Tuesday, December 26, 2006

533: Game Master Notes, Court of Love

Greg's Gaming Notes:

We played a court of love. Everyone put their regular characters aside and pulled out, or wrote up, a woman character to play.

Lady Raeburgh was there. That ol’ axe-throwing noblewoman (“lady” only barely fits) acutally no longer Hates Britons, and she and Leodegrance are among those “perfect old lovers” that the girls talk about. Imagine that. Raeburgh is a bawdy old broad with a henpecked husband.

Lady Adwen, the great duke’s daughter, was there, well-spoken and knowledgable about the subject.

Lady Nia of Swanbridge was a newlywed who came to participate.

Lady Brandimante, a practical courtier, was pretty much dragged into it. Her position among the ladies and marriagability demanded it. She hated it.

The first question was put forth, debated and judged. A troubador came out to entertain everyone. It was Sir Lancelot, who has been at court for years but is normally absent on some or another adventure. No one even expected to see him, and when he came forth to sing his love song for an anonymous Immortal Queen, the women all had to make their Amor Lancelot passions.

It seems that this never made it into print, but it’s based on the fact that all women, upon their first look at Lancelot, must make Trait rolls to see if they get an Amor for him. This is done exactly the same way that men do it for Guenever.

One woman was heard to say, “I would never do anything to betray you, my husband, but if I ever did it would be with that man.” And the only reason that this was not a murderous statement was because it was said about Sir Lancelot, who is absolutely chaste. Every woman loves him, just as all men love Guenever.

As for the Court of Love, I’ll make it short: the questions (from GPC) were presented to all of the council. The players answered for their characters. Then the best answer, from the Queen and Princess of the court, was given, and everyone judged whose answers were right or wrong. A right answer got 50 Glory. A perfect answer, 100.

Nia, Raeburgh, and Adwen all ended with 300 Glory from the event. Brandimante got 100.

Well, now I have to make up some new Court of Love questions. I want to keep this thing going and see where it leads as a source of play rather than the abstract thing rolled for every Winter. Maybe I can generate enough questions from the game if the player knights will indulge Romance. I’ll put their action before the court.

Lady Clina

Well, to do a decent GM job for motivating Romance I’ll need an NPC to lead and guide this thing. I’d like a young heirless, good lineage, beautiful and rich. What NPC might work here? I began to formulate one I’d like to have, a Princess of Love.

I decided I’d go with my preferred NPC family. For game glue, the Salisbury knights have had an ongoing relationship with the Marlborough count for fifty years now. The former kid who was called “Count Chucky” by the last generation is now Earl Charles of Marlborough, and no familarirties in public, please. Childhood hero of the resistance, early companion of Arthur, bla bla. And oh yea, did you know he’s the brother of my player character?

And now, I realize he has a daughter. No other children.

I do a full character sheet for her with (of course) Advanced Character Generation for KAP5. Find the year—533, and follow the steps. Everything worked perfectly except at the end for the Luck Table, so I’m making a Lady’s Luck Table for it.

While assigning her Traits I realized, hey, she qualifies as a Gentlewoman as a beginning character! Great. She also failed to be impressed by the High Queen,

At Statistics I decided to roll randomly. Wow, SIZ 4, CON 19 and APP 19. Tiny woman! At first I thought, wow, can’t do that… but heck, William the Conquerer’s Queen was three feet tall or something! Of course she’s SIZ 4, the Little Lady. For her three Distinctive Features I chose one as the classical Arthurian one, “Pale skin, red lips, black hair;” second, “Pretty Face,” and finally “Perfectly Proportioned Gorgeous Body.”

For assigning skills I played a bit. I wrote in little quotes on what she could say when asked to make that skill (Folklore, “our little people,” and Heraldry, “who is that?”)

I had thought, at first, that she was Sir Clydno’s sister, or half-sister rather—that is—Count Chucky’s sister. Heck, I realized he’s forty or more. His daughter! I drew out the family tree, and in doing so decided that Count Charles’ wife died in childbirth. The count has one legitimate heir, this young woman raised in Guenever’s court.

Ah, there is my heiress, my future Princess of Love.

And she’s Sir Clydno’s niece. (He has no question that the inheritance should go to the legitimate daughter instead of the bastard son. He will be scrupulously selfless in all service to the Lady, his niece.) I discover she wants to be as famous as the Princess of the Rose.

She is tiny—only four feet tall, but perfectly proportioned—and frail. Sixteen years old, saucy and gorgeous and tiny and as courtly and formal as a woman can be. Her noble facade is immense, trained in the court of the High Queen for the last eight years.

Oh yes, she is also the heiress of Marlborough. She will be countess some day.

She is part of Guenever’s court—a lady to a lady right now. She knows Fashion and is steeped in Romance and wants to play the game.

When among only women she admits that she loves the power of the Romance game, and expects to use it to have men do her will for years to come. She teases other women if they aren’t willing to take advantage of this opportunity. The queen does it to run the kingdom. Why should other noble women not use it to run their holdings? It’s an innocent game. Everyone knows that.

She loves diamonds.

If anyone mentions to her that her family arms are just like the King of Sweden, she repeats what her father has always said, slightly modified: “Then, when I meet the King of Sweden I will have my champion fight him to the death.”

And goes on to another subject.

Oh yea, this is the woman that Clydno’s wife is handmaiden to. So Leofaled is a noble lady, the handmaid to a Countess Clina, who herself is (at times) a handmaiden of the High Queen. Young Evan, now ten, serves as a page in this court.

Monday, December 25, 2006

533: Court of Love

Mortimer groans

Just as I had feared, our lovely queen has proceeded with her idea, and this year at court we were subjected to a spectacle known as the Court of Love. Lady Betty was there, as was our ward cousin Brandimante. Lady Raeburgh was there, the great count's daughter Adwen, so many fine young ladies, all caught up in the excitement of the queen's clap-trap. Hah! Sometimes I think to myself, poor Arthur! I'll leave it to others to speak of it.

Oh! But what was this? My dear lord King Arthur Pendragon Emperor of Rome almost killed me at court this year. Sir Leo and I were entertaining ourselves practicing on the jousting field when the king beckoned us over, bade us to clean up and appear in the hall. Hmm. With a nod in my direction, Arthur declared to all assembled that he was resolving The Silchester Situation...by appointing me Count of Silchester! I just about had a heart attack. I now consider the matter of the Count of Windsor's unpaid ransom resolved. (It's only been 34 years.) Then it was Leo's turn as the king turned to him and announced that there was none better in the kingdom to be marshall of Salisbury. How true! (Even though I beat his ass on the tourney field.)

There will be one huge party as soon as I can arrange it—in Silchester's jail!


532: Battle of Tara

Mortimer recounts

It's a funny thing, getting older. Each year, more parts of my body ache (and ache worse), young knights seem impossibly young, the youngsters get noisier. Lady Betty, she keeps me young, and the children (and young knights!) in line. She's doing something right: I'm easily 15 years older than Leodigrance, but put the two of us side-by-side and you'd never know it. He looks old. Worse yet is his young friend Sir Galonors. He looks positively wasted.

The other thing about getting old? All your companions start dying off. We heard this year that young Sir Trently, my old brother-in-law, was killed last summer in a tournament or duel or some such. Court foolishness, these tournaments. And now Lady Betty tells me the queen is making noise about a new court for the ladies and damosels, a court of love.


I took the family to Camelot, of course. Lady Betty naturally spent most of her time with the other ladies, and when the boys arrived they did me the honor of serving me at table during the feast. Lovely lads, all! Lancrius is sure to make a fine knight, and it did me proud to see him knighted. His younger brothers were good sports about it, but clearly wanting their turn. Next year, I think, I will be ready to let them go, and thereafter spend my days playing with my baby daughter and advising the king while I slowly slide into dotage!

My lord King Arthur Pendragon Emperor of Rome decided to war upon the Irish, and asked us to muster up. Very well! Quick work, that. I hear young Sir Leo may stay on in Ireland with the promise of extensive lands. Huh. If he does, I shall have to ask him for some more of those exceptional dogs he breeds. They're great fun to have around Durnford.

I came back to Durnford to find that Lady Betty delivered of our child earlier than expected. The boy was sickly, so we had him baptised right away, but he lived the night and seems to be holding his own. We'll see.

I would like to hear word of my son before I die, even if it's to know that he is dead in some adventure. Dear Monroe! It's hardest not knowing.

Meet Sir Lancruis

I am a knight!

Finally. Why did father make me wait so long?

Friday, December 08, 2006

531 Adventure of Sir Turquine

Sir Clydno du Doight
Sir Trently of Salisbury, Round Table Knight
Sir Galonors of Salisbury
Sir Beryl
Sir Cynfyn of Clarence
The Adventure of Sir Turquine
We were visiting Camelot and for the first time I had the opportunity to directly swear loyalty to King Arthur. I naturally took the chance, and I daresay the occasion was more than extremely impressive. I was astonished at my own response, and I feel that my loyalty to him is perfect at this time! (Though, nonetheless, my loyalty to my brother the Earl is a bit more yet.)
[Loyalty to Arthur = 20, to Count Charles = 21]
The market at Camelot was fantastic, and we marveled at the new armor available. It is called Partial Plate and is superior to that old fashioned chain that I have been wearing. I spent the last of my inheritance, gifts and award money to purchase a set for myself, and also a fine courser to ride upon rather than the rouncy I have been riding. I have named him Bounder.
Much to our alarm we learned that Sir Leodegrance had disappeared! I have known this great knight since I was a page, and so naturally I joined in with many others to seek him. He had left with his retinue to travel to Essex on the main road. We traveled quickly, pausing occasionally only to ask if he had passed. We rode swiftly, even late into the night.
One night in southern Essex we sighted a huge fire off the road. We went to investigate and discovered an entire village afire! Even the church was aflame and bodies lay everywhere. The terrified peasants told us it had been a Saxon raid from the north, and that they had departed not long ago. I quickly found tracks, and even though it was night we set off quickly in pursuit. We followed a trail of footprints, horse prints and a cart for many miles in the darkness before we were ambushed by a screaming horde of Saxon bandits. I admit, I did passing well and left several dead or bleeding, sometimes even fighting two or three at a time. After all, they were just bandits. My armor stood me well.
But their numbers were great, and Sir Trently, our leader, signaled a withdrawal. We waited until day and returned to the spot and found the villains had not even taken out the bodies of their own dead. We did find the cart, hidden in some brush and with some treasure still in it, especially the gold cross from the burnt church. Sir Trently had it loaded onto his sumpter and we continued onward.
After some time we found a clearing, and at the far end a tree upon which hung a bell, and from its limbs were suspended many shields. We recognized many, including that of Sir Leodegrance! And, up a hill some distance father, a tall black tower, strongly built of stone.
Sir Trently, ever the courageous Round able Knight, rang the bell. After a short time a knight arrayed all in black and bearing arms of a black tower upon white rode gently into the clearing. We recognized this fellow as Sir Turquine, the famous Saxon lord who has never been conquered by our king. I urged an immediate attack by all of us at once, but the chivalrous knight, always trying to teach me their ways, denied that and instead spoke to the man.
Sir Turquine invited us to stay at his castle if we would accept his hospitality and the custom of the castle, a custom which he could not explain until we had agreed to take or leave his offer. It was well given, and it is clear he was a knight even though a Saxon, and so we accepted it. Then he told us his custom was that no man could leave until he, Sir Turquine, was defeated in battle.
We asked of Sir Leodegrance, and were told he had not accepted the custom and currently resided in a dungeon under yonder tower. There too was Sir Ector de Maris and many other knights.
The Saxon’s word was good for his hospitality, and I say that his tower was richly arrayed with tapestries and other luxuries. We ate well and temperately, and upon the request of Sir Trently, Sir Leodegrance and other goodly prisoners were brought forth. Our friend looked poorly, having been wounded and left in the dank dungeon. He accepted food and drink from us, but was sent back.
Sir Trently challenged Sir Turquine to fight that night, that Leodegrance could be relieved of his misery. But this was refused until the morrow, after a morning hunt for entertainment.
The hunt went well, and upon my swift courser I outstripped the other hunters in pursuit of a huge bull. I’d not fought these before, and thought to myself "What danger from a great man cow?" I cornered it, lowered my lance and charged while it lowered is own weapon and charged back.
What danger? Great danger, I learned, for it sidestepped my boar spear and as it passed tore my entire left side open with one great sharp horn. I daresay, I feared I would die. I barely stayed the saddle, and only escaped with my life when other knights came to challenge it. What a monster! It slew two horses and nearly two other men before it was dispatched.
I do admit, I am glad my new courser was saved, but the wound was grievous. Sir Turquine showed great concern for my well being and arranged for nurses to take care of me. I asked that, should I be required to stay, that my dear Leofaled be allowed to come to this place to care for me.
"Since you will certainly be staying, I so agree," said the generous host.
"No so sure," said Sir Trently, "for we have yet to fight for our freedom." I watched from a stretcher, barely able to keep conscious except for the excitement of the fight.
Sir Trently proved his worth that day, for in several passes he bested that black knight so that blood flowed from several great wounds. But then a fire of hatred burst from the Saxon’s eyes, and though he was afoot with a two handed axe and Trently ahorse with his lance, with one single blow he struck the Round Table knight a deadly blow which slew him.
What grief we knew then! Sir Galonors fairly frothed at the mouth with desire for revenge, even though he had been wounded that same day by the dolorous bull. But Sir Turquine his passion abated by his victory and his own blood, refused, saying there would be more honor for the winner if both men were fully healed to fight.
Thus we were prisoners there for another six weeks. We buried our dear friend Sir Trently nearby, the rites overseen by the priest taken prisoner from the village we had seen burned. Sir Turquine even allowed he prisoner knights to attend the funeral. We wept for that terrible loss. But that is the way of the knight, to live well and fight for justice, and to die if need be. I harbored no hatred for Turquine, just sorry for Trently.
My own stay was lightened by Leofaled, whose tender ministration and loving attendance nursed me to health once again. Though heavy with child, she had come to care for me. Indeed, the residents of that castle were amazed at our love, she an Angle and me a Cymri. I often saw her talking with them in their own tongue, and they often cast curious looks my way where I lay.
At last the day for battle came. It was, once again, a dire battle, but Sir Galonors was inspired by his hatred of Sir Turquine, who had slain our dear friend. They traded blow, sparks flying from arms and armor and blood scattering upon the field. Then at last Sir Galonors struck hard and the armor along Turquine’s side parted to reveal muscle and bone. He nearly swooned, we saw, and he at last yielded to the victor. Galonors tried to taunt him to fight to the death (I didn’t think that was normal behavior for chivalrous knights, but what do I know?) But Sir Turquine refused, insisting that the terms of combat had been met. He would free all his prisoners.
I thanked the Saxon knight for his hospitality, which was flawless. I was embarrassed by the conduct of my friend Galonors, for I fear his hatred for our host overwhelmed his good manners. But we were all able to travel, and we departed for our own lands and left Sir Turquine to his own lands and devices.
I fear that Sir Leodegrance has suffered for his time in the dungeon. He looked poorly, and I hope he makes it through the winter to come.
For me, Leofaled and I returned to my brother’s castle in Marlborough. There, in the fall, she delivered two healthy children (so much better than last year, when she fell ill from her miscarriage). I have named the son Trently, after my dear friend; and the daughter, named by Leofaled, is Sigrun.
A year ill for adventure, supreme for family.
531 Adventure of Sir Turquine
Got partial plate armor, new courser (Bounder)
Combat Glory 11
Annual Glory 88
Twins born (Trently, Sigrun)
I had thought to learn crossbow this winter, for hunting purposes and to use against villains swimming in the river and cursing my great King Arthur. But upon reflection of my experience with the bull and Sir Galonors with Sir Turquine, I will spend it instead in vigorous Spear Expertise. (now = 19)

Sir Trently's Thoughts

Again and again, back to Anglia. I would've gone home again after Pentecost court if word hadn't come that Sir Leodigrance the Lesser was missing. Leo! Not just a companion of the Round Table, but an old family friend and stalwart of Salisbury. Of course I joined in on the search.

Thinking that he'd gotten into it again with Lady Raeburgh, the group of us visited the lady—a towering oak as always—and Leo's other estates, but no luck. Fortunately, because of the good knight's ostentatious travel style we did pick up word of his passing near London. We followed his trail through Essex and into Anglia to its end-point, a clearing with large bell hanging from another oak. Leo's shield, along with those of a dozen and more knights, hung from its boughs.

I get uneasy every time I'm in this land, but still, I rang the bell. I knew what would happen. Sure enough, out rode a knight to challenge us by way of hospitality; an underhanded trick if you ask me, couching a duel inside a knight's lodging. We could have said no, but I didn't want to sleep on the hard ground and think of Leo cooling his heals in some Saxon's prison, so I accepted the hospitality and the unspoken challenge on behalf of the group.

Have I mentioned how incredibly LARGE said Saxon knight was? I mean, awesomely huge. His feet practically dragged on the ground as he rode upon his very stout charger. How do these Saxon women whelp such babes without splitting in two?

This Sir Turquine's castle was magnificently appointed, and his hospitality most cordial—to us. We asked to see the prisoners, and Sir Leodigrance in especial, and at first were denied, but we persisted and finally Leo was brought up into the hall. What a disgrace! Oh, not Leo's grimy, sickly body. The truth of Turquine's "hospitality" was standing there in front of us, putting on a brave face but obviously sick and grievously injured. We did what we could to help Leo before he was dropped back into the dark beneath our feet, and our resolve was steeled to do our best the following morning on the jousting grounds.


I acquitted myself well, I feel, and I have no fear about meeting my maker. I will, of course, miss my Lady Nia and our tiny daughter terribly, but I trust that my Lord Arthur and her great family will insure her comfort and care until we meet again. I pray, too, that where I failed one of my companions will succeed and free our brothers-in-chivalry from that snake in black.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

530 Adventure of the Stygian Stallions

Sir Clydno, Le chevalier Doight; of MarlboroughSir Leodegrance the Lesser, Knight of the Round Table; of SalisburySir Galonors; of SalisburySir Gerin, son of the Great Duke
Sir Cynfyn of Clarence
Sir Mynyddog of Lindsey
The Adventure
Sir Gerin and I went to London. He is so generous! He purchased a fine cloak for me worth £4! I guess that’s the difference being the bastard son of a duke and the bastard son of a count. Well, plus his brother gave him a manor and I got a mural room.
Well, I do not begrudge my brother the count of Marlborough. He honors my desire to earn my own way, and not rely upon unnatural largesse, simply because he is my brother.
Besides, I have the finger! It’s from my dear, dear sainted mother (may she rest in peace.) This wonderful relic of our dear Saint Alban, who was as everyone knows the first Saint in the whole world. Except for those twelve friends of Jesus. And his mother. And father. And Joseph of Arimathea who brought the Grail to Britain. Ah yes, first martyr. But Saint Alban was the first martyr ever in the world, you know. An I have his finger. And I’m glad, because it kept me alive against Camille, and since I am the keepr of this wonderful thing it gives me more free time. I don’t have to go to Mass like everyone else, etc etc.
Later we met with our friends in London. They had taken a tour of their lands in Sussex and were talking something about how awful Sir Jerry’s manor was, but Sir Leodegrance’s was so nice. Someday I am sure I’ll understand what that stuff about manors is all about.
We had a horse race. Sir Cynfyn of Clarence was a newcome among us. He bumped Gerin’s horse and so beat him. Those Clarence and Gloucester guys are always doing that kind of thing to each other. But Sir Galonors—always the rightout and super-just—protested and challenged Sir Cynfyn to a joust over the bump. Cynfn wanted to know why—"I didn’t bump you, did I? Is Gerin protesting? Why do you want to joust me?" But Galonors insisted, "for justice," he said, "to teach some manners."
Well, Sir Cynfyn had a couple of things to teach to Galonors! "Sir Superjust" took the fall. He took his defeat well, and Cynfyn was kind enough to accept his victory well too.
While in London we heard that the Bleoberis, the Count of Essex, was going to have a tournament. We heard, too, that the prize was going to be a trio of fabulously unusual horses, so the five of us went to see them. Count Bleoberis is a good fellow (and neither ambitious or crazy like his cousin, Lancelot, seems to be.) We went to view the steeds.
Even from a distance they were more than I ever expected to see. First, they were the biggest horses I’ve ever even seen. I’ve seen a few Andalusions around, but these were bigger yet. Plus they were all jet black. Not just "horse black" (which is really dark, dark brown) but as black as my hair. Incredible! They were gorgeous as they ran across the field in the distance, led (it seemed) by a half dozen men.
We went closer to see them and, much to our astonishment, found the earl’s groom laying wounded upon the ground! He told us he’d been ambushed by thieves who had run off with the horses. Justly alarmed, we set off immediately in pursuit. We were distracted briefly by a band of men on horseback who attacked us most foully with bow and arrow, but while we chased them away the horses escaped.
We chose to arm properly—for we were naturally wearing our lordly, but non-combat, dress. We gathered travel gear, some rations and, with out squires, set off. The biggest problem was with Sir Leodegrance, who had to decide whether to go with his proper entourage of servants, dogs and so on, as befits a Round Table knight. He decided haste was more important than protocol, and we set off.
We followed the trail late into the night. Next day, tacked some more, going late. The pursued took many evasive actions like going up and down streams, so our journey was slower than we’d hoped. It led us north into Anglia, where the trail was lost. Even the great tracker, Sir Leodegrance, could not follow it. It must have been witchcraft to fool him!
Anglia again! Those damned Angles! The only one among them that is not damned is my own dear, sweet precious wife Leofaled. It is astonishing that such a sweet creature could be born of such wretched troublemakers! Each knight as I stood guard I thought of her often.
Sir Gerin had noted a coat of arms or symbol among the thieves. We didn’t know it, nor did anyone we questioned. But we were advised to search the great horse market in Thetford, where surely we thought the steeds had been brought.
What great horse flesh they have there! We searched among the many, many merchants and though we saw black horses, and some large horses, they were not the ones we sought. At last we had a hint, though—Sir Galonors got a promise from a shady fellow who would sell them to us! The fellow said to bring the money, alone, to a certain abandoned barn. He convinced them that he could not come alone, but needed a groom and, of course, a squire as befitted his station. Sir Cynfyn disguised himself as a squire—a sure sign of his base origns, I think. My own squire, Bruno, disguised himself as the groom. We sat, horsed, nearby, in case of treachery. And a good thing too! We heard sounds of struggle and crashed forward to save Sir Galonors from being overwhelmed. But they were just bandit scum and we dispatched them easily. It had all been a just ruse to rob a good knight of his money, and we were glad to have delivered them to the justice of the sword and blood.
With his dying breath their leader proved his loathsome worth, for he told us the man we sought was among the knights of Duke Hervis, lord of Anglia. We went to his court, to tell the tale and search the stables. We found good reception there—the Duke remembers our past services. (Just last year we rid him of the witch Camille, and years earlier, Leodegrance was among those at the sack of Guinnon.) We found no one at court with the arms we sought, however.
We spent a day hunting. Sir Gerin proved his mettle by slaying a fierce boar single-handed, on foot! It had mortally wounded his charger. The sport was wonderful, but it achieved nothing for our goal.
We did have a tiny clue from an old knight—that Sir Gerin knows how to Intrigue! The old man thought he remembered having seen a shield such as Gerin described. It had been years earlier, at a manor down on the river marking the southern border of Anglia.
First, though, we went back to Thetford so Sir Gerin could replace his charger. Now, with more time to actually search out prices we discovered one merchant who had some excellent Andalusian stallions for sale. I spent all the libra that I had, plus some borrowed from my good friend Sir Gerin, to purchase a handsome, healthy one for myself. Nearly everyone did. Sir Gerin’s was white, but of the normal ones, my chestnut was most handsome, I think. I have named him Crusher.
[End of session. New Session, we begin again.]
We decided to set off again. Sir Cynfyn and Mynyddog decided to remain in Thetford to search some more and to watch in case the destriers were brought there. We left them reluctantly.
We spent days searching along the river. Everywhere we went we found empty villages, their villains scattered before we appeared. At last we found some of the peasants at a hamlet by the river, but they were scurrilous and abusive folk. Liars. We saw a huge horse track, and they said they didn’t know what it was. Finally with a rope, a tree limb and some simple words I did get one to speak, who claimed the tracks were of a river horse. A monster! That could be good adventure! He took us to see the lair of the monster. But he lied, and so fo course I threatened him again, and his children so that, at last, he confessed to us there was a manor nearby with the sought-for coat of arms. Sir Galonors protested my treatment, saying it was cruel and unjust. By my good Lord who died on the Cross! You know why I call him the "superjust!" It was just a peasant, a liar, and a Saxon one at that! Well, I owe Galonors my life, so I turned the rope over to him, and the kind knight released the peasant who immediately befouled the name of our great king, cursed Sir Leodegrance as "the butcher of Guinnon" and leapt in the river and swam away. (It’s moments like that when I wish I had learned crossbow!)
Ah, my good friend who saved my finger and pulled me from fire and sword, forgive me for the sarcasm I exhibited towards you. I meant no harm, but was bitter since, I daresay, I had been right.
Towards the end of the day we found said manor. It was half hidden, of the normal pathways. It appeared to be a Saxon estate, likely one still in the hands of some heiress. As usual in this land the people scattered as we approahced. We saw the arms, pained on over the doorway, much faded away.
I searched the stable and saw mostly empty stalls. Meanwhile Sir Galonors, ever the gentleman in any circumstance, spoke to the lady cowering in the manor and convinced her we were harmless towards her. Saxon or not, she was still noble after all. Her blond hair and blue eyes reminded me of my own dear wife. He convinced her to let us stay the night.
Poor meal, but generously given. The lady spoke candidly of the harsh treatment her people regularly got from the men of Duke Hervis. She knew of Sir Leodegrance, but bore no love for "the leader of the Guinnon battle," as she so delicately phrased it. Sir Gerin questioned her of the arms, and she admitted they were once borne by her husband, who had beena good man and great leader, but like all such Saxons, was a victim of our glorious victor at Mount Badon.
She was so sad! I was touched, for she reminded me, as I said, of my own dear wife. I thought, it was clear, that the Saxon women are so good, and the men so bad! If only, I thought, they could have been raised under the aegis and morals of our good King Arthur!
I can not see a lady in distress without offering some kind words. She seemed sceptical of me, but I then told her of my dear Anglish wife. I even asked if, perhaps, they were related. They are not. But she asked, "Do your love her, and she you?" and surely the love between us showed in my eyes for she was clearly touched.
That was when her young son, a bright and cheerful lad named Evan, dashed forth. Cheerful young lad, perhaps eight. Having been touched by her sorrow, the hopeless plight of her future, chatted with the boy. He told us he’d be a knight some day, and blurted out his other ambitious and innocent hopes. I saw promise in the boy. We asked further information about him, and she sent him from the room on some idle errand. She confessed, in shame, that her husband was dead twelve years, this boy but eight. I was moved by her shame, and explained that I was a bastard. Sir Gerin, that he was too.
I offered to take the lad into the household of my own, and to recommend him to my brother the Count. I thought privately to test my idea that these Saxons might be raised properly to serve our good king. I swore an oath to her to give the lad a chance, making it clear it would be up to him to prove himself. No guarantees! I swore on my dead father, my God and the finger I bear in the silver case about my neck. She agreed, and Evan was excited in the way that only an eight year old boy can be.
She looked happy for Evan, but some sorrow lingered. I told Evan, "You are now my servant, and you must go now to bed and leave us adults to discuss important matters." He left, happy. It was then that she confessed that her older son was the bearer of the arms we sought. That he was a thief and enemy of the Duke and of our King, and that he lived in a ruined manor of his father nearby.
Sir Gerin, apparantly, has a weakness for weeping women stronger than mine. He offered that if she would help us find her son then he would do his best to take the young man alive and bring him to King Arthur’s court instead of Duke Hervis’ for justice. She recognized that her son was an evil doer, but sought some solution to this plight. She saw in Gerin’s promise the only chance that he might live. She knew the fellow, Gerant or whatever his name was, was outlaw, thief, a wanted criminal and likely to be killed for his deeds. She wept yet again. Gerin promised, and swore, to take him alive if at all possible.
Oh, the plight of women! So helpless before a cruel duke (for indeed, now I see that Hervis is such!), and even before her wayward son.
Gerin got from her a sleeve of her dress to let her son recognize that he came from her.
The next day as we prepared to set off young Evan came to me, eager and anxious to please. I told him to take care of his mother, and he brandished his toy sword. I gave him my dagger, and said, "Use a real weapon now, Page. Take care of my charger in the stable, but don’t go close—he bites!" Then we set off, guided by an old charcoal burner to the hidden estate. After several hours of travel we reached it. Close timing! We saw that the horses were being loaded upon a barge. We wasted no time, but dashed towards the thieves—they were many, but they were just bandits.
I myself dashed right through them, striving to capture the stallions before they were aship. I grabbed one, and withdrew, and my squire Bruno was there at my side to take it from me quickly. Well done, I say, for I saw that Sir Gerin was engaged in combat with many of them and I rode upon them with sword. I killed one, and many broke and ran and I ran them down easily, striking softly to capture them rather than kill. They surrendered and I saw that Sir Gerin, the son of the duke, was having difficulty defeating his foe. That must have been, I correctly surmised, the son of our lady host, and so I rode up behind him and Crusher knocked him to the ground.
By that time I saw that the other stallions had also been captured, thanks to the efforts of Sir Leodegrance and Sir Galonors. We had four prisoners, one being the son of the lady; and all three horses.
We took them all back to the lady’s manor. She wept with joy to see her elder son again, alive. She begged him to do whatever we told him to do, for the sake of justice and his life. Evan was pleased too, but unsure of what to do until I carefully explained that he had opportunity to do better than his brother, if he learned the ways of King Arthur and lived a life of justice and chivalry. (Galonors gave me a strange look then.)
We set off then, with prisoners and stallions, to London, for the tournament drew nigh. I sent Bruno ahead in haste to bring me my best clothing to arrive in London in proper station. The other knights did the same.
Curiously, one night, while Sir Gerin was standing guard, our prize prisoner—the son of the lady—escaped! We quizzed our friend, who said he had fallen asleep on his watch. I swore it was not young Evan who had helped the prisoner escape, for he had been with me and Bruno all night. I thought Gerin was (and I blush to say this in private) lying. But he’s a good man, a good knight, the son of a duke and my friend. I won’t question him. If I am asked, I’ll simply repeat what Gerin told me: the prisoner escaped while Gerin slept.
After this, though, I did get permission to question the other bandits. Without too much threatening and persuading they confessed to me that they’d been in the hire of a foe of the Earl of Essex, who is Brandeoris de Ganis. They only knew badge of their employer, but I recognized it immediately—it was the King of Soissons, one of those damnable French kings who hate our own King Arthur, but hate the de Ganis clan more.
When arrived in London the first day of the tournament was nearly over. In our best raiment and leading the coal black stallions behind us we entered into the tournament ground and galloped before the astonished eyes of the people of Logres. Sire Leodegrance, naturally our spokesperson, related the adventure in simple language. The earl of Essex was especially pleased, of course, since he had his magnificent horses back. King Arthur praised us profusely. The earl declared that the steeds had been intended to be prizes at the tournament before they were stolen—he had hastily substituted some jewels. He proudly announced that he would now present one to the champion of the day’s jousting.
I was then struck by inspiration—we were late, I admitted, but I asked if we could not, nonetheless, joust with the champion of the Joust event of that day, since perhaps the earl and king might make exception considering the circumstances. They agreed.
The champion was, of course, the great knight Sir Gawaine. Perhaps the only knight who might beat him is that marvel, Sir Lancelot, but as usual, he had gone from court again. Mad and crazy, some say. Poor fellow. Great fighter, but not very steady in the head.
So we jousted. I, as the least of the knights present, went first. I actually successfully broke one lance against the great knight! On the next pass, however, I was struck from the saddle with a mighty blow. Knights told me afterwards that I spun through the air spread-eagled, like a star falling to the turf. I woke up as my dear Leofaled was stitching up my shoulder where the splinter of wood had penetrated.
Now I see the wisdom of the lesser knights jousting and falling out of the contest early. I’ve never jousted so great a fellow. I could have been killed by his rebated lance, so strong is Sir Gawaine! (Oh, Saint Albans, make me so great some day!)
Next day, beczasue my dear Lady Leofaled begged me to respect my wounds, I sat out the melee, encouraging my good friends to greater Glory. They did well. Of course, the Round Table knights were the most magnificent in the fight. Some strangers also did well. At the end the day the melee champion was chose, as usual. The King, earl and heralds all agreed, and declared it to be a stranger knight who had borne a blank shield through the day. The stranger was presented with the prize, the second stallion. The king then asked him to emove his closed helmet and show himself, but the knight refused to take off his helm. Instead he put the halter upon his lance tip and presented the horse to Queen Guenever, then spun and rode away without a word so quickly no one could react. From that gesture we all figured it was Sir Lancelot anonymously grandstanding again.
The third horse was given to the overall champion. Since the melee victor had gone, it was given to Sir Gawaine, who had won the jousting and received second prize in the melee. He looked magnificent as he circled the arena on his horse.
I am confident I will heal quickly, over the winter. My brother was proud to receive me back at his court in Marlborough, a proven adventurer.
My greatest worry after all this is about Sir Galonors. Surely we expect that Sir Leodegrance, an elder among us at 40, would be weakening from the ravages of age and the many wounds he has suffered in the service of King Arthur. But Sir Galonors is not so old, yet seems older that Leodegrance. No disease is apparent. What a strange mystery. Even his wife is worried.
530 Adventure of the Stygian Salions 100 Glory
Got new Chestnut Andalusian, Crusher (£15)
Tourney of Essex 45 Glory
Annual Glory 88 Glory
Winter Updae, +1 STR (now 5d6 damage!)

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