Friday, April 27, 2007

541: Off to Strangore

Sir Lancrius here...

Earl Robert gave me leave to adventure this summer instead of staying in Sarum, so when Sir Clydno and the guys came through on their way to Camelot I waved goodbye to the men stuck on garrison duty and rode off post-haste.

I expected court to be jumping—it usually is, but this year it was a bit...subdued. Oh, well. I was happy enough to be looking at a year of adventure and travel. I am completely devoted to Earl Robert, and I love working close to family, but sometimes Sarum seems so small. Predictable, you know?

Imagine my surprise when King Arthur called together Clydno, Brevis (you know, of the Dyke), that strange fellow Gerin the Weaker, a Sir Doon the country bumpkin (you know, of Dorset. Yokels.), and one of Gerin's brothers, a Sir Bradwyn (that's Gerin the stronger, a son of the Great Duke and as fine a knight as ever rode horse). The king wanted to thank them personally for lifting some magical curse, and to ask them to escort some priest up north for some proselytizing among the Picts, if you can imagine. That Sir Badwyn is awfully religious, and chivalrous, and of course Sir Clydno has The Finger, so they were pretty up for it, and kindly asked me along. Way to go, boys!

Or so I thought. This priest, called Tathan, refused to ride a horse—or mule, or donkey, for that matter. Yes, we walked all the way to Strangore. By the hairy balls of St Cuthbert! (Sir Evan taught me that one) but we made slow progress. And this priest is particularly holy, so the usual knightly entertainments were kept to a strict minimum.

We stopped in at Marlborough to visit Sir Clydno's little ones, rambunctious as ever and very pleased to see their father all dressed up in his knightly kit. Clydno says that he will mourn poor Leofalid one more year, but watching him with his children, I have to wonder if he will not extend his mourning period for his young son Trently....soon enough we were back on the road, very uneventful as we stuck to the King's Road the entire way to Carduel. Nice enough town, and the wall was impressive. King Bagdemagus is a fine fellow and a right good knight, though he's had bad luck with his sons: Meliagraunce, whose dastardly kidnapping of the Queen we foiled, and a Sir Malachai, who did nothing but provoke us. I was amazed at Sir Clydno's restraint, because this Malachai succeeded in goading Sir Gerin. A disastrous breaking of hospitality was averted, and we left quickly the next morning, though good Sir Bagdemagus sincerely asked us to please return on our way home.

That Sir Malachai caught up with us on the road, and Clydno gave him what for with his lance, knocking him to the ground. He took his toys and, pouting, rode off home while we continued north.

In marked contrast to Sir Malachai of Gorre I now tell of Prince Gereint of Strangore, a handsome, strapping young man of good knightly virtues. We spent a few days in his father's castle of Alclud Dunbarton before, reluctantly on my part, continued north toward the Picts. We hadn't gone far from Alclud when Gerin and I encountered a party of Dal Riad raiders, whom we rode down for the sheer pleasure of engagement. After scattering them we took their ill-gotten loot, some finery and a few horses, back to the others, plodding along with that priest in tow. Then...

[to be continued next week]

Lady Melonie, a lady-in-waiting to Lady Rosemeade, wife of Sir Leodigrance the Lesser, curtseys and says...

Count, please sir, I come laden with bad news: Lady Rosemeade, newly married this past spring to the courageous Sir Leodigrance the Lesser, Marshall of all Salisbury, died in childbirth this January, and the child with her.

Your other grandchild, young Zenobia, prospers beneath her mourning robes, and passionately awaits news of her father, you son, Sir Monroe. As it has now been three years since our dear lord went errant, young Zenobia bids me ask you to please send Elliott or cousin Caius to manage the manor of Werrington in Sir Monroe's absence. She also bids me convey to you her love and filial devotion and wished you continued good health and strength in arms.

Friday, April 20, 2007

540 Adventure of the Lady of the Mice

Sir Leodegrance and Sir Monroe have told us of their oath to find the murderer of Pellinore. They and other companions swore it years ago when they came across the knight’s daughters weeping. They extracted this oath from them without saying what it was they would request, but of course Leodegrance and his fellows accepted it. (You won’t find ME doing any such foolish thing!)
But they had only one clue: the murderer rode upon a golden colored horse.
No one had a clue about this for decades, though. Until everyone saw Sir Meliagrance escape his pursuers riding upon a horse of the same color. What a steed! Even bearing the fully armored knight and the kidnapped queen he left everyone behind.
After Lancelot killed the kidnapper Sir Lancrius, Monroe’s brother, questioned among Meliagrance’s knights and servants until he found out where the horse had come from. All they could tell him was that it was from four brothers who had thick northern accents.
Well, that raised suspicions that it was the Orkney brothers who’d done this foul deed. God knows they have a reason—or think they do anyway—for Sir Pellinore killed heir own father, King Lot. I myself think it unfair for them to hold such a grudge. That fight was in fair battle. But who am I to tell the sons of a king what to think? I don’t like them anyway, acting so high and mighty just because they are nephews of King Arthur. Except for Gawaine (the best knight at court) I don’t think they deserve such attitudes.
We were at Camelot and saw Sir Gawaine there. Everyone as urging Sir Leodegrance to go and ask Sir Gawaine if he knew anything of this golden colored horse. Leodegrance was hesitant, both of them being sworn brother of the Round Table. So I went to Sir Gawaine and asked. I was flattered that he seemed to know me! So I boldly asked him if he knew anything of it, he said he didn’t, and then went back to his business.
I reported it to Sir Leodegrance, who was mighty relieved. "So it wasn’t them, then," he said. And so the trail is cold after all. Sir Monroe didn’t seem so satisfied, but we haven’t seen anything of him since then anyway.
We decided to go adventuring: Sir Gerrin the Weaker, Doon of Dorset, Branwyn of Gloucester, Brevis of the Dike, and me. We headed west, and came to a tournament. It was of Gloucester against Clarence (apparently since the war was settled there is still some bad blood between them). There are certainly a lot of those these days. None of us got the prize, but we fought well enough.
Deep off-road in Escavalon we stayed at the tower of a lord of a poor realm. We learned that there was an adventure there each May 1. It seems everyone falls asleep, and the next day half heir livestock was gone. We decided to struggle to stay awake and solve this adventure. We stayed in the temple, though a couple of the pagans waited outside at one of those stone circles they think are sacred. Well, I’m usually a pretty energetic fellow, but nonetheless, I fell asleep. I only learned what happened the next day when I woke.
Sir Branwyn was the chief hero of the adventure. He told us how he and Brevis had remained awake, and first saw a small parade of white mice invade the chapel. Then came a beauiful but wicked woman. The knights confronted the Lady of the Mice, who was so wicked she dared even to invade the chapel. When they ordered her out she snapped her fingers and two spriggans, disguised as mice, grew large, right up to the rafters. Of course the knights fought, and Brvis was nearly killed. But Sir Branwyn fought on. The monsters diminished with each wound, and then, to forever stop her depredations, the good knight even slew her. Chopped her right in half. No one took the livestock that night! I am sure the curse is broken. I thought surely she would have murdered us after hearing the tale.
We returned home after that, and I have spent the winter in Sarum since my lady, the countess, had consigned me to adventure. I still miss my dear, dear wife and mourn my son grievously. I did get word from Sir Evan, who was passing through, that my other children are doing well in Marlborough, though they miss their Daddy. I will try to pass through the county next adventure to see them.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

540: Idle Gossip

[No game tonight, as we won't have a quorum. Instead, rumors and gossip at King Arthur's Pentecost court.]

Since Clarence has been brought to heel, the kingdom is quiet. Knights that took secondary roads may likely have encountered road challenges from disguised knights fighting for the glory of their lover, their own glory, or sheer mischeviousness.

Knights riding in from Hertford, Anglia, and Kent notice the beginnings of a great construction at the old manor and keep in Windsor.

The king and queen greet the knights and their ladies assembled for the feast at Pentecost. Queen Guenevere seems...guarded...after her recent misadventure with Melliagraunce. Arthur looks restless and preoccupied. Perhaps it's because his son, Prince Borre, is off to the Continent to help the de Ganis clan in their land struggles.

At the Round Table, the seats of Lancelot, Percival, and Lamorak are vacant, as are those Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred. Other RTK think the brothers are perhaps in Lothian, "attending to family business, no doubt."

Snort! "No doubt. I hear their mother, the queen, is a real looker. Like her sister, King Urien's wife."

"Aren't she and Lamorak—"

Shhh! "Don't let Sir Gawain hear you, or—"

As Sir Gawain strides up to his seat at the Round Table, the knights hear the ladies sighing with Lust and their fellow knights sighing with greed: the king's nephew is wearing a massive suit of armor and a huge grin. Underneath his arm is a full helmet with a pointed visor...Gawain looks damn near untouchable in that armor. Where did he get that?

Among the news of the evening, the Earl of Silchester announces a substantial reward for word of the whereabouts of his son and heir, Sir Monroe. Word goes around informally that the Earl is also looking for a suitable husband for his granddaughter, whose dowry includes a manor...

Several knights around the hall brag about their latest acquisition: a family motto. What's yours?

Friday, April 06, 2007

539. The Year I Almost Killed Greg Stafford

Guest Gamemaster, David, here:

Two weeks ago, Greg ruthlessly slaughtered an entire party of goodly knights (Total Party Kill, or TPK, for short). Greg almost had his comeuppance last night, when his knight, Sir Clydno of the Finger, was lying dead in the hoary mud of Gwaelod.

An excellent party of player knights, along with King Lak and 60 of his Irish Warriors, rode to the rebel Cantref of Gwaelod to avenge the deaths of four noble knights (the Total Party Kill Knights, or TPKKs, for short). Upon crossing the border of Gwaelod, the Army of Vengeance, as it was called, was mercilessly set upon by troops sent by Count Gwyddno, and during the second skirmish, Greg (er...Clydno) was skewered and thrown from his horse. Even the Finger of St. Alban, Clydno's precious relic, couldn't save his lifeless husk from hitting the dark, dark earth of Gwaelod. In noblest form, Greg swiftly got a new character sheet and started rolling up a new character (this time a mighty Saxon, ahem ...).

After the battles were over, Greg suddenly remembered that his dead character Clydno had inherited and wore, as his character sheet stated, a belt that granted extra First Aid. It is one of the possible family gifts from the new Advanced Character Generation .pdf that's coming soon. Since I trust everyone in this truly superb group of players, including Greg, I decided to allow him his extra First Aid role, which brought him from zero hitpoints to three.

A consumate strategist or just plain lucky?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

538. I grieve. Sir Clydno, Le Chevalier Doight

Alas, I thought, when my brother and my dear wife died, that my life could not be more miserable. But Dame Fortuna tortures me, dashes my simple life upon sharp rocks simply because Time passes.
My son is dead. Sweet lad, strong and full of promise, lies now in the earth, food for worms. The countess, my niece, at the funeral wept beside me, her beautiful face streaked by tears. I too wept, copiously. There cold and pale went my boy Trentley into the unfeeling earth.
I wish and pray his soul to God. I have spent the winter with the bishop, who fills my ears with facts of Faith and the Church and platitudes of Heavenly peace and the love of innocents while my heart is broken and I weep alone in bed after my children are asleep. My only solace is that my other son and his sisters thrive. In the daytime my squire Evan is solicitous and kind, so I drive him hard with training and duties that he will be a noble knight, full of virtue to prove that even Saxons are people.
I went to my niece, the "Little Lady of Marlborough," as they call her. I will admit (privately of course) she seems frivolous and silly, so taken with this custom of Romance and encouraged to do so by the Great Queen Herself. I wished to pledge myself to her protection and safety, to keep her committed to her duties.
"Oh good uncle," she said to me, "You need to get out more. So much tragedy has overwhelmed you. For your benefit and good future, I — your dutiful liege and your loving niece — do hereby command you to go forth and adventure. Leave this place of sorrowful memories and visit the wide world to seek Glory. You are a brave and courageous knight whose vision is set high upon the realm of Glory, and the seat of your brother, my father, upon the Table Round is now empty! Seek to fill it! Go to adventure, and trust my security to the High King and Queen, who look after me as their own child. I will make sure your bairns are safe and secure, and will be raised in the safety and security of King Arthur and his queen."
In truth, I regret to leave my beloved children, but the call of adventure lures me outward. I think they will not miss me too much, entertained and educated as they shall be at the court of my brother. I hear there are dragons to be slain, robber barons who hate King Arthur – indeed., mysteries to be investigated. I am impelled by my sense of adventure to seek these out for the Glory of the realm.
My liege has released me. My grief throws me outward. I will seek knight adventurers of my ilk and go forth to the unknown realms now, and seek Glory.
I ask that God and Saint Alban, whose finger I bear, look upon me and bless me, and protect me from danger. I invoke the power of Saint Alban to open the waters before me, to blind my executioners and to bless me and take me into his presence at the end of my life.
Hark! A herald enters our court, who declares mightily for Lady Griane of the Manor of the Thawed Heart. She seeks those who aided her. I am one! Some others are dead now. Those were friends of mine! I shall not pass this adventure! Friends, gather now or I will seek this adventure on mine own!

Britain, prepare thyself! This hero set forth!!

A Springtime Call to Arms

To [insert your name] of [insert your appelative] be this lettre tayke.

A claryon to battle hath been called on behalf of Kyng Lak of Estregales, vassal to Our Lord Arthur, Rex Imperator of Britaygne, Franksland, and Roma. An open Call to Arms to any for whom wish to avenge the wrongful deaths of our noble brethren, Sirras Clarian, Beryl, Galonors, and Gerin at the hands of the evil Duke Gwyddno, Count of Gwaelod.

If you wish to satisfye this obligatyon to [your Lord's name], then joyne the Army of Revenge, fully armed and prepayred for war.

The Army meets this 23rd Day of Martius at the Port of Bristol, where we set sayle for Carmarthen, there to meetynge wyth King Lak and his Vengence Knights. Provishyon and Passage provided by our Gloryus Kyng Arthyr.

Written by [insert clerkly name here], most humble Chief Clerk, en behalf of our Lord [insert your Lord's name], with grayt earnest and fayth in Christ.

A Letter in Earnest to Sir Brevis

In Earnest be this lettre tayk to Sir Brevis of the Dike, who art my champyon knyght.

Ryght Worshipfull Sir,

I am in grayt distress for to hear such tydyngs as to the death of thy comraydes d'arms, and knoweth that my syster Cliane, Maiden of the Thycket, is remors and besydeth herself with grayt moanynge and weepynge over the loss of her champyon, dear Sir Clarion, whom she considered high on the lyst of her Par Amours, but not as high as Prince Rowen of Estregales, who to this daye fygts for her hande.

And yet another Grayt Tragedye hath struck our lands, beynge that a Terribyle Enchantemente hath been wrought against my syster's lands on the coast of Pedigiog. A fowl sorcerer, no dowbt begat by the Fiend Himself, hath stolen the island of Ynis Ynit, where grayze Cliane's pryzed White Sheepes. He hat taken it to his owne lande to the northe, and on it now sits his Becursed Tower of the Sea. The sorcerer whoth stole Ynis Ynit is oneth and the sameth as that Count Gwyddno of Gwaelod, who murdered thy comrades d'arms, particularlye dear Sir Clarion, for whom Cliane weeps from vespers to nones, daily, and wythout stoppynge.

Also, knoweth that the bards here synge tales not to the glorye of thy comrades d'arm, who art in purgatory for only the shortest span before they attain grayce at the feet of Our Lord. The retches sygne that they violated the rules of hopitalite, and tryed to steele the Countess for Base Lust and a Golden Cup for Base Greed. Such bards have byn sygyng all in Cambria abouts, and soon no dowt will carrye into Logres and the Continent, even to Rome. And surely all who wert frynds and comrades d'arms of such brutes wouldst surely suffer the Shayme of Great Dishonor for the knowing of them.

I beseech they aide at wonce and longe for thee to reste thy head on the heavynge bosom of my grayt Thankfulness and Joy. Come my knight en arme, come and brynge thy fellows in arms, as manye as ye can muster, and do honor to me and my poor sister, Cliane, Maiden of the Thickette, who weeps for her Sir Clarion with the Virginal Tears of the Wating Damosel.

Such Devotyon to my famyle wouldst surle earn thee a playce at my table.

Wyth haste, I wryte this treatice by mine own hande, on the second day after the Mornful Festival of Ash-on-the-Head, in Jesus Nayme.

Lady Griane of the Manor of the Thawed Heart,
Riagh of the Commote of Pedigiog, Countess vassal of Kyng Lak, who art vassal of Kyng Arthyr.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Glut of Posts

We're back from several weeks of sporadic gaming...updates and posts from 535 on, so be sure to scroll down.

Game on!

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