Scars, Duels and Deaths
Having completed their other duties earlier in the year On the return to Sarum the knights are pleased to be greeted at the gates by the ever excitable City Herald, Sir Oswlad. After being presented to the countess and relaying their news, the assembled court debates the right course of action for Salisbury.
Sir Lycos of Testside is the first to voice his discontent in public, and calls for Sir Herbert to be declared protector of the earl, and to take over the running of the county. With Saxons to the southern boarders and an anticipated attack from Essex, Levcomagus or both at any time; a proven battle leader like Sir Herbert is the only choice!
There is an immediate increase in the volume as the assembled nobles begin to argue over the merits of this suggestion. It is equally clear that several other lords of the hundreds are considering their own possible elevation to the Earldom as well.
Sir Jarad bangs his fist upon a table and looms large besides the Countess’ throne. His shadow falls across the infant sitting quietly on his mother lap, and his voice booms out clearly. Anyone who does not bend the knee to Lady Ellen and the young Earl will answer directly to him… and the assembled lords and ladies are duly threatened into silence.
Over the next few days it is decided that the most pressing issue that can perhaps be resolved by those assembled is the tensions between Levcomagus and Salisbury. Lady Ellen appoints Sir Saravinus Arilius and Sir Gerin Lotha as head of a delegation to Silchester to seek an accord, and empowers them to negotiate in good faith. Taking their usual boon companions our squadron takes the more prudent path north, avoiding all possible interactions with Saxons or the knights of Levcomagus.
Their journey is uneventful, but enlivened by a visit to Amesbury Abbey and the Giants dance. They then head still further north, and at Mildenhall , in the Hundred of Marlborough, they are greeted by the Lord of that land (a distant holding of the Lord of Eberacum, though on excellent terms with Ryddychan) as they cross the river beneath his castle and are given free use of the bridge there. The stay is pleasant enough, but is marred by a tragic incident. The exact facts are not clear to all, but it seems the Lords eldest surviving son (Septimus, a child of seven or so) took a knife to one of the servants for some reason. The incident is hushed up, and the festivities continue.
Passing through Ryddychan, the courteous troop travel all the way to Oxford to pay their respects to the Lady Sian and re-affirm their friendship with their cousins to the North. The good lady is away negotiating treaties around the country unfortunately, but they are warmly greeted by her steward, Sir Bege, and his two brothers Sir Beleus, and Sir Basile. With all etiquette satisfied our party at last make haste Silchester.
Once again the Lord of the region is away, as Duke Ulfius has Get to Silchester, and meet instead with his steward Equitas Herionimus, who is not too keen on sir Saravinus to say the least. Wisely, Sir Saravinus withdraws from the negotiations somewhat and lets Sir Gerin take the lead despite his lower standing in the orders of precedence. The repeated double edged comments and the tensions of being in a court where their welcome is at best tentative, perhaps added to by the pressure of responsibility, puts the usually affable Sir Gerin in a foul mood. When Equitas Herionimus suggests that Sir Cecily DeDepedan is too busy defending his lands form attacks from Salisbury to attend negotiations it proves a step too far for our bantam knight. Throwing all courtesy aside he loudly declares “If sir Cecily can’t be bothered to come to court, tell him to send one of his monkeys to negotiate in his place!”. Having brought disrepute to himself and the honour of Salisbury, his status as ambassador is ignored and the Butler seats the Steward of Alderbury below the salt, adjacent to the common folk! He continues to shout defiantly form time to time! Fortunately the people of Silchester are constrained by the laws of hospitality and do no physical harm to the men of Salisbury.
With both ranking men forced to the background, Sir Olivier steps up to lead the negotiations. He calms the mood by reminding the assembled lords and ladies of the greater danger they face: The Fall of Hantonne and the duchy of Hampshire focuses the minds of all present. The Steward of Silchester praises his wisdom, and admits the presence of the Shrike is a barb to his flesh, and brings out the worst in him. Sir Olivier openly considers ways you unseat Sir Saravinus! But skilfully turns the conversation round to other matters. With a little effort the party manage to persuade the lords of Silchester to send for Sir Cecily deDepeden.
Sir Jabus of Silchester inquires of Sir Caddoc about available husbands for his nieces, and it seems that if the issue between Testside and Levcomagus can be resolved, there is a plenty of scope for improving relations between the two counties.
Over the next few weeks our squadron of knights are on their best behaviour, displaying their dancing and manners off to best effect. They also ensure Sir Gerin is kept well plied with wine. As is normal in such situations, Sir Gerin once again becomes affable and likable, and re-ingratiates himself with the court, and with the lower orders also present.
The steward of Levcomagus, and his new Champion Sir Blaise, finally arrive for the negotiations. If looks could kill then the Shrike of Lincoln would be a dead man that day. The crowd separates between the three men, and all hold breath wondering what the outcome will be. Fortunately Sir Cecily is deeply prudent man, and agrees to the talks. No time is wasted and out courtly knights retire to the debating chambers. The debate goes on for several days, and the accord is hammered out in principle with the hope that Silchester and Salisbury will ratify it later in the year.
West Tytherley, with all of its new fortifications, will be returned to Levcomagus, and repopulated by Hantone refugees. A Stone bridge will be constructed across the Test River at the expense of Sarum, and all travelers from Salisbury into the lands of Levcomagus can be taxed as the steward of Levcomagus sees fit. And Sir Herbert and Sir Saravinus will undergo penance for the murder of the ApTubber family.
With stoic fortitude Sir Saravinus submits himself to public scarification! The word is sent out, and a few weeks later, in the warm summer evening, with the full moon in the sky at the same time as the sun, he is tied to a cross. Sir Blaise steps up and administers the penance. One scar for each dead noble at the hands of Sir Saravinus and Sir Herbert. Long and lingering are the cuts he administers, and even staunch men wince as the soil of Silchester is slowly worked into the wounds, ensuring the scars remain vivid for life. But the Shrike does not cry out even once! At the end, near unconscious, shaking with repressed screams, the lord of Branch and Dole listens to the words of his tormentor. There is one more wound to be administered another day in vengeance for his father!
Still wracked with fever, the redoubtable Sir Saravinus declares himself fit to ride a few days later and the party return to Salisbury.
After being greeted by the breathless Herald Sir Oswlad once more, our party have hardly settled into their welcoming feast when a stranger, heavily hooded, stands at the far end of court. He spreads wide his hands, standing as still as a statue, attracting the attention of all. He then slowly brings his hands together and is seen to dip a piece of bread into a bowl of salt, and take a bite. A shiver runs down the spines pf those watching… who is this person that seems to feel the need to use such a formal declaration that the rules of hospitality are in place?
As the hood is drawn backwards at last, the traitor Merlin is revealed! Gasps echo around the hall, and whispered debate is held amongst those knights who most passionately despise the abductor of the kings son, as to when exactly the rules of hospitality lapse and he can be taken prisoner!
Meanwhile Merlin speaks
“Know that Salisbury is in peril! As we speak an advance guard of Saxons is hacking out a new landing port and roadway in the forests south of Ebble and Forde. These invaders are led by a mighty Saxon warrior known as the knight of the Tusks, and if you allow him to gain a foothold here, Salisbury will be the next British domain to fall to the invaders.”
The assembled throng are in uproar, with shouted questions about the heir to the throne of Britain, the sword that has appeared in London and this new Saxon threat so close to home all echoing though the vaulted arches of the great hall at once. What few answers Merlin gives are vague, and he wastes no time in taking his leave when no man’s eye is upon him.
Uncertain as to how far to trust the trickster’s sorcerer, the knights of Sarum send out scouts to investigate this claim. It soon transpires that this time at least Merlin has told the truth.
Sir Emir wastes no time in gathering a significant band of men together and our squadron of knights plunge headlong into the dark woods south of Salisbury, each leading a small unit through the tangled paths of the ancient forest.
With surprising skill, aided by the wisdom of listening to the council of local guides, all of our knights bar one arrive at the assembly point to attack Knight of Tusks (Sir Dolwynn gets lost in the darkest forests, but with the unerring sense of direction his family has for ‘hospitable’ maidens he stumbles upon an isolated village where he and his men be-sport themselves for the next week!)
Meanwhile our more focused knights lead their forces against the Saxon invaders. The plans of Sir Gerin and Sir saravinus go more or less as intended, with Sir Dyllan making a brave showing as both the first to charge through single headed against the Saxon line, and also striking a mighty blow against the knight of the tusks himself!
With surprise and discipline on their side, they soon make short work of the enemy. In the clear up afterwards another of the blasphemous ‘Irmennenshaft’ is spotted. Sir Gerin recalls well his time nailed to one of these obscene symbols at St Albans and wastes no time in knocking it to the ground. Whereupon the base of the column revealed a strange mark like four lighting strikes arranged in a circle, with markings as though the work was not yet complete. Unsure of the deeper meaning they seize the monstrous shaft and ferry back to the town of Wilton for future inquiry.
The victory feast is boisterous and well overdue, with the knights glad at last to have some good news to celebrate this year. The next morning brings grim news from the court Herald of a terrible conflagration that has engulfed Wilton… which further investigation reveals to be much exaggerated (as usual) – it seems that Lord Merlin had some other agenda in mind as he had appeared briefly at Wilton and destroyed the Irmennenshaft with bolt of lightning from out a clear blue sky!
Notably absent from the festivities is Sir Herbert of Testside, who has sent his representative instead (Sir Ofydd, a distant cousin)
The reluctant vassal is sent a most dire warning by the assembled lords, formally placed above the Earl’s seal on the finest vellum
Be it Known
In this the 496th year since the birth of Christ
By Order of the Ward of Salisbury
In the interest of greater peace between the people of Logres
Sir Herbert of Testside, castellan of duPain, is to return the lands of West Tytherly, including all fortification to the control of Levcomagus and Silchester. The lands are to be fully evacuated of all Salisbury born nobles, freemen and serfs. Those refugees seeking a welcome in
Salisbury after fleeing Hantone and surrounds will be sent on to West Tytherley to make thier new homes.
Furthermore Sir Herbert is to undertake a suitable penance for his participation in the destruction of the house ApTubber, as Sir Saravinus of Branch and Dole has already undergone penance. Be it known that Sir Saravinus endorsed and created all of these measures herein, and the terms of said penance is to be agreed between Testside and Levcomagus.
This action to be completed by winter court of the year 497 AD.
If this task has not been completed, this issue will be discussed further by the court of Sarum, and action taken.
Signed and Sealed on behalf of Robert, Rightful Earl of Salisbury, and lord of the hundred of Testside, in the year 496 AD, by the following people
Lady Ellen, Countess of Salisbury, Ward to Robert of Salisbury
Sir Jarad, Champion of Salisbury, Marshal of the Armies of Salisbury, Lord of the Hundred of Wardour, Castellan of Vagon Castle
Sir Sarvinus Arrillius, The Shrike of Lincoln, Lord of the hundred of Brach & Dole
Sir Gerin Lothar the Defiant, Keeper of Wilton, Steward of the Hundred of Alderbury,
Sir Emir, Lord of the hundred of Chalke, Castellan of Ebble castle
Sir Rodger, Chamberlin of Salisbury and by the grace of God Bishop of Salisbury and Abbot of Amesbury.
Winter court is spent under the hospitality of King Cerdic of Wessex by most of our knights (though the ever prudent Sir Olivier makes a point of spending the festive season safely behind the walls of Sarum!)
All seems to be going well, until Sir Saravanius waxes lyrical about his exploits this year. With little regard for the present company he retells the tale of his destruction of the Saxon raiders and even regales the court of king Cerdic with the tale of how he beheaded the Knight of the Tusks. A rangy Saxon noble unwinds himself and states his name (Seaxwulf Fenrisget, newly appointed champion of the Fenrisget in Britain) and declaims publicly that the knight of the tusks was his brother!
The Shrike of Lincoln is seized by those few Saxons loyal to the Fenrisget commander while the rest of king Cerdics court looks on with disapproval (though it is notable that none come to his aid )
A combat ring is quickly cleared in the grounds outside the great hall, and Saexwulf Fenrisget forces sir Saravinus to fight to the death… mighty a battle commander he may be, and one of the finer swordsmen of Salisbury, the but the house Arilius loses another son this day, the blow made all the more bitter when the assembled knights realise it is the blade-of-chalke being wielded against them! Weeping and distraught, Sir Saravinus’ daughter Ayia, who had been brought to the Saxon court to become page to the Valkyrie Brunhilde, cradles her father’s corpse as the Fenrisget Champion stands splattered in gore, clutching the still warm heart of the fallen knight.
Shocked and saddened, the Salisbury knights return home, leaving the young woman in the hands of the Valkyries, as had been her father’s wish. None can quite believe that Sir Saravinus is gone, so swiftly and so unexpectedly – truly it is said that death is a knights business
despite the loss of so great a knight, our squadron of knights must press on.