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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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