Pendragon: Chivalry is Magic

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


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…

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

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…

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…

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…

Year 491 - The Siege of Cornwall
An old ally is conquered, and the knights come to a disturbing conclusion about their King...

Spring Conquest

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.

Summer Downfall

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.

Fall Questing

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…

Winter Wedding

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…

Year 490 - A Prisoner of Courtesy
Uther wins a great victory... only to throw it all away

Spring Vengeance

As promised last year, Edynfed returned to Littleworth to challenge Sir Judicael and al of Gwyllim’s line for vengeance around his ignoble birth. Prepared, Judicael refused to fight his half-brother, insisting that all could be forgiven and he could be knighted and join his family. Edynfed was unwilling to give up his hatred, and said if Judicael was not going to fight him, he would move on to his next target – Sir Cynehild. Confident that fighting his sister would kill one of them, Judicael again agreed to the duel, and incapacitated his brother with another mighty blow. He again required surgery, but that placed him under the care of Lady Cyneburh, who refused to allow these constant attacks on her children to proceed. By the morning, Edynfed had passed away.

At Durrington, Sir Carver was plying his case to wed Lady Elana in honour of the memory of Sir Caelus and for his family, but for the rest of the county, preparations for war were being made. With the major Lords of Logres behind him, King Uther summoned together Duke Ulfius, Earl Roderick, Duke Gorlois, as well as many other lesser Lords in order to march North to declare war on King Octa and King Eosa, and relieve the land of Lindsey.

Over 2,000 knights made the march up to Lincoln to relieve the beleaguered Duke Corneus and his forces. The Saxon invaders were finally set to pour down into Logres, but instead their forces consolidated, and the knights of Britain faced down over 10,000 Saxon barbarians who were set to pillage their land. Orders were given, and the army formed up to charge.

Summer Battle

The forces arrayed were so large that the knights were split into three camps. The Salisbury knights found themselves arrayed under King Uther, and opposing the Saxons led by King Octa. With an impressive first charge into the Saxon lines, the Salisbury forces again found themselves under the command of Sir Amig, who maintained consistent if not overly imaginative tactics of charging and withdrawal.

For a large part of the battle, the Salisbury knights had an excellent showing for themselves. Sir Liam used his Warflail to devastating effect on the Saxon troops, and despite a brief bout of madness from Sir Cynehild, she also managed to reconnect with her troops and inflict great damage on the Saxons. Sir Beorhtric and Sir Gariant were equally steadfast, and though the Saxon ferocity seemed only to grow, they cut a bloody path across the battlefield.

An opportunity arose when Duke Gorlois managed to break through the Saxon lines and capture King Eosa, so disorganised, Sir Amig seized on the opportunity and led his own charge on King Octa. Clearing a spac,e, Cynehild, Liam, Beorhtric, and Gariant all assaulted the Saxon King and his bodyguards. Despite their prowess, the bodyguards proved driven to fervour by their loyalty, and managed to knock out Sir Cynehild almost immediately. As the knights fought for Cynehild’s squire to pull her out, Sir Liam then fell to a blow from King Octa, and as Gariant fought to defend him, he too was dropped by the Saxons. Overwhelmed, Beohrtric ran from the battlefield, and the King survived. Sir Liam and Cynehild had been rescued, but Sir Gariant had been captured.

All was not lost though, as the Saxon lines were weakened enough that Earl Roderick could rally his forces to charge in and capture King Octa himself. With both their kings down, the Saxon lines quickly broke, and Britain won the day. Fortunately, Sir Gariant was rescued in the ensuing struggle, and all of the Goblet Knights – somehow – survived. With that, a great feast was held in celebration of the victory. Sir Liam had distinguished himself enough that he was invited to the great victory feast held in the main hall, where he along with the assorted nobility witnessed the Duchess Ygraine celebrating their victory. Sir Cynehild would also have been invited, but was still unconscious from her wounds.

Fall Retribution

The aftermath saw all sorts of celebrations occur. Prince Madoc led a series of retaliatory raids into former Saxon territory. Sir Judicael, after receiving assurances from Sir Meliodas that Cynehild would be cared for, joined Sir Isadora, Sir Gwold, and Sir Beohrtric on raiding the Saxon lands. Venting their years of frustration, many of the knights came back much richer and better prepared to face the years ahead.

For Sir Liam and Gariant, they chose to attend with Uther, and were thus present to witness him ordering most of his army North to Malahaut. Meeting with King Heraut de Apres, the Kings affirmed a pact of friendship between their people, and pledged to support him for the High Kingship. Not only them, but Kings Eurain, Garloth and Uriens all attended him or sent vassals, who were all cowed by the sight of Excalibur. This display finally caused Liam to suspect that the sight of the sword of victory might have powers beyond the ordinary for Lords of this land.

Sir Cynehild, recovering at Lincoln, caught up with Sir Meliodas, and was informed that Duke Gorlois affirmed to recognise his claim to the land of Lyonesse, and the future rule of that land. She recovered there and rested with the Cornish knights, and when Uther returned most of the Lords there asked for permission to leave which was granted for all of them – except for Duke Gorlois, whom Uther asked to spend more time with to affirm their friendship.

This request lasted for weeks, with Gorlois daily requesting permission to leave, and Uther constantly finding reasons to ask him to stay.

Finally, one night, during an unseasonably early snowfall, Sir Liam, Gariant, Cynehild and Beohrtric were on nightly watch, when they became aware of a commotion in the stables. Duke Gorlois was loading his family for leaving – without the King’s permission. Though Liam advised the Duke to remain, Gorlois insisted that a knight had no right to tell him how to live, and that he would not allow Uther to continue with this improper behaviour. Though Sir Liam left to inform Uther of what was happening, Sir Cynehild, Gariant and Beohrtric all agreed with the Cornish knights, who set off in the sudden snowstorm. As they road off, Sir Beohrtric saw Nineve amidst the flurries, apparently conducting some great ritual.

King Uther, incensed at this unforgivable breach of hospitality, began ranting that Gorlois needed to be taught a lesson. Despite the council of Duke Ulfius, Uther swore that when the snows abetted, the Logres army would march on Cornwall, and make them pay. And unlike last year, it did not seem as though there would be a diplomatic solution this time…

Year 489 - The Crimson Lake
A hard year for the Goblet Knights brings forth a miraculous quest

Spring Tragedies

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.

Summer Invasion

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.

Fall Questing

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…

Year 488 - The Conquest of Frankland
Britain invades Gaul, and not everyone comes home.

Spring Mustering

The rumours had been coming in all winter, and now it was official: The army of Britain would be heading to Frankland this year. The treaties from Praetor Syagrius and promises of a fantastic reward had finally tempted King Uther enough that he pledged a full half of his army – both knights and footmen alike – to retaking France and Paris. The remainder of the army would be held in reserve in case Logres was attacked, but would be unable to prosecute war any further. As Uther was needed for matters of state, control of the army was turned over to his son – Prince Madoc.

Earl Roderick would be leading his forces in person, and recruited many of his most famous, eager and accomplished knights for the task. Sir Liam requested to be excused, as he had to hunt down the Saxon who attacked Tangley last year to ensure the safety of his family. Nonetheless, Sirs Caelus. Cron, Cynehild, Gariant, Sir Gwold, and Judicael all answered the call, and stood ready to invade France.

Unfortunately the invasion hit a bit of a bump at the outset, for the shipmasters of Britain claimed that the seas were not conducive for sailing. With absolutely no ability to vet this information, the knights were left to amuse themselves. Sir Cron took up hunting, and hunted down a nearby wolf for practice. Sirs Gwold and Cynehild engaged in a practice brawl to test their skills, which Sir Gwold triumphed in. Sir Caelus took the time to get to know Praetory Syagrius, and a lot of enjoyable conversations were had about the superiority of Rome and its citizenry.

Finally the day came when the peasants claimed the seas were favourable, and the army set off. Though some noticed that Earl Roderick seemed pensive about the journey, they nonetheless arrived with little trouble. As their ships were among the first to arrive, Praetor Syagrius rode out with Sir Caelus in patrol of the nearby area, accompanied by his friends. During the long, long discussions about Rome they were unexpectedly ambushed by Frankish barbarians who had somehow tracked them down. Sir Caelus fought a spirited defense of Syagrius, requiring Sirs Cron and Cynehild to guard his back to ensure no harm came to him while he ensured no harm came to the Praetor.

Fortunately they were successful, and the lightly armed barbarians were driven off or slain. Greatly pleased, Syagrius exchanged his gladius for Caelus’s sword, and swore it as proof of the indestructible alliance between Britain and France. Back at camp, when the rest of the army disembarked. With the army assembled, the time came to march on their first stop: The city of Bayeux

Summer Assault

The nearby city was a strategically important decision, and fairly well defended by the Frankish mercenaries. However, in the face of the British army, as well as reinforcements from the Roman troops, the city was hard-pressed to maintain its defenses. In less than a week, the walls were being breached by footmen, and the city was in danger of falling. The first gate to fall was that closest to the Salisbury forces: an opportunity for glory as well as great danger. Though some of the knights wondered if prudence was the better option, Sir Cron recklessly led the charge herself, and in the face of a Goblet Knight in danger her friends soon followed.

As the first knights to breach the walls, they were hard-pressed by defenders. With crossbow bolts raining down on them, Sirs Caelus, Cron, Cynehild, and Gwold were swarmed by defenders. Both Cron and Caelus found themselves unhorsed and attacked, while Cynehild and Gwold were easily cutting through the defenders with their two-handed weapons. Wise to the pattern from his brother, Sir Gwold rode to defend Sir Caelus, leaving Sir Cron exposed and – tragically – her attackers got in a series of lucky strikes that viciously wounded the Irish knight. Though the Salisbury forces seized the gate, Cron had fallen. Caelus frantically plied all of his Roman knowledge of Chirurgery, but her wounds were too severe, and Sir Cron did not survive the night.

In the hard light of the morning, Bayeux had fallen and Preator Syagrius consoled his new friend that Sir Cron’s death would not be in vain, and the conquest of Gaul would be completed in her name. Unfortunately, Prince Madoc disagreed, and decided that no more British knights would die on this foreign land. He was calling off the invasion. Syagrius was shocked and argued that Uther had pledged his aid, but Madoc was not his father and in charge – and he would not be budged.

Earl Roderick ordered the knights to agree, and though Sir Caelus attempted to encourage people to pledge their plunder to the Romans, the Earl overrode him and ordered them back to the boats. Many of Syagrius’s retinue defected to the British, including Isadora, a foreign mercenary and child of Sir Liam’s and Cron’s father. Earl Roderick accepted her claim of kinship, and in memory of Sir Cron granted Isadora the heirship of Woodford, and an impromptu knighthood. With a comrade dead, and Syagrius cursing the British name, the army sailed home.

Fall Tidings

Back in Britain, the news of Cron’s death was carried to Tangley by Earl Roderick and the surviving Goblet Knights. In the interim, he had engaged in a hunt throughout his woods for Einhard the Grey who had attacked him last year. They were drawn into a battle between his troops and the forces of Tangley, and Sir Liam ended him in a single, decisive battle. His joy at that was quickly subdued at the news of his sister’s passing. Cron was buried at Woodford, with the newly-minted Sir Isadora now ruling over it.

If any were hoping that Uther would discipline his son for quitting the field of battle, their hopes were lost for he was pleased with his son’s performance. Their treasury was boosted, and their ranks replenished by foreign mercenaries now swearing loyalty. All that was left, he ominously announced, was ensuring that Duke Gorlois and Cornwall fell into line. Next year, his army would march west, and Gorlois would either bend at the knee, or be crushed under his heel…

Year 487 - The Submission of Lindsey
The reluctant Lords of Britain react differently to Excalibur's discovery...

Spring Negotiations

The four knights who had discovered Excalibur the last year were definitely the talk of Logres. Both Sir Beorhtric and Sir Judicael used their new-found boost in status to arrange favourable marriages for themselves with Earl Roderick, both managing to secure wealthy heiresses which greatly elevated them in terms of financial status in the county. Though Sir Judicael did not understand the significance of the request, he also assented to Earl Roderick’s request to marry his sister Ilse to Sir Gwyn at the aged knight’s request. It was truly going to be a year of marriages all around.

But come spring, the knights were summoned to serve as part of the retinue for King Uther Pendragon, who wished to tour his Kingdom and assert authority over his more reluctant vassals. The first stop would be North to Lindsey, where they would take hospitality with the Duke Corneus, who of late had been demanding protection while offering little in a muster. Accompanied by Duke Ulfius, Earl Roderick, Merlin the Magician, and a host of other nobles of Logres – though both Somerset and Cornwall were conspicuous in their absence, they road to camp.

Upon arriving at Lindsey, the King was informed that Duke Corneus was away and had been summoned, and his entourage were to be entertained until their arrival. Sir Liam stayed behind in Lindsey to flirt and pass the time with some attractive peasantry, while Sir Beohrtric, Sir Judicael and Sir Gariant went hunting to pass their time. Sir Beohrtric and Sir Gariant managed to find and slay a mighty bear, while Sir Judicael was lost and came across a creature later identified as the legendary Questing Beast. When he attempted to approach the massive creature, it fled into the woods – pursued closely by the equally famous King Pellinore. With the King only pausing to find his direction from Judicael, he then rode off in pursuit of the Questing Beast, leaving a confused Sir Judicael behind him.

Duke Corneus eventually arrived at Lincoln, and a moderate, yet unimpressive, feast was held. Though the care of his hall was somewhat diminished – a fact readily apparent to all knights – when the time came for entertainment, King Uther called upon Sir Liam to recount the tale he had witnessed the previous year. At the dramatic moment when Liam had slain the beast and Merlin had reappeared, Uther brought forth Excalibur to demonstrate the great treasure won, to the amazement of the Lindseymen present. With Merlin explaining the importance of Excalibur, Duke Corneus publicly reaffirmed his commitment to Uther as his King, and the rightful King of Britain – something that Uther was clearly more than pleased to hear.

Summer Diplomacy

With Lindsey having submitted to King Uther, his mind turned far afield, and he requested of his knights to go out and bring other members of the Supreme Collegium to him, so that he could demonstrate his worthiness in person. Due to their familiarity with the region, the Goblet Knights were sent to Malahaut to invite King Heraut de Apres to Lincoln. Though Sir Liam ultimately declined to go, Sirs Beohrtric, Cron, Cynehild, Gariant, and Judicael all took up the request and rode North into Malahautian lands.

If they were hoping for this to be easy, their visit to Eburacum was quickly defeated by the presence of Sir Uren, and the absence of King de Apres. Although no one was happy to see Sir Uren, he swiftly informed them that the King had passed by recently, and was last seen heading for Richmond Castle to attend the court of Duke Geoffery. Putting together a small party for their escort – including himself – the knights set off for Richmond.

At Richmond Castle, Sir Uren introduced them to the court who informed them that they had just missed the Centurion King. As they sent out riders to look for them, Duke Geoffery requested if they would be willing to take a small test at a nearby cavern. Strangely unwilling to talk about the specifics other than they would face a test of spirit and that little danger was involved, the Knights agreed. Sir Beohrtric noted that Sir Uren seemed on the verge of laughing at several points, but ultimately could not find a reason to turn them down, and the five departed.

A Christian Priest led them to the cave and gave them each a torch. Some knights chose to go without arms or armour, and some with. Upon entering the tunnels, despite the close nature of the cave, each of them became lost and faced a similar set of questions. Sir Judicael found himself unable to make a decision and abandoned the cave, but the other four all saw it through to the end.

Ultimately they were unsuccessful, and upon emerging they found that the court of Malahaut had gathered, led by a jeering Sir Uren – who now revelled in the sight of the four knights who had completed the trial completely without a stitch of clothing. With their squires hastily covering them, Sir Uren went on to say that fortunately he had intercepted King deApres, and he was on hand – both to witness the humiliation, and to coldly decline King Uther’s “request”.

As the knights were escorted back to castle Richmond, Sir Judicael realised that although most of Malahaut had mocked them, Duke Geoffery seemed legitimately saddened by their failure, and privately he reassured the knight that he would continue to send worthy challengers to attempt the Caves. The other knights were less forgiving though, and Sir Beohrtric challenged Sir Uren. First he challenged him to a battle of composition, which the Malahaut knight handily won. This was followed by a challenge of swords – which Sir Uren won again. Unable to forgive the arrogance of the Malahaut knight, Sir Beohrtric swore vengeance on him and his household, before Sir Gariant forcefully reminded the knights they were there on diplomacy and left.

King Uther was hardly surprised at the recalcitrance of the Centurion King, and acknowledged the knights’ service done to him, before releasing them from their yearly service.

Fall Events

The knights each attended to their solos and the news of marriage. Sir Judicael married Lady Wynflaeth, and Sir Beohrtric married Lady Dyanne, both in lavish ceremonies due to their inheritance. Sir Judicael also put up the dowry for his sister, and attended the wedding of Lady Ilse and Sir Gwyn, formalising ties between their household.

Sir Liam returned home to most troubling news. While he was away, his manor of Tangley was invaded by Saxons, headed by Einhard the Grey, the Saxon who previously headed the Mine of Nantwich. Though Lady Junah handily managed the defenses of their manor, she thought to ride out to challenge his army in Battle – a move that ended in disaster. Sir Liam’s uncle was slain, and Lady Junah herself was taken prisoner. It was only Einhard’s surprising act of mercy that prevented her from being slain then and there, and he released her with a warning to her husband that he would be back.

Sir Liam, naturally, pledged vengeance against the Saxons for next year, but news came down that the requests of Praetor Syagrius had reached the King, and next year Prince Madoc would be taking half of the Logres army overseas, to conquer the land of Gaul…