Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Sir Marmaduke cries out
Oh, the shame!
New companions, a new land, and a task set by a (for now) new lord. Count Charles of Marlborough, who at least fed and clothed Gauter and I over the winter, sent us out with the rest of the mercenaries to fight the Saxons some forty miles to the north of where the fair Broad Oak of Hatfield once grew. And on the banks of the Nene we engaged with the Saxon scourge, acquitting ourselves well.
As a poor knight you might imagine that I was a little more than pleased to attract the notice of the Count, who sent me, along with Sir Tanicus of Middlemarsh and Sir Belinger the Still, two other wandering warriors, out on a recon mission tracking the fleeing Saxon army. The keen eyesight of my forefathers comes in handy once again!
So, as a poor knight, imagine my dread when Sir Belinger announced that, not only had we lost the splinter group of Saxons we were tracking—and the track—but that we were in the Forest Sauvage. Sir Belinger, a mighty if strange knight, spoke a tale of his having spent a night in the forest while three years passed in the outside world! And entering the forest near Lindsay exited the same in Dorset. Incredible!
The forest was close and stuffy, densely filled with undergrowth for such a gloomy wood, so we made use of the best available campsite for the night, and camped on a disused road we stumbled on. Unused by men, anyway. Not long after Gauter had unsaddled the horses and set our camp for the night, and Sir Belinger and Sir Tanicus sleeping while I took first watch , I spied large, glowing red eyes peering at me from the darkness of the woods. I took a brand in hand and moved closer to ascertain what kind of animal peered at us so, but I backpedaled right quick when I realized that a trio of horned black dogs was attached to the saucer-sized eyes.
They jumped on us and, I am ashamed to admit, I was rooted to the spot with fear while my companions hastily donned their mail and began hewing at the ghastly dogs with their swords. It was too much for me to take, I'm afraid. Again, with the utmost shame I admit I ran into the woods to escape the fairy dogs.
Whether it was the tree I ran into or a slender strand of my father's courage buried inside me, demanding I stand and face my foe, but I turned and attacked the slavering beast. Three blows and it was down. I stabbed it again to make sure it was truly dead, then ran back to the road in time to chase off the last remaining beast. Squire Gauter was nowhere in sight; I can only assume he, like his lily-livered master, took to the woods. Both Sir Belinger and Sir Tanicus lay without moving on the ground. I was able to rouse Sir Tanicus with a little of the first-aid my mother taught me, but Sir Belinger's wounds were too great for my country skills.
I'm not sure what will become of us now. Neither Sir Tanicus or Sir Belinger is able to walk–Sir Belinger can't even stand—and the vile black dogs destroyed all four of our horses. We are on foot, injured, lost, in the depths of the Forest Sauvage...along with several hundred Saxon soldiers in the detachment we were following.
It doesn't look good.
Sir Mortimer fumes
I am still cooling my heels in a Silchester cell.
I Hate Ulfius like some men hate the Saxons.
Sir Marmaduke hits the highway
The Saxons finally came, and fair Hatfield was burned to the ground! With nothing left, I leave for a life of errantry on the only horse left to us.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Sir Mortimer writes
My Dear Wife, Lady Ysabet--
I have found a man of the cloth willing to write this letter I dictate to you, dearest. I hope you have had word before now from your brother the good Sir Trently that I am alive, if not exactly well. I must say, I am becoming quite the conniseur of prisons. I find this one less to my liking than even a Cornish cell. It seems I am still remembered less than fondly here in Silchester.
But I live, and if the duchy has not heard the news, and this is the first you have heard of our little army since we set out for Levcomagus, it is with deep sadness and regret that I must report that our stalwart Marshall was killed in the field of battle. Oh, how I wish the crits had come our way instead of from the dice of that traitorous scoundrel Duke Ulfius! Alas. At the very least, Sir Ebble died in battle, on horseback, and had the satisfaction of sacking Levcomagus before the end in the Forest of Chute.
See to the ordering of our manors as we discussed over the winter, dear wife. Rely on my men for guidance, and give service to the Regent. I will see you...well, when I see you. I am happy to report that I personally dealt Ulfius a critical blow with my sword before being overcome, though that will not hasten my release, I'm afraid.
Courage, dearest! Stand firm against the Saxon horde and its scrufulous allies.
Your lord and husband,
Best quote of the night
"I want my guy alive again!
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Sir Mortimer speaks
We're out of gaol!
We had to buy our way out with ransom--a tidy, 100L sum in the Marshall's case--but we have dodged King Idris's ambush and are out of Cornwall, and back in Salisbury. Waiting for the hammer to fall as we now have 1) no money 2) no army 3) a poor harvest. We're on the verge of impoverishment! It didn't help that the Count of Windsor did not pay the balance of his ransom owed me--so I spent my last 2L of loot on hired minstrels to spread the word about the Count.
The Marshall seems to be taking a hard look at how to best preserve Salisbury. A new Saxon army has landed in the east and is threatening Hertford; other Saxons have retaken Portsmouth in the south of Salisbury (what Wessex?); the traitorous Duke Ulfius has taken manors on the edge of eastern Salisbury, and castles from our allies Rydichan and Marlborough.
Might there be a shuffling of wives in the near future?
Sir Ebble, while away in prison, lost Agnes Jr (due to the poor harvest, likely), but did gain a newborn daughter. Should he name her Dorie?
The scoundrely Duke Ulfius is the next matter calling our attention.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Sir Mortimer writes
I feel we're making progress against the Saxon horde. The marshall hired the renowned Sir Cador of Cornwall to fight with us this summer and, since things have settled down in Hampshire enough that we're annexing it to Salisbury, the Marshal took us to Dorset. Seems Dorset was in the sights of King Idris of Cornwall, who is looking to become high king? He's certainly acquiring territory as if he wants to be. Idris even offered Sir Ebble the position of Duke of the West if he'd join his cause, but Ebble declined after he saw his low character. Who wants to be sworn to a man who won't keep his word?
The Battle of Dorset turned out to be a three-day disaster: our army was routed, Sir Briant was killed, and Ebble and I were captured. Damn, I am getting tired of prisons! We were sent to wait out the winter at Castle Dore. Mysteriously, Sir Belinger was ransomed to freedom at Christmas court by an unknown lady. Hmm.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Sir Mortimer boasts
What a year! King Idris of Cornwall swept up the kingdom of Jagent, and while we watched our neighbor devoured by a fellow Briton, we had to contend with Prince Aescwine hanging around Salisbury court. He wants us to ally with him against Sussex, Kent, and Silchester—I can't believe I would say "Silchester" in the same breath as other Saxon possessions, but there you go, that's the harvest of treachery—but we're having none of it. We've said that we will consider it, in order to buy a summer of peace before a council at Windsor to discuss the high kingship. The Count of Marlborough, just a boy, is with us now, so we're making hay and kicking the Saxons and Silchester knights out of Rhydychan.
We were wildly successful at the siege of Oxford, and pummeled Sir Ulfius at the Battle of Dorchester. Two-to-one odds in his favor yet still we carried the field! We followed him to Wallingford and fought another decisive battle, also in our favor. I managed to capture the Count of Windsor, a prize rich beyond imagining. His ransom will pay for a lot of defensive works in my holdings, and a lot of troops for our continuing battles.
I'm also trying to convince the Countess of Rhydychan, without husband or heir, to marry the Marshal. It would be a prudent move for both her and him, and for all our lands.
We couldn't reach a quorum at Windsor, and left disappointed. No one is strong enough, yet, to claim the high kingship.
Sir Mortimer speaks
We hear King Idris of Cornwall is working his way east, conquering as he goes. We also hear that Wessex and Sussex are joining forces in preparation for an attack on us.
We were pretty worried, but then forces from other counties and kingdoms started showing up in Salisbury, aching to fight the Saxons. Whoo-ya! Dorset, Marlborough, Ryddchan.
We met the Saxons at the Battle of Du Plain, and held them off for two days. We couldn't get the advantage, but neither could they. Sir Ebble knighted little Count Chuckie of Marlborough before heading off on a night raid in an attempt to demoralize the Saxons. Well, we demoralized them all right, but Sir Ebble also took a major wound! And now reinforcements are headed toward the Saxon camp. Drat!
Well, well, well. Shifty ol' Merlin showed up and routed the Saxon reinforcements; we took care of the rest. In gratitude and common sense, the Countess of Salisbury made Sir Ebble the Marshal of Salisbury! You should see his retinue now: it's enormous.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Sir Mortimer speaks
We barely made it through the winter with our status intact. If we have another winter like that, we'll be reduced to riding pigs, I'm afraid.
The son of the King of Wessex fed off the hospitality of the Countess all winter long at Sarum. As the weather warmed up we sent him on his way, with the same answer we gave last year: NO tribute! Although we hear everyone else paid it. We rode to Duke Ulfius at Astalat looking for aid. When we arrived it was clear that not only was the Duke also paying tribute, he was actually collaborating with the Saxons! Incredible. I'm afraid I couldn't contain myself: I picked a fight with one of the Saxon nobles by the latrine. We dueled, which greatly displeased the Duke, but I had the satisfaction of killing the saxon. Then the Duke kicked us out.
To hell with Duke Ulfius! We'll kick the Saxons out on our own, at least from Salisbury. Sir Berwyn and his cohorts from Silchester offered us their aid, so we marched into Hampshire. First, we sacked and burned Camelot. Go Salisbury! Then on to Portsmouth: sack and burn. With each victory we sent a stream of freed peasants and loot back to Sarum. At the Battle of the Wharf we destroyed half of Wessex's ships! We couldn't finish the job, as he was on the Isle of Wight with the rest of his force, but we slowed him down for sure, and showed him what the men of Salisbury are made of!
Oh, no! My lovely lady Rose died in childbirth, though my son survived. With the blessings of the Countess I married Lady Alis of Winterbourne Stoke.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Sir Mortimer rails
Tribute?! No Way!
The wolves are circling: King Aescwine of Essex is asking for protection money. The Countess asked for our opinions, and we advised her to say no. We had parley with King Cerdic of Wessex after he landed his army in Hampshire. We gave him the same answer. We also saw a most curious thing in Camelot: a very fine sword, held fast in a large rock. Odd.
I think we shall have a war on our hands next summer...provided we make it through the winter.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Sir Mortimer wails
The end of the world?
I think we've turned a corner with Earl Roderick: even though our envoy to the north was unsuccessful, we did well enough that the earl kept us close during a great battle with the Saxon kings Octa and Eosa. The Battle of Saint Albans! Incredibly exciting. I tell you, we really kicked Saxon ass! Sir Ebble was our squad leader, and I think is turning into a promising leader of men. Tons of glory.
We retired to a nearby castle for our victory feast, and oh, it was glorious to see the shining faces celebrating at the high table. Until they reddened with poison and keeled over dead, that is.
We were stunned. All the high table, and most of the knights and ladies in the hall lying on the floor, dead! If it hadn't been for the calm head of Sir Ebble I don't know that we could have secured the castle or made our orderly retreat back to Sarum with the news. Oh, the look on Countess Ellen's face–tragic! It was terrible, delivering into her hand the signet ring of her dead lord.
But it's all terrible. They're all dead.
What will we do?
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Sir Mortimer speaks
I was worried that after being disgraced, and disgracing poor Earl Roderick that garrison duty might be my fate until the end of my days, but that jolly old earl said all is forgiven and requested Sir Ebble and I with a handful of knights accompany him as an envoy to the distant kingdom of Malahaut and Roestoc. Malahaut! I have never been so far from home.
We kicked it up with Saxon raiders in Malahaut; great fun, though I managed to drop my sword on the battlefield, only to see it captured by a Saxon warrior. Oh, the rigors of being a knight. I'm going to have to get that back, and soon.
In Conisboro Earl Roderick tried to reach a treaty with the lord, to no avail. The Earl did take us through London on our way home, which was a great marvel to see, surely the largest city in the world.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
When spring rolled around I went to another wedding: seems my cousin Mordecai, inspired by the King's marriage, figured it was time he got married as well. Nice to see my Aunt Finelle again.
That was really the high point; it seems I am to spend most of my time garrisoning castle walls...you cannot imagine how boring that is. I would rather be cooped up in Durnford with the sheep and pigs all winter. At first I thought being sent to Cornwall would be an adventure, but it turns out I got stuck with garrison duty there, too! But then...
Merlin showed up one day. I was pretty excited, seeing someone of such fame—or infamy, rather. I was riding with Sir Ebble, a small but doughty knight from the manor with the same name, and Merlin asked him for protection: to delay anyone that might be following him. Since Merlin is known as the King's servant Sir Ebble of course agreed. Little did we realize that the men in hot pursuit of the wizard were the king's own men!
We did not realize it in the heat of battle—and, I admit with not a small amount of pride, I myself stuck the mighty Sir Brastius, the King's right-hand man, a mighty 21-point blow with my measly 4d6 swordarm. Unfortunately, we did our sworn task all too well, and delayed Sir Brastius and his party while Merlin escaped. For that we were thrown in the gaols of Exeter Castle!
Let me tell you, it was a shock to my system, a newly-minted knight obeying the orders of the king's servant, to be tossed in the clink. We were accused of treason and put on trial. Earl Roderick came to our aid once he heard of our plight, but oh, Queen Igraine had it in for us. You should have heard her wail, "Kill them! They took my baby. Kill them!" I thought we were done for. We were acquited, though sore dishonored, and rode back to Salisbury.
We later heard that Merlin has been banished. Fine with me!
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Sir Leodimer grimaces
Well, I don't know what happened over the winter—I mean, at the feast the High King and the Duke were all buddy-buddy, but now...Duke Gorlois left in a huff back to Cornwall, and Uther followed. At the Siege of Dimiloc we skirmished with the Duke himself, which was a perilous undertaking as the Duke is a formidable man and an awesome knight. I was in the right place at the wrong time, however, and when the Duke spotted Prince Maddoc he zeroed in on him, looking vengeance-crazed. Well, I couldn't stand there and not defend the prince. So in I charged, and when the prince fell, wounded, I stood over him. Got in a mighty blow against the Duke, too...then I was cloven in twain. -16 hit points.
Guess my sister inherits Newton Tony.
SIR Mortimer, thank you very much!
Finally, finally, finally! Earl Roderick knighted me this week, and Sunday I went to church in Sarum, not as a squire, but as a bonafide knight. Father would have been so proud!
I had a month to strut around Durnford, lording it over little brother Lancrius, before I rode off with the other Salisbury knights to the wedding of King Uther to Lady Igraine. He's shorter than I imagined! And the Lady Igraine was, well, very beautiful. But oh, you should have heard the talk whispered behind hands, since her first husband the Duke is only just dead.
I can't believe how strong the King's beer is.