Neal's GPC

Year 501: Of Pagans and Portents

Sir Morians and Sir Caulus ride in through the gates of Sarum and are pleased to see the work on the walls is complete. The bailey is now completely ringed by a high stone wall that should make any Saxons think twice about assaulting them.

They meet Sir Miles who is with his new wife the Lady Ceridwen, she is with child and Sir Miles is naturally pleased.
During the few days the knights spend at court discussions are had on what is happening elsewhere in Logres. It seems the Angles that landed in Caerwent last year and now making inroads towards Hertford and Huntington, the Earls there are seeking support. Our Salisbury knights are not concerned by this at the moment since the Angles have other counties to get through before they can reach Salisbury.

The Countess is keen on keeping her knights in Salisbury for the most part. Sir Morians and Sir Caulus are keen to go back to Dorsette and help Dorchester fight back against King Idres but the Lady Salisbury will have none of it. She asks for experienced knights to patrol Salisbury and the Bear and Sir Morians are amongst those to go.

Our good knights patrol Salisbury starting at Sir Alafon’s castle at Ebble before moving East and then North around Salisbury. A few days of quiet riding is soon interrupted by sounds of talking and movement in a wood in the northern part of the county. Just to the east of Pewsey.

Our knights dismount and head into the wood, calling for the men to come out. Sir Caulus threatens them and it seems to work. Two scruffy peasants emerge carrying bows. Heads bowed low they admit to hunting to feed their families. Hunting in Salisbury’s woods is a right only the Lady can bestow and these men and so these men have broken the law as poachers. Sir Morians cuts off their index finger and their bow hands as a lesson to them. A Just punishment.

They stop at Pewsey. Meeting the Lady , wife of Sir Elffin of Pewsey. He gained the land when Sir Moelwyn was banished from Salisbury. She has a daughter, aged about five who seemed a little scared of Sir Caulus, his bear like appearance strange accent unnerving her. Sir Caulus spoke to the girl though and managed to get her to speak to him. He showed her his hawk he uses for falconry and the girl was placated by this. Sir Morians spoke with the good lady about any concerns she has. She mentioned that an hour or so before she thought she saw Saxon raiders travelling south towards Sarum. Our knights headed outside and discovered tracks of horses. Sir Caulus believes the tracks are definitely Saxon as they are not as regimented as Salisbury knights would be on patrol.

The knights head south, there are Sir Caulus, Sir Morians and two other younger knights. Sir Caulus has his squire Gwinas ride ahead as scout so they don’t go charging into a trap. Sir Morians send his squire, Penri, in the same direction to head to Sarum and warn them of Saxons in the county.

A few hours ride and our knights are near Amesbury abbey, they hear a commotion ahead. The bells ringing and as they near the open gates Penri staggered out, his shield broken and him bloodied. ‘The Saxons’ he cries, in between intakes of breath, ‘they’ve taken Ygraine, and Morgana’.

Sir Caulus gets a monk of the abbey to write down for an errand boy to take to Sarum and let them know what is happening. Back on their horses the four knights ride after the foe. Penri stays at the abbey to recover from his wounds.

As they ride up some hills to the west of Amesbury and the road out of Salisbury, the sky goes overcast with dark clouds and the very air feels thick with omnipotence. Sir Caulus feels something bad is afoot. They spur their horses over the a rise when they hear the screams of men. Reigning their horses in they see a dark scene in front.

The Saxons are all dead or dying, moans heard from some. A litter is at the side of the road and a teenage girl is sitting unharmed on a rock beside the road. Sir Caulus goes to her and Sir Morians goes up to the litter.

Sir Caulus speaks to the girl who asks who he is and nods that she is Morgana. She agrees to be escorted back to the abbey. She seems fine and unfazed by all this death and gore around her.

Sir Morians finds a distraught Yraine in the litter. With some coaxing she eventually steps out and agrees to be taken back to the abbey.

At the abbey the ladies are taken inside and the knights are giving hospitality and the abbot gives up his private quarters for their stay. They eat pleasantly and stay for two days until a few more knights from Sarum arrive to guard Yraine and Morgana should the Saxons try again. Morgana lets slip to Sir Morians that she is to be married in the summer. Sir Morians presses Morgana a little about what happened in the hills. She rather calmly responds that ‘They were careless’. Ygraine seems nervous around her daughter.

Back at Sarum the countess congratulates the knights on rescuing Ygraine and explains that she would like them to be amongst the escort guard on her marriage to the Lord of Gorre just north of Hadrian’s wall. Ygraine has paid for the mercenary Sir Brastias to escort her but the Lady Salisbury feels Salisbury knights should be there to help and provide support. We are running low on allies she explains.

It’s a few weeks later when the wedding guard leave Sarum to collect Ygraine and Morgana for their journey north.

They meet Sir Brastias and his cavalry at Amesbury as well and the long journey begins. They pass through Leicester and Lambor. At Lambor they come across a border conflict between knights of Bedegraine and knight from Lambor. They hang back, not wanting to get involved and it’s about half an hour whilst until the fighting dies down. A knight rides forth and talks with Sir Brastias but the Salisbury contingent are too far away to hear what is said.

They get going again and it’s uneventful for the rest of the journey. They make use of the hospitality of Abbeys and Castles on route including Duke of Lindsey’s holding at Lincoln. They arrive at Gaiholm Castle a couple of weeks after leaving Sarum.

The sight that befalls them at Gaiholm is an unexpected one. The castle is a simple wooden motte and bailey except the walls are twice as high as normal and our knights nearly expect to see giants inside. They don’t however. It just seems they like to build big here.

The bailey contained within is large enough for cattle to graze but is a sea of tents and pavillions. Our knights are shown to a large hall where they will stay. All around are knights from various regions of Logres and hill tribes of the north. The clothing worn ranges from the fashionable threads that Sir Morians is wearing to fur covering and leather that the hill tribes seem to prefer.

The wedding is set for three days time so the knights have time to mingle and gather information, possibly forge alliances or just get into trouble. Penri, the squire of Sir Morians is keen to go off on his own and asks for a night to do just that. Sir Morians allows the lad this but expects him to be ready and alert in the morning to get on with his squire duties. Sir Caulus bids his squire Gwinas go with him to look after the boy. The two youngsters wander off to see what delights Gaiholm Castle holds.

Sir Caulus and Sir Morians head for a hall where there is much drinking of ale going on. Sir Caulus catches the attention of a burly tribesman, all tattoos and beard. He sits down at a table and gestures for an arm wrestle. The tribesman seems pleased and sits down as well. The two men arm wrestle and Sir Caulus takes the victory. The tribesman accepts the defeat graciously but seems to be gesticulating to his comrades that the table was wet and his arm slipped. It appears his name is Wid and Sir Caulus gives his name over as well.

Both knights feel at home here as its a very Pagan setup here. Druids and seers and in attendance and there not a cross to be seen anywhere. They mingle and speak to the fairer sex. Sir Morians seems particular keen to see what northern women are like.

The following day they wake slightly groggy but okay and see that Penri is laying pretty much unconscious across his straw mattress. Gwinas announces that he is alive but just worse for wear. He keeps saying ‘I got him back in one piece’ when asks about last night. Serveral buckets of water are needed to wake the squire and Sir Morians orders him to clear up his sick and to clean the hall as well. This gets a cheer from the other knights sharing the living space.

Later that day Sir Caulus meets up with Wid again and the two arm wrestle again. This time it is Wid who wins and both men look at each other knowing a third match is needed to settle this. Sir Caulus puts his left arm up on the table and Wid does the same. The contest lasts for some time as neither man can get a hold of the match properly. Wid looks to gain but then Caulus would take over and it never seems to end. Eventually Sir Caulus first some strength from somewhere and slams Wid’s arm against the table. Wid smiles, pleased to have met his match and both men enjoy some ale even though they cannot converse.

The wedding day arrives and its held outside under a clear sky. The lord of Gorre is seen and he is a ginger haired fella with a long braided beard. He is wearing fine clothes for his tribe. The Lady Morgana is in a beautiful dress but doesn’t seem that happy standing next to her husband.

The feast is a lavish affair and the knights enjoy the festivities. Queen Ygraine’s other daughters Margawse and Elaine are in attendance with their husbands King Lot and King Nentres. The knights do not get the chance to speak with them however.

The following day Queen Ygraine hands small gifts to the knights and explains that she wants to remain in the north with her daughters. She has provided them with provisions and wishes them well on their journey.

The journey south starts off with a small skirmish against a band of hillmen in Rheged. The knights put their foe to flight though and kill several of their number. A couple of weeks later they arrive back in Sarum.

It’s a bad winter for Sir Caulus, his young son Blaine dies and he has to dig into his treasury to live as an ordinary knight. Things are better for Sir Morians although he has lost one of his beehives and a spring in one of his manors.

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This was a lot of fun. The players had a chance at some court stuff and a little bit of combat. I think they enjoyed being in a more Pagan setting in the north. We are next getting together on 21st July.

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