The four knights who had discovered Excalibur the last year were definitely the talk of Logres. Both Sir Beorhtric and Sir Judicael used their new-found boost in status to arrange favourable marriages for themselves with Earl Roderick, both managing to secure wealthy heiresses which greatly elevated them in terms of financial status in the county. Though Sir Judicael did not understand the significance of the request, he also assented to Earl Roderick’s request to marry his sister Ilse to Sir Gwyn at the aged knight’s request. It was truly going to be a year of marriages all around.
But come spring, the knights were summoned to serve as part of the retinue for King Uther Pendragon, who wished to tour his Kingdom and assert authority over his more reluctant vassals. The first stop would be North to Lindsey, where they would take hospitality with the Duke Corneus, who of late had been demanding protection while offering little in a muster. Accompanied by Duke Ulfius, Earl Roderick, Merlin the Magician, and a host of other nobles of Logres – though both Somerset and Cornwall were conspicuous in their absence, they road to camp.
Upon arriving at Lindsey, the King was informed that Duke Corneus was away and had been summoned, and his entourage were to be entertained until their arrival. Sir Liam stayed behind in Lindsey to flirt and pass the time with some attractive peasantry, while Sir Beohrtric, Sir Judicael and Sir Gariant went hunting to pass their time. Sir Beohrtric and Sir Gariant managed to find and slay a mighty bear, while Sir Judicael was lost and came across a creature later identified as the legendary Questing Beast. When he attempted to approach the massive creature, it fled into the woods – pursued closely by the equally famous King Pellinore. With the King only pausing to find his direction from Judicael, he then rode off in pursuit of the Questing Beast, leaving a confused Sir Judicael behind him.
Duke Corneus eventually arrived at Lincoln, and a moderate, yet unimpressive, feast was held. Though the care of his hall was somewhat diminished – a fact readily apparent to all knights – when the time came for entertainment, King Uther called upon Sir Liam to recount the tale he had witnessed the previous year. At the dramatic moment when Liam had slain the beast and Merlin had reappeared, Uther brought forth Excalibur to demonstrate the great treasure won, to the amazement of the Lindseymen present. With Merlin explaining the importance of Excalibur, Duke Corneus publicly reaffirmed his commitment to Uther as his King, and the rightful King of Britain – something that Uther was clearly more than pleased to hear.
With Lindsey having submitted to King Uther, his mind turned far afield, and he requested of his knights to go out and bring other members of the Supreme Collegium to him, so that he could demonstrate his worthiness in person. Due to their familiarity with the region, the Goblet Knights were sent to Malahaut to invite King Heraut de Apres to Lincoln. Though Sir Liam ultimately declined to go, Sirs Beohrtric, Cron, Cynehild, Gariant, and Judicael all took up the request and rode North into Malahautian lands.
If they were hoping for this to be easy, their visit to Eburacum was quickly defeated by the presence of Sir Uren, and the absence of King de Apres. Although no one was happy to see Sir Uren, he swiftly informed them that the King had passed by recently, and was last seen heading for Richmond Castle to attend the court of Duke Geoffery. Putting together a small party for their escort – including himself – the knights set off for Richmond.
At Richmond Castle, Sir Uren introduced them to the court who informed them that they had just missed the Centurion King. As they sent out riders to look for them, Duke Geoffery requested if they would be willing to take a small test at a nearby cavern. Strangely unwilling to talk about the specifics other than they would face a test of spirit and that little danger was involved, the Knights agreed. Sir Beohrtric noted that Sir Uren seemed on the verge of laughing at several points, but ultimately could not find a reason to turn them down, and the five departed.
A Christian Priest led them to the cave and gave them each a torch. Some knights chose to go without arms or armour, and some with. Upon entering the tunnels, despite the close nature of the cave, each of them became lost and faced a similar set of questions. Sir Judicael found himself unable to make a decision and abandoned the cave, but the other four all saw it through to the end.
Ultimately they were unsuccessful, and upon emerging they found that the court of Malahaut had gathered, led by a jeering Sir Uren – who now revelled in the sight of the four knights who had completed the trial completely without a stitch of clothing. With their squires hastily covering them, Sir Uren went on to say that fortunately he had intercepted King deApres, and he was on hand – both to witness the humiliation, and to coldly decline King Uther’s “request”.
As the knights were escorted back to castle Richmond, Sir Judicael realised that although most of Malahaut had mocked them, Duke Geoffery seemed legitimately saddened by their failure, and privately he reassured the knight that he would continue to send worthy challengers to attempt the Caves. The other knights were less forgiving though, and Sir Beohrtric challenged Sir Uren. First he challenged him to a battle of composition, which the Malahaut knight handily won. This was followed by a challenge of swords – which Sir Uren won again. Unable to forgive the arrogance of the Malahaut knight, Sir Beohrtric swore vengeance on him and his household, before Sir Gariant forcefully reminded the knights they were there on diplomacy and left.
King Uther was hardly surprised at the recalcitrance of the Centurion King, and acknowledged the knights’ service done to him, before releasing them from their yearly service.
The knights each attended to their solos and the news of marriage. Sir Judicael married Lady Wynflaeth, and Sir Beohrtric married Lady Dyanne, both in lavish ceremonies due to their inheritance. Sir Judicael also put up the dowry for his sister, and attended the wedding of Lady Ilse and Sir Gwyn, formalising ties between their household.
Sir Liam returned home to most troubling news. While he was away, his manor of Tangley was invaded by Saxons, headed by Einhard the Grey, the Saxon who previously headed the Mine of Nantwich. Though Lady Junah handily managed the defenses of their manor, she thought to ride out to challenge his army in Battle – a move that ended in disaster. Sir Liam’s uncle was slain, and Lady Junah herself was taken prisoner. It was only Einhard’s surprising act of mercy that prevented her from being slain then and there, and he released her with a warning to her husband that he would be back.
Sir Liam, naturally, pledged vengeance against the Saxons for next year, but news came down that the requests of Praetor Syagrius had reached the King, and next year Prince Madoc would be taking half of the Logres army overseas, to conquer the land of Gaul…