Tuesday, September 26, 2006

527: Sir Galonors Writes Home

To the Lady Irance Galonors of Woodford Manor in Salisbury, Logres be this letter take.

In the Year of Our Lord, Jesu Christi, Five Hundred Eight and Twenty

To mine well-beloved mother I greet you well, and advise you to think onst of the day of my safe return to Woodford.

Since I left home I have stayed in the Citye of Parris and wert garde there. Not until God saw to playce me in Glorye at the Battle of Saussy under Sir Mortimer, Marshall of Salisbury, did I take wound, but twer naught badly so, and I there witnessed the Victory of Arthur over his enemye Lucius Imperator of Rome.

I wert wounded gravely at the gaytes of Milano and only by the goodly ministraytions of the Sisters of Mercye there were I able to dictate this letter at all. There I rested for the for manye monthes and I am now fayred well in the Hospice of St. Maria Benefactrix in the Holy City of Rome, whereupon Arthur is now Crowned Rex Imperator, blessed be his name!

Know mine mother that I send six Libra of silver and three mounts of goode qualitye with the Legionary Poste, accompanyed by a goode Salisbury man named Ifus who lost his right hand at Milano. He is to staye at Woodford upon his lysure to take reste until he sees fit to departe to his owne playce near Sarum.

God make you a good woman, and send God's blessing and mine to you and my brother Dafyd and my sisters four, and know that I return with the goode tyde upon Wynter's end of this year.

Written in haste at Rome the Thursday after Candlemass Day.

By your son Guisedern Galonors

Friday, September 15, 2006

527: When In Rome, Leave the Dogs Alone

Sir Mortimer exults

I love campaigning! We marched through France and Italy, fighting and besieging castles and towns as we went. What a fantastic combination for pure, unadulterated knightly fun! We had a bit of a sticky time taking Milan, where Sir Rhun of Nottingham was killed by tank-like Byzantine cataphracts...Sir Galinors, a young knight of Salisbury, may yet succumb if the chiurgens aren't careful. Even with the loss of our comrades it was sweet, sweet, sweet to see the Roman senate bow to Arthur, and crown him Emperor of Rome!

We are dawdling the winter away in Rome. I've been setting aside a few choice items for Lady Betty, and buying trinkets for the girls. I am also trying to convince the Pendragon that all the fortification I've done around Salisbury should remain undisturbed, as Cerdic's sons are still on the loose, and you just never know. I also broached as delicately as I could the matter of the Count of Windsor's still-unpaid-for ransom, a ransom vouched for by that scoundrel Ulfius. Maybe there was no way to delicately say it, but I suggested that part of Silchester, handed over to Earl Robert, would not only settle the debt but leave the portion of Silchester so ceeded so much better managed to be a benefit to everyone. Except the son of Ulfius. Ha!

(Speaking of the sole surviving son of Ulfius, Leo is still missing in action. I do hope he turns up. I have a tremendous affection for the boy.)

Sir Trently

A grand finish to two years' campaigning. I can see what the old-timers mean when they reminisce about the good old days of war. And I shall be looking splendid at court this winter and next, as I have acquired quite a bit of loot from the war, not to mention all the ransom I shall collect from the Roman infantryman, the pair of Ostragoths, and the two Ethiop infantrymen I was responsible for.

Good news! One of the Ethiops has chosen to serve as a sargent in my household instead of being ransomed. Wendimu said he did not want to impoverish his family. Very well! Garin and Norvelle are showing him the ropes; I think he'll fit right in.

Sir Mortimer again

My lord Arthur, Emperor of Rome (ha!), threw a tournament, which was fun in its own way. Not that I'm any good at these playfests, but still, it was fun to kick some Byzantine butt for laughs. I was unhorsed at one point during the melee, but Garin, who is proving to be an excellent squire (may he make an excellent knight!), heroically horsed me again, by which action he was most greviously injured. Sir Wim made things even worse by bungling his first aid! I think his experience with the churgeons has given him a twisted idea of medical aid. I know I'm not ever going to let him apply bandages to my wounds.

At some point, either in the tournament or shortly afterwards, one of the French knights who saw the error of his ways and joined Arthur's forces, told us about a "treasure cave" he'd heard tell of. The boys were bored and decided to investigate, although Lord Jesu! you'd have to be pretty bored for that. Sir Wim and I decided to take a basket of delicious local foods and sit out under the olive trees while they went grubbing underground, wasting a perfectly good day of sunshine.

Well, four courses and several turns each with the harp later, what do Wim and I see but Sir Berengare running from the cave entrance, his hair standing on end and shouting at us that the others were in trouble. We dropped our cakes and wine and went racing back to our lodgings, where we hastily armed and raced back. We plunged into the cave, which was much deeper than I would have thought. We crossed a stream even, with some old crone shouting at us, "They're all dead! They're all dead! And you'll die too if you cross this stream." We of course ignored her and crossed the stream. Suddenly, we saw bodies everywhere: young Leodigrance, my squire Count Garin, Sir Hervis—everyone who went into the treasure cave. At this point Berengare was ranting about giant dog heads attacking. Huh. I find it ironic that Sir Leodigrance was chewed up by dogs. In any case, I grabbed him and dragged him out into the air and laid him on the sward under the olive trees. I left him in the care of Sir Berengare, as Sir Wim could not force himself back into the cave, and went back in for the great duke's son. Again with the shouting crone by the water. And even though Count Garin is a big man, I somehow managed to get him out of the cave and into the light. He was sorely wounded, though not as badly as Sir Leodigrance, poor boy! He looked as good as dead, but I applied myself to the task of first aid, and I think he'll be okay. I think they'll both be okay. (But not, sadly, Sir Hervis or Sir Damien. Both dead as doornails.)

[Sir Leodigrance was -7 hit points when he got pulled out of the cave, but damn if I didn't crit two first aid rolls in a row!—Suzanne]

Friday, September 01, 2006

526: Marching Across France

Sir Mortimer relates

My son has not been seen since the tournament-feast in Oxford. Nobody's saying anything; am I to assume he's run off on some quest? It seems to be all the rage among the young knights practicing this "chivalry" fad. Like that Lance fellow we keep hearing about. Silliness if you ask me.

But as we got the call from King Arthur himself to muster out, I haven't been able to dwell on Monroe's absence. Good thing his mother's passed or she'd worry herself to death. Can you believe this? We're all at court, enjoying the companionship, when the strangest collection of...people...confronted the king. They said they were an envoy from the Emperor of Rome, and demanded tribute! Ha! The king turned them out, and immediately closeted himself with advisors. Shortly thereafter we were embarking at my fine new quay at Portchester, sailing across the Channel, and disembarking with great fanfare at Barfleur.

We are now kicking ass and taking names as we march across France. Paris is a fine city. We are taking stock here before pressing on after the Roman Lucius. And if I may make a small toot on my own horn, I am looking the part of a commander, in my fine new armor and splendid warhorse, both gifts from the hand of the king. I got a bit testy when the king excluded me from deliberations after the demand for tribute. I've been turning the tables on tribute demands since before he was born! And then, not one word from him regarding the state of affairs in Portchester.

But he made amends, splendidly. I look (and feel) great, and am happy to be back on my warhorse again.

Heh! That Pendragon and his impossible odds. We spent a good month chasing the Roman army hither and yon before finally cornering them near Saussy, in terrible terrain. I advised the king to just set fire to the countryside and smoke 'em out, but he insisted on lining up the battallions without it. My new charger, the fine Continental one the king gave me, performed admirably. As did I. Not bad for an old man of 53! But the best news came in the field: as we were fighting manfully against the hirsute Ostragoths and the splendidly fierce Ethiops, we heard a great roar from the center of the army. Our Lord Pendragon had killed Lucius! We spent the warm Continental winter marching on Rome.

525: Sir Trently Marries, and More

Sir Clydno, Le chevalier Doight

A tournament! Hooray! A great and grand one as ell, to celebrate the knighting of the Great Duke’s son and heir, and simultaneously the wedding of his daughter to Sir Trently, a hero of Badon and Round Table knight whose acquaintance I have made, due to our close relationship with Salisbury.

The crowd was so huge we all tented in the fields outside of Oxford. The company is grand, and everyone was eager to prove ourselves on the field. I got there days early. My first tournament! Indeed, one of the first in the land. The Duke greeted everyone with grand words. Far distant we heard a horn sound, but paid no heed. I found myself spending mos of my free time with Sir Guy of Woodford, a landholder from Salisbury my own age who I’d met in our squiredoms; Sir Monroe of Salisbury, the son of the Marshall of Salisbury and Castellan of Portchester; and famous Sir Trently, the groom-to-be, hero of Badon and Round Table knight.

At the dinner that night I saw Queen Guenever for the first time. What a lovely sight! I will carry deep affection for her in my heart forever. I sang a perfect rendition of the song, “For the Love of Fflur,” and in recognition the Duke awarded me a magnificent cloak [worth £2]. His generosity has not been overstated!

Alas, the next day, upon awakening, it was gone! Someone stole it! We looked everywhere, and since my brother had not yet arrived I went to Sir Trently to share the bad news. I didn’t want to bring bad news to his wedding of course, but I also felt it important to warn him that something foul was afoot. I was amused when Sir Guy couldn’t hold his liquor and passed out at the able.

We went hunting that day, in which I nearly captured a deer, but it was unusually agile so that it avoided me, and dodged in front of Sir Guy, who bagged it instead. Well done, Sir! I spent the evening wandering the hall, seeking whomever had stolen my cloak. For naught.

Next day was the knighting. At Mass the next day, when I looked up from dicing with Sir Trently, I saw my cloak! The dastard Sir Trimble of Kent was wearing it! He’s a poor knight that Sir Trently had met once.

At dinner that night I went out of my way to subtly confront the thief, to size him up. When he clumsily spilled wine on himself he blamed me, as if I was responsible for his inability to hold a wine cup ager being jostled! So the arrogant twit then insulted me and I took the opportunity to challenge him in the duels that had been scheduled for two days hence. I demanded that the prize be for our cloaks, to which he agreed. Sir Guy passed out again.

I did poorly in the jousting the next day. Of course, for I fought one of the personal household of the Duke, a man of great fame and experience. I count it no shame to have lost to such a stalwart. The elimination was won by Sir Gawaine, nephew to the King. He is some buff knight! I don’t understand the grumbling about him that some of my compatriots expressed. Something about a “palamino colored horse…”

Next day I eagerly entered the challenges. Sir Trimble is so pathetic he rode only a rouncy *snicker.* His lancing was pitiable and I unhorsed him, but he would not surrender, so I knocked him down with my sword and trampled upon him. He finally surrendered. His squire brought his cloak to me, but the caitiff only gave me his own sorry thing instead of the stolen garment!

Afterwards Sir Trently scolded me for my behavior. I protested that I wasn’t some goody-goody chivalrous knight, but he said that this was just a sport and I ought to have dismounted and ought not have trampled my foe, as I’ve been trained to do for the last six years.

Before the melee could begin, a strange knight, armed all in black and mounted upon a huge black charger challenged the future Count of Rydychan, the Duke’s newly-knighted son, to joust! He was just knighted, and so of course he eagerly took this adventure. We watched, and at the last moment saw that the challenger changed the aim of his lance from the shield to the helm, and heir was thrown over his horse with a splinter of lance protruding from the visor! As everyone rushed forward to help the fallen the strangest thing occurred!

We found ourselves being greeted by the Duke’s grand words, as had happened days before! We were naturally perplexed—indeed, perhaps stupefied is a better word. We heard a distant horn, but paid it no heed. I spoke of this to Sir Trently and Sir Guy, with whom I had forged friendship in the days just past that had disappeared, and they too noted the strangeness, though in fact no one else present seemed to.

I was frightened, for it was clear that magic was present and any sane man fear those workings. Nothing good had ever come of working with magic, for the Great Duke now owes a favor to an elephant, Sir Uren has disappeared to seek his wife, and Count Rydychan was challenged on his knighting day by a monstrous black knight! I remembered events, and feared that I would repeat my errors. Doubly damned!

But it didn’t occur that way. Sure, Sir Guy passed out again—Sir Trently began calling him Knight of the Cups. Yes, I still love the Queen so hardily, but my song was less perfect, no doubt due to my anxiety over this strange turn of events. I confess, I wished I had the talisman of my relic to protect me here! But of course, having not sung I didn’t get the cloak, and so it wasn’t stole. I did see Sir Trimble of Kent and went to him with great friendship and kindness. He was flattered to be met by the brother and son of a count, of course, and mystified, but I dared not tell him why.

I did speak to the young Count Rydychan. In the church, carefully watching around and not distracted by the cloak I had seen him flinch when he drank of the wine. In the bustle after dinner I did congratulate him and ask him about the wine, but he said it was sour. No doubt this is a heritage of his Pagan practice, learned when he was in the clutches of the King of Sauvage, victim of a changeling exchange. But perhaps now he is Christian? I did not ask him…

I lost at the joust again, and of course had no challenge. But again, at the end of the challenges the black night came and, once again, struck the Count such a blow upon the helm. We managed to get to his side and saw blood spurting from his visor when, again without warning, events began anew!

The Great Duke was welcoming everyone, and we heard a distant horn again. But this time with my two companions I left the throng, got my squire and horse and we all went thundering towards the distant sound. Strangely, the forest north of Oxford were most unusual, brightly colored and charged. We came to a bridge where a squire informed us we had to fight the defender to cross, and of course we agreed. To our astonishment the foe was a dwarf in ornate armor mounted upon a huge stag! Sir Guy went first, being the least of us; and failed. As did I, and then Sir Monroe succeeded, he a better man with great experience and skill more than us new knights. I am sure Sir Trently would have succeeded in the last, had it been necessary—he is a Round Table knight!

We rushed to a lake, and there across it we saw a monstrous creature and a gorgeous woman. I humbly approached he and questioned her identity, and she was Lady Ourale, who said she’d been the wet nurse for Sir *Count, and that we had to hurry to save the young man from death. She instructed us to take four hawthorn branches to plant in the corners of the jousting field. Before I left I did inquire what the creature was that guarded her, and she informed us it was indeed the Elephant of Sauvage that had once helped the Duke. We all took branches to the task, and good it was because Sir Monroe became lost on our hurried return. We all planted branches on the corners just as the Black Knight entered with his challenge. But this time he was defeated!

When he lay on the ground, unmoving, Sir Trently went to offer aid, but upon removing the helmet found the armor was filled with plaited straw! Surely this was proved to be enchantment, to the wonder and fear of everyone.

In private after dinner we did share our tale with trusted folks, but Sir Trently had told the King of it, who publicized our part and so we were all awarded glory and honor for our deeds.

The next day Sir Trently was duly wed amidst great pomp, and everyone fought in the grand melee with courage and renown. I gained no great significant glory for my deeds but did nothing to shame myself. I was of course among the knights of Marlboro, led by my brother the count. Several teams competed with each other, and in the end the knights of the Great Duke took the day, according to the judgement of the King and the heralds. The many Round Table knights were indefatigable of course, and as required by their oath, none of them fought each other.

So ended the tournament, an event most rewarding and wonderful, in part due to the magnificence of the event, and I confess, it was more due to the part that my companions and I had in uncovering the secret. Nonetheless, I am fearful for the future of the Count of Rydychan, being so bound up as he is in enchantment. But that is not my concern, for I doubt our paths will cross often in the future.

I am, however, worried about Sir Monroe. No one has seen nor heard from him or his squire since he disappeared on our return from the Enchanted lake.

Sir Monroe reports

Oh no...I believe I have undertaken the Quest to find Sir Uren the Timely.

I hope Father doesn't worry too much.

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