Monday 20 November 2023

The Heirs of Britain - Game Twenty Three - Part Two


The Heirs of Britain

Session 23 Part 2: 487, The Best Defence…

_____ Session 23 Part Two: The Realm Refocused _____

Elated by the slaughter of Sir Trillo, his allegedly treacherous vassal, King Uther immediately sets about pursuing more blood. Though the Saxon spy is seemingly dead, slain by his own hand, he bids his son, Prince Madoc, to lead an attack on the barbarous invaders. The Prince will lead a small force on ships, south and east around the coast of Britain: He is to seek the Saxon boats, burn as many as he can, and kill those who try to stop him.

There is no room for steeds, but there ought be no need for them: The Cymric force is to move swiftly, striking unexpectedly, and face little resistance. The goal is not to slaughter Saxons, per se, though there is much joy in such a thing; the goal is to destroy ships. The Wolves of Logres volunteer; Sir Elvorix, Sir Uhtred, and Sir Vandar in the stead of his maddened cousin Vandagild.

In late summer, the mustered forces arrive at Hanton, in the south. A hundred knights gather: Not a great force of nobles, but bolstered with soldiers, rowers, and men-at-arms. Boarding with little trouble, the raiding force sails east, along the southern British coast.

As they sail, the three men talk of their lost friend and cousin, fled in mindless passion into the woods of Salisbury. The wily Sir Elvorix is pragmatic – the passion of knights is well known, and virtuous; Vandagild is no exception, nor immune to such things. He is long gone, and his keen talent for woodsmanship will render him unfindable, should he wish it. Sir Vandar is worried for his cousin, but sighs in agreement with Elvorix’s insightful take. Once before, these men chased a lost man into the wilds, and the scars, of flesh or heart, are still borne by each. He will trust to God to return his family.

The massive Sir Uhtred, a Berroc man of few words, shrugs it off; he cares little for the matter. There is work to be done, and Vandagild has abandoned it. He fights with those who remain. To this, Sir Vandar grits his jaw and nods, reasserting his focus. A towering man himself, and handsome, Vandar still stands shorter than hulking Uhtred. The latter spares a sidelong glance at his companion; he holds it a moment. He chews once, and grunts, seemingly satisfied. He tosses some salted meat to his companion, and sets for the taffrail to view the sea.

The raid is undetected: Landing at Anodrida, Sussex, the vile invaders are caught off-guard. Resistance is minimal; the hundred knights butcher the few continental defenders, while lesser men of Logres set torch to the grounded Saxon ships. The Wolves of Logres fight well; Sir Uhtred wields his family’s masterwork great-axe, his companions their sword and shield. They are uninjured, and bring violent death to their shocked foe. The force swiftly reembarks, and sail onward, leaving smoke and blood behind.

Bolstered by the victory, the fleet sets off in high spirits: Thereafter the British vengeance falls upon Port Dubris, a major harbour in Sussex. The glorious Britons sail into port, leap heartily off their bows and onto the salty docks. Though the Saxon guardians are plentiful, they are unprepared. Though they scramble hastily to the fight, they match poorly the knights of Logres, who do bear the initiative and greater force. All around Dubris, ships conflagrate, and men are rent asunder. Once more, the three men fare well; their blades are well wetted when they clamber aboard once more. The aggression of the Logres assault bears ripe fruit; the Saxons have neither time nor means to respond, and the Cymric force builds on the confidence of each victory. Prince Madoc leads well; the blood of the Pendragon is truly thick in his veins! His father Uther, once the mightiest warlord of his brother High King Aurelius, has placed well his trust in the Prince.

_____ Blood and Essex _____

Essex; at the confluence of the Blackware and Colm river. On approach, a wall of Saxon ships lines the sandy beach. The men of Logres murmur: This must be, or has been, a major port of ingress for the hated Saxons; How many must they be? If we crush them here, we can cut them from their homeland and drive them into the sea!

As the sea-spray and weather thins, clearer eyes spy Saxons in full arms arrayed in good order on the shores; a coordinated defence awaits! Have they sharp scouts, sending rapid word between their ports? Has the oily smoke of previous victories given warning? There is but little time to discuss; the knights find their companions and arm, waiting only briefly in eager anticipation of the violence ashore.

Under hails of disciplined arrows, the Prince’s ships slam into the makeshift fortress of Saxon ships with a grinding crunch: As one the knights rush forth, roaring their battle cries and fury! Salty winds whip wet banners and hair alike, the armoured knights leaping forth onto the boats and boards of their enemy! The grey air is soon sprayed with blood, as the barbaric foe howl in kind, charging in their own brutish way.

Sir Elvorix is among the first aboard, rushing to do battle with a burly Saxon seaman. The man wields a great-spear, and benefits from the prepared defences of the Saxon ship-wall: He lurches forward as the Roman knight makes landfall; the long weapon strikes home in the flank of the leaping Elvorix, slipping past his shield and drawing blood through the maille. Elvorix, wounded by his hated Saxon foe, lets the fury of his rage spill forth, a ragged cry of wrath! Alas, he is still outdone by the wily foe, and suffers a second smaller wound! Desperate to regain momentum, frustrated and embarrassed by his cunning foe, Sir Elvorix fogoes his defence, rightly trusting his armour holds against the spearman's blow; the Roman cuts hard, and his lunging foe drops grunting to the ground; wounded but alive! Once more the knight of Salisbury lashes out, pressing has advantage; as the Saxon rises on a knee, Elvorix's blade meets his armoured skull, knocking the man bloody and senseless!

Sir Vandar, beside him, fights confidently, shoving aside his own foe’s long spear and chopping his blade down hard on the man's collar; the Saxon collapses to the deck, gasping, but not yet out of the fight. The tall knight, perhaps overconfident, is caught-out by his standing opponent, who slips the point of his spear into the large Aquitanian's maille to little effect. Grunting, dispassionate, Sir Vandar twists beyond the shaft of the Saxon's spear, and buries his blade to the hilt in the man; they lock eyes until the lesser man slips from life.

Uthred, huge and swollen with exalted rage for his hated foe, Hacks down on his man as he lands, dropping him to a knee, and horrifically cleaving him in twain before he can stand. A booming laugh punctuates the clash and screams of battle, as the enormous Berroc warrior laughs in the joy of slaughter! Sir Uhtred steps to open the gap in the line further, cleaving his great axe with utter rage into another warrior, holding the breach in the line with more wounding hacks!

Before long, the last organised foes fall, and the horn sounds! The enemy are defeated, the boats are burning, and the men of Logres withdraw before more Saxons can rally... 

_____ Among the Reeds… _____

Embarked once more, the knights share stories of their fights and duels, comparing feats and wounds. Talk of victorious battle justify the careful stitches of priests and companions who apply aid, and playfully denigrate their companions boasts. Alas, some Cyrmic warriors will not fight again on this campaign; others will never fight again. Nonetheless: A substantial victory has been achieved, but the task is yet incomplete. Thus they sail onward, northeast to the border between the Saxon Shore and Essex; a Saxon landing near Vigor.

This last raid is set to destroy the last major store of Germanic ships, preventing the escape of the Saxon invaders, in preparation for a crushing assault by King Uther’s knights of Logres. At long last, the invaders will be ground into the sea!

The men sail now up an inlet and river, lead boats scouting the riparian corridors for signs of the foe… Though the men are keen eyed, the Saxons have now had time to prepare: An ambush! Hidden in a tributary, concealed in rushes, a surge of reed-covered Saxon boats rushes to engage the British fleet! Along the embankments, barbarian archers slink from from the shrubs to loose waves of arrows into the knights and soldiers! The Cymric army shouts too-late warnings, sending men scrambling for arms and cover! Arrows rain into the defender’s boats, strike the two larger knights, Sirs Vandar and Uhtred, among many other; Vandar's armour holds, but a well-aimed arrow sinks into Uhtred's flesh! The offending archer jeers, sending lewd gestures at his bleeding enemy, before he nocks another shaft…

The enemy ships, adorned with the standard Saxon trinkets and banners now engage, slamming hard into the British force. One ship, in particular, carries a distinct banner, larger than the others: It is an array of different colours and patterns, haphazard, chaotic… keen eyes lay clear its meaning: It is a British Banner, or rather, a collage of torn and bloodied things, sewn together! A detestable sight, covered in countless arms unrecognisable to most. Sir Elvorix, however, has family who were from the Saxon Shore; he spies, among the mosaic, the arms of a grandfather! He roars with rage, eager to avenge the memory of his fallen family!

_____ Head of the Sea Snake _____

One of the British sailors calls out in some concern: “Chief Basa!"

Sir Elvorix, senior knight on his boat, sounds the order to intercept the ship;

“Lo! There, boatman! Attack! Vengeance! Yea, row hard, men! Mine vengeance must be sated, sail into the fray! Have at them!”

The crew twist the oars, heaving them through the bloodied river, and slam into the side of the Saxon ship! The enemy are ready, however, and are natural sea-men: They leap at once, flinging recklessly from their own decks and onto those of the knights of Logres!

Sir Elvorix has led his fellows sharply, however, and knoweth well the reckless heart of the Saxon: His men are ready, and his counterattack violent: They catch the Saxons disordered and flat-footed!

Chief Basa boards alongside his men, showing no fear to fight anyone in his way. He is mad, calling strongly for Prince Madoc, in the tongue of the land he invades:

"MADOC!! Prince Madoc!?!? I come for thee, Princeling! I will slay thee, and to mine banner I will add the remnants of thine! Hide not, whelp, and face thy death bravely!"

Sir Uhtred growls, and his rumbling roar spits back in Saxon: “FILTHY, UNKEMPT DOG! Mind thy betters! Thy eyes will but see my Prince when I do show him thy severed head!”

Basa whips his head around, cutting down an oarsmen with little regard: He spots his aggressor, and strides forth to meet the challenge. He spits over the intervening men landing a great gob of filthy saliva on Uhtred's chest. Two burly guards, with shields and axes, flank him, with two more men besides; large unarmoured men with greataxes, frothing and raging with their love of battle.

Sir Elvorix, a veteran swordsman, engages the bodyguards, fighting to hold them at bay, while his larger companions tangle the greataxemen, hoping to cut them down quickly...

Sir Vandar leaps forward with great power, burying his blade in the wild warrior's skull; he gasps once; an axe clatters from twitching fingers; a bloody mess flops to the deck. Hulking Uhtred, too, quickly bests his man: Silent but enraged, the massive man’s flashing axe whips aside his foe’s weapon, and snaps back to open a broad wound; but his foe fights on. Sir Elvorix, with careful work, holds one attacker beyond the reach of his blade, but the tattooed bodyguard snakes a skilled slash past his distracted defence, cutting his thigh through the maille.

The Roman grimaces: "That's it? I knew not that Saxons sent mothers to battle!"

Sir Vandar steps in beside him, free of his own foe: The Roman’s jibe bites hard, but his blade bites harder: The enraged Saxon leaps forth, and Elvorix’s ready blade whips out; It catches the skilful Saxon through the jaw, spinning him to the floor in a whirl of blood! The man still yet lives and, spitting blood, starts to rise to fight on. But there striketh the lofty Aquitanian: His steel cuts deeply through the man’s ribs; but yet he stands, drenched in his own blood, coughing. The Saxon shakes free his shock; slamming his shield against his own head; Bang, Twice, Thrice, to find his focus and fight for his life! Beside them, mighty Sir Uhtred finally finishes off his unarmoured foe, cleaving through his collar and drenching the deck in his blood!

Before them, Chieftain Basa has already cut down two knights, his skill and power undeniable! The Cymric lines falter before his terrible advance, as men rise and fall to hold! Behind him, more Saxons leap across the boats to exploit his breach! One of them, a screaming beast wielding an engraved great-axe, dives forth to battle Sir Uhtred!

Sir Elvorix takes advantage of his fallen foe, decapitating him as he stands awkwardly from his stunning blow. Beside him, Sir Vandar grips the blade he has buried in his foes rib, and, wedging his shield on the far side, pulls, drags and saws the blade through the man's spine. 

Sir Uthred, alas, finds the limits of his fortune, and his destructive rampage is hindered: A hacking blow from the enemy's great-axe fractures the maille of his thigh, and a torrent of scarlet bursts forth: He grits his teeth to remain consciousness from the cruel wound!

But still, the assault continues: Basa's bodyguards are cut down, and the terrible Chieftain finishes off his own knightly opponent with his hefty mace. He roars in brief celebration, and turns with malice to face Sir Vandar and Sir Elvorix.

“Uhtred!” the Roman calls; “I come! Hold, my friend!”

He leaps to help his younger friend, who breathes rapidly, and bleeds heavily from his terrible gash. The Roman’s blade slashes at the Saxon Berzerker, drawing blood from his collar, but it is Sir Uhtred, enraged and bleeding, who buries his own axe in the man's rib and spine, felling him!

Sir Vandar steps forward, his stance wide, edging forward into melee… and then he feints, leans, and thrusts; Basa’s long mace clatters off the ducking Aquitanian’s shield, while the latter’s blade lances under the swing; Slash, defend, counter, step! The men reset at safer range, but it is Basa who is bloodied in the exchange. He spits again, while Vandar carefully manoeuvres for advantage…

Another armoured great-axeman leaps aboard, but wily Elvorix is swift, and the Saxon’s chest takes his steel before he lands! The wound is modest, but the attacker twists, wrongfooted in the movement, and tumbles awkwardly to the reddening deck. Brave Uhtred meanwhile, though paling and sorely wounded, steps up to battle the relentless Basa, dwarfing even great Vandar beside him! His guards bested quickly, Basa is now outnumbered: The vile chieftain fights aggressively to even his chances: Uhtred is the slower man, alas, hindered by his wound: The Saxon’s mace crashes into him, smashing free his helmet, and sending his immense, unconscious form skidding slickly to the deck! Woe!

Yet, vengeance in his heart, Sir Vandar once more has the Chieftain's measure! As his friend collapses beside him, he closes in behind the swinging mace and slams his blade into the collar of Basa’s maille, knocking him to the ground and ripping through muscle, the Chieftain grimaces, but turns to face him with renewed focus!

_____ Last Blood _____

 The deck is covered in dead and dying men, slick with the blood and sea; whatever strategies were once schemed and debated are now drowned in this morass; fates now hang in the grit and skill of the battered, striving warriors.

Sir Elvorix stands over the wounded Great-axeman;

Sir Vandar stands over Chieftain Basa.

An axe flashes up; a sword down; steel is shattered, wood splintered; a fallen man tries to scramble backward, away, arm outstretched to fend off a flashing blade…

Basa, nearby, lunges and lashes out from his knees; Sir Vandar lifts his leg over the sweeping, lunging in behind it with his knee. The chieftain is crushed under his weight, his mace-arm pinned between them, the weapon itself pinned to the deck by a knightly shield. The men struggle for a few moments: One holds control, his weight, maille, and shield, aiding him; for the other, the moment last an eternity: He scrambles for freedom and life, snatching, heaving, squirming... So entangled, Basa snarls, and roars in frustration, unable to stop the Aquitanian knight from slowly burying his blade through his neck, pushing, as the roar turns to a burble, and a splutter, wedging the steel in the deck beneath. He levers, once to-, and once-fro; Thus, he takes the chieftain's head.

He stands, holds it aloft, and roars for his Prince:

“Your Highness! My Prince, Madoc! Behold!”

The Prince hacks through a Saxon sailor, and looks about; he catches his knight’s eye, and hence the handsome Aquitanian flings the sanguine trophy across the water to Madoc's feet.

Madoc sheaths his blade and gathers the thing: Sir Vandar raises his sword, nods at the Prince, and returns to subduing the now surrendering Saxons.

The Prince of Logres yells his glory, leaps in three steps atop a higher deck, and shows the head to the Saxons broadly! The heroic display precipitates a broader surrender from the ambushing force, and the Saxons fling themselves into the water, onto their boats, and away from the battle. The front ships of the British have made short work of the Saxons around them, and in short order the battle is won!

Sir Elvorix, who famously detests the Saxon invaders, show no mercy: He butchers the surrendering man at his feet, repeated, savage blows, delivered with little tact but great wrath. He is pulled from the man by companions, but takes Basa's cursed banner. Sir Vandar, letting the slaughter fall to others, checks on Sir Uhtred, who still yet breathes, though shallow. The Roman, eventually calm, returns to his friends, and drapes the captured banner over the three knights, who enjoy the glory and accolades of their fellows. The Prince Madoc gives an acknowledging nod to the men.

Many men here note now the Banner:

“Burn it!” some call, built to rage at the sight of the insulting, abominable thing.

Still others see it is a trophy, to be claimed as an honour to the fallen. 

Sir Elvorix gifts the banner to Sir Vandar;

“Here, Vandar! I have this for thee; You did slay that man, yea, and thy new home is in need of such gifts worthy of thy deeds!”

“Skilful Elvorix! I applaud thy generosity, and praise thy skill! You have my thanks for this; it is a fine thing. I am grateful, and be’eth thee a good man. I would welcome thee to my hall whenever thee might wish for it!

“Yea, friend; the Prince and I will come, and yea, we will partake of thy fine Aquitanian wine. Soon enough!”

Vandar nods, again, and turns to the gathered crowd.

“Warriors of Logres! I hear thee! And yea, held in mine hand is this great banner, terribly wrought by wretched hands. But Lo! Those hands are now dead, and the head of their foul bearer held aloft by our fine Prince, who hath led us to great victories on this campaign! Look about thee; counteth, if thee can, the butchered Saxons. Slain by thee, ye mighty, in this great battle! Would thee, in thy rage, burn this memory of our fallen families, those good men and women cut down in the Saxon shore? I would not; and I beg thee harken for the why.

“This”, he says, holding the banner high, “telleth our story! Once broken, are we of Logres, and put to patchwork by betrayal, barbarians, and brutality. Scattered, to foreign shores, driven from homeland were we… but, looketh thee once more, around thee: We are together! Cut down, do we, those who might wish to break us, and rebuildeth, do we, our homes, with the good blood of those who might best live here! Once broken, torn apart, we are united once more, and stronger for it!

“And now,” he crouches a moment, soaking up the blood of fallen Basa with the great banner, “we are bound by the blood of our enemies! Together, we fight, for the memory of fallen friends! For Logres! For the Prince!”

Thus, with great cheer, the men consolidate, reorganise, and set out for the final port. There, there is little opposition; it seems the foe were counting on Chief Basa to hold. More ships are burned, and the men of Britain sail back to Sarum. 

_____ Autumn, 487 _____

The knights return to Salisbury. A contingent of men is sent to Cornwall, to repay the generous supplies provided by the good Duke Gorlois and Sir Brastias. Alas, Sir Myles on patrol in the northeast, was met by a raiding party led by, of course, Sir Blains. The latter has a new champion; it seems and, in a rage for everything that has happened, Sir Myles charged the man, to trade lances! Alas, he loses out, and takes a grievous wound. He recovers, well enough, but now walks with a limp. He speaks now, of Sir Blains, with a particular venom. Blain's raid is not stopped, of course, and many manors and farms are damaged.

Elsewhere, news reaches of Lady Eleri, daughter of the sturdy Banneret Sir Hywell, and former lover of the Modest, Handsome and late Sir Iwan: She has passed this season. While the circumstances of her death are left quite vague; it seems the larger question is: What will happen to Sir Hywell's lands? The cunning Sir Elvorix and, strangely, the crude Sir Uhtred, find more information or, rather, a lack: Almost no-one knows anything, and rumours are empty. Those who speak of it become elusive, and cannot be pressed. Sir Hywell, at least, is furious; he is blaming Sir Statirius for the death.

Others know, however, that Hywell loved Eleri more than anything; he was very pleased to have her inherit his entire estate, and he had no desire to try to make another heir. Some of these folk consider that he may just be lashing out with madness and grief at her loss; for these, it is unfortunate that Statirius must be the victim of this.

Earl Roderick, meanwhile was taken with King Uther to visit King Cadwy. Sir Elvorix recalls their first meeting - the King went in with great bluster, but emerged dejected and subdued. This time, however, it seems that Uther has managed to get the better of Cadwy. Not much is said or known about the proceedings, but two rumours are heard: Firstly, the Earl will not be receiving the Hundreds that Cadwy took from him, though he will keep Castle Devizes. That surrounding land is now affirmed, by Uther, to be in King Cadwy's hands. Secondly, a knight, Sir Aran, one of those who retrieved Uther’s sword for Merlin, was involved in some dispute in Summerland. It is said that he defeated three of Summerland’s knights in head-to-head duels! Aran, however, is a proud man, and perhaps prone to boast. Nonetheless, King Uther has managed to convince Cadwy to send troops to muster.

Word also emerges that there was a fourth knight with Sir Edar, Sir Aran, and Sir Garnoc, when they retrieve the sword, but he was killed. His name is not known, nor do the three openly speak of it. Strange…

Finally, the King, with Roderick in tow, finished their progress at Lindsey, to see their "friend" Duke Corneus; he is, though previously on the border of rebellion, apparently, now very content to serve King Uther… Curious…


King Arthur Pendragon 5.2

All images created with Bing image creator

Monday 17 April 2023

The Heirs of Britain - Game Twenty Three - Part One


The Heirs of Britain

Session 23: 487, The Suffering of Sarum...

_____ Session 23: Sarum Starveth Still_____


Sir Vandar, the towering cousin of the maddened Sir Vandagild and household knight of Baron Duach, is still deeply in love with one Lady Elaine. He dreams, night and day, of his impassioned meeting with her, his heart aflutter when he recalls how he collapsed at her feet, bleeding to oblivion, after cutting down the Saxon Lion at Uther’s feast.

Yet there is another who holds love for her: Sir Eliezier. The Strong.

Famed, of course, for his prodigious strength, he is also renowned as quite the horseman. As one of the King's Constables, Eliezier handles the stables, while Sir Argan manages other administration.

The man likes not Sir Vandar's amorous advances, but he does not redress them directly: Rumours start, accusations of witchcraft, cowardice, and the like; the Constable using his prodigious influence to undermine the tall, handsome Aquitanian. Sir Vandar gains a miserable reputation; first in whispers, then more openly. Once he learns of these dishonourable words, and their source being such a famous man; he acts at once, driven by his Honesty, Valour, and Honour. Sir Vandar tracks the man down, finding him in the courtyard among his peers. He strides into the circle of upper nobility, denounces Eliezier’s dishonour and manner, and challenges him to a duel; the loser will abandon their pursuit of the Lady Elaine.

Space is cleared at once; Eliezier is no coward, though he hesitates briefly, seeing Vandar’s passion, he nonetheless accepts the younger man’s offer: They will fight to Yield.

The Constable is older and stronger; a long, single braid hangs from his head, his face dominated by a broad chin, knobbly and dimpled. He is a veteran of many battles, and a wonderful swordsman.

Sir Vandar is taller, younger, and more passionate; his long, sandy hair loose, a long beard concealing a sharp Aquitanian jawline.

The men don their arms: Eliezier is wealthy; his maille is silvered on the accents, and endowed with silver thread and exquisite embellishments. Vandar's maille too, is custom, but only to fit his height and shoulders; it is a simple work of good steel. The Aquitanian’s eyes lock on his foe and do not falter. Eliezier looks at Vandar with some apprehension. He turns to look at Elaine, who has now been brought to the courtyard with her handmaidens; he sees her concerned eyes trained on Sir Vandar. The Constable scowls, his own eyes narrow, and he turns to his opponent, a new passion burning within...

Sir Eliezier rushes, his fiery surge unexpected: He cuts hard overhead, twice, fast; the force of his powerful blows drives Vandar back, battering his shield; Elizier leaps forth inside the taller man’s stumbling guard, and with practised precision thrusts his sword into Sir Vandar’s armpit! The blow is faultless; yet the thickness of the Aquitanian’s chest and his hardy constitution keep it from felling him; he grunts, twisting free of the Constable’s blade, and sets again his feet for battle.

Sir Eliezier sees the product of his strike: Blood leaks freely down his opponent’s flank and thigh as he breathes, rapid and energetic; the thrust hath left his man greatly sore.

“Yield, whelp! An imp, are thee, thinking to challenge me! Never will thee have my Lady’s hand!”

Sir Vandar opens his shoulders broad, flexing his back; as yet unhindered by the blow. He huffs free the shock of the strike, and responds in kind:

“You call me imp?!” he snarls, “I will fight like a demon!”

The men engage once more; Sir Vandar, expecting Eliezier’s lurching advance to close inside, meets him in kind: The Aquitanian steps in and aside, parrying close with his blade, and at once ripping his shield up hard, under the man's chin; Eliezier is stunned, stumbling back, his limbs weakened but a moment; but a moment too long. Sir Vandar shifts his stance, whipping his blade around hard and catching the reeling Constable’s helmet at the end of the sweeping chop. Sir Eliezier’s decorated helmet splits from the blow, his long braid jerking as the maille beneath splits. The constable flies several yards, a peal of blood marking his dramatic fall. He tumbles into the dirt, unconscious and bleeding badly. He yet breathes, albeit weakly.


Sir Vandar watches his foe a few moments, pacing energetically; Elizier does not stand. The Aquitanian raises high his arm, roaring in passionate victory! He feels not the deep cut in his rib as he turns to his amor, Lady Elaine. For a second time his blood stains scarlet her dress; he embraces her passionately, easily lifting her high, spinning in delight. The crowd erupts in cheer and vigor!

But yet, the moment is interrupted; a powerful voice booms over the cheers:

“What is the meaning of this?! Who hath so struck my Constable!?”

The King: Uther Pendragon.

Sir Vandar gently lets Elaine to the floor, turns on his heel, and strides boldly to kneel before Uther:

“Your Highness, my Liege; I, Sir Vandar, have struck thy Constable. I admit it, though not without purpose, nor recourse. A fair challenge was offered and accepted; and as his conqueror I do claim thy Constable as prisoner, for he hath done me false with deceitful rumours and dishonest tricks.”

The wounded knight falls silent, awaiting Uther’s response, his blood pooling around his knee.

The King breathes once, his voice low as he responds slowly: “And what are your demands?”

Still full of passion and love, the Aquitanian calls them proudly:

“I ask thee, your Highness, for only this: The Lady Elaine’s hand in marriage, and a manor to own and defend. For I will need means appropriate to a lady of her beauty, grace, and elegance, to keep her safe and hale.”

The crowd murmurs: The knight is bold! Is this legal? Who speaketh so daringly to the King?

King Uther’s eyes narrow. He looks at Vandar, bleeding at his feet; at Eliezier bleeding in the dust; at the crowd gathered anxiously around him.

“Very well!” he begins, “A Manor; and a herd of war-horses to sustain you and your bride-to-be: Lady Elaine!”

The crowd erupts into cheer! Elation and joy and hearty rejoicing! Sir Vandar lowers his head further, thanking the King, but it is unheard over the raucous gathering. Elaine runs forth to embrace Vandar, followed by the press of the masses; squires slink forth to remove Eliezier, lest he be trampled beneath the throng.

The King turns, returning to his duties.

Sir Vandar embraces Elaine, the two showering one another with kisses.

Hand in hand, eventually free of the congratulatory crowd, the knight approaches his Lord, Baron Duach.

With modesty he explains what has happened, begging the Baron’s understanding. Duach is a modest, forgiving man, and he is happy to hear of his vassal’s success and new status. While he is pleased that Vandar has secured his own lands, and the means to support his family, he affirms this:

“This does not relinquish you of your oath; and your obligations have not lessened.”

Sir Vandar now owes service both to the King and Baron Duach. He nods, happy enough with the arrangement.

__________ The Scandal of the Saxon Spy __________

 Sirs Elvorix and Uhtred, having been on patrol, return to Sarum; the city is still overwhelmed by the men and women of Logres. Soon realising their friend, Sir Vandagild, is missing, they worriedly start their investigation...

Soon enough they hear rumours and intrigue associating a man of Vandagild's description with some incident by the stables... He was complaining about the horse food, it seems, and fell into a state. He struck another knight, made off with his horse and, trampling through the camp, fled the city. Not west, to the woods, but east, to some destination known only to himself.

Knowing well Vandagild's dedication, elusiveness, and horsemanship, Sir Elvorix thinks not to pursue him; he knows of the madness that does capture knights of a time; he will be sought once passions have cooled. He is alive, at least, and will likely stay that way: He can look after himself. His troubled friend will need to figure himself out alone.

Sir Uhtred is frustrated: All of their work, his late mentor Sir Iwan's work, to free the man from the Forest of Gloom, undone in a moment of twisted passion. Fleeing his duties to his Lord, his loyalties to his friends… He sighs grumpily.

Sir Vandar echoes Elvorix's thoughts - he will need time to recover, and he trusts that he will keep himself alive until then. His cousin is passionate; such actions are not unexpected from one so driven by his heard. Moreover, he will be a hard man to find, should he wish not to be. He will let that burning heart simmer to embers, and hence find him when God wills it.

In the great hall of Sarum, Uther still sits. As the controversial re-swearings continue, and the feasts with them, the Roman, Sir Elvorix, notices that the quality of the food diminishes, and the volume, with each passing day... This is highly unusual; to keep court this long? To ask for so many oaths resworn? He wonders if the King is afflicted by some sorcery or Madness. Knowing of Ulfius' whispering in his ear, Sir Elvorix and Lady Diane investigate the entourage of the Duke of Lindsey. Has he another member in his own court; one with darker designs? They discover a woman, a servant to Ulfius' wife, new to her side. Moreover, it takes not long to learn that she is known for her political intrigues and commentaries. Pushing further, the cunning pair learn some of her idiosyncrasies - she openly mocks people for constantly blaming Saxons for everything; O Saxons killed your cow? What's next, the pain in your knee in the winter, that's Saxons too?

To Sir Elvorix, this seems the work of a Saxon sympathiser... 

Leveraging this, the deceitful Roman and his cunning wife plot to spread rumours among the feasts, implanting mistrust in this woman, one of Ulfius’ entourage, and thus perhaps break Ulfius' influence over the King.

He leaves Vandar and Uhtred out of it; the though latter is also deceitful, he thinks them both too Good for this work...

Predictably, a feast is soon held; another disgraceful re-oathening - some of these people aren't even knights!

Sir Elvorix plies his shadowy trade, angling the story so it lands best with each new audience – “I heard from Sir such-and-such that Ulfius' servants have softness for the invaders”. He also tells that the King listens carefully to these words, and makes comparisons with the Betrayer Vortigern! Elsewhere, Lady Diane does the same among the women, pressuring the knight's wives, who each may lose, or have lost, their beloved husbands and sons in the fight against the Saxons...

Elvorix, inspired by his Hatred of the Saxons and their vile influence, perfectly targets his arguments; speaking of Vortigern only to those who are already building with resentment, and using softer words among those sympathetic to the King. He skirts the line of blatant treason like a circus performer, and the timing of this intrigue brings new vibrancy to another long, dulling feast. At the end of the night, it is clear to the scheming pair that their efforts have landed cleanly: The presence of Saxon sympathisers in the King's Court becomes a solid point of gossip. They raise their glasses, nod in silent congratulation and pride, and let the conflagration rise…

As the companions hear of this, Sir Uhtred has such an overriding Hatred of Saxons that he cannot ignore the rumours - he happily engages with them, and indeed spreads them a little farther. Sir Vandar cares not for such things - though he hates Saxons and likes Uther, this reeks of the dishonest chicanery of courtlihood. He is far too busy being embroiled in a fiery new love to pay heed to such venomous talk.

__________ Fanning the Flames __________

People wonder, mostly in whispers, why the King hasn’t responded to these rumours. And these rumours do spread far: tendrils of paranoia seep through the shadows, to take root in minds of the courtiers of Logres. Rhus, as these shadowy things, like toadstools, creep carefully forth from the dark, and then burst with their scandalous spores, so too does the outrage come to a head:

A few days later, beyond the walls of Sarum and in the sprawling camp, raised voices draw many ears: Shouts about Saxon spies; Saxon interlopers; treason! Two knights, neither well known, confront one another openly, each full of rage, and both of their camps soon start to trade blows! Shouts, gathering crowds, wrestling, stumbling men of all kinds; yea, a great mess is wrought in the yard of The Rock! Screams; fighting; yelling; these things swell and consume.

Soon: Guards! A great number of the armed men of Sarum bring spears to the fray and hence settle and disperse the swirling morass of dangerous, passionate men...

When the wrath is heard of by the King, a trial is declared: The truth of the matter, whether the accused is a Saxon spy, will be determined! 

Sir Elvorix inquires more about the accused: Sir Trillo, he learns, from the Duchy of The Marsh. Plying this, the Roman once more rolls the die of his dangerous game, hoping to further influence the flow of devious words. He leaks, to Trillo and others, that the spy is a servant not a noble. He wishes not to see a man unjustly hanged. Of course, this Trillo might well be a Saxon spy independently, and thus by fortune caught up in this sly mess. Thus, with this small effort to lighten his conscience, Elvorix opts to let things play out as they will.

__________ The Sword of Victory __________

The trial occurs on the morrow; the King is eager to see the matter put to the grave. Uther himself once more sits in Roderick's throne, casually leaning on a knee; his gleaming sword rests loosely in hand, point down. He spins it casually, flickering strange light across the room.

The accused is presented: Sir Trillo of The Marsh.

The accuser states his claim: He heard Trillo discussing plans of the Army of Logres, their strength, disposition, and intentions. He overhead him whispering that he had soon to attend a secret meeting to speak with someone. He offers little more of substance, but much of passion.

The Marsh, being north of Salisbury, is not near Saxon lands; many wonder, most in silence, why a Saxon Spy would operate there…

Sir Trillo is given his moment. He offers a simple defence in calm tones: He is a loyal knight, with no reason nor means of betraying the King, or the Kingdom. He swore oaths that he intends to uphold; has always upheld! Alas, it is clear he convinces few; the crowd is quiet, unmoved by his words. Sweat beads, and he slowly becomes unsettled, and speaks increasingly franticly.

In such a moment, he blurts out in desperation: Oh, by God, listen: We all know, each of us, it's not. Me. Nay, nor anyone from the Marsh; nay, nor a Knight! Speak aloud, any of thee who sit here, who hath not heard the rumours: We know who keeps this spy: Ulfius! They come from his court, we all heard it! And the King allows it! Hold not thy tongues, cowards! He continues frantically, his strong voice, defaming the King and his man openly, somehow overwhelms the jeers and boos of the crowd.

Finally, King Uther himself calls out: “Silence!”

A moment passes; no words.

Uther begins to speak, but Trillo blurts out once more:

“Nay! I will not go down like some whimpering dog! I demand that thee fight me! I will demand a trial by combat! Thee, and I, King Uther! I declare it!”

The King stands without a word, twirling his sword high now, and proudly, almost joyously, declares: “I accept!”

Uther calls for his squires and arms, and the same for Sir Trillo.

No-one offers Trillo a corner, nor comfort - he is a man alone. He is armed and armoured, and a space is cleared.

The two men, King Uther Pendragon of Logres, Sir Trillo of the Marsh, ready themselves for battle. The one, calm, cocky; flourishing an ancient blade of fey magic and clad in the finest armour the land has ever seen. The other anxious, desperate, pacing with nervous energy; clad in simple maille.

Uther smiles, levels his blade at Trillo, and strides forward.

With each step, The Sword of Victory glows ever brighter with some ancient fae glory; the radiance causes Trillo to shield his eyes, and in that moment, the King leaps to engage.

Uther gains quick advantage, slamming the Sword of Victory into Trillo's shield which hangs too loose; the awful sword drives down, slicing clean through the maille at the defendant’s shoulder. A small splash of blood flies free; but the bblow is heavy, and Trillo wrong-footed: he stumbles and falls, still covering his eyes from the magical gleam.  A round of great cheers through the hall!

Uther raises his arms, taking in the crowd’s glory, striding proudly around his fallen vassal:

“I will not let thee die on the ground; though ye deserveth it greatly. Stand, Sir Trillo! Stand, and tell me: Are thee innocent, or nay!?”

The enraged man screams an unintelligible curse at the King and, scrambling to his feet, rushes forth to battle, his shield raised to shade his eyes. Uther defends easily, his blade moving with a strange grace; he counters with another solid blow, cutting low through Trillo’s thigh to spill more blood; Trillo cries out, and slips under his collapsing strength.

“Hah! Perhaps I ought inspect the troops of the Marsh; be this all they have to offer? Up! Up!”

Trillo spits, stands, and engages; lunging hard into Uther's deft parry and a solid boot: Uther’s powerful kick sends him sprawling for a third time. The King is smiling, playing with his foe, clearly withholding the chance to plunge deep his blade. Trillo skids to the ground, winded and wheezing.


Sir Trillo, crying now, stands, bent and swaying, losing blood and struggling to breathe.

He lunges weakly once more; Uther flourishes a deft, nonchalant parry, and with sharp footwork slips  beside and behind the ailing man: He grips hard the man's arm hard, twisting it sharply behind his back with an awful, cracking snap, and then shoves the broken man, helpless, paralysed, at his feet. Uther shakes his head, chuckling softly. He casually steps forward and, holding high the enchanted sword, spins it, to slam the point down through his defeated knight's neck. The blade drives through the stone beneath with a tremendous, awful clap; like that crack of too-close lightning.

The bloodied weapon cleanly splits Trillo’s spine; Uther pulls it once this way, and once fro, slicing and twisting free the man’s gargling head. It is a brutal display. Uther stands and steps away, throwing back his head, flicking a fringe free of his face; he holds a moment, considering his work, and then turns to the crowd; he thrusts the Sword of Victory skyward; the gleam now tainted with red; washing over the room in a strange, sanguine light. His court is already aroar with cheer and bloodlust, and his glorious display brings forth a new surge of merriment: A thunderous roar as the crowd goes wild!

A Saxon spy, killed by the King’s own hand! Hurrah and cheer!

Sirs Elvorix, Uhtred, and Vandar celebrate too; a Saxon spy is killed!

And with this Uther gains some face, especially so displaying his glorious blade.

Alas: The people are not convinced that he was the only spy; though the King hath innoculated himself of guilt, the rumours persist. For many, this is only proof that there are Saxons in their midst.

The King remains for a month; Sarum suffers. But he eventually departs, and his army of courtiers and sycophants with him. He leaves Sarum with Roderick in towe: He is off to see the ‘friends’ mentioned in the early days of this siege, this affront of loyalty: King Cadwy, and Duke Corneus.


King Arthur Pendragon 5.2

Images generator by Bing Image Creator, which I think uses Dall-E, I don't know.