Birth of Arthur

Lee (Sir Rhys' player) guest GM'd for the year 492 while I was out of the country. Lee graciously wrote this excellent journal describing the events of 492. Slight discrepancies with prior years should be overlooked as a result of different GM visions.

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Tintagel

Sir Morial's madness is cut short by being knocked unconscious while trying to single-handedly storm Castle Terrabil. After slaying Duke Gorlois at the Battle of Terrabil, our knights winter at Castle Terrabil.

The winter is a hard one. Cornwall is a proud land. The dominance of Logres is obvious but the lords of the remoter lands are not quick to bend the knee. Servants at the castle do not love their new lords and there are many bitter glances and whispers.

The king joins his new queen and her household at Tintagel. Come spring, rumors fly that the queen is with child and preparations begin for court to be held at Tintagel. King Lot and King Nentres arrive from their lands in the north to marry Lady Morgawse and Lady Elaine, the queen's daughters. Uther is pleased to solidify his relations with the northern lords.

The Earl asks the heroes of the Battle of Terrabil to accompany him to court as he knows that Uther will want to see them. Uther greets them warmly, reminding them that he has not forgotten their service in slaying the Duke. Ygraine is cold toward them and after Sir Morial lets her know what he things of Cornishmen she is furious. The knights catch a glance that passes between the queen and a large, sinister knight bearing the arms of a swan on a blue field. He glares at the knights with the promise of vengeance for their insults.

The knights ask about and learn that the knight is Sir Morland, known as the swan knight. He served as Ygraine's bodyguard when she was Duchess, a role that Uther confirms after he and his knights swear fealty to the king.

Sir Godfrey asks after his cousin Sir Madog but no one has heard word. The Earl summons him and appoints him as a knight of his household for his deeds at Castle Terrabil. He charges Sir Godfrey to look after the manors and the family of his cousin (gifting the manors to him for his lifetime, or until Madog returns).

Sir Godfrey meets King Nentres who rules the lands where Godfrey's family lives. Godfrey lets Nentres win at chess, the two talk, and Nentres is impressed with him.

The wedding of King and Morgawse and King Nentres and Lady Elaine is a huge affair. Much of the booty from the sack of Cornwall is spent on the feast. Prudent courtiers are concerned by the rate with which the king is spending money. King Nentres hears of trouble in his kingdom and returns to defend it. He expects Elaine to accompany him but Queen Ygraine begs him and King Uther to leave her with her daughters at her side until her baby arrives. Nentres, eager to please King Uther, relents. He asks Sir Godfrey if he will escort the lady to him after the birth.

All talk is about whether the queen will bear a son or a daughter. King Uther proclaims loudly to everyone that the child is certainly
his. The ladies of court are not so sure. There is a rumor that the child may be that of Duke Gorlois. At court, a drunk King Uther asks Merlin if the babe will be a boy or a girl. Merlin is reluctant to speak of it (and looks furiously at Uther) but eventually asks Uther to bare Excalibur. Ygraine looks sick with worry. Merlin swears on the sword of victory that the child will succeed Uther in kingship. Ygraine is wild with joy and the entire court revels late into the next morning. Uther and Ygraine announce that Merlin has been appointed Royal Tutor to their household. The bishops are furious: how could the king give over the teaching of the heir and of Ygraine's daughter Morgan to a sorcerer?

The knights return to Castle Terrabil where they learn that they will be staying in Cornwall for the summer to garrison the castle. Many Hertford knights are upset to be so long away from their manors and their families. Some, including Sir Godfrey, write to their wives to join them for the summer.

The knights partrol the countryside around Castle Terrabil. On one patrol they make camp for the night in their pavilions. A visitor
wakes Sir Morial and tells him to get up, get dressed, and get on a horse. The visitor is Merlin. The knights follow him into the woods until they reach the road to Castle Tintagel. Merlin asks each knight whom and what they serve above all else. Satisfied with their answers, Merlin asks them to wait there and rides off toward Tintagel.

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Tears by VforVieslav at Deviant Art
He returns four hours later with a squadron of knights on his tail. He heads directly toward the player knights and commands them to delay his pursuers. Sir Morial rides out to distract the knights. Their leader is Sir Morland who demands to know where the traitor Merlin has gone. Sir Rhodri insists on knowing why Sir Morland pursues him. When passions erupt, the youngest of Sir Morland's knights attacks Sir Morial. The two groups fight. One of the queen's knights brings down Sir Godfrey with a vicious blow that leaves him unconscious. Sir Morial and an offended and impassioned Sir Rhodri cut down Sir Morland's companions.

During a truce, Sir Rhodri again demands why Sir Morland chases Merlin. Sir Morland reveals that the queen has born a son and that Merlin has abducted him for his foul purposes. Sir Morial is certain of Merlin's loyalty and insists that as Royal Tutor it was logical that he would have the child. Sir Rhodri is equally certain that Merlin must be found and the child restored to the king.

Sir Rhodri and Sir Morland head into the woods to find Merlin, who is now several minutes ahead of them (and travelling unnaturally fast on a border pony who walks faster than a courser's gallop). Sir Morial attends to Sir Godfrey, calls for squires to watch over him, and then races to catch up with Sir Rhodri.

Rhodri's zeal for his task inspires his woodcraft. He follows Merlin's trail to a clearing in the woods where he and Sir Morial find a pouch Merlin has dropped. Inside the pouch is a signet ring but they do not recognize the seal. They continue to the other side of the clearing where they are ambushed by four Salisbury knights—the same knights who accompanied Merlin when they planted rocks on the battlefield with the Saxons. The Salisbury knights tell a similar story of being asked by Merlin to delay his pursuers.

The bigger group races to find Merlin. They find his pony tied to a tree at the top of a cliff that drops off into the sea. Sir Llywel races down the cliff (a climb that only a goat should attempt). Against all odds, Sir Llywel survives the descent but Merlin has reached a small boat hidden there. Merlin sails around the coast out of sight without responding to their insistent cries.

Sir Morland insists that they return to Castle Tintagel to report to the queen. Struck with dread the Hertford and Salisbury knights
agree.

Sir Brastias meets them at the gates of Castle Tintagel demanding to know what has happened. The knights try to explain but they are interrupted by a wrathful Queen Ygraine who calls for their blood and that of the traitor Merlin. Sir Brastias orders them to wait in the East Tower for the king to return. The king is away hunting.with King Lot (strange given that his wife is expecting soon). The knights show Brastias the signet ring they found—it is King Uther's personal seal. He is confused to learn that Merlin was holding it. He advises them not to speak of this with anyone but the king.

Sir Godfrey is alive and being tended by Uther's confessor and chirurgeon.

The knights send a squire to reach their Earl who arrives with Bishop Roger soon after. The Earl cannot believe what has happened but he cannot blame his knights for obeying Merlin—one of the king's senior advisors. He and the bishop counsel the knights to avoid the queen's people and promise to protect them as best they can from the king's wrath.

A severe and pagan-hating monk, Father Dewi, arrives to take their statements. From his questions it is clear that he believes that Merlin is an agent of the devil and has bewitched them. He is suspicious that they may have willingly entered into demonic pacts with Merlin.

At last the king returns. He visits the knights late in the night with no attendants, not even Sir Brastias. The knights reveal to him the signet ring that they found in the woods. The king looks torn. He asks the knights to prove their loyalty to him. Sir Morial reminds the king how he has even defending the king energetically. Sir Rhodri reminds him of that he is a man of Honor and would never betray the king.

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Templar Trial credit unknown

Uther admits that he was wrong to question them. He reveals to them that he freely gave Merlin his signet ring to allow him to take his son away to be raised in secret. After losing Prince Madoc, the king and Merlin worried that his enemies would assassinate the child. (He does not speak of other reasons, but the knights recall Merlin asking Uther what he would sacrifice to get his heart's desire). Uther reveals that the queen can never know what he has done—she would never forgive him. And her rebellion could well bring Cornwall into a full uprising.

The knights swear to secrecy. The king tells them that when Merlin was asked the same question as to what he would be willing to sacrifice, Merlin answered "My honor." The king tells them that Merlin must be blamed during the trial for taking his son.

At the trial, Father Dewi acts as inquisitor. He tries repeatedly to get Sir Rhodri to accuse Merlin of foul sorcery, pacts with the devil, and the abduction of the prince but Sir Rhodri cannot bring himself to lie under oath. A frustrated Queen Ygraine interrupts the proceedings. Dressed in mourning, she demands of Uther why she must ask him for justice on behalf of their son? She demands that the matter of the knights' innocence be settled by Trial by Combat because they will not answer the charges without equivocation.

Sir Morial agrees to face Sir Morland. After the priests invoke the judgement of God, the two face off. Inspired by his sense of personal honor, Sir Morial quickly gets the upperhand, forcing Sir Morland to his knees. He offers mercy, but the marshals interrupt and explain that the trial must be to the death for a capital crime. Sir Morland uses the break to stand but Sir Morial does not complain. Sir Morland wounds Morial. But after he sees the queen he loves press herself against Uther, he loses heart. Sir Morial all but takes off his leg and opens his side.

The knights are declared innocent by right of combat, but the queen's faction plots vengeance. The king, the earl, and Sir Brastias encourage the knights to leave for the north to escort Lady Elaine without delay.

Major continuity error on my part: Lady Elaine would know that these were the knights who killed her father. But I forgot to consider that in the subsequent events.

The trip to the north takes them past the lands of King Pellinore. They hear rumors that the king has vacated his throne to chase the Questing Beast. His kingdom is in considerable turmoil. Its lords feud with one another, and free companies of mercenary knights have taken to wholesale banditry.

The knights continue to Lindsey where they stop in to pay their respects to the Duke. They are welcomed. Their deeds at the Battle of Lindsey are remembered. At last, they head out again.

On the road north, a band of mercenaries attacks their column on the road. The leader of the mercenaries is none other that Praetor Syagrius. With him is a knight who bears a shield with the arms of Sir Madog! The knights repel the attack handily. Sir Rhodri mortally wounds the Praetor. Sir Morial takes the knight with Sir Madog's shield prisoner. The knight, Sir Eden, reveals that he took the shield from The Barefoot Knight, a man who rode with them for a season. The Barefoot Knight was powerful but soft in the head. One morning he woke up and walked out of the mercenaries' camp leaving behind his charger, armor, shield, and even his boots.

Sir Eden also reveals that the Praetor returned to Briton after swearing vengeance against Prince Madoc, King Uther, and all of his knights. He has been raiding the lands of the north and building up his company in hopes of hurting the king. When he learned that the king was sending his daughter-in-law to seal the alliance with King Nentres, he planned to capture her. Sir Eden says that most of the men thought that she would be held for ransom, but he knew better. On the knight that the Praetor learned that Prince Madoc had been slain by a hand other than his own, he strangled a captive knight of Logres with his own hands.

Sir Rhodri, torn between pity for the abuse shown to the Praetor and horror at the atrocities he has committed finally drives a spear through his heart, ending the sad man's life.

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Better Roman Riders credit unknown

Sir Eden trades information about the location of the Barefoot Knight for his own freedom. The knights take him captive. After delivering Lady Elaine to a grateful King Nentres, the knights travel south again to the border of Lindsey and Caercoulun. They come to a pathetic village. Sir Morial notices that the inhabitants are suffering from plague. Their houses are burned, their fields have been neglected.

The knights ask about the Barefoot Knight. He is in the manor of the late lord of this place, a Sir Deo. They ride to the manor which has burned to the ground. There they discover Sir Madog. After being tended by Sir Deo, Sir Madog has been continuing his work tending to the plague victims of the village. Sir Rhodri appeals to him to return to Hertfordshire but Sir Madog does not remember that life. Sir Godfrey appeals to his duty to his family. Sir Madog recovers when he recognizes his kinsman.

Madog retrieves a jeweled sword, a gift from the late Sir Deo. They return to Hertfordshire where their families are overjoyed to see them again. Sir Madog's wife, Mercedes, is torn between relief and a sense of the cruelty and punishment of her God.

The Earl shakes his head at Sir Madog's return. He has lost faith in Madog's reliability, but he also witnesses that Madog has gained the gift of healing. He suspects that Madog is touched by God; he recalls Merlin's admonition to support these knights. Even though his faith in Merlin has been tested, the earl decides to be forgiving Madog. He assesses Madog a tax of 12£ to compensate him for the loss of his military support for two years, but he reconfirms him in his vassal status.

The Earl tells Sir Rhodri that as eschille commander, he may discipline Madog as he chooses.

Sir Morial learns that his wife gave birth to a healthy girl. None of the other knights had additional children.

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