With High King Arthur slightly more secure in his throne, the High King took to the old King’s Route, once traveled by King Uther Pendragon in days of old. His tour took him to Durrington, where he was hosted by Lady Elana in a lavish feast. Mid-feast, Duke Ulfius was well into his cups and accused former Queen Ygraine, now one of the resident clergy, of being unfaithful to Uther through fathering a child that could not have been Uther’s. Ygraine stated that the child was borne to her by a vision of her dead husband Duke Gorlois who appeared to her the night he was killed, and this was the child stolen away by Merlin the Magician. Merlin in turn, revealed that this child was Arthur, and the true heir to the Pendragon legacy. Ygraine and Arthur embraced as mother and son, and Queen Morgan, who was visiting her mother, also warmly welcomed her brother.
Later in the year, conflict struck when Sir Cynehild was brought in to court, badly wounded from a joust by a mad knight at a fountain. Though several knights in attendance offered to go and joust this upcomer, Cynehild’s squire Griflet asked to be knighted to get his chance to avenge his master. Arthur agreed, but Sir Griflet failed in the challenge and returned injured. Arthur then appointed Cynehild’s former squire Sir Everette to attempt the challenge.
Sir Everette rode out with several companions – Sir Tacitus, Sir Collete Magnus Pullo, and Sir Glorn. The knight at the fountain was the famous King Pellinore, and though Sir Everette intended to face him, in her passion she succumbed to madness and fled – leaving Sir Glorn and Sir Collete to ride after her. Sir Tacitus faced Pellinore in her stead, and managed to triumph over the King by dishonourably striking the King’s horse, unseating him. Unbowed, Pellinore demanded the fight continue.
His challenge was answered by King Arthur, who had followed to view events. Drawing Excalibur, Arthur fought with Pellinore, but Excalibur broke in combat and Arthur was badly wounded. Both Sir Everette and Sir Tacitus struck at King Pellinore who was horrified at his own actions, but the fight was stalled by the arrival of Merlin. The magician stabilized Arthur’s wounds, and Arthur acknowledged that his own pride had broken Excalibur. Vowing to fix it, he set off on a quest alone – and returned the next day with the sword renewed.
Still later in the year, a strange maiden came to court with a sword belted around her waist. She told Arthur that it was said this sword could only be drawn by the best knight in the land, and she had come to find such a court. After many knights gathered attempted to draw it, an unknown poor knight named Sir Balin managed to draw the blade. The maiden asked for the sword’s return, but Sir Balin’s twin brother Sir Balan told him to keep it and they would adventure together. Naming himself the Knight of Two Swords, Sir Balin kept the blade and the maiden left despondent.
Nineve, the Lady of the Lake shortly came upon the court in search of that woman saying she had stolen the sword, and demanded her head from King Arthur. When Arthur refused, she turned to Sir Balin to demand the sword’s return, but Sir Balin responded by drawing the blade to kill Nineve where she stood. He explained that Nineve had killed his mother in turn, but Arthur would accept no excuses, and banished the brothers from his Kingdom – only his respect of Hospitality prevented ordering their execution on the spot.
Prince Lanceor of Ireland volunteered to chase down the pair, and Sir Tacitus rushed to follow the knight, but arrived only in time to witness Prince Lanceor’s death at the hands of the pair. He attempted to talk Lanceor’s amour out of rash action, but she too slew herself. Prince Mark, who was conveniently nearby, ordered his men to build a tomb to commemorate the pair whose actions had touched him.
With a crazy spring of intrigue behind them, it was with relief that the Knights could turn their attention to a more noble pursuit – finally crushing King Heraut de Apres and bringing Malahaut to heel. A good-sized force of Logres troops made North to make their attack, and were reinforced by knights from King Pellinore, who was humbled by his actions earlier in the year. The Logres forces crossed the Bassus river where they were met by Malahaut, and also surprisingly reinforcements by King Nentres of Garloth.
The two armies were roughly on an even keel, but Malahaut had chosen its location on a hill well, and were fighting desperately for their home Sir Tacitus led a small unit of knights in the Battle of Bassus River, and though Sir Everette was badly wounded in the fighting, the knights of Logres acquitted themselves well – though none as well as Sir Tacitus, whose zeal earned him a lot of respect from the assembled knights.
In the end, King Pellinore slew both King de Apres and King Nentres, and the armies were routed. Arthur offered good terms of surrender and vassalages to the heirs of both Kings, and forbade excessive looting of the lands from his subjects. Nonetheless, rumours spread that King Lot had accused Merlin of stealing babies from the North, and outright war with Lothian seemed to be in the future.
And unnoticed almost by all, Sir Djaq O’Liam had slipped away on another quest…