This year we tried another sandbox style session. It went much better than 494 because there was just so much going on. The story may seem scattered because there are events happening throughout the year and all over the county.


Silver light traces gaps between shutters over Squire Jocelyn's bed. A soft, ethereal glow steeps the tiny bedchamber where Sir Godfrey usually sleeps. Sir Godfrey visits neighbors at Lechworth Manor two hours ride south on Ermine Street, the old Kings road; leaving Squire Jocelyn the man of the house. Lady Henlow sleeps alone in the master's chamber while Sir Madog winters in Hertford Castle, dedicating the new chapel he commissioned in the rebuilt castle.

Sometimes I feel like I'm dying at dawn
And sometimes I'm warm as fire
But lately I feel like I'm just going to rain
And it goes over and over and over again.

Mournful singing gently awakens Jocelyn. Crisp winter air carries a soft, feminine voice through the darkness outside. The squire rises silently and cracks open a shutter to the cold. Faint light shimmers atop Henlow Barrow, barely seen through oak and scrub. Jocelyn catches glimpses of something moving on the mound, shining white behind stark tree limbs. He clasps closed the shutter and reaches for his breeches.

Dancing Angel, by MadMatter at Deviant Art

Jocelyn dresses for a winter night, strapping a scabbard to his waist. At the door stands Taurinus, Madog's second cousin and guardsman at the manor, sword also at his side. Once outside the singing takes a more urgent tone, like the wailing of a mother at her child's death. The song is at once sad and uplifting. It draws both men through the snow with its heart-wrenching sorrow.

Too many flames and too much to burn
And life's only made of paper
Oh, how I need to be free of this pain
But it goes over and over and over and over again.

Approaching the mound, Jocelyn finds the melody on his own lips echo the angelic voice. Atop the barrow dances a handsome maiden. White dove wings sprout from her back. The wings gracefully fold and extend to balance her as she whirls in archs upon a stone stage. She moves with passionate energy, suffering made visible in the flow of her arm or the reach of her leg.

The men watch her, awestruck by the heavenly beauty of her dance. Slowly the full moon moves across the sky. Still the dancer sings and twirls, growing ever more fervent with agonizing slowness. The moon begins to fall westward. As it reaches the tree branches she slows and straightens. Standing just before Squire Jocelyn, she gazes into his eyes.

Sometimes I cry for the lost and alone
And their dreams that will all be ashes
But lately I feel like I'm just going to rain
And it goes over and over and over and over again.

She arches her back, voice raised to the heavens. Jocelyn notices a drip of blood in the palm of each hand, red contrasting against her porcelain skin. A slice appears in her side. Blood trails down her hips. Taurinus crosses himself. Jocelyn only gapes in wonder at the angel's stigmata.

Another wound opens on her thigh. Skin splits and blood streams out. Flesh curls back into full, red lips. Still the wound grows. The lips part, a dark cut burrowing deep into her leg. Muscle flops out like a bloody tongue. She cries and falls, crawling across the barrow in a writhing dance. The inside of her thigh bursts as though a spear drives through her leg. The other leg begins to bleed. She collapses to the ground. The moon passes behind the trees and darkness falls.

Sir Hieronymus ap Mandark's joy at the newborn's first cry is tinged by disappointment. His cousin, Sir Morial ap Morial of Lewarewich, died in glory at the Battle of St. Albans. With no heirs, Lewarewich would have come to Hieronymous. The babe is now Sir Morial's heir, an infant son to carry on the name of his dead father.

The knight of Caercolun would have welcomed the land, having lost his own estate to King Æthelswith when the Saxons settled Essex. Lewarewich is the jewel of the Chiltern Hills. Sir Morial saw well to his land, investing every dinarii he could spare. The hills around Lewarewich teem with sheep from the landlord's herd. An apiary and salt evaporator bring steady coin in exchange for sweet mead and salt. Even a vineyard miraculously grows on the skirt of the hill where the manor house stands. Now Lewarewich has an heir. The boy is his kin, a second cousin. Hieronymous suppresses resentment with a twinge of guilt, vowing to care for the boy and ensure he is raised on stories of his father's glory.

Hieronymus rises to peek into the master chamber. Lady Iulia rests inside, the babe calm in her arms. Hot coals burn in a small hearth to drive away the February cold. He smiles reassuringly to her, then backs out to let her sleep. She must rest and heal quickly, for this summer Hieronymus aims to make her his bride.

The following section was contributed by Sir Rhodri's player before the session. Sir Edar is the backup character for Sir Rhodri. A big thank you to Eric for collaborating.

The wind blew softly, as they rode through the Baron’s lands. Though the journey was not great, only a few hours ride from Bushey to the next manor house, it was still more time than Edar wished to spend out here in the blistering chill.

“Was it really necessary to ride out today? Gwen said the snow would melt in a month’s time. Couldn’t we go then?” Edar complained, but he knew it was a lost cause. His brother-in-law was set in his purpose, and would not be persuaded this time.

“We’ve been over this before, Edar. It must be now. The longer we wait, the less chance the situation works out in our favor.” Rhodri’s words were calm and resolute. He remained still in the saddle as he spoke. He didn’t even seem to be shivering. Edar expected to see frost on Rhodri’s beard, but surprisingly, there was none, as if the man kept his own warmth by sheer force of will.

It had been over a year now since Edar arrived in Logres and was reunited with his sister and her family. And what a family it was! Gwenhwyfar had given birth to four sons, just like their mother. Edar particularly doted on the youngest, Rholed. The boy was only four, but Edar loved playing with him, teaching him to sing songs, fence with wooden sticks, and defend himself from the tyranny that is older brothers.

Growing up, Edar, the fourth son of Lord Galweryn of Sains, had been very close to his oldest sister. Gwenhwyfar and he were closest in age among their siblings, and spent many days playing together, practicing their singing and story telling, and his sister telling him all the news of their father’s court.

He was 12 when Gwenhwyfar was sent off to Logres. His father claimed she would be safer there with the Earl than at home, especially with the Francs getting so close. The family questioned this, but there was nothing to do. Their father had become more and more protective of his children since his head wound years before.

With his sister gone, Edar had fallen into a malaise for a while, until his father hired a sword tutor. The tutor had decided that the best way to raise Edar’s spirits was to work him until he was too tired to feel sorry for himself. The training seemed to work, as Edar’s spirits were quickly raised once the tutor moved in. Though, this was also coincidentally when the tutor’s lovely, and experienced, young daughter moved in as well. Edar trained obsessively for the next few years, eventually becoming an expert swordsman even at such a young age.

When he was 16, before he became a squire, his sister returned for a visit, this time with her soon-to-be husband, Sir Rhodri. Edar at first couldn’t see why her sister seemed so eager to marry the Logres knight. He was plain ugly, and seemed rather quiet and stern all the time. After talking with Gwen, he soon understood.

Gwenhwyfar was always the smartest in the family. She could always beat Edar and their brothers in Chess. She was a skilled orator, and could read even better than their father. Galweryn loved her so much, he indulged her in her outspokenness, against the advice of his vassals.

Things had apparently been different in Hertfordshire. Women in the Earl’s court were not treated nearly so well. After arriving, Gwen became fast friends with the Countess, but the first lesson she learned was that women were not to speak out. She quickly became sullen, and spent her days at court quiet and listening to the news and intrigue. She sang when requested, and sometimes a knight would approach her, but they only ever wanted her for her beauty. All wished to speak to her, but none wished for her to speak back. She quickly gained a reputation for being cold and empty inside, rejecting potential suitors with a quick witted word. Though some knights would anger, none would dare harm her in the presence of the Earl.

Viking Warrior by severeene at Deviant Art

The first time she saw Rhodri was at the Earl’s court. He had been knighted that season, and was sitting, much like her, in the corner of the room. Some other knights would tease him for being “lost in thought”, but she knew he was not. He was listening. She could see it in the way his head would tilt slightly as a lord would walk by. Or the way his eyes would scan the room quickly, then lose their focus again.

What sealed her admiration for Rhodri was what transpired in one of their first conversations. Rather than asking her to sing, or to dance, or to just be silent so he could speak, he asked her to help him interrogate a prisoner. Interrogate a prisoner! Such a strange request! But she could not have been more ecstatic.

When Rhodri finally asked for her hand, he impressed her again, claiming he would travel to Sains to get her father’s permission, but only if it was what she wanted. What she wanted! At that point, she wanted nothing else.

Edar could see the love Rhodri felt for his sister. Both at the wedding in Sains, and in the last year living with them in Bushey. The knight never commanded his sister. He accepted her counsel and debated her when they disagreed. Edar had heard rumors that no secret was safe in court when Sir Rhodri and his wife were present. It was plain to see why. They worked in concert, gathering information, supporting each other’s actions.

Though Galweryn loved all his children dearly, as a fourth son, Edar was, like his sister, not considered of much importance to the family lineage. His three older brothers had all grown hale and hearty to carry on the family name, so Edar was left with little expectations of glory. Edar was knighted at 21 and became a household knight to his father, but still there was little to do. Skirmishes and battles were for his older brothers. Edar was left to mill around court, singing and telling stories of his brothers, or showing off his fencing skills for the women. Perhaps it was Edar’s resemblance to his sister that caused Galweryn to be so protective of him (as he was of Gwen). It would certainly explain what his father did next.

As Galweryn grew older, his emotions and protectiveness grew only stronger, to the point of paranoia. After Edar’s older brother Galwyn was injured in a skirmish with Franc raiders, their father became despondent, until one day he called Edar to his room.

“Edar, my son. Listen to me. I could not bear it if anything happened to you. And those damn Francs grow closer each day. I fear it is not safe here for you anymore. I wish you to travel to Logres, to the house of Bushey, where your sister lives. Stay there with her. You will be safe there, away from the threats of the Francs.”

“Father, you can’t be serious. Why would you do this? I wish to stay and fight! You know I’m the best with the sword in our family. I can help my brothers! Please let me stay!”

“No, my son. You must go. I do not wish to see you in battle. Here, take this coin. It should be enough to get you to Logres. Go, my beautiful Edar. Be safe, with your sister.”

“Father, please! I am a knight of Sains! I swore an oath to prote-”

“I RELEASE YOU FROM YOUR DAMNED OATH! Do not make me exile you as well! Go! Go now!”

Edar shifted in his saddle. This land was so damned cold! And not like his father had said at all. Safety? Edar fought alongside his brother-in-law just last summer against a horde of Saxons larger than any force of Francs he’d ever heard of. (Luckily, the Saxons had Francish mercenaries, giving Edar his chance to finally kill those wretched cave dwellers). Worse, after the battle, the King and most of his nobles were killed, poisoned at the feast to celebrate their victory! The land was now in chaos!

But Rhodri had survived, and so had his family. Many of Rhodri’s knight friends also lived. Edar knew these men would not give in to the chaos. He knew these men would rebuild with honor. And Edar would be here to help them.

Ice crunches under the horses' hooves. Though the snow began melting a week before, a morning cold spell froze the muddy ruts to Bozen Green. Wind from Bozen Village blows acrid smoke across the greensward, bringing with it the scent of fresh loaves and dried rosemary. Rhodri can hear Edar's belly growl. Rhodri his hungry as well, having ridden through a frigid February morning. Rhodri hopes the Baroness provides welcome hospitality, though he fears she will not. There is no way to predict how she might respond to Rhodri's demands.

Anarchy descended on the kingdom after King Uther's murder. Nearly all the leaders across Logres were struck dead at the Infamous Feast of St. Albans. Earl Aralyd lay buried in the gardens at Hertford. Lords and vassals across the county refused to pledge themselves to Countess Elaine, though Sir Bushey and much of his eschille had done so last Christmas. Estates neighboring Bushey to the north and east belonged to the heirless Baron Bozen of Bozen Green. Baron Bozen died at last year's feast as well, leaving his widow alone and nobody to claim ownership of the lands. Countess Elaine declined to touch the lands herself since King Uther directly granted the barony.

Rhodri saw the need and opportunity. In a kingdom without lords, those with arms to defend their words can make any claim. Rhodri brings his kinsmen to bend Baroness Bozen to his will. Three knights with squires and eight armed lineage men ride up the path toward Bozen Green, intent on making it their own.

A pair of men come rushing out of a farmhouse alongside the path. Fur trimmed leather wraps their bodies.

"Hail, Sir Rhodri. Our neighbors from Bushey are always welcome here. But what brings you on such a crisp morning?"

A rime of frost gathers around the man's beard. Steam clouds his face as he speaks. His gloved hand reaches for Sir Rhodri's reins. The man begins walking Sir Rhodri's steed toward the stable.

"These are troubling times," replies Sir Rhodri. "The Baroness lives here without a lord, unprotected. I thought to come and see that she doesn't fall victim to any bandit's depredations."

The man's voice drops, "We fare well enough without a lord, sir."

The two continue to talk as the lineage man guides them to Bozen Green's large stable. Rhodri learns his name is Iuean. Iuean is the nephew of the late Baron, not a knight but a man trained to fight nonetheless. He speaks confidently to Rhodri, as if conversing with a peer instead of his better. In front of the stable the Bushey men dismount. A stableboy takes the horses inside to rub the morning cold out of them. At the manor door, Baroness Bozen greets Sir Rhodri cordially. After spiced ale and warm loaves, Rhodri turns to business.

The Baroness is a pious lady. She bends her knees in prayer more than attends matters of the estate. Rhodri's brusque talk leaves her frightened and unsure. Iuean takes affront and storms out of the hall. Sensing danger, Rhodri sends Bledri to the stables to protect their mounts. As he leaves a group of men form beside the greensward carrying swords and cudgels. Seeing Sir Bledri walk toward the stable unarmored and vulnerable, the mob rushes forward. Rhodri calls for attack as all the men of Bushey pile out from the manor.

The two groups meet over a patch of hard frozen mud before the stable doors. Swords are drawn and cudgels fly, though without armor men on both sides hesitate to commit to the fray. Iuean, incensed at Bushey's bald aggression, swings at Sir Edar. A man, even those with a trace of noble blood in his veins, should never fight his betters. It is an assault against society ordained by God. The Lord strikes dead those who offend Him. So it is with Iuean attacking Sir Edar. The Cornouailles knight sweeps his sword in a clean arc, sending Iuean's headless body toppling to the ground.

The rest of Bozen Green surrenders without fight. By evening Rhodri returns home, leaving Sir Bledri behind to ensure taxes come to Bushey with the fall harvest.

Only Give Me a Sword, by Wilithin at Deviant Art

Sir Rhowydd of Windridge is overwhelmed. They arrive as the night swallows the last glows of a pale winter day. His wife, Lady Eleri apf Arawine, opens the door for her father. Lord Arawine of Berkhamstead takes long strides into the manor hall, closely followed by seven of his vassals. They draw swords and pin Rhowydd while one of them confiscates Rhowydd's arms.

Lord Berkhamstead takes up Rhowydd's sword and stands before the kneeling man. Upon threat of death, witnessed by an encouraging wife and infant daughter, Lord Berkhamstead administers the Oath of Fealty to Sir Rhowydd of Windridge. Having gained Rhowydd's sworn word, Lord Berkhamstead takes his daughter and granddaughter back to his demesne. Rhowydd quietly saddles a rouncy to ride for Hertford.


The wagon moves slowly over lush green growth sprouting in the old ruts. A sumpter draws it accompanied by a squadron of burly Saxons, some on horse. At their head flies an ornately sewn leather banner of one accustomed to deference. A trio of children wander among their footsteps, following behind closely so as not to be separated. Four women walk with them. Their going has been rough. The forest paths proved more overgrown than expected this early in the year. So now the party is late and must hasten to not miss Pentecost.

Sir Lan of Sawbridgetooth sees them well ahead on the trade path. Recognizing them as Saxons, he hangs back to shadow their progress. In short order two horsemen peel away, turn and ride to Lan. Open palm forward in sign of peace, the Saxons hail Lan.

"Good day, sir. Thank you for your politeness; but, you need not fear disrupting us should you ride by. I assure you, the children will stay well out of your way." The tall Saxon speaks in sharp staccato, a melodic lilt to the end of his phrases. His words are warm enough; but, a tense smile betrays him.

Lan sits up in his saddle, gripping the spear more tightly. He brings the shaft across his body, closer to holding ready.

"I think I'll abide where I am, thank you. Why don't you just go on where you're going."

"Very well then, sir. You do as you please. But my lord sends a message. You may join us for dinner tonight on the road or you may sit alone in the shadows watching us. The choice is yours alone." The Saxons laugh as they turn to ride back.

That night Sir Lan enjoys the company of Æthling Æscwine, son of Æthelswith. The Saxon prince shows a hearty appetite for food and mead, which they carry with them in abundance on the cart. Æscwine travels the same route as Lan, to St. Albans for Countess Elaine's Pentecost court. Lan, wary of divulging information about Hertford, drinks sparingly. Æscwine speaks of Saxon strength and claims Lan must have Saxon blood with such a size. Lan begins to think of Æthling Æscwine as more friend than an enemy, Saxon though he be.

The next morning they part. Lan rides ahead to warn Countess Elaine that King Æthelswith sent a son as emissary.

"No, Countess, I don't think we should pay tribute."

Sir Madog speaks frankly to the council of Hertfordshire lords and knights of renown. Most nod in agreement, though some look troubled and uncertain. The knights gather in the chambers of the Archbishop of St. Alban, above the very room where treachery slew so many at the Infamous Feast last year.

"They're Saxons. We've beaten them time and again on the battlefield. Let them threaten. We'll beat them again. This arrogant Saxon prince comes to St. Albans, the very place where we defeated them, to demand tribute from us? Only through poison and deceit were the Saxons able to inflict a terrible wound on Logres. These cowards deserve nothing but contempt. Æthling Æscwine should not leave these walls alive."

Lord Arawine rises, "Sir Madog, you and I again agree. Let us throw these men in chains! Rather than tribute to Æthelswith, he should send ransom to us."

Arawine's words are met with vigorous nodding from some of the knights, while others mutter to each other of dishonor and doom. Countess Elaine listens silently, searching faces one by one to measure each man's intent. Her eyes settle upon Sir Rhodri of Bushey. He gazes back at her with the same expression of sharp attention; as if Rhodri, too, tries to read the Countess' thoughts.

Countess Elaine holds court at St. Albans for several reasons, chief of which being that Hertford Castle still undergoes repairs suffered from last year's siege. Most of Hertfordshire's knights attend her, though more than half still refuse to swear fealty or promise protection. There is much to do. Saxon depredations across the county must be repaired and the commons succored. To many lords the Countess provides food, lumber, carpenters and livestock to replenish lost herds. Petty squabbling breaks out all over the kingdom. Countess Elaine must show leadership and unity at this Pentecost court to have any hope of surviving the many threats on her borders.

Last Trial by Ninquelen at Deviant Art

"Sir Rhodri, tell me your thoughts."

Rhodri speaks confidently, "We should not pay tribute. One hundred libra and one hundred head of cattle are too steep a price. If we stay together, united in our support of Countess Elaine and young Ardden, then we need not fear the tepid warriors of King Æthelswith."

"I don't understand how Æscwine can come here unguarded as he does." Madog replies. "Does he seek death? If I have anything to do with it he'll never reach home alive."

"Leave him be," responds Sir Rhys. "He's an emissary and shouldn't be accosted."

The more gallant nobles voice agreement with Rhys. Discussion moves to the need for a new wall around Hertford town. Madog schemes silently to himself while the others talk. He resolves to send word to Henlow as soon as the council retires, calling for his best huntsmen to meet him at Hertford just after Pentecost. Then he turns his attention back to the assembly.

"… but stone walls are expensive. They require masons and equipment to raise. Luckily, there is plenty of remaining stone from Hertford's destruction last year. That will speed construction and remove the need to reopen the old quarry. While I empty my coffers to those in hardship, I ask of you who have the means to provide workers and equipment. Who can help contribute to our defense?"

Rhodri is first to speak up, immediately followed by Madog. Not to be outdone, Lord Berkhamstead also donates a large sum. While many estates from the eastern frontier and along Ermine Street still recover from last year's heavy losses, those in the western end of the county or along the Thames valley all offer aid. Such charity must be used for defense. All agree to use the funds to build a stone wall around Hertford where the old wooden palisade once stood, forgoing any tribute to Æthelswith. The council retires and everyone makes their way back to the feast hall below. Once among the rest of Hertford's nobility, Madog seeks out Squire Jocelyn.

Estates across Hertfordshire lost their lords in battle last year. Countess Elaine knights many fine, young men this court to take their place. Squire William served Madog stoutly and so earns his spurs, as does Sir Rhodri's squire. Although the celebration is necessarily spare, the pageantry of ennobling so many buoys the spirits of those assembled. Nigh on half the veteran knights take a formal oath of allegiance to the Countess, swearing to uphold her rule until Ardden reaches majority. There are also those who stand aside and refuse their obligation to Elaine, most notably Lord Berkhamstead.

With ceremony out of the way, a subdued feast commences. Worthy men and ladies mingle, catching up on news of distant family and gossip from far away lands. Æthling Æscwine gathers a group of boisterous knights about him as they indulge heartily in St. Alban's abbey ale. Among the guests this year is Sir Brastias, former bodyguard to King Uther. Injuries from the Battle of St. Albans have yet to fully heal; but, the seasoned war dog still makes an imposing presence despite his limping gait. Brastias' eschille accompanies him. As yet Brastias has not sworn fealty to anyone, preferring to earn his men's keep through force of arms.

Bard by James Fitzpatrick

"Its stuck well and good, I tell you!" Brastias' rough voice booms across the hall. "We woke New Year's Day to find a boulder half the height of a man plopped down in the middle of St. Paul's Square. How it got there nobody knows; but, it would take a team of horses to lift a rock that size. And on top of the thing is an iron anvil with a sword struck right through its middle. The priests there claim the writing on the rock says, 'Only the king will pull me out' or some such nonsense. The sword didn't budge when I tried to pull, nor for anyone else in London."

Llyryn apf Uren, the widowed Lady Radlett, speaks brazenly about the sword. "Let me tell you, this looks like another one of Merlin's tricks. It smells of magic, doesn't it? So it must be him. Not the Lady of the Lake. She doesn't care about politics and all. What do you think that old devil is up to?"

The crowd breaks away from Brastias, each with their own meaning for the wondrous sword. Sir Hieronymus stays by Brastias side, continuing to speak to the older knight.

"So what will you do with yourself, Brastias?"

"Kill Saxons! Or so I hope. They're moving everywhere in small groups. The Centurion King of Malahaut sends word that Picts from the far north scout his lands. Merchants say Irishmen swarm Gales like a tide of rats. And that bastard Idres from Brittany is going to attack from the south. There's no place safe these days. Even Ulfius sits in Silchester uncertain what to do."

The two continue to talk about armies and troops and black times. Trouble threatens all corners of kingdom and nobody steps up to take the throne. If the Supreme Collegium gathers in London as promised then maybe a king will rise by the end of the year. Sir Hieronymus, now responsible for Lewarewich on the eastern frontier, speaks of Rhydychan and their treachery in past years. Soon he and Brastias agree to attack Shirburn lands together. Hieronymus hopes to quell Lord Shirburn's ambition in the Chiltern Hills while Brastias wants to seize booty for his men. They part, promising to meet the next day and plan their assault.

Knighting and intrigue are not all that occur at the Pentecost court. Countess Elaine works diligently to marry widows and young knights so that all lands have a lord to defend them. Sir Rhodri brokers a union between Lady Radlett and Sir Llywel of Stonebury in exchange for Llywel and his brother, Sir Morganor of Wain Wood, swearing fealty to the Countess. Young Sir Guy, household knight of the Countess and kin to Sir Rhys of Boxbourne, weds Ophelia of Knebworth. Glesni apf Owain, sister to Lord Amersham, is forced into marriage with Sir Tydig, whose wife died in childbirth that Spring. Glesni's younger sister, Nia, marries Defi ap Caramig, younger brother to the new Lord Hemel Hempstead.

News of other lands also spreads at the feast. Countess Ellen of Salisbury busily knights milites and offers gifts to build up her army. Duke Ulfius sends diplomats to Kent, Essex and Sussex. Countess Rhydychan cowers in Oxford, unable to rally the lords of Rhydychan to her support. A new duke rises in Lindsey. Duchess Diane is in need of service; but, nobody in the chaotic shambles of Caercolun wants her. Logres crumbles without her king.


"Here, Sir Madog! Over here!"

The call comes from a small rise off the right side of the road. Madog peers into thick foliage, straining to see who hails him.

The road from Ermine Street to Harlow is narrow and treacherous this year. The trade route to Harlow was never wide or completely clear of obstacles; but, this year the road seems under siege. Roots reach up from wheel ruts to snag the unwary foot. Branches overhead hang heavy with rampant growth, sagging down into the path or growing directly across it. Saplings take root in the middle of the road, growing far more than they ought in a single summer. Everywhere the foliage is thick and flowers give off their heady aroma.

Through this undergrowth Madog sees his lineage man waving and shouting. The man did well in choosing where to set an ambush. The road takes a sharp jog to the left beneath a craggy hillock. Right next to the trail is a steep rise nearly as tall as a man. From this rise a footmen could drive spears down into the Saxon emissaries with deadly effectiveness. Madog commends his lineage man and proceeds to set camp.

Madog assails the Saxon prince without the knowledge or approval of his friends. Most of the eschille spoke out against attacking Æscwine at Countess Elaine's Pentecost court, fearing it dishonorable or that it would exact retribution from King Æthelswith. Rather than argue his case, Madog determined to take action himself. Now he awaits Æscwine's caravan, accompanied by two knights whom he dearly loves. Sir Godfrey and his squire, Jocelyn, are kinsmen devoted to the mystic Tau just like Sir Madog. Sir William, newly knighted, served Madog well as squire since the Battle of Lincoln seven years prior. Madog would gladly lay down his life for either of these men, as would they for him.

Saxons are renown footmen of great size and skill. Thinking to use a knight's greatest asset, his steed, Madog decides to array the knights on horseback along the path rather than attack from hiding. The trade road is just broad enough for a small wagon, though made more narrow and treacherous in this year's uncanny growth. To charge the knights must ride in single file.

Three days later Æscwine's party comes upon the bushment. Believing himself invulnerable to molestation as a diplomat, Æscwine himself leads the train from atop a large pony. Surprised to see the ambush, Æscwine snaps into action just as Madog spurs his charger forward. Æscwine leaps off his horse, disappearing into woods south of the road. Others in the Saxon caravan do the same. Two warriors quickly ride forward to meet the Cymric knights, sacrificing themselves so that their prince might escape. Madog and Godfrey collide with the Saxons, their skirmish spilling off the edge of the trail and into the underbrush.

William, third in the line of Cymric knights, jumps from his horse and chases Æscwine into the wood. Luck is with William as he finds himself on a deer path winding through thick brush. The Saxon prince struggles against thorn and twig to make headway. William comes even with the prince and turns to rush him. The two meet at the base of a sprawling oak. Saplings and holly make precarious footing, causing the two men to stumble and lurch with each blow.

William hefts his sword like a man possessed, swinging mightily at his foe. Always Æscwine's spear is there to block the blow, one step ahead of the Cymric knight. William finally connects, cutting a shallow gash across Æscwine's leather trousers and drawing blood. In response Æscwine jabs the spear into William's unprotected underarm. A root snags Æscwine's heel just as the spear point enters soft flesh, knocking Æscwine onto his back and jerking the spear harmlessly away. William lunges at the prone man. Æscwine rolls to his side and up on his knees, knocking a backhanded swing from William high into the air. William stumbles lightly but keeps his feet. The pause gives Æscwine just enough time to jump to his feet and renew the attack.

Having beaten their foes on the trail, Godfrey and Madog rush into the wood. Godfrey makes slow progress, trying in vain to hear where the rest of the Saxon party might have run. Madog goes straight for the Saxon prince. William and Æscwine continue clash, neither able to find an opening. Madog reaches the pair and drives his sword at the Saxon. Æscwine nimbly steps to the side, blocking Madog's sword with the haft of his spear. A harsh crack splits the air. Madog's blade hacked into the spear, splintering the wood in Æscwine's grip. The break drags at Æscwine's attention for a split second, just long enough for William to bound around the oak. William's sword swings up in a wide arch, connecting with Æscwine's unprotected skull just above the ear. The Saxon prince collapses, dying instantly.

Trees by saenjo at Deviant Art
  • Lewarewich


  • Christmas Attendance
  • Nomination to Marshal

Glory Gained

  • Lady Iulia: 500
  • Sir Lan: 140
  • Sir William: 100
  • Sir Rhodri: 100
  • Sir Hieronymus: 75
  • Sir Rhys: 75
  • Sir Edar: 20
  • Sir Madog: 15
  • Sir Godfrey: 15
  • Sir Bledri: 10

Manor Events

Manor events do not take into account any investment income or cost.

  • Boxbourne: Much of the energy of the menfolk goes into rebuilding the barn and stables. The bakery and manor house remain unbuilt. A few minor raids from small bands of Saxons reminded the people of ever-present danger, and of the landlord's failure to protect them the year before. Still, the people of Boxbourne band together in times of hardship and share alike. Meager harvest 5£ (6£ maintenance results in 1£ debt.) Care increase.
  • Betlowe: Faerie lights continue to bring good luck and aid at harvest. This year the peasants tracked down the source of the tiny, glowing flowers. An old quarry nearby has a deep pond and half-submerged cave. The flowers float from the cave, up the quarry and over the forest to Betlowe's farmland. Nobody dared to enter the cave yet. Good harvest (9£ - 5£ = 4£ profit)
  • Sawbridgetooth: Taking pity on the string of misfortune for Sir Lan, or more so his people, Countess Elaine offered to send laborers with supplies to build a hamlet for the destitute of Sawbridgetooth. Sir Lan, however, refused to swear fealty to the Countess so she withholds her aid. Bad harvest (3£ - 5£ = 2£ debt.) Sir Lan is now broke and barely has enough funds to outfit himself the coming year.
  • Bushey: A mixture of mediocre weather, loss of evidently critical commoners to the function of the village and a most unfortunate mishap in the grain storage resulted in poor harvests. (3£ - 6£ = 3£ debt)
  • Stowemarket: Great year for pigs! A sow lays a tremendous litter of ravenous piglets. 25 of the little critters survive to baconhood. Sir Rhodri calls out the peasant who betrayed Steward Gewaine last year to the Saxons. The peasant is summarily hanged. Break even.
  • Bozen Green: The new landlord keeps Lady Bozen on as steward of the estate. Though the people grumble and chafe at Sir Rhodri for seizing the land, enough taxes come in to sustain the estate and provision Sir Bledri. (5£ - 5£ = break even.)
  • Lewarewich: Distraught over the loss of her husband, and then being forced to marry a cousin, Lady Iulia turns melancholy and withdraws. Her uncharacteristic lack of energy results in a bad harvest. (3£ - 6£ = 3£ debt)
  • Heytesbury House: Most expensive investment, the apiary, destroyed by lightning. Otherwise the steward does a fine job keeping the household moving. Good havest (9£ - 5£ = 4£ profit.)
  • High Wycomb: Violent thunderstorms on the southern Chiltern Hills turned to hail in early August. The crops are ruined. Bad harvest (3£ - 5£ = -2£.)
  • Henlow: A shepherd is caught in the act with one of his sheep. Sir Madog prays for guidance and sends the sinful lad to St. Albans for confession. Much of flock suddenly dies of blight 2 months later. The loss of mutton and fleece hurts Henlow's finances this year. (5£ - 6£ = 1£ debt.)
  • Chesham: A surprisingly peaceful and normal summer save for one momentary, memorable event. Giles, a common goatherd of the village, was on the hillside watching over his goats when Voraxingluvius screamed from on high and dove straight down upon the luckless man. He stood gaping up at the descending dragon immobilized with fear. At the last moment Voraxingluvius careened off to the side and swung upward high into the sky, chuckling satisfyingly to himself. The peasants who came to fetch Giles claimed he still stood there, mouth agape and with a pant load. Normal harvest (6£ - 5£ = 1£ profit.)
Bannerets of Hertfordshire on December 31, 495
Bannerets of Hertfordshire on December 31, 496
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