The winter of 490 passed awkwardly for the knights trapped at Lindsey. Much of the Salisbury army was still garrisoned and trapped by their duty, as well as the early snowfalls from last year. King Uther was driven mad with vengeance against Duke Gorlois’s insult against him last year when he fled his court without permission. Though his hatred was well-understood, Sir Judicael and Sir Liam gathered through courtly gossip that he was mostly concerned with how the Duchess Ygraine had slipped from his grasp with the Duke’s exit.
Nonetheless, Spring must come and Uther ordered the knights of Salisbury to head for Cornwall at once. Sending riders out ahead of himself to call more of his army, the tired and homesick remnants were still drive ever onward. Though the route through Cornwall did lead them past Summerland, King Cadwy was not visited, nor were his knights called out. Still, the knights of Salisbury that had managed to reach their home for the winter were called back, and Cornwall was to be besieged.
Duke Gorlois had apparently split his forces in two. His family and treasure were sent to Tintagel – an almost impenetrable fortress. The knights of Cornwall took refuge at Terrabil, an ancient castle and centralised chokepoint within the lands. Prince Madoc took the bulk of the Logres army to besiege Terrabil, while Uther took a quarter to ensure that none could escape from Tintagel.
Sensing that several of his knights had close ties to Cornwall, Earl Roderick allowed them to decide which army they would join for the events. Due to their history, several knights debated if they would participate at all, but ultimately Sirs Judicael, Cynehild. Gwold, and Isadora all decided to go to Tintagel, while Sirs Liam, Carver and Gariant went to Terrabil.
The siege at both castles was long, but neither Uther nor his son showed any sign of being willing to surrender. On one morning, Merlin the Magician held a private conference with Prince Madoc, and then rode to reconvene with Uther. That night, as the knights slumbered the Cornish forces fell upon the Logres camp by surprise, and began attacking with many of the knights asleep. Sir Carver, suspecting danger, had leapt to the call sword-in-hand and fought his way out of his tent towards Prince Madoc. Sir Liam and Sir Gariant were a little more fatigued by sleep, and Sir Beorhtric was almost unable to rouse himself until the fighting was well underway.
The Logres camp was in an uproar, and Prince Madoc was exhorting his men to rally to him and his banner. The first to him though was Duke Gorlois, and demanding that Uther appear, the Prince and Duke faced off in combat. Unmounted and unprepared, Prince Madoc went down to Gorlois with a sword in his chest. Sir Carver, having fought his way there ran at the Duke, and as Gorlois whirled to face him Madoc managed to hold the Duke’s sword in his wound, and so the Duke was unarmed, allowing Sir Carver to skewer him upon his horse.
The Cornish knights, who had sensed victory, now turned to despair at the loss of their Duke and made to retreat, as Earl Roderick led the counter-attack. Shortly after he fell though, Sir Liam reached Prince Madoc, and using the healing potion he had earlier retrieved from the magical glade, managed to save the Prince’s life, who rose and led the final push itself. The results were undeniable, with the death of Gorlois and the seeming resurrection of Madoc, the castle soon fell to Logres.
Events at Tintagel were less dramatic, but far more portentious. To the knights there, one afternoon during the siege Merlin arrived, and immediately went to a private conference with King Uther and Duke Ulfius. The three then left for a nearby hill and orders that they were not to be followed. That night, a great mist rolled over the landscape, and though Sir Isadora and Gwold were on watch, they were unable to see anything – when from the castle of Tintagel the guards announced that Duke Gorlois had returned, and he was to be let in. Enraged at this breach, Sir Isadora stumbled to the bridge and guarded it for the night, and swore that no one had passed her.
The next morning, Uther, Merlin and Ulfius were all back in his pavilion, and news arrived that Duke Gorlois had been earlier killed at Terrabil. Sir Brastias entered the castle, and negotiated the surrender of Ygraine, and Uther declared that never again would there be a Duke of Cornwall, and all the lands would come under his rule. At the victory feast, the Goblet Knights discussed their events, and though they concluded that Merlin had somehow tricked the guards at Terrabil, none could say – or perhaps wanted to say – what the objective could be.
With the pair of sieges won, Earl Roderick called for some knights to garrison the depleted castles, while others went home to their families as they had been gone over a year at this point. Sir Gariant and Beohrtric were still recovering from their wounds at Terrabil, so Sir Liam, Carver, Judicael and Gwold left to return to Logres.
On the road back, still debating what had happened in Cornwall, the four found themselves on a forested path in an unfamiliar land. Through the woods they could see a great valley with a magnificent town and castle, Sir Carver realised somehow they had stumbled into the Kingdom of the Circle of Gold, a mythical Kingdom of challenge and adventure. Indeed, as they moved through their forested path cleared up to a gentle glade with an elaborate fountain, possed of an almost festive occasion. The area was full of knights and entertainment. Greeted by squires, the four knights were welcomed to the Kingdom, and told if they wanted to proceed along the path, they must duel the knights of this tent – but for love, not hate nor glory.
Sir Dorgane, youngest child of King Fallagantis de la Fontaine, and so-named knight of the fountain, opened up the challenge, and laid out the three battles. The first would be some bizarre lance type charge, but with blunted lances to not deal damage that he called a “joust”, which puzzled all of the knights present. The next would be a battle on horses with swords, and then on foot with a weapon of choice for the knights. Duels were to knockdown or first blood, and two wins were all that was needed. Sir Gwold went first, and fell to Sir Dorgane. For losing, the knight took Sir Gwold’s shield and said he could not use the heraldry for a year less a day. Otherwise, if any knights here passed, he could continue with them if he gave his word he would not partake in any of the challenges.
Sir Liam was the next to duel, and despite his great love for duelling he was worried that he might slay Sir Dorgane. The young knight seemed unafraid of this, and they fought all three rounds with Liam triumphing, whereupon he hugged Sir Dorgane in relief. Sir Carver fought next, and during the second duel, he struck the yougn knight hard in the neck, and he fell from his horse dead. Though horrified, his companions seemed saddened, but far from angry. In fact, another knight continued the duel, which Sir Carver eventually went through with but was ultimately defeated.
Sir Judicael had yet to face the challenge, and all of the knights politely asked him if he wanted to continue. Though he was unnerved, he felt to refuse would be to diminish the sacrifice of Sir Dorgane and both fought and succeeded The knights were all offered hospitality, but chose instead to continue along the path and the challenge. Down the road, they encountered a goblin in a bear trap who they freed, and exhorted the knights to keep their right ways around them before vanishing.
After the goblin, the paths split into a fork, with Liam and Gwold choosing the left path, and Carver and Judicael choosing the right. Only some time later did Sir Liam realise the Goblins words were directing them down the right path, but by then he found the path clearing, and in a series of steep, foreboding cliffs. The goblin again appeared to warn him off, and he and Gwold took the advice, turning back. Their path did not lead them back to the forest however, but into Logres where the air was just turning towards autumn. Cursing the faerie kingdoms’s sense of time, they heeded a call to head to Tintagel from the other Knights.
Sir Judicael meanwhile continued on his quest, and battled Sir Angora, third child of King Fallagantis. The challenge was the same, though Sir Angora proved a fierece jouster. Nonetheless, Sir Judicael triumphed, and paused to rest and heal a time with Sir Carver before going on. When they did, they came across an empty Christian shrine, but found it recently bereft of occupants and without clue. When they came to a fork, they again chose the right path.
When they emerged, they came across a small manor town where another knight came out, Sir Nest the second child of King Fallagantis, to challenge Sir Judicael with the same terms. Though Sir Judicael fought well, his accumulated wounds were too great and he went down, whereupon Sir Nest offered them both her hospitality while she healed. While there, Sir Nest told Sir Carver how her father, King Fallagantis, had fought a great battle with many supernatural beasts before founding the Kingdom, though she knows not what happened to them afterwards. In addition, she made clear that the King was the last challenge to be faced at the Kingdom, should they wish to continue.
When Sir Judicael awoke, as he had been defeated Sir Nest politely but firmly insisted they could go no farther, and though they were welcome to remain for as long as they wished, they both left the Kingdom to return to their home. heading down the path, they far too quickly found themselves at the borders, where it was now clearly winter…
For the rest of the knights, more time had passed. The glory from Cornwall had been doled out, and in recognition for their great service both Sir Liam and Sir Carver were greatly honoured by Uther. Sir Carver was granted permission to wed Lady Elana and raise Durrington up to a higher level, and SIr Liam was awarded stewardship of Castle Terrabil for his family.
In perhaps happier news, King Uther and Duchess Ygraine were married, and there was much hope across the land that the time for in-fighting may once again have drawn to a close. Many Salisbury knights again were garrisoned in Cornwall to wait out the winter, and for the promise of a new year…