The Hills of Manche

Chris was unable to attend this session, so Sir Morial did not accompany the player knights on their quest.

Colorful spring follows another mellow winter. Logres is hale as the king who rules her. With April's first rains a rider rounds a muddy trek across the breadth of Hertfordshire, stopping at the manor of each player knight. It is Olyd the Tinker, now known to the players as King Uther's spymaster. He tells each of them that they are to meet him at Castle Hertford the second week after Easter to travel to Cornouailles and thence across the rough hills of Manche to the county of Calvados. Once at Hertford, Damsel Gwenhwyfar insists on traveling with Sir Rhodri to see her family once again. She carries a note of commendation for Sir Rhodri from Earl Hertford.

The party reaches Hantonne and boards a large coracle bound for Newtown on the Isle of Wight. The harbormaster of Newtown, trusty friend of Olyd and brother to Lord Newton, receives the knights. Newtown is alive with bustling activity. Its lord welcomes merchants, spending good coin to provide hefty tax relief for the shipwright and sailmaker guilds. As such, the fired pottery which brings fame to Britain far and wide sees brisk trade at the port. Our knights take their meal at the lord's hall while Olyd speaks with seaside boatsmen. Securing passage with Seamus, an old Irish merchant marine, Olyd informs the knights that they leave at next high tide in the small hours of the night. After a brief rest, they load their horses and baggage and shove off to the continent.

Seamus travels through the night riding swift currents across the narrow sea. Dawn rises brilliant orange over strange hills and forests. By midday the salt marshes of Avranches and sandy island of Saint Michael drift past, a foreign and exotic land of mystery. Reaching Couesnon in the afternoon the party decides to night over at Sir Couesnon's estate and travel to Sains in the morning, thus avoiding Duke Domnonie and his lecherous reputation.

Leaving early in the morning and passing Castle Pontorson, seat of Duke Domnonie, the players enter a land dense with farms and manor houses. Never have they seen a land so richly cultivated. Barely a break of wastes exist between one village and the next, with little room to pasture livestock once one leaves the coastal flats. The fields of Lord Sains grow lush with crops even this early in the season. Great herds of cattle laze in fenced enclosures, waiting to be milked for cheese. Clearly Gwenhwyfar's father is a wealthy man.

The people of Sains welcome Gwenhwyfar with joy. They have not seen her for many years. Lord Sains sends riders to kin in outlying farms and calls a feast for the morrow. At feast the entire hall fills with festivity. Lord Sains loves his eldest daughter deeply and grants whatever she desires. Her wish is to wed Sir Rhodri. The lord gives Rhodri his daughter's hand, to marry at first opportunity. Wasting no time, the couple declare they will marry post haste at Sains within the week. Revelry continues through the week as warm welcome turns to wedding celebration. On the eve before the wedding Lord Sains shares a bottle of the finest Sauternes (yes, an anachronism) with Sir Rhodri and bares his heart. Lord Sains so loves his daughter that he would keep her near to hand. He offers Rhodri and Gwenhwyfar a grant of three manors and attending farmlands should they stay in Domnonie. Rhodri takes this incredibly generous offer seriously; but, in the end determines he cannot leave his ancestral home and liege lord. Choosing instead to accept a large dowry in coin and jewelry, Rhodri and Gwenhwyfar speak their wedding vows.

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Sains Manor House

As festivities die down, the knights and spymaster turn their thoughts to the task before them. Rhodri confesses his reconnaissance duty to Lady Gwenhwyfar and bids her travel home. Though she resists mightily, in the end she does as her new husband commands. Carrying the dowry coffer with an escort of two household knights of Sains, she boards a boat for home. Meanwhile, our player knights sail to Avranches.

At Avranches, Olyd leaves them in the care of the sole homely winestub in town. A purveyor of white wines native to Duchy Manche offers bowls in his home's parlor. A sunken anteroom leads off from the main door and holds closely packed tables. Most seats in the room are taken by men in pairs or alone, sometimes with a woman accompanying them. It was a most strange sight, nearly like the hall of a nobleman; but, hardly spacious and hospitality is sold for coin. The quixotic tongue of Manche leave the knights confused and unable to communicate. Madog's antics as he tries to speak are met with good humored discussion from all assembled as they puzzle out what was said. Finally a well dressed man accompanied by a comely slave woman guesses their words and offers some means to communicate. Olyd finally returns to take them away before they embarrass themselves.

The party promptly leave of Avranches and camp on the outskirts of the town. Olyd speaks of how a corps of Frankish warriors make their home in the town's donjon, ruling over the people of Avranches. After a brief and disastrous naval confrontation last year, Avranches surrendered to King Clovis' troops. Capitulation spared the life of the townsfolk. Valuing Avranches as a trade port with Cornouailles, Clovis refused to raise taxes and treats the old Roman subjects well. Thus Clovis gained quick acceptance from the townsfolk. Having learned what they might from Avranches, Olyd and the knights determine to cross the hills of Manche into Calvados.

Turning off the main route across Manche, Olyd leads them to the estate of another friend. Sir Madog is surprisingly delighted to learn that their destination is none other than Percy. A second cousin whom he'd never met was lord of an estate named Percy in Syagria. Knowing he had kin in Manche, Madog never expected to actually visit them on his quest.

Percy is an idyllic village and manor in the rough hills of Manche. Peasants tend its fertile lands well. A pristine river rushing past the manor teams with trout and crayfish. Forests filled with game surround the gentle valley. Sir Percy was blessed. Yet trouble brewed beneath the surface of this pastoral haven. A wooden palisade had been erected and commoners were busily digging earthworks around the barrier.

Sir Percy was indeed kin to Sir Madog of Henlow. Upon his inner arm the family tau tattoo peeked from under his shirt sleeves. Sir Grays of Pont Farcy, cousin and guest of Sir Percy, also bore a tau. Sir Percy's thoughts were belabored with a question of fealty. King Clovis murdered the old Duke Manche and replaced him with a scion of the new royal family. Any vassal who swore fealty to the new Duke Manche kept his life and lands. Should a knight take up arms against the Duke Manche his life, his lands, and the life of his entire family were forfeit. Sir Percy was torn between love and loyalty to his old liege lord and the desire of peace for his family. Sir Grays, filled with murderous rage toward the Franks, counseled rebellion and violence.

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Image from c.r. Macternon at sKETCHWERKS

After a night's rest Sir Grays leads a noble hunt through Percy forests, bringing back fresh venison for dinner. Sir Grays cagily answers some questions about the past; but, effectively turns the players' attention to more pleasant past times. Little is learned other than vague hints of a distant estate and grim death. That night, Sirs Rhodri and Rhys give counsel to Sir Percy. They claim King Clovis had conquered the land and held it firmly. The only thing to gain from refusing an oath of fealty to Duke Manche was a bloody end. Still Sir Percy remained troubled and kept his own thoughts.

Another hunt on Percy land was planned for the next day. As horses were drawn forth from the stables a cry arose outside the palisade. Percy's eldest son, Gricola, spotted a train of Franks entering the valley. There were nearly two hundred people, with a trio of wagons and perhaps twenty horses. Sir Percy shouts orders and people from the village hurry into the walled compound. Liegemen of Percy quickly don their armor. Brave peasants take up spears or hoes. The Frankish force was large and well equipped. If the Franks were determined to assault Percy then nothing could stop them.

Grays wastes no time in calling his squire to arm him to the points. Turning to our knights he says they had best do the same. Madog quickly follows suit and calls out to his squire; but, Rhys and Rhodri demur. While Madog's squire laced the knight's greaves, Madog argues with Rhys.

"Why don't you arm yourselves?"

"This battle is not ours to fight. It is between two foreigners and we should not interpose ourselves. We have another purpose here."

Madog retorts, "These are my kin. If they must fight then I shall fight with them."

Rhodri is at first indecisive, "Sir Rhys is right. If we leave now we can escape without a battle."

"These are my kinsmen! I will remain here."

"Again," says Rhys calmly, "it is not our fight. We should leave now. Sir Percy should yield to the Franks and be done with it."

"Would you swear fealty to a Saxon? Think on it. This is the what my cousin faces now with the Franks. I would not submit to a Saxon heathen and I will stand by my cousin against Franks regardless of how this might end."

By this time Rhodri and Rhys relent enough to don their hauberks. Stablehands saddle horses for battle. Sir Percy orders all the household to gather their most valued possessions and stand by, ready to ride if they must.

Rhodri cautions, "If we don't leave now our choice will be made for us."

Rhys once again states that this is not King Uther's war and the player knights have no business risking their lives here.

Madog raises his voice at such talk, "If you are too much a coward to stand against Franks then flee. I, for one, am not afraid of any man that walks the face of our good Lord's Earth."

Rhys goes for the hilt of his sword, his face burning red as his hair. Rhodri touches him and motiones to the gate, "Its too late. Our decision is made for us."

The Franks stop just outside bow shot from the palisade. Upward of four score footmen with shield and arms, clad in cuirbouilli, set rank. A handful of heavily armored horsemen sit astride their mounts behind the footmen, watching the gate. Camp followers settle belongings and start staking out pavilions. Men unload beams and rope from carts to build siege engines. Clearly the Franks are here to stay. Sir Rhys forgets his anger as the drama plays out before him.

Sir Percy commands the gate be opened enough to allow egress. He strides afoot to the Franks, helmet in hand. A small group of Franks came forward. They meet in the bare land between ranks of Frankish footmen and the wooden gate. Wind carries away their words, unheard by those watching from the palisade. Shortly Sir Percy draws his sword and kneels before the Frankish commander. Sir Percy turns the blade's tip toward himself and proffers the hilt. The Frank takes the sword and casually passes it to a man on his right. Percy still kneels, answering the Frank's questions. More words are spoken and the leader looks over to the man with the sword. In one swift movement the swordsman raises the blade over his head and plunges it into the back of Sir Percy. Women of Percy scream in terror. A shout rings out from the liegemen, "Sir Percy is murdered!"

Sir Grays brusquely orders everyone who can ride onto a horse. He charges his squire and Sir Percy's squire to lead the children to safety and motions to open the gate.

"Before they set themselves to fight, let us charge and bore a hole through their line. Are you with me knights of Logres?"

Madog is eager; but, Sir Rhys looked less than heartened. Confused by what was happening around him, Sir Rhys felt cornered. "We have no choice. Let's go."

The gates swing wide and men charge out to meet the Frankish line. First through the gate is Sir Grays, followed closely by the knights of Logres. Sir Grays forgoes his squire in favor of the lad saving whom he might of Sir Percy's family. The squires of Logres remain close to their masters. The knights charge forward and left to meet the Frankish flank.

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Image of knight fighting on foot from LightKnight69 at Deviant Art

Francescas fly through the air, bouncing off helm and shield. A haft crashes against Sir Madog's head, harmlessly glancing off to the ground. Lances lowered, our knights charge. Blood erupts from Frankish footmen. Lances shatter. Briton hooves trample attackers underfoot, crushing skulls against packed earth. An axe blade swings up beneath Sir Rhodri's shield and catches him full in the chest, scraping a grist of flesh and knocking Rhodri back off his horse. Sir Rhys circles to defend his friend while Rhodri's squire aptly grabs the riderless warhorse and brings it to Rhodri's side. Madog and Grays charge onward, thirsty for more blood from treacherous Franks.

Another round of blows and Sir Madog is unhorsed. Rhodri manages to climb into his saddle with good Sir Rhys defending Rhodri's flank. Meanwhile Percy liegemen come up short against ranks of Frankish footmen. A stampede of hooves behind our knights signals that the gentle folk of Percy flee out the gate and around the Frankish flank, now pinned by Logres knights. Screams of anger and challenge rise from the knights' right where a handful of Frankish horsemen bear down on the Logres men, swords raised high to strike.

Grays meets the charging Franks in a clash of metal, two pagan horsemen assaulting him. Flinging caution aside Grays strikes wildly at the first Frank to reach him, splintering his lance as it pierces through and out the back of his opponent. Though Madog tries to stand, a towering footmen knocks him back again. Rhys and Rhodri ride side by side, beating back the Frankish horsemen and pressing against nearby footmen. Finally, as the last of Percy's children flee past, Madog is able to gain a rouncy. Our knights hastily withdraw, taking advantage of Percy liegemen still holding back the Franks. Racing for the far hills, Rhys glances back to see the line collapse and Franks flood into Percy's gate.

Glory Gained:

  • Rhys: 10 for successful hunstmanship, 15x2 for two Frankish footmen, 35 for 1 Frankish knight = 75
  • Rhodri: 100 for marrying Gwenhwyfar (daughter of Cornouailles banneret), 15x2 Frankish footmen, 35 Frankish knight = 165
  • Madog: 15x2 for two Frankish footmen, 35 for 1 Frankish knight = 65

Total Glory Gained:

  • Rhys: 75
  • Rhodri: 165
  • Madog: 65

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Here continues the remainder of year 487, where player knights recover from the siege of Percy and determine how to fulfill the order of King Uther while keeping their life. Both Lee and Chris were unable to attend, which left Sir Madog of Henlow and Sir Rhodri of Bushey the only knights remaining.

Once in the haven of the wood, our refugees gather to determine how they might reach safety. A quick tally shows that all gentlefolk escaped alive and unscathed save Sirs Madog and Rhodri, who were heavily battered in the skirmish. Once Grays joins the companions Lady Percy rages at him.

"You! Its your fault! If you hadn't come here we would all live safely in Percy with our manor and land. Clovis hunts you and takes us down in revenge. If it weren't for you my husband would still be alive."

She beats him furiously against the chest. Grays is unmoved. He ignores her and turns to the knights of Logres.

"We are peers. It is our choice how to proceed."

Sir Rhys speak his mind freely, "I am done with this land and its battles. What care have I of King Clovis and his desire to put down those who resist him? You may go your own way or come with me to Cornouailles and thence back to Logres. Gentlefolk of Percy, come with me and I shall deliver you to Duke Domnonie; for I am no coward."

With that Rhys gives Madog a sidelong glance and grimaces, Sir Henlow's insult still stinging the proud man of Boxbourne. Olyd quickly steps between them and reminds the knights of their duty to King Uther, "But Bushey, at least, has an obligation to his king and must go onward. I go at least to Cruelly and Bayeux to find what I may. Sir Rhodri, what say you."

Rhodri, ever thoughtful, ponders the road ahead. The knights have yet to make it even half way through the rugged hills of Manche and catastrophe already befell them. Sirs Madog and he were roundly bruised and blood still seeps from their wounds. "Enough knowledge has already been gained. We know that King Clovis rules his land with an axe and torch. Brutality has cowed those who would stand against him. I see no reason to continue."

Olyd objects, "But that is of Manche and we are sworn to visit Calvados. It lies over yonder hills and there I will go, with or without you."

"Very well. You are correct, Olyd. Onward to Calvados we must go. But first, a place to rest and heal our wounds. Lets leave this vale and go into the deep hills so that we can safely take stock and rest for the night."

The group travels just under the forest eaves to the head of the vale, where the road splits off to Avranches. They make out a pair of Frankish riders briskly trotting up the road beside them away from Percy, easily passing them by and reaching the fork in the road before our party. Feeling already sore put, the players let the horsemen ride ahead unmolested. Finally reaching the branch themselves, the people of Percy split into two. The larger part rides with Sir Rhys on the southward road to Avranches and Domnonie. Olyd follows the northern branch with Sir Rhodri, Madog, Grays and squires into the wooded hills.

After riding most of the afternoon Rhodri finally calls for a rest and Grays leads them off the road, hiding their trail as best he can. Rhodri and Madog, exhausted and hurting, collapse upon the ground for the evening. Sir Grays sets about examining their surroundings while squires cook dinner and set watch.

Morning arrives red and baleful. A line of dark clouds descend over the hills from the west and by midmorning rain is coming down in torrents. Grays notes that in the summer the rains come "il pleut des hallebardes", lasting a full day or more. Still the party trudges onward, passing over fast flowing rivulets forming among the rocks and crevices. Toward the end of the day, as the still hidden sun sinks westward, our knights round the elbow of Mont Farcy to look across a narrow ravine straight at the tower of Pont Farcy. They stop to gaze at the fortress and the thin wisp of smoke trickling out of an upper window. Atop the stone battlements can be seen a pair of men, steel helms and spear points dull gray in the waning light.

"This land is my own" mumbles Sir Grays.

"Excuse me?" answers Sir Madog. "Did you say this is your tower?"

"Aye, it once was. That was before Clovis conquered Manche and my life was cast down in ruins."

At that a noise of clanking metal reaches their ears from behind them. A train of men and horses make their way up the twisting path. Only a few switchbacks behind, the men would reach our knights in a few scant moments. Sir Grays quickly pulls them off the path and into shelter, hoping falling darkness would keep their partly hidden mounts unseen. Minutes later the train of men reach the crest and pass over, clearly Franks hoping to make it to the tower before nightfall. Some of the footmen wear bandages. They lead a trio of horses, each with a bound captive thrown over the saddle. Our knights watch in silence as the footmen pass wearily over the rocky spine. As the last group starts to descend one calls out and points toward the hiding knights. Quick words are exchanged and the footmen hustle onward to the tower and out of reach of the Logres knights.

Rhodri turns his mind again to pragmatism, "Sir Grays, can you get us around the tower then? Surely you must know these lands better than any man alive. We must continue onward without a fight."

Grays is not so keen to move without a fight, "But those men could be my kinsmen. They must be from Percy. No other could be so close behind us. Dressings on the footmen looked fresh. We cannot abandon them. I know a way into the tower, a hidden way. Perhaps the Franks who now garrison the tower haven't found it yet."

"Sir Madog and I are wounded. Our stores are running low. There are far more Franks than we three here. It is folly to enter the tower. We must move onward. You can kill more Franks another day."

Rhodri's words clearly are the wiser choice. Sir Grays finds them as comfortable spot as he can hidden in the trees and they pass the night cold and wet.

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"Who'll Stop the Rain" by Hermanne Allen Poe at Deviant Art

Dawn is but a slow spreading gray. Tired squires arouse the knights for a cold and soggy breakfast. No fire can be lit due to both the sodden ground and the tower's close proximity. Sir Grays carefully picks a path through the mud and stones, always mindful to stay out of sight from Pont Farcy's watchful Frankish garrison. By the time the knights find the road on the western side of Pont Farcy the horses shins are scraped and bloody. Everyone is covered in grime from pushing through mouldy foliage. Still, hope kindles anew in Rhodri and Madog as they mount the road and quickly put miles between them and Pont Farcy.

That night the rain breaks and a bright dawn comes in the east. By late afternoon the village of Guilberville lies below, nestled in a lowland vale beneath Lake Vire. The peasants of Guilberville flee to their hovels, scared to be seen by knights on horseback lest they be robbed or worse. Sir Madog guilelessly rides up to the best house in the hamlet, clearly owned by the noble landlord of this tiny village. Before the manor stands what seems to be a liegeman of the lord defiantly bearing a spear and rounded, Frankish shield.

"Bring out your lord so that I man speak with him."

"I am he." says the man in the heavily accented Cymric of Syagria.

"You are a nobleman?" Madog asks incredulously. "You look more swineherd than knight."

"Aye, that I am." says the man, uncertain of his own words. "Now get thee gone! You'll find no welcome here."

Sir Madog turns his horse and trots far enough away to bring his steed into a galloping charge. Wheeling back around, he lowers his lance and sets it in the saddle's cradle at the spearman. No match for a mounted knight, the spearman flies into his house and bolts the door. All three knights come banging on the door and knock it in, entering forcefully into the meager home. Women scream in another room and shriek orders in a strange tongue. The spearman stands against the knights but is quickly cast aside. Sir Madog binds the man and the knights take their turns at the manor's larder. Stores replenished, the knights charge their squires to keep the household at bay while they finally get a restful and fulfilling sleep. Before drifting away the knights paint a white field over their shields to hide their identities.

After a satisfying breakfast of bacon and freshly plucked hen, the knights determine they shall ride on rather than stay hidden at the shabby town of Guilberville. Not being welcome here, any show of Frankish force will bring out the household and alert the enemy to the Cymric knights' presence. The road now fell steadily, following the banks of the rapidly flowing Lô river. On the evening of the second day they left the Lô and camped in low rolling hills. The third day found travel once again pleasant, warm sunlight causing the light sweat of horses to rise in comforting muskiness. Rounding a knobby hill, the knights caught their first sight of fertile Val-de-Reuil. Stopping to take in the verdant scene, Rhodri catches sight of horsemen on the road behind them fast approaching. Not wearing armor nor having time to suit up, the knights quickly charge up a scree slope onto a sharp moraine. Five horsemen soon pass beneath the knights, round shields and francescas showing that it was Franks riding below. The Franks raise their shields and start up the hillside. Knights and squires bombard the Franks with javelins. Sir Grays hits his mark and draws blood from one of the horsemen. At this the Franks abandon the assault and set off down the road as fast as their horses can bear them. Our knights descend warily. Passing on as far as possible before sundown, the knights pass Odon Estate and its beautiful vineyards to hide in the valley below.

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In the dead of knight a cry from a squire keeping watch rouses the knights. Horses storm the encampment. The player knights have just enough time to throw on their saddles and fly into the night. Scattering to the winds, the men of Logres lose their Frankish assailants in the dark.

Sir Madog and his squire find themselves lost in the night with no knowledge of which way their camp or companions lay. Moving carefully through the dark, Sir Henlow spots a lone Frank riding slowly along a ravine below him. Madog, still without armor but bearing his shield and spear, creeps cautiously up to the edge of the ravine. Squire Hugo matches Madog's step for step along the bank. Madog stops directly over the Frank. Crouching for a spring, Madog turns his spearhead downward and launches into the air. He lands directly on the Frank, driving a spear through chain and out the other side of the horseman's thigh. Madog's fall continues and he slams into the ground. Rising up as quickly as he can, Madog catches the flat of the Frankish axe and sinks into black unconsciousness. Seeing his master fall and the Frank lean over the fallen knight, Hugo too lunges onto the Frank. Hugo's spear drives into the horseman's back and pins him to the ground dead.

Meanwhile, Rhodri and Grays regroup to track three more Frankish horsemen when they hear the cries of Madog in battle. Guessing the direction, the knights set off into the darkness. Eventually they find Hugo cradling Madog and trying to rouse him. By morning Madog is once again conscious, though much the worse for wear.

Now with Madog gravely wounded and Rhodri's own lacerations still refusing to heal, the Cymric knights begin to despair. Deep in the lands of King Clovis, they know the Franks now hunt them as enemies. With little choice left, they send Olyd back to Odon where he once knew the Knight Banneret that called the vineyards home. By midday Olyd returns with troubling news, two of the short Frankish horses were posted at the door to Odon Hall. Olyd dared not approach the hall knowing that Franks were inside. Olyd couldn't declare whether Lord Odon was still the man he once called friend or if another had usurped the land. Knowing that they must have rest to heal their injuries, Rhodri devised a plan. Setting Sir Grays and the squires in a bushment with Sir Henlow, Sir Rhodri approaches Odon Hall on his charger alone. Rhodri was to draw the Frankish horsemen to him while Olyd snuck around the vineyards and up to the manor house itself. There Olyd could determine if Lord Odon was still friendly.

Bushey slowly rides his horse through the village and to the hall, not bothering to hide his presence. To his surprise, nobody comes out of the hall to challenge him. He makes it as far as the stable before stopping perplexed. Out comes the stableboy and, after a shrewd set of questions, Sir Rhodri determines that Lord Odon still holds these lands and may be friendly to Cymric knights. Hiding in the stable, Rhodri sends the stableboy to fetch Lord Odon if it were possible without alarming the Frankish horsemen also at the hall. Soon Lord Odon meets Rhodri in the stables and they agree that if the Franks could be killed Lord Odon would offer succor. Rhodri also learns that four other Franks were off searching the hills for renegade knights.

Deeming the four horsemen were the same that assaulted them the night prior, and knowing only three remained, Rhodri makes his way back and together the knights await the return of the three Franks. Shortly after twilight the three Franks return. As they cross a wooden bridge onto Odon lands Sirs Grays and Rhodri charge from a small copse. Being sorely hurt, Sir Madog brings up the rear to throw javelins. Rhodri unhorses his foe. Sir Grays, enthused with animosity toward the Franks, takes his man down only to be unhorsed by the third Frank in turn. Seeing his cousin on the ground, Madog cannot restrain himself. Madog flies into a rage and slaughters the third Frank handily. Victorious, our knights then take themselves uphill to Odon Hall.

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"Charge of the Last Knight" by d3pthcharge12 at Deviant Art

The Franks at Odon Hall were alerted by the distant sounds of battle. Even in the failing light seven men on horses cannot be missed. The Franks barricade themselves into Odon Hall to withstand a siege. Sending Hugo around to the back door as a decoy, the knights storm a cellar door on the side of the hall. Just as they reach the cellar door they hear Hugo cry out in pain. Hugo comes rushing around the corner, a francesca embedded into his shoulder. Without hesitation Sirs Grays and Rhodri charge into the dark cellar and stumble into the stairs. Climbing in the darkness, they hear furniture being moved on the floor above as if to barricade the stairs from the root cellar. Sir Rhodri bursts through the door before it is blocked and sees two Franks pushing a heavy table toward him across a kitchen floor. Rhodri jumps to the side and charges a Frank. Both Franks backpedal to pick up their axes and shields. By this time Grays has entered the kitchen and charges the other Frank.

Madog, still greatly wounded but refusing to let his friends fight unaided, finally reaches the top of the stairs to see Rhodri crumple to the ground from an axe blow to the gut. Madog rushes the axeman with his spear and runs him through. Seeing that the knights outnumber him, the Frank rears back to swing wildly overhead. Leaving a clear opening, Grays jabs with his sword at the exposed Frank's chest to no avail. The axe comes down squarely on Grays' helm, rending a gaping hole in the metal and cleaving Sir Gray's skull. Grays dies before his body crumples to the bloody floor.

Reeling in pain, Sir Madog crashes headlong into the Frank. Still somewhat off balance and exposed, the Frank doesn't even see Sir Madog's spear as it pierces his side and punctures his lung. Madog teeters at the edge of unconsciousness as Lord Odon and the squires come rushing in to catch him.

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The following months are a great comfort to Sirs Rhodri and Madog. Heavily wounded but without lasting injury, our knights slowly recover their strength and resolve. Lord Odon hides them among his peasants, vacating one of the better hovels in which the knights lodge. Although Frankish warriors came an went many times in the ensuing weeks, none spot the Cymric men as they blend into the peasants of the field. Olyd travels the Val-de-Reuil, reaching as far as Bayeux and Cruelly before returning to Odon. Olyd reports a group of Syagrian knights gone to ground and living as bandits near the town of Bessin. After two months of recovery a pair of Odon's vassal knights escort our player knights, concealed as Frankish mercenaries, to Bessing where a merchant vessal takes them back to Logres.

Sirs Madog and Rhodri return safely to Winchester Castle where Marshal Brastias awaits their report. Being the gift to Prince Madoc last Yuletide, Winchester Castle was privileged to host the Pentacost Court this past year. Though the players missed the crown wearing, King Uther remains in Winchester and gifts the knights an audience. Sirs Madog and Rhodri are brought to King Uther's presence while he relaxes in the great hall, a goblet of wine in hand. King Uther congratulates the knights and tells them the value of their efforts.

"Your duty has done us a great service, and we thank you. We decided that we shall invade King Clovis next year. Since you know the people of Syagria and their customs, you shall lead our knights there in our service. We muster our men next summer and campaign on the Continent."

Rhodri tries to conceal his concern, "Your highness, how fared we against the Saxons this year?"

"Well enough. Skirmishes continue in Caercolun but we hold back the tide." With that, King Uther dismisses the knights.

Hailstones destroy many crops across Hertfordshire, including all our player knights' manors save Henlow. Lewarewich is decimated, Sir Morial falls 2£ further into debt. Henlow and High Wycomb barely pay their own upkeep and that of Sir Madog's family. The peasants go hungry at times at High Wycomb and meat is scarce. Although the fairy curse at Bushey wore away after a year and a day, still the hailstones hurt the harvest. A freak accident causes a fire to the carpenters home at Bushey village. Quick action by Lady Gwenhwyfar and the Bushey steward douse the flames and bring the undying gratitude of the carpenter. Sir Rhys is able to end service early this year and returned to Boxbourne in time to ward off a Saxon raid. Though nothing was damaged in the raid, the hailstones cause significant damage to Boxbourne crops as well. The raids in Hertfordshire greatly concern Earl Aralyd.

Of all good tidings, perhaps the best are the healthy birth of children to Lady Morcheidys and Lady Gwenhwyfar. Amazingly, both ladies give birth to twins. Lady Morcheidys bears two healthy girls, as unalike to each other as the sun and moon. Lady Gwenhwyfar proudly bears an heir to Sir Bushey, and another boy who is the spitting image of the first.

Christmas court brings the knights back once again to Winchester Castle for the crown wearing. Many at Winchester worry that attacking King Clovis is foolhardy with Saxons nipping at their heels and Cornwall in open defiance. Still, who can question the king and his wisdom?

Glory Gained:
Madog: 100 (horsemen) + 25 (gratitude of King Uther) = 125
Rhodri: 100 (horsemen) + 25 (gratitude of King Uther) = 125
Morial: Solo Adventure (siege of manor house in Essex) 25

Let__s_go_to_war_by_Lohrack.jpg

Glory Total for 487:
Madog: 65 + 125 = 190
Morial: 25
Rhodri: 165 + 125 = 290
Rhys: 75

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