The year started as most years do in the knightly calendar with a court. This time held in Windsor. Four of the player knights were there. Sir Moelwyn, Sir Cynlas, Sir Rodric and Sir Alafon.
News at court is centering around Franks sacking the last Roman outpost in Gaul and the fear that they may be turning their attention to Britain. Merlin is also believed to be back and some of the nobles are taking heart with that fact.
Prince Madoc who is at court declares that he will launch an attack on the Saxons near Colchester. Praetor Syagrius of the Romans is here as well and he wants help to drive out the Franks from Paris. He is promising a share of the spoils of war.
With all this talk of war the knights quite rightly believe they are to be fighting a lot this year. The Earl of Salisbury asks them to show prudence and that he will talk with them when they are back at Sarum.
Early in the spring, back in Sarum, Roderick, Earl of Salisbury asks that the knights go on garrison duty. This involves a progress around the earldom and the general security of his realm. The knights, although annoyed by this, know their place and agree with the Earl.
Along their progress around Salisbury they meet an old man who asks for their help in retrieving his goat from on a large hill. He explains that he is too old to get the goat back and it is his livelihood. Sir Cynlas on his rouncy starts to ascend the hill whilst the other knights look on.
At the top of the hill Sir Cynlas spies the goat and notices that it is quite a large goat, no wonder the old man was having a problem with it. Before he can get any nearer though the goat enters the wood behind it. Sir Cynlas is forced to tie his horse up and enter the wood. He follows the goat into a clearing were he hears its distressed goatly baying. A giant has picked up the goat and is shaking it by it’s back legs. On seeing the knight it chucks the goat aside and picks up a large boulder, hurling it in our pagan knights direction. Sir Cynlas moves swiftly out of the way. He then charges in and the giant picks up a small tree to use as a club.
Down the hill our other three knights hear the boulder land and decide that Sir Cynlas might need their help. Sir Cynlas would deny this of course.
The knight of Bedwyn attacks the giant with recklessness and takes some damage from the swinging tree, he manages to stay up right though and tries to repay the favour. When the other knights arrive it is to see the giant swing the tree and collect Sir Cynlas again, this time the impact drives him to the ground several feet away where he falls into a ditch. Sir Alafon orders the other knights into position and Sir Rodric attacks the giant head on whilst Sir Alafon and Sir Moelwyn try to outflank it. The combat lasts a few rounds and the giant takes some damage before a beautifully worked move by Sir Moelwyn and Sir Alafon brings it down. They had attack from either side of him and their swords met in his guts. The giant toppled with a cry and Sir Cynlas dragged himself from the ditch where he was stunned a little.
The old man then appeared and congratulated the four knights. He declared that they were just what he was looking for and as he reveals himself to be Merlin. He heals Sir Cynlas by places his hands on the wound and muttering some words. He then orders them to accompany him on a task. The knights, although displeased and being ordered by a non noble, decided this might be a wise move.
Merlin walked to a lake, a lake that they hadn’t realised was there, in fact they were pretty sure that it wasn’t there. At the edge of the lake Merlin says “There! Protect me now, good knights, for the sake of your king and your lives!”
Out of the brush rides a man with two swords on a horse, but both man and horse are the same slimy green colour. The steed seems impossibly nimble through the trees and when clear it charges towards Merlin with the knights blocking the way. “Do your job now, knights!” Merlins says and he strides onto a carocle that then heads out onto the water.
As the rider nears it sprouts two more arms and each of those grabs large branches to use as clubs. The knights bravely tackle this foe together and again after a few rounds it is dispatched. The rider and mount seem to be as one, and are made of water, the creature once dead slowly melts away and lives a disgusting pile of slime behind.
The knights turn to see Merlin now in the middle of the lake. A low fog moves over the water with the breeze and an arm reaches up out of the lake, it clutches a beautiful sword that gleams in the light. Merlin’s low murmer can be heard over the water as he crouches and takes the sword. The arm disappears underwater, Merlin stands and the carocle moves back towards the shore of it’s own accord.
Merlins steps ashore and puts the blade under his robes. “Well done knights,” he declares “Britain is in your debt. Let us go now.”
The knights continue on their garrison duty and nothing untoward happens. They report back to the Earl on what happened and he seems pleased for them and for Britain.
Just before Christmas three of the knights are wed. Sir Alafon marries the lovely Lady Jeanne of Broad Chalke. Sir Cynlas gets married to Una, handmaiden to Lady Jenna and Sir Rodric marries Lady Bronwen of Imber. Sir Moelwyn declares to the Earl that he is not ready to marry. Sir Rodric showing his lustful ways carries on with another serving girl before his marriage.
Later that year at the Christmas court Earl Roderick is pessimistic having received news about the battle of Caercolun. The Saxons had overrun the Britons there.
The Year 486 is drawing to a close and it is time for the Christmas court. This is being held at Sarum and so the knights do not have to travel far for the week long festivities. During these festivities various gifts are bestowed between vassals and their liege lords. The earl starts by giving gifts to his servants and then his household and landed knights. He then gives gifts to his family. It must be noted that Sir Moelwyn he is still quite taken with the earl’s daughter lady Jenna gives her a gift of some perfume. The earl is a little taken aback by this but does not reprimand the young knight.
The king then does the same for his household, knights and officers. Finally, he gives his son a new set of armour and generous grants of land. Among the earls, Roderick gives Uther a beautiful cloak trimmed with the fur of white bears, imported from Norway. Prince Madoc calls in his men, and ten retainers come forth carrying various litters, on each are various gifts. Chests of silver and gold coins. A chest of goblets and plates, another containing jewelery of gold and silver and yet another of red and purple jewels. Prince Madoc then unrolls a cloth as if it was a carpet. Everyone sees it is a battle standard taken from a dead Saxon chief.
Uther descends, walking amongst the booty, he starts picking up some of the items and handing them over to his lords, pressing goblets, jewellery and a bolt of silk onto one. Other gifts onto another and so on. The right gift for each man it seems. He then hands over a handful of silver to each knight. £1s worth.
After a long while, all the gift giving seems to be over and the great hall is cleared for the feast. At the back of the room there is a commotion and the great wizard Merlin enters. A herald announcing his presence. He doesn’t stop for proper introductions and pushes his way through to the front. ‘Welcome, Merlin, to these halls’ the king says ‘You are always welcome in my court’. Merlin thanks the king and speaks in a loud and clear voice. ‘Gold and silver, clothing from far distant lands, these are surely gifts worthy of a king. Yet you, Uther, deserve so much more. You sit higher than any man in the world, higher even than the emperors of Rome’. Uther is clearly flattered. ‘Yet even you lack one thing’ Merlin continues, the room murmers as the king frowns. ‘Such a great man deserves nothing but the best, and he who would bring peace to the whole of our great land deserves all that would help him to obtain it. And so I, your humble servant, am pleased to offer you, from my weak hands, this.’ He pulls from beneath his robes a gleaming sword whose own internal light causes everyone to gasp in wonder and delight. The king stands, clearly surprised. Merlin passes the sword to the king, hands covered by his robe so as not to tarnish the blade. ;For the High King’, says Merlin ‘Excalibur, the Sword of Victory’. Everyone gasps aloud and when the king takes the sword they break into applause and cheers. The knights of Salibury look to each other with recognition. The king clearly pleased ‘Surely no-one can stand before me’.
‘All you need,’ says Merlin ‘is to remain just’. King Uther holds the gleaming sword and stares at it in wonder ‘ Now I’m prepared to visit some friends of mine.’ Ulfius, Duke of Silchester, chuckles at a table nearby.Uther names the nobles who will accompany him to visit Duke Lindsey, and among them is the Earl of Salisbury.
‘This is cause to celebrate then,’ says Uther. ‘Bring forth the tables and make a place at my right hand for Merlin, whose wisdom and truth guides our good land.’ ‘Thank you my lord’ says Merlin. Merlin turns to Earl Roderick and pointing at the four knights that helped him syas ‘Watch these men well and give them rein to help Britain.
The feast begins….Sir Cerdoc spends a bit of time talking to father Tewi. They discussed a need to curb overindulgence. Sir Cerdoc explained how the knights should be allowed some leeway since it was the celebration of Our Lords birth. He also dances with his new bride Blodwen and despite her tender age they are turning heads with their fine dancing. They seem to be made for each other.
Sir Alafon found himself in the company of the king and Prince Madoc. Despite his involvement with getting Excalibur, the young knight wasn’t able to save face and embarrassed himself with his lack of proper courtesy. Later on in the feast a serving maid takes a keen interest in Sir Alafon and attempts to flirt with him. Not known for his love of the common folk, he shouted at the maid and reduced her to tears as she ran off.
Sir Rodric, the lustful pagan wastes no time when a young serving girl tips some food on him. She catches his eyes when she is cleaning up and sees that he has only one thing on his mind. He retreats to another room with her.
Sir Cynlas was flirted with by a young lady introducing herself as Lady Sara of Woodford. He does not know who she is but spurns her advances as he is newly married. This was seen by Sir Tryfan, his brother-in-law who is impressed by his restraint. It seems Sir Cynlas is trying to be more chaste. Later on he meets Sir Jaradan, best swordsman at court. He is Lady Sara’s husband. Sir Cynlas feels he has dodged a blow. What would have happened if he had not spurned the lady and Sir Jaradan had found out?
Sir Moelwyn drags a drunken knight to a corner to be dealt with by the stewards. He had vomited near him and he reveled in putting the young knight down in front of his peers.
Sir Julius played some dice with a group of knights and even saved one from choking on a chicken bone. He performed what is now known as the Julius Maneuvre and dislodged the bone. The knight, though bruised. Thanks the Roman Christian.
As the week long festivities come to a close the Earl of Salisbury calls the knights aside. Prince Madoc is gathering some knights to go raiding the Saxon shore. The earl gives the knights the choice. They can accompany him with the king and go to see the Duke of Lindsey or go raiding with the Prince. Only Sir Moelwyn agrees to accompany the Earl. The other knights seem keen on the idea of taking the fight to the Saxons. The muster for the raiding is to be in Hantonne in the spring.