The rumours had been coming in all winter, and now it was official: The army of Britain would be heading to Frankland this year. The treaties from Praetor Syagrius and promises of a fantastic reward had finally tempted King Uther enough that he pledged a full half of his army – both knights and footmen alike – to retaking France and Paris. The remainder of the army would be held in reserve in case Logres was attacked, but would be unable to prosecute war any further. As Uther was needed for matters of state, control of the army was turned over to his son – Prince Madoc.
Earl Roderick would be leading his forces in person, and recruited many of his most famous, eager and accomplished knights for the task. Sir Liam requested to be excused, as he had to hunt down the Saxon who attacked Tangley last year to ensure the safety of his family. Nonetheless, Sirs Caelus. Cron, Cynehild, Gariant, Sir Gwold, and Judicael all answered the call, and stood ready to invade France.
Unfortunately the invasion hit a bit of a bump at the outset, for the shipmasters of Britain claimed that the seas were not conducive for sailing. With absolutely no ability to vet this information, the knights were left to amuse themselves. Sir Cron took up hunting, and hunted down a nearby wolf for practice. Sirs Gwold and Cynehild engaged in a practice brawl to test their skills, which Sir Gwold triumphed in. Sir Caelus took the time to get to know Praetory Syagrius, and a lot of enjoyable conversations were had about the superiority of Rome and its citizenry.
Finally the day came when the peasants claimed the seas were favourable, and the army set off. Though some noticed that Earl Roderick seemed pensive about the journey, they nonetheless arrived with little trouble. As their ships were among the first to arrive, Praetor Syagrius rode out with Sir Caelus in patrol of the nearby area, accompanied by his friends. During the long, long discussions about Rome they were unexpectedly ambushed by Frankish barbarians who had somehow tracked them down. Sir Caelus fought a spirited defense of Syagrius, requiring Sirs Cron and Cynehild to guard his back to ensure no harm came to him while he ensured no harm came to the Praetor.
Fortunately they were successful, and the lightly armed barbarians were driven off or slain. Greatly pleased, Syagrius exchanged his gladius for Caelus’s sword, and swore it as proof of the indestructible alliance between Britain and France. Back at camp, when the rest of the army disembarked. With the army assembled, the time came to march on their first stop: The city of Bayeux
The nearby city was a strategically important decision, and fairly well defended by the Frankish mercenaries. However, in the face of the British army, as well as reinforcements from the Roman troops, the city was hard-pressed to maintain its defenses. In less than a week, the walls were being breached by footmen, and the city was in danger of falling. The first gate to fall was that closest to the Salisbury forces: an opportunity for glory as well as great danger. Though some of the knights wondered if prudence was the better option, Sir Cron recklessly led the charge herself, and in the face of a Goblet Knight in danger her friends soon followed.
As the first knights to breach the walls, they were hard-pressed by defenders. With crossbow bolts raining down on them, Sirs Caelus, Cron, Cynehild, and Gwold were swarmed by defenders. Both Cron and Caelus found themselves unhorsed and attacked, while Cynehild and Gwold were easily cutting through the defenders with their two-handed weapons. Wise to the pattern from his brother, Sir Gwold rode to defend Sir Caelus, leaving Sir Cron exposed and – tragically – her attackers got in a series of lucky strikes that viciously wounded the Irish knight. Though the Salisbury forces seized the gate, Cron had fallen. Caelus frantically plied all of his Roman knowledge of Chirurgery, but her wounds were too severe, and Sir Cron did not survive the night.
In the hard light of the morning, Bayeux had fallen and Preator Syagrius consoled his new friend that Sir Cron’s death would not be in vain, and the conquest of Gaul would be completed in her name. Unfortunately, Prince Madoc disagreed, and decided that no more British knights would die on this foreign land. He was calling off the invasion. Syagrius was shocked and argued that Uther had pledged his aid, but Madoc was not his father and in charge – and he would not be budged.
Earl Roderick ordered the knights to agree, and though Sir Caelus attempted to encourage people to pledge their plunder to the Romans, the Earl overrode him and ordered them back to the boats. Many of Syagrius’s retinue defected to the British, including Isadora, a foreign mercenary and child of Sir Liam’s and Cron’s father. Earl Roderick accepted her claim of kinship, and in memory of Sir Cron granted Isadora the heirship of Woodford, and an impromptu knighthood. With a comrade dead, and Syagrius cursing the British name, the army sailed home.
Back in Britain, the news of Cron’s death was carried to Tangley by Earl Roderick and the surviving Goblet Knights. In the interim, he had engaged in a hunt throughout his woods for Einhard the Grey who had attacked him last year. They were drawn into a battle between his troops and the forces of Tangley, and Sir Liam ended him in a single, decisive battle. His joy at that was quickly subdued at the news of his sister’s passing. Cron was buried at Woodford, with the newly-minted Sir Isadora now ruling over it.
If any were hoping that Uther would discipline his son for quitting the field of battle, their hopes were lost for he was pleased with his son’s performance. Their treasury was boosted, and their ranks replenished by foreign mercenaries now swearing loyalty. All that was left, he ominously announced, was ensuring that Duke Gorlois and Cornwall fell into line. Next year, his army would march west, and Gorlois would either bend at the knee, or be crushed under his heel…