The spring court this year is a strange affair. The knights arrive in Sarum through the wind and rain to find the town on a military footing. Knights are travelling back and forth on errands and men-at-arms are on guard and seeing to supplies. Earl Roderick speaks with his knights and gives them tasks to perform and to ready themselves for war. They leave in a few days to make their way to St. Albans. News is that the Saxon army of King Octa is there besieging the city.
When the military procession leaves Sarum it is to a clear sky and no rain. The fields and paths are sodden though and it is slow going. Still, they arrive in Levcomagus a few hours later than expected and then head to Silchester to meet with Duke Ulfius’ army. They also meet armies from Clarence and Marlborough. All in all about 1,000 knights and 4,000 foot head to Staines to meet with Uther.
Uther is in attendance at Staines, even though he is clearly not well. He is pale of skin and looks to have not slept in days. Still, he is riding and able to give orders to Sir Brastias who deals with the logistics of this massive host. 1,500 knights and 5,000 foot leave Staines a week later to head to St. Albans to put down the Saxon dogs.
Our knights arrive in St. Albans to find several burnt down villages on route. The army sets camp outside the walls and the other side of a large open field that is to see the blood of many good men soak through to hell.
In the camp the officers retire to the royal tent to discuss the plan of attack. Peasants have given information that the city has already been taken and that the Saxon army is larger than the British one. The latter information is ignored. It’s a given that peasants can’t count.
The following day after the army has set camp they find that the gates to St. Albans are strangely left open. Some knights from Gloucester who are still armoured from recent guard duty decide to charge into the city. This is seen by Sir Cynlas who, although not armoured, doesn’t want to miss the chance for glory. He mounts his horse and races to meet his comrades. Sir Caulas runs to the Earl of Salisbury to explain what is happening.
With some deft horse riding Sir Cynlas catches up with Sir Olwen, a banneret of Gloucester. He is leading about twenty knights in an effort to take the gate and secure it. As they enter, Sir Cynlas is prudent enough to hold back from being first through, they reel back to see they are surrounded by Saxons. Sir Olwen’s horse is taken straight under him by two Saxons wielding two handed axes. Sir Cynlas turns his horse to get back out the gate. He gets through, the gates being closed by tens of Saxons. Another knight of Gloucester is making a run through the gate having been unhorsed. Amidst the screaming of men and dying horses Sir Cynlas has enough wits to extend a hand and lift the young knight onto his horse. They ride clear. As Sir Cynlas rides there’s a thump as his passenger is struck by an arrow and he goes limp. Cynlas hangs onto him and they gallop to the British camp.
Salisbury is clearly not happy with Sir Cynlas but holds back from chastising him. He needs all the knights he can in the right frame of mind. It’s clear to him that Sir Cynlas is passionate enough to deal a hefty blow come battle.
As dawn breaks over St. Albans the Saxon host file out of the city and form up in front of its walls. With this sight Uther does the same with his knights and men-at-arms. When both armies are lined up it is clear the Saxons outnumber the British. They look to have about 9,000 men. No horse though as that is not their way.
Salisbury and his men are in the vanguard, therefore they line up on the right. Uther holds the centre with Ulfius on the left flank. Sir Amig gives Sir Cynlas command of a select few knights. These include Sirs Alafon, Caulus and Morians.
The fighting is tough and fierce. In the initial charge Sir Caulus is unhorsed by a javelin but his Squire is quick enough with a replacement horse. It’s only a rouncy but it should do fine. The battle plan for Sir Cynlas involves charging and withdrawing. This gives the knights the best chance to do damage to the Saxon line. During the fighting Salisbury is also unhorsed and Sir Cynlas gets his squire to provide a replacement charger. He gets out alive. Sir Caulus is injured again, this time by a Saxon spear. It bounces of his shield and cuts deep into his leg.
Several hours of fighting pass and it is early afternoon before the Saxon host flees to the wood. It is unknown what fate belied King Octa. He is not found amongst the dead. The dead are numerous and our Salisbury knights count the true cost of fighting. Sir Alafon losing three members of his family to the Saxons. Sir Jaradan is also found dead. It appears that Framric Offason, the Saxon he captured a few years back had ended his life. An axe driven deep into his skull
That evening there is a lavish feast in the great hall of St. Albans castle. Our knights are in the bailey in large tents but it is the great hall where Sir Cynlas petitions the Earl to be. The greatest knights are there and he wishes to be among them. Salisbury capitulates and Sir Cynlas will join Uther et al.
Around midnight when the drinking has been furious, Sir Morians is with a young handmaiden and Sir Caulus with a peasant girl, Sir Cynlas staggers out of the great hall clutching his belly. Bloody vomit spews from his mouth and Sir Alafon looks up to see more men sway on their feet. It seems the whole of the hall has been poisoned. Salisbury is hanging onto Sir Cynlas but collapses back and dies before he gets to far. Sir Alafon drags Cynlas over to a water butt but the knight from Bedwyn can’t hold any liquid down. Within minutes he expires at his feet.
The scene all around looks like hell. It appears someone or something has poisoned the nobility of Logres. Ulfius and Sir Brastias alone are lucky enough to escape due to being with the doctors after they recived wounds in the battle. After a while the wife of the Castellan of St. Albans takes charge and gets things in order, as much as she can.
Morning breaks and Sirs Morian and Caulas are shocked at the sights before them. When Sir Morians sees peasants moving the bodies of Salisbury knights he ushers them out of the way so that he can take charge of the situation.
It is a day or so until the knights of Salisbury have things in order and leave St. Albans behind. They have the body of Uther with them. He is to be buried at Stonehenge. Ygraine is grieved deeply by his death. Earl Roderick is to be buried at Sarum Cathedral by Bishop Roger.
Eventually our knights return home. Battle weary and with their lords dead.
At the Christmas court Countess Ellen, widow of Earl Roderick asks for the knights to pledge their allegiance to her. Until her young son comes of age. The boy Robert is only 3. All of them do so and she is relived to have their support. She explains that things will be tough and it will take time to sort things out. She speaks to each knight individually. She hands wardship of Sir Cynlas’ two sons to Sir Alafon. She arranges marriages for Sir Morians and Sir Caulas. Sir Morians is to marry lady Sara, Sir Jaradan’ widow in the new year. Sir Caulus will marry the Lady Enfys. He briefly met her and found her pleasing.
This was a fun session. It did take a while for me to get back into it after a long break from the last time. For that I apologise to my players. The battle was run using the Book of Battle and that is quite something to get ones head around. It appeared to us that we had got a good chunk of it wrong. Oh well. With the battle pretty much scripted it doesn’t change too much. It might have been tougher for them though.