In the Year of Our Lord 485

Mary, Mother of God, have mercy on our souls.

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Spring arrived somewhat early this year, with Snowdrop buds peeking out well before Easter. Squires Madog, Rhys and Rhodri travelled alongside the Thames westward, eventually turning north to climb deep into the Chiltern Hills to High Wycomb. Arriving in the late afternoon, they settled in for dinner with Sir Certher's visiting friends and relatives. During the hearty dinner Squire Morial also arrived from nearby Lewarewich. Sir Certher of High Wycomb was holding an Ash Wednesday memorial wake for his father, Sir Cergwyn the Bold, a year to the day after the elder Sir High Wycomb was buried. Everyone was arriving a few days early so they could attend the Shrove Tuesday feast Sir Certher was to host for the assembled guests.

Although the occasion was somber in intent, the jovial guests and festive celebration of Shrove Tuesday enlivened the atmosphere. Squire Rhodri drank deeply of mead and small beer. Not having much practice at his drink, nor at the outrageous boasting competition played by the older men, he soon found himself drowning in his own bowls and was useless the rest of the night (gained Indulgence check.) Squire Madog was of a contemplative mood and took himself alone out to the monument recently raised by Sir Certher for his departed father. There Squire Madog paid private respect to the departed knight and prayed for his soul (gained Piety check.)

The next day was Shrove Tuesday and Sir Certher splurged by supplying a whole ox, two pigs and three small kegs of wine for the celebration. All of the village turned out for the feast. Competitions were held at music and singing, racing and wrestling. Squire Rhys himself joined in for one bout of wrestling, pinning his opponent by crudely sitting his bulk on top of the hapless contestant. Squire Madog, after sampling the wine overmuch, wrestled with the village farrier. The blacksmith was also quite distracted and the two of them failed miserably at fighting each other, eventually calling off the match as the crowd laughed at their antics. It later came to light that the farrier's son was missing, which explained the lack of focus from the man while wrestling Squire Madog.

Later that evening, just before vespers when the nightlong vigil was to begin, Sir Certher's steward came with news that the farrier's son had finally turned up. He had been treed by a couple of distempered wolves while hunting coneys for the feast. After finally escaping he rushed back to the village to tell of the diseased beasts. Our doughty player squires quickly volunteered to hunt for the pack in the morning while Sir High Wycomb's family held their memorial wake. Sir Rhys took it upon himself to question the boy as well as other villagers about possible whereabouts of the wolves. Meanwhile the other squires participated in the vigil. Squire Morial embarrassed himself by falling asleep and was kicked awake by the cousin of Sir Certher.

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In the morning, the squires gathered their weapons and shields. Hunting in the woods and broken hills required that they go without armor or heavy chargers. Squire Rhys quickly picked up the spoor (Hunting check) of a sheep being dragged through the nearby beechwood forest. While following the track they surprised a comely young maid gathering herbs. She was clearly frightened by the armed men in the woods and so fled. The squires continued their hunt and eventually came to a place where they heard growling over a small hillock as if wild beasts were hungrily tearing at a meal. Squire Rhodri dismounted and climbed the rise to espy what might be making such ruckus. He reported back that indeed there were three wolves tearing at a sheep's carcass. All three wolves were frothing pink with blood and saliva around their mouths, clearly distempered and mad.

Squire Rhodri, always thoughtful and prudent, imagined a plan to trap the beasts. Unfortunately, the plot was somewhat ill conceived and the logistics of their ruse weren't carefully determined. Squire Morial bravely (Valorous check) offered himself as bait to lure the wolves into a trap while his companions hid themselves in a bushment. The speed of the vermin wasn't adequately considered and Squire Morial was unable to make it back to his companions before the wolves were upon him. One of the wolves did indeed get hold of his leg and began tearing into his flesh. The other squires came to his aid and quickly dispatched the beasts. Luckily Squire Morial proved hardy enough in following weeks to withstand the distemper.

Glory gained: 5x3 split evenly four ways + 10 each for heroic deeds = 14 glory each

Retracing their steps back toward High Wycomb, the squires were themselves ambushed by a quartet of axe men. Squire Morial (critical success on Awareness, gaining a check) noted a rook landing in the trees somewhat off the trail. The bird drew his attention to the axe men hiding in the trees with drawn bows in their hands. Unbeknownst to the players, the damsel they earlier encountered was a Saxon witch hiding in the Chiltern Hills. Having witnessed Cymric nobles unarmored in the wood, she called her warriors to set a bushment for the squires. Squire Morial noted the hiding men to his companions. It is then that the axe men realized they were discovered and attacked forthwith. Most bowshots missed their mark or were hindered by the beech forest. Squire Morial in turn threw a javelin to no avail, an unmanly act but prudent. Then the warriors closed with each other. Our squires were mounted and so had the advantage. Just as the fray was joined, the rook in the trees turned into the witch (whom the squires mistook as another axe man) and dropped down on the back of Squire Madog. The skirmish was bloody and a couple of critical successes gained our heroes checks in their weapons for this coming Winter Phase. Squire Madog and Squire Rhys both were wounded; but, the axemen were all felled save one, who fled in terror. Squire Rhys ran down the miscreant with his horse. Squires Rhodri and Morial meanwhile struck the witch and chased her off the back of Squire Madog. She then turned into a bird and began to fly away. A quick pair blow by the squires brought the bird down. In desperation, the Chiltern Witch turned herself into a fox and rushed off into the wastes. The squires easily chased down the fox and ran her through with spears.

Glory gained: 50 + 4x10 split evenly four ways = 23 glory each

With a bevy of wolf trophies, as well as two greatly wounded axe men and the corpse of a witch, the squires finally made it safely back to High Wycomb. For fear that the witch may rise again at midnight they burned her corpse in a great bonfire. Damsel Morcheidys, sister to Sir Certher, took yet another opportunity to gain the attention of Squire Madog by tending his wounds. Being the pious and chaste youth that he is, Squire Madog blindly ignored her advances. He preferred to discuss the intricacies of theology with her. After the squires and other guests returned to their homes, Squire Rhys stayed on for a week or so to do further hunting with Sir Certher. When finally reaching home himself, Squire Rhys learned that his steward had squandered all available monies as well as most of the flock on two tapestries. Squire Rhys learned that the tapestries detailed his own father's deeds at the Siege of Carlion. The young squire was ecstatic. Although Squire Rhys faces debt of 3£ this year, he feels the steward did well and the tapestries are indeed quite fine (worth 8£.)

We ended the evening with a bit of intrigue and flirtation during the Pentacostal Court at Castle Hertford. Squire Morial recognized the arms of the worshipful Sir Elmig, heir apparent of Duke Caercolun (critical success, gained Heraldry check.) Squire Madog and Lady Tryamour composed hymns using the Book of Psalms, much to the dismay of those who listened. Meanwhile Earl Aralyd's young daughter Diane had words with Squire Rhys about falconry, which instantly brightened Squire Rhys but clearly made the Earl upset. Some eavesdropping and gossip with the other courtiers turned up rumors of Merlin's disappearance, Saxon landings in Essex and the fact that King Uther was mustering troops for an assault on King Ælle of Sussex this summer.

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We wrapped up events with the squires going through an elaborate knighting ceremony. All the squires took a vigil; but, Squire Rhodri showed that a night without sleep is truly no hardship (critical success on Energetic, gaining a check.) After each player swore fealty to Earl Hertford, they all successfully performed the Leap onto their mount. Sir Madog impressed the ladies with his grace by vaulting lightly upon his saddle with great flourish (critical success on Dex, gaining a Horsemanship check.)

Glory gained: 1000 + 50 + 10 each = 1060 glory each

The player characters are now all knights, patriarchs of their family and vassals of Earl Aralyd d'Hertford. They'll have time to ride back home, say goodbye to their families and charge their stewards to keep the estates before hasting away to join King Uther's muster at Silchester. Next session we'll play through the Battle of Mearcred Creek and see how the Book of Battle rules fit us.

Total glory: 1097 glory for each player knight

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