New Riders, New Tasks
If you go down to the woods today…
In the early days of April, it was the proud duty of Earl Rodderick to call up new knights. Some of the young men, good christian boys, kept vigil in the church, though the faint sound of snoring from one suggested perhaps he should instead have kept to his bed. One Cynwrig, soon to be Sir Cynwrig of Laverstock and younger brother of Sir Brennan Emrys Kellen debauched in proper pagan fashion and quickly became too drunk to stand, while the late Sir Uaines cousin Eris remained carefully sober. Each of these four was duly knighted and as the most notable of the surviving knights of the ‘old’ circle, Sir Brychan Eurion was assigned as their leader, with Sir Tomas and Sir Saravinus Arilius remaining with him.
While the spring season grew warmer, King Uther sought out the absent Earl of Lyndsey, and extracted from him a renewed oath of loyalty and a promise of continued support for his position as Pendragon.
At the Earls court, the young Sir Cynwrig Kellen sought out Sir Brychan and questioned him on the fate of his late brother. The tales were very vague, but Brychan offered reassurance that the fallen knight had met his end with honour and heroism. Excusing himself from the company of the somewhat reassured knight, Brychan sought out his newly betrothed; Lady Jenna. Spending time in her company reassured him that she bore no reservations about their wedding, and he even perhaps uncharacteristically agreed that he would seek out the cloth for her wedding dress himself, the best brocade he could.
Elsewhere at court, Sir Saravinus Arilius was suffering for his younger brothers excesses. The younger Arilius had left a debt to the ladies of the night, and the news had finally spread to court. Angry and disgusted, Sir Saravinus spent some time in discussion with his teacher, Sir Amig over what to do. Amig offered little in the way of advice, simply suggesting that the matter was best dealt with swiftly before the poison set in too deeply.
The newly knighted Sir Eris approached Saravinus as the older knight limped away, and offered to assist, in the matter of currency at least.
Emboldened perhaps by his new status, Sir Gwynneth sought out Lady Inig at court, attempting to arrange an evening in her company. While not offended, she politely informed him that he was one of many seeking her attention, and he would do better to make a name for himself first.
With the coming of the new day, the newly created knights and the relatively veteran survivors of the previous years slaughter came before the Earl to hear their duties. With little need for the band to ride the borders once again, Sir Brychan asked if they might have the honour of accompanying the Earl to the Kings Court, held this time in Winchester. Agreeing pleasantly, the Earl and his household made good time to the city, but being the visitors this time, the majority of his company remained outside the walls, which as a city under Saxon threat were being steadily toughened and reinforced with stone. As a great court with the king present, there were a few expected visitors from beyond Logres; representatives from Estragales,and the Gaulish knight who had come one again asking for aid.
While they waited to hear the news from the court (where by their lower stations, they were not guesting), Sir Gwynneth once again sought the local beauty amongst the courtly ladies present, discovering her in Lady Clementia. Alas, he was unable once again to gain the ladies attention, much as Sir Eris failed in his somewhat fumbling attempts to win favour with Lady Inig, who had rebuffed Gwynneth in Sarum.
The rumours about the court flew thick; Impending war on many fronts. Maelgwyn found that plans were being laid for full engagement with King Aethelswith, as well as the growing expectation of a call to arms against the ever more rebellious Cornwall. The Gaulish knights calls had been growing louder, and appeared to be winning some interest from the militant nobles of Logres.
The depth of this interest was revealed to the knights as they were called into the Earls presence, to offer their opinions on the offers made to the Earl by King Uther himself. The King intended to split his forces, some to travel to Gaul and aid the foreign knight under the command of his son Prince Madoc while the rest would march with him, to perform ‘duties he had in the kingdom of Somerset’. After some discussion of the possible outcomes of the two expeditions, the knights offered their advice; travel with Uther where the Earl might cover himself in glory right before the kings eyes.
Calling up their levies, the gathered forces of Salisbury joined the army of Uther and marched away… North, away from their supposed goal of Somerset. Amidst growing confusion, the marchers were shadowed first by one, then a second army! Both made their approach openly with the banners of Jagnet and Somerset flying in full view, and with no orders to do otherwise, the three armies marched on northward in parallel.
With concern growing, the knights decided to seek what information they could from all the sources at hand. Sir Cynwrig Kellen spoke with friends he had made while drinking and brawling amid the camps outside Winchester, but found them clueless as to their continued mission; clueless and thirsty of course, and he once again drank a night away in their cheerful company. Sirs Eris and Gwynneth sought out the kitchen staff, discovering that the armies marching was eating into its supplies, half of its 30 days rations were gone already. Sir Brychan approaches the units superior, Sir Elad, Marshall of Salisbury and to say the least, a busy man on the march. He advises that seeking information in the neighbouring camps would be a dangerous move, one he actively discouraged, although he seemed unconcerned about the presence of two large potentially hostile forces nearby.
Instead, he instructed Brychan to have his knights ready by the earls tent by sunset, as they would be accompanying him on a tour of the camp. With his suspicions stirred, Brychan has the knights clean up as best they can after two weeks on the march, and they are all ready and waiting as the Earls party emerges from his tent – suspiciously larger than it should be. Beginning to get a sense of some collusion, Sir Brychan has the eagle-eyed Sir Saravinus Arilius to watch for similar parties to emerge from the other camps. Sure enough, as they exited the Logres encampment and rode at a leisurely pace towards a nearby woodland (conveniently situated equidistant from the three camps) two groups of exactly equal size rode out in the same directions. Content that his suspicions were correct, Brychan settled back to enjoy the ride a little more, unsurprised when the heraldicly trained Maelgwyn and the wary Sir Eris identified one of the cloaked entourage as King Uther himself!
Somehow it was without too much further surprise that the group reached the centre of the woods to find a large tent waiting for them, well lit from within. Emerging from the woods nearby were delegations from the other camp, clearly coming for the same reason. The three kings, for two of the others could be no other men, and their closest agents entered the tent and began a long discussion. Listening carefully, the more keen eared of the group were able to catch the direction of the conversation, something they were later able to quietly relay to those who could not hear for themselves.
Uther planned to settle the matter of Cornwall, but the two kings he was meeting with had mutual defence pacts with the Duke, and Uther wished them to remain out of the ‘strictly internal matter’. The King of Jagnet was more than eager, but Somerset was reluctant. Before he agreed to step back, he had an issue to be solved, one only an outsider to his kingdom could manage. Somewhere in the marshes of Somerset lurked monsters, half fish and half man, who were terrorising his fishermen. He could not raise a hand against them by reason of some distant kinship, but if the matter were settled by Logres knights…
From within the tent the voice of Earl Rodderick rang out: “I have just the men for that!”