Sunday, May 18, 2008

508: The horror of battle

Count Edar here

Not since Lindsey fell to the Saxons have I known horrors in battle like I have this year. We rode to the south with King Nanteleod to finally face the Saxon Cerdic. We first encountered his forces at the battle of Winchester. With the Men of Leicester on the right wing of the battle we charged in to their midst. Though the battle was fierce, we pressed forward, we moved beyond the front lines of the enemy and were attacking his soft underbelly when Sir Gwair was knocked from his horse. Before we could regroup, he was beset by two units of Heorthgeneats. Gwair is a mighty knight, but one man could not stand before those numbers, and Gwair was nocked to the earth. I know Gwair to be a devout pagan, and I hope that his soul is content wherever it goes. The Saxons withdrew, and we held the day, but the cost was heavy.

We could not let Cerdic withdraw so easily. After tending to our dead, we pursued him, and did battle at a place called Netley Marsh. The Saxons were cunning, and were were led into the poor footing and trapped. Young Avitus fell when archers shot his horse out from under him. He tried to get free, but the beast fell upon him and crushed him into the marsh. Next to fall was Padern, though I confess I did not see what knocked him low, for just after that I was knocked from my horse. My squire was nowhere near at hand, and so I had to face an endless onslaught of Coerns coming out of the marsh while on foot. In an open field the Coern is no threat to a knight, but in this marsh and in their numbers, I was fortunate to fight my way to Brandegoris' side. We did battle for much of the day. Brandegoris continued to urge me to flee, even going so far as to offer me his horse. But I could not. Padern and Brandegoris were the last of the my fellow Candlebees. What kind of man would I be if I fled and left them to die?

Back to back we stood, oblivious to the tides of battle around us. As the day progressed, the number of Coerns and Heorthgeneats surrounding us drew the attention of two groups of the feared Saxon Berserkers! They were truly fierce as they came charging at us, and I thought that perhaps our time had come. With a grim nod to Brandegoris we met them head on. I watched as Brandegoris hewed into one, only to see it continue to advance and strike him. Its fellow attacked Brandegoris from the side and smashed him from his horse with a great club. I had no time to wonder if he had survived though. I crashed into the largest Berserker with my spear, and it peirced him from his stomach through the back of his neck. The brute fell dead, but my spear was trapped. I has hit by his fellow so hard that I think I spun around before everything went black.

I woke up in Sarum. I still do not know how sever our losses were. Somehow we had all survived. Brandegoris and I spent a month at deaths door. I would not have made it, but my beloved Christine came down from Leicester to tend to me herself. She gently nursed me back to health. There is snow on the ground now as we prepare to return home. Many of our men will not be returning at all. I have not been able to find King Nanteleod, and those I have asked about him are evasive. I heard a rumor he had fallen in the battle, but I don't know if he lives or not. With my friend Gwair gone, and the King possibly lost, the only comfort I take is that my son Seriol has survived the battle. When I find the King I believe it will be time to have him knighted.

Suzanne here...

The Candlebees have been having a rough few years; I think we were ready for them to go out with their boots on. Greg's been tinkering with the Pendragon battle system (yay), so we decided to play a two-year night, test out the rules, and kill ourselves off. Sir Gwair was the only one lucky enough to die heroically. The rest of us...

In the new battle rules you can choose to move into and through the enemy's front lines, right into the thick of battle! Which we did. You can also, depending on your rolls, choose your targets, and we kept going for the tough guys. But still we didn't die. Avitus and poor old 4d6 Padern took big hits, got major wounds and sunk unconscious to the ground to return another year. Idar and Brandegoris each fought a pair of berzerkers, didn't bother to fight defensively, and still lived.

But it's not like we didn't try. Maybe we'll test out the battle rules again and get it right next Saturday.

Sir Gwair speaks

So I says to myself, "Gwair," I says, "At least you went down swinging. With a woman or a sword, at least your blood was thundering." Yes, I knew the years were catching up with me. The last few winters were cold and cruel, and I noticed I was losing a step or two with the ladies. When that saxon nurse said "ooh, you must have been something when you were younger," that hurt more than a strike from an axe.

And then there was that whole fiasco with that Septimus tart. What a mess. Poor old Padern. But I can't help but feel responsible since it was I who wanted to go bed a noble lass, and then somehow failed to net her with my previously infallible charm, and then threw the arm-wrestling match to let Padarn see some action. Somehow he is better looking than me now. Ah, well, he deserves it, he's been a pillar of strength for Lindsey forever.

Finally, one of those axes did me in. I have to admit, I thought I was done for so many times before this. I don't have any regrets. Hopefully Olda will take care of the kids. I saw more than my fair share of action in my life. I loved my more than my fair share of maidens, too, and I don't regret that at all. As I stand here in the middle of the Bridge of Swords, I look back, just for a moment. I see the distant chaos of battle, my Candlebees fighting like demons, and just for a second I wish I could return to their company. But my path lies in another direction.
I truly hope there are women in the next world.

Sir Brandegoris here

It was as I suspected...God has NO mercy. I did everything in my power to slay myself in the battles I fought in while destroying the saxon plague, but my life it seems can not be taken by mortal man...unless he be a physician that is.

The first battle, called the battle of winchester was a splendid victory for us Britons, but because Cerdic's men were all faint of heart ,the battle was not a long one. The only significant thing that happened was that my closest friend and companion Sir Gwair the not- so- chaste, was ambushed by saxon dogs and lured into a trap set for him upon the battlefield. How do I know this? MY MAGIC SADDLE was present. I saw the saxon warlord WOLFHEAR of Woolsthorpe present at the battle and ever his men pressed around the defiant Sir Gwair of LILBOURNE. (Gwair put up with that snotty bitch long enough. I reckon he will ALWAYS have the right to be OF LILBOURNE).

Wolfhear's men had ado with Gwair and overpowered him and none of the Candlebee's had any chance to aid my good friend. Wolfhear did not trouble himself with Gwair once he set loose his hounds upon him. He fought elsewhere and I must admit, Wolfhear is indeed a mighty warrior worthy of his reputation. He will be worth killing someday. After the battle when I questioned one of Wolfhear's men I understood why it was that Wolfhear had particularly sought out Gwair. It seems that the young Saxon lass who attended Gwair in prison was Wolfhear's niece and for some reason unknown to me,she told Wolfhear(after Gwair was ransomed), that Gwair had not only flirted her to death, but had compromised her chastity. Yea, and even bedded her against her will.

It seems that even in death Gwair is mighty and even an enemy woman will want to tell their handmaids that they once had the pleasure of sleeping with the legendary Gwair! It must be a pagan status symbol or something. But it did give me a chuckle. The only thing that gave me a laugh this year, in fact.

In the end the Saxon Wolfhear had his way and his men killed sir Gwair after un-horseing him. They then set about cutting off Gwairs private parts to give to their master but I am told by a third-hand account that Gwairs squire went insane with rage and somehow( not by the grace of God i'm sure), drove off the men and took his masters body off the field. Gwair has often been fortunate in his squires.

I will take Gwair's squire as my own and Tom, my own fine and loyal squire will help train him. When I get back to Leicester I will build a large Tomb with an effigy for my best friend sir Gwair. We never saw eye to eye on religion or on matters of the flesh, but he was a good man and had been my brother-in-law Rhun's boon companion as well. He has saved both Rhun and myself more than once in battle, and I will remember him every yule as I gather together the families of Tilton.

I have spoken to father Merle who assured me that by building a church at Tilton I could avert its inherent evil and that if I, as pennance, gathered together all of Sir Gwairs children and mothers and invited them to Tilton to live I would once again be okay with the Lord. I really do not care if Im okay with God, but I WILL take it upon myself to take care of Gwairs squire, mothers, and children. I know that even if he was a bit irresponsible, he would have done the same for me. I am troubled as of late because a realization has struck me. Seeing Gwairs old bed partner Cake,may be uncomfortable for me., and the thought of her living at Tilton petrifies me.In my confusion I confided in father Merle about the isue and he suggested that I found Cake attractive and tempting. I of course have taken a vow never to be with a lady again after Priscilla, so I told him that his notion was absurd. He suggested that I invite Cake to stay at Tilton to test my resolve and so that I could resist temptation. I called him a fool and said that the whole thing was a non-issue, and of course I would have her stay. No big deal. I will also be bringing my own children back to Tilton. Perhaps all Gwair's widows will be able to aid me in caring for them?

The battle of Netley marsh was a disaster. Padern cut down and nearly slain in the first charge, Me and Edar without Gwair's solid shied next to us. The battle was Very LONG, and hard, and in the end my Count and myself were off-horse and back-to-back struggling to survive. My only wish was to die and meet God so I could smite him with Skullcrusher, so I asked Edar repeatedly to take my mount and flee, but my Lord is a boon companion and one of the most brave and noble Lords in the land, and he stood with me till the last. It is his sacrifice in staying with me till the end that made me change my mind about living and NOT dying. How could I selfishly abandon my Lord because of my own pity. He was ready to die to make sure that I did not. If he values my life so much, then how can I not Value myself? In the end we were ambushed by four Berserkers. Raving drunk men that were touched by the Gods and given the strength of battle-mad frenzy. We did as well as we could, but these men are dangerous and have been the death of many good knights. Somehow we were not captured after falling unconcious and after several monthes of healing and wondering if my Damned drunk physisian would kill me( he nearly did so) I and Edar recovered.

Am I okay with the God ? NO. But for my Lord Edar's sake and to keep up apearances I will build a small shrine(no church) and as pennance I will keep Gwair's children and their mothers. I am nearly destroyed by the loss of my wife, but I have my children to think of, my good companions(Padern and Edar), my excellent and loyal squire Tom of Weathersfield, and a slew of people depending on me. Priscilla loved me and one day I will meet her again. I dont know where, but I will. She will make me answer for my life and I know that PITY will not be a virtue that she would want me to elevate above other virtues. I have a duty to my Lord, and my people, and I have decided that I will NOT let them down. My happiness is shattered , so now I must cling to the ONLY thing I have left... My duty.

I fear for Sir Padern, my Lord who knighted me and has always been a good companion. He IS old and not as hardy a fighter as he used to be, but I have seen him and he is very skilled. The problem is I think he is lonely and misses the " old days". His hey day. I am afraid that Gwair's death will depress Padern even more. I am going to suggest that he take another wife and perhaps even take life easy at Medbourne for a while, to rest his mind and spirit. I hope he agrees. Perhaps one of Gwair's children's mothers? Hmmmm....an interesting idea. ...........Certainly not Cake however. Shes just not his type.. I'm sure of it.I'll write again next year if God does not have me destroyed before then.

2 comments:

Adam said...

So I says to myself, "Gwair," I says, "At least you went down swinging. With a woman or a sword, at least your blood was thundering." Yes, I knew the years were catching up with me. The last few winters were cold and cruel, and I noticed I was losing a step or two with the ladies. When that saxon nurse said "ooh, you must have been something when you were younger," that hurt more than a strike from an axe.
And then there was that whole fiasco with that Septimus tart. What a mess. Poor old Padern. But I can't help but feel responsible since it was I who wanted to go bed a noble lass, and then somehow failed to net her with my previously infallible charm, and then threw the arm-wrestling match to let Padarn see some action. Somehow he is better looking than me now. Ah, well, he deserves it, he's been a pillar of strength for Lindsey forever.
Finally, one of those axes did me in. I have to admit, i thought i was done for so many times before this. I don't have any regrets. Hopefully Olda will take care of the kids. I saw more than my fair share of action in my life. I loved my than my fair share of maidens, too, and I don't regret that at all. As I stand here in the middle of the Bridge of Swords, I look back, just for a moment. I see the distant chaos of battle, my Candlebees fighting like demons, and just for a second I wish I could return to their company. But my path lies in another direction.
I truly hope there are women in the next world.

steve said...

BRANDEGORIS speaks....

It was as I suspected...God has NO mercy. I did everything in my power to slay myself in the battles I fought in while destroying the saxon plague, but my life it seems can not be taken by mortal man...unless he be a physician that is.
The first battle, called the battle of winchester was a splendid victory for us Britons, but because Cerdic's men were all faint of heart ,the battle was not a long one. The only significant thing that happened was that my closest friend and companion Sir Gwair the not- so- chaste, was ambushed by saxon dogs and lured into a trap set for him upon the battlefield. How do I know this?
MY MAGIC SADDLE was present. I saw the saxon warlord WOLFHEAR of Woolsthorpe present at the battle and ever his men pressed around the defiant Sir Gwair of LILBOURNE. (Gwair put up with that snotty bitch long enough. I reckon he will ALWAYS have the right to be OF LILBOURNE).
Wolfhear's men had ado with Gwair and overpowered him and none of the Candlebee's had any chance to aid my good friend. Wolfhear did not trouble himself with Gwair once he set loose his hounds upon him. He fought elsewhere and I must admit, Wolfhear is indeed a mighty warrior worthy of his reputation. He will be worth killing someday. After the battle when I questioned one of Wolfhear's men I understood why it was that Wolfhear had particularly sought out Gwair. It seems that the young Saxon lass who attended Gwair in prison was Wolfhear's niece and for some reason unknown to me,she told Wolfhear(after Gwair was ransomed), that Gwair had not only flirted her to death, but had compromised her chastity. Yea, and even bedded her against her will.
It seems that even in death Gwair is mighty andeven an enemy woman will want to tell their handmaids that they once had the pleasure of sleeping with the legendary Gwair! It must be a pagan status symbol or something. But it did give me a chuckle. The only thing that gave me a laugh this year, in fact.
In the end the Saxon Wolfhear had his way and his men killed sir Gwair after un-horseing him. They then set about cutting off Gwairs private parts to give to their master but I am told by a third-hand account that Gwairs squire went insane with rage and somehow( not by the grace of God i'm sure), drove off the men and took his masters body off the field. Gwair has often been fortunate in his squires.
I will take Gwair's squire as my own and Tom, my own fine and loyal squire will help train him. When I get back to Leicester I will build a large Tomb with an effigy for my best friend sir Gwair. We never saw eye to eye on religion or on matters of the flesh, but he was a good man and had been my brother-in-law Rhun's boon companion as well. He has saved both Rhun and myself more than once in battle, and I will remember him every yule as I gather together the families of Tilton.
i have spoken to father Merle who assured me that by building a church at Tilton I could avert its inherent evil and that if I, as pennance, gathered together all of Sir Gwairs children and mothers and invited them to Tilton to live I would once again be okay with the Lord. I really do not care if Im okay with God, but I WILL take it upon myself to take care of Gwairs squire, mothers, and children. I know that even if he was a bit irresponsible, he would have done the same for me. I am troubled as of late because a realization has struck me. Seeing Gwairs old bed partner Cake,may be uncomfortable for me., and the thought of her living at Tilton petrifies me.In my confusion I confided in father Merle about the isue and he suggested that I found Cake attractive and tempting. I of course have taken a vow never to be with a lady again after Priscilla, so I told him that his notion was absurd. He suggested that I invite Cake to stay at Tilton to test my resolve and so that I could resist temptation. I called him a fool and said that the whole thing was a non-issue, and of course I would have her stay. No big deal. I will also be bringing my own children back to Tilton. Perhaps all Gwair's widows will be able to aid me in caring for them?
The battle of Netley marsh was a disaster. Padern cut down and nearly slain in the first charge, Me and Edar without Gwair's solid shied next to us. The battle was Very LONG, and hard, and in the end my Count and myself were off-horse and back-to-back struggling to survive. My only wish was to die and meet God so I could smite him with Skullcrusher, so I asked Edar repeatedly to take my mount and flee, but my Lord is a boon companion and one of the most brave and noble Lords in the land, and he stood with me till the last. It is his sacrifice in staying with me till the end that made me change my mind about living and NOT dying. How could I selfishly abandon my Lord because of my own pity. He was ready to die to make sure that I did not. If he values my life so much, then how can I not Value myself? In the end we were ambushed by four Berserkers. Raving drunk men that were touched by the Gods and given the strength of battle-mad frenzy. We did as well as we could, but these men are dangerous and have been the death of many good knights. Somehow we were not captured after falling unconcious and after several monthes of healing and wondering if my Damned drunk physisian would kill me( he nearly did so) I and edar recovered.
Am I okay with the God ? NO. But for my Lord Edar's sake and to keep up apearances I will build a small shrine(no church) and as pennance I will keep Gwair's children and their mothers. I am nearly destroyed by the loss of my wife, but I have my children to think of, my good companions(Padern and Edar), my excellent and loyal squire Tom of Weathersfield, and a slew of people depending on me. Priscilla loved me and one day I will meet her again. I dont know where, but I will. She will make me answer for my life and I know that PITY will not be a virtue that she would want me to elevate above other virtues. I have a duty to my Lord, and my people, and I have decided that I will NOT let them down. My happiness is shattered , so now I must cling to the ONLY thing I have left... My duty.
I fear for sir Padern, my Lord who knighted me and has always been a good companion. He IS old and not as hardy a fighter as he used to be, but I have seen him and he is very skilled. The problem is I think he is lonely and misses the " old days". His hey day. I am afraid that Gwair's death will depress Padern even more. I am going to suggest that he take another wife and perhaps even take life easy at Medbourne for a while, to rest his mind and spirit. I hope he agrees. Perhaps one of Gwair's children's mothers? Hmmmm....an interesting idea. ...........Certainly not Cake however. Shes just not his type.. I'm sure of it.I'll write again next year if God does not have me destroyed before then.