Sunday, February 19, 2006
Taking a quick break here during what is turning out to be a tumultous summer—and, considering some of the summers I've seen, that's saying something.
So the tourney was quite fun, and my dear Ysabet looked radiant in her new clothes and jewels. She certainly looked the part of the wife of the Marshall of Salisbury. As did my retainers: before we left I had specially-made surcoats and banners sewn for everyone. We were the very picture of beauty!
I wish my showing in the melee had been as good as our appearance, but these knees of mine couldn't take the lancing, so I was out pretty quick. Young Earl Robert was so eager to do himself proud, I'm afraid he also had an early exit. No harm done, though, as we fought with "rebated" weapons, blunted and for the most part harmless. A game for boys, really, but the ladies were impressed, and that always counts for something.
But the real stir, the real commotion, was that, during the tournament, a young squire somehow pulled that sword locked fast in the stone, out of the rock. Not once but several times! A feat which, though many tried, none could duplicate. Oh, the foreigners were outraged! Petty kings, counts, earls, everybody is gathering their men and marching to London to try their own hand at freeing the sword. In the meantime, myself and my doughty knights of Salisbury are guarding the sword in the stone day and knight, while the Count of Rhydychan and Gloucester guards the young squire.
The year is far from over; I'm taking a quick break from our battle preparations to jot this down. The foreign nay-sayers all came to London to try their hand at the sword, but none could pull it from the stone once Arthur set it back in place. Red faces all around, and not all from exertion. The commoners clamored for their king, so Arthur was knighted and crowned at a most glorious ceremony. My knees kept me from dancing with the Lady Ysabet, but young Earl Robert kindly escorted her around the dance floor while I gamed with the Salisbury lads. Her shining, lovely memory in my mind's eye is what keeps me going this summer. We've been on the road for months. Outside Carleon we fought an army of disgruntled northerners, though I don't remember much of the battle, as I was laid out by a savage blow. I spent months recuperating in the castle before the army was again on the march, this time to Bedegraine. Count Belinger—may he soon find a wife!— captured the King of Garloth, while I myself only captured the enemy standard during second day of fighting before my wounds forced me from the field.
At Carohaise, in the kingdom of Cameliard (where I have never before been), we battled King Rhiens of Norgales; a very short battle. I didn't even participate! It went poorly for us, with many of our knights killed or captured, including my cousin and steward to Burcombe Manor, Sir Mordecai. What was left of Arthur's army recuperated at the castle. (The king's daughter is quite lovely.)
We finally were sent home in September, but the weather that was so good for fighting wasn't so good for the farmers, and harvests were poor.
How did the year end? With a complete shocker: Sir Ulfius ransomed the Salisbury knights! "A deposit on money owed," he said. I jus about fainted.
Now I know what Ebble was complaining about all those years: this tender, pink scar on my side aches terribly in this lousy London weather. And my knees are killing me, especially now when I dismount from my trusty warhorse. Which I did a lot of this year, because as the weather improved in the spring, we grizzled veterans put our heads together and discussed what to do about The Saxon Problem for the year. How to keep London? I was all for clearing out Sussex and Kent—better for Salisbury, that—but Counts Belinger and Charles of Marlborough, and Sir Brastius wanted to go north, though I think we didn't go as far as they would have liked.
Before we rode off to battle against what would most likely be, as usual, a larger army, I had the great pleasure of taking Sir Ebble's son Leodigrance on as my squire, and the great honor of knighting young Sir Robert, the late Earl's son. Finally!
We swept the Saxons out of Hertford, Roystan, and Beale Valet before returning to London. All those years of siegecraft pay off once again! We had gotten word that the Angles were moving toward the city, and our rear. We fought them outside the city gates, a battle of medium proportions as those things go. Count Belinger revenged himself on the berzerker that troubled us so much last year...but was laid low when the tree-wielding small giant showed up. Bad luck. But a knight whose acquaintence we had not yet made, Sir Nidian of Wuerensis, crit mightily several times before he, too, fell.
It was looking like another Cornwall before, and I can still hardly believe this, before Merlin showed up, drove off the giant, healed the fallen Count, and generally helping turn the tide in our favor. I might even start praying in one of the chapels I've built on my lands back home, I am so shaken by this. By the beard of St. Mary! I mean, Merlin! Who would've figured him to do something noble?
Sir Nidian ended up joining the household of Count Belinger. I took my Salisbury lads back home for the winter, along with some new men to replace our fallen comrades. A Sir Ruin joined the household of Earl Robert, as he acquited himself well at the Battle of London.
We're to return to London in the spring for a great celebration, an entertainment called a "tourney." We had another daughter born, so I'm hoping to show off the wife and family then. Might be fun; we'll see.
The song I wrote about Sir Nidian and the Small Giant is getting pretty good play aroud town.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Chronicle of Rydychan
Twelfth day of December in the Year of Our Lord 508
I am afraid I spend more time than is wise in my chambers as of late. My spirits are dampened by the sight of the new faces at table where my friends formerly sat. Of my old companions, those who knew me before I claimed my inheritance, only Mortimer remains. It is possible, perhaps, that Marmaduke too still lives for we found no corpse upon the field last summer. But if he lives why has he gone from us?
I am uneasy with this plan of Brastius’. We have seized London through another treachery of Duke Ulfius, although this time his betrayal served us. He claims to be a changed man. I scarce believe it. He will be gone again, perhaps to King Idyriss when he senses advantage elsewhere. After the siege of London I doubt the Saxons will ever take him back.
Next year I expect all of the weight of the Saxon Kings to be thrown at us. Brastius claims this will allow us to crush them upon our own terms, once and for all. But have we strength enough? The forces of King Nanteliod were broken by just one Saxon king, and Nanteliod’s forces were greater than ours, and better led. Brastius has assured me that taking London was necessary for a greater plan of which he has only shown me a brief glimpse, yet another matter that weighs upon me as I have sworn not to reveal what he has shown to my companions, or even to my dear mother, the Countess.
At the urging of the Countess I have once again begun to search for a new wife. My poor Nia deserved better than to die so young in childbirth! Yet mother is correct, I must get myself an heir, and soon, for the sake of both Rydychan and Gloucester.
Not all is gloom however. Taking the offensive has kept the Saxon dogs close to their kennels. Neither Rydychan nor Gloucester were troubled by war this year and the respite has paid off in rich harvests. The peasants are looking well nourished and the extra tax has enabled me to replace most of our casualties from the seige and to strengthen some garrisons. God grant us the strength to stem the Saxon tide next year!
Bellengere, Count of Rydychan and Gloucester.
What was that?! Greg is the worst dice-roller, a fact we love to tease him about. But last night Greg just about killed us all on the first charge of the first battle of the night. Yeah, storming London—at Brastius's request, too. He had A Plan, and the help of that forest woman, Niniveh. Count Belinger was all for it, and his household knights were with him on it, too. But until Brastius and Belinger agreed to neutralize Silchester Sir Mortimer was not having any of it. But they agreed, we took his sons hostage, and on to London...where we promptly got our butts kicked. Sir Mortimer out on a lance charge, the household knights done in by a berzerker (I haven't seen -30 hit points in a long time), and Belinger major wounded but valorously continuing the fight. The money spent on those 500 knifemen paid off, as they swung the battle in our favor and we (barely) carried the day.
But get this! Guess who was fighting the Saxons inside London? Yeah, that traitorous dog Ulfius. Tsk! He says he's a changed man. I'll believe it when he settles his score with Mortimer.