Friday, October 20, 2006

Sir Galonors Writes Home Again

To the Squire Dafyd ap Henias of Sarum, Logres be this letter take.

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

To mine well-regarded brother I greet you well and have but a few short moments to dictate a message to this goodly Clerk.

As you know I went oft to garde the King's Road in the North Lands for our Glorious Arthur, Rex Imperator of Britain, France, and Rome. I went with a companye of goodly knights, under the able command of Sir Trently, Knight of the Table Rownde, and yea did manye adventures befall us. We rode oft North threw the Forest Perilewse and wert lost for manye days and had manye peryls until found we the Kingdom of the Fisher King. We fawght the Fisher King's enemyes who wert in league with the Devil himself. Aye the motlye hoste of hell wert at our backs til we came to the Castle Whyte where lyes the Fisher King and his Goodly Courte.

And at the Castle Whyte I saw the Grail of Our Lord Jesu Christi whose blood wert captured therein by Josef Arimathea and brawt to this Islande of Britain. Twas marvelous to behold - yea, my brother, and my Faithe is Strong for the lookynge upon the Holy Grail. I am blessed assurely.

And now I am oft to seek allies to fight the Enemye of the Fisher King, who is a moste graycious and noble man. I send this letter from Cumbria wherein I reste with fellow knights and seek the aide of one Sir Allyn the Grosse, who is kinsman unto the Fisher King.

Know mine brother that I send a Libram of silver with the good priest, Father Michael, who in his kindness agreed to deliver this note. Use the silver to buy attire worthy of the son of Henias and brother of the Lord of Woodford and Burcome.

God make you an excellent Squire of our Lord Robert, Earl of Salisbury, and send God's blessing and mine to you and our mother and our sisters four, and pray that I shall return victorious and safe of lymbe. Also send greetings and word of my safety to the Lady Allys, my wife, if you get the chance.

Written in haste at Castle le Blanc, Cumbria.

By your brother Guisedern Galonors

Monday, October 16, 2006

528: Fighting the Devil's son-in-law

Sir Trently relates

After such a chaotic summer, it was good to stand, assembled again, on the field of battle, old campaigners such as Sir Leodigrance, Sir Tanigard and Sir Wim, good old Jerry and Sir Gilbert alongside newcomers Sirs Galonors, Berel, Dalan, and young Count Garin. Oh, the excitement of standing at the head of an army!

Less exciting was staring across at the disgorgement of hell's maw, but it is the duty of a knight to fight heroically, and the burnishment of chivalry to fight righteously so really, I was ready to go, even though it looked for sure like I was going to not walk away from this one. Oh, the spirit was there, but I was so, so tired from my ride...all praise to my lord Emperor King Arthur Pendragon for the courser he lent me for the ride north. I only wish the knights I found and gathered with such hope at Camelot had been able to keep up.

At the first clash of arms with hell's own spawn, on the brittle grass surrounding the White Castle, my faithful Ethiop went down. We fell like autumn leaves! Sir Jerry and Sir Gilbert, not the best fighters unless it's over last call, went down together, Garin fell (though I later learned his steed saved him). I was on autopilot, hacking and slashing without regard for my own limbs. Once, when I looked up, I could see the Hate burning in the eyes of Leodigrance and Tanigard and they mowed their way through the Saxon line, while Sir Wim rolled over the Picts before him like so much hay.

After the Saxons, the Picts, the Orkney lads and the cannibals had softened us up, the ogres and their ilk took the field. Good squire Florence of the level head stood fast, along with the rehorsed alemen, and while they held their own against the two-armed variety, they were done in by the four-armed Fomorians; I don't think there's even a scrap of armor on that pair worth salvaging, they were smashed so hard.

The last thing I remember was Sir Wim leveling his lance at a group of trolls...then the cannibals pulled Leo and I off our horses and everything went dark.

When I came to I was in a small room in Castle Penrith, along with Leo and Garin. Florence was there, and he told me that shortly after Leo and I went down Sirs Ywain, Lamorak and his brothers, Gawain, and many others from the Round Table showed up. Florence said that all they really did at that point was mop up, and not to worry, as people knew it had been us that had won the battle. Nice of him to say. Sgt Dalan was dead, too—never let Sir Wim search your wounds! never! But the forces of the devil were vanquished, and though the Fisher King is still gravely injured, his lands won't be overrun. All praise to Emperor King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table!

I'll winter here in Penrith before heading south in the spring.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

528: Escape to Pictland

Sir Jerry, late of Sussex

Sometimes the walls of Sleaford press in on me so. Drinking usually helps, as does a weekend of terrorizing the peasants in Anglia. But Ethelinda and her damn relatives got on my case this spring, Florence packed my bags and we lit out in the middle of the night for what these days they're calling a summer of errantry. We headed north.

Ah but it was pleasant to be out and about, free and unfettered again! Just like the old days of riding with the old man, clearing Salisbury of Saxon invaders. I thought about visiting the marshall but I thought Ethelinda would look for me there, so we headed up through Malahaut, almost to Gorre before I ran into an old friend, Sir Gilbert. You know, of the Hoe. He's from Rydachan; we used to ride together back in the day. He was with another of the Great Duke's men, a Sir Berel, a fine knight with a bee in his helmet. Gilbert and I fell into old times and just kept Berel company on the road north to King Uriens court. Oh but it was fine to swap stories of the old days with my good drinking buddy!

The king is a fine fellow, and keeps a good court. His son, Sir Yvain, is something else. He must get some of that "wow" factor from his mother, the beautiful but somewhat creepy Lady Morgan. They say she's a witch. I doubt she has warts, is all I'll say.

The road north of Gorre, north of the Antonine Wall really, isn't really a road, and Berel promptly got us lost in the Caledonian forest. Big ravens up in those parts. And other, more vile creatures. We were attacked by four of the have ever seen, and some of those Saxon battle-axes whelp some ugly babies, lads. These were beyond ugly. When Florence took a big hit, we decided the prudent course of action would be an orderly retreat, as he is an invaluable squire, especially when he is the only squire with us. It was dark, and we thought we'd made good our escape, but they attacked again. And they brought their ugly cousins with them. At least the darkness shielded us from their hideous complexions. Berel and good ol' Gilbert were hit, so when I saw reinforcements—a very large lion—appear, I retreated to cover Florence's escape. Wouldn't you know, it turned out to be Sir Yvain's lion, with the knight close behind.

Dumb luck, that.

Anyway, he escorted us to King Carados's castle and, when Carados demanded a ransom to stay away from the White Castle and the legions of the devil's son-in-law, Sir Yvain loaned Berel the money. What a guy. I believe Berel's grandchildren will still be paying off that debt when we're all dead and buried.

So now I guess it's either continue on with Sir Gilbert on this quest of Sir Berel's, come up with some quest of my own, or go back home. I hear there's a lot of pretty ladies at the Fisher King's court.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

528: the Trail of Chivalry

Sir Trently continues the tale...

As if the choking dust between the City of Glass and the king's White Castle weren't bad enough, the darn road was booby-trapped! Phantoms kept appearing in the guise of crones, mysterious knights, friends and enemies, all posing challenges in order to prove our mettle. But we've adventured together many a mile, and even though one (or two or three) of us would slip up, the group was there to lend a hand. Also, fortunately, we never came across the Armoire of Modesty; that would have been difficult to pass.

Just before coming upon the White Castle, who should we see coming cross-country but...Sir Wim! Amazing! He completely missed the tomb, the City of Glass, the Trail of Chivalry, but was with us as we first laid eyes on the home of the Fisherman King, as he is called in these parts: a beautiful white castle (naturally), besieged by a large, dark army and burned fields. We debated how to enter the castle, since we were neither known to its lord and peoples nor expected, and had the not-insubstantial matter of opposing forces parked in front of the main gates. My squire, Count Garin, recognized some of the banners flying from the pavillions in the enemy encampment as belonging to the devil's son-in-law! By the paps of Saint Anne, we were stumped until our knightly sensibilities reasserted themselves and we decided to charge through the camp to the closest sally port, sure that those in the castle would recognize us a friends by our hacking and slashing of the enemy forces. As good a plan as any for men in armor.

The surprising thing is, we actually made it into the castle! Only Sir Wim took a major wound, but he stayed ahorse and so was saved, for once we were inside a handful of nuns dressed all in white took him into a chapel for care. The rest of us cleaned up and prepared to meet the lord of the castle. Who, it turns out, is gravely injured with a wound that constantly drips blood. Needless to say, it was a somber evening meal, despite Sir Galinors attempts at humor. Dame Brisen, a good woman in her way I suppose, scolded us for not helping the king—like we know how!—and sent us off to find the king's allies, to dissuade their enemies from joining the besieging army, and to find new allies if at all possible. We left the next day and found ourselves, somehow, at Castle Brandigan.

Because we only have until midsummer, we have decided to split up: Sir Galinors and Sir Leodigrance are riding to the City of Legions and taking ship for Castle Pleure; Sir Wim and Count Garin are heading to Carduel; Sir Berel is off to persuade King Carados not to join the devil in his unholy assault on the White Castle. I am riding pell-mell to Camelot.

Wish us luck!

528: the Perilous Forest

Sir Trently

Now that Arthur is the overlord of, well, just about everything short of the Holy Land (and deepest Africa, Wendimu reminds me), it's either go off adventuring or garrison duty or practice one's stewardship by staying home...ha! Court was full of the usual scuttlebutt: unrest in Ireland, Duke Hervis and his unquellable Saxon subjects, giant lions threatening the midlands, banditry on the king's road in Rheged. None of us were too keen on revisiting Anglia, and neither Sir Wim nor I had much taste for tangling with more lions, so we good knights of Salisbury decided to clear the king's road, as it would also give Sir Wim and young squire Garin a chance to visit relatives.

Before we left, Sir Leodigrance started making inquiries. He's pretty well-known, not just as the son of the illustrious first Marshall of Salisbury, but in his own right as an experienced campaigner. He's eager, I think, to take a seat at my lord Arthur's Round Table. However, one of the best-known stories about Sir Leo is that one I'm sure you've heard in the pubs and around the camp fires with your men, the one about Sir Leo using the favor(s) of Ulo's lady to lure her husband to his death, and the disgracing of his body before the armies and his brother, Ufo. It's a really catchy tune. Plus, Leo is old school and hasn't embraced the chivalry concept; he really is an old campaigner after the fashion of his father and his father's men. As a result, he couldn't get anyone to speak to the king for him!

Also, because of Sir Leodigrance's unreasonable fear of all things Malahaut, we did not take the good road north, but instead took another road to the city of legions (an unpleasant little town with an even worse reception; I don't recommend it, fellow knights) and then on to Wilderspool, a motte-and-bailey town with an abundance of hospitality though lacking much in the way of physical comforts. We next reached Wiggun, an impoverished manor located on not much more than a cart track, the people so pinched from hunger that we opened our bags and shared forth our meager travel rations with the caretaker's family.

From them we got passable directions north through the forest to Carduel, but the Perilous Forest proved treacherous, and even with a pair of hunters such as myself and Sir Leodigrance, we were soon thoroughly lost. We came across many marvels, some satisfying (the tomb of the murderous Sir Balin), some astonishing (the City of Glass). Princess Alis, who rules the City of Glass, diverted us from the northern roads by saying her brother, the king of these lands, was besieged by renegade forces, so off we went to lend a hand—as befits the King's Companions, and knights of the Round Table.

The lands about the City of Glass are wasted; everything is dust, or coated with dust, or turns to dust at a touch. Most unpleasant. Though not as unpleasant as the surprise that awaited us camped outside the White Castle of the king!

To be continued...

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