Neal's GPC

Year 505: The year of the three battles

Sarum was a town preparing for war in the spring of 505. As our knights rode into the bailey the place was a hive of activity. Guards on the battlements, arms and armour being moved around and so many horses.

The countess had sent out messengers to the knights before they left their homes to ask them to bring their families with them. ‘War is likely’ she said ‘and you can keep your wives and children safe with us here’. Each knights brought their wives, Sir Morians kept his mistress at home in Winterbourne Gunner.

In the main hall the countess was holding a council. Prince Cynric was gesticulating and demanding that she paid tribute. The knights were let in and when they were announced the Lady Ellen delighted in stopping Prince Cynric mid sentence so she could greet each knight individually. Prince Cynric looked fit to burst.

The argument went on and it seemed Cynric wanted tribute and men to help in his fight against Nanteleod. Sir Lak of Estregales and Sir Alain of Carlion were there for Nanteleod and explained to the countess that she had allies she could count on and she didn’t need to bow before this thing. Sir Alain was fuming with Prince Cynric’s behaviour in court and had to excuse himself and apologised as he left the hall.

Sir Caulus asked to speak freely, the countess welcomed this. He explained that Cynric, he refused to call him Prince, should have his head removed and that should be the message sent back to King Cerdic. The countess looked like she wanted to laugh but composed herself. She thanked Caulus for his contribution but suggested his head remainded attached.

The following morning Prince Cynric and his troops left Sarum with no tribute and no additional men. They were escorted to the outskirts of Salisbury by an armed guard.

The countess gives the order that the some fifty knights and fifteen hundred men are to march north to Wandborough and there to meet up with King Nanteleods men. Sir Amig is still unwell so she asked that Sir Morians lead the men. He positively beemed at this and looked so proud at the head of the column.

At Wandborough they were greeted like old friends by King Nanteleod. He personally cracked open a hogshead of ale and with the salute of ‘To war’ drank with the men.

A few days later the combined armies of some three to four thousand men left and headed back south as they had reports of Saxons marching on Sarum. Some maneuvreing was needed as it seemed King Cerdic was not wanting battle. Eventually the two armies did meet though. Near Levcomagus and several large farmer’s fields would become the killing ground.

The battle of Levcomagus was a short but bloody affair. The Saxons were dealt a harsh blow with the knights of Salisbury attacking the Saxon left flank. They defeated some wealthy heorthgeneats. Sir Miles looks to go mad when he was attacking Saxons swinging great axes. He was found hacking away and mounds of bodies and no-one dared approach him. He eventually collapsed exhausted and was taken to the treatment tent. No major wounds to speak off amongst their number allow Sir Cenwyn came close having his horse taken from under him.

King Cerdic retreated north and King Nanteleod gave chase. They meet again at the battle of Royston but this time the result is indecisive. Sir Miles was unfortunately captured by King Cerdic’s forces and taken back to Wessex. He had been trapped under his dead horse and was dragged back in the retreat. Sir Caulus spied his traitor cousin as the two armies pulled apart. He issued a challenge and the two men clashed and soon got an audience. The whirled their horses around each other and sword hacked at shield. Sir Prosser looked to be skilled but not enough. A cut to his neck eventually felled him. He slumped unconscious from his horse. Sir Caulus dismounted and issued the coup de grâce.

King Nanteleod gathering the men together and gave a rousing speech. He explained that the 40 days of service were up and he could ask no more. He pleaded that the knights stay with him though. He wants to meet up with Duke Corneus of Lindsey and they would take the fight to the Angles. Sir Morians declined to stay. He tried to implore the Salisbury knights to head back with him as this wasn’t their fight and Salisbury needed defending. It might have been a nice speech in his head, however it sounded very bad when it came out. Most of the men just shoke their heads and drank with Nanteleod to stay on. Sir Morians left with only a few knights. Cenwyn and Caulus stayed for more fighting.

At Beale Valey the King of Estregales met with Duke Corneus and they greeted each other cordially. The armies took time to get settled and scouts came in with reports of the movements of the Angles. The Angles of King Aethelswith and the Britons of King Nanteleod would clash at the Battle of Hertford.

The Battle of Hertford would no doubt have ballads written about it. The brave Britons decisively crushed the Angles, King Aethelswith amongst the dead. The knights gathered up their plunder which included horses as well as some coin and headed home.

Back in Salisbury it seems the manors to the west had been raided by Cornish men but they didn’t get as far as Sarum. Sir Morians gave the news of Sir Miles capture to the countess for her to tell his wife the Lady Ceriden. He didn’t want to speak with her himself.

The knights all back, apart from Sir Miles, they returned to their homes and gathered their harvests in.

Sir Miles wife Ceridwen gave birth to a boy she named Biuarn in his father’s absence. Lady Blodyn, Sir Cenwyn’s wife had another boy to add to the twin boys she had last year. Sir Cenwyn truly is blessed.

Christmas court was a jovial affair but the knights lamented the loss of Sir Miles. The countess hadn’t received a ransom request yet but with Sir Caulus being unharmed when he was taken she has hope.

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This session was a lot of fun. It was good to get back to some proper fighting. Poor Sir Miles was so unlucky. He failed a passion roll and then got captured. Will Lady Blodyn continue to spit out boys? Have the Saxons finally been defeated? Will Sir Miles be returned unharmed? Some of these questions may be answered when we next meet on the 22nd September.

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Year 504: The calm before the storm.

The knights were greeted by Sir Amig in the bailey of Sarum castle. He was clearly limping and in some pain with his leg. He doesn’t mention it though and talks with the knights on matters of import.

The Saxons are in Sarum again. Prince Cynric and his band of Wessexmen demanding tribute. This time the Countess has put them in a smaller hall at the edge of Sarum against the outside wall. Paying them the bare minimum of hospitality. Sir Amig cautions the knights to be on their best behaviour as he believes they will soon be rid of the Saxon menace. He talks no more on the subject.

Sir Amig then introduces a lad of about fifteen summers, a lad of reasonable size steps forward and gives his greetings. Sir Amig explains that this boy is his son, a result of a dalliance with a lady of Lindsey in 489. The lad has been sent down to Salisbury to be squired and Sir Morians is quick to take the boy under his wing. Sir Amig thanks him.

Before the spring court there is the Pagan marriage of Sir Cenwyn and Blodyn. The knights all drink merrily the evening before and are fine for the wedding day. All except Sir Caulus who is feeling like the God of Thunder himself is hammering in his head. He can’t hold any food in.

The druid Tathan performs the marriage ceremony and it goes smoothly, an ox is slaughtered to bring a happy blessing to the union.

A few days later at court the discussion is again about the possible alliance with King Nanteleod. Sir Lak of Estregales is in attendance and speaks on behalf of his king. Nothing is set in stone or on parchment for that matter but it seems both parties are coming to terms.

Penri, squire to Sir Morians is seen arguing with a young girl. It later transpires that she is Bronwen, daughter of the now deceased knight Sir Cerdoc. She is pregnant and believes the baby his. He doesn’t deny that it could be.

King Idres is moving his men towards Somerset, seemingly giving up on his quest for Dorset. The countess urges caution. War is brewing to the east against the Saxons and she doesn’t want to lose men fighting pointlessly against fellow Britons.

The year is a quiet one. The knights patrol Salisbury and then go back to their homes and enjoy the remainder of the year until the Christmas court.

The Christmas court is a smaller affair than usual. Sir Amig is not in attendance. It seems he is abed at his home of Tilshead. The signs are not good.

King Idres has taken Wells and Sir Morians uncle, the bastard Sir Tybion dies in the fighting.

Sir Morians takes the girl Bronwen into his household as she has given birth to a girl. Penri agrees to a future marriage with her.

Blodyn, Sir Cenwyn’s new bride gives birth to twin boys. She must have conceived on their wedding night. Clearly sacrificing an ox is the thing to do.

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This was the first half of the two years we played this past Sunday. The next year was a big year so I decided to have this as a shorter, quieter one. War is brewing and in 505 our knights will finally get to take the fight to the Saxons. I’ve also started the aging roles a little early at 33 for the knights. Sir Caulus was okay but Sir Morians SIZ, STR and CON went down.

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Year 503: The slaying of Framric Offason, the bane of Salisbury.

Sarum was awash with banners in the spring of AD503. Prince Cynric, son of Cerdic of Wessex was in attendance as well as duke Ulfius’ son Uffo and Sir Lane of Lindsey. A banner for King Nanteleod was also flying but it was just an emissary from him who wanted it known who he represented.

Talk in court is of what these various dignitaries want and also of the Saxon army mustering in Sussex. King Aelle is rumoured to be making a push at London this year.

It seems everyone wants a piece of Salisbury. Prince Cynric again is demanding tribute. The knights of course explain that tribute will not be paid.

Uffo talks of the need for an alliance. Rydychan are onside and they want Salisbury to also sign a declaration of support and to ride with them to London. With the bad blood between Rydychan and Salisbury our knights suggest that Salisbury stay at home and look to their own borders.

Sir Morians is tasked with explaining to Sir Lane of Lindsey that Salisbury will not send arms and politely suggests that Lindsey surrender to King Nanteleod. From what Sir Morians understands King Nanteleod is not likely to attack someone who surrenders and he does appear to have the best interests of Britain at heart.

The knights are in agreement that this year they look to themselves and send men to guard the eastern edge of Salisbury from any raids from Wessex.

Sir Amig gets together groups of four to five knights and sends them off to collect their levies. Each group is then to patrol the borders and repel any would be raiders.

Sirs Caulus, Cenwyn, Miles are led by Sir Morians and with a combined levy of 115 they ride off to the east. They spend several days on patrol before Sir Morians and Caulus spy a potential raiding party moving along the horizon. Morians of Winterbourne Gunner and Lord of Woodford organises the men to cut off their path.

When the Saxon host see the British knights and foot they array themselves for battle. The two lines eye each other from two hundred yards away and it isn’t long before our four knights spur their horses into a charge across the open ground. The clash is loud and bloody and Sir Caulus rode towards the centre and rode into the leader. The banner of Framric Offason was blowing in the breeze, before it fell. The knights rode away again and readied for another charge. This time the levy were close behind. The lines clashed, spear and lance broke and the Saxons fled back from whence they came.

Four Saxons were seen dragging a body away, Sir Caulus saw this was the unconscious form of Framric Offason. The Saxon who had killed Sir Jaradan, had captured him only four years before. The other three knights joined him in a charge. The Saxons dragging him were cut down and scattered. Sir Caulus dismounted, dragged Framric up and beheaded him. No ceremony. No words. A simple deed done. The Saxon spears were used to form a makeshift fence on the border of Salisbury. On each one was a Saxon head facing east.

The remaining days of the patrol were uneventful.

At the winter court it is noticed that Sir Amig is limping. An axe wound he admits and one that is slow to heal. The marshal is not looking as strong as he once did.

London has fallen to the Saxons of King Aelle of Sussex and King Aesc of Kent. Sir Helifer, the British mercenary took their pay and used his siege engines. Ulfius lost a lot of men to the Saxons, more than Rydychan who were slow to attack.

Elsewhere King Nanteleod has battled against King Malahaut’s Saxons for the right of who would take Lindsey. The Saxons were driven from the field and Duke Corneus is now Nanteleod’s vassal.

The knights drink and are more merry than before. There has been less raids into Salisbury’s lands this year and everyone seems more relaxed.

Countess Ellen spoke with Sir Cenwyn about a possible marriage. Sir Morial of Marston’s daughter Blodyn. Sir Cenwyn speaks with Sir Morial who he seems to get along with and the pair agree that the match should go ahead. The marriage will be in the spring time.

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This session was great fun. It was interesting watching the players decide to not get involved with what was happening outside Salisbury and look inwards. I had not expected this and ran the skirmish on the fly. They seemed to enjoy it though. The name of Sir Cenwyn’s future wife is wrong, I apologise to my players for that. I just can’t remember what her name was. I should keep better notes. hehe. We meet again on the 18th August.

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Year 502: Allies and Enemies

Sarum is a place of fear and doubt. Least it seems that way. Women are gossiping in the halls about what they believe Morgana did last year. The saxons slaughtered. Sir Morians helpfully spoke to some and explained that he arrived shortly after the incident and that he believed the only thing that could have done that was a dragon. He walked away smiling.

The Lady Ellen of Salisbury held a small council of her most trusted advisers. Along with them was a new knight Sir Cenwyn, a newly landed pagan and a merciful knight. With the pleasantries and courtesies out of the way she explains that King Nanteleod is moving his men east towards Lindsey and looks to be on course to take Lambor and Bedegraine this year. To the east King Aelle of Sussex and King Aesc of Kent are maneuvering towards London and Silchester is rumoured to be allying itself with Earl Beleus of Rydychan and preparing itself to counter this threat. The lady asks her men what they propose. The knights urge that an emissary should be sent to King Nanteleod to open a dialogue, suggesting that if Salisbury was to bend the knee to him that the young Robert would still be the next earl of Salisbury.

The countess agrees that this is a sound course of action.

Sir Morians, Sir Caulus and Sir Cenwyn decide to spend this campaign season heading west to Dorchester and renewing old friendships there. The Earl of Dorset is pleased to see the men and shows them his hospitality. He explains that King Idres hasn’t made any more inroads towards them but they remain on a war footing. Sir Morians talks to him about King Nanteleod and maybe having him as their king but the Earl is unmoved by this and sees no need to concern himself with events happening far from his borders just now.

Sir Miles choose to remain back at home and spent his time on a progress around Salisbury and spending time with his bride. Time that was clearly well spent as before the year was out he was a father yet again. This time blessed with twin boy and girl. Aedan and Beti.

At the Christmas court the mood is downbeat but a glimmer of hope remains. It seems that most of Salibury is in agreement to side with fellow British knights to collectively beat back the Saxons. King Aelle attacked Hertford rather than London and defeated the Angles in the field. This gave breathing room to the Duke of Lindsey but King Nanteloed is said to be near his door having accepted the surrender of Lambor and Bedegraine.

Sir Caulus did better with his land this year. He had to squeeze the peasantry for extra funds but explained to them that the money would be spent on extra troops to bolster the defences. He was as good as his word. A garrison of five men arrive in the new year.

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This was short session as we also played 503 on the same day. That report to come up next.

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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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Year 500: Defence of Dorchester

As Sir Morians enters through the South gate at Sarum he is pleased to see that work once again has started on the completion of the walls since the Countess recalled the builders from Silchester.

Sir Morians starts off his spring court in the company of a handmaiden called Gwiona. She is the handmaiden of Lady Jeanne of Broad Chalke, Sir Alafon’s wife. He lays with her, the seeds of which bear bitter fruit come winter.

Sir Morians also takes on a new squire, Penri. He is the thirteen year old bastard son of the late Sir Rodric, the lad is a lustful as his father but when Sir Morians takes him to a brothel it appears he doesn’t have the stones to back it up.

Sir Caulus is ransomed and makes his way back from being held by Framric Offason at Hantonne. He was well treated there and the Saxons healed his arm wound. Once back in Salisbury in speaks to Ellen of Salisbury and explains he will pay back his ransom.

The talk in Sarum was of King Idres of Cornwall continuing his move east and heading towards Dorset. He has put the call out for mercenaries. The Earl of Dorset has also put out the call for paid men to come to their aid. Sir Caulus had promised to aid Dorset before and put his name forward to lead some Salisbury knights west.

Sir Caulus along with Sir Morians and several other Salisbury knights and there followers, some one thousand men head out of Sarum in early May, heading towards Dorset. They are escorted by Sir Aergul at the borders of Dorset. An old friend of Sir Caulus and the two talk of the past and the future. From there they head to Dorchester, the Earl is there and that is where Dorset will make it’s stand.

Sir Caulus and Sir Morians see Sir Rhisiart, the heir to Dorset in his pavilion and they discuss the defence of Dorchester. There is some confusion over which direction Cornwall will come from. Ilchester being the site of the last siege which is north and west from Dorchester. Going out the north gate of Dorchester there is an open space of some two hundred odd yards and then the wide river piddle, nearly flooded at this time of year and a wooden bridge.

A day passes without the enemy being sighted, scouts seeing no sign of Cornwall. But then on the second day, early afternoon Sir Morians spies a column of men on the horizon. A plan is formulated to make a stand at the bridge. Sir Caulus, Sir Morians and another eighteen knights, some sixty odd archers and maybe eighty foot march out to hold the bridge. Well, the bridge is soaked with oil first. They jeer at the enemy and try and force them to charge down towards the bridge. Men of Cornwall head nearer and it appears a group of horseman are contemplating a charge.

Our Salisbury knights ask the archers if any amongst them are confident of hitting the Cornish men from the bridge, two step forward. They are Onfael and Merfyn, two brothers. With bows ready at their sides they walk across the bridge and don’t stop, they more about another twenty or so yards and then nock their arrows ready.

A knight starts to trot on his charger towards the bowmen. Getting into a gallop some one hundred yards away, Onfael and Merfyn pull their strings back, Merfyn’s string snaps, causing the bow to break. Onfael’s arrow flies true and hits the horse, which slows a little but is still on a collision course. Merfyn turns and runs back to towards the bridge and Onfael nocks and looses another arrow. This one hits the knight square in the chest, unhorsing him. The charger, however, still heads towards him and tramples him, it’s hooves clattering into him, breaking his leg. The horse comes to a stop near the river and proceeds to take a drink. Sir Morians runs forward and Merfyn turns to help him retrieve his brother.

Cornish knights head down towards the bridge. Our knights form a shield wall, archers on the flanks behind pavises. The Cornish knights, seeing their opposition have dismounted do the same and approach the bridge on foot. They form a shield wall and step onto the bridge, banging their shields in defiance. The archers loosing arrows at their flanks, killing a couple, this spurs them on more and they charge across the bridge and smash into the line of knights. Flame arrows are shot into the bridge as they started to charge and the way back is now blocked by flame. Our line of knights fight defensively merely pushing back and stopping the Cornish men from leaving the bridge. With a whoosh the bridge is a flame and the some of the Cornish knights catch fire. The others trying to kick and hack their way through but there is no escape, some burn, some are hacked and the others through themselves into the fast flowing river and drown.

With the bridge now alight our knights and levy head back behind the walls of Dorchester. For another week there is no attack, no sorties against Dorchester and the men behind the walls get restless. Sir Rhisiart explains that no sign of the enemy has been seen but that their supplies aren’t getting through. Sir Caulus and Sir Morians ask for permission to go out on a sortie and see to clearing a way for the supplies to get through. At first he doesn’t give permission but a day or so later relents and the Salisbury knights, along with five Dorchester men, nine in total head out the south gate and down towards the nearest port, the direction they go is towards where some men where seen on the horizon.

They encounter no trouble and make it to the sea port of Weymouth. Just outside the port though they can see ships in the harbour and count some five hundred men controlling it with Cornish pennants flying. Our knights turn east and look to see if the bridges across the river Piddle are blocked at all.

A few miles they travel along a well worn track and notice that they are being shadowed to the south. Looks to be nine Cornish knights by the looks of them. Sir Caulus and Sir Morians decide to keep going and get to the bridge, they’ll keep an eye on what they are doing.

The bridge is found and it is held by fifty Cornish militia. Too many for our knights and they decide not to waste their lives trying to take it. They turn and head back to Salisbury but soon find the way blocked. The nine Cornish knights have put themselves in the way, one knight rides forward ten yards and plants his standard in the ground. Sir Caulus and Sir Morians ride forward to parlay.

The knight is Sir Mathonwy and he asks that Sir Caulus takes him on for a single charge. If he wins, he says, Sir Caulus and his men are to leave Dorchester. If Sir Caulus wins, he goes on, then they may pass unhurt. Sir Caulus declines the offer of challenge and the men ride back to the rest. It seems a skirmish is to be fought. They get their spears ready and turn their horses to face their foe.

With a thunderous gallop they ride towards the enemy and spears are shattered on shields and through mail and flesh. Sir Mathonwy is stuck twice, once by Sir Caulus who he was facing and once by Sir Morians who decided to ignore his foe. Sir Morians took a blow to the chest from the man he ignored. Mathonwy is lifted clear from his horse by the force and is dead before he hits the ground. Sir Morians is also knocked to the ground with a crunch. Another four Cornish knights were unhorsed in the charge, three of those lying injured in the dirt. The surviving Cornish knights decide the odds are against them and they ride away. Sir Morians callously decides to dispatch of the three wounded Cornishmen.

Back in Dorchester Sir Caulus takes Sir Mathonwy’s pennant and he gives it to Sir Rhisiart as a momento. Dorset cannot pay out for our knights to stay but agrees to buy the five chargers that Sir Morians has tied together.

Sir Morians has his injuries tended to in Dorchester but the physician makes it worse. The wound now infected. He is placed on the back of a cart and carried back to Sarum. The journey takes about a week. Back home he hires the skils of a Chirurgeon to tend his wounds but its another month before he is mended.

The winter court sees news reach Salisbury from Caercolun of the Angles attacking them there and over in Estregales King Nanteleod has made the King there bow to him. The lady Gwiona, whom Sir Morians bedded, is not at court. It seems she is with child and is currently abed with sickness and it seems might not live.

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This was a very fun session although we were only at half strength. The players enjoyed having more freedom to do what they want. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen from the three knights murdered by Sir Morians.

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Year 499: Siege of Ilchester and the taking of Sir Caulus

The spring court at Sarum is the time for a new knight to introduce himself to the court. Sir Benedict is a Roman Catholic, short, portly with facial blemishes. He wields a mace instead of a sword. He is very pious.

Our knights gather in the main hall at Sarum as is the custom and drink to fallen comrades and to killing Saxons. The Countess Ellen announces that Prince Mark of Cornwall, son of King Idres, is to arrive shortly and he will be asking for knights to fight for Cornwall for pay. They have been putting Jagent to heal and the town of Ilchester is next on their list.

The knights of Salisbury consider this. Fighting for Cornwall could be beneficial in the long run since King Idres is on the war path and may consider Salisbury a target. On the morrow, before Prince Mark arrives a messenger arrives. He is from Jagent and has been sent by Earl Tegfan. He wants knights to help defend against King idres. Sir Miles carries his message to the Countess.

Sirs Benedict, Morians and Miles have agreed to have an audience with Prince Mark, along with a number of other Salisbury knights. Sir Judhail amonst them. Sir Morians is keen to know if Salisbury is next on King Idres’ list but Prince Mark merely remarks that Dorset will be under his father’s control soon. The pay is £2 a month and Salisbury’s finest agree to the terms. Sir Caulus refused an audience. He felt that adding King Idres whose next target is Sir Caulus’ ally of Dorset would not be honourable. The Bear decided to stay in Salisbury.

A few days later Prince Mark leads his troops and the Salisbury contingent west by north west towards Ilchester. It takes a week or so to arrive and when they do they see that the siege is fully underway. In the nearby woods trees are being felled to make siege ladders and bridges to span the ditch before the curtain wall. Our knights get into camp and spend the next few days just waiting. Practicing at swords and drinking is all they can do.

It’s early in the morning when the cry goes up that an attempt is to be made on the wall. Knights are needed to scale the ladders and our knights rush to be first onto the wall. They run with the engineers who span the ditch with long planks and then set the ladders to the wall. Sir Morians and Sir Miles are first up their ladders with Sir Benedict, who had stopped Sir Miles from falling into the ditch, next in line. The knights fight defensively to get onto the ramparts and then start to hack, slash and in Sir Benedict’s case, bludgeon their way through the knights of Jagent. Morians and Miles make their way to the gate house, they must get the drawbridge lowered. They fight valiantly but neither can get through. Sir Miles manage to enter but was pushed back but an older knight. More of Prince Mark’s man rushed through and overpowered the Jagent knight. With a clang the drawbridge was lowered. Sir Benedict had been protecting the rear of the two knights and dispatched a number of men, his mace making light work of helmets, shields and mail.

With the drawbridge lowered, the men of Cornwall rush in and the outer section of the town was taken. Sir Miles took a bad wound during the battle. A few days later the siege was lifted. Earl Tegfan agrees to bow to King Idres and become a vassal of Cornwall.

Our knights return to Salisbury victorious.

Back in Salisbury and before our knights had returned from Cornwall. Sir Caulus and a few household knights were sent out on border patrol. They had been gone for a day when Sir Caulus spied some saxons on the horizon, smoke also rising to the skies.

He spurred his horse into a trot with the other knights close behind. Five knights from Salisbury. When they got closer it seemed a sizable host, some fifty men were pillaging the village of Tangley. Land of Sir Laur. Sir Caulus didn’t wait, he didn’t, couldn’t think of anything but to put these saxons to death. He lowered his lance and charged. A number of Saxons saw the charging knights and quickly organised a shield wall. Sir Caulus’ lance shattered through the chest of one man and the saxon was trambled under his horse. As he draw his sword and whirled around looking for a target, a large bearded Saxon called out a challenge. He was wielding a great axe and wanted to face Sir Caulus. The Bear got down from his horse, deciding to face this Saxon on foot. As they danced the dance of death, Sir Caulus took two blows from the great axe, shield splintered and was downed. Before he passed out he saw his fellow knights fighting bravely and the Saxon, Framric Offason, slayer of Sir Jaradan looking down on him.

At the winter court it is announced by Countess Ellen than Sir Caulus and another knight have been captured by Framric Offason. No ransom demand has been made as of yet.

Sir Miles is given permission from Sir Samlet of Silchester, brother to Sir Morians to talk to his daughter Ceridwen. The knight enjoys her company and is pleased to see she likes a drink as much as he does.

Sir Morians becomes a father again, a girl is born and is named Ffiona by the Lady Sara.

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This was a very fun session. It was great to get back into it after such a long hiatus. I think it was last year sometime we last played. Unfortunately real life has been up and down recently and taking up a lot of my time.

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Year 498: Part 2: The evil at Medbourne

Merlin’s words had resonated in Sir Brion and he was not able to rest or return home until he had seen the village of Medbourne for himself.

Merlin had explained that it was being held by a fiend called Sir Gorboduc. He had been born of the daughter of Sir Staterius. She had been entranced by powers near a well on Samhain night and died nine months later giving birth to the boy her father would name Gorboduc. He grew unnaturally fast and seemed a man grown when he was just seven. He slew his grandfather and gathered a band of ruffians to him and began a campaign of rape and pillage. Merlin prophesies that once Sir Gorboduc will complete a stone tower at Medbourne and then take many young maidens from the surrounding area. Breeding a new army of fiends. A very grave threat to Logres.

Sir Brion asks the countess for permission to go with Sir Miles to Clarence. Lying to the south west of the Forest Sauvage, he feels it is the ideal route for him to possibly gather some men to help. Going straight north would lead through Rydychan County who have no love for Salisbury since the events of last year. Countess Ellen is not fully in the belief that this is a good course of action but if it helps to curry favour with Clarence it may be worth it.

On the morrow Sir Brion and Sir Miles head towards Bath from Sarum and cut through the forest on the fringes of Salisbury. Within the week they were at Bath and then a few days later on the outskirts of Cirencester in Clarence. A knight of Clarence met our Salisbury knights on the road in and offered to escort them to the Castellan of Cirencester. Sir Eirwen.

When introduced to the castellan they explained they were passing through and were seeking shelter for the night. Sir Miles asked if he knew the whereabouts of Sir Geriant and Sir Aeron, his cousins. Sir Eirwen pointed them in the direction of the new Marshall of Clarence, Sir Moelwyn. The steward was sent to find the former Salisbury knight.

Sir Moelwyn sauntered over and spoke with Sir Brion and Sir Miles. Sir Brion was keen to press his need for men and supplies to help him take the village of Medbourne. He somehow came across wrong and managed to anger Sir Moelwyn who asked them to leave Cirencester as soon as they could. He would not speak with Sir Miles and our knights were left standing by the south gate of Cirencester.

Wasting no time in Cirencester Sir Brion urged his mount on and Sir Miles followed behind with their two squires closely following.

After another few days of travelling they entered the Sauvage Forest. Their route taking them through a number of small villages and hamlets. Villages and Hamlets where young maidens had been taken. Sir Brion pleaded with each one in turn that they had men able to take up arms and rid the land of the menace in Medbourne. As they reached Medbourne and overlooked the burned church they had nine men with them, carrying pitch forks, some spears and some axes.

A stone tower is being built on the hill to the side of the village of Medbourne. Builders haul the stones into place from a large pile nearby. Three bandits carrying great spears and wearing leather oversee the work and one with sturdier leather armour and a sword and shield who appears to be bossing the others.

Sir Miles trotted over to the one giving the orders and whilst Sir Brion was getting his new levy into some sort of order to attack, spoke with him and asked to see his liege. The bandit demanded he left and that he had no place here. Hospitality clearly not being honoured here. Whilst the knight from Laverstock had the bandit distracted Sir Brion charged in with spear levelled and took the leader full in the chest. The spear shattered in half on impact and the men was ended before he hit the ground.

Sir Miles then fought defensivly as the other bandits attacked. It was two against Sir Miles and one against Sir Brion. After a brief clash the bandits were dead but Sir Brion had taken a wound to his side. During the battle the peasants that had come with the Salisbury knights had decided this was not from them and left for the woods rapidly.

The knights head to the hall of Sir Gorboduc. He is within but will not leave his walls. Sir Brion orders him out but he does not seem keen to face him. The door to his hall is open and he can clearly be seen, he encourages Sir Brion to enter but prudently Brion decides this is not the right course of action. Ordering his squire to light a torch Sir Brion takes it and rides round the hall and finds an area to one corner to light. A small blaze is started and now, once he rides back round the front does Sir Gordoduc order his men out and to rid him of Sir Brion.

Sir Brion and Sir Miles face nine spear man with two handed spears and then there are four other bandits with swords and shields and the man mountain that is Sir Gorboduc. The odds are stacked and there would be no shame in beating a hasty retreat. Sir Brion asks Sir Miles to tell the story of what happened here. He shouts to Salisbury and charges at the line of spears, his horse vaults the barrier and he chops down on Sir Gorboduc, his sword striking ineffectually against his mail. The last Sir Miles sees is the knight of Orcheston being dragged off his horse and spears being thrust downwards at him. He rides away with haste, the two squires riding closely behind.

Back at Salisbury Sir Miles tells the tale of Sir Brion. How he sacrificed himself and charged in against the odds. The countess smiles, almost disbelieving this is the same Sir Brion she thought she knew. It is a dark day but sometimes a tale of valour such as this can lift the spirits.

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Year 498: Part 1: The returning of Sir Edern

As Sir Morians and Sir Brion arrive at Sarum they are met by the Marshall Sir Amig of Tilshead. He greets them cordially and introduces them to a new vassal knight of Salisbury. Sir Miles of Laverstock, a portly British Christian known to indulge himself in food and drink alike.

The spring court at Sarum is a sombre affair. The walls around the town are still not complete and it seems everywhere there is an oppressive feel.

The Countess asks to speak with the knights after the feast and seeks their advice regarding the saxons asking for tribute. Princes of Sussex, Wessex and Essex are at Sarum all demanding payment. Sir Brion forgets his courtesies and blurts out his displeasure and it takes Sir Morians well timed words to defuse what could have been an awkward moment. He eloquently explains that they should look to the other counties for help and not pay the Saxons. Other knights nod in agreement. With this in mind the countess makes mention of Sir Edern, the bastard brother of the Steward of Levcomagus. He is still being held at Sarum and it is the countess’ wish that he be returned. No ransom has been paid but she believes a show of good faith could help cement the rather fractured relationship between the two counties. The countess commands Sir Morians to takes Sir Brion and Sir Miles and return the Silchester knight. She gives them free reign to make a start on mending the rift.

The following morning Sir Morians collects Sir Edern from his holdings and along with the other knights they make their way out the Fools Gate and towards Levcomagus. The start of the journey is quiet. Sir Edern doesn’t make much in the way of conversation and Sir Morians, who was there when he was captured, is not enamored to converse with him. It takes Sir Brion to talk to the knight of Silchester. The two seem to get on and Sir Brion extends the hospitality of his hall should he ever need it. Sir Edern gives his thanks but seems preoccupied with his coming reunion.

Before the sun has set the three Salisbury knights arrive in Levcomagus with Sir Edern and a herald announces their presence to the steward. They are shown into the hall and two fires burn to keep the sparse interior warmed. A platter of cheese and bread is provided as they wait for the steward’s arrival. After a couple of hours the steward arrives. He is greying at the temples but is in good health for a man in his 50s. He spies his brother who is pacing back and forth at the other side of the hall. With a curt word to his guards they escort the bastard from the halls and then the steward greets the knights.

The steward and the knights discuss family and the trouble they can bring. The wine starts to flow and Sir Morians passes comment on the availability of the countess for marriage and that the son of the deceased earl of Salisbury, the young Robert will be needed a position as page in two years time. The steward, who was to be married to the countess before she was married to Earl Roderick, is taken aback by this and doesn’t seem comfortable talking about it. After some time he extends the hospitality of his hall for the evening and departs. The knights carry on drinking.

On the morrow Sir Morians is slow to wake from his slumber, his head is spinning and Sir Brion is not best pleased by his behaviour. He attacks Sir Morians sense of loyalty and pride and this does eventually rouse him to get up. The three knights then head west bound for Salisbury and home. Sir Brion looks for Sir Edern as he leaves but he is nowhere to be seen.

That morning the knights can each recall a dream that had a serpent burning a church and then crawling widdershins around a motte nearby. It then raised its head and turned into a bailey. Smaller serpents slithered out and returned with many lambs, wolf cubs and babies in their mouths. The dream disturbed Sir Brion and the others but they don’t mention it to each other preferring to try and forget it.

On their way back they spy a young boy on the path who announces each knight as if he knows them. The boy’s form then shifts and he transforms into an old man holding a walking stick. The knights recognise Merlin and he asks them if they seek adventure. Sir Morians is not pleased he is here, he believes the talk that Merlin is a child stealer and will have no part of any adventure he would send them on. Sir Brion seems keen to not upset the druid but even when Merlin explains about the serpent dream and that a great evil is in the Forest Sauvage Sir Morians will still have none of it. Merlin disappears and the knights ride on.

When they return in Sarum they seek the countess and explain that Merlin has been seen. She is more keen to hear about Sir Edern and how things fair with the steward. She is pleased that some in roads have been made to forging an alliance with Silchester.

The knights are then given their leave and can return to their homes.

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Year 497: Massacre at Wallingford

On arrival at the spring court Sir Caulus was invited to see the countess. As he entered her hall he saw Sir Amig speaking with her. Sir Amig finished his conversation, gave his courtesies and left. He acknowledged Sir Caulus on leaving but only with the bare minumum of respect required. Countess Ellen gestured for Sir Caulus to sit but he declined. She explained to him that she would let his insolence the previous year go unpunished as she needs knights in Salisbury, but, she goes on to say if he steps out of line again then his land is forfeit and he will be banished. Asking to speak freely Sir Caulus explains his hatred of saxons and his position of not paying them. Before the Countess can give him permission to leave he is already walking out the door. Sir Amig is waiting outside and talks with him about being cautious for the moment and toeing the line. They will not be allied to the saxons forever. This still does not sit well with Sir Caulus, the bear.

Talk at Sarum is about the saxon princes Cynric of Wessex and Aescwine of Essex. They are being entertained in seperate areas of Sarum and this intrigues our knights they are all are in agreement that since they have paid tribute to Essex they should not pay tribute to Wessex. Essex should protect them against them. Sir Alafon decides to try and have words with Prince Aescwine of Essex but the Salisbury guards protecting them refuse to let him in. They spoke with the prince who did not want words with our knight.

The following day after the feast, the countess requests the presence of Salisbury’s knights. They all assembled in the great hall.
‘We have received word from Rydychan County. The countess there has been removed from power by three brothers and seeks our help to get back her land’, says Countess Ellen. ‘Those knights that help and can get back her holdings and can hold them can keep them with her as their liege’. This interests the knights. Sirs Alafon, Caulus, Morians and Brion who along with Sir Judhail, Sir Prosser, cousin to Sir Caulus and three young knights in Lewys, Wid and Berwyn ride north to Rydychan.
Sir Alafon takes seventy five of his levy with him, Sir Caulus takes twenty and Sir Morians twenty five whilst Sir Brion takes three.
After a couple of days of getting together their troops the nine knights and one hundred and twenty three levy, make their way north. They pass the border of Salisbury in a day and make their way through the borders of Silchester and Marlborough.

With information from the messengers about the likely locations of the brothers and their military strength, the knights aim for Wallingford. The town is held by Sir Basile, last known to have ten knights and twenty five soldiers at his command.

The knights stay a night at Appledore, under the hospitality of Sir Tyfriog who declines their offer to join them in overthrowing his liege. They moved on the following morning through the village of Milton and then to the walls of Wallingford.
The nine ride up to the gates of Wallingford which are shut and Sir Brion knocks on the door. He explains to the guard that they are seeking shelter on their way through. The guard goes away to speak to Sir Basile and after a while the gate opens and they are allowed to ride in. Their army is not allowed inside the walls so the eight knights ride in alone. Eight as Sir Brion decides to stay without the walls with the men.

Inside the horses are stabled and they are shown in to the main hall. Salisbury’s knights enter the hall and find Sir Basile seated behind a desk at one end. Ten knights form a circle around them and Sir Basile addresses them.

He asks them to leave his land to which Sir Morians steps out to demand he remove himself from power and allow the countess her rightful place. Two knights draw swords and before anyone can catch their breath more draw their swords and a fight ensues. It’s Rydychan’s young knights against Salisbury’s men. Sir Berwyn is the first to fall along with some or Wallingford’s. It doesn’t take long for Sir Alafon to make his way to the lord and decapitate him. His knights ignore his offer of quarter and fight on. Before long Sir Wid and Sir Lewys have also fallen along with Sir Judhail who has been knocked unconscious. However, Wallingford’s men are staggering back and more have dropped. Some dead, some dying. The two remaining knights give up their swords but Sir Caulus does not accept their surrender and murders them both.

As the bystanders flee the hall the men-at-arms enter and are shocked at the scene before them. Sir Alafon has set himself at the lord’s chair and beckons the sergeant towards him and he explains that he is now in charge. The sergeant gives him his sword to surrender and Sir Alafon accepts it. But it seems our knights have different ideas. Sir Brion rides in with their army and they proceed to ransack the town. In the morning they leave the town empty and the bailey on fire.

On their return to Countess Ellen of Salisbury they explain the situation and that the two remaining brothers may retaliate. The countess is rather taken aback by this and seems annoyed although she tries to hide it.
Later in the year the Christmas court is another subdued affair with a lack of food due to paying tributes to both Saxon princes. A fact which has angered our knights. Even Sir Amig seems a little impatient at events.
In other news Sir Alafon is the proud father to a baby girl. He names her Hawen.

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This was a good session and it was interesting seeing the knights with a bit more freedom to do what they wanted. They soon realised the responsibility of trying to take another county and had to leave without holding the town of Wallingford. What will happen in 498?

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