Pendragon: Chivalry is Magic

Year 501 - The Marriage of Morgan
A wedding heralds great tragedy, and a massacre brings great victory

Spring Tribute

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…

Summer Marriage

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

Fall Battle

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…

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Year 500 - The Tragedy of Meliodas
A journey to Lyonesse ends with a new threat to the country

Winter Tragedy

The year had only just turned to February, when letters began to arrive at some manors throughout Britain. Disturbing the quiet, Sir Cynehild of Littleford received an entreatise for help from Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King Meliodas of Lyonesse. The Queen was concerned, for her husband had been missing for well over a year now, and none in her Kingdom had any hint of where he had vanished to. In desperation, she reached out to her husband’s allies in the hope that they had heard from him, but no news had been found. Spurred by this, Sir Cynehild summoned her allies in the Goblet Knights, and braved the cold to journey to Lyonesse.

Stopping in Terrabil for rest, Lord Hassan confirmed that his new step-father Prince Boudwin had also received a letter, and as Elizabeth was his Aunt he would personally accompany the group through Cornwall and into Lyonesse to ensure there were no complications with the border guards. The southwest of London warmed up a bit, but as they drew close to the seashore the winds blew ever harsher, setting in the harshness of their task.

They arrived at Meliodas’s court to find a land in tumult – knights had been regularly setting out in search of the King, and not all had returned. Compounding the news, in desperation Queen Elizabeth – herself heavy with child – had set off on the hunt herself believing that love would guide her to her husband. Meliodas’s men hunted nigh-ceaselessly, only returning when their horses fainted from the cold.

The Goblet Knights would do no less, and joined in. The knights rested a day for their horses, and to buy hunting dogs from the populace, as well hire local trackers to assist them. The next day, so armed, they strode into the woods to find the King and Queen. The Pictish Sir Brud proved an exceptional master of the hunt, and managed to pick up the faint trail he believed would lead to Queen Elizabeth, tracking it for two days. On the second night, they made camp only to be awoken by the great sound of hounds barking from somewhere off in the distance.

Tracking it to its source, they found a great hound on top of a barren hill, facing away from them. Sir Cynehild, beholding the scene, was struck with fright and fled – while the others proceeded up the hill. Sirs Hassan and Brud found the great baying were actually the pleading of ghosts trying to claw at them, causing them to hesitate and be sent flying from the hill. Sir Carver banished his fear, and reached the top of the hill – but before he could behold the dog a shout from the returned Sir Cynehild caused him also to look round and lose his footing.

The beast, as Cynehild explained, was one of the Devil’s Dandy Dogs, the sight of the head of which was rumoured to send even the best men mad. This lending a possible explanation to the disappearances, the Knight rested uneasily to resume their hunt in the morning. Sir Brud remained as able a hunter as ever, but he only led them to tragedy: Queen Elizabeth had been found and savaged by wolves in the woods, and lay dying. With her last breath, she passed her newborn child to Sir Brud, and named him Tristram.

Sir Cynehild was grief-stricken at this, and unable to move for a time. Their sorrow was broken by the arrival of Nineve, who asked for the child to care for him, and the Knights to lend her their swords. She had been hunting Cerridwen, an old enemy of Merlin the Magician’s. With Merlin now gone from the island, Cerridwen had returned and was using her magic to try and forge an old kingdom. Her favourite trick was to bend the will of other men to her cause. Nineve offered to lead the Knights to Cerridwen, but she urged them to strike immediately and not give her time to weave her magic over them.

Deeper in the forest lay a newly constructed manor, with a large number of peasants hard at work in the cold still finishing the fortress. The knights were cheerfully greeted from the battlements, and offered the Hospitality of the manor. A tricky proposition for some, as accepting Hospitality would mean that they would be bound by the laws of the land inside of Cerridwen’s court. Ultimately, Cynehild and Hassan accepted the offer, and met with the sorceress who admitted to kidnapping knights, all of whom were there willingly. When she tried to entice Hassan to join her, Cynehild ended the meeting and retreated outside to meet up with her allies.

Feeling that time was of the essence, the group mounted up and with Hassan’s mighty destrier simply rode into the Great Hall to attack Cerridwen. As Sir Brud leapt to challenge the knights at her defense, the other three rode down on Cerridwen. As she stood trying to cast spells, Sir Carver, Sir Cynehild, and Sir Hassan each struck her with a tremendous blow, yet the Sorceress seemed to barely stumble under their weight. However, she took the time to transform into a small thrush and flee the hall, despite the attempts by the knights to stop her.

With Cerridwen gone, those remaining regained their senses as the spell lifted. Cynehild found that she had been splashed by some of Cerridwen’s blood, and Nineve informed her that this may mark her in the future for the sorceress to take vengeance on. In happier news, King Meliodas was also discovered, and returned to Lyonesse. Heartbroken at the death of Elizabeth, he swore that he would raise their son to stand up to any such evils that may plague the land.

Summer Waiting

Cynehild remained with Meliodas for a time as the others returned to Britain. Oddly, the lands were mostly quiet – the threatened invasion by Wessex never came, though many other Kings jockeyed for position throughout the rest of Britain. King Idres was temporarily turned back from his western expansion at Jagent, Kent and Essex fought an indecisive battle, and King Nanteleod continued to gain the vassalage of much of Cambria, even subjugating the Irish Kings there.

Fall Action

Ultimately, the land seemed to be holding its breath waiting for something to change, and something did unexpectedly. The Duke of Caercolun was preparing a skirmish with Kent, when a large group of barbarians sailed into his land and sacked it in a surprise attack. Attempting to ride back to defend it, he was killed and his army driven under the new barbarians who founded the Kingdom of Anglia where Caercolun once was.

With now a new threat on their lands, the Knights prepared for next year, and the wars that were to come…

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Year 499 - Envoy to Cambria
The Knights head to the mountains in search of allies.

Spring Tribute

The yearly tribute demands were both better and worse this year. With the Sarum Wall nearing completion, the plan for Salisbury was to pit the tribute requesters against each other in order to provoke a battle which would weaken all enemies. Unfortunately they seemed outmaneuvered, for though both Prince Cynric and Prince Caelyn arrived for “diplomacy”, after a private meeting Prince Caelyn departed for Essex, leaving only Prince Cynric behind. He said that he had been talking with his father, and due to last year’s shaming of Prince Aescwine he opined a battle with Sussex seemed likely. As a result, Wessex demanded a double tribute this year, payable only to King Cerdic.

Convinced that some sort of bargain had been struck with Prince Caelyn, the Knights were unable to prove anything. The price was steep, but with only one more year until Sarum was well fortified, the hope was that Wessex was just squeezing them as much as possible before they would become unassailable. Sir Gariant, Sir Esme, Sir Carver, and Sir Gwanon all voted to pay again, with the hope that their defenses would weather whatever storm the Saxons would bring to them next year.

If Salisbury was to stop acquiescing to the Saxons, perhaps even go on the offensive, alliances had to be sought. Therefore, Duchess Ellen made the decision to send her knights North into Cambria, to seek allies. There were two promising leads to pursue: Sir Alain of Cambria had invited the Knights to visit his father, King Nanteleod of Escavalon. Following that meeting, Sir Anelius of Orofoise invited them to parlay with his master as well.

Summer Diplomacy

The first stop was to treck Northwest to the nearby Kingdom of Escavalon. Sir Carver was heartened to traverse through the lands of Summerland again, however briefly. While there, he fought a brief skirmish with one of his kinsmen, and though having lost was still happy to be out on the road again. The group of Knights were met on the road by Sir Alain whose knights escorted them to Escavalon, and was happy to inform them in general terms of his father’s disposition. The Knight at least had a great hatred of Saxons burning within him, and he longed for the day to take the war to these foreigners.

Escavalon was a wealthy and proud city, tracing its roots back to Roman times, though not at the scale of Eburacum. King Nanteleod welcomed the Knights, but rather than hosting a great feast preferred a smaller, more intimate meal where he could query each knights in general. Though physically lacking, the King possessed a keen mind, and happily conversed with the knights at a wide variety of topics, rewarding each for their time regardless of outcome.

Regarding an alliance, he was quite agreeable to the idea, though he had first planned to campaign for a few years in Cambria to bring the Kingdoms there under his control. Since he could not commit his full forces yet, he proposed to have a mutually beneficial pact where each Lord would pledge to relieve the other if they were besieged, but otherwise to keep the alliance quiet for the time being. As most found this amenable, there was but one condition that King Nanteleod had: No alliance with King Idres without his approval. Nanteleod had no great love nor trust for Idres, and did not trust him to keep his word.

The Knights left positively disposed towards Nanteleod’s offer, and after enjoying the hospitality of the King, left for their second meeting.

Fall Betrayal

Sir Alain offered to escort the Knights through Cambria during their visit, and though the diplomatic overtures were not lost on the Knights, they accepted the extra protection as they left to meet with Sir Anelius. He was stationed at the border of Escavalon, and bore a letter from his Lord. Though all seemed to be in order, no Knight present – including Sir Alain – knew of Sir Anelius, which did not speak highly of the importance the Duke placed on this meeting.

The trip to Orfoise was less pleasant as the mountainous terrain began to reach in the way. Passing by a mixture of villages and raided areas, the Knights arrived at a valley pass that would lead them into Orfoise. Though suspicious of an ambush, Sir Anelius assured them there were regular patrols in this area. Nonetheless, as they were halfway through, Wildmen rained javelins and rocks down on them from above, and as the Knights turned to ride for the entrance, a large number charged in to meet them. Most treacherously of all, in the conclusion Sir Anelius turned and struck a grievous blow to Sir Alain, dropping him.

Sir Carver and Sir Gwanon had remained by Sir Alain, and fought to protect him from Sir Anelius’s treachery. Sir Gwanon risked a great blow from Anelius to scoop up the Prince and ride to safety, while Sir Carver engaged in a great duel – proving victorious against Anelius. SIr Esme and Sir Aquila rallied the other men to fight off the wildmen, and though greatly outnumbered proved successful, and the knights succeeded – though not without quite a few casualties.

Facing the remaining Wildmen coming after them, the Knights retreated to an earlier fort to make a stand, but they were reinforced by another patrol – led by Sir Tathan of Orfoise. Though evasive at first, the warband had several healers that were desperately needed, and he and his men were admitted entry. Confessing what had happened, Sir Tathan denied knowing Sir Anelius, and swore to bring this matter up with his Lord to investigate. He also didn’t know of any diplomatic envoy to have been sent out, and so the Knights returned Sir Alain to his father, and proceeded back home.

Winter Tidings

Over the winter, news came in that King Idres’s campaign in Cornwall was gaining momentum, and more lands fell or swore fealty to him. In addition, all the Saxon Kingdoms are sending out messengers that soon a bretwalda – the Saxon version of a High King – would be declared, and Britain should choose their allies wisely. In addition, a new mercenary known only as The Silver King had been installed in the great fortress of Uther’s Shame, now renamed Argent.

Duchess Ellen was pleased by the news from Nanteleod, but unwilling to risk angering Idres right now, nor the other Saxons itching for war, the hope was that next year the walls would be finished, and a counterplan could begin…

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Year 498 - The Knight of Tusks
A Year of Reflection on past events for the future.

Spring Tribute

The worst case scenario had come to pass for Salisbury: Three Saxon Princes had shown up, each demanding a tribute in exchange for protection this year. Prince Cynric and Prince Aescwine were back from their respective Kingdoms, but they were joined this year by Prince Caelyn of Sussex. News had reached the Kingdom that Duke Ulfius had made peace with King Ælle, which could grant the Saxons an unopposed march into Salisbury lands. With King Cerdic openly hiring mercenaries from the continent following the looting of the Isle of Wight, and Essex’s forces growing from capitulation, the view looked grim. Once again, Duchess Ellen summoned her knights to her for advice – Sir Esme, Sir Gariant, and Sir Djaq O’Liam all stood to offer advice.

Paying three tributes was out of the question, so the thoughts turned to who could be safely spurned. As Wessex was the closest to the Kingdom, and Sussex had allied with Duke Ulfius the decision was made that Essex would definitely be spurned. For the other two though, the decision was made if only one would be paid in order to provoke conflict with the other two. However, it was thought that the following year, all three Saxon Kingdoms might unite in hatred against Salisbury to raid it in vengeance. As the Sarum Wall was still two years out, the double tribute was paid, and Princes Cynric and Caelyn went away happy, with Prince Aescwine vowing revenge.

Summer Deception

The Knights now had to decide how best to spend their time. Certainly alliances were needed to unite against the Saxons when the counterattack came. Sir Gariant suggested contacting Sir Beorhtric to try and re-patriot the Eastern manors, which Countess Ellen was decidedly cool on making any overt invitations too. The conversation turned towards Cambria and contacting the kingdoms there, but before a firm decision could be reached, a commoner entered, beleaguered from travel and asked for the protection of the hall. Once Sir Gariant granted it, the man stood up and his appearance changed – revealing Merlin the Magician!

Few were happy to see the wizard, but as Countess Ellen affirmed, with the death of King Uther Pendragon, so had ended Merlin’s banishment. The sorcerer spoke of a great urgency – a new Saxon barbarian calling himself the Knight of the Tusks had landed and was gathering a great mercenary army to him. Using great Saxon magic, he planned to wage a war that would devastate Salisbury with his raiding. He required a small group of Knights to ride with him, and slay the Knight while his army was distracted by Merlin’s magic.

Knowing that Sir Cynehild had a great desire to ask questions of Merlin, Sir Esme demured to leave the mission to her niece, and the trio of Knights set out. Merlin affirmed that he was not responsible for the heinous events of St. Albans, and that if the Knights accomplished this task he would help them before he left the land. The army of the Saxons was quickly reached, and Merlin left to perform a spell to ensorcel the barbarians, telling the Knights where to go to intercept the Knight of Tusks. Warned by Merlin that he possessed the power of a great boar, the Knights were to taunt him into summoning it to the world, and then to slay him.

Merlin spoke true, and Saxon forces moved out of the fog slowly. Sir Cynehild and Sir Gariant charged the Saxons that emerged, while Sir Djaq stayed to use her great bow skill to pick them off. Soon, the Knight of Tusks emerged, and goaded by Sir Cynehild summoned a great boar to face the knights. Though Sir Djaq attempted to slay the Knight with a well-placed shot, his bodyguards lept in front of him to block the arrows, negating the attack. Cynehild and Gariant took down the boar, but the remaining Saxons blocked for the Knight as he recalled his strength, and as Djaq picked off the last Saxons, Gariant and Cynehild charged the knight.

His strength was great enough to survive a blow from both of the Knights, and his strike in return nearly slew Gariant and knocked Cynehild a mighty blow – but once the fury of combat had passed, the Knight fell. Sir Djaq wasted no time in finishing him off, and Merlin returned to speed them to safety. Foreseeing the army would disintegrate, Merlin congratulated the Knights, and asked them to accompany him, whereupon he would make his prophecising about St. Albans.

Fall Prophecy

Merlin walked with the knights to the coast of Britain. While he recovered his strength from the magic he had expanded he was mostly silent, but when he reached the shore he explained his logic. He was leaving Britain, as he was not needed there for the time being and he had much to learn. At Sir Gariant’s request, he confirmed that Queen Ygraine’s son still lived, but had to be taken for the good of Britain – a point he refused to expand upon further.

As payment for their services, Merlin also agreed to cast a spell that would summon answers to one question asked by each of them – but the questions must be asked quickly, and could not be expanded on. He counseled the knights that the responses would be true, but not necessarily answer the questions they had meant. In addition, as he had many enemies he would require protection as he cast the spell.

Taking up a guard around Merlin, only a few minutes had passed when the skies darkened, and a dog seemingly from the depths of Hell rose up nearby and attacked. Though Sir Esme wondered if this creature was to answer their questions, it spat fire at the knights before trying to bear down on Merlin, leading to them to attack it. Fortunately, the Knights managed to slay the creature, and with that Merlin was prepared to answer their questions.

Who created the poison at St. Albans?

  • The poison was created by Queen Ygraine

Who poisoned the knights at St. Albans?

  • King Uther poisoned the assembled knights

Why would King Uther poison his knights?

  • He did not mean to, but he ordered his drink be poured into the ale for all to drink.

With that, the spell ended, and Merlin said the time to leave had come. He offered any knight present the option to quest with him for over a decade. Seizing the opportunity, Sir Djaq volunteered to leave with Merlin, and the pair of them plus Djaq’s squire were spirited away to parts unknown.

Winter Ruminations

Both Sir Gariant and Sir Cynehild now blamed Queen Ygraine for the massacre, but aware of Merlin’s warning they were uncertain how best to proceed in this matter. In addition, while their lands had not been attacked thankfully, and the defeat of the Knight of Tusks proved reassuring for all concerned, their lands were still beset on all sides, and another year had gone by without securing allies. The pair returned to their manor, to decide how now to act towards the future…

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Year 497 - The King Eternal
The Knights revisit a legendary Kingdom to try and find some allies...

Spring Tribute

Harvest this year for the knights of Logres looked grim. The tribute that was due to Essex from Prince Aescwine had to be paid. Cartloads of food and resources were moved east under the Saxon convoys. To make matters worse, Prince Aescwine had returned to demand tribute again this year, and as no alliance had been forthcoming Prince Cynric had arrived demanding equal payment to the kingdom of Wessex. Though neither Prince admitted to timing these visits with the other, there would be no capability of deception.

Duchess Ellen summoned knights to her court for advice, and along with Sir Gariant, her conclave consisted of Sir Carver, Sir Esme, and Sir Conlan all gathered for advice. From his own peerless sources of gossip, Sir Carver had heard that the Isle of Wight had refused to pay King Cerdic his tribute, and the country would doubtlessly be watching what the Saxon King’s response would be. As Salisbury was one of the closest counties the possibility of reinforcing the Isle was discussed, but it would involve either going through Wessex, Summerland, or Silchester. Silchester was apparently allying with King Ælle of Sussex and would likely choose to remain neutral, and King Cadwy was again hiding in his swamps. Ultimately, the Countess decided the Isle would have to stand alone.

Regarding the tribute, most knights balked at the thought of paying one Saxon again, much less two. Starting with Sir Gariant though, most of the knights eventually came around to the point of view that there was simply no ally they could rely on, and it was uncertain they could defeat one Saxon kingdom, much less two. Even if they only paid one tribute, the Saxons could sweep in next year to finish a weakened army off. Both tributes were to be paid, though Sir Conlan was the last voice to give up, saying that this would only work as a stopgap solution.

Both princes accepted their tribute, though Prince Cynric mentioned that in exchange for knights, his father would pass on the tribute. Duchess Ellen refused this suggestion and dismissed him from court. Once they were gone, she asked her knights to ride out in secret to try and meet with the other Kings to try and forge alliances that would serve their county well. Though many options were floated, at the Duchess and Sir Carver’s suggestion, they chose to ride out to seek King Fallagantis de la Fontaine and the Kingdom of the Circle of Gold. That mythical Kingdom was known to house many knights, and an alliance with them would be a strong addition to any army.

Summer Questing

The return to the Kingdom of Gold was much easier. It seemed almost as though the Gateways opened for them, and again they were asked to duel for Love, and not Hate. Sirs Conlan and Carver were notably inspired, and more than a few knights were mortally wounded in their quests. The deaths still saddened the knights of the Circle, but not enough to persuade them to cancel the challenge.

All three Knights cleared through three aspects of the Challenge, whereupon they came across a monster trapped in the woods that Sir Carver helped free from a trap. In return, he told the Knights of three paths: One to a Man of Iron, One to a place of Bright Magic, and one to a Den of Monsters. Sir Conlan moved to inspect the Iron Man, Sirs Gariant and Carver to the Monsters, and Sir Esme to the Bright Magic.

Sir Esme found herself among a Rose Garden tended to by beautiful servants who offered to bring her into a great feast. Fearing eating faerie food, she asked politely to be excused, and then finally took her horse and quickly fled the area. Carver and Gariant found themselves reaching a great pit, which contained within one of them was a trio of Griffins which attempted to attack them, but were bound by some unknown force. Asking a keeper of these monsters, the two were told that they were kept here by the will of their King for the good of the land.

Sir Conlan however found himself at the last challenge, and after a fierce duel won the right to see King Fallagantis himself. Moving in to the city, the other three Knights found themselves drawn to him, and the four formed the wedge of a steadily growing parade into the city. Meeting King Fallagantis, Sir Conlan was again reminded to duel for love, not hate – and King Fallagantis faced him in a duel to the death. Though Sir Conlan was shocked at this request, the pressure from the crowd found him drawn on to defend his Valour, and he fought the King. Though Fallagantis struck him a mighty blow, Conlan managed to down the King. He looked for advice, but the crowd was merely silent waiting for the duel to be completed, and Conlan slew the King.

Being granted the titular circle of gold, Conlan was instituted as King of the land. With it came a heavy burden, and he realised he could not send knights, for he needed everyone present to help defend his lands against competitors to ensure only the worthy could challenge him. There was an ancient curse on the land that if the King died in any way but from completion of the challenge, all the evils would be released. He bid adieu to his friends, and said they could always come to the Kingdom if they needed to, but he could not abandon his new land.

Fall News

Returning to Duchess Ellen to tell her the news of Conlan’s ascension. As feared, King Cerdic had indeed conquered the Isle of Wight and killed many of the nobles there. In some good news, Lady Junah had managed to halt the advance of King Idres with the assistance of Sir Brastias. Still, with no sign of any leader rising up, the Knights were facing the possibility of double tribute next year, and even more dark days.

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Year 496 - Lady Squad!
A new age dawns, followed by the same old diplomacy

BEGIN ANARCHY PHASE

Spring Tribute

The new year was not met with welcome by the nobility of Logres. King Uther Pendragon. Earl Roderick, and so many lesser lords were dead by treachery, and the future of the country seemed in doubt. The largest Saxon army ever faced had been broken, but the other Saxon Kings still remained. The fate of Duke Corneus was still unknown, and Duke Ulfius had turned down any possibility of uniting the forces, leaving Duchess Ellen to stand alone with her knights.

The power vacuum did not go unnoticed for long. Two different Saxon Princes visited the court of Sarum that year. One was Prince Aescwine of Essex arrived to request tribute from the Salisbury knights in exchange for protection and a promise not to be invaded. Prince Cynric of Wessex also came with an offer to request the presence of several knights to talk with his father about a possible alliance, promising to remain as a hostage to ensure safe negotiations.

Prince Aescwine had to be dealt with first, and the Countess asked the Knights present as military advisors what they thought. Sir Gariant, newly promoted Marshal of Salisbury, advocated paying for the current year – it would give them time to assess what the other counties would do and see who would still stand with them against the Saxons. Sir Cynehild also advised paying since she, as well as she assumed many other knights, were still in shock and the households could not muster an effective defense yet. Sir Peregrine and Sir Djaq both felt that battle was preferable to payment, but the Countess ultimately sided with the more senior knights, and ordered the ransom was paid.

Aware that she had to at least hear out the other request, Countess Ellen accepted the invitation from Prince Cynric, and sent Sir Cynehild, Djaq and Peregrine to parlay with the new King of Wessex and hopefully forestall an enemy much closer to home.

Summer Council

King Cerdic proved himself a gracious host, inviting the Knights in to his newly conquered Kingdom of Wessex. The land, though raided, was in better shape than they had hoped, and Cerdic greeted all of them personally and warmly. At the feast that evening, King Cerdic revealed to be descended from King Vortigern, and claimed British parentage as a result. As one of both Saxon and British nobility, he asserted he was the natural choice to lead the country. He knew that the Knights were there to investigate, and invited all to enjoy his hospitality before returning.

The Knights found that they were the only active foreign visitors there, all the rest of the Knights were Britains who had sworn vassalage to King Cerdic! Though shocked at this lack of honour, the other Knights vouched that Cerdic was a generous and just King, with an excellent battle sense. What little gossip they could find revealed that other envoys were expected throughout the year with similar requests, but that they were being deliberately kept apart. Unwilling to impose too long, the Knights vouched to carry the message to Duchess Ellen, and departed.

Fall Rescue

Meanwhile, the Ladies of the court had been sent to try and bolster support among those inside of Salisbury. Sir Gwyn had died at St. Albans, and the Duchess hoped that his widow, the Lady Ilse would be willing to part with some of his fabled horde of treasure to put towards the Kingdom’s defense. To that end, she dispatched Ilse’s mother Lady Cyneburh, as well as Lady Petrie, Lady Lupina, and Lady Gilead on a diplomatic mission along with two knights as escort.

Upon arriving at Clarendon, the group were met with troubling news that Ilse had agreed to marry Sir Ceolward, the knight who had earlier started a blood feud with Sir Judicael. Outraged at this, Lady Cyneburh berated her daughter until it was realised that Ceolward was holding Ilse’s children as hostage until the wedding was agreed to – and would likely take it out on them if the wedding was refused.

Believing the heart of this to be at the treasure of Sir Gwyn, the Ladies divided to investigate the manor. They confirmed that it could not be making enough money to support Sir Gwyn’s former lifestyle, that there were only 6 other Saxon knights on hand sworn to Sir Ceolward, and they managed to get out of Ilse’s eldest son the location of Sir Gwyn’s escape tunnel. A plan was made during the feast to try and smuggle the family out, and possibly take revenge at that time.

During the feast, Lady Gilead did not attend to try and find the tunnel, only to be met by three Saxon knights who had also discovered it and were intent on pillaging it. Trading himself for the son held hostage, Gilead moved into the tunnel to try and stall them for time. In the feast hall, Lady Lupina informed the two knights that had accompanied them of what had happened, and one rushed off to help Gilead. Ambushing the Saxons, with assistance from Gilead’s war dog they slew the Saxons in the tunnels.

As a distraction, Lady Petrie poisoned two of the knights with a rage potion, who then proceeded to attack her. As the Saxon tried to pin her down, two more went to try and help whereupon Petrie and the remaining knight went to work on them with blades. Cyneburh tried to get her daughter to flee, resulting in Ceolward chasing them down swearing vengeance. Cyneburh turned to face the knight, and despite being smaller and older than Ceolward, slew him in one blow with her double axe.

Winter Tidings

Though Ilse’s treasure was uncovered, and the remaining cost of the Sarum wall pledged, the news that almost all other counties paid tribute to someone this last year was troubling. Certainly Ellen would not swear homage to a Saxon lord, but it still left Salisbury in a precarious position, one that did not look like it would improve in the new year…

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Year 495 - St. Albans
It's the end of an era

Summer Battle

As they marched to St. Albans, the four Knights who had traveled to the Forest Sauvage last year were caught up on the events that had led them to this point. The diplomatic envoy to Estregales had ended in disaster, and the assassination of King Canan. Lindsey had been completely overrun late in the year, and Duke Corneus was missing and presumed dead. Without the Northern army, the Saxons had been gradually pillaging their way south into Logres, and the army was heading to St. Albans to make their stand there. Unfortunately, as they approached the city, the news from the fleeing peasantry told them that they were too late – the Saxons had already arrived.

Hurrying to St. Albans, the British army found that the gates of the city were already open, and impulsively Uther ordered his infantry to advance. Many of the Knights suspected a trap, and were proved right when the gates of the city suddenly snapped shut, and archers appeared on the battlements cutting soldiers down left and right. The unmounted troops frantically retreated, but the British forces took a large hit and morale was low. Many thought it was time to retreat, but Uther insisted they hold their ground and prepare for siege. The next morning, the gates of St. Albans opened, and a Saxon force twice the size of the British one emerged – the Saxons were going to meet the British in battle after all.

The Battle of St. Albans was a fierce affair. A mixture of Malahaut knights led by Sir Uren, German mercenaries led by Herr Waldek, and Saxons led by the tactics of King Octa and strength of King Eosa. Sir Liam O’Malley led the Salisbury contingent, and together with Sir Gariant, Sir Beorhtric, and Sir Judicael met Herr Waldek in combat personally, and slew both him and his bodyguards greatly disorganising the Saxon forces. Sir Carver succumbed to a strange madness in the battle and fled, and Sir Gwold assisted Sir Liam and Sir Judicael in tearing down King Octa’s banner further confusing the Saxons. Having been fighting nearly all day, the battle came to an end when Kings Octa and Eosa met King Uther and Prince Madoc in combat, and Octa was slain, and Eosa critically wounded. The will of the Saxons was broken, and a great victory was declared for the British forces.

The victory feast was a grand celebration. For their prowess in defeating the Saxons, Sirs Gariant, Gwold, Judicael, and Liam were all invited to dine with the High King, while the remaining knights camped outside in the bailey in a celebration all their own. Sir Cynehild and Sir Isadora took up watch to ensure a repeat of the Battle of Mount Damen didn’t occur, but the night was a joyous and raucous affair… until Sir Conlan heard screams of terror coming from inside. Bursting into the hall, he found a grisly sight before him.

All the Lords of Logres lay dead, their bodies contorted and blood foaming out of their mouths. Only a few survived, among them Sir Gariant cradling his brother’s body. Father Dewi also survived, and later confirmed that the only Knights who survived were those who had drank no alcohol that evening – the Lords of Logres were dead by poison. Uther, Madoc, Roderick, and more all dead in an instant.

Fall Funeral

King Uther and Prince Madoc were laid to rest at the Giant’s Circle, and though many expected Duke Ulfius – who survived due to being wounded – to take up the mantle of leadership, he ordered the remaining Knights back to their manor to make fast against the coming wars and winter. The unity of Britain was shattered, and people retreated to their own counties.

In Logres, Lady Ellen was now the ruler of Salisbury, as her eldest son was still too young to assume the throne. Many disagreed with the idea of bowing to her, including Sir Beorhtric who refused to swear fealty to the Duchess. Most however followed the lead of Sir Gariant and pledged to follow the Duchess through the coming trying times. Though many called for vengeance against those who refused to swear loyalty, Duchess Ellen allowed any who would not serve her passage to leave, with only the telling that no Knight of Salisbury would render any assistance to them until such time they honoured their oaths.

Winter Portents

Winter was harsh this year, as if nature itself mourned the loss. Driven by snowfalls, the Knights of Britain prepared to weather an uncertain future, with no King to look forward to, and enough Saxon Kingdoms left to threaten them all.

And far away, in London, Sir Carver regained his senses in a churchyard, where he found Excalibur buried in an anvil, which bore the inscription “Whoso Pulleth Out This Sword of the Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Born of All England”

End Uther Phase

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Year 494 - The Forest Sauvage
There are other Kingdoms in Britain...

Spring Kidnapping

King Uther’s wounding from two years ago had still not healed, and Prince Madoc was now fully in command of the forces of Logres. With the betrayal of Malahaut, and Lindsey facing a renewed invasion from the Saxons of the North, allies were needed now more than ever to bolster the Logres army. Given that his last envoys for diplomacy ended in failure, he summoned his friend Sir Liam to Tintagel to ask him to head a diplomatic envoy to Estregales to ask King Canan to ally with Logres to oppose the Saxons. Unfortunately Sir Liam had to decline, as during the winter three of his children had been taken away with a Changeling left behind, meaning he had sworn to retrieve them this year. Taken aback at the loss of Liam’s children, Madoc nonetheless understood and made arrangements for Liam to discuss the situation with Uther’s physician, the Lady Nineve.

Despite the urgency of Liam’s plea, Logres was hard-pressed for knights to defend itself, so only three of his friends could be taken along. Squires and servants were sent to summon Sir Carver, Sir Cynehild, and Sir Gariant to Terrabil, and once assembled the four were informed by Nineve that they would be accompanying her to the Forest Sauvage. Once her escort was completed, she would open the path to the Kingdom of Sauvage, where she believed Liam’s children had been taken. Setting forth, the five – plus the usual entorage of escorts – made their way to the heart of the Kingdom.

The entrance to the Forest Sauvage, though mundane, had long been rumoured to also lead to a Faerie Kingdom of old, and it was certainly no ordinary journey. They were assailed by various threats: A rambling hermit who promised to point them the way in exchange for their cloaks, only to turn into a bird once fully attired, a field of strange red flowers that threatened to send everyone to sleep, a group of gentlewomen who demanded the Knights speak of why they were good people, and the sound of the fabled Questing Beast along with the lingering knowledge that King Pellinore had not yet been found. Perhaps strangest though was the magpie that visited every night to Sirs Liam, Cynehild, and Gariant in turn. It professed itself to be a spy, and though not aggressive gradually began to warn of sinister consequences as a result of its presence. Nonetheless, no knight raised arms against it, and the bird was fed and allowed to go on its way.

Finally the group arrived suddenly at a small cottage in the middle of the forest, and Nineve announced that their destination was at hand. Pausing to head inside, the Lady of the Lake then returned to say that she would need an escort through the woods to gather what she needed to complete her task. Gariant and Cynehild recognised the plants she was gathering though – all of them poisonous. Asking of her intentions, Nineve said that her friend was old and dying, and that she was gathering these plants to give her a painless way to pass on. Though there was conflict as to if to allow that, Sir Carver posited that if the Lady was a caretaker of the woods, this might be needed to help open the way. Nineve did not deny this, but said that her only goal was to ease her friend’s pain. Refusing to bar her way, she again entered the hut and after a few minutes, a pair of wails came from inside.

As the Knights prepare to charge in, Nineve came out to explain that the Lady of Sauvage’s sons were not happy as to the events, but she would ensure they were taken care of. She then instructed the four knights as to how to get to the Forest Sauvage, and the Knights set off for the Kingdom.

Timeless Celebration

They had not departed far from Nineve, when the forest burst open, and in a wide-open glen was a magnificent Kingdom. A large, stone castle – the unfamiliar word slipping into each of their minds – stood at the top of a massive bailey, surrounded by an expansive village through which many townsfolk could be seen going about their lives. Riding through, it could have been mistaken for any other Kingdom of Logres, were it not for the complete silence of its inhabitants. Though they made noise as they moved and went about their days, no one spoke, and queries as to if the castle was the home of the King of Sauvage were met only with mute nods.

At the outer curtain of the castle, the Knights were – again mutely – indicated to dismount and be subject to a search, though for what was never made clear as their weapons and armour were not removed. As they were waved through, two knights rode out to meet them, Sir Sun and Sir Moon, knights famous to their deeds known to most present, though they were equally sure none had met the pair before. Warmly greeting the knights, the pair led them through a cheering and vibrant bailey with citizens cheering themselves hoarse at the sight of the visiting knights. Arriving swiftly at the castle, the four were introduced to the Queen of Sauvage. She extracted a pledge of Hospitality, and apologized that her husband and Lord could not see guests right now, but she would make the Knights comfortable until he would be. After clarifying that he would certainly try to meet the Knights this year, the group entered the castle for refreshment.

Escorted to an elaborate suite of rooms where they were refreshed and clothed. Upon exiting their room though, the hall had been transformed into a massive and raucous feast, that seemingly the whole town had been invited to. Less formal than what you would expect normally out of a feast, the Knights were free to mingle with the courtiers as they saw fit. With the King still absent, the court was overseen by the Queen, Gallant, and Dwarf of Sauvage, but the entertainment more than kept the Knights amused. Wild events, fine dishes, attractive courtiers, and intriguing gossip abounded, and it was some time before the Knights engaged with any of their hosts. Each of them challenged them to a particular contest as they see fit.

For the Queen, they were led to a small chamber where they were first intercepted by the magpie from earlier who vouched for their character. They were then shown into a small room where the giant, terrifying figure of King Oberon was dining, and the Knights were asked to greet him courteously. The Dwarf challenged each to a foreign game of “Chess”, while asking the Knights to converse on a subject they were familiar with. The Gallant led each of them to the mews where he asked what their finest virtue before God was, and then asked them to go hunting for some small game. Though all were interesting, no knight managed to pass all three, and they were informed that the King would not be able to meet with them this year, but they were welcome to try again as they would not have to wait long. Sir Gariant had realised the importance of those words – though little time seemed to have passed for the Knights, the guests of the court revealed they had been at the feast nearly the entirety of 494.

Sir Liam refused to leave without trying to rescue his children, and though his friends worried about the safety of their own families, they all agreed to stay on and try again. Spending the rest of the illusionary winter trying their best to ignore the revelries, they pooled their knowledge of faerie lore and suspected that the challenge most failed – that of the Gallant – required them to display a proper Christian virtue rather than the answer that the majority gave of their Valour. As soon as they were able, the Knights moved in concert tackling each challenge together, with only Sir Cynehild failing to show proper courtesy in front of Oberon. The remaining three Knights were all told that King Madog of Sauvage would now meet with them.

The King was a conventionally ugly man in extraordinary garb, who confessed that he had taken Liam’s children out of curiosity and – when asked by the three present – happily agreed to return them. However, only Liam’s two daughters were returned, as King Madog claimed that Eliwlod was not Liam’s true child, and moreover as Madog was Eliwlod’s grandfather, he would not release him without being sure he would be cared for. When Sir Liam promised that the King could visit to verify that Eliwlod was doing well, the Faerie King readily agreed, and returned Eliwlod to Liam’s care, saying that the bargain had been made.

With their goal accomplished, the Knights asked to be shown the shortest path back to Britain, which the King again agreed to. The four were led out by Sir Moon and Sir Sun, and following a very short road found themselves back in Britain. All immediately felt the tug back to the lands they had missed, especially Sir Carver who had formed an intimate liaison with one of the Faerie maids despite knowing the risks. Each felt older and more tired, and the world was less vibrant and interesting outside of the Kingdom of Sauvage.

Summer Retaliation

On the way back to their manors, the Knights found themselves confronted by the army of Logres marching the other way, led by King Uther himself! All four were demanded to join, as they received confirmation that the year was now 495, and the Saxons had overrun Lindsey and were marching on the heart of Logres itself. The army was going to meet the Saxons at St. Albans and stop their advance there with luck.

Dispatching his children back to Tintagel with his servant, Sir Liam confirmed the success of their mission to Prince Madoc, who seemed to recognise the symptoms of being Fay-sick. He urged the Knights to think of the person they had the fiercest love for to burn away their faerie love, which seemed to work for all but Sir Carver, who had no such attachment to draw on. Though filled with questions, the time would have to wait as the time had come for Logres to face King Octa and King Eosa, in a clash that would determine the future of the land…

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Year 493 - Ambassadors to Malahaut
In the absence of Uther, Britain begins to fall apart

Spring Diplomacy

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.

Summer Prison

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.

Fall Ransom

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…

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Year 492 - The Condemnation of Merlin
The year opens with hope, and ends in ruin...

Spring Weddings

With most knights having wintered in Tintagel, the mood that year was far better than the previous year of being trapped with King Uther. The wedding with Queen Ygraine seemed to have calmed the worst of his temperament, and the Queen meanwhile seemed to be reveling in the mysterious pregnancy from the spirit of her dead husband, the Duke Gorlois. Uther had also given a speech that the time for in-fighting was over, and it was better now to think of family and marriage. To that end, he announced that two of his daughters-in-law would be married that year: Margawse would be married to King Lot, and Elaine to King Nentres. In addition, Ygraine’s youngest daughter Morgan had her engagement to King Uriens.

Courtly gossip revealed that there was at least some tension present though. Prince Madoc ap Uther, having survived the events at Terrabil, was now threatened by the pregnancy of Queen Ygraine. Although none in court doubted that the child was Gorlois’s, as Ygraine had married Uther prior to its birth Uther could choose to name it as his heir. Feeling the urge to cement his claim, he approached his good friend Sir Liam O’Malley, the new Castellan of Terrabil. Together they decided to go on a pre-emptive patrol of the land to hunt down the Irish raiders said to plague Cornwall, and further add to his own prestige. Accompanying them were Sir Judicael Sir Gwold, and Sir Eyre – a household knight of Durrington. The Knights encountered and easily routed a group of Irish raiders at the Battle of Boscastle, though not without cost as Sir Eyre fell to a particularly vicious Irish warrior.

Back at Tintagel, the assembled Knights of Logres bore witness to the lavish dual wedding, and partook in the great victory feast afterwards. Sir Gariant and Sir Carver, both well-established famous knights of the land, spun many tales and were the subject of much praise. Sir Cynehild, still conflicted over the strife caused in Cornwall was much more subdued, and Sir Liam’s cousin Sir Conlan – who had inherited his manor at Tangley – was merely attempting not to further embarass himself or his family’s honour. Still, even the young Morgan conducted herself with civility, and the celebration echoed into the night.

Summer Treason

Over the next few weeks, as Madoc ranged across Cornwall hunting down invaders, the remaining knights were still called upon to serve garrison duty inside of Cornwall. With most of the Cornish knights having fled to Lyonesse under King Meliodas, or to King Idres of the Kingdom of Cornwall, defenders were in short supply. On one such morning, the four knights were out on patrol when they were approached by Merlin the Magician, who called upon Sir Gariant to once more render him aid, as well as assistance from his assembled companions.

With Merlin leading them through the woods, they came to an otherwise unremarkable clearing where they were instructed to wait for him. Sir Carver immediately sprang to attention with weapon in hand waiting for a challenge… but even he was forced to relax after the first hour of inactivity. After several hours passed, Merlin strode back to their clearing clutching someone, and ordered the Knights to delay his pursuers. Shortly, several other knights arrived demanding to know where Merlin went, whereupon Sir Conlan expertly deceived them into choosing the wrong route, and buying enough time for the sorcerer to escape.

This decision would come back to haunt them, for after it was clear Merlin had escaped, Sir Brastias arrived on the scene and informed them of the full scope: Merlin had kidnapped Ygraine’s newborn son, and fled the Kingdom. With the Knights now suspected of being complicit in the escape, he ordered them to surrender their weapons and return to Tintagel – to face trial for treason!

Fall Justice

The Knights were sequestered in Tintagel while preparations for the trial were made. Though they were not free to leave, they were not escorted to the dungeons but rather placed in a locked guest room with servants to attend to them. When Sir Liam and Judicael returned, they investigated the situation to find that their comrades were not the only ones who Merlin had fooled into aiding his escape. Earl Roderick and Father Dewi also arrived to talk with the accused. The Father took Cynehild, Conlan and Carver, and advised them all to tell the truth – as well as convert to Christianity to save their souls. Earl Roderick merely asked for Gariant to pledge that he knew nothing of this, and would fight for him.

When the trial came, as the Knights who last saw Merlin, the four were brought to stand in court before the assembled Lords of Logres, and the trial presided over by King Uther and Duke Ulfius. The charge from Brastias was simple, the Knights had through willful lies prevented his men from pursuing Merlin, and allowed him to escape. When asked if these events were true, they were forced to admit that they were. Queen Ygraine then hissed that they deserved to die, but Uther required the court to wait for all sides to be heard from.

In their own defense, the Knights spoke of the many times that Merlin had mysteriously aided the Kingdom, and that they had no way of knowing this time his motives were sinister. They were behaving in accordance with the same trust that had been previously vested inside of the Magician, and if they had the full story they surely would not have acted as they did. Earl Roderick himself personally vouched for the assembled Knights, and Father Dewi also stood up and said he believed that Merlin had enchanted all of the accused Knights, and his devilry must be cast out of Logres.

Despite the continued insistence from Ygraine that they be put to death, King Uther issued an order that the Knights had been tricked by Merlin – as had they all. Merlin would henceforth be banished from Logres, under pain of death. Any who were caught harbouring him from this day forth would share in his crime. The Knights were cleared of all wrong doing, and the trial was over.

Winter Courts

With the drama of court finished, the Knights broke up to go their separate ways. Sir Judicael was approached by a Knight of Listenoise, who had come in search of his Lord King Pellinore. Judicael told of seeing him several years ago in pursuit of the mythical questing beast. The Knight cursed at this, and said if he found King Pellinore again to let him know that his Kingdom desperately needed him. Sir Judicael attempted to go back to where he was last seen to try to find the Knight, accompanied by Sir Conlan and Sir Carver, but despite a winter of searching they found nothing.

Over Winter court, Sir Cynehild and Sir Gariant reflected on their trials, musing that at least Uther had found them innocent to try and salvage their honour. Their reminiscing was interrupted by Sir Argan, the Royal Constable, barging into Sarum and demanding Uther answer for the affair with his wife that he has discovered, and denouncing the King for the slaughter at Cornwall for not being enough to sate his lusts. Though many knights volunteered to fight Sir Argan, Uther unsheathed Excalibur and said he would deal with this himself. The fight was quite brief – though not as any expected. At the first clashing of swords, Excalibur flew from Uther’s hand, and Argan impaled the King in the stomach. Begging for his life, Argan extracted a promise that he and his family would be given a castle, and no vassal of Uther would be allowed on the premise under pain of death by the court.

Acceding to the wishes, Argan allowed physicians to attend the wounded King, and triumphantly strode from the Hall. Though Prince Madoc was furious, he was forced to bend to his father’s wishes, and Argan left unattacked. Following the confusion, Sir Conlan looked to retrieve Excalibur, only to find it had vanished. With the chirurgeons working furiously to staunch Uther’s injuries, the winter of this year ended with a sense that things were about to get worse for the people of Logres…

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