With the near-fatal wounding of King Uther Pendragon a few months ago, Logres found itself in Chaos. Rumours abounded that the King was dead, and despite being officially denied, he was still too weak to receive visitors which did not help the situation. Prince Madoc now found himself thrust into a leadership role. Though he longed to take the fight to the Saxons, with Lindsey still rebuilding after its devastating assault by King Octa and King Eosa, most Knights from the Cornish forces having fled to another Kingdom, and Silchester still pressed keeping King Ælle at bay, there were few knights available. King Cadwy refused to treat with Madoc, meaning there was only one source of Knights still available to Logres for a potential alliance: Malahaut. Thanks to the alliance formed by marrying Margawse and Elaine last year to King Lot and King Nentres, they had politically surrounded the Roman Knights, and it was possible that they could be leveraged into an alliance.
No one who had been to Malahaut was eager to go back, but nonetheless either for their status in the case of Sir Gariant and Sir Beorhtric, their experience with the area for Sir Judicael, or their familiarity with Roman culture for Sir Isadora, these four knights were selected to accompany Earl Roderick North to Malahaut. Before leaving, Sir Beorhtric reached out to his mercenary friend to accompany him for some extra back-up, but otherwise it would be a formal and appropriately small diplomatic party. Their mission was to secure some sort of terms by which Malahaut would aide Logres in fighting the Saxons. A pledge of loyalty would be ideal, but “reasonable terms” would be accepted as well. Charged to remain until they had a firm answer one way or the other, the Knights set off. Malahaut itself had been thoroughly pillaged by the Saxons in the last decade, but the walls of the city itself still stood firm against all invaders.
At first it seemed fortune was with them, for Sir Uren the Castellan of Eburacum was away from the city on business. The forces of Logres were offered Hospitality and protection inside of the walls, and told that King Heraut de Apres was aware of their visit, and should arrive shortly to treat with the Earl. Though some Knights contemplated staying outside of the Great Manor, they were all offered rooms of various comfort for their stay rather than direct bedding in the Hall itself. While passing time, Sir Judicael discovered that Sir Uren was currently away in London, but upon revealing that the servants immediately bit their tongues. Sir Isadora explored the city, and found the merchants seemed to be doing very good business – surprising given the devastation.
When the Centurion King arrived, he asked for a private conference with Earl Roderick which lasted all day. Sir Beorhtric sent his mercenary friend to find information on Sir Uren, while the four Knights stood on guard with their Malahaut counterparts. Inevitably, this turned into an informal competition between the two groups as to who could be the more attentive guard, which Sir Beorhtric and Sir Isadora handily won, and Sir Gariant completely lost – while Sir Judicael did not really realise that there was a competition going on. Following the conference, Earl Roderick met with his knights to discuss what had happened: King de Apres had made some highly unfavourable terms towards Logres that were surely unacceptable, yet he also indicated a desire to keep negotiating. As he indicated that he was going to continue negotiations, Sir Beorhtric received news from his friend that his searching did not find Sir Uren, but did find proof that there were some Saxon mercenaries in Eburacum’s seedier drinking establishments.
Disturbed at news of Saxons, Earl Roderick reminded his Knights that they were promised Hospitality, and that the Malahaut Knights would be honour-bound to intervene. If the Saxons were also suing for peace, it would complicate matters, but there was little love lost between Nohaut and Sussex, and they may still be convinced to fight King Ælle. As night began to fall, Sir Beorhtric secretly sent his squire to rally the forces of Over-Wallop to attempt to intercept Sir Uren at London and end their blood feud in a more permanent way. Though Sir Gariant caught wind of this plan, he could not persuade Sir Beorhtric to relent from this plan.
The next day, Sirs Beorhtric and Judicael again stood on watch, while Sir Gariant went into town to investigate these rumours, and Sir Isadora took to interrogating the servants of the Hall. Sir Gariant did come across a group of Saxons drinking inside of the town, and more troublingly they recognised him. “Convincing” him to have a drink with them, he found that they were drinking a powerful ale that had his head spin, and made him oddly drowsy, but he did manage to outdrink the Saxons at least. As he made his excuses, the least drunk of them chortled that he would be seeing Gariant again the next day. Meanwhile, Sir Isadora began flirting quite successfully with the male stewards of Eburacum, attempting to get them to let slip some information. Though their Roman chastity resisted many of her advances, one did eventually let slip that he had been serving Saxons in the Hall as well – perhaps explaining why they had been sequestered in a private area of the Hall.
When the Knights reconvened, Earl Roderick was certainly concerned by the news, but he was bound by his oath to Prince Madoc, and the general consensus was to wait and bring it up with the Centurion King the next day. Sir Beorhtric, convinced they were in danger, left to search the Hall, and Sir Isadora resumed flirting with her attractive servant in her own quarters. Sir Isadora extracted the fact that there was meant to be a planned feast the next day. Sir Beorhtric made a more troubling discovery – expecting a visit from the discovery was Herr Waldek. Last seen at the Battle of Eburacum, he seemed unsurprised to see the British knights. Also attempting to get Beorhtric drunk backfired, and the German mercenary let slip that he was looking forward to meeting the Knights again tomorrow.
Now convinced they were in danger, the four Knights persuaded their Liege to leave now, under cover of darkness. Going unarmoured – but not unarmed – they rode their horses through the dark, out the gates where shouts indicated that the watch was trying to stop them, and made it to the main road. Riding through the night, in the morning they spotted a party of Knights riding towards Eburacum. Though the Knights ere a good distance away, Sir Gariant still recognised the heraldry of Sir Uren, and suggested they leave the main road. Half of the forces moved to intercept, and upon getting close one of the Malahaut knights moved to return to the group still on the road.
Interrogating the group to know their business, the Salisbury forces were ordered to return to Eburacum to ensure that they were here on legitimate purpose. Though Sir Beorhtric attempted to intimidate his way through, the Malahaut knights were in the right to make this request, and they did not back down. Earl Roderick offered to accompany the Malahaut forces back to Eburacum in exchange for letting his Knights return, which was a proposal unacceptable to the remaining Knights. The questions became moot though, for as they watched the second group approaching they recognised with a thrill of horror that Kings Octa and Eosa were being escorted by Malahaut!
Forced into battle, the Knights were at a major disadvantage without their armour. Sir Beorhtric and Judicael managed to quickly dispatch the Knights they were facing, while Sir Isadora went down to her opponent. A volley of javelins from the incoming Malahaut forces dropped Earl Roderick, and his retainers were driven mad with grief at the sight of it. Desperately, Sir Beorhtric rushed the oncoming Malahaut forces, while Sir Gariant single-handedly engaged the three remaining Knights to allow Sir Judicael to grab the Earl and try to make an escape.
Even that was not sufficient though: Encumbered by two people, Sir Judicael’s steed was swiftly overhauled by Malahaut and the Knight rendered unconscious by strikes from the Malahaut knights. Sir Beorhtric charged Sir Uren, and challenged him to single combat to end their blood feud. With a smirk, Sir Uren accepted and though Sir Beorhtric was clearly the better combatant, he was badly wounded from a javelin earlier and his stamina ran out before Sir Uren’s. Sir Isadora’s squire was also hauled down by Malahaut and killed, and Sir Gariant surrendered recognising that there was nothing to be gained from taking on almost a dozen Knights by himself.
The Knights were escorted back to Eburacum, where they were thrown into the dungeons and made to wait until the ransom had been paid. The Malahaut Knights treated them fairly, but did not let them out for the entire season. With no message having reached Logres, it was some time before the forces there knew anything was wrong.
Finally, a great ransom was paid for the Earl, and he plus his Knights were released from the dungeon. Before leaving, Sir Uren presented Sir Beorhtric with the head of his squire, who he had intercepted as he rode back to Logres. As each knight swore that they would return to exact vengeance, Malahaut and Nohaut formalized their alliance, and the group were left to return to Logres, to deliver the news that the news from the North had gotten much grimmer…