Sunday, May 18, 2008

507: Raids and Ransoms

Sir Avitus Here...

Count Edar has once again been called to fight alongside King Nanteleod. This year I was asked to stay behind and the Candlebees and I went on a special mission for the Count. It seems that The Iron Mine at Woolsthorpe was in operation again, and the ore was being taken by Sorestan. Edar had a manor at woolsthorpe long ago, and asked us to see if it could be reclaimed. He told us we were to investigate it, and then look into the accursed Black Anis that had returned to the woods south west of Leicester. Brandegoris had been planning to face the creature again since it took the life of his brother in law, so off we rode.

Upon arriving at Woolsthorpe we discovered that the village had grown up into a town with a pallisade. We could not cause the defenders to ride out to meet us, so we rode to the mine. We found no resistance, but it was clear that a saxon noble held some influence hear, since the peasants were afraid to leave the mine. Some strange bloodlust seems to have come upon Padern and Gwair - they set to burning the fields around Woolsthorpe in an attempt to force the enemy to ride out to meet us. After days of raiding and burning, we were preparing to return home, when we discovered a force of 30 Saxons coming to meet us. We thought we had evaded them, but as we were about to cross back into the county of Leicester, we were ambushed. The battle was short, and unfortunately, all of us were claimed for ransom. Fortunately, sir Padern's squire Seriol was able to escape. I say fortunately, because the young man is the comptal heir. It would be a grave loss to have him held.

Padern, Gwair, Brandegoris and I were taken back to Woolsthorpe. Gwair and I had been seriously wounded in battle, and the only reason we survived was the Saxons wanted our ransom. Brandegoris was recognized again for his hambone exploits - I find it curious that among rural people, stories about fighting with food achieve such fame. In more civilized lands it is understood that you do not throw your food at your guests, whether they are welcome or not. Still, this caused Brandegoris to be brought before the local warlord. Apparently he again threw food at someone, killing the poor fellow. I understand that we are at war with these saxons, and they deserve to die, but for a man to die at the table? This doesn't seem a fit way to go. These Saxons however, thought the matter was hillarious, apparently fighting to the death at dinner is something that happens in their pagan afterlife. They took Brandegoris all about the Kingdom of Sorestan and had him perform. While this happened, Gwair and I recovered from our wounds, but Gwair was greivously wounded again. There was no battle this time though. The young maiden who tended to our wounds was not swayed by Gwairs charms. She told him he was too old! I on the other hand, found her to be quite charming, but as she was a saxon and a pagan, I resisted the temptation to bed her.

Count Edar returned from war and learned of our capture. These rural lords are strange, but it must never be said they are not generous. With no means to myself, the count paid for my ransome from his treasury. Brandegoris and Padern were ransomed by their manors, of course, but Gwair was not. In a truly ingenious political and legal maneouver the Count of Lambor seized Gwair's lands. It seems that Gwair was ignoring convention and sending taxes and gifts to Count Edar, even though he held the manor through Lambor. When Padern learned that this had happened, he refused to be ransomed. He asked me to return to Count Edar and plan a rescue for he and Gwair.

The count is a man loyal to his vassals, and a shrewd field commander. When I delivered Padern's message, he asked about Woolsthorpe's new defenses. The army had disbersed for the harvest season, and it was clear that we could not must the forces necessary to take Woolsthorpe before the army of Sorestan arrived to engage us. Edar again went to his treasury, but could not raise the money to ransom Gwair. Noble Brandegoris pledged to pay much of Gwair's ransome, even surrendering the saddle he inherited from his father. He placed great value in its virtues, but I honestly never saw evidence of them. In the end we were able to ransom both men.

Harvest was nearly upon us. Edar sent Padern and Brandegoris back to their manors to tend to their lands. The curse of the Anis would be dealt with another year. Unfortunately, the tragedy of the year was still to come. Brandegoris' lady wife, the much adored Priscilla, died in childbirth. Brandegoris reacted as any distraught man would, but the years brudens were to much. In a moment of anger he lashed out, cursing god and rejecting his christian faith. Fortunately he realized his error, and Father Merle of Leicester has assured me that he has returned to his beliefs. Though they are misguided in their faith, this local take on christianity is still more likely to lead to salvation than embracing pagan ways.

Sir Padern here...

Well, so much for reclaiming the iron mine at Woolsthorpe. Maybe next year, after we take care of Black Annis.

It will be said, however, that a finer group of knights than the Candlebees has never breathed the sweet summer air of Logres.

1 comment:

steve said...

BRANDEGORIS the unlucky

This year started out to be a good one. Lady Priscilla and myself were finally starting to settle into our new life at Tilton and had put all of the bad occurances related to the place behind us. We had just begun to plant the harvest and the summer was hurrying along when a messenger came from Count Edar and told us of the mission to the old iron mine near Woolsthorpe.
Im not sure where we went wrong on our mission except perhaps that we should have just observed the surrounding lands and not disturbed them.The whole affair was a shambles and after we tried to burn and raid nearby villages and fields to get the saxons to meet us for battle, they did and we fled only to be ambushed and captured while fleeing. At least Count Edar's son Siriol who is acting as squire for Padern was not captured like the rest of us were.
Padern , Gwair, and Avitus were imprisioned while I was taken on a feasting tour through Sorestan. It seems that my fame over the Hambone incident in Kent some years ago was known in North Logres as well. As we toured I was made to get into Hambone throwing contests with saxon challengers for the entertainment and delight of the saxons who for some reason found the affair amazingly amusing. It did not seem to bother them that I killed two of my challengers. It certainly didnt bother me.
The only good thing was that I got to see Lindsey again and also study it's defenses. I also became familiar with the new saxon nobility of Sorestan and learned more about Saxon religion and culture. I now know my enemy a bit better, learnig a few words of their rough tongue.I even came to like a few of them. Oscwine became a good companion and upon leaving Sorestan their king gave me a polished hambone before ransoming me. It was , im, sure a subtle insult, but I embraced the insult instead of get angered by it and decided to take pride in it. On the way home Oscwine carved runes into the bone. He said they were runes of blessing and power. I later had part of the bone sheathed in iron, and shod with large studs.they took my mace, so that now I wield the bone in battle, and oscwine christened it skull crusher. I like it. Oscwine and myself vowed that if we ever met in battle and defeated the other we would give one another a quick and honorable warrior's death.
I also stopped by Allington on the way back. Its really changed since the old days and i dont believe the peasants there are happier than any other. I swept Edars family graves clean and weeded them then said a prayer for my Lord.
I got home to discover that Padern and gwair were not their. No one had Gwair's ransom, and padern refused his ransom if Gwair was not released. I had a little money, sold a horse and lastly, have up my family saddle which had been my grandfathers which he had recieved as a gift. It was originally brought to our lands fro far off Dacia, and my grandfather always said it held magic. I guess it did for it helped to magically free my companions. I helped outfit my friends by selling the furniture in my hall and Priscilla gave up the necklace I bought her in London as well as Queen Morgans ring. The same ring she had given me for escorting her to Gorre all those years ago.
the year had been bad but I felt better now that i was home with my lovely lady who was 7 monthes pregnant. We argued over where to have the child and I said Leicester because its more comfortable and warmer with more physicians. In truth I am a bit superstitious when it comes to Tilton. I have had bad luck there and with all the bad luck already this year I didnt want to risk the birth there, but priscilla dismissed my fears and said a good christian didnt need to fear these things for God would provide. You can imagine my madness and grief when my new I discovered that the accursed Tilton took my wife and unborn daughters life in childbirth. After the first week of madness in which I drank constantly and lived like an animal, Icame to my senses a little and decided that God had no real power. At least not in Tilton. I vowed not to be at peace with a god that would not help protect those I love. Father merle believes it eas my lack of true faith for which I was punished. Bugger father Merle then.
As if in retribution for my denounciation God caused a fire to be started in my village and destroy 1/10 of my hamlet, and the logging crew I had hired earlier in the season to harvest my good trees ruined my woods by their foul practices( Their foreman was often too drunk and careless with a greedy eye, I was told later), and incompetence. Now the wood is good for little. No trees, no hunting. Nothing. All-in-all it was in fact the worst year of my life and I spent the entire winter deep in my cups with a notion to burn Tilton to the ground. I probably would have too if I wasnt so horribly drunk all the time. Gwair and Padern tried visiting me once during the winter but found my foul mood and coarse appearance to be too muck to handle. I think they were trying to be supportive but I can't remember much of what they said for I was too drunk. I released Tom from his oath to me and told him to go back to Hertford but he said he wouldnt and even when I chased him away angrily striking him around the head, he just found an old hovel to winter in. I didnt know he was still there and stayed loyal to me until after the winter.
I decided not to destroy myself and Tilton when I had news that King Nanteleod was planning on fighting Cerdc. I got sober, cleaned up, and decided to die on my feet like a warrior. I was delighted to find Tom and apologized to him, then I had my servants dye my clothing black, and I blacked out my shield. I was at first inly going to paint over the christian cross as a symbol of my defiance of God, but somehow in my mourning the whole shield seemed necessary. I will Never end mt mourning nor take another wife or even a woman to my bed, and as a symbol of my eternal mourning I will forever be Brandegoris the black.
I sent my children to be cared for by Lady Christine because if I have my way I will not be coming back from this years battles against the south saxons. I will kill them with my spear, with Skull crusher and then I will do my best to kill while I am being slain myself. If God has even the slightest mercy in him then he will grant me a glorious death, and allow me some true peace. We will see.