Sunday, August 17, 2008

518: Battle of Bradon, Day One

Brandegoris here...

After taking the wounded soldiers from Silchester and joining forces with King Arthur at Braden Hill near Leicester, I sized up our enemies. Zounds! There were literally 8 million of them, I swear! Every Saxon in the world must have been there to make a push for British soil and once and for all take our homeland. As if that was not enough, continental mercenaries were aiding them as well. Ridiculous French knights, traitorous british knights and even Hun light cavalry from the east (Huns are real tough bastards by the way).

In the first charge I wanted to join my Leicestermen and fellow Candlebees, but King Arthur decided that I should wait in reserve near him and lead a party of 40 Round Table knights. It was pure anguish to sit on the hill and watch my friends battle and I could do nothing! Thank God that the Leicestermen won the day! Under Count Edar they pushed through the enemy and they crushed them getting all the way through the enemy camp and chasing them away. The young Bruenor, knight of the Medlar, even met King Cwichelm of Anglia in battle and wounded him, but alas that King got away.

Count Derfel did not do as well as expected and even though his men fought bravely he had to retreat with only a three brave men left (his two Danish bodyguards Holgar and Colgrim, and Holgar's son Ingvi). My nephew Aramis fought with Derfel as well that day and I saw him fall. I am not sure what has become of him for we neither found him nor his horse.

As Count Dervel was attempting to withdraw he and his few were ambushed by frothing maddened warriors and an army of dirty peasant shepherds who treacherously tried to kill the knights horses! My Lord Derfel was thrown from his mount so I asked Arthur if I could lead the Round Table knights to rescue him. He gave permission so I went to my count's aid. In the very first charge my Andalusian charger Baelzebub, a wedding gift from the High King himself, was mortaly wounded by an arrow and I had to be remounted. I hate archers. We did succeed in rescuing the count and getting him off the field. I asked Arthur If I could join the Leicestermen for tomorrow's battle but he insists that I go with Derfel to guard him. After we destroyed the Saxons, enough captured and wounded Lincolnmen were saved that Derfel still was able to command 20 of them. Tomorrow I will battle! My only regret is that it won't be at the side of the Canndlebees! Hazzah!

Lady Briana here...

I didn't realize the gravity of the situation when my lord moved his household from Tilton-on-the-hill to Leicester, that it was perhaps the custom of the country lords to do such. But as the city filled with the households of the Count's men, and I listened to what the other ladies said and did not say, I saw my mistake.

It is high summer now and we had only two messages about what transpires with the men: almost three weeks after my lord rode away under the banner of the count, a wagon team made its way to the great hall, and there young squire Lorin told the count's steward about a terrible battle outside the walls of Silchester. In the wagon was the body of the young and comely Sir Franklin. Poor Lady Heledd!

A fortnight later we woke to see the second message: a black mass on the horizon, and as the day progressed we saw that it was an army of rough-looking men such as I nor anyone in the city walls has ever seen, although old Sir Amicus said it reminded him of Bedegraine....the steward ordered the city shut and the walls manned, and the army passed us by, seeming in a hurry to meet its doom. We could then stand on the walls and spot manors by the rising plumes of smoke.

The countryside is devastated. If that army returns we will not last long if besieged. We sit in the garden, where we can see the Pillar of Resistence, and spin, and sew, and silently wonder whose husband will come home in a wagon, or wrapped in the banner of victory.

Count Edar here...

When our King placed Brandegoris in charge of leading the wounded knights to join him after resting, many thought that I was being slighted. I admit that for a while I wondered if Merlin had spoken against me, or perhaps I had angered the king by leaving his sister my Lady Elain in Garloth. I later realized that had the King left me in charge, I would have ridden off as soon as I was able, with all who would follow. Such is our love for our king that I believe that every knight who could sit a horse or be tied in the saddle would have ridden out. In trusting Brandegoris, the king made certain to have many more knights than he would have.

We joined Arthur in Leicester and prepared to battle the Saxons at Bradon Hill. Sir Gwalchmai arrived, looking tired and harried, and after greeting him, he shared grim news. Garloth had fallen, and he had been the last of those to stand before the saxon hordes. He believes that my wife Elaine escaped, but could not be sure. I hardened my heart at this news and swore that if she lived, I would find her, and if she fell, then the saxons woul d know my vengeance.

We massed, and though I was still injured, I drew strength from the number of men standing with us, and from knowing that if we fell, it would be fighting in our home. Brandegoris was given the honor of leading a contingent of Round Table knights, and though I knew we would miss his mighty hambone in the field, I would not have him surrender that honor.

The men of Leicester led the charge and drove our way through a mob of veterans. Though many of these saxons were greviously wounded, such was their fury that they fought on long after a sane man would fall. I spied a mass of british knights riding under the banner of the saxons, and could not let the insult stand. We men of Leicester rode into their midst and drove them back as we advanced. The saxons were scarcely prepared for us to drive off their knights, and they threw mercenaries from the continent and women at us in the hompes of driving us off. These french knights may fight well for money, but we fought for our king and they fell before us again and again.

As the french fell back I looked and saw a gap in the lines. We rode through it into the reserves of the enemy, but they tried to capture us in a pincer. The traitorous bastard knights had regrouped and fell upon our right flank, while the women wailed and charged our left. We overcame them, but lost over a third of our men. As we fought them a group of saxons came forth to challenge us. These were fierce, weathered men who had been fighting in battles longer than many of our knights, but they could not overcome the heart of a Leicesterman, and they fell before us, utterly defeated.

We found ourselves in a strange lull in the battle, and as we regrouped, we spied King Cwichelm of Anglia with only a few protectors. Though it put us at risk, we rode into his forces and hit them as one. A full half of the kings guards did not survive the encounter, and we advanced. Young Bruenor found himself in battle with the king and fought well, wounding him badly, we fought on, but the king's men saw his state and rode on us. Strangely, I found myself looking at one of the young knights in my force and thought for just a moment that he looked just like old Sir Padern. I know Franklin has died, so it must have been the light, and then a Saxon smote him to the ground.

As the saxons rallied to their king, I saw that they had left another hole in the lines. I ordered and then we were among their camp. Panic spread quickly as the saxons realized what had happened and they broke. The day was ours. The men of Leicester claimed their plunder from the saxon camps and returned to the cheers of our comrades. Unfortunately, Count Dyrfel had fared poorly, and most of the Lincoln host had not survived the encounter. For some reason, many of the knights were bleating at the count and his danes. Alas, Brandegoris told me that sir Rhun's son had fallen fighting for the count. I did not know the boy, but we will honor his memory.

Lady Ealhred Here

In the time I have lived with my husband Edward in the hall of Count Edar I have seen many things. I have watched dear Edward and his friends share stories and boast. I have watched them sing that dreadful hambone song. We have feasted with the High King, and I have seen Sir Seriol wandering lost after the death of his wife. I have never before seen the people of this town look to the north in fear.

As I grew up there were times when all of the knights were gone to war and we were concerned that we would be raided. We were hardly defensless, but we knew that a band of raiders could do horrible damage to our lands. These Leicester folk seem to believe that so long as Count Edar is alive, that god will watch over them. They seem to think that if there is any threat that Edar and the candlebees will ride out of the woods and rescue them, or spirit them off to a refuge at Allington. Allington! I have been there, and it is a pleasant enough manor, but I don't see how anyone could find it safer than the city. Still, there are members of the count's household that speak of Allington as if it were a haven from all the woes of the world. As we hear more from people seeking refuge in the city, I hope that something will happen. If they speak the truth, there are Saxons by the thousand massing around Lincoln, and after it falls, they will march on us.

Never before have I seen so many people crowding into the city. It seems that the count had all of his vassals seek protection in the city. While Leicester once seemed spacious, now it is packed. Unfortunately, many of those seeking shelter in Leicester see me only as a Saxon, and do not realize that my people are loyal to the high king and good christians too. My dear Edward thinks the best of everyone and does not realize that there are some here who do not look kindly upon me. They know he is a Candlebee, so they say nothing, but I have seen the looks. We have spoken about this briefly, and I know that the Count has offered Edward his own lands, but Edward declines, swearing that there is no finer life than as a household knight to the Count. When he notices that this doesn't sway me, he will go out and buy a lavish gift for me. I can't seem to make him understand that what I want is a happy home where we can raise our children, and if we live in a poor manor, so be it. We have each other and our faith to take comfort in. I think that when he returns this winter, I will insist. We must do our best to provide a good home for our son, and when Edward thinks back on his early experiences with the Candlebees, I don't see how he can choose to expose the child to them.

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