Siege of Terrabil

Sir Henlow's Prophesy

“Even a thief on Golgotha can be saved.”

The words pierced Madog’s heart, through layers of loss and cynicism, and laid bare the hope of his soul.

Madog had spied on the old man for more than a day. Wandering, desperate for food and shelter, lost in a world of loneliness, Madog was drawn to the immaculate hermitage with its narrow garden and sedate goats. The hermit himself was spry if aged, nimbly going about his daily chores as Madog watched hiding in the underbrush. Madog slept the night alongside a brook passing by the home’s little clearing, not yet confident enough to approach a man so obviously holy. In the morning, the old man simply walked up to Madog’s hiding spot and spoke aloud.

“Even a thief on Golgotha can be saved.”

Madog stood. The words compelled him out of the brush. Something about the hermit drew Madog out from the cloak shrouding his spirit. There was no judgment. Madog’s shame at months of thievery and cowardice fell away. The hermit stretched out his hand. Madog took it and together they walked to the back of the hut. There stood a small altar to Our Savior. Alongside the altar, sheltered by the same tiny roof, was a less conspicuous shrine holding a votive and the Cross of Saint Anthony. Seeing the cross, the sign and symbol of God’s will for Sir Madog’s family, felt like a blow. Madog doubled over in pain. He fell to his knees before the shrine. The hermit stepped behind Madog and gently held him up. Madog barely felt the hermit’s hand brush away wild hair from his face as a wave of dry heat and darkness overcame him.

Crucifiction by JYotsana at Deviant Art
A memory came unbidden of an arrow flying through the air. After fleeing the Battle of Lindsey and roaming helpless through the wilderness, Madog fell into a clutch of bandits. In black despair Madog joined them. They urged him to learn the bow. At first he resisted, for the bow is a weapon for peasants and cowards. Presently he submitted and soon the arrows flew thick from his bow – a symbol of how far Madog had fallen.

The arrow changed midflight. It became a long Roman spear. The air was dry and desolate, filled with lamentation and a crackling spiritual urgency. It was the Lance of Longinus plunging into the side of Jesus. Blood spewed out of Christ’s side. Again the scene changed. The spear struck deep into flesh, the thighs of a king pierced in unholy sacrilege by the Holy Lance. Blood flowed black and steaming onto the ground. It spread out from a castle into a vale beyond. Wherever the blood ran the ground shriveled and died. Still the black dolor flowed until the entire vale was bathed in its unholy waste.

Into the destruction rode a knight in brilliantly shining armor. He toured through the valley amazed by the carnage surrounding him. The gate of the castle stood open and the knight rode slowly through. Hooves echoed against lonely stone. From within he heard the sound of women weeping. The knight walked through the castle, seeing the wails of those at court over the body of their stricken king. Yet the knight makes no move. He wandered slowly through them, turned and rode back out of the castle.

As he left there rode behind him four horsemen. First came a white horse that traveled the length of Britain. Wherever the white horse went livestock fell dead to the ground. The people were stricken with gray pustules and many perished in writhing pain. Second walked a red horse, whom Madog had seen once before. The red horse rode south and a hellish host arose from the sea. The host fell upon the ailing knights of Logres, tearing noble horses and riders alike in gaping maws. Third came a black horse. The land already deluged with blood now withered. Crops died on the vine and the earth became sand. Those few still alive bent under their own weight and their bellies shriveled so that their navels pressed back against their spines. Finally came a pale horse with a rider shrouded in black. The black horseman’s sickle cut down all who remained, harvesting their sorry souls. All that was left were the windswept, dusty fields devoid of life or water or green of any kind. From far off drifted the cries of the innocent.

Madog saw himself approach the shinning knight. The knight stopped and silently. Madog unbuckled the knights wondrous breastplate and laid the knight on desiccated ground. He knelt over the knight and wept for Britain’s people. Tears cascaded like an engorged brook in Spring. Although the knight’s face was bare, Madog could not look upon it. Still, Madog knew the knight’s eyes were opened and the holy warrior now could see. The knight arose and rode away as Madog’s tears continued to flow.

Travelling back to the blackened vale, the knight galloped into the castle. There he took a crude wooden cup, the likes of which might be found in a peasants hovel. He raised the cup to the wounded king’s lips and poured the healing blood of Christ.

Worries at Home

Note: This session log is written about two months after the play session. Some of it is clearly off the mark; but, I've tried to recreate the session as best I can from my notes. Players, please correct me where I'm wrong.

Marshal Hemel Hempstead announces King Uther's missive aloud, "We go to war. The traitor Cornwall will finally get what he deserves! Bring your troops to Sarum."

Earl Aralyd bolts upright, "Do we fight Cornwall for his treachery against King Uther, or for keeping his wife Ygraine from the king's carnal lust? Our footmen to Cornwall! With Saxons breathing down our neck? I am leaving all foot soldiers home to garrison our castles. We will comply with the must with only the knights."

The words of Earl Hertford echo loudly over nobles assembled in Hertford Castle's great hall. Though knights throughout the crowd murmur agreement an undercurrent of fear spreads among them. The earl calls for direct disobedience of King Uther. To be certain, Aralyd's actions pale in comparison to Duke Gorlois' flaunting of Uther's will. Yet it was for just such a breach that Logres' army now assembles to siege Cornwall.

Earl Aralyd had good reason to refuse sending his footmen to the far western coast Britain. Saxons from Essex yearly crossed the Quinqueroi Forest to raid estates along Hertford's southeastern border. It was but two months since a team of footmen, engineers and peasant workmen were sent to the frontier manors to build earthworks and bolster defenses. Sending the men to Cronwall meant no fortifications completed this year. Hertfordshire would remain vulnerable to King Æthelswith.

Tensions were already high at Hertford's Pentecost court. Lord Shirburn arrived the day prior with his household knights and squires. No other retinue attended the banneret from Rhydychan, a sure sign of rebuke against Earl Hertford. Two years prior the earl discussed a marriage between his youngest daughter and the Rhydychan lord only to renege and wed Lady Diane to Duke Elmig of Caercolun. Duke Elmig perished at last year's Battle of Lindsey, leaving no ally for Hertford and Lord Shirburn as angry neighbor. King Uther's command served only to exacerbate Aralyd.

Though Hertfordshire's nobility gathered to celebrate a high holy day of the Christian calendar, festivities were muted. Hertford's host was somewhat diminished, with few squires were trained enough to be elevated to knighthood. The Saxon menace of the east seemed to still escape the notice of King Uther, leaving Aralyd and the Marshal Caercolun to their own defense. Even the food this year was displeasing, with a roasted pig charring on the spit and filling the hall with a bitter black soot.

Before pages and maids set out the feast Earl Hertford and Lord Shirburn retired to a private chamber for talk. Apparently the earl insulted Lord Shirburn again and Shirburn barely contained himself. The banneret sent squires packing so that morning after Pentecost they could leave immediately. Aralyd's face shone red with anger throughout the meal. He scowled at the entertainers between courses so that none dared approach him.

Portrait Sept07 by feffsimpsonkh at Deviant Art
In this gloomy atmosphere young Percy, now fourteen and soon to be squired to Sir Godfrey, gingerly approached his master. "Sir Godfrey, that lord from Rhydychan - there's a knight with him whom I've seen before."

Godfrey's curiosity was piqued, "How so? You never served as a page in Hertford Castle nor left High Wycomb to Clarence when Earl Aralyd travelled with Lord Shirburn."

Percy's voice dropped to a whisper, "No, I saw him in the wastes outside of High Wycomb. He's one of the men who raided our cattle last summer! See, his shield is blank."

Godfrey looked sidelong at the man. It is Sir Caralyn, household knight to Lord Shirburn. Sir Caralyn follows Lord Shirburn surlily around the hall. He passes before Lady Obilot just as she starts up a polyphonic song in the new fashion from Aquitaine. Caralyn stops to look briefly at the older lady, then turns away with a look as if he'd eaten a sour plum.

Godfrey turns his back on the man, "Are you certain?"

"Yes, sir. As certain as I'm standing here. I charged into their camp on Higgen, my rouncy, and went face to face with the man as he jumped for his sword. I'll not forget his face so long as I draw breath on this world."

"Very well, then. There's nothing for it."

Godfrey makes certain no Rhydychan knights watch him and then leaves to plead an audience with Earl Aralyd. Godfrey brings along Sirs Rhodri and Morial to speak with Aralyd about Percy's words. Aralyd commands them to follow Lord Shirburn at first light, when the Rhydychan lord plans to return to his own lands. Shirburn undoubtedly plans to ride the Ickneid Way. Fighting on the King's Road was considered unpardonable treason. Our knights are to track Lord Shirburn all the way to Rhydychan itself. Should Lord Shirburn wander from the road then Morial must attack and force the villain to yield or die.

Sir Godfrey is well pleased as our knights send their squires to ready for morning. Alas, the journey proves fruitless. Though Lord Shirburn shows no sign that he noticed Hertford knights following, there is no chance to clash. Over the Chiltern Hills and under the Landoine's eaves Lord Shirburn's household stays hard on the old Roman road. At Rhydychan's frontier our frustrated knights turn back to report to Earl Hertford.

Siege of Terrabil

Dragon 34 Cover by Ken Rahman

Terrabil Castle stood on Cornish cliffs overlooking the Severn Sea. Patience is a soldier's greatest strength. Warfare consists of waiting long hours for armies to engage, punctuated by a flashing moment of chaos and then a long, painful denouement. Siege warfare is even more a tedious task. The siege of Terrabil stretches out a long month. Engines send pitch and boulders over the castle walls. Fires sporadically break out behind Terrabil's stone curtain, only to be doused to a smoldering plume of smoke by morning. Sir Morial's eschille sits bivouacked in the middle of Uther's forces.

Duke Gorlois also watches and waits from behind Terrabil's defenses. Most of the Cornish host stations here, while a strong contingent of footmen protect Queen Ygraine and Cornwall's treasury at Castle Tintagel to the northeast. King Uther split his forces early in the campaign, sending a small contingent to cordon Tintagel while focusing the bulk of Logres' knights on Terrabil. Patience begins to wear thin in Uther's ranks. Feudal duties require each vassal give forty days' service to his lord. With a month gone by that duty was nearly fulfilled. Inside the castle Duke Cornwall strains to contain his knights, as Cornishmen daily petition Gorlois to sally. Finally, Gorlois makes the call to saddle the horses. The fate of Logres would forever change.

Sir Morial's eschille relaxes in camp on another interminable evening of waiting. Godfrey's cooking staff from High Wycomb serves admirably; but, little can be done once supplies of salt and herbs emptied. The knights are reduced to dried meat and legumes with crisp flatbread or porridge; a paltry fare when repeated day after day. At least the chargers still eat oats to keep their strength. Sir Lan complains he has no appetite and leaves the pavilion for a long walk in the night. Lan wasn't seen again until morning.

Morial also takes in the night air after a meagre meal. From the tent flaps he sees sentries standing guard over King Uther's pavilion. Morial spies Merlin walk briskly up to the sentries and past them. The guards never so much as flinch or drop their spears to question the entering wizard. As the sun sets in over the western sea a low, dense fog rises up from the waves. Within an hour fog crests the cliff tops. Tendrils of dense vapor snake through the camp to coil around the sentries' feet. All the ground is sodden mud between hard slate stone and knee high bunch grasses. In the last of the dying red sunlight Morial glimpses Merlin and Uther striding out of the tent toward tethered horses. Then darkness settles and the knight from Lewarewich rejoins his companions inside. Most go to bed with the setting sun, though some few drink what remains of beer casks or wine commandeered from the surrounding country. It is another long, boring night.

Sir Landry bolts upright, jostled awake by a nightmare or unheard call. A moment later a trumpet blares and is cut off halfway through the call to arms. At the northern edge of camp men shout. Horses scream to the east. The sound of metal clashing on steel and the beat of hooves comes from the direction of Terrabil's gate. Duke Gorlois leads a surprise attack upon Uther's army. Sir Godfrey launches himself out of bed, sword already in hand, and rushes to the tent's entrance.

Godfrey's squire calls out a warning, "Sir! Fighting knights without armor is suicide! Wait, please, while I fetch your hauberk."

All the knights are now awake. Squires rush about the pavilion fetching chain or helm or shield. Long minutes pass lacing helms and fitting points. An arrow flies through the tarpaulin landing right next to Sir Rhodri's foot. The sound of battle draws nearer. Howls of death and screams of women erupt from a nearby tent. Horsemen ride by, some barely clothed. Other horses, their tethers cut or riders thrown, rush the away unmounted. With the knights laced and armored, the squires now hurry to saddle their chargers. More minutes pass. The fighting comes close. A lady flees past, her fine linen sleepwear ripped and bloody, followed by another horse trailing a screaming cymric knight dangling from the stirrup.

Northlanders Comic by Davide Gianfelice

From behind the tent can be heard the shouts of Prince Madoc, "Rally to the banner! Rally to the banner!" Sir Morial's squire comes running up with a saddled charger. Not waiting for the squire to halt, Morial leaps upon the horse and races out to his Prince. Immediately behind come Rhodri and Godfrey, their horses' tack not yet fully fitted. Sir Landry's squire still is new to his lord and struggles to bind the saddle.

Prince Madoc fights afoot against a mounted Duke Cornwall silhouetted before the high flames of a burning pavilion. Three of Madoc's bodyguard also fight afoot against Cornish horsemen. Madoc barely staves off Gorlois' hacking blows while Duke Cornwall's horse pushes the prince back against another tent.

"Stand aside!" Shouts Gorlois, barely looking at Madoc as he fiercely searches about him for his most hated foe. "Stand aside! Send me your father. Where is Uther?"

Prince Madoc leaps to the side away from Gorlois' stomping horse and swipes up at the Duke. Gorlois easily knocks aside Madoc's blade with a shield. With a scowl, Gorlois turns sword point downward and thrusts deeply into Madoc's vulnerable chest. Blood erupts from the wound, spouting up over the prince's chin and running down his torn chain shirt. Madoc soundlessly stares up at the duke, surprise and confusion in his eyes.

Duke Cornwall sneers down at the prince and shakes his sword, "I have a message for your father…"

The blade seems caught in Madoc's body. Morial spurs his charger toward the duke. The movement breaks a spell of immobility over Rhodri and Godfrey and they kick their steeds into a gallop as well. Duke Cornwall places his boot upon Madoc's shoulder, pushing the dead prince off his blade.

"Rot in Hell!" spits the duke as Madoc's body slips to the ground.

Just in time to raise his shield, Duke Cornwall turns to face a charging Sir Morial. With no room to maneuver or build momentum, Morial fights with a sword instead of a lance. The blade hacks into Duke Cornwall's shield, splinters flying around the duke's head. Rhodri rides to the dukes other side, slicing through chain and into Gorlois' obliques. With no room to reach Gorlois, Godfrey maneuvers to help Madoc's bodyguard hold off other Cornish knights. Morial wheels about while Rhodri and Gorlois clash swords. Outnumbered, Gorlois turns his shield to Morial and shouts again for Uther. Heedless of Duke Cornwalls anger, Morial plunges his sword into the old lord's back high off the shoulder. Duke Cornwall slumps and falls, his horse rearing and trampling his body under heavy hooves.

Sir Godfrey and Madoc's guard barely to hold back the Cornish knights. Morial and Rhodri hear a feral yell from the gloom, "They killed the Duke!" A knight with a closed bascinet and long plume dyed bright golden rides down hard on the pair. Behind him is another Cornish knight, lance lowered. Calls ring across the night, "The duke is dead!"

Bracing for the blow, Morial and Rhodri raise their shields. The pair crash hard into our knights though fail to unseat them. Now close in the fire light, Rhodri recognizes the yellow plume as Sir Araddyn from last year's Lincoln court. A string of vile curses pass Rhodri's lips like the spew from demons. Blind rage consumes the lord of Bushey. All else turns dark and silent as Rhodri's world narrows to just this one moment of combat between himself and the hated Cornish knight. They circle and strike, circle and strike; neither landing a solid blow on the other. Rhodri's arm falls back behind him, sword nearly falling from a twisting shield bash. Araddyn raises his blade for a backhanded pommelling. Seeing an opening, Rhodri kicks his charger closer and ducks. Araddyn's blow whisks high over Rhodri's head. The Hertfordshire knight straightens against the side of the Cornishman. Using the strength of his entire body Rhodri thrust against his foe. Surprised by the tactic, Araddyn loses his stirrup and crashes to the ground. The chargers push against each other and stumble into an empty tent. The pavilion comes crashing down with Araddyn rolling just beyond the kicking hooves.

Araddyn rises, sword in hand. Rhodri twists and swings. He feels muscles surrounding his torso knot and clench. Long years of training condition the reaction. Without thought the blade swings level with Sir Araddyn's neck. It catches him below the bascinet, cutting through leather lacings and bone. Helm and head fly off Araddyn's body, the torso collapsing to the ground like a rotted tree.

Sir Landry meanwhile joins Morial and Godfrey. They fight off the Cornish knights as a call for retreat is sounded from the castle walls. Quickly counting their numbers, Morial calls for a charge to the gate. The knights ride across a dry moat and up the steep motte. Just above the base of the moat Cornish footmen stand trembling before the might of Hertford. Our knights crash into the footmen, skewering and overrunning the knot of frightened levy. The line turns to envelop the Cornishmen so that none may survive. Morial, however, thinks of nothing but lust for Cornish blood and charges alone uphill to the castle gate. As the eschille accepts the footmen's surrender, Morial disappears screaming into the night.

Reforming their line, the eschille now takes orders from Sir Rhodri. A charge upon the gate iss again called. Easily breaking through the guards, the mass of Hertford knights hurtle themselves into the castle courtyard killing all in sight. The will of Cornwall breaks. Within minutes Terrabil surrenders. Uther's forces are victorious, though Uther himself iss nowhere to be found.

Morial fumbled his Hate (Cornishmen) passion here. He rushed the castle alone and was the first of Logres' army to reach the gate. Charging into a line of Cornish footmen alone, the great spears plunged deep into his horse's chest. Morial was thrown high into the keystone of the gate. He fell senseless to the ground and rolled down the motte. In the small hours of the morning Morial awoke, his wits scrambled and unsure where he might be. Morial wandered the countryside for some months before returning back to Terrabil and rejoining his eschille.

Medieval Swords by VanessaValkyria from Deviant Art

A New Day for Logres

Uther finally emerges from his own pavilion just before dawn. The king is drawn and tired. Accompanying him are Merlin and Sir Brastias. The three say nothing of their activities or where they might have been. Rhodri's eschille comes before Uther, who embraces them each in turn. The king is overjoyed at the death of Duke Gorlois; but, Prince Madoc's death dulls his enthusiasm. Rhodri tells of Madoc's death, saying nothing of Gorlois' rude kick or disrespect for the prince's corpse. He then recounts Duke Cornwall's death and the assault on Terrabil. Rhodri is named eschille commander for his leadership securing the bailey.

Conwy Wales by FireAngelSgr from Deviant Art
A cavalcade brings Duke Cornwall's body to Tintagel. Under flag of truce it is borne across the causeway into the castle. Even across the windy straights keening and weeping can be heard inside. After a day Sir Brastias then enters Tintagel to parley. He returns later with the duchess and castellan offering surrender. The army is triumphant. King Uther announces justice is done. The traitor Gorlois is dead and unity can return once more to Logres. Duchess Ygraine formally surrenders to King Uther wearing a black mourning veil. The king accepts her into his custody.

Uther appoints garrisons to the castles, ordering all Cornishmen to leave. Some Cornish knights retire to their lands while others reconfirm fealty to Uther. Uther never again appoints a of Duke of Cornwall. Sir Thebert, a notable knight from Marlboro, is appointed temporary warden of Terrabil. The king has Earl Hertford and Earl Silchester assign knights to station the castle.

As the army packs to leave for home word comes from the south. Saxon King Ælle conquered another city with his kinsman Cissa. Pevensey falls and Cissa settles British land. Every man, woman and child in Pevensey was sacrificed the brutal god, Wotan. Uther accepts the news silently.

At Stonehenge Prince Madoc is buried beside his uncle, Ambrosius Pendragon. The knights of Hertford briefly leave Terrabil to accompany their earl to the royal funeral. King Uther personally thanks our knights once again for their role at Cornwall. Sir Landry, the only landless knight of the eschille who swore fealty to Uther, is granted Hitchen Manor in Hertfordshire. Though now titled Baron Hitchen, Landry still considers Earl Hertford his liege lord. Earl Hertford also accepts Sir Godfrey into his household so long as Lady Morcheidys agrees to pay Sir Godfrey's upkeep.


In late summer King Uther announces his marriage to Duchess Ygraine. Many courtiers consider her clever move to secure the friendship and protection of the king. Wedding preparations are lavish and costly. Many throughout Logres complain that fortunes are better spent fighting Saxons. King Uther laughingly brushes them off and plans the festivities. By autumn Queen Ygraine begins to show child.

Wintering over at Terrabil is hard on the player knights. Though they can in turns visit their home in Hertford, the bleak cold of the Cornish coast keeps them bound indoors for months. Late in the year Godfrey sends for Feunette, the sister of pagan Sir Aragore. The two marry in Terrabil's chapel with little fuss and spend the yuletide happily together, perhaps the only two people to keep warm at Terrabil Castle that winter.

Total Glory Gained:

  • Rhodri: 720
  • Landry: 400
  • Morial: 420
  • Godfrey: 745

Manor Results

  • Lewarewich - Horrible wind and a hailstorm pummel the crops this season. With the lord absent and most commoners disregarding Lady Iulia, the harvest is poor. 3£ income - 3£ in debt.
  • High Wycomb - Horrible wind and a hailstorm pummel the crops the season. Taking pity on the landlord and hoping to gain agreement from Earl Hertford to elevate Percy to a squire, the lineage men and peasants share all they can harvest. 6£ income - break even.
  • Henlow - A brief stint back home in Henlow tests Sir Godfrey's sense of justice. Gerther, lineage man to Sir Madog and distant cousin of Sir Godfrey, took a sow from the peasant Germine. The meat was put to good use; but, Germine cried foul. Gerther claims that Germine owed him five hens and a rooster as well as repairs to his home. Gerther took the sow in recompense since Germine was not forthcoming with the chickens. Germine claims that he never did damage to Gerther's home; and, he will pay the just sum of five hens and a rooster when his current crop of chicks matures. Sir Godfrey puts gains from the siege to good use by siding with Gerther but repaying some of the cost of the sow to Germine. Henlow residents are satisfied that justice is done and start showing a liking to their temporary lord. The dispute triggers a census which finds that Henlow's prosperity through the years has grown the village. Godfrey orders land cleared for larger plantings. 9£ income - +3£ to treasury. +100 population and +8 levy.
  • Bushey - Terrible luck strikes Sir Rhodri's beautiful new manor. The fireplace was poorly built and a fire ravages the home at midwinter while Rhodri stays at Terrabil. Gwenhwyfar spends much of the treasury and sells most of the stored grain to repair the home or replace furnishings. 3£ income - 3£ in debt. +3 Hate.
  • Boxbourne - Earl Hertford's earth works and footmen earn their salt by repelling the strongest Saxon raid yet. The ditch and rampart is completed. The Lea River is diverted to fill the moat with water. Annual costs increase by 1£ to feed the 5 professional soldiers stationed by Earl Aralyd to man the ramparts. Increase yearly glory for the state by 1. 6£ income - break even.
  • Sawbridgetooth - The Lea flooded while workmen tried to divert the river to fill the new moat. Water broke through makeshift dykes and flooded the fields, causing a poor harvest. Annual costs increase by 1£ to feed the 5 professional soldiers stationed by Earl Aralyd to man the ramparts. Increase yearly glory for the state by 1. 3£ income - 3£ in debt.
Gwydion and Gilfaethwy by Vincent7995 from Deviant Art


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