Coming off the loss of Sir Cron last year, more tragedy awaited the Goblet Knights at the dawning of the year. Nathaniel, brother of Sir Judicael and Cynehild, was visiting his sister at Clarendon. Unfortunately, while there he got into an argument with Sir Ceolward, household knight of Sir Gwyn. In the ensuing struggle, Nathaniel was tragically slain. Both Judicael and Cynehild were horrified by the news, and swore revenge on Sir Ceolward and his family.
In addition to their struggle, a mercenary named Edynfed arrived at Littleworth, claiming to be the bastard offspring of Sir Gwyllim, Judicael’s father. Though Judicael had never heard of him, he was willing to welcome Edynfed with open arms, but upon offering the man a place in his household, Edynfed was so overcome with rage that he fell upon Judicael with swords drawn without warning. Judicael managed to dodge his first attack, and fought defensively to subdue his maddened brother without slaying him. Though successful, Edynfed would not let go of his hatred, and swore to return for revenge the next year.
The tragedies did not end there. As knights made ready for their march on Cornwall, news filtered down that Sir Greid was impugning the honour of Sir Beorhtric. He insisted that the honour that had been gained since the affair should be invalid. Incensed by this assault on his former squire, Sir Caelus demanded a duel there and now to settle the matter. Though Earl Roderick demanded it be delayed until after the campaign, Sir Greid would not be swayed, and Sir Caelus refused to let his challenges go. Both impassioned, the fight between the two lasted for hours, and though it was to first blood neither gave an inch. Tragically, as the day grew on, Sir Caelus missed a parry with the gladius given to him by Praetor Syagrius, and Sir Greid drove his sword into Caelus’s heart.
Though medical aid was swiftly applied, Caelus’s body was exhausted from the duel, and the decisive nature of the strike was too much, and the Roman knight expired. Horrified and incensed, Earl Roderick stripped Sir Greid of his title and banished him from Logres. He also demanded an end to these honour duels unless he could personally oversee them for the moment. A heavy mood settled over Logres at the loss of this knight, and the rest of the preparations were made in silence.
THe bad news did not stop for Logres that year though. Duke Ulfius brought word that King Ælle had launched an assault on Salisbury, and his forces were needed to secure the border. Duke Corneus and the forces of Lindsey could not even attend, as Malahaut was completely overrun and the Saxons of King Octa and King Eosa were threatening to spill south into Logres.
With his forces greatly depleted, Uther nonetheless set off for Cornwall to force Duke Gorlois into submission. He did not head there straightaway though, as one more vassal could attend – he detoured to visit King Cadwy of Summerland. The forces of Logres were intercepted by his knights, where Sir Carver had a chance to catch up with the Goblet Knights, and was informed of the loss of both Caelus and Cron. Hurt, he asked for permission from the King to accompany the forces of Logres on their march on Cornwall.
So bolstered, Logres and Summerland marched out to confront Cornwall, who were assembled ready to repel an invasion. The two sides faced each other down, and made ready for combat. Uther and Merlin made one last appeal for peace. Gorlois demanded “justice”. Though Uther was on the verge of ordering an attack, Merlin cautioned him to be patient, and he agreed to allow Gorlois to maintain rule of Cornwall in exchange for swearing homage. The terms were accepted, and war was averted.
The victory feast was a relief for both sides, with knights freely intermingling and gossiping. Sirs Carver, Gariant and Judicael memorialised Sir Caelus in front of the assembled knights. With the Feast broken up, Uther informed all knights present that next year, all his knights would march North to purge the kingdom of Nohaut, and every one present would be required to attend. It was noted that King Cadwy was no longer at the feast, but still the pact was agreed, and a true invasion was planned.
Returning to Logres, Sir Carver was concerned about the care of Caelus’s wife, Lady Elana. He requested and received permission to pursue the possibility of wedding her to keep Sir Caelus’s legacy safe. However in exchange, there was a quest the King wanted him to undertake. Two Ladies of the Lake, Viviene and Nineve, required a knighlty escort. Gathering Liam, Cynehild, Gariant, Judicael, and Isadora together, the six set off to assist the ladies on their quest.
Their destination – which did not exactly correspond to normal geography – was the Crimson Lake. Its waters black and corrupted, near its shore was an old lady apparently slain. Using a spell of some kind, Viviene brought her back long enough for her to give her last testimony: A knight dressed all in black had come to her lake, killed her, and corrupted her lake. The waters were too impure for any to heal, but she still extracted a promise from the knights to avenge her before she passed on to her final rest.
Nineve told them of an ancient Spring in the nearby forest, the path to which she could open so that they could face the trials and retrieve a cure for the infection. Sirs Isadora and Cynehild stayed behind to guard the Ladies, and Carver, Gariant, Liam and Judicael went into the forest. The darkened woods did not seem to be of this world, and chillingly when the knights made camp the trees themselves came to life and tried to slay the knights in their sleep. Judicael was caught off guard and injured, but the rest escaped without any harm.
The morning saw them finding a grove of unusual tranquility in the blackened forest, guarded by a small beaver dressed in velvet finery, who identified himself – in English – as the guardian of the glade. He challenged the knights to tests of Wit, Whim and Will. Sirs Judicael and Gariant both failed, and in a blinding strike the beaver struck both knights down where they stood, though with expert precision to only render them unconscious and not in danger of death. Fortunately Sir Carver and Sir Liam both passed his tests and were awarded the right to use and take the water from the glade – exactly once. Using it to revive their friends, they each filled their water skin and departed.
On the way out, haunted creatures attempted to dispatch their water, but the knights in concert slew the beasts, and fought their way to freedom. At the water’s edge, Sir Carver made to approach the lake with his purified water, when a great beast like an octopus from Hell emerged and did battle with the knights. Its force was no match for the skill of the six present though, and they managed to dispatch it before Sir Carver added his water to the Lake, purifying it and banishing the curse.
Viviene thanked the knights, and asked Nineve to take her place watching these lands as she must depart. So saying, she walked calmly into the clean waters of the lake and vanished from sight. Sir Liam asked the remaining Lady of the Lake how to bring back the dead, the loss of his sister and friend weighing heavily on him, but was told that allowing them to remain dead would be the kindest mercy of all. Still though, Sir Liam’s magical water had not been spent, and the Irish knight resolved to use it where it would do the most good.
With the creatures slain, the Knights split up to return to their manor, and make preparations to hopefully crush the Northern Saxons once and for all…