The Dying Season
Stormy weather on Sir Saravinus Arilius’s lands undid the hard work of the prideful lay-preacher, who had done his best to repair the damage he had caused in destroying the roman road for his house. Incensed by the failure of a layman to repair the work of well drilled and practiced soldiers, Saravinus rode out once more to find the man. Discovering the formerly impressive house now in tatters, the knight discovered his man and his extended family sheltering in a nearby barn. Dragging the man and his family outside, he demands an explanation from the man, but refuses to accept his excuses. Offering a simple choice to the priest, Saravinus tells him he can either redo his work and attend the meetings of the pagan community, or die. The good lay preacher refuses the offer, saying that as a man of god he cannot possibly attend pagan worship. Rather than argue, Sir Saravinus casually orders one of his attendant men to drown the peasant in the runoff caused by the failed road. Turning to the preachers wife even before the man is dead, he gives her and the rest of the family the same offer – convert or die. While several tearful family members agree, others fall on their knees and begin praying to god.
Saravinus pointed out one of the oldsters, the priests grandfather and orders him dunked in the same stand-water that had seen the priest dead. Hauling the half drowned man back out, he repeats his offer; the alternative is clear, and so, unwilling and terrified, the family agrees to forsake the christian faith and turn to worship of the pagan gods. Satisfied that the family will be no further trouble for him, Saravinus orders that the cold and half drowned old man be given aid, but insists once again that the family will help to rebuild the road which has been for so long a thorn in his side.
In Sir Brychan Eurion’s manor, an urgent call arrives from the village where the fisherfolk and shepherds live. Feeling the burden of his position once again, Brychan gathers a party of men at arms and makes haste there, to find the young woman involved in the previous years murder has been brutally killed, tied down, stripped, raped and murdered not far from her home. Knowing at once where the source of this outrage would lie, he went at once to the shepherds house. Discovering that the men were out tending to their charges, the fishermen had surrounded the homestead and fired it, with the women trapped inside. Dragging the enraged men away he saw the house fire doused and promised that there would be justice, moved to anger by the emptiness in the eyes of the murdered womans eyes, he was in no mood to play peacemaker. When the shepherds rushed back to investigate the smoke rising from their fire-damaged house Brychans men surrounded them. He swiftly separated out the responsible trio by calmly informing them that he would see the deaths of those responsible for this murder, and chasing down the runners. Knocking them down, the first to recover, dazed and slurring, confessed to the killing, and was promptly run through by the angry sir Brychan. The others, as a show that there were limits to Sir Brychans soft approach, were dragged to the village and with the fishermen and all the other residents looking on were switched and forced to repeat their admission of guilt before all assembled. With their crimes confessed, they were placed in the stocks, and left to the villagers mercy. There was little of it shown, and within the week the pair had died, brutalised by the hands of their disgusted fellows.
Sir Tomas meanwhile, had a matter of his own to settle with a priest. The Lay-preacher Braithe who had been abusing his position was called along with his fellows to a small christmas feast held by sir Tomas, where they were fed from their lords own table. In the midst of the meal, the woman who had confessed the priests crimes was called in, and the whole matter laid bare before the startled preachers. The preacher Braithe repeatedly cited church law, insisting that Tomas was not his superior and had no right to issue any order or punishment to him, while Tomas called him a heretic and a disgrace to his faith. Demanding the man confess his crime, Tomas is met with a stubborn refusal in the name of church law, which at any other time sir Tomas would have respected. Assuming authority not his own, he sentenced the priest to die by stoning, but faced with the reluctance of his people to kill a man of the church instead had him pressed, an excrutiating death to be sure. Feeling too late a measure of guilt himself, he was somewhat unsurprised when some time later, a letter from no other person than Bishop Rodger himself arrived, calling for his presence at the cathedral at Amesbury. That was a matter which would take all the next year to resolve…
Sir Eris, steward of Newton Tony and cousin to the recently returned Sir Haeredoc was also faced with a spectre of years past. The woman he had taken in as a servant was dragged before him, caught once again as a thief but this time stealing from within the manorial house itself. Protesting her innocence, she is easily caught in her lies, accusing an innocent young man also in sir Eris’ service of the thefts and planting the stolen items in her bedroll. Contemptuous of this thin deceit, Sir Eris proceeds to terrify the young man more than a little by questioning him; asking how he would steal from his lord, if he ever planned such a thing. Stammering his innocence of even thinking such things, the young man was much relieved when attention was finally turned back to the true thief, and Sir Eris set out to prove his word was iron. Taking the woman back to the village where he had saved her life before, he called on all of them to witness the sad betrayal she had carried out, and her poor spirited accusation of the young servant. Rather than offer a sentence of death himself, he casts her also upon the mercies of her fellows, leaving her fate to the villagers she had escaped from only the previous year. Trapped in the stocks, she did not live to see the end of the week.
It seemed the ghosts of past years events were rising up on all sides, as Sir Cynwrig Kellen was likewise to confront a familiar face. On being informed that several of his milk cattle had gone missing from a barn, he interrogated the farmer as to his care in locking them away for the night. Confident that the man had been diligent in the matter of door bars and securing the cattle against simply wandering off, the knight led a hunt after what faint tracks there were to be found. Off in the nearby woods, he discovered that sure enough, the cows had been driven out of the barn by mere men, bandits who proved to be in collusion with the unfortunate merchant of the prior year. Spying them engaged in the sale of the stolen cows to the man, sir Cynwrig led a charge of his liegemen down upon them, slaughtering the bandits and ending the deceitful merchants life with his own sword. No more mention was made of this bloodshed as the cows were driven back to their barn, with only a gentle admonishment to keep them secure offered to the startled but grateful farmer.
Having been absent from his manner due to the matter of the missing lord of Cornwall and diverse errands at Earl Roddericks command, Sir Gerin is put to the test on his own lands. Word reached him of a woman abused by a local man, who has put out one of her eyes! He rode at once to the village in question and sought after the man named as Mock. Struggling for cooperation from his peasants, he eventually tracked the man down, who denied any such assault, and suggests that the womans husband is a more likely culprit. Seeking out the husband in turn, he was again met with denial and counter accusation. Rather than enter into an endless round of such talk, he had both peasants and the injured woman (who has indeed lost an eye) called to his manor for a meal on his generosity to resolve this matter. Getting both men drunk, it was the husband who proved the rowdier, becoming loud and verbally abusive of his wife. From the woman, sir Gerin finally received an admission of the mans attack, but that she wished to make no fuss over it, as it will only enrage him further. Not satisfied with allowing the crime to go entirely unpunished, Gerin informed the man that nothing further would be done at that time, but that should any word of future misdeeds reach him, the man would spend the rest of his days closed in a cellar, forgotten except as a warning. This message delivered, the peasants were sent home, well fed and well wined, presumably to carry out no further mischief.
The other knight sent out in vain search for the Earl of Cornwall, Sir Alain de Chalons was likewise to be confronted with his first manorial troubles. A man had been murdered in his bed, a knife still standing in his throat when he was discovered by his sister. On questioning the locals, Sir Alain found that not only the man was dead, but his wife, and the wifes sister were missing. Confronted by their lord, the locals were not inclined to offer any information on the pair, and a search of the local woods for tracks proved frustratingly worthless. With no other option, sir Alain was forced to leave the matter as it stood, a man mysteriously murdered, and his wife missing somewhere nearby.