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TAKS Post Drafts

484

1
A bitter Winter yields to the Spring as you find yourself at home along while for the first time in many years. Grass has risen up quickly out of the snow the past couple of weeks, flowers and trees have begun to blossom once again. Your peasants find themselves busy again with the planting. They work hard, but the lack of chill leaves one less thing to threaten their fragile existence. Animals graze, pigs frolic in the still damp earth. From your doorway of you manor you see more travelers along the roads.

The last several years you would have missed these small details, already away, out service of your knight. Early in your career as a squire, Spring was for training, preparing for the campaigns of the summer months. Lately however, the spectre of the Saxons has loomed and the knights of Logres have been called from home earlier and earlier by Uther, the Pendragon. Last year, 483 by the count of the bishops and priests, your knight notified you that the obligation owed them for the following year was relieved. You had heard that Uther was eager to mint more knights to replace those who had fallen from the ranks and hope this is the reason for you current lack of duties.

With Spring returned you return to your training. You run in your chainmail armor, ride your courser, and perhaps set up a target to joust against. Even without a command from your lord you are ever diligent. You are disheartened by the news that Earl Roderick and the knights of Salisbury have already departed to take part in the conflict at Eburacum. Was this not to be your year?

Coated in a sheen of sweat from practicing your stance and form with a sword, you hear a rider approach from the direction. Setting your weapon aside, you rush to greet the visitor. Shielding your eyes against the sun you see a young man, a page from Earl Roderick's court. He greets you by name. [b]"Greetings, squire. You are to report to Sarum in one day's time. Before he left the Earl instructed his castellan, Sir Amig, to drill with his squires and see if any are fit to be considered for knighthood."[/b]

[ooc]To represent this training, each player should put a check mark by the skills of Sword, Spear, and Horsemanship. I have already added a check to your Sword skill, please add the other two by adding a X in the same manner.

Feel free to narrate anything else your squire has done at home or how they are preparing for the trip to Sarum. Also, please roll your Energetic trait. A Critical Success means you arrive in Sarum well ahead of when you are expected, a Success means you are on time, a Failure means you are a little late, and a Critical Failure means you are noticeably late. When I have you roll a trait where your result is obvious (if you fail an Energetic roll it means you behave in the opposite manner and are lazy; if you succeed on a Prudent roll you won't go running in to fight a giant in your courtly finery armed with a fork), I expect you to describe that result.[/ooc]

2
1) Your ride through the countryside is peaceful, you meet few on the road, having left home with more than enough time to get to Sarum.

2) Your ride frantically in the direction of Sarum, reluctant to slow down lest you arrive later than you already expect to be.

Approaching [url=http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/kingarthurpendragon/images/0/05/Sarum_485.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120126193915]Sarum[/url], you enter through one of the cities two gates set in the stone and wood walls. Before you see the five foot ditch on either side of the passageway, its scent catches your attention: midden heaps and bones pile up in the pit and decay under the gaze of the morning sun. The guards stationed nod as you pass and you are once again back in possibly the largest settlement you have ever visited. Merchants hawk there wares at stalls and dozens of people mill around, going about their business. A few glance momentarily at you as you pass by, no doubt curious about why someone in armor and on horseback has arrived when the armies moved out weeks ago.

Toward the center of town rising high above everything, even the cathedral, is Earl Roderick's [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motte-and-bailey_castle]motte-and-bailey castle[/url]. A second ditch, smaller than the one running the length of Sarum, encircles it. You make your way to the one bridge across the moat and head for the stable. Several pages greet you and take your horse to be housed and fed. One of the boys tugs at your elbow. [b]"Sir Amig expects you in the practice yard."[/b]

1) You join a line of young men and women, many of whom you recognize, and face the castle where your lord and his family reside. Few words other than a brief greeting are shared, you sense that the others feel the gravity of the undertaking and do not wish to be one of the few are passed over for the privilege of knighthood. The sun feels good on your face as you wait for Sir Amig. Servants move around the group of squires, carrying out dulled weapons, targets, and other supplies.

After a few minutes an old man dressed in mail limps down the front steps of the castle with the help of a shoulder height staff. As he approaches you recognize the whitish scar running across his left cheek, partially obscured by a bushy gray beard: it is Sir Amig. The old knight scans his eyes across the group. In a slow, gruff voice, he addresses the assembled group. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"You might be wondering..why it is I and not Sir Elad..our brave Marshal, who stands before you for training. With our counsel..Earl Roderick decided it would be best to keep those on the cusp of knighthood,"[/COLOR][/b] he gestures at you all, [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"and those with age and experience.."[/COLOR][/b] he pauses again and appears to wince, [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"back from the fighting this year. We have already engaged the Saxons..at Eburacum, and there is more to be sure."[/COLOR][/b]

[b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Believe it or not..I was once Marshal. Despite my infirm appearance, I was once known for my fighting skill."[/COLOR][/b] Sir Amig begins to pace among your ranks.

2) You arrive to see Sir Amig pacing before the other squires. Seeing your arrival, the old knights eyes widen. You fall in at one of the ends of the line.

You hear a few latecomers scramble into line and see an expression nearing disdain on Sir Amig's face. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Yes, welcome. I was just telling your colleagues that though I appear unqualified, I will be your instructor today. If you can prove your worth, I may ask an important task of you. First..however..I would like to see how you handle a lance."[/COLOR][/b] The old knight stops in front of Hywel. He stares at the squire from Idmiston for a few moments without saying a word before extending his staff and poking the young man in the chest. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Your father is Sir Llywelin, yes?"[/COLOR][/b] He smacks his dry lips as you reply. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"I once witnessed him unseat 5 knights in a tourney. Has he taught you well, hm? Grab a lance from one of the pages,"[/COLOR][/b] he points to a quintain set up 15 yards away. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"I don't want you on horseback, I'm only interested in your form. Hit that target. Each of you follow in the same fashion once he has gone."[/COLOR][/b]

[ooc]Everyone, please roll your Lance skill. A quintain is a vertical post with a rotating horizontal arm, one end of which has a shield and the other a stone attached by the rope. A Success (or Crit Success) means you've hit the target well, but a failure means your form is poor and the rope will swing toward you and you might be hit by the stone (characters will only be hit if they roll a 20, a Critical Failure. If you do roll a Crit Failure, roll 1d4 damage.[/ooc]

3
Sir Amig grunts. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Aye, I was there. Sat on my ass for months at Carlion waiting for the surrender of.. Vortigern's men. Wouldn't say I was more valiant than any other. Good joust now...Idmiston.[/COLOR][/b]

The old man watches your jousts carefully, shouting encouragement and instruction in a hoarse voice. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Follow through! Keep your damn feet moving,"[/COLOR][/b] he barks at Iowerth. Following Tegwyn's turn he hobbles over to the squire. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Good, boy!"[/COLOR][/b] He calls to the others. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Keep your eyes on this one."[/COLOR][/b] Amig is unable to hear Cenwyn's sullen response to his success. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Hmm? You did fine, a little steadier and you'll be...dangerous as your friend there."[/COLOR][/b] He pounds his staff into the hard packed dirt of the training ground after Cerridwyn's attempt. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Fine, fine! You shouldn't worry about those French knights, Miss. The warriors of Gaul..will soon overrun them."[/COLOR][/b]

The other squires of Salisbury have much greater misfortune with the quintain than you: a few are knocked down and more are left bruised. Sir Amig glowers at them and continues yelling. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Come on, are you that eager to be on the end of a Saxon's spear?"[/COLOR][/b] Lythan and a few other fare better than the rest and share in the Castellan's praise.

[b][COLOR=#33CCFF]Well, that was...illuminating. You five,:[/COLOR][/b] he points at each of you, [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"are group 1. Everyone else..count off."[/COLOR][/b] As he speaks several women, among them, Lady Ellen, the Countess, and her daughter Talaith, appear at the top of the steps. Sir Amig turns at the sound of the steps creaking beneath the feet of the women and bows to them. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Hello..dear ladies! Just in time to see our brave squires race the perimeter.. of Sarum."[/COLOR][/b]

Lady Ellen smiles at you through pursed lips, Talaith beams at Sir Amig. [b][COLOR=#00FF99]"I would be happy to come watch, Sir. My mother has taken ill though. She just wanted to come thank these brave young people for heeding the call."[/COLOR][/b] The Countess bows slightly to you and is helped back inside by her ladies-in-waiting. Amig waits until Lady Ellen is back inside before turning to you. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Enough waiting then..squires. Collect your horses and meet me at the Fool's Gate in half an hour's time."[/COLOR][/b]

It takes several minutes more than a half hour for each squire to make it through the narrow gate to the outside of the ditch. Sir Amig and Talaith stand atop the rampart looking down at you. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"The groups I put you in...will be the ones you race against. Do not cheat, do not..pull another squire down should you fall. Be swift."[/COLOR][/b] He points at group 1. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"When you are ready..be off. First to round the ditch and come back wins. Go!"[/COLOR][/b]

[ooc]I mentioned this in a OOC post, but the way a race (or chase) works is I plot out a distance and each Success rolled covers a segment of that distance, a Failure means you move half the length of a segment, a Critical Success is two segments, and a Critical Failure has you fall off your horse and take 1d6 damage. Ties are possible.

Everyone, please roll 6d20 and in the Comment for the roll write Horsemanship (your skill). This will make it easier for me to sort out your result as I won't need to flip back and forth between tabs to compare your rolls to your skill.

In terms of the post, all I really need are the dice rolls. I won't know who won until I can compare everyone's results. If you want to post banter or some of the action (like if it is obvious that you rolled a crit), that's fine.[/ooc]

4
[ooc][Horse race] -
Cerridwyn (.5x, .5x, 1x, 1x, .5x .5x) 4
Hywel (.5x, 1x, 1x, .5x, .5x, 1x) 2
Tegwyn falls (.5x, 1x, 1x, 1x, Xx, Ox) 5
Iorwerth (.5x, 1x, 1x, .5, 1x, 1x) 1
Cenwyn (1x, .5x, .5x, 1x, 1x, .5x) 2

Jon, please roll 1d6 for damage suffered.[/ooc]

With the Castellan's shout, the five of you take off around the wall. Dirt flies as the horses break into a gallop and your fellows squires break into whoops as the heads of their own mounts rise in surprise at the sudden noise. Cenwyn is able to impose his will on Elpis fastest and leads from the starting line and up through the first quarter of the ride. The other squires seem evenly matched and bide their time early. The squires of Idmiston, Berwick St. James, and Woodford pick up the pace of their steeds coming into the next fourth of the race while Cerridwyn's Lin keeps its pace and brings up the rear. Elpis, stubborn as his master, continues to trot along more slowly than he started and the three squires who had been at their heels now pass them. Cenwyn is not alone, however, as Cerrdiwyn now matches his pace.

The race opens up at the mid point as Hywel's horse begins snorting loudly and irregularly and starts to trail, eventually matching Elpis's speed. Lin, finding its rhythm pulls up beside Iorwerth's horse and the two drive their squires forward with urgency. In all of this upheaval, Tegwyn is able to guide his steed ahead of the pack. Unfortunately, his haste causes him to miss a large stone in his mount's path on the home stretch, and the squire of Berwick St. James is thrown from his horse. Tegwyn's fall into the ditch is softened by some of the refuse dumped there by the citizenry. Cerridwyn and Hywel slow to avoid running into the beast and rider, and Cenwyn and Iorwerth take advantage to charge ahead.

The fatigue affecting Elpis leaves Cenwyn watching Iorwerth's victory from several lengths behind. Sir Amig and Talaith lean over the spiked peaks of wood at the top of the wall to watch Iorwerth arrive at the finish line first. Just behind Iorwerth and Cenwyn, Hywel spurs his horse forward, gaining a slight advantage over Cerridwyn. He ends up crossing the finish alongside the squire from Shrewton for a tie. The lone female squire in the contest takes a respectable fourth, she might not have raced to win, but she accomplishes the task in her own time. Tegwyn remounts and gallops on to the finish line, undeterred by the potential scraped limbs and pride.

Once everyone has returned he claps his hands together. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Nicely done... all of you. Tend to your horses, check your saddle. We will now have the other groups take their turn around the course. Be ready though...we will be pairing off to joust next." [/b][/COLOR] A buzz of excitement at the news hangs over the crowd of eager squires. The other groups take their turns around the track, the winners punching the air and shouting triumphantly as they reach the end. A few squires shout heatedly at one another with accusations of shoving and mischief. Amig scolds these squires and orders them separated. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Keep that fire for the jousts, lads, and be respectful of Lady Talaith. I may look decrepit, but if I have to show you a thing or two..I can."[/COLOR][/b] Talaith grins at the old knight and puts a hand on his shoulder. Your lord's daughter is a head shorter than the old gent, but taller than the last time you saw her. You realize that she is quickly approaching the marriageable age and, as her father's only child, likely to inherit the county of Salisbury.

As you pass the stables on the way back toward the practice yard a swarm of pages surround you and offer each squire a helm to wear for the joust. Back on the hard dirt of the training area, the pages return and hand each of you a blunted lance. Sir Amig clears his throat loudly and speaks. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"The winner of the joust from each group will lead his unit on our next task...the Progress of Salisbury. With Lady Ellen ill, Talaith will be representing her lord father.. on this trip. With no available knights..you will be accompanying she and I. We will begin with a visit to Du Plain, to the east, but first I would see you joust."[/COLOR][/b] He looks to your group. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Since there are five of you..Iorwerth will sit out the first round for his win in the race. Cenwyn, you will face...Cerridwyn. Hywel, Tegwyn. First knocked from their mount is eliminated from the contest."[/COLOR][/b]

[ooc]+5 Glory to Iorwerth for winning the race. Iorwerth will stand with Talaith and Sir Amig to take in the joust.

Everyone jousting, please give me two lance rolls (they can be rolled separately or together) and two damage rolls. Since you are using blunted lances there will be no actual damage suffered. I'll sort out the events after both parties have rolled, but generally if you and your opponent both succeed, the one who rolled higher wins (the only exception is if you have a lower skill rating but roll a critical success). If both succeed the loser takes damage but has what is considered a partial success and adds their shield rating to their armor. If both miss, you both miss. If the damage total rolled is odd, your lance breaks. If it is even, you may reuse the lance. [/ooc]

5
With the two squires lined up, the assembled spectators look on silently. Sir Amig stands in the grandstand at the center of the practice field, his voice bellowing in the mid-afternoon air, [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Competitors..you have made it this far. Now let's see which of you comes out triumphant after a day of exhausting training."[/COLOR][/b] A page raises and lowers a banner beside the old knight and Hywel and Iorwerth charge at one another.

Both men bear down from their end of the lists toward one another, teeth grit in determination. Hywel lowers his lance as they draw near, perhaps out of slight fatigue, while Iorwerth steadies his grip on the rebated lance and holds it slightly higher. The squire from Woodford makes first contact with his foe, catching the son of Llywelin squarely on the shield. Idmiston is jolted in his saddle, but maintains his balance and is able to collect himself as he reaches the far end of the practice area.

The squires on hand clap and shout mightily, even Lady Talaith applauds politely. The other squires in the unit note that neither combatant's lance broke, the sign of a solid attempt. The two jousters turn their mounts back around and hold in place until the page waves the banner once again. Having gotten a sense of Iorwerth's strength from the first tilt, Hywel decides that, with a tired courser, it might be best to attempt to unseat his opponent with a more aggressive approach than usual. The squire from Idmiston leans forward in the saddle, almost in a crouch forward, his lance held high.

Iorwerth brings his arm to bear the lance lower, and upon making contact with the other squire is able to knock Hywel from his saddle to the dirt. The crowd cheers the victor and quickly help the squire from Idmiston up and clap him on the back in recognition of his (failed) gambit. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Well done, lads. We leave for Du Plain tomorrow..but tonight we will eat in the Lord's hall as guests of Lady Ellen and Lady Talaith. Come cleaned up...and properly attired."[/COLOR][/b]

[ooc]As I mentioned, that is 10 Glory to Iorwerth and he will be the group leader for your task as one of the units of squires serving as guards for Talaith's turn as the representative of the Earl of Salisbury.

We'll have a brief courtly scene below so you all can try out your various courtly skills. In a scene like this, feel free to do whatever seems appropriate: sing, play music, talk among yourselves or with the other squires, etc. Rumors can be overheard with an Intrigue roll, for example, and you might even overhear something with a failure.

If romance is on your mind you can inquire about the eligible men and women of the court who might be present (ladies-in-waiting, landholders visiting as guests of the Countess, etc.), though this isn't a large gathering. There are no court musicians playing to dance to unless one among you decides to play. The purpose of the evening is to team-build, for lack of a better word. Amig and the Earl's family want to show gratitude to you all as well, and get a sense of your manners and behavior to weed out unruly candidates.

Feel free to set a scene before the beginning of the feast. If you want to walk around town or go shopping for appropriate clothing (you already have some, but can earn glory by spending more), go for it.[/ooc]

The feast seems wonderfully unusual as each of you is announced entry in turn, rather than escorting your knight to their seat and preparing to serve them, pages request you follow them to your assigned seats. Iorwerth's unit, as you are referred to by the pages, is seated in one of the first tables nearest the lord's table at the far end of the hall by the fireplace. Normally this is a position of great honor, and you do feel grateful for the position, but with such a small number of men and women present at court, and so many of them squires, you can't be sure if there is any significance to your station.

The pages come by with jugs of wine and ale and serving platters layered with meats, turnips, and potatoes. The food is served at the table with Sir Amig and Talaith first before the trays are brought down to you. You notice that Talaith's mother, Lady Ellen, is absent again. The pages hover and are quick to fill even a half empty glass. A few times you see Amig nod at the pages from the high table just before they top off a squire's wine or beer unbidden.

As the feast winds down, Amig rises and addresses the squires present. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Quiet down. *ahem* I would like to thank Lady Talaith and her father for entrusting me with your training this day. I will be honest with you, these were not mere drills, we seek to fill the ranks of Salisbury knights with fresh blood. The Saxons march on our lands, emboldened by their victory at Eburacum and eager to swell their demesne with new lands to add to their holdings in Kent.[/COLOR][/b] You all note that Amig's tendency to speak slowly and deliberately is absent in his talk now. Whether it was an affectation or it is just that what he says now holds a particular significance, you are not sure.

[b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Aye, we have foes too with which we have a common tongue and blood. These snakes do not answer the call of a true king and would see the enemies from the continent prevail, perfectly content to see the seeds of their treachery bear poisonous fruit. Even if you have not presented your best self this day, take heart. The next five weeks give you that opportunity. You protect your liege's daughter, many knights are prohibited this opportunity. Do not squander it. I have watched your every move today and will continue to judge your actions until we return to Sarum. Be honorable, behave as one fit to stand beneath Earl Roderick's banner. In this time he will need all of the good men and women willing to stand for him. Now...get some rest. I have the garrison out on patrols, you can sleep in their beds. Rise early and prepare yourself, we leave an hour after dawn."[/COLOR][/b]

6
Iorwerth wakes up the morning after the feast on time, but with a pounding headache. Hywel's bedroll is empty and the sound of weapons clinking can be heard out in the yard. The other squires in his group get up within minutes of him and all five are armored and out to tend to their horses and store their arms and supplies in their saddlebags. In place of the blunted weapons you trained with yesterday, the earl's armory allots each of you two spears and a shield bearing Salisbury's colors. As he returns to the stable with the spears under his arm, Tegwyn sees Emrys, panting and with a queasy pallor, carrying chests under each arm to be loaded onto the supply wagons.

Cerridwyn sees Talaith, Adwen, and Indeg in conversation with Lady Ellen, who has a bit more vivaciousness and color to her face than she did when you saw her the day before. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"The ladies will be accompanying Talaith on this trip so that she feels a little less lonely,"[/COLOR][/b] Sir Amig says, having approached you quietly. With everyone else present, he explains the plans for the day. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Iorwerth, your unit will lead us out of Sarum. Every half hour we will rotate position with the squires at the rear relieving the vanguard. If we keep a good pace we should arrive in Du Plain by mid-afternoon."[/COLOR][/b]

Peasants and townspeople doing their shopping and work look up as the train of wagons and horses depart. You lead the procession down from the castle and out to the gate followed by another five squires, Sir Amig and the ladies with squires at each side, ten men-at-arms, and the last set of squires. Lady Talaith's entourage takes up much of the road east toward Du Plain requiring those coming from the other direction to stop or progress on the shoulders of the rough, uneven road.

The day is pleasant and the ladies you accompany talk among themselves. Several of the squires to their sides try to engage them in conversation, but Sir Amig shushes them, reminding them of their duty. You pass Laverstock and Falt in your first half hour on the road and can see peasants and oxen tilling on the slopes to your right and left. As the squires relieving you at the front charge forth, Cenwyn hears two snicker and one points at him, smirking.

The road hits an incline and you travel up out of the valley you initially rode through. Trees cling to the edges of the road here where previously wide fields met you. The shade is cool and the line of squires remains quiet. A pond of brackish water lies ahead to your right when Amig orders the next change and you find yourself moved to the left of Amig and the ladies. The woods to either side are still aside from the occasional sound of small creatures moving through the brush or fallen branches settling in.

Lady Talaith waves as you switch over to the right side of the train. Amig orders everyone to stop and a small meal is shared. With full stomachs, the squires are a bit more lively, some sing as they ride, others talk among themselves. Iorwerth's unit is at the front once again when the procession arrives at Du Plain. Lady Hefina of Du Plain greets Talaith and Sir Amig once everyone has climbed off their mounts and put them to stable. Du Plain's motte and bailey is noticeably smaller than Sarum's and you wonder momentarily where everyone is meant to bunk.

Sir Amig catches Iorwerth's attention and indicates he wants your group over beside him. As you approach, you catch the end of a lecture he is giving Lady Talaith, [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"...is the way your father does things. Our presence can be a burden in the places we visit, Lady Hefina I know you might object to this characterization..but a good ruler does not take without giving back. These good squires,"[/b][/color] points at you, [b][COLOR=#00FF99]"will do us the honor of going out to hunt for supper. If not today's, tomorrow's."[/b][/color] Talaith nods. [b][COLOR=#00FF99]"It is the least we could do, Lady Hefina."[/COLOR][/b]

The lady of Du Plain bows. [b]"Thank you, Lady Talaith. Perhaps we can play chess while we wait for their return. I have been practicing."[/b] A man you assume to be Du Plain's Steward addresses you. [b]"The village priest, Old Garr, keeps hunting hounds. I will let the pages know to prepare your horses."[/b] As you set off, you hear Sir Amig limp after you. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"I'll be coming with you lads..don't want to stay cooped up inside any longer than I have to.[/COLOR][/b]

[ooc]In addition to the hunt, falconry is an option. We can say your birds are on hand or you can blame a failed roll on using old birds from Garr's mew. ;)[/ooc]

FEAST

Relieved of your duties by Sir Amig and Lady Talaith, you return to your manors to train for the remainder of the summer. Your families, happy to see you, hold large gatherings full of food and mirth, even inviting the peasantry to partake, which only increases their goodwill toward you. The sun continues to shine hotter and longer into the evenings than in years past, simultaneously affording more time to accomplish things and leaving one lethargic and weary. Some of your older relatives remind you that that which happens in the heavens has is seen on the earth itself, and in the case of Logres' history this is proven true. The Pendragon wins a major battle against the Saxons in Malahaut at Mount Damen, but only with a great assistance from the wizard Merlin, who, disappeared shortly after, drained by his effort.

Worse still than Merlin's vanishing for Salisbury was the loss of many great knights, including Sir Llywelin and Sir Gwydyon, the fathers of Hywel of Idmiston and Iorwerth of Woodford. The news travels quickly and cuts into much of the joy these young men felt having experienced their first tests in service of their lord. Little time exists for grieving any of Salisbury's dead, the damnable heat requiring added diligence by manor holders for their crops and animals. Water becomes a desperate need and many of the young squires of Salisbury spend long hours with a shovel helping create wells on their land. Long hours of work in the sun with limited sustenance create a lean few months. What few hours you have to concern yourselves with other things might be spent in thought on the Silchester squire still imprisoned by Earl Roderick or another exploit of yours as you traveled the lands of Salisbury.

Late summer showers rescue many crops from ruin just in time for the harvest. A renewal of hope spreads among the people of the land. The week you are to begin your harvest, a herald from the Earl's court in Sarum hails you in a similar manner to the page that invited you to train at Sarum earlier this year. [b]"Earl Roderick is holding a feast this Saturday and he would like you present to serve the knights and dignitaries present. Come dressed in your finest wear, we will have guests from beyond our borders, and bring your armor and equipment."[/b] The herald does not elaborate and rides off without listening to offers of succor. While the Earl's request is inconvenient to your schedule as lord of your manor, you are obligated to answer his call. After assigning a steward to oversee the harvest and preparing for your trip you are on the roads once more.

Sarum looks just as you remember it, only much more crowded. More horses than can be accommodated by its stables take up space surrounding the inns and taverns and there are a number of small camps set up along the outer wall and ditch of the town. Seeing you, several pages you recall from your visit dash between the crowds on foot and offer to keep an eye on your horse for a few denarii. When you reach the castle a servant drags you to the kitchens and instructs you on what the Earl's Castellan has asked of you. [b]"Each of you squires are to serve wine at the tables. Start with the Earl's table and work your way to the back of the room. Prince Madoc and Duke Ulfius are to be offered wine before the Earl, then Sir Blains."[/b] Your stomach jumps as you think back to Broughton and the knights from Levcomagus. [i]What does Earl Roderick have in store?[/i] You depart the kitchen in order of renown: Iorwerth serves Madoc, Hywel pours for Duke Ulfius, Tegwyn offers to Earl Roderick, Cenwyn pours for Sir Blains, and Cerridwyn fills Sir Amig's cup.

You each make your way among the tables pouring wine and taking new jugs from pages with trays. Several other groups of squires serve, but none had the distinction of serving the head table as you did. The other Salisbury squires primarily serve the knights of Earl Roderick, leaving you to pour for the visitors. [b]"Hey you, fill my cup,"[/b] Hywel hears directed at him from a knight in Tegwyn's section. Looking, he notices the man wears the colors of Levcomagus and has the brightest, straightest teeth he's ever seen. The men around him laugh and take small sips from their goblets even as they wait for the Earl's toast.

The Earl pounds on the the planks of the table before him to get the assembly's attention. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"You all know me to be a man of action and few words, so I toast with this: To King Uther the Pendragon, to Logres, and to neighbors.[/COLOR][/b] The room of knights raise their drinks and echo a variety of responses to the toast before beginning to imbibe in earnest. The main servant overseeing the feast gets your attention and whispers, [b]"We won't be eating for some time, the Earl has asked you to serve his table, so stand to the side and be ready should he call on you."[/b]

As you stand to the side you hear the kitchen staff and servants gossiping:
[o]
- “Say, did you know that Merlin has gone away?”“Well, he comes and goes at his will.”“Yes, but he is gone again, and at such a time...”
- "Lady Ellen carries low. 'Tis a boy!" "I hope you're right! I'm sick of Lady Talaith's suitors loafing around thinking they can just swoop up an Earldom."
- "I have seen him, I swear. Prince Iberon, son of the Faerie King Oberon."
- "Gorlois continues to defy Uther, I fear if we try and engage him we will be stretched thin when the Saxons strike."
- "That Gwiona's cursed. Two husbands she's lost. What good are all the lands she holds if she dies childless and a widow?"[/o]

As tempting as it is to continue listening to the rumors, you all manage to hear the conversation at the head table. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"There was more to my toast than niceties, I'm afraid. Some months back we had an issue with raiders coming from the East. They looted a handful of my manors. My troops were with King Uther, I had only a small number of squires on hand to keep my people safe." [/COLOR][/b] Looking at the guests at the table, Ulfius looks on at your lord, confused. Prince Madoc taps his cup with his long, tapered fingers, seemingly interested in where the story is going. Both Amig and Blains sit beside one another red faced, for different reasons, you suspect. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Sir Amig here was told they were Saxons. He, along with some of these squires, went to investigate. Ulfius, the thieves were from Levcomagus. They were knights." [/COLOR][/b]

[b][COLOR=#990066]"Preposterous,"[/COLOR][/b] Blains sputters. [b][COLOR=#990066]"No knight of mine would lower themself to such activity. Saxons have menaced us all year!"[/COLOR][/b] Roderick replies calmly. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"We have a prisoner, Meredid, your squire, Sir Blains. We have the bodies of two of the dead, kept on ice through this dreadful summer. They wore mail."[/COLOR][/b] Madoc arches an eyebrow and Ulfius looks between Blains and Roderick. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Ulfius, we share a beyond being mere neighbors. You are my brother through my wife. It is up to me to administer justice in these lands, but I felt I owed it to you to discuss these matters in person since they involve your subjects. The squire I intend to hang for her crime,"[/COLOR][/b] Blains' nose flairs as the Earl says this, [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"and I would like your assistance in identifying the other perpetrators and your word that punishment will be meted out."[/COLOR][/b]

Ulfius wipes his mouth and beard, [COLOR=#FF6600][b]"If what you say is true, I will do so a man of honor, not simply your brother or neighbor. To that...,"[/b][/COLOR] Sir Blains interjects even as the Duke speaks, [b][COLOR=#990066]"Apologies for the interruption, my lord, but we've heard no proof."[/COLOR][/b] All eyes turn to Blains. [COLOR=#FF6600][b]"That's all I've asked Roderick for, now..,"[/b][/COLOR] [b][COLOR=#990066]"Well, I guess what I mean, my lord, is Earl Roderick [i]could[/i] be right, but I'm sure my knights thought of the whole thing as a joke, a diversion. How many peasants were killed, Roderick? How much was lost."[/COLOR][/b] Roderick's deep set eyes glare at Blains. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"None and nothing, but I think you..,"[/COLOR][/b] The Steward of Levcomagus' eyes widen. [b][COLOR=#990066]"See? They were bored, perhaps a little jealous that they were stuck on garrison duty while your knights gain glory. Two didn't return from their watch duty,"[/COLOR][/b] he rubs his chin, [b][COLOR=#990066]"they must be the ones your..squires.. struck down. They paid with steel."[/COLOR][/b] He shrugs.

Ulfius nods. [COLOR=#FF6600][b]"They dishonored themselves, I see no reason to defend them."[/b][/COLOR] Blains rises in his seat and his voice breaks for a moment. [b][COLOR=#990066]"But, my squire! Her life shouldn't be cut short for..,"[/COLOR][/b] Earl Roderick interrupts this time, the frustration evident in his voice, [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"She was a part of this. This criminality should not go unpunished."[/COLOR][/b] Both men lean forward across the table, their jaws set, their eyes locked on one another, a battle of wills. Madoc clears his throat, distracting the two men. [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"I know I am just a guest in these lands. Aye, I'm the king's son, but not lord to any party in your dispute. Earl Roderick, I understand your need for justice, and Sir Blains your devotion to your squire and the rest of your men commendable. There is a matter of neighbors at hand, but I feel that both of you fixate on the wrong one. We have Saxons on our borders and our shores."[/COLOR][/b]

Roderick and Madoc look at one another, your liege looks as if he is about to say something, and sighs. [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"How many soldiers have we lost this year? You Roderick?"[/COLOR][/b] The Earl answers through gritted teeth, his eyes back on Blains, [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Too many."[/COLOR][/b] Madoc sips his wine. [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"Are your people, your peasants, your family, more safe if the knights from Levcomagus hang from a tree?"[/COLOR][/b] Roderick opens his mouth to object, the Prince raises an eyebrow and continues, [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"Blains' squire even. She's young, things such as this should be forgiven. I was a pain for my father in my youth."[/COLOR][/b] The Earl shakes his head. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"You never tried to rob and steal from your allies."[/COLOR][/b] Madoc's eyes turn to Blains. [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"No. While it sounds like you have more than enough proof of the wrongdoing of Levcomagus' knights, it is only circumstantial things tying it to Blains."[/COLOR][/b]

Blains straightens up in his seat. Madoc, seeing this, cuts him back down. [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"If his knights did this, his ineffective leadership is just as much to blame as their actions. Duke Ulfius, I wouldn't dream to tell you how to rule your lands, but perhaps Blains' responsibility over other knights ought to be reevaluated?"[/COLOR][/b] Ulfius looks at his subject and nods. Roderick looks conflicted as he reads Madoc's face. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"This man lacks any contrition for the actions of his knights. I'll free the squire. Though perhaps she should be mentored by another. What do you think, Ulfius?"[/COLOR][/b] The Duke nods again. [COLOR=#FF6600][b]"I'll find someone else to teach her. Blains, apologize."[/b][/COLOR]

Blains looks at his lord with an expression of surprise in his eyes. [b][COLOR=#990066]"You'd have me apologize?"[/COLOR][/b] Every eye at the table rests on his look of disgust. [b][COLOR=#990066]"Fine, Earl Roderick, on behalf of my knights, I apologize."[/COLOR][/b] Modoc sweeps a few stray hairs from his eyes. [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"And if business like this happens again, my father will hear of it and a dead squire will be the least of your problems. Now Roderick, where are these brave squires who fought back the Saxons by way of Levcomagus?"[/COLOR][/b] Roderick smiles genuinely. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Right here serving us, my lord,"[/COLOR][/b] he gestures at you. The others at the table turn their attention to you as if noticing you for the first time. [b][COLOR=#FF0000]"Well met, squires,"[/COLOR][/b] the Prince says, bowing his head. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Aside from the issues we have just resolved, part of my reason for holding this celebration was something you touched on, Prince Madoc. The Saxons,"[/COLOR][/b] your liege glances momentarily at Blains, [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"continue to knock at our door. We need fresh blood in our ranks, brave and honest individuals. You've served me and my family well and I think it is time you enter the knighthood. What say you all?"[/COLOR][/b]

KNIGHTING

The next morning, Sir Amig and a priest enter the cathedral just after the sun rises. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"How did you fare the night? Father here has a few words for you."[/COLOR][/b] The priest, a young man with a tonsure cut into his hair steps forward and begins speaking. Whether it is a lack of interest, excitement, or exhaustion, none of you can remember his brief words. [b][COLOR=#33CCFF]"Thank you, father. Now..we'll head to the Earl's hall for the ceremony."[/COLOR][/b] Amig lines you up in the order in which those whose forebearers were more renowned lead the way.

Entering the hall you see Earl Roderick and his wife, the very pregnant Lady Ellen, sitting elevated above the rest of those in attendance. Talaith sits off to one side of them, Madoc, Duke Ulfius, and Sir Blains at their other side. Many of the knights in attendance at the feast are present, those you each squired for standing nearest to the front. A number of your family members are also present, you wonder, momentarily, how the Earl was able to invite them without your finding out.

Banners bearing Salisbury's coat of arms hang from the walls. The officers of the court wear their finest clothing. A Herald steps forward and in a loud voice calls for each of you to, [b]"come forth and kneel before the throne."[/b] As you take your places, servants come out with your swords and shields and sets them beside you. The Herald reads from a scroll, addressing each of you individually in turn. [b]"Be it known to all men that Earl Roderick of Salisbury is minded to raise [Squire name] by virtue of their honor, loyalty, valor, and skill at arms, to the high rank of knighthood."[/b]

The Herald then calls on each of you to wear and acknowledge Earl Roderick to be your lawful and true liege, to swear fealty to Uther Pendragon, to defend and obey him until he depart the throne, or death takes you. Roderick rises and approaches each of you. Loud enough he says to you, [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Let this be the last blow you receive without just recourse."[/COLOR][/b] In turn, the Earl shoves each of you with enough strength to knock you back and offers his hand to return you to your knees. The Herald asks each of you to solemnly swear and pledge your sword to Salisbury, to defend and obey your liege until he departs his demesnes or death takes him, and to uphold the honor of knighthood.

Once you have sworn, Roderick says to each of you, [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"And I, for my part, do swear to defend and honor you as befits a true knight."[/COLOR][/b] The Earl nods to you, takes a sword from his servant and taps your shoulders with it:

[b][COLOR=#0000CC]" I dub thee Sir Iorwerth of Woodford. Receive now your spurs, your right to suitable arms, and take this, my sword, to your side to serve and defend me well. Arise, Sir Knight."[/COLOR][/b]

[b][COLOR=#0000CC]" I dub thee Sir Hywel of Idmiston. Receive now your spurs, your right to suitable arms, and take this, my sword, to your side to serve and defend me well. Arise, Sir Knight."[/COLOR][/b]

[b][COLOR=#0000CC]" I dub thee Sir Tegwyn of Berwick St. James. Receive now your spurs, your right to suitable arms, and take this, my sword, to your side to serve and defend me well. Arise, Sir Knight."[/COLOR][/b]

[b][COLOR=#0000CC]" I dub thee Sir Cenwyn of Shrewton. Receive now your spurs, your right to suitable arms, and take this, my sword, to your side to serve and defend me well. Arise, Sir Knight."[/COLOR][/b]

[b][COLOR=#0000CC]" I dub thee Sir Cerridwyn of Steeple Langford. Receive now your spurs, your right to suitable arms, and take this, my sword, to your side to serve and defend me well. Arise, Sir Knight."[/COLOR][/b]

Those in attendance break into applause. Roderick quiets the crowd and instructs them to head outside. When only you and he remain he breaks into a wide smile. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Okay young knights, your horses are ready outside. Go and make your leap!"[/COLOR][/b]

[ooc]Roll DEX for me, knights![/ooc]

Winter Phase

[-]Step One: Solo Scenarios[-]
- Not necessary.

Step Two: Experience Rolls
- Roll 1d20 for each Skill, Passion, or Trait you have earned a check for. Delete the checks from your character sheets as you add them to your post. For each Skill, Passion, or Trait where you rolled > than your skill level, add [b]1[/b] point to it. If you gain a point in a [i]Trait[/i], be sure to reduce the corresponding Trait by one. The paired Traits should equal 20. If you have a Squire who has earned checks, roll for them and note the increase on their information.

[-]Step Three: Aging[-]
- Begins at age 35.

Step Four: Economic Circumstances
- For now, we will assume you have an income of £8/ year on your manor.
- Roll the income on any improvements and deduct any maintenance fees.
- Add any income or gifts you have received.
- This is the wealth you've amassed this year. Generally a knight does not just have money lying around, so spend what you'd like. You earn 1 Glory for every £1 spent.
- Fine clothing owned loses half its value and will give you negative modifiers if worn at court in subsequent years. Consider spending some of your fortune on new clothes.
- Consider saving some money for: manor improvements, ransom, dowries for children, other equipment.
- Once we have knights making more than £8/year in income we will look at the various levels of maintenance. Know for now that you are considered a knight of Ordinary means, you have no positive or negative modifiers for other Winter Phase tasks.

Step Five: Stable Rolls
- Roll 1d20 for your Charger and Rouncy. Your horse dies or is ruined on a roll of 1 or 2. It lives if you roll >2.
- All horses suffer a –1 modifier for each year of the horse’s age beyond 7 years.
- If your horses die, check with me. Your Lord might replace it and spare you the cost.

Step Six: Family Rolls
- If you would like to marry a particular named Lad or Lady and have their agreement, roll Loyalty (Lord) or Courtesy. On a Success, your Lord okays the marriage. Check with me for modifiers.
- If you would like to marry a random subject of your Lord, roll Courtesy or Loyalty (Lord). If you Succeed, roll 1d20 and consult Table 5.4 in KAP 5.2 on page 131. Check with me for modifiers.
- If you are married or engaged in a non-marital dalliance, roll 1d20 and consult the Childbirth Table (5.5) in KAP 5.2 on page 131. Check with me for modifiers.
- If you have a child, roll 1d20 and consult Table 5.6 in KAP 5.2 on page 131. Do this for each child until they are 15 years of age. Check with me for modifiers.
- Roll 3d20 and compare your results to Tables 5.7 and 5.8 (both parts) in KAP 5.2 on page 131. Post your results. These events don't necessarily occur and aren't necessarily rumored, I only want to see the results so we can discuss whether the results are interesting or would make for good short story opportunities in the next year of the campaign.

Step Seven: Training and Practice
- There are three possible ways to improve your character through Winter season training:
1) Gain 1d6+1 Points in Skills (To Max 15): Roll 1d6+1 for the number of points available to you to improve your Skills. Any combination of one or more Skills or Combat Skills may be improved, but you may not improve a non-knightly Skill in this way, and no Skill may be raised to higher than 15.
2) Gain 1 Point in a Skill (To Max 20): You may increase any one Skill by 1 point, to a maximum value of 20. Skills can go beyond 20 only by means of experience or Glory. (See Step 2 and Step 9.)
3) You may raise or lower any one Attribute, Trait, or Passion value by 1 point. (Keep in mind that altering a Trait always also alters the value of the opposite Trait as well.) [i]Several restrictions apply:[/i] No Trait can be increased to over 19, and Passions cannot be increased over 20. No Attribute can be raised higher than its maximum cultural value (SIZ, DEX, STR, APP no > than 18; CON no > than 21). A character’s SIZ may not be increased after he reaches age 21; further, a character cannot increase any other Attribute (STR, DEX, CON, or APP) this way after he reaches age 35.
- If you adjust an Attribute, double check all Derived Attributes
- You can also increase a Squire's through training using one of the above 3 methods.

Step Eight and Nine: Compute Glory and Glory Bonuses
- Add up the Glory from your Glory Roll
- Add Glory equal to the value of any Traits or Passions with values of 16+. (eg. 16 Glory for Prudent 16)
- Add any Annual Glory awards (this can include manor improvements, positions at court, etc.)
- Add Glory from unique honors (any ambitions reached or one-time accomplishments)
- Add Glory for each £ spent. (£1 equals 10 Glory)
- Add 1 Glory for every 1000 Glory earned in the year.

485

The Winter is mild but lingers for a few weeks more than it typically does. Despite the season, roads are easily traveled, allowing trade and visits among the manors of Salisbury. Word comes often from Sarum, Roderick's heralds keep his knights up to date on the latest news and movements of the enemy. [b]"Another Saxon army has landed to our east! Our spies say they are led by one called Aethelswith, but we don’t know his plans."[/b] Situated in the heartland of Logres, you know that your foes from across the sea are far from your home, but that Uther could call his vassals to arms at any moment. Despite mild temperatures, the gusty and algid air and occasional flurries of snow keep both Briton and Saxon at home until the marking of Spring by the druids.

[ooc]If you would like, give us a brief rundown of what kept you from going stir crazy during the winter.[/ooc]

You take advantage of the green fields that come with the rebirth of the land, drilling with your men-at-arms and the knights of your extended family. At first it is strange to be the one they look to for orders, to have a squire enforcing your will rather than being called on, but the feeling fades. As you grow confident in your new role, a message arrives from Sarum. Salisbury's knights will meet at the Earl's motte and bailey before joining the Pendragon's army in Silchester. A surge of trepidation and excitement leaves the words of those around you hollow in your ears. Your first call to war as a knight. Unlike your last encounter while still a squire, these will be real Saxons.

The ride to Sarum is uneventful and you each meet several knights you are familiar with along the way. Your squires find places for your horses in the stables and Earl Roderick greets you all as you file into his hall. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"Despite the incursions by Aethelswith, we’re going to attack King Ælle, as we’ve planned. The hope is to dislodge him from Kent. Uther has ordered Duke Lucius of Caercolun to stand at the ready in case the newcomer tries something, so he will not stand with us against Ælle."[/COLOR][/b] The Earl grits his teeth. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"A number of other vassals have not reported, the curs, so we cannot count on their numbers."[/COLOR][/b] Roderick sits brooding at the high table with Sir Amig and Sir Elad, Salisbury's Marshal, at his side. The only moment his expression brightens is when Countess Ellen visits with their newborn son, Robert. The meal served you is modest, but Roderick orders an extra barrel of wine be brought out to toast the Earl to-be.

486

The new year rings in with great exhalations of breath throughout Logres. For some, the push of air from their lungs and out in plumes of hoary mist is an expression of relief for surviving the year past. 485 gave many reasons to fear that the end was approaching: Saxons rampaged unchecked, vassals failed to give the Pendragon his due, a blight damaging the crops of several holdings in Salisbury, and Britain's protector, the magician Merlin, nowhere to be found. These people bear a hope for the future, knowing that with the coming Spring crops will return, children will be born, and King Uther will rally his troops to push back at the invading meance. For others, the heaving breaths signify unease about what comes, despite the Pendragon's efforts, Saxons set up kingdoms on the land of the Britons, barbarians are reported to be sacking and ravishing the Romans on the continent, and reports come from the most remote hamlets of Logres that magical threats and uncanny occurrences, things alien to the old ways and Christians alike, scenes that had not manifested in the lifetimes of grandparents or even great-grandparents, are popping up sporadically. For most, the peasants in particular, their breath on New Year's is merely a way to buy another day, to wake up beside loved ones, till the earth, teach their children, and hang on for one more festival day.

Winter is harsh. Reports from Pitton say that a disease has ruined their crops. The superstitious say the driving away of the griffin and the killing of its mate has brought a curse on the land. Sir Nia and her husband, Inek, are concerned about this misfortune but delight in the news of their daughter-in-law's pregnancy and the knight from Steeple Langford's rapidly growing bump. Cerridwyn's concern about failing to serve her lord during her child-bearing is allayed by the Druid, Drem. [b]"This has long been a worry of the Pagan knight, Sir, but it should not trouble you, nor should anything as your offspring prepares to enter our world."[/b] The Pagan cleric explains the plan: places exist where the barriers between Britain and the other planes are thin and can be finessed, the notion of time in these places differs from our own such that the events of a year can take place in a week or minute of ours, the Druids guard this knowledge and offer it to knights, particularly those who are foreordained to play a role in what the fates have in store. [b]"This isn't without potential problems and will not be forced upon you, so think on it, Cerridwyn."[/b]

Roderick invites the knights of Salisbury to dine with him for the Christmas holiday. His mood mood remains dour and he waves off the musicians and bards on hand. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"This is no time for poetry,"[/COLOR][/b] he mutters. The Earl's mind is clearly set on the upcoming campaign against the Saxons and the potential for his daughter's marriage. Roderick looks on sadly as Talaith plays with the infant Robert, whose light hair and eyes match his mother, but whose strong chin and cheekbones are clearly from his father. The Earl's gift to his knights for the year is the replacement for those horses that had died from the frost, whose early onset and powerful flurries devastated livestock. While no one knows how Gwiona reacted to the numerous scars covering Tegwyn's body from his engagement with the Saxons, her round belly at the feast table made it clear that the wounds didn't prevent or inhibit their efforts at starting a family. Hywel and Indeg appear happy as they settle into married life, though the slightest creases can be seen on the forehead of the son of Llywelin as responsibilities for new subjects mount. Iorwerth sits among his friends, happy for them, but increasingly conscious of how their moves in the last year-- marriage, the acquisition of new lands, families --have left him behind. Left him more free, better able to adventure and serve his lord without worry, he thinks to himself, more charitably.

The Earl musters troops while snow still covers the ground as Madoc calls up the Pendragon's troops to raid the area near Colchester in the East. The call to those left behind for garrison duty comes shortly after the departure of Salisbury's force. When you arrive in Sarum you see it is only about two dozen knights and several dozen men-at-arms who have been left. Many of the knights who present themselves are a sorry lot: lame, old, and troubled, though the party who made the reckless charge to capture the Saxon warchief, Oslac, are present as well. Neither Amig nor Elad remains behind to give instructions, and no one was clearly left in charge of the garrison, so things proceed with some disorder. Cenwyn relishes the freedom from the usual duties of a knight and spends much of his spare time early in your posting at prayer and reflection. The lack of organization does have some cost, however, several times you young knights catch men-at-arms away from their posts, a few of the senile older knights asleep on the ramparts or lost in the forest. Reports of bandits in the southern forests, robberies and beatings in Sarum, and whispers of Saxon scouts being seen throughout the countryside. As anxieties increase, Lady Ellen calls a meeting of the garrison knights. [COLOR=#669966][b]"Sirs, despite not sending you out to campaign, my husband had great faith in all of you to keep our lands safe and orderly. He does not like to be disappointed. Who will step up and plan for the defense of Salisbury?"[/b][/COLOR]



The old man claps his hands together at Tegwyn's pun. [b]"Thank you, sir!"[/b] He looks over at the Berwick St. James knight's squire. [b]"You've nothing to fear from me with me standing before you, Pedr. I'm odd but certainly won't be off! "[/b]

You climb the snowy hill more easily than the goatherd would have had you believe. His suggestion to use your shield aid your ascent was helpful, however. At the top lie a number of dolmen in a circle, though several seem to have been toppled. Looking at them more closely, you can see that they have been struck with a pick or prying bar. The big black billy goat chews its cud and watches you approach. As you attempt to encircle it, the herder's prized creature turns and bounds away towards the woods, down the back end of the hill away from the road.

The chase brings you into an area with scattered trees and brush. The foliage is not so dense that you cannot run, but the goat still outdistances you easily. It slips into some brush, disappearing aside from the dust of snow shaking off of the bushes, and then suddenly cries out loudly, as if in pain. At that moment you realize that a smallish, three-eyed giant is standing in the copse where the goat ran. The giant has two eyes crammed into the left socket and a single large eye on the right, its beard and hair hang low enough to brush the belt formed of human skulls around its waist. The monster steps out, clutching the goat by its horns. The goat is bawling and kicking harmlessly. The giant sees the knights and tosses the goat aside.

[ooc]The DEX rolls basically served as a way to modify the Initiative order a little bit. The giant has a DEX of 7, so it will act last.[/ooc]


Lindsey = Lincoln
Caercolun = Colchester, coastal Essex NE of London
King Cadwy, the "Magician King"; Book of Uther p. 66

A couple of months pass from your fruitful visit to Marlborough. Wounds mend, time is spent with your families, diversions and small adventures are had. A rumor reaches you in mid-April that the King and Duke Ulfius, Uther's advisor on foreign affairs, have departed for the European continent seeking out allies against the Saxons. You, of course, know better. You receive a summons from Earl Roderick instructing you to reach Vagon on May 1st.

Spring is in full bloom and you reach Sir Elad's holding in very little time. The old knight strides out to the courtyard to greet you and ushers you to a small room off of the main hall. Inside sit Roderick, Uther, and three other men, one old and two very young. Hywel recognizes the older man with long sideburns as Sir Brastias, Uther's right hand and the man who broke up the skirmish between Sir Rhisiart and the Berroc (Saxon ally) knights. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"You're all here. Good."[/COLOR][/b] You notice that he and the other men present are wearing the red, white, and blue of Somerset, not Salisbury or royal colors. Uther also appears to have trimmed his beard and hair. Your liege gestures to his right. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"There are tunics for each of you as well. Replace your shields if they have any identifying markings."[/COLOR][/b]

Once you are all kitted, the king and his other guards rise. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"We'll take the road through the Selwood and join the one North through Somerset, Clarence, Warwick, and Lambor to Lindsey. No one is to know who we actually are. If anyone asks we are envoys of King Cadwy of Somerset, the so-called 'Magician King', to the north seeking a military alliance against the Saxons. Treat me with no more deference than any of the rest of you, we're but a band of unlanded knights doing our liege's bidding. Understood?"[/COLOR][/b] Exiting the meeting room, you see that Sir Elad has prepared a number of new horses for you, presumably to add to the illusion that you are Somerset knights. The Marshal and his squires and stableboys help each of you mount. [COLOR=#FF9966][b]"Your horse, sir,"[/b][/COLOR] he says tersely to Sir Cenwyn, his delivery evident that he still bears some bitterness to the chaste knight for refusing to marry Eiluned, his only daughter.

Without your squires, the party makes 10 on the road. Earl Roderick order you to ride in pairs, rotating position, except for the king, who is to remain in the center of the pack. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"Did you listen to a word I said, Roderick? Christ!"[/COLOR][/b] Rebuffed, the Earl changes his directive so that the pairs rotate every five miles, the king included.
The road through the Selwood leads you past Warminster, Baron Terfel's territory, but Roderick orders you to hasten past it. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"We won't be stopping anywhere we might be recognized, the Saxons and our other enemies have spies everywhere."[/COLOR][/b] Once out of the forest, you reach the road the Lindsey, the major north/south artery for travel in Britain. Although the old Roman road passes through major settlements, you spend each night camping outside of small peasant towns and sleeping in country inns.

Uther and your fellow traveling companions are quite amiable. Aside from Uther and Brastias, you learn that the two young men are the king's squires, Amhar and Mostyn. The king is especially entertaining, as you learn the first evening before the fire when he serenades you with a deep baritone voice. He knows many popular songs and has a better understanding of musical composition than you would expect from a man whose life has been spent at war. He also, even when not holding himself out as king, is quite boastful and crass. This almost gets you in trouble at an inn in Bourton, a small town in Clarence. A misunderstanding about a married woman nearly turned the tavern dwellers all against you, but a quick smile and coin to make up for the breach in manners settles the crowd down.

On the third afternoon of travel at the outskirts of a town called Kineton you see a dozen crows and carrion birds circling above a field to your right. Roderick looks to Uther, who motions with his hands that the group ought to carry on. Wary, the Earl instructs a knight, [1custom5{Cenwyn;Cerridwyn;Hywel;Iorwerth;Tegwyn}, to ride ahead and see what has attracted the birds.



Uther approaches Sir Cenwyn and points at the bloody spot on his tunic. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"That doesn't look too bad. Let me take a look so we can be sure."[/COLOR][/b] The King examines the knight's wound. The Pendragon indicates for Prydwen's son to wait a moment and walks over to his saddlebag. He returns with cloth and a glass bottle. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"This'll sting like the fires of hell, but it should keep that from getting too much worse. Hold still, sir."[/COLOR][/b] The king's squires hurriedly move Brastias onto the litter assembled by Mostyn.

With Brastias lashed to the litter, Amhar and Mostyn attach it to the king's horse and his friend's. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"We'll see you at the castle, Roderick. Don't let any of these bastards escape. They will see my justice."[/COLOR][/b] A few of the bandits look from the king's dark expression to one another worriedly. The group of wounded and their escort ride over the ridge and across the bridge that had been obstructed by the logs set out by the bandits.

[b]For Cenwyn, Cerridwyn, and Iorwerth:[/b]
[o]Uther rides the pair of horses hard, neither stopping or slowing down even as others in the party drop several lengths behind him. After an hour's ride the top of a motte-and-bailey peeks up over the road, ten minutes later you see that it sits on a hill with a small settlement surrounding it. The king whips the horses so they do not break out of their gallop even as you reach the narrow streets of the town. Merchants and people on foot scatter out of the way of the two charging horses and remain to the side or in buildings as you ride past. Uther snatches a flag with his own emblem, a dragon, from the bundle Mostyn protected that had contained Excalibur. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"It is I, your king,"[/COLOR][/b] he yells up at the guards on duty over the gate, [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"I order that you let me in."[/COLOR][/b]

The guards on duty peer down in shock at the message called up to them. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"Hurry, damn it! Call for Lady Mared. If this man dies because of your sluggishness, you'll be joining him! Call for your best chiurgeons as well."[/COLOR][/b] One guard nods and dashes off into a tower while the other sets the crank to open the iron barrier. Uther charges into the courtyard and climbs gingerly down from his horse before kneeling at Brastias' side. The Fist's face is ashen, but he breathes. The King rises and pulls the bottle and bandages from his saddlebag and treats Brastias as you wait to be greeted.

A few minutes later a woman, probably early thirties with green eyes, an eight to ten year old boy, and a number of finely attired courtiers enter from the castle's hall. [b]"My liege, what a-,"[/b] Uther forces a smile, but cuts her off. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"Mared, there's no time, I need your best chiurg-,"[/COLOR][/b] Surveying the wounds to Sir Brastias, she nods and cuts him off. [b]"They're right here. I'll have them take Brastias,"[/b] she nods and the men and women rush to the fallen knight's side and pick up the litter, [b]"and then maybe take a look at the rest of you."[/b] The king thanks her and accompanies the chiurgeons to their quarters. The little boy is about to tag along before his mother grips his shoulder.

Mared bows to the rest of you. [b]"I'm sure there's a story as to why you're here with the king and so few in number, but it can wait. Please let me know if you need anything. I'll have servants down presently to take you to quarters so you can rest."[/b] The boy, the lord of the castle, at least in name, observes you quietly.

[/o]

[b]For Hywel and Tegwyn:[/b]
[o]Transferring the prisoners goes relatively smoothly once they are bound together. Roderick assigns Amhar to lead the group, choosing to ride behind himself. He instructs the two of you to ride alongside and make sure the bandits do not try to slip out of their restraints. Looking down at the stone paved road you see where Uther drove the two horses and litter, a three foot wide rectangle marking where the wooden surface was dragged through the muck. The prisoners speak quietly amongst one another, what you are able to make out sounds like recriminations and blame being spread around the group. A few of the more badly injured brigands stumble and fall, so the occasional stop must be made while their fellows return them to their feet.

After a two and a half hour ride, the top of a motte-and-bailey peeks up over the road, twenty minutes later you see that it sits on a hill with a small settlement surrounding it. Although the sun has begun to hang lower in the sky, the narrow streets of the town are crammed with people. Your sudden appearance with a half dozen bound men and women in tow does not elicit much of a response from the citizens, their capacity for surprise probably already spent on the group that arrived earlier. The guards at the gate to the castle open it wordlessly at your approach. A boy, somewhere between eight and ten, sits on a barrel waiting for you.

The lad whistles and hops from his seat. A dozen armed guards enter from a side room. [b]"Take the prisoners to the dungeon."[/b] The guards do as they are ordered, leading the bandits away through the door they entered from. The boy observes the group of cutthroats with fascination before remembering your presence. "I'm Glasnant, lord of Lambor Castle. My mother asked me to wait and welcome you. Well, she instructed me to have a servant wait and welcome you, but when I heard there were bandits I wanted to see them for myself. Your traveling companions have been given rooms to rest, but they'll be dining in the hall shortly. Follow me and I'll take you there, sirs."[/b] He motions and runs ahead for a set of wide doors.
[/o]

488

[i]Christmas Court 487, Winchester, Hampshire County[/i]

You are invited, along with Earl Roderick, to attend the King's Christmas Court once again, though it is held this time in Winchester. The trip to Hampshire is, mercifully, short, as the county borders Salisbury to the south-east, and Winchester, its capital, is about as far east as Levcomagus. Knights and nobles from throughout the realm have flocked to attend Uther, but because of your spectacular successes in the past year you are given accommodations in the castle of Earl Evan. Evan is a man in his thirties with chestnut hair and a warm smile. In addition to being a respected knight, he serves as one of the King's admirals, as a large portion of Logres' fleet sails from Hantonne in Hampshire. The Earl is cordial with Earl Roderick and personally appoints members of his household staff to serve you for your stay.

You see little of King Uther as he is frequently in private meetings with his council. Outside of the great hall, though, you do see a familiar face: Sir Brastias. The once robust knight looks gaunt and his famous mutton chop beard appears not to have been maintained since you last saw him. He stands tensely, looking at each passing individual with suspicion until he notes your group. [COLOR=#996600][b]"Hail, Salisbury knights! I'm happy to see that you've come to celebrate Christmas with us. I didn't have the opportunity after our paths parted,"[/b][/COLOR] his lips twitch anxiously, [COLOR=#996600][b]"but I wanted to thank you for coming to my aid. Your efforts on my behalf and those of the king will not be forgotten."[/b][/COLOR] Despite the words by the King's Fist, little recognition or gratitude is extended to you by Uther over the days of celebration. Some of you receive a look of recognition and smile, while others are met by scowls and sudden glances away from the king.

...

New Year's Day is celebrated with a mid-day feast. That morning, word buzzes through the castle that Uther intends to address those assembled about matters pertaining to the realm. As a result, the mood in the hall is quiet and expectant, with a low murmur carrying over the space until a herald introduces the king. Uther stands at the high table and stares out at those assembled. He begins with nothing by way of introduction. [b][COLOR=#9966FF]"The realm stands at a critical moment, we face enemies from throughout Britain who fail to recognize my leadership and foes from without who would take all we have. They've failed to this point because of your might, but trials lay ahead that will require more from all of us. For this reason we will be raising new armies by elevating masses of squires from each major holding to knighthood. Dukes, counts, and lords, consult with your marshals and call on them to produce lists of eligible men and women. Perform the ceremonies as soon as you are able upon returning to your homes."[/COLOR][/b] The king sits, signaling the musicians to begin playing once again. The knights at the tables around you look around confused. [b]"That's it?"[/b] one man wonders.

[ooc]Some of your squires may be 'drafted' into knighthood. As with many things, I'd like to leave it to chance, so I cooked up a little roll with modifiers to determine who is chosen. Uther wants to call up a majority of squires, even younger ones, into knighthood, so we will be rolling 1d6. A result of 3-6 means your squire has been selected to be knighted, a result of 1-2 means they will remain your squire. Now, those are the base results, I want to add positive modifiers based on the age of your squire. A squire 20 or over means you need to add +2 to your roll. A squire 18-20 years of age means you need to add +1 to your roll. So, everyone will be rolling 1d6, 1d6+1, or 1d6+2.

Here are my age estimates of your squires based on what I know of them:
Over 20: Meredid, Dallwyr (?),
18-20: Cynfael (?), Pedr, Dallwyr (?), Govan
Under 18: Cynfael (?)

I listed those who may fit into multiple age categories with question marks. Meredid is likely the eldest and over 20 since she served as a squire to a Levcomagus knight before serving Cerridwyn. Pedr has an age based on his sheet, but I added one year to mark his advancement in age. Cynfael was originally a young page, so I assume he's on the young side for the group. Dallwyr hasn't featured much, so he could be in any of the groups, though I'm picturing him as a tall, adult adjacent youth. Govan seems middle of the road (unlike his knight...).

Feel free to roll Intrigue, Courtesy, or another skill, simply state your intent. We'll begin with these holiday get togethers being a little sandbox-y. The whys of Uther's decision and what lies ahead will be determined in time.[/ooc]

...

[ooc]Roll 1d6+2 to see if Meredid remains a squire[/ooc]

Cerridwyn listens to the arguments made by her friends and the other knights of Salisbury before offering a thoughtful case for following Prince Madoc to the continent to fight the Franks. Several of the more senior knights are persuaded to this cause by the words of the Steeple Langford knight and the advocacy of Sirs Tegwyn and Iorwerth. Roderick nods. [b][COLOR=#0000CC]"I will send word to the King on the morrow. I'd like to ask each of you to prepare for our departure over the next two weeks, tending to whatever matters needed so that you can take your leave without distraction. We will shall marshal here in Sarum and ride together to Hantonne. With this issue settled, let us discuss the matter of knighting squires. I've heard from Marshal Elad a partial list of those who are to be offered their spurs. If any other knights would like to make their squires eligible for this honor, please let me know now."[/COLOR][/b]

[ooc]Alright, so we've reached the point where our little squires grow up into little knights. Dallwyr and Pedr will stay under the banner of their knights since they are kin. Jon and Joe, please deduct £1 from your saved money, this will be your knight's contribution to your squire's new armor and kit. Gary, I know that Cenwyn plans to cut Govan loose and not replace him, so you may skip what I'm about to ask of Chloe and Chris if you choose. Chris and Chloe, please roll either Courtesy or Stewardship to convince your squire to stay in your camp as a bachelor knight. You may choose to deduct £2 (your contribution to your squire's equipment) from your saved money to receive a +6 modifier to your roll. If you succeed and paid the £2, you need not make additional contribution. If you do not pay the £2 and succeed, you must pay the £1 that Iorwerth and Tegwyn owe. If you fail (whether you contribute £2 or no), you do not get to keep your contribution.

Squires who swear fealty to their knights are knighted by their knight, those who seek opportunity elsewhere are knighted by the Earl (I hope this makes sense). You may describe the process if your character is doing the knighting to whatever extent you wish. You may also roll DEX for your former squire (again, if you wish) to mark their "leap" onto their horse after the ceremony.

Everyone please give a brief description of how your knight prepares for the trip abroad. Be sure to give a name for your new squire (if any) and whether they are any relation to your knight.[/ooc]



489

The year begins with dark tidings for the knights of Salisbury: King Claudas finally defeated the last of Praetor Syagrius' forces in late fall of 488, Prince Madoc has been lauded by the residents of Warminster, the rest of Salisbury, and sectors of Logres for his efforts to raise funds to rebuild the burnt monastery, and rumblings of skirmishes with the Saxons up North, in the dead of winter, are reaching the hearths in the South of Logres. Christmas Court is held at Count Verius' seat, Cirencester, in Clarence. The lords of the realm are all present aside from Duke Melkin of Gloucester, Verius' rival, and Earl Bledri of Rydychan. Bledri's absence is not remarkable given his health problems of recent years, but it is notable that Rydychan sent no contingency, not even Lady Ysbail. Rumors about this and many other things swirl, the dire news from the North and abroad creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.

The Salisbury knights are not immune from this air of suspicion, certain pairings of guests present for the holiday may provide some concern: Prince Madoc sits with Bishop Roger, the two occasionally looking over at your table; Baron Terfel and Sir Blains, the Steward of Levcomagus, their heads down in quiet conversation; King Uther and Earl Tegfan of Jagent, the latter man puffing his chest out at the honor of sitting beside the Pendragon. Sir Brastias, looking healthier than the last time you saw him, offers little in the way of information on Uther's plans for the year. [COLOR=#996600][b]“All vassals of the king must report to war this summer with half their knights. Bring 40 days’ worth of food.”[/b][/COLOR]

[ooc]I'll take Intrigue rolls from anyone looking for information on a particular topic. Among the subjects are the Saxon incursions in the North, the Melkin/Verius rivalry, the missing Rydychan group, rumors about the plans for the year, information about Madoc, or the situation with the Praetor.[/ooc]

..............

Evening comes slowly for friends and comrades of Sir Hywel of Idmiston as he is worked on in the chiurgeon's tent. Just before the call for feasting, you all receive word that the Griffin Slayer will live, though his recovery will be slow. In the hours since you've been away from Lincoln, Duke Corneus' capitol, his servants have spent time converting the planks of wood for barricades and stores of food for a siege into banquet tables and a celebratory feast. The celebration is not only for a great victory, but homecomings. The presence of lost friends like Dallwyr and Cerridwyn lift the mood.

While the impromptu meal is simple, meat and beer, spirits are high and the lightness accentuates the taste of each bite. The urge to indulge after facing incredible odds and routing the Saxon invaders is strong.

[ooc]Everyone please roll Temperate/Indulgent depending on your inclination here.[/ooc]

Tables were hastily assembled throughout the castle, but the upper nobility of Logres celebrate in the Duke's great hall. The Salisbury contingent of knights are given seats of honor, to the right of Uther's, in recognition of their effort in capturing King Octa and his banner. The King, elated by the result, has hired troupes of musicians and fools to entertain. Everyone is sated and amused.

A few hours into the feast, a group of well-dressed noblewomen enter, lining two walls of the room. The last to arrive enters a few heartbeats after the initial procession. Her beauty and stature are breathtaking, as if she has walked into reality from a dream. When she speaks, her voice is like music.

[ooc]Knights present, Lustful rolls, please. Chloe, you may choose to roll Lustful for Cerridwyn or not. Chris, if you'd like Hywel to be present (propped up on a pallet in the corner), you may.

On a Success, your knight acquires a directed trait: Lust (Ygraine), equal to the number of points by which you succeed on the roll (the difference between your knight's Lustful trait and the roll -- a passion of 6 if you have Lustful 10 and roll a 4). With a failure, please roll Chaste. If you succeed on the Chaste roll you do not take the directed trait. On a failure of the Chaste roll, you take the directed trait of Lust (Ygraine) at the difference between your knight's Chaste trait and your roll result.[/ooc]

The woman, Duke Gorlois' wife, Ygraine, you hear whispered, recites an intricately crafted poem of victory praising the Pendragon. Her attendants, the women who preceded her into the room, provide a chorus of low voices and echoes of the Duchess' clear, ringing words.

[ooc]If anyone succeeds at the Chaste roll and does not have the directed trait of Lust (Ygraine), you may roll Awareness and/or Compose. If you have the directed trait, you're too caught up in the performance.[/ooc]

Ygraine finishes and her performance is met with light applause from the assembled nobles, drunk and distracted as they are. The Duchess and her retinue leave the hall. Uther stares boldly at their departure. Gorlois watches frowning.

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