Me: Overlooking the fairy, and the sex, and the journey into hostile territory.

And the ultimate goal.

A: Literally all of those things are so baked into the fabric of the setting that it would be weirder if they weren't present

"Merlin! The addict broke my sword!" "Look, just toss it into the nearby lake, some fairy will fix it"

Me: I think you should talk to Morgan. It will probably make things worse.

A: so say we all

B: Except Nerys who says she's just a girl who will settle down someday, it's fine

A: She'll write Morgan a very formal letter requesting advice on a deeply smutty subject

Morgan's just sowing some wild corpses the way some sow oats, it's fine it's whatever why are you concerned

B: There's no proof Morgan's killed anyone. Just that she knows how, and is fine with others doing it.

And aren't we all,  sometimes?

A: They were killed in a way that only she knows how!

B: But we've literally stabby stabby MANY people

A: It's like, oh gosh, how did these people get stabbed? Stabbotron, you know how to stab people, what do you think?

Except it's "explode out from their armor"-o-tron

It was less pithy

B: Remember how we were all like, "Yeah, that's just Owain."

We can't judge

A: I think it was more, "Yeah, sorry, Owain's... our problem. Sorry again."

B: But we let him be him anyway

A: He was very effective at murder! And it was fine when it was state sponsored!

B: Which it wasn't always


whatever, shrug, idk, I Dont Know, elmo

B: Nerys's next dissertation "We cannot judge Morgan lest we judge ourselves"

A: "Let he without Owain throw the first Morgan."

B: "Yes"

A: Anyway, vaguely content of the letter: "I would like a spring of beauty to maintain me through my career, and also I've heard there's a hot nymph. I don't know what step 2 is, but I would like a hot nymph spring of hotness and no moral ambiguity."

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OK that was hilarious and totally something I could see happening at our group, too. 

In a non-Kap game, the PCs were called upon to inspect a double murder: someone very strong had ripped the heads clean off. 

Marcel: Alright, so how do we hush this up to cover for Raksha? 

Raksha (7' of muscular, murderous voodoo priestess): Hey, dis was not me, mon. 

Marcel: Suuure it wasn't. Must have been your twin brother, hmm? 

Raksha: I don't have a brother. 

Marcel: It is alright. Nothing wrong with being true to yourself. 

Raksha: Keep it up and I'll rip your head off! 

Marcel: I rest my case. 

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  • 1 month later...

At court in 513, Sir Roderick got into a bit of a scuffle. Sir Irwyn of Marlborough, one of his father’s old grudges called him a bastard, referencing a nasty (and true) rumor that had been circulating about his heritage. Sir Roderick didn’t respond, but bumped into the gentleman a few times until he called for a duel. They jousted and, though struck repeatedly, the huge Sir Roderick continued to maintain the saddle while insulting his opponent. This threw Sir Irwyn off his game so that Roderick could unhorse him, nearly killing him in the process. There were the usual activities, including intrigue, races, falconry to the death, but none so interesting as that duel. 

There was one note of sorrow that ran through court, however: To the north, many children of nobles had been stolen, sent to sea in a ship, and died when they crashed into rocks. The incident sent a shiver through all who heard of it.

That summer, King Arthur’s forces mustered at Terrabil, Cameliard to face the kings of the north, Norgales, Cornwall, and other realms in combat. The evening before, Sir Balan arrived at the pickets to deliver the gigantic King Ryons, trussed in a cart, to the Knights of Peryl. He and his brother, the disgraced Sir Balin, had ambushed the ruler on a discreet expedition to visit his mistress. 

On the following morning, Merlin’s sorcery ensnared King Lot. His Norgales allies marched against King Arthur, but the kings of the North remained behind and the enemy forces had to shift to cover their flank. Right at the start of the battle, Sir Gwef was dismounted. When the knights rallied to her aid, Sir Roderick suffered a loss of sanity and fled the field, again. Though Sir Harri was also unhorsed and both he and Sir Gwef suffered some minor wounds over the course of the fight, they persisted until Norgales had vacated the field and the Northern Kings rallied.

Soon after Lot’s first charge, Sirs Balan and Balin slammed into their ranks, throwing their order into disarray. King Pellinore himself, legend says, pierced the heads of King Lot’s horse and King Lot himself in a single blow. It was a long battle regardless, and Sir Harri guided his troops through it admirably. The enemy forces were routed, but not before the Knights of Peryl lost/ won a round of combat to some Cambrian Weirds wearing their clothes backwards. Sir Cery became lost during the pursuit and found later in the company of some circus folk who she kindly invited to attend her. Sir Roderick, meanwhile, was found in a hermitage. 

King Arthur held a ceremony to honor the dead kings, with a memorial created by Merlin; the flames in the statue’s tapers would last so long as Merlin lived. Sir Sara was called to account for her participation on Arthur’s side against King Idres by Cornish knights of the Rosecraddoc clan. Although her primary loyalties lay with Logres, Sir Sara had accepted land in return for fealty from the kings standing against Arthur.

Records of the following are scarce, but the Knights of Peryl apparently rode across the border to Orofoise to raid them, but stopped at the hill known as the Wrekin where Sir Cery adopted a naiad child. They were accompanied by a knight known as Sir Accolon of Gaul, a servant of Morgan with a prominent facial scar; upon his return, the scar was gone. A fragmentary account also mentions passage through the “gates of heaven and hell,” which sounds ominous. Sir Sara declined to go through either. No word on if they actually raided anything during the raid.

On their return, the Cameliard knights accused Sir Roderick of grave robbing the tomb of his hated foe Sir Bryn*, causing Sir Roderick to dodge their blows and flee on his horse. Presumably finding him with the local anchorites, Sir Cery convinced him to return; Count Robert and his fellow knights stood for Sir Roderick’s innocence. The witness to the crime identified not Sir Roderick, but rather King Arthur as the one who entered the chapel at night! When pressed, King Arthur claimed that he was bound by honor not to identify who gave him the request to enter. He faced King Leodegrance’s uncharacteristic wrath, until Lady Guenevere herself came forward to speak for him.

Whatever joy the year saw, it was also a year of terrible tragedy, from which the fledgling nation would never recover: the knight known as “Bread,” once squire to Sir Owain, vassal to Sir Hector, and second husband to Sir Hector’s wife, passed in the battle of Terrabil. He kindly raised many of Sir Hector’s children as if they were his own, although scurrilous gossips claimed they really were. … [The passage continues for several pages. The name of the knight is unknown.]

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

* Player statement: "I genuinely am kinda sure I didn't do it. Kinda."

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All of these are off limits to my players. The Secret Chronicles doubly so. Also, I’ll be using profanity a lot.

From The Secret Chronicle of Cet of Stapleford, Lately of London, Brother to the Famed Sir Owain, and Uncle of Sorts to Sir Roderick

Fuck off, Brother Mordecai! I’ve been faithfully serving the Stapleford family for two generations, and you barely write anything about me! Then again, what do I expect from the Choldertons?

Want an explanation, faithful reader? Here you go. Through great effort and vigilance, I uncover evidence that my brother Owain’s wife Ysave is having an affair with that damn wizard Eliavres. It’s not too hard to figure out, especially when he’s playing magical music for her all night. 

I’m about to bring the evidence to my brother, all gift wrapped like a bunch of heads, when he suddenly has a pang of conscience and gets his own head cut off by Sir Bryn of Stonesleigh to save his adopted son Hector, who can't fight worth shit. Ysave fires me, I go to Hector to talk about it. Next thing I know, Tyngyr of Cholderton’s widow Llylla conspires to kick me out of the four counties and leave my ass running past Saxon patrols to London!

So, yeah, that’s why the Cholderton chronicles ignore me while going into raptures about fucking Sir Bread, a guy who did nothing but Hector’s wife. A lot. 

Anyway, knowing most of my high-and-mighty colleagues can’t read, I’m going to write this backwards and hide it under the pickled onions in the storerooom where nobody looks.

Here’s the latest shit I have to scrape off my boot. My nephew Roderick hates those Cameliard fuckers because of a lot of the aforementioned severed head affairs. When the new king comes in, he figures it’s time for payback, right? So he hires some Cornish mercenaries to wear Cameliard livery and start raiding the royal tax collectors. And damned if it doesn’t go off without a hitch.


The key word there was “Cornish.” Because Roderick can apparently hide what he did from Cameliard, and from Arthur, and even from that scary fucker Merlin, but he can’t keep it from that little fucking polecat Prince Mark.

Thus, while everyone else is weeping over Prince Lanceor’s body, Mark takes Roderick aside to blackmail him into becoming his personal court spy. Roderick objects because, hey, fucking Merlin. Prince says, no problem, I know a guy, specialist in Glamour. Roderick says yeah, let’s do this.

Now, those who are versed in our family history and read “specialist in Glamour” can guess what the fuck happens next. Who shows up but Roderick’s so-called dad, Eliavres, to give him a nice brooch and a fatherly pep talk. Apparently it will make Roderick appear like a dog to Merlin, letting him sneak around more - the brooch, I mean, probably not the pep talk. No way this leads to problems and hilarity later. Roderick grabs it and stalks off, plotting vengeance.

Who does he turn to in his hour of need? His wife? His talking leopard? His friends and compatriots? His trustworthy and wise Uncle Cet, who would be more than happy to fuck over one of the sneaky bastards who got him exiled? Of course not. 

Those of you who’ve read that Cholderton nonsense may remember, way back when, the rumor that Roderick’s grandmother was trapped on a fairy hill, and that Roderick’s father (?) Owain swapped her for a local wise woman. Well, that’s true. And THAT’S who Roderick sought out to help him with his family drama.

So he climbs the hill, only to find a terrifying transformed supernatural hellion - with his little brother Amhar, who he thought had been killed in a Saxon raid. He loses his nerve, ends up scarring himself for life regarding ghosts, and goes to hide in a church. That’s where his wife finds him.

Oh yeah. I haven’t talked about Carys yet.

You remember all those troubles with the three Rydychan usurpers? Reliable, trustworthy, steady Sir Nerys looks at it and says, “Three men versus one woman? Fuck that!” She gets in touch with MORGAN FUCKING LA FEY who gives her a magical necklace of assassination or some shit. She then recruits a peasant serving girl to go in and seduce Sir Basile, the oldest brother, and then kill him on his brother’s wedding night. 

Sure, our faithful Sir Leo gets killed in the confusion, but Sir Nerys pulls off her goal and weakens the usurpers so the countess can take back power. Trouble is, she hadn’t arranged to pick up the necklace afterward, so Carys leaves the county and strikes off on her own. I don’t really know how many people she kills - I mean, she’s not going to tell me over an ale, right? - but she squeezes her way into holding Middlewich under King Ryons. He sends her to Arthur’s court, Merlin finds out and asks the Knights to get her necklace… and then Roderick marries her!

Anyway, I was stretching my legs near the church while they were talking. First, I hear a bit of a fight. Here's some marriage advice from Uncle Cet: apparently you’re supposed to take your problems to your wife, and not the scary fairy woman who hates your purported father. Anyway, she encourages him to swallow his pride and ask Eliavres for help… because it will set him up for killing him later. And then they hug.

I have no idea where any of this is going, except horribly wrong. I’ll keep this updated when I can, or until some arsehole develops a taste for picked onions.

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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  • 2 weeks later...

As a responsible scholar, I must make a note here: I can find no more references to Sir Cery in the lists and rolls and censuses, but there is a well known Sir Cerise la Souris of Cholderton. Queen Guenevere, young as she was, was suddenly taken with French fashion- perhaps from all the mention of Brittany’s interregnum- and perhaps asked some of her knights to take French names on a whim. Fortunately, this new name also no longer parses as ‘SorCery.’

514 was a year of peace, blessed by the wedding of King Arthur and Queen Guenevere at Carlion. The knights bestowed gifts upon their lords and had grants bestowed upon them in kind. Newton Tony presented a beautifully crafted saga of Arthur’s family to his king and asked for little in return: martial arms for his child. Stapleford presented an ornate saddle and in return asked for permission to make a prison for Saxons; he additionally received the queen’s ire. Shrewton presented the couple with a marble statue in their own image and received permission to wear the queen’s favor in the coming tournament, a first in the history of the institution. Broughton presented two fine books and secured a place in Arthur’s house for her knightly child. Cholderton also presented a marble statue of Venus in the Hellenistic style which bore a passing resemblance to the queen; she asked her king to knight her sister Reva, of age that year. King Arthur did so, also knighting Sir Gawainet (now Gawaine) and Sir Tor, the “onion knight”* vaguely recognized by Pellinore as his son, in the same ceremony. Arthur also received a gift well known across the land: King Leodegrance’s Round Table, seating one hundred knights of Cameliard and also having the Siege Perylous for the greatest knight in the land - and promising fiery death for all others.

After this, Queen Guenevere’s ladies flocked to poor Sir Sara, decrying her garb as inadequate for the queen’s champion and politely/ firmly dragged her to a fitting room in the royal guest house. Sir Cerise went for moral support and observed a few individuals who seemed fascinated with the guards to the garden leading down to the Usk. 

Just before the wedding feast, the court burst into chaos when a white hart pursued by a surge of black hounds and a lone white hound entered. A Lady of the Lake, on horseback, pursued the chaos, with Sir Harri recognizing her as the woman he had met on the White Horse ride. Moments after the white hound scored a bite on the hart, one member of the court grabbed the hound and absconded, while a knight in full black armor rode into the hall and took the Lady of the Lake, riding off just as abruptly. King Arthur prudently wished to consider the matter before taking action, but Merlin forbade him this. He admonished that the knights of his court must always be ready for adventure at a moment’s notice. At Arthur’s behest, Sir Gawaine rode off in pursuit of the hart, while the onion knight pursued the hound and King Pellinore rode for the Lady of the Lake and the black knight.

Once the chaos subsided, the feast began. Sir Cerise spent her time bothering a variety of pagan religious figures: Merlin, Vivianne, and Queen Morgan. She wanted to know about some text regarding Venus, the care and upbringing of naiads, and the fate of her cousin Sir Hector. (On the latter point, Morgan reassured her that Hector had gone on a trip to Scandinavia for musical inspiration, which the knight accepted as plausible.) 

Sir Harri, above the salt as he should be, spent his time discovering the truth of recent intrigues, such as Sir Lot’s hesitation to join the battle the year prior or Queen Guenevere’s ire towards Sir Roderick, spiller of heads. He also danced. Sir Gwef spent her time auditioning a series of suitors sent by Ulfius and Morgan. Sara partook of the party to the fullest, but at some point she was wrangled into the audience for King Alain, who required witnesses for his extemporizations/ ramblings about politics on the island - a famous speech, albeit not famously good. 

Sir Roderick, despite being the noble scion of a famous house, and himself (in)famous, ended up below the salt. There are some theories on why, though there are perhaps too many grudges to be sure which caused it. He spent much of his time working on winning the favor of the Lothian crowd, but he also had a brief conversation with an older, distinguished lady who wore a brooch that twinned a new one of his own.

The feast was followed by the first tournament: several days of combat with rebated weapons and flats of the blade, with the common knights of the realm riding against the Knights of the Round. Sir Harri was unhorsed in the first round, but stayed in despite that, having a middling combat with Sir Ulfius. He began looking into the same phenomenon that Sir Cerise had noticed: mysterious figures from Cameliard boating near the garden. Sir Sara performed well at first, but was unhorsed at the end of the first day. Sir Cerise’s performance was better, though she also learned to swim during a breather after one day’s performance. Despite posting a bulletin offering a reward to any Cameliard knight who could perform the deed, Sir Roderick remained in his saddle until the very end. Sir Roderick also managed to unseat Duke Ulfius, who was a bit worse for wear at his advanced age. This concerned Sir Gwef, who thought of him as a grandfather. She invested most of her time outside the lists into her suitors. 

Two knights of Salisbury lasted until the final round of the tournament: Sir Roderick le Rocher of Stapleford and Sir Harri, Kingsguard of Newton Tony. Sir Harri was knocked off his horse by King Arthur himself, adding extra assistance to his fellow Round Table knights.

As some have also remarked upon this, unfolding at the same time was the tale of the three questing knights. Sir Gawaine started his quest by quelling an argument between two knights, but the next day, he found the white hart, slew it and dueled the owner, Sir Ablamor. He would have slain the owner as well, but the knight’s gentlewoman love caught the blow meant for him and was slain in his stead. On his journey home, he was accosted by the vengeful knights of Sir Ablamor (then absent), who overcame Sir Gawaine, but spared his life after some ladies begged for his life. Sir Gawaine related his shame and, after a reprimand from Queen Guenevere, swore to always aid non-combatant nobles.

Tor the onion knight, by contrast, jousted some knights before returning with the hound, which had ended up with Sir Ablamor. He slew him in combat when a lady’s pleas overcame his own desire to grant mercy. King Pellinore returned with Nimue, the lady of the lake. His tale sounded like a fever dream. Merlin predicted King Pellinore’s doom for letting his daughter be eaten by lions. What in the fuck.

[An illustration of Pellinore’s travails has been devoured by worms; we believe this is a reasonable approximation of its message.]


Sir Irwyn of Marlborough, the knight that Sir Roderick had dueled the year prior finally succumbed to his wounds, following Irwyn’s assertions that Roderick is a bastard (twice true). His death was little noticed in Salisbury, as the knights met for the wedding of one of their number…

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

* GPC: "Sir Tor is a good character to associate with player knights... Later, player knights who like social interaction should be urged to seek Sir Tor to gain information."

My group: "But what if we repeatedly insulted him instead?"


Edited by SaxBasilisk
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  • 4 weeks later...

AD 515

Sir Sara and Lord Corryn were married that winter in Salisbury, a celebration before another year of peace. The correspondence afterwards tells us that Sir Gwef lost a contest of strength so badly she was bruised, while Sir Harri’s opinion about the merits of the sword impressed other local knights. Cerise gave a toast to the newlywed, praised her loyalty and courage and then recounted her first time blind drunk. Displeased, Sir Sara, above the salt, spent her time learning of Sir Cerise’s new nickname (la Sourise), a gift from Sir Tor, the Onion Knight. Sir Roderick tried to impress other knights with boasting, but didn’t have enough swagger.

On the road to court in London that year, they found Sir Agravaine meting out a beating to an old man who -  the details are too convoluted to bother writing, but it seems like Sir Agravaine was angry and needed a piece of meat to destroy. Sir Gwef interrupted the beating and scolded Sir Agravaine, who took it poorly. Sir Harri compensated the victims lavishly, while Sir Cerise sought the opinions of Diarmiud, a nearby bard of whom she developed a low opinion.

The Knights of Peryl were lodged in Bayard’s Castle due to late arrival, but court went on. A new arrival was a knight from Byzantium, Sir Sagramore, who was intrigued by the speculation about Arthur’s court and his code of conduct. 

Sir Roderick, through fate, misadventure, or happenstance, was invited with the knights who had demonstrated their chivalric worth to a royal dinner. Sir Harri spoke with King Pellinore, who vaguely recalled their previous encounters; Harri’s curiosity was piqued by the human wreckage who slew kings. Thus he was present when Merlin revealed Pellinore’s seat at the Round Table, next to the Siege Perilous.  Sir Sara took pity on the harried Sir Queux and went on a relaxing hunting trip. Sir Roderick was seen gossiping in the wings. Sir Cerise spent much of her time railing at Merlin for perceived ethical faults in his grand scheme for Logres. Merlin [illegible section] departed promptly. Sir Gwef asked around about the fate of Sir Balin. She discovered, through Sir Cynwal and Sir Graid, that he was involved in the blighting of some land in Listeneisse, due to a lack of hospitality. Also it involved an attack by an invisible person. She politely demurred from passing judgment on Sir Balin’s exile.

This year involved many contests of romance: more directly, lectures delivered by Sir Harri on the subject in competition with Sir Roderick and Sir Sara, which Sir Harri roundly won. Queen Guenever, her sensibilities offended by the competition, told the participants that it was nonsense. Sir Sara, still infatuated, tried to get the Queen’s attention, only to receive the deadly slight of an impersonal greeting.

Sir Gwef, meanwhile, discovered that she had attracted the hostile attention of the Lothian clan by interceding against Sir Agravaine. Not engaging out of discretion, she instead participated in a contest for the attention of lady Ariette with Sir Roderick and Sir Cerise, which was finally determined by a contest of falconry that Sir Sara won- an invalid result considering she was recently wed and not competing. Sir Gwef was the next most accomplished and won a favor from the lady.
A variety of knights, aggrieved by the lady’s token, sought Sir Gwef in the tournament. These included Sir Ursus, Sir Agravaine, and Sir Tor, though perhaps Sir Agravaine had other motives. The knights of Salisbury acquitted themselves well, with Sir Harri’s expertise leading to several surprise lance charges, and they unhorsed several opponents. Still, none could compare to Sir Gawain. 

The brave knight’s victory was hardly acknowledged when the weather suddenly became wretched and mist surrounded them. A dwarf walked onto the field and announced a huge supernatural knight and a lady who walked out of the fog. The Lady de Vance declaimed King Arthur and claimed his empire was built upon the heinous murder of the May Babies. She challenged any knight to prove her wrong in single combat with her champion, her charnel knight. Several knights, including Sir Cerise, stepped forward, but Sir Gawain claimed the gauntlet and the challenge to be met in forty-two days.

After a pensive night, King Arthur summoned his knights to him so Vivianne, a Lady of the Lake, could announce that they would need to discover the Thirteen Treasures of Britain (perhaps to keep the knights from getting too restless or curious about the charges). The Knights of Peryl found most of the choices to be depressingly food-based and opted for pursuit of the whetstone of Tudwal Tudclud. The bard Diarmiud directed them to a Queen of the Wasteland, which sounded much like what happened to Listeneisse, so they spoke with Sir Cynwal again for directions. They chartered a ship from London to Carduel to make their way to the Wasteland.

While traveling in the barren lands, they came upon a monastery of no clear denomination. They accepted the hospitality of the lone resident monk, who explained that his fellows had fled the blight following Sir Balin’s Dolorous Stroke, injuring King Pellam of Listeneisse. Sirs Harri, Cerise and Gwef drank of the fine vintage offered and soon felt sleepy, as did most of their squires. All involved refused to speak of what happened that night, save that they woke up lost elsewhere in Listeneisse, with the monastery nowhere to be found.

Wandering, they stumbled upon the village of Olbray, guarded by a knight of Listeneisse, charged by his king to defend the village many years ago. He refused to let them approach and seemed unaware of current events. Speaking with the aging squire Thomas alone, the knights were told that the residents of the village were long dead and his charge pointless, but he couldn’t deal with his loss of purpose, driving him mad. The Knights of Peryl weighed whether to risk granting him the death in combat that suited his honor or finding a way to relieve him of his duty to a dead king and dead village.

Much more importantly, this was the year that Sir Gwef met [the manuscript is smudged here], a mastiff, a gift from Sir Cerise who was enamored by Lady Ariette and desired to steal the attention she had given to Sir Gwef. Almost every volume that mentions these knights mentions this king among dogs, this canine saint, this- [Mordecai spends many pages describing what can be agreed to be the platonic ideal of a dog- the very best boy- in great detail.]

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

(The session also featured a "Worst Person in Pendragon" conversation, with many excellent candidates being proposed.)

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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I'll just say this:
Agravaine is such a pleasure to GM. He is so easy to set up as a foil to the PKs, and he can be as petty and vindictive as you want.
One of my favorite GM experiences was when the Players (via their PKs) had to debate whether they would like Agravaine or Mordred as their new liege lord (marrying to the sole Salisbury Heiress after some stuff had gone down). The winning argument was along the lines of: "Mordred seems chill, so even if we pass him over in favor of Agravaine, the probably will defer to his big brother. Whereas if we slight Agravaine by selecting his kid brother instead, he will devote the rest of his life making ours a living hell."
Opinions may vary whether or not getting Agravaine as their liege lord was worth it...

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  • 1 month later...

515 continued...

After some discussion and Sir Sara’s failed pass of the lance against the knight of Listeneisse, the Knights of Peryl despaired of finding a non-violent way to convince him to give up his charge, imprisoning him and his squire in service to a dead village at least a little longer.

They came next upon a serpent and a lion locked in battle, with a smug child hiding in the rocks nearby and prodding the knights to intervene. The serpent turned to fight them in combat, snapping, lasting its tail, and breathing fire, but it quickly fell to their blows. The lion revealed its cubs and then transformed into a knight and said, “The innocent are saved, though the serpent spawn lives. The grey knight’s cause is unjust.” Then he vanished. It’s unclear if that was a non sequitur.

Next, though Sir Cerise would claim that they had encountered the Wild Hunt for at least a year more, the rest of the group was quite firm that they happened upon the Sluagh, who served as an ordeal on their eventual destination: The Queen of the Wasteland. All remained faithful to their oaths, although Roderick was reportedly looking for a better deal than what they were offering.

When the Knights, dehydrated, lost and tired, reached the Queen, she gave them succor and a place to worship before explaining the nature of the challenges they faced on the way to her: the succubus’s abbey, the guardian of Olbray, the parable of the lion and serpent, and the test of valor by the Sluagh. She also told them who they should seek next: Lord Bercilak, a castellan of Hautdesert in Cameliard, and Lady Elavane.

On the way out of the Wasteland, they happened upon some knights of Pellam. They made the knights aware of the plight of the squire from Listeneisse before continuing their quest. Hearing the name of the leader of the knights, Sir Gwef named her most excellent canine companion to honor and vex him, dubbing the hound Regis the Greatest.

They took passage on a ship from Carduel to Cheshire, and ride thence to Hautdesert. After some delicate negotiations with the castle guards, they were received by Sir Bertilak. He knew where the whetstone lay but was hesitant to tell them, given that he had given his word to the owner. He went hunting as he considered and the knights greatly impressed him with their skills, except for Sir Gwef and Cerise who stayed behind with his wife for chess. Sir Gwef impressed her with her tactics and mind, while Sir Cerise was exiled from the room. After conferring with his wife, Bertilak led them to the forest.

In the forest, after some negotiation about the maximum amount of iron they could carry and the noise of their companions, the Knights of Peryl finally arrived at Inapercu, a fae realm. The king, graciously, did not press them when Sir Harri lied about how they found them and was receptive to their request for the whetstone. In return, he asked them to retrieve his lady’s mount. Guided by a fairy maiden in the form of a white bird, the Knights retrieved their steeds and armor, slew the Saxon (giant) and retrieved the horse (who galloped, riderless, all the way back to court). The fae were quite grateful and threw a feast in celebration. Rather than riding forth to pursue their mission, they stayed for a feast. Many of the knights tried their sword arm against the fairy knights and fared well. Sir Cerise fell in lust with an elf despite not knowing her name. Sir Gwef gamed with the fae, losing in good spirits.

With time short, they rode for London, delaying only to help a lady imperiled by some bandits. She joined them on the ride back, but after a late night conversation with Gwf, it turned out she was a raven somehow. Sir Harri barely killed the bird before it took the whetstone from them.

They arrived to find the duel in progress, with Sir Gawaine hard pressed to keep up with his seemingly immortal opponent. With the stone in hand, Sir Gawaine’s squire Eliezer called for a pause and enchanted the blade so that it could cut through the black armor and cleave his head. King Ryons died again in the arms of his lover, the Lady de Vance, who in turn died in misery that winter. Merlin kept with the whetstone despite several protests, but no one seemed to want to make an enemy of the most powerful magician on the island.

The year’s travails over, Sir Sara, accompanied by many of her companions, traveled to Cornwall to witness the coronation of her liege, King Mark. Sir Harri was raised to the Round Table, a recognition of his talent, service and chivalry. This was the second year that Sir Gwef petitioned for permission to marry Marcus, but somehow her plea fell on deaf ears again. Sadly, Sir Roderick was unable to acquire a lion cub for Count Robert.

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

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  • 4 weeks later...

[A message dating to the winter of 515/6]

To the Honorable Sir Harri, Knight of the Round Table, Marshal of Salisbury,

I trust you are doing well and are in good health. The next time you are near Broughton, please join me for a drink and to share old memories, my friend.

King Arthur has generously  provided us with 250 Libra to spend on our defenses. I propose the following allocations as the ones most likely to keep our lands and people secure:

The majority to Sarum and the border fortresses of Ebble and Broughton, as they are on the current Saxon border and particularly prone to attack and casualties.
Sarum town - double the existing stone wall (40), wet moat (16), two large gates with drawbridge (22) - 78 Libra
Broughton - replace wood wall with double stone curtain wall (60), wet moat (4), gate with drawbridge (10) - 74 Libra
Ebble - turning a fortified border manor into a motte and bailey (21) with two stone towers (10 each) and one wood tower (5) - 46 Libra

Additional allocations to shore up fortifications on less-embattled (but still at risk, as we all are) lands include:
Devizes - one square stone tower - 10 Libra
Newton Tony - one square stone tower - 10 Libra
Staplefort - one square stone tower - 10 Libra
Vagon - one square stone tower - 10 Libra
Warminster - one square stone tower - 10 Libra
We have two libra left over, or more if you want to adjust the proposed allocations.

I understand young Gwfrfwr is struggling with the niceties required to demonstrate sufficient maturity for marriage. Perhaps you could give her advice on requesting permission to wed if you have a moment, but please do not feel obliged. I fear in focusing much on her literacy - a valiant skill - she may have lacked somewhat in learning the equally necessary skill of courtesy. (A shortfall I myself occasionally possess.) You are among the most courteous of knights that I know of, and I am certain your advice would be invaluable.

Please also let me know if you hear of or have read any particularly informative books during your travels.

With the highest respect and friendship,
Sir Nerys, Seneschal of Salisbury

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