The lull from 500 had faded, and once again Sarum found itself paying host to two Saxon princes demanding tribute. Prince Cynric and Prince Aescwine were both in attendance, and the continued absence of Prince Caelyn of Sussex did not go unnoticed. They made the usual threats of reprisals and posturings of their kingdom’s greatness, before being politely dismissed by Duchess Ellen for consultation with her knights.
Originally, all knights present wanted to tell the Saxons in the rudest possible terms no. The wall around Sarum had been completed, and the alliance with King Nanteleod grew ever stronger as more Cambrian kingdoms capitulated to him. However the Duchess had her own plan involving paying tribute which she laid out. In winter of last year, a group of Barbarians calling themselves the Anglians had stormed the region of Caercolun, killed the Duke and his family, and founded a new Kingdom. This year, they expected to conduct further raids and Duke Ulfius had put out a call to Salisbury, Rydycham, Hertford, and other Kingdoms to rally their knights and drive them back.
The two Saxons present were all that were needed to ensure the safety of Sarum – Wessex and Essex would not attack a British force that was not moving on their kingdom, and Silchester’s alliance with Sussex would produce the same result. The combined armies could then march on Anglia, as well as possibly Kent, unimpeded. The Duchess faced surprisingly little resistance to this, and Marshal Gariant was ordered to put the army together to serve under the command of Duke Ulfius.
Though she understood all the Knights present wished for battle against the Saxons, there were still other tasks that required seeing to as well as defenses to man in case The Silver King launched a raid. Chief among them was that the promised marriage between Morgan of Cornwall and King Uriens had arrived, and senior knights would be needed to escort both the bride and her mother Ygraine north.
As senior knights of Salisbury, Sir Cynehild and Sir Carver were selected for this honour, along with Sir Gwanon, and Sir Gwynhael for the honour guard. With both Sir Gariant and Sir Cynehild having a strong suspicion of Ygraine having caused the massacre at St. Albans, Sir Cynehild was concerned of the secret that she kept, and thus paused to compose one letter before leaving…
Once the time came, the escort gathered at Amesbury Abbey, where they met the former Queen and her daughter. Though Sir Carver was told by Sir Cynehild not to trust Ygraine fully, one look at her beauty and he fell into a rapturous amour, and swore that he would protect the queen on her journey. She accepted this affection gracefully, reminding Sir Carver that he was there to protect her daughter above all else, and a small reminder that he was the one who had slain her husband Duke Gorlois. With the sergeantry from Salisbury, and Morgan herself, the group rode North.
The journey had barely left Salisbury when the mission turned poorly. Riding from the South, Lord Hassan O’Malley of Cornwall and two dozen knights came upon the group, and demanded they turn Ygraine over to them for justice and execution in Cornwall. Despite their bond, Sir Carver refused to go back on his oath and battle seemed certain, when a third group arrived on the scene – mercenaries led by the Silver King. His messenger informed the group that both were trespassing on his lands, and demanded they adjourn to one of his nearby castles to discuss the affair.
The Silver King was a generous host, though behind his silver mask he spoke no words audible to either group – always whispering to his steward to announce in his name. His desire was to wed the former Queen Ygraine. Should she refuse, she would not be permitted passage through his land, and forced to return. Regardless, the Salisbury group would be allowed to proceed through to Gorre, as his guests. The implicit threat that she would be turned over to Lord Hassan was understood by all.
Adjourning to discuss this, Sir Carver was incensed and swore he would fight to the death to defend Ygraine’s life. Ygraine herself made him swear not to take this further. Sirs Gwynhael and Cynehild tried to talk down Hassan, who told them he suspected Ygraine of a great crime, and would not be dissuaded. Come the morning, the Silver King announced he would be allowing a duel to be fought to determine custody of Ygraine: Sir Carver would fight Sir Hassan to the death.
Despite their bond of being Goblet Knights, neither backed down, and the duel began. Imbibing a potion before the fight, Sir Carver fought with a ferocious malice, easily outmatching Hassan and downing the Lord of Terrabil, before setting upon his body to confirm the kill. Coming out of the haze, Hassan was well slain, and the Cornish forces withdrew to bring his body back to his people. The Silver King held his word, and allowed the group to depart.
After leaving Argent, a force led by King Lot arrived to personally escort them to Gorre, and the wedding went off successfully. Sir Carver apologised to Lady Ygraine, and asked what he could do for her forgiveness, which the former Queen vowed to think on. With that, the Salisbury knights turned to return to their homeland
At home not all was quiet. Answering Duke Ulfius’s call, many knights and their armies rode out to face the Saxons of Anglia, and under the command of Sir Isadora met them in battle. The Battle of Beale Valet was brutal, but with the surviving forces of Hartland and Huntland rallying to their banner, and Sir Gariant personally killing the Anglish prince in one-on-one combat, the day was one and the Anglians dealt a crushing blow.
Duke ulfius was impressed with Gariant’s actions, and with Hartland in need of a new ruler, Sir Gariant gave an impassioned victory speech winning many over to his cause. With Ulfius’s approval, Sir Gariant would be installed as Count of these lands in the new year, and though his army was depleted, he swore to defend the lands in the name of all British knights everywhere.
And so the year ended with the Saxons thrown back from their invasion, and a trio of sisters installed in the North, in a union that would one day rattle the entire country…