Sir Seriol here...
Last year we braved saxon hoards. This year my friends and I faced something far more dire - a prolonged visit to the High King's court. I think I was safer when the saxons outnumbered us.
It started innocently enough. My father was in Garloth, so I acted on his behalf to speak to the Lady Brianna's father, trying to impress upon him the virtues of Sir Brandegoris. While I spoke well and truly, I fear that I was not as seriously regarded as Count Edar would have been. The lady was not as warm to Brandegoris as he hoped, and was not wearing the gown he had bought her last year. This was the first disaster - I suddenly realized that I had not purchased a new gown for my wife Matilda... I was sure she would forgive the oversight, and might have, had it not been one of several blunders I made.
Court was long and the king held hunts and contests for days. Edward wanted to leave, especially when it was revealed that another knight had set out to deal with Black Anis! The king would not have it though, so we remained. I did well in the jousts - these new lances are strange, but I suppose it is better to be hit with a hollow lance in a game than a solid one. I advanced nearly to the final rounds, but was unhorsed. I did quite well at chess though, and am glad that my father insisted I learned to play.
My next error came when we were asked to compose a poem. I have no gift for words, and as I sought inspiration, my eyes fell on a vision of such loveliness that I could need no other inspiration. So with my beautiful wife standing beside me, I began to recite a poem about the virtues and perfection of the dearest woman in the land... Queen Guenevier. Part way through my recitation, a look from sir Edward made me realize that my wife, standing beside me, was not happy. I suddenly realized my error, and faltered. My composition failed and my wife was furious with me.
The ladies had their own contests, and Ealrehd the saxon beauty that Sir Edward married, was widely acknowledged as loveliest and most fashionable woman present, after the queen of course. While I believe she is lovely, I find that she pales beside my Matilda. Unfortunately, when I pointed this out to her, she said that her old dress had made her look "frumpy". I thought she looked amazing, but she wouldn't hear it.
The following day we were hunting. I was distracted by my dear wifes displeasure, and wondering if I might sneak away to find her a token when the horns sounded the alarm. We rushed back to the castle, well the others rushed. I took the time to escort my wife and the lady Brianna back to the castle and see them safely inside. When I made it to my companions, we learned that the Saxons had landed in mass to the north. Lothian, Malhaut, Lindsey, even Garloth were said to be on the brink of colapse. I am confident that with my father in Garloth, it will not fall. Sir Edar led a handful of knights against the king of Sorestan. With the knights of Garloth at his command, there is no way he will fall before the saxon horde.
Although Brandegoris had to ride forward with Count Dyrfel, I led the men of Leicester and the Kings forces to Leicester to make ready to break the siege at Lincoln. It appears that the Saxons of Sorestan, who claimed to serve Dyrfel turned against the castellan and sought to open the city. Fortunately he held them off until we arrived. When the saxons saw as coming, they broke the siege and fled north. Our cavalry pursued. The king hoped to crush the saxons against the Umber. We raced ahead of our infantry and met them at the river, only to see that they had been reinforced from across the river. Though terribly outnumbered, we gave battle. Edward was badly injured. I was only lightly wounded, but fear that most of the men I stood against will say the same. As the day drew to a close, we saw signs of our infantry approaching and expected to give the saxons a bloody battle the next day. That night they snuck into our camp! We fought all night and drove them off, and Sir Kay slew their leader. We realized in the morning that they had withdrawn across the river. With winter setting in, we returned to Leicester for the season.
The news we hear is grim. To hear some tell it, the saxons have conquered the north. I don't believe it though. Edar is in Garloth, and I am certain my father will remain victorious. Still, if he does fall, then I will make certain that the saxons pay dearly. I hope Matilda enjoys court life. With Edar in Garloth, I shall have to host the high king and his queen for the winter in Leicester.
Sir Brandegoris here.....
Last year was , simply put, a severe waste of time for the most part, and I can only blame myself. For the first time ever I was caught up in the glitz and the glamour of court and I failed to be truly useful to my companions and to my country.
I should have heeded Edwards call to arms against the Annis. He is in high favor with God and I am not, so he MUST know the way to heaven's pearly gates. I should have left court and persued this mysterious "Sir Shautz le noir" to the Annis' den. I thought however that a women who barely seems interested in me was more important than my duty and so I did not ask King Arthur for leave to go from court. I am certain that he would have granted my companions and myself leave If I had asked, ( I have 17,352 glory). More than the High King perhaps? Instead I left it up to Sir Edward to ask Sir Kay for leave and kay , pardon my French, was ever the bastard. A damn good steward though. Damn good.
In short, I have decided to take a long look at myself and change my ways. I am a powerful man in this kingdom and I believe that if I was more forceful in my will then many others would follow. I will turn over a new leaf starting now. I have been speaking in the evenings with my two good friends, Sir Edward and the great Father Merle. He is getting older and his arthritis is making it difficult to play the " lute sermons" that he is so popular for, but he is still as wise and patient as ever and I have decided to heed his words. He has overcome me with the light of the Lord. Padern will be rolling his eyes while hunting in paradise right now, but I can't care. I have mocked God long enough. Our country bleeds and times are just as hard as ever and there is only the "illusion" of safety because of our high king. The saxons grow in strength and will become more than just a nuisance soon. They grow bolder by the day.
I will forget the new courtly way of courting the lady Brianna. I will do it traditionally with a visit to her father and we will arrange it as is proper. This new fangled way of courting is quite unseemly anyway and a REAL man wouldnt be caught dead "Romancing" a woman. Im sure her father and myself will come to some agreement. She will learn to love me one day, im sure.
I have made a chapel to St.Guinefort but now I will try and construct more works to God in pennance for my defiance. I will need Gods succor against the new saxon threat.
My daughter Matilda is 16 years old this year and I quietly spoke to the Queen Guinevere about it. After all, she has been one of the Queen's chief handmaidens these past two years so the Queen assuredly has some idea of who she is fond of.She said we could find Matilda a suitable match, and that she would help me in the endeavor. I have been very lucky in my life to rise so high. I never could have without Gods grace, though I dont know why I deserve it.
We went north this year too hastily and without our full army and we fought the saxons to a standstill. Im sure that our King wont make the mistake of being hasty again. We could have crushed the enemy if we had just slowed down and gathered our full army. We will fight them next year however and I will destroy those filthy saxon beasts. I will kill many chieftains and I vow to Kill a King if one has the courage to stand against me. I already MUST kill King Aescwine of Essex for stealing my magical saddle that was handed down through 5 generations. Next year I will become the Brandegoris of old! Forget romance, forget niceties, forget court and forget propriety! I am one of the foremost men of the realm and I will act like it! I will do what I was put on this earth to do.. FIGHT! FIGHT AND SLAY MY ENEMIES!BEFORE GOD I SWEAR IT!
Sir Edward here...
High office, it appears, is wasted on the young.
It pains me to say it, but it's true. That Derfel chap, son of our dear, lamented Duke Cornius, shows a remarkable lack of prudence: scaling castle walls among the kerns, insisting on worshipping both our Lord Jesus Christ and the devil Wotan, marrying a witch...And now our new high king, Arthur? A quarter of my lord's lands are despoiled by the Black Annis, but we Leicestermen are to entertain at court with jousts and poetry readings! It seems to me that to be a man of chivalry is to be a man of action—and watching knights and ladies fingering the latest fabrics from the Continent amid oohs and aahs really put me off my feed. I know it's a terrible thing to say, and I will have to pay penance for it, but thank God the Saxons raided or we would have never gotten out!
The mass of Saxons on the far banks of the Humber were impressive. Archers, javelineers, elite axemen and grunt spearmen, screaming and chanting warriors and well-mounted mercenaries...I took a couple of spears in the side, and wasn't much use as we rolled up to Eburacum. But while I was recuperating under the tender ministrations of my wife, she and I came up with a splendid idea. We shall hire a chaplain, a martial chaplain, as a retainer for Sir Brandegoris, that he may in good consciousness and faith continue to fight for our lord Idar, and draw nearer to our Great Lord Christ at the same time. Our own chaplain, Henry Knighton, will help us select a suitable man of the cloth.
Maid Griane here...
All is happiness and harmony at court, for the king and queen are madly in love. And it was a fine spring in Caerlion, with the ladies decked out in their finest, each striving to be noticed and admired among the many fine and noble knights of the realm. Even the frumpiest of country nobility was able to shine in contests of wit, proving that looks aren't everything I suppose.
While the ladies were spinning with the Queen one morning Lady Breanna let it slip that she was inclined to encourage the romance of Sir Brandegoris, a man of wide renown. She had been saving a gown he had given to her at Christmas Court, to wear at the Pentecost feast. Well, imagine our surprise then when we and the lady, looking radiantly beautiful in the deep blue silk, passed the evening watching Sir Brandegoris instead flirt with Queen Morgan!
Lady Breanna cried all night.
Nobody saw or heard her, but Lady Matilda, wife to Count Idar's heir Seriol, showed up the next morning red-eyed and swollen of face, too. Who could blame her? I would be deeply hurt and distressed if I, the heir's wife and mother of his children, were dishonored in front of the court by being the ONLY wife and lady present without a single jewel or swatch of new fabric about her. Funny, too; I had always heard that the Allingtons were a prosperous, open-handed family. Maybe they just don't like her.