Battle of Lindsey

Spring

"Sir Lewarewich, Marshal Caramig requests you attend him at his tower at Hemel Hempstead. He says to plan being in attendance for three months."

Thus is Sir Morial of Lewarewich called to duty early this year, in February when snow still mottles the Chilterns. It will prove to be a long year for the young knight, with few days spent at home until past harvest.

Lord Hemel Hempstead asks that, for love of his earl, Morial accompany the marshal and Sir Windridge to Amesbury. There they are to ensure safekeeping of Diane throughout childbirth. Lord Caramig must also receive assurances from the Abbess that no harm come to the child in ensuing years. Regardless of the child's parentage, it is still a grandchild of Earl Hertford and the earl aimed to keep the child alive.

At Amesbury Abbey Marshal Caramig and his host receive lodging in a common hall, where all traveling nobles are offered hospitality. They set about waiting for Diane to go into labor, which takes a couple of weeks. During that time only a few visitors from across Logres visit the common hall, never staying more than a day before continuing their journey. Toward the beginning of March Reagore, the twenty-one year old squire of Sir Rhys of Boxbourne arrives. Sir Rhys, father of the child though not husband of the mother, sent Reagore to Amesbury and charged Reagore to learn all he can of Diane's birth, the issue and deliver a token of his love to Diane.

It is on a cold, wet day when Reagore's horse finally trods the snowy grounds of Amesbury. Winter travel got the better of Squire Reagore and a bad vapor causes him to cough and sniffle. Claiming to be from Norwich in Caercolun to the gateman, Reagore asks for lodging and a warm meal. At the stables Reagore notices a fair number of chargers, horses normally trained for battle, but sees no sign or insignia revealing to whom the fine steeds might belong. Once inside the common hall, he needs no insignia to recognize the hoary voice of Marshal Hemel Hempstead or the towering frame of Sir Windridge's squire, Lan. Fearing to be recognized immediately Reagore plays upon his illness and retires to a dark corner, sending for a bowl of hot broth and bread. Reagore then covers himself with blankets and feigns sleep, straining to hear what the others discuss. The knights of Hertford have little to say regarding Diane or her pregnancy. Reagore soon finds himself drifting off to sleep.

In the morning, while still dark outside, Reagore rises and readies himself to leave. Knowing the others will recognize him instantly, he decides it is best to leave the abbey and find some other means to stay at Amesbury. As he leaves the common hall an old nun hurries in through the door. Once outside, Reagore pauses to listen.

"The birth starts, lords! It may still take until tonight or even tomorrow; but, the lady is in labor."

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arcades2 by Kozakowy at Deviant Art
The knights and nun discuss among themselves quietly. Reagore hears no more than muffled voices. He casts about, looking for what to do next. Providence fated his arrival to coincide with the birth. Surely he cannot leave now that the birth is so close.

Providence once again shows its hand to Reagore. The side door to the cloister, from whence came the nun a few moments earlier, still lies open. Moving quietly to the door he peers inside to see an intersected hall with a door to the left just inside. Encouraged, he steps softly over the threshold to listen at the inner door. Silence. Moving on to where the hall turns left and right, he sees the left passage end in another door. The right passage goes but a few paces then turns left. Going left to the door, again there is silence. Stalking down the right corridor he sees it leads to the inner cloister where bare, thorny branches of rose bushes can be seen growing amidst dry fountains and a few squat trees. Reagore hears voices of men coming from behind him and rushes back into the hallway. He bolts to the nearest door and closes it breathlessly behind him. The voices travel past and disappear into the courtyard. As the morning light glows, Reagore can see through holes in the rafters that he is in a large linen closet piled high with towels, sheets, blankets, clothing and habits. Reagore settles in to hide in the chamber.

Back in the common hall, the nun asks Sir Windridge to go out to the village and ask some goodwives if they might spare any dried parsley from the prior summer's herb gardens. Diane's labor is slow and parsley can help speed the child's progress. Sir Windridge and his squire, Lan, don their cloaks and walk to the small village beyond Amesbury's walls. While asking the common women where parsley might be found, they see a strange sight that piques their interest. A small train of horses travels across the open plains toward Amesbury. Solid gray skies provide a stark background for the horsemen as they ride over thawing ice along the muddy road. Windridge and Lan stand roadside to await the horsemen.

There are four riders, clearly a pair of knights with squires. Though the steeds and men are well accoutered, they bear no device on their cloaks or shields. As they draw nigh, Windridge steps forward to speak.

"Hail! Noble horsemen, to where do you ride on this miserable winter morning?"

Unspoken in Windridge's words are suspicions held just below the surface. Why might noblemen hide their devices? If these men reach Amesbury so early in the day they must have camped very near by. Why didn't they just ride into Amesbury last night to stay in a warm lodge with good companionship?

"I'm Sir Corllys of Norwich and this is my companion, Sir Gergyr. We go to Stonehenge to pay homage at the grave of our great uncle, Ambrosius Pendragon."

Windridge has met men of Caercolun in the past at Castle Hertford and recognizes the mounted knight's inflection as coming from that eastern county. The words mark these men of Duke Elmig, Lady Diane's betrothed. Windridge's suspicions heighten. Did Duke Elmig send them here to kill Diane or the newborn child? If the knight speaks truth in all his words then he has royal blood. Why would he then hide his device?

The knights of Caercolun wait, expecting some kind of awed response from Windridge and his squire. Seeing that Windridge doesn't defer to them; but, scrutinizes them more closely, Sir Corllys sneers.

"Step aside! We have no time to waste on the likes of you. Go."

He then spurs his horse and pushes past Windridge. The other horsemen follow, riding off to the west toward the great stone monoliths some two miles away.

"Squire, you ought to follow those men. See what they do. I do not trust them and their unsavory demeanor."

The two men hustle back to the abbey. Windridge goes to warn Marshal Hemel Hempstead, who sends Sir Morial to the cloister so that he might guard Diane. Lan mounts his rouncey and departs along the western road.

The land between Amesbury and Stonehenge is a long, rolling plain dotted with verdant islands of trees and shrubbery. Throughout the year the plain is subject to low clouds and occasional fog. This morning a light fog covers the ground, making it hard for Lan to see more than a furlong. Fresh tracks of horses over rutted troughs of mud are easy for Lan to follow. He rides about two-thirds the distance to Stonehenge when sees the tracks turn right off the road into a small copse with thick underbrush. Dismounting to follow the tracks more carefully, Lan sneaks through the wood until he sees a small encampment. The three men speak to each other, their horses roped to boughs a few paces off. Lan hides amidst the brush, straining to hear what is being said. Noting only their tone and a few words, Lan is convinced that Duke Elmig sent them and quietly retreats back to Amesbury to report.

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At Amesbury, the hours pass slowly for Reagore. An occasional nun enters to fetch a garment or towel or bed sheets, then briskly walks out. Reagore cringes in the corner, hiding behind a rack of hanging habits. At some point he hears a woman cry out in pain and exertion. Alerted, he hears a second cry and recognizes it as the muffled voice of Diane. Thinking the sound the pains of birth, Reagore figures Diane must be nearby and decides to again peek out from his bolt hole.

Creeping back out to the courtyard, Reagore spots an older nun ambling across the flagstone. Her body is large and squared, more like a man than the graceful form of a woman. A rigid gait belies her age and physical discomfort, as if after all these years she is still uncomfortable with herself. Seeing this lady and figuring her no smaller or more ungainly than himself, Reagore decides to go back to the closet and conceal himself in a habit. He might then be able to travel the cloistered halls more freely. Hiding his sword behind bed sheets, Reagore covers himself as best he can and grabs a tall pile of towels. Walking so as to conceal himself, Reagore marches out into the courtyard and toward where he heard the sound of Diane's voice.

A sleeping nun sits guarding an archway in the direction Reagore wishes to go. Tiptoeing past her, Reagore finds himself in a small antechamber with a door on the far side. Waiting at a bench within the antechamber is a wistful Sir Morial, his thoughts lost to daydreaming. Reagore quickly hides his face behind the towels and moves to the door. Morial finally realizes that a nun is walking past him and jumps up to open the door for her, never realizing that the nun was really Sir Rhys' squire sent here to espy the birth of Rhys' bastard child.

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Sleeping Sister
Once inside, Reagore is shocked to find himself staring at a prone Diane, her face stretched in pain and her lower body bare for him to see. Before her is the Abbess, whispering encouraging words and prayers for the girl. She glances over her shoulder at Reagore.

"Put the towels over there sister, thank you."

Another nun moves out of Reagore's way, eyes intently watching Diane and the Abbess. Reagore glances at Diane's face and see her staring back at him incredulously.

"Sister! Sister, please hold my hand and comfort me. The pain is unbearable."

Diane reaches out to Reagore; but, fearing discovery, the squire has already turned and strides briskly out the door. Once past Morial, Reagore again hides among the linens.

In the common hall Squire Lan returns to tell Marshal Caramig what he learned. Marshal Caramig decides to confront the suspicious men of Caercolun directly. Lan and Caramig's squire arm their masters and saddle the chargers with war saddles. The four men ride out for the encampment. Lan leads them directly to the small clearing; but, the knights of Caercolun are nowhere to be found. There is evidence of a hasty escape, with three horses ridden hard out toward the northwestern wastes. Nearby is still one rouncy arrayed with the gear of a squire. Careful examination of the ground shows a single pair of footprints leading off into the snow toward Amesbury. Guessing that a squire was earlier sent to spy on Amesbury and not yet returned, Lan rides his horse slowly out of the copse toward the abbey following the footprints. Meanwhile Caramig's squire is sent chasing down the three riders while Caramig and Windridge themselves go back to Amesbury to prepare for attack. Should the men of Caercolun be so foolish as to ride into Amesbury, the Marshal of Hertford and his men will be ready for a fight.

Some distance out on the plains, Lan notices a lone figure skulking beside a stone outcropping watching over the abbey. Lan tethers his horse behind a tall shrub and carefully approaches the figure from behind. Dagger in hand, Lan starts to climb the small rise. A chunk of ice buried just below a sprinkling of snow catches Lan by surprise. Lan's left foot skids down the hillside a short step. The noise alerts the man hiding above, who turns sharply. Seeing Lan creep upon him, dagger at the ready, the man quickly draws his sword and points it at Lan.

"Who are you? What are you doing out here sneaking up on me, thief?"

"I might ask you the same." retorts Lan. "Why do you spy upon Amesbury? What is it you wish to see?"

"My business is my own! Be off with you."

Lan pulls out his own sword. "No, I can't do that. You'll have to come back to Amesbury with me."

At that the man leaps forward, swinging high at Lan's head. Lan ducks and thrusts his blade upward, knocking the Caercolun squire's sword away harmlessly. Quickly the swordsman twists his weapon around and brings the hilt crashing down hard against the side of Lan's face. Not having on a helm to protect him, Lan is knocked to the side with his head reeling in pain.

The two men circle on the low ridge, each trying to gain the upper ground and advantage of the other. The swordsman again swings his blade high at Lan's neck. Lan crouches low and closes in below the sword. Lan can feel the warmth of the man, smell the horse and sweat as he throws his shoulder into the man and pushes him back off balance. Lan thrusts. His blade sinks deep just below the ribs. He cuts left and out, leaving a big gash across the man's diaphragm.

The man doubles over in pain, clutching his bloody torso. A trickle of blood oozes out of his mouth. He lifts his head slightly, lurches, and then vomits across Lan's pant leg. Down on all fours now, he gurgles a couple of breaths and then collapses unconscious on the ground. Lan quickly staunches the blood as best he can; but, fears that the man will surely die. Few live who cough up blood from their mouths. Gathering the body, Lan goes back to his horse and rides quickly to Amesbury.

Glory Gained:

  • Lan: 15

Over the last few hours Diane's labor became more insistent. From his hidey hole Reagore hears a commotion and Marshal Caramig's voice with other men. The voices shortly exit, but still the sound of Diane's exertion can be heard. Once again gathering his courage, Reagore sneaks back into the room bearing another pile of towels. This time the birth is quite active. Diane squats at the foot of her bed. The abbess is consumed with birthing the child, accompanied by the abbey's midwife. From his vantage Reagore sees a mass of tangled red hair slowly emerge. The child is clearly Rhys'. Reagore has little time to be amazed at the skill of the midwife or the miracle before him. Soon the child, a boy, is out and loudly crying. A third nun standing by immediately swaddles the child and strides away. Pausing just long enough to leave Rhys' falconry glove on a cradenza, Reagore follows her out.

In the antechamber, Sir Windridge waits armed and armored to the points. Expecting trouble, Windridge stops the nun to question her. Where is she taking the child? The abbess has a quick word with Windridge and he lets the nun past with the child. Reagore doesn't hesitate to walk away. Once out of sight, Reagore reclaims his sword from the closet and flees.

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Returning from Amesbury some weeks later, Morial makes a short stop in London to visit Damsel Iulia of Odstock. There Lady Odstock welcomes him. During a service of floral tea and flatbread she once again shows unwelcome advance toward the strapping young knight. Morial keeps his distance from the Odstock matron. Morial also witnesses Iulia coming home with her maid and a coachman. Questioning the maid, Morial determines the coachman to be in the service of Sir Jaradan of Salisbury. Morial warns Iulia of his expectations that she be faithful to him and then returns to Hertford.

In Hertford, Æthelswith again sends his Saxon warriors on easy raids. Yet another contingent arrives at the Boxbourne estate. This year, however, they are in no mood to die and retreat at the first sign of Boxbourne resistance.

At pentecost court, all talk of war. King Uther finally musters the entire army of Logres to do battle with Saxons. Kings Octa and Eosa bring their howling army of heathens out of the north. The host of Logres intends to destroy the Saxons and their kings. Many in Hertford welcome the news and are eager to finally take the battle to their hated foe. Even Caercolun, where Duke Elmig has just finished a quiet wedding with Lady Diane, will send knights to fight the Saxon kings.

Earl Hertford holds an eager call to knight all who are worthy. All of the player knights' squires are old enough to be knighted. Each in turn sponsors their squire, who is duly knighted in grand ceremony. Lan, squire to Sir Windridge, is sponsored by Earl Hertford himself to repay the service Lan showed at Amesbury this past winter. Aralyd spends some time with Lan, speaking to him of a great and noble future if Lan performs well. Earl Hertford went so far as to suggest that little Lucius ap Elmig may page or squire with Lan when the time comes. Madog also takes this opportunity to introduce Sir Godfrey, unlanded kin from Cumbria. Madog hopes Godfrey can earn a place on the Earl's household as Godfrey's own lands have been overrun by Saxons.

Glory Gained:

  • Lan: 1000

Lastly, Rhys speaks a short while with Uther's spymaster, Olyd the Tinker. Olyd relates information from the Continent. Praetor Syagrius' army was decimated. Olyd has no knowledge of Lord Odon's fate. Most curious of all, though, is that Olyd speaks of knowing about Rhys' child with Diane. The scandal is not completely silent; but, neither is it broadly known. Olyd speaks somewhat as if he wants Rhys to know that Olyd has an advantage on him. However, Olyd speaks of the child as "Rhys' daughter", which confuses the simple knight mightily.

After Pentecost Morial travels again to London. Morial visits with Lord Odstock, who is overly enamored of drink. With Iulia he sets a date for the wedding as just prior to Christmas. He then warns her again to be faithful and takes his leave.

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Heavy Rain by BarefootTiger at Deviant Art

Battle

The march north to Lincoln is miserably wet. Rain continues unabated for the entire time King Uther's army musters outside the gates of Lincoln. Earl Hertford's forces are assigned to Duke Gorlois of Cornwall's battalion. Bivouacked with Cornish knights, the knights of Hertford keep more to their own pavilions in the storms.

On the ides of June the army sets out to meet Kings Octa and Eosa. Renown as a master strategist who forces his enemy to fight on his own chosen field, Duke Gorlois is charged maneuver the Saxons to the ruins of Sashyn. The battalion travels east and north, intermittently riding hard or stopping and waiting at the Duke's command. A constant stream of scouts ride out ahead of the army, always coming back to confer directly with Duke Gorlois. On the eighth night after leaving Lincoln there is a lull in the constant rain.

That night Merlin visits the Duke. Escorted by Salisbury knights, Merlin comes to Morial's eschille. Merlin asks that Morial's command join the Salisbury eschille and follow him into the night. The knights saddle their mounts and don armor, then ride off into darkness. Sir Rhodri of Tisbury, commander of the Salisbury knights, is just as mystified by Merlin's actions as our player knights. Together they ride until they reach a scattering of burnt and broken buildings. Riding through the village they see it is completely deserted. Most of the buildings are collapsed and unusable. Immediately past the village Merlin leads the troop to the right off the road. He then hands each knight a small bag of pebbles.

"Spread out wide and scatter your pebbles. Aim to make the stones last at least a furlong."

With naught but those simple instructions, Merlin rides forth casting stones about him. The knights fan out and obey orders. Once the deed is done Merlin rides silently back to Duke Gorlois' encampment. With nary another word Merlin and the Salisbury eschille take their leave. Bemused by Merlin's actions, our player knights discuss among themselves what might have happened; but, none can fathom the archdruid's mysterious behavior.

The next day Gorlois' battalion rides hard southwest. By late afternoon they reach King Uther's main army again. The army camps along the side of broad, fallow field near a destroyed village. Coming from amidst the fallen buildings is smoke of a thousands of campfire. Saxons squat within the same ruins that Merlin visited the night prior, now known to be the village of Sashyn. Our knights settle into their pavilions, everything sodden with rain and mud. Tomorrow will bring battle.

Morning dawns with wan gray light. Through the mist are heard shouts and commands in the barbaric Saxon tongue. The enemy prepares. On this side of the field men bustle about on innumerable missions. Squires lace their master's armor or saddled horses. Footmen form ranks listening to their sergeants. Earl Hertford and other notables gather with Duke Gorlois to plan the days events. Everywhere is a frenzy of activity.

The knights of Hertford speak among themselves of the looming bloodshed. Many are eager to fight Saxons after years of distraction. Finally they will meet their true enemy on the field of glory. Yet others look out into the mists with trepidation. The ground is soaked and many places show standing puddles or thick mud. It bodes ill for mounted men to ride into battle with such bad footing. There is little doubt that today will bring great slaughter.

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King Uther Pendragon
As the mist burns away and rain starts anew, knights line up in rows before ranks of footmen. Duke Gorlois and King Uther ride the breadth of the army, shouting encouragement to men of Logres and imprecations at the Saxons. Through the rain and noise around them, our player knights can barely hear their commanders' words. Across the fields Saxons begin an ominous sounding chant to their bloodthirsty gods. Sir Landry bravely sings the Boxbourne war song, an ancient hymn of death and glory.

At last a horn calls out the charge. A great shout of anger and madness rises from the throats of ten thousand men. The ground trembles under the beating of countless hooves. Through gray rain Saxons can be seen to run forward to plant the butts of great spears into the ground, ready for the Cymric knights. As they do many stop or stumble in surprise. Somehow in an instant the ground beneath them turned from slippery mud and grass to solid, dry earth. Seeds sown by Merlin bear fruit. The Saxon front lines start back in disarray. Many are unable to set themselves for Uther's charge as Logres knights plunge into their midst.

Morial's eschille rides just left of center in Duke Gorlois' battalion. The duke holds the right flank, with Uther's battalion in the middle and Duke Silchester leading the left flank. Charging toward the Saxon horde our player knights see two rows of sturdy warriors clad in chain before them singing boldly as death crashes toward them. The second row hurls heavy javelins while the first row readies their great spears. A javelin cuts across the right foreleg of Sir Rhys' mount. Another pierces the side of Sir Madog's steed, falling off with a stream of blood. More javelins rain down, most falling to the side or bouncing harmlessly off shields. One well thrown missile strikes Sir Lan's young squire in the face, knocking the poor lad back off his horse to be trampled by horses following behind. Then the lines strike and chaos surges all around. Men fall under the heavy mass of horse, or lay torn and broken by the lance. Morial's eschille pushes forward into the press, swords and spears and axes dangerously flailing about from all sides.

A short pause allows Morial to sit high in the saddle and take stock of his men. There is a gap in the line where Sir Windridge should be. Somewhere he was lost in the fray. Morial can only pray the good knight is able to find his way safely back to camp. Angry shouting from the right catches Morial's attention. A crowd of Saxons with painted shields and hard leather vests rush toward him. The only thing between his flank and the heathens was a riderless Cymric horse bearing the colors of Hertford. Morial can't wait to discern to whom the horse belonged. He yells out his orders and calls for withdraw. The row of knights work their way back, fending off the Saxon crowd with spear and sword while trying to disengage.

Finally the line falls back enough to escape battle for a moment. Sirs Madog and Rhys trade horses with their squires, sending the young trainees back to camp with wounded chargers. Morial takes stock of his men. Most of the seasoned squires were knighted before this summer's campaign. New squires, none old enough to grow a beard, were assigned to many of the knights in Morial's eschille. Such whelplings rarely last in battle and most squires by this time are nowhere to be found. None of the player knights' squires remain. Of the knights themselves, only two are missing.

The Saxons fare far worse. Their front lines falter under a surprisingly deadly charge. Some are confused and start to retreat. Morial casts about for a worthy foe to charge and sees the second rank of Saxons enter the press. Buoyed by fresh troops, the Saxon line rallies. Wild, barbarous men in untanned hides break through ranks of Cymric footmen slightly off to the left. Morial wastes no more time. He lines up his knights and calls again for a charge. The horses gain furious moment as they gallop back into the throng.

Hearing the Cymric knights charge, a great number of Saxon berserkers split off from the footmen to meet the eschille. A brutish, old tree stump of a Saxon raises his axe to point at Sir Lan, snarling a hate filled toothless smile at him, then crouches low to swipe at Sir Lan's charger. Sir Lan feels anger stir within his own breast. Lan lowers the lance as bile starts to rise in his throat. The Saxon never has the chance to swing as Lan's spear tip rips through his neck and throws him to the ground. Sir Rhys pierces one man with his lance but takes a solid axe blow to his side, slashing through the hauberk into muscles along his back. The force of the blow lifts Rhys off his saddle and tosses him sideways to the ground. Morial and Madog, having run through or trampled their own foes, turn just in time to see the Saxon axeman straddle Sir Rhys and raise up his axe for the killing blow.

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Mounted Knight by Vicotnic at Deviant Art
Morial spurs his charger toward the heathen and shouts, giving Rhys just enough time to draw his sword and claw his way up to his feet. Madog and Lan wheel about to block a handful of other Saxon axemen sprinting toward the fallen Rhys. Sir Reagore, who but a year ago was Rhys' own squire, and Reagore's squire latch on to Rhys' rouncy. Reagore's squire leads the horse up behind Rhys while Rhys continues to trade blows with the Saxon. An axe comes careening wildly into Morial's knee. Morial hears the sound of crunching bone as a jolt of red pain shoots up his leg and blasts his awareness. Morial slumps and sinks unconscious to the ground. By this time many in the eschille have rallied around Morial and push off the Saxons. The barbarians fall back to regroup. Rhys picks up Morial's body and drapes him across his rouncy before mounting himself. In the lull Sir Aragore, now leading the eschille in Morial's absence, calls for withdraw. The knights ride back on the defensive.

The Saxon berserkers continue to press their advantage. Yet another knight falls under the axe while the line tries to break free. Of a sudden the Saxons break off, pulled elsewhere to fight God knows whom. Our player knights care not to discern the reasons. It is enough that they can regroup and count their losses. Reagore is gone, as is his squire. Only one squire, that of Sir Aragore himself, remains. Aragore dismisses Rhys to make his way with Morial's unconscious body back to camp and the infirmary.

Apart from the pagan madmen who attacked our player knights, most of the Saxon army does not fared well. In many places the Saxons were in ordered retreat, pulling back now almost to the ruins of Sashyn itself. King Uther's battalion pushes deep into enemy ranks. From here the knights can make out wedges of horsemen piercing the Saxon line and beginning to envelop some of their foe. Madog catches a glimpse of King Eosa's standard not far off and urges Aragore to charge toward it. Aragore agrees and the knights quickly enter formation and charge forward.

Between the Saxon king's standard and our player knights were still hundreds of enemy men with murderous intent. The knights hurl themselves into the fight, running headlong into a group of heavily armed men in boiled leather. Feeling desperation and defeat in the air, the Saxons are uncertain. They hesitate in setting their great spears for the oncoming charge and so are caught unprepared. The Hertford knights hew a trail of death through the heorthgeneats, battling half their way to King Eosa's standard before the momentum of the charge gives way to the turmoil of melee.

Then a great roar as of a howling zephyr arises on the far right flank. Our player knights are too busy struggling for their lives to follow the sound. Suddenly the whole mass of Saxons shifts to the right, leaving a hole in the lines. The eschille finds itself staring straight down at King Eosa himself, a mountainous man standing on foot nearly as tall as a Cymric knight in his saddle. The king looks off at the battle to the right, gesturing to his couriers. Aragore shouts the command and our knights rush forward.


(At this point queue the Black Sabbath. This individual combat at the back of Logres army was one of the highlights of the night.)

Far behind the killing zone, Rhys rides Morial out of battle. Reaching the right edge of the field, Rhys spies a knight afoot clambering through the mud. The knight moves as if blinded, slipping and falling or tripping over a dead body on the ground. Blood soaks the mans tabard around his neck and an arrow shaft protrudes from his side. It takes a moment of disoriented confusion before Rhys recognizes the arms, blue and gold fields emblazoned with a golden falcon. It was Duke Elmig of Caercolun, new husband of Rhys' beloved Diane. Blind hatred consumes Rhys.

Rhys dismounts and pulls out his mace, "You tried to kill my son!"

Duke Elmig lifts his head and peers out at this new assailant. Unable to see clearly from the blood, the duke pulls off his helm. Where once was a fair countenance now stood a torn and battered face. The duke's left eye had been plucked out. Mud cakes the torn and bloody socket. Elmig turns his head slightly, glaring at Rhys with his right eye.

"You cur! You are a stain on Hertford. You've dishonored yourself and your Earl. A dog like you should…"

Not even hearing Duke Elmig's curses, Rhys attacks. Rhys' fury cuts short the duke's words. Rhys swings the mace at Elmig's right side. Elmig twists back and raises his sword to block the blow. With unworldly strength, Rhys' strike knocks Elmig's sword out of his hand to splash into the mud. Rhys' momentum carries forward and he bulls into the duke. Elmig falls back onto one knee, trying to reach around for his dagger. Rhys raises the mace and brings it crashing down on Elmig's unprotected head. If it weren't for Duke Elmig's coat of arms embroidered upon his tabard, his corpse would go unrecognized after the battle.


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Sketch 256 by czarnystefan at Deviant Art

Aragore leads the eschille into the lion's den. After trampling through heorthgeneats there stands Eosa surrounded by his bodyguard. With Cymric knights bearing down on him, Eosa wrenches his attention away from the right flank and growls at his men to join the battle.

Warrior upon warrior hurl themselves forward to keep the knights away from their king. Lan runs his man through, lifting him up and tossing him aside with a flick of the lance. All the other knights grind to a halt as the bodyguards mass around them. The swords of the Saxons continue to beat at the knights. Lan takes many wounds, blood oozing from cuts at an alarming rate. Madog brings down one of the men upon him, as does Landry; but, more bodyguards continue to come. Finally King Eosa himself joins the fight, snarling and spitting insults at Madog as the great king swings his axe.

Another spear thrust from the enemy finds Lan. Blood loss overcomes him. Lan swoons and slumps to the ground. Enraged at Eosa's taunts, Madog swings wildly and falls from his horse onto his head (fumbled passion.) Madog rises from the ground, an otherworldly cast to his face. The Saxons mutter something incomprehensible and back away from the queer knight as Modog wanders off to a fevered realm of visions and nightmares. Landry disengages from the footmen around him and makes a desperate attempt to reach Eosa. Landry does finally ride around the clump of bodyguards only to meet Eosa's axe crushing the knight's collar bone. Landry falls.

Glory Gained:

  • Rhys: 348 (Battle of Lindsey) + 100 (Single combat with Duke Caercolun) = 448
  • Morial: 348 (Battle of Lindsey) + 60 (Eschille commander ) = 408
  • Lan: 628 (Battle of Lindsey)
  • Landry: 628 (Battle of Lindsey)
  • Madog: 628 (Battle of Lindsey)

So ends the session for the Battle of Lindsey. All the player knights either had fallen or left the field. Our next session will settle the aftermath.

Total Glory This Session:

  • Rhys: 448
  • Morial: 408
  • Lan: 1643
  • Landry: 628
  • Madog: 628
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Selmaberk invitation by Merlkir at Deviant Art

The Vision of Sir Henlow

Blood spattered the bearded face snarling through a gilt mask. Madog could scarcely discern the ornate enameled design on King Eosa’s axe as it rose and fell in a blur of hammering blows against his upraised shield. Each time the axe hit Madog’s shield the Cymric knight felt his feet slip further into the muck and mud beneath him. With each blow the Saxon king let out a tirade of heavily accented curses in Madog’s own tongue. Sir Henlow began to despair as his strength faltered, dread began to make his stomach heave and churn.

“Your people are weak and you will die. I’ll rip out the heart of your children and rape your mother while you lie helpless in filth.”

The taste of mud and sweat mingled with rising bile. The thought of falling to this heathen as he cursed all that Madog held dear stirred a spark of anger deep within him. The Pendragon’s Logres was a kingdom blessed by God. His family was dear to him and their mission holy. To fail meant the death of him and his family, the dissolution of all that God destined him to accomplish. The Sacred Tau would not fulfill its promise. A howl of rage and anguish knotted deep in the pit of Madog’s soul. As the fury rose a blackness overcame Madog’s senses. He could feel his mouth open and a scream form on his lips; but, the scream turned to a fountain of golden light. Madog’s vision blurred in a brilliant white glow. The Saxon king wavered and held back his axe, eyes wide with amazement. King Eosa recognized something within Madog and the light erupting from his heart. The bodyguard drew back. Madog’s eyes witnessed but he did not see Sir Landry fall to another Saxon’s blade. White fire was all that Madog’s eyes knew. His feet stumbled. His sword arm dropped and lost its grip. The stench of urine and the moan of dying men fell away from his awareness.

Over the field of dead came a flurry of angels rescuing souls to their eternal reward. Demons rent at others, dragging them down to abysmal damnation. A red horse walked among the battlefield, weaving through the press in a slow, easy gait. Wherever the horsemen looked, near or far, men fell. His gaze lit upon a Saxon spearman and the spearmen fell, a mace crushing his skull so that brains flowed out like the yolk of an egg. The horseman turned upon a row of knights proudly riding with lowered lances and a hail of arrows fell among them. Horses and men tumbled to the ground in unholy terror. Still the red horse marched and people died. A great pit of darkness opened to swallow lost souls by the thousands.

Yet Madog bathed in golden light. Above the silent din there came a soft, angelic voice. Amidst the blinding glow Madog could see on high a small shape. His gaze focused on the object and his vision flew close, as though Madog himself were lifted in the air. It was a crude wooden cup; the kind one might find in a peasant’s hovel. Blood began to flow over the lip of the cup. As the precious, dark fluid spilled out the simple cup transformed to a perfect, golden chalice. Jewels adorned the side and Madog knew that the Blood of Christ would flow forever from the sacred Grail.

Madog lifted up his arms; but, he could not reach the cherished vessel. An unseen hand held the cup aloft. Though he could not touch the Grail, Madog knew the hand that held it was that of a man – a man whom Madog could comfort and guide. He willed the hand to overturn and pour blessings upon the suffering below. The cup slowly turned. A wave of blood flowed over the fields washing back the Saxon horde. Upon the frothy crest rode a triumphant charge of holy angels trampling heathens under foot and raising up the fallen to live again.

Then Madog found himself alone in cold, gray rain. A wood surrounded him and afar he could hear the cries of battle. Excrement soaked his leggings. Blood caked his hair. The holy vision had passed and he knew that once again he had fled the field of glory. A great shame overcame him and he was lost.

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The Apocalypse by Daniel Stolpe

Aftermath

Note: The rest of this post is written months after the game session. Although I tried to stick as close to the gaming session as possible, some details must surely be misremembered and others forgotten. Players from the session, please feel free to correct mistakes.

Sir Rhys of Boxbourne rests uneasily on a makeshift cot. Wounded and dying men lie scattered throughout the low pavilion. The stench of excrement and death chokes the stifling air. Heat from all the exhausted bodies makie the tent nearly unbearable despite cool rain outside. Rhys watches as two strong youths pull and twist Sir Morial's leg under the direction of a chirurgeon. With an audible crunch the leg pops back straight. Sir Morial opens his eyes a moment and gasps in pain before succumbing once more to troubled oblivion. The chirurgeon then turns her attention to Rhys. With trepidation, Rhys exposes the hacked flesh along his flank.

Rhys' squire finds him while the lady redresses his injuries, accompanied by Sir Madog's squire. From brief questions Rhys learns that the squires know nothing of the whereabouts of Sir Morial's eschille. Nor do they know how fares the battle raging outside. He sends the lads out to scour the fields for news, admonishing them to keep well away from fighting. Finally free of the chirurgeon, Rhys stands to search among the litters. Rhys recognizes a face. A man from Rhydychan, a household knight of Lord Shirburn, lies unmoving on the ground. His eyes stare blankly upward. Beside him sits the man's squire, weeping quietly. Without a word Rhys reaches down to close the knight's eyes. Every few minutes men come rushing into the tent bearing another of the wounded. Many are dead as they arrive. Never before has Rhys witnessed misery at such scale, even after the fruitless battle of Mercred's Burnstead when he first was knighted.

Presently a blast of horns drift in from afield. Horns around the encampment echo the refrain. Those alert enough to hear the call rise or sit up. A man shouts from their midst, "That is the call for all to charge! The Saxons must be on the run. Victory!" Despite their woe, many raise a cheer. Some weep or collapse in relief. The field is won, that much is clear. But, at what cost?

A pair of men come running into the pavillion, one limping with the help of the other. Rhys recognizes the black and red of Duke Gorlois on the men's arms. The men proclaim that Saxon King Eossa has fallen, taken prisoner by the might of Duke Cornwall. More men come streaming in with news of victory. Octa, too, is clapped in chains and kneels before King Uther. A knight from Salisbury took the second Saxon king in single combat.

After these announcements, streams of wounded come pouring into the tent as camp followers and others begin the heart wrenching work of fetching those who lay on the battlefield. Rhys finds the bodies of his companions. Sir Lan walks in on his own strength, guiding a litter bearing both Sir Landry and Sir Windridge. Sir Bleger is miraculously unharmed though he is covered in the blood of Sir Gewaine, his former squire, whom he carries atop his shoulders. Even Raegor, Rhys' old squire newly knighted this year, is alive; though with a nasty stab through his intestines that may yet take Raegor's life. Finally all are accounted save Sir Madog, of whom none know the tale. Hours of fighting followed by intense worry for his companions take their toll and Rhys eventually falls into black slumber.

Chirurgeons work throughout the evening. As the wounded are tended, litter bearers move them to pallets among their own bivouacs. Sir Morial's eschille is taken to Earl Aralyd's blue and gold pavilions in the middle of camp. Slowly space is cleared from the hospital tents. It is late when the Saxon kings Eossa and Octa are brought in by Uther's honor guard. Sir Rhodri of Bushey, normally one of the greatest of knights at Sir Morial's command, leads a trio of other knights through the hospital pulling at the Saxon kings on chains. Sir Rhodri, commanded to be in the honor guard protecting the person of King Uther himself, shows clear frustration at missing the heat of battle. He pulls angrily on King Eossa's chain, wishing he could instead plunge his sword into the helpless Saxon warlord. Rhodri stands guard through the night. As dawn approaches Rhodri is finally relieved by Sir Gyrgan of North Mymms, vassal to Lord Berkhamstead.

In the morning Earl Aralyd orders a grand breakfast to enliven his troops. Throughout the day the knights of Morial's eschille awaken one by one, though the more grievously wounded barely surface from under the flood of agony. Earl Hertford and Marshal Hemel Hempstead arrive late in the morning, bearing strong wine to ease the pain of their men.

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Duke Gorlois of Cornwall from King Arthur Pendragon v5 Core Rulebook
The earl has a great smile on his face as he sits among his vassals, "Knights, you proved your worth tenfold yesterday. I will forever feel humility and gratitude for what you've done."

Marshal Hemel Hempstead can barely contain his enthusiasm. The normally staid knight is clearly excited. "The Saxon dogs were crushed! Word among King Uther's council is that you were instrumental in our victory yesterday."

"It's true", the earl responds to the astonished stares of his men. "I was beside Duke Gorlois watching from our army's second rank. We could see from our vantage how you charged through a thicket of Saxons to engage King Eossa himself. Yours was an act of courage. You won great glory for yourselves and Hertfordshire. For that, I raise my cup to you."

Earl Hertford stands, holding high a goblet of the wine brought to fortify his men. He takes a deep drought, smiling again in satisfaction as he lowers his hand. Then comes a rush of questions as our knights try to learn the events of yesterday.

Earl Hertford's household was stationed along with Duke Gorlois along the right flank. While the Saxons were hard pressed throughout the day, thanks in no small part to Merlin's wondrous enchantment, still the fighting was bitter. At one point just after midday, the combined forces of Hertford and Cornwall surged into the Saxon wing. The heathens started to drop back, some men fleeing the field. It is then that the standard of King Eossa came roaring up to toward the front lines where Earl Hertford and Duke Cornwall fought. The Saxon wing lurched to the right, breaking open a hole in the Saxon line right in front of Sir Morial's eschille. Although our knights did not fully grasp the impact of their charge, it was their lunge into that hole that doomed the Saxon horde. Rushing through the hole, our knights came before King Eossa himself, wrenching his attention away from his faltering troops. Though the Saxon king did not fall right then, the enemy line was unable to reform and was overrun by Cornish knights. Cymric horses trampled King Eossa's guard into the mud. The Saxon king begged for his life. After the fall of the enemy's wing, the battle's fate was sealed. With the Saxons routed King Octa soon fell prisoner. Sir Llywel of Winterbourne Stoke, the same who accompanied our knights and Merlin two nights before, brought King Octa low in single combat. The Saxon armies were decimated and their kings imprisoned. All of Logres rejoiced thinking the Saxon threat from the North conquered for good.

In four days' time most of army came to Lincoln, setting camp below the city walls. A great feast was called in the high hall of Duke Lindsey. All of Logres' peers were invited. Tables are set forth to honor the three eschilles that won the most honor: Sir Rhodri of Tisbury's eschille from Salisbury for capturing King Octa, Duke Gorlois of Cornwall's household for capturing King Eossa, and Sir Morial of Lewarewich's eschille from Hertford for piercing the heart of the Saxon army and dealing a strategic blow. Those of our player knights well enough to attend don their finest clothes and partake of the sumptuous feast.

Seated just behind Duke Gorlois' household, Cornish knights sneer in comtempt back at the me of Hertford. Remarks from the Cornish men chafe at the Hertford knights. "Its insulting, honoring those who failed by sitting them next to us! We are the best knights in all Logres, though Uther fails to see it. Not only did we capture Eosa; but, we did so unharmed. The Saxon guards that so grievously wounded those 'men' were as nothing before our might. Why, they never even laid a hand on King Eosa himself."

Merlin, always alert and aware of the growing tension, moves behind the Hertford knights and murmurs soothing words to keep the peace. Though they keep resentment in check, Sir Rhodri and Sir Morial seethe inside.

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Duchess Ygraine from King Arthur Pendragon v5 Core Rulebook
After servants clear away the meat a side door opens and a line of beautiful ladies marches solemnly into the hall. White gowns flow over granite flagstones. Thin, silver chains bind the flowing skeins about their waists. The ladies form a semicircle before King Uther and the high peers of Logres. One lady steps forward, her flaxen hair radiant around the most gorgeous face that any had seen. Her beauty and stature are breathtaking, like a woman in a dream. It is the Lady Ygraine, Duchess of Cornwall. She begins to sing a soulful dirge that rises and falls to the rhythm of chanting from the ladies around her. The words speak of the glory of King Uther and the army of Logres, how they fell upon their enemies, how the brave of Logres gave their lives for king and glory.

The hall is dumbstruck. Sir Godfrey cannot take his eyes off the vision of beauty before him. Sir Rhodri is reminded more of his wife Gwenhwyfar and so most keeps his wits about him. Rhodri sees Morial likewise smitten. Most troubling of all, though, is King Uther. The king's countenance is consumed by lust as he stares at the lady. Duke Gorlois, seated beside King Uther, scowls openly at the display.

Merlin, still standing behind Sir Morial, mutters softly to himself, "What would you do, Uther Pendragon, for that which you desire most?"

Reverie lingers long moments after the chant ends. Finally, flagons come to fill goblets and minstrels take up instruments. New wine is broached. Ladies from around the hall come forward to take a knight for dance. All save those too injured are swept up in celebration.

Morial sits with many from his eschille, barely able to walk let alone dance. Seeing the face of Uther and hearing Merlin's words put a somber cast to the evening for our knights. At one point Morial turns to the Archdruid and asks, "What would you do, Merlin, for that which you desire most?"

Merlin raises bright red eyebrows at the question, seemingly surprised that Morial heard him earlier. "What would I do, Sir Lewarewich? What wouldn't I do? And you?"

"I would give all I have, for what could be more worthy than that which you desire most." Morial's response seems almost nonchalant against the weight of the evening.

"A wise answer from such a young man. Indeed, it is true."

"So what would you give, Merlin? Your honor?"

"I would give my very life for that which most I desire. And I will, one day." Merlin speaks with an enigmatic smile, as if playing some joke on himself.

"But your honor? Would you give your honor?"

"Yes. I would forfeit my honor." said the wizard simply.

The knights of Hertford stare at the wizard, uncertain how to take his words. Merlin looks up again at King Uther, noting how the king still watched Duchess Cornwall. Merlin slowly turns and wordlessly walks away.


Close of Summer

King Uther's army marches to the walls of Eburacum, Malahaut's chief city. The Centurion King waits outside with his army assembled at ease behind him. The two kings meet warmly and spend some weeks in the company of great northern lords: Eurain of Rheged, Duke Cambenet and King Garloth. Our knights are too injured to make the journey and so convalesce together with the other wounded. Duke Lindsey graciously offers to house any from King Uther's army until they recuperate well enough to ride home. Knights from across Logres are each dismissed when they can travel.

The days pass wearingly while the eschille recovers before the gates of Lincoln. Sir Rhodri continues to guard Kings Octa and Eossa in shifts. On one occasion Morial and Godfrey visit Rhodri at his duty. King Eossa gives them honor by subtly acknowledging their prowess, though still maintaining a cocky defiance. He notices and lightly mocks Godfrey's wounds, showing ease and charisma even when speaking a foreign tongue to sworn enemies. Godfrey asks Eossa if he remembers Madog and what happened to the missing knight. Eossa responds that indeed he does remember the man, relating how Eossa and his men saw the miraculous fury of Wotan enter Madog's eyes. Wonder replaced Eossa's hate at seeing evidence of a Saxon god manifest in a Cymric Christian. Rather than strike at the man before them, they backed away and let Madog wander blindly off the battlefield unaware of the carnage around him. Godfrey and Morial share astonishment at the tale and cannot begin to speculate at Madog's strange fate.

King Uther's retinue returns to Lincoln some weeks later on its way back from Eburacum to London. Another, lesser feast is held by Duke Lindsey honoring King Uther for saving him from Saxon depredations. Rumors about Lincoln tell that Duke Gorlois is hopping mad at Uther for not releasing him from duty. Rhodri takes the opportunity to challenge some Cornish knights to a game of chess. While playing he overhears one of Gorlois' household knights, a Sir Araddan of the Yellow Plume, speak, "We should have killed Uther when we had the chance last year." Rhodri is incensed over weeks of insult and treachery. He develops a lasting passion against any man from Cornwall, as does Morial.

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The Swan Maiden by Achen089 at Deviant Art
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Mucha by Aiko1989 at Deviant Art
Finally released from duty, our knights return home to Hertford. There they hold an early winter marriage for Sir Morial to Dame Iulia of Odstock. With a history of lasciviousness, Morial warns Iulia sternly that once wed he will suffer no cuckoldry. Meanwhile Lord Odstock indulges in far too much calvados and starts making a nuisance of himself to the wedding guests. By midday Lord Odstock can barely walk and struggles to walk his embarrassed daughter down the aisle at Hertford Castle's chapel. Morial begins to rue marrying into the Odstock family when he notices Lady Odstock, mother to Iulia and wife to a now soundly sleeping Lord Odstock, make overtures to Sir Godfrey. The lady seems as much intent at enjoying Godfrey's company as spitefully hurting her husband. Godfrey has no qualm clandestinely leading Lady Odstock away from the wedding reception to a quiet corner and having his way with her.

Christmas itself is a gay event this year. Earl Hertford generously shares Saxon booty with his vassals. Diane is present with Rhys' bastard son and young Lucius ap Elmig. Accompanying Duchess Diane is Lord Norwich, brother to the now deceased Duke Elmig of Caercolun and former husband of Duchess Diane. Earl Hertford is kind to his daughter and grand children, though there is an air of tension between Aralyd and Lord Elmir of Norwich. Stating "a young boy should know his father", Earl Aralyd insists Rhys spend a time with his infant son.

Rumors abound at the Yuletide gathering over King Uther and Duke Gorlois. It seems Duke Gorlois and his wife Ygraine were not dismissed from London even after first snow fall. Everyone whispered of King Uther's apparent desire for Ygraine. Finally Gorlois reached his limit. Taking his wife and retinue, Duke Cornwall left for home without the King's leave. King Uther flew into a rage and none dare talk to him of Ygraine or Gorlois since.

As for Caercolun, King Uther spoke no word of who should be the new duke. Lord Norwich and Earl Hertford agreed enough to cooperate in fortifying the border against Essex. The New Year brought promise from the earl to Boxbourne and other southeastern estates that engineers and footmen would arrive in Spring.

Manor Results

  • Lewarewich - The year was kindly year to Lady Iulia. She arrived at Lewarewich too late to have much effect upon the harvest, yet still the household stocked its larders and the family was well fed throughout the winter. 6£ income - break even.
  • High Wycomb - Once again High Wycomb was raided by Cymric men. This time men on horses came to steal away the cattle herd. Two of the bandits were heavily armored, with chain hauberks reaching their stirrups. Though their shields were unadorned, all who saw them ride could tell the men were knights trained to fight from the saddle. Young Percy, still only thirteen years of age, led the lineage men on a counter raid. With knowledge of the forests and breaks around High Wycomb Percy was able to frighten off the raiders and recover most of the cattle. Still, the herd suffered and the harvest was meagre. 5£ income - break even.
  • Henlow - Madog's other estate fared still worse. Though no rogues assaulted the land, the sheep herd was stricken by cholera. All the young calves died. A bountiful crop could not make up for the lack of mutton or cheese throughout the winter. 5£ income - 1£ in debt.
  • Bushey - Merlin was seen walking through the land one summer day. It was a sign of the divine. Since that time the weather has been unchangingly perfect. Light mists watered the crops daily and a gentle sun ripened the rye. 9£ income - 3£ surplus.
  • Boxbourne - The Saxon raid came as it did every year since the founding of Essex. This time the lineage men were ready and easily fought off the marauders. Such luck combined with fine weather and an able steward resulted in a good harvest. 9£ income - 4£ surplus.
  • Shefford - The village priest sussed out an evil witch among the commons. After trial by weight, the witch was found guilty and stoned to death. Sir Bleger feels confident in his judgment since God then rewarded the estate with a bumper harvest. 9£ income - 3£ surplus.
  • Knebworth - Sir Bleger's stables produced an extremely fine horse, larger than any seen in years. The colt will grow into a fine courser with training in the coming years. Otherwise, a harvest enough to fill the grain stock for the coming year. 6£ income - 1 £ surplus.
  • Sawbridgetooth - Pestilence strikes the sheep. The scabbies plague the entire herd. No wool is gathered at all throughout the year and women of the village are idle at their looms. Nor is any meat or cheese gathered. Sir Lan returns from war to a decimated village and spends all he owns buying food and livestock for the coming winter. Still he has to beg food from his neighbors and ends the year 2£ in debt to Earl Aralyd.
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The Last Door's Poetry by FelixKlee at Deviant Art

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