Lady Briana here...
After the shock of my marriage I consoled myself by the thoughts of life in Leicester, a beautiful old Roman town...I could imagine myself back home in Caerwent. But my lord quickly installed me in his manor hall, Tilton-on-the-hill, a place that could not be further from a Roman town.
He's kind enough, for Tilton is chock-a-block with the wives and children of his dead companions, though the manor itself is poorly run. And is constant companion, a dwarf he dresses in little costumes and indulges at the table, makes me horribly uncomfortable, staring at me constantly with his beady little eyes. We spent quite a bit of time over the winter back in Leicester, where the Lady Ealhred was most kind to me...there was a quiet little funeral for the wife of the Count's heir. I remembered her from the king's court at Caerlion, a mousy little thing sitting neglected in the corner while the ladies around her shown. They tucked her grave quietly away in a garden where it will no doubt soon be covered with the vines of forgetfulness.
I imagine I will share a similar fate. While my lord showers attention and favors on his little pet I had to stoop to begging for cloth for a new dress...it's true, my old dresses do not yet fit right since the birth of my first child, a son. I am so happy to have a child of my own!
This spring we were again down the hill and enjoying court at Leicester, and I saw my friend Lady Ealhred with a gorgeous necklace adorning the already ample charms of her breast: rubies and gold given to her after the birth of her twins from her lord, Sir Edward. And there I sat, genuinely happy for Ealhred but sad inside that I held a healthy son in last year's clothes modified by the bit of cloth I managed to get...I think my lord, seeing us sitting together, understood a little what it was like, for before he left for the summer's campaigning he present me with a small jewel.
I thought we would spend the year at Tilton but my lord instead told me to pack up the household, as we would be spending the summer in Leicester because of the Saxon menace. (The steward told me that Tilton was a favorite target of raiding Saxons.) While I was making preparations, that horrid little dwarf followed me like a rumor. The evening before we were to depart, we had a small feast for the household staff as we finished off the food and drink we would not be taking with us...at one point, late in the evening, I went into the kitchen to ask the butler about the last few bottles of port when I saw the creature struggling on the floor. He was surrounded by crusts, goosebones, and empty bottles, food and drink staining the front of his little Centurion costume. He appeared to be choking on a bite of food. Even though I learned the healer's arts from old Lady Martha in Caerwent, I stood there and watched as the creature clawed frantically at his throat and mouth, eyes wild and darting. The butler was nowhere to be seen or heard. When the dwarf's thrashing subsided, I went back into the hall to continue our merry-making.
Sir Franklin here...
Lady Heledd continues in poor health. I commended her into the hands of her ladies-in-waiting and rode south to answer my lord's summons for the summer.
In Caerlion Arthur gave us the bad news: eight Saxon armies in the south, north, and east of Logres. Brandegoris was at the council where the king asked for opinions; he said Count Idar recommended striking Cerdic's army, near Silchester.
I've certainly been in bigger battles, and more important ones, too—such as the one we fought for Lindsay's independence from the Saxons. We Leicestermen were as usual at the front of the lines, on the flank under Count Idar's command. And even though we lost fully half our Leicester knights on the first charge, that wily count soon found an Opportunity for us to attack Cerdic's battalion commander. But those Saxon bodyguards are tough! I saw them knock Sir Eddy off his horse, though he got up swinging. Then Brandegoris went down! That shocked me. As long as I've been old enough to hold a sword Sir Brandegoris has been knocking heads off Saxon shoulders. But before we could wheel around and come to their aid, one of those Saxon brutes made a critically well-timed blow while I was distracted, and I too ended up on the ground, unconscious and out of the fight.
Sir Edward here...
Oh, it hurt to tear myself away from my dear family, but duty called and so I and the other Leicester knights rode off with Count Idar to the king's summon: another grim situation requiring Leicester's finest! The Saxons that we thought quelled have coalesced into armies, and King Arthur meant to stop them in their tracks. Though how, since Arthur had but one army and the Saxons eight, I do not know...however, my lord Idar is well-seasoned on the battlefield and I felt confident in his leadership.
We met Cerdic's army on the gently-rolling fields outside Silchester and soon were hacking and slashing our way toward a battalion commander. His damnable bodyguards knocked me off my charger, then Brandegoris and young Sir Franklin too, but Count Idar and his son Sir Seriol were still mounted, so as they fought the Saxon bodyguards I dashed in and grabbed the body of the commander, prostate on the ground from a blow by Idar. By the canine teeth of St Christopher! The count went down, and it was only the quick work of his squires and son that kept him from further harm. I took another couple of hits as I got the still-breathing commander off the field with the rest of Leicester's wounded; the hot-headed Seriol went off in pursuit of the Saxons, whose lines crumpled after the fall of their commander.
It was an ugly sight at our field camp. Twenty-seven Leicestermen dead or majorly wounded, including Sirs Brandegoris and Franklin. Many others, including the count, had wounds but would live to fight another day. My time riding as squire to the Candlebees made me most fit to render aid to the wounded, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. Sir Brandegoris says he's fine, but if he doesn't take care his wound will tear open, or become infected, but he just waves me away when I express this concern. At least he has his squires watching over him.
The count will be fine, though sore for the next week or so. Mostly, though, I think he's wistful that he can't recover from these fights like he did when he was young. At least he's alive to see his son as a strong, successful knight. My son is only an infant! And old Sir Padern died before ever seeing his son, Franklin, knighted...Franklin. He took several blows from the Saxons, and was sporting some severe wounds...I tried, but I think I made the situation worse for him. He never regained consciousness, and by the morning after the battle his body was stiff and cold. We loaded him onto a wagon for the long ride back to Leicester.
Count Idar here...
The greatest horror of growing old is knowing that many of the friends and comrades in arms I knew are gone. As I stood in council with Arthur discussing the advancing armies, I had the mad idea that Padern, Gweir, Brandegoris and I would ride around and attack the saxons from the rear, scattering them like the rats they are. As I began to speak, I realized that my friends no longer ride with us the way they once did. Brandegoris and I are "seasoned veterans" which I always thought was a polite way of saying old men who didn't know enough to die or retire.
Instead, I said we had to attack. We could not remain in one place and cede Logres to the Saxons. I know that my wife in Garloth will understand. Although two saxon armies looked to move through Leicester, I know that my people will understand that we cannot face them there.
I suggested we attack the lone army of Cerdic. He was laying seige to Silchester, and while I hold no love for Duke Ulfius, we could not let his lands fall. We rode south and attacked, catching them by surprise. The men of Leicester had not faced Cerdics army since the battle outside London many years ago, but the emblems of the men of Leicester were known, and Cerdic placed some of his best warriors in our path. I watched as they cut down many of our men and my rage against these dogs reached its boiling point.
I saw an opening in their lines and led my men through it only to come upon the batallion commander. We fought hard against them, and they gave back in kind. Young Franklin was greivously wounded, as was Mighty Brandegoris. In the end I felled their commander and Edward snatched him up to take him. Thoughts of ransome did not fill my head - this was a member of Cerdics council. I would know what he is planning. Unfortunately, as we rode off, one of his last guardsmen struck me and I fell from my horse. My son saw to it I was removed from battle and the day was ours.
Now the damnable thing is that I no longer heal as quickly as I once did. It's times like this that I find myself thinking of Christine... Did I fail her in choosing to remarry? Surely Elaine, the queen of Garloth has more important matters than tending to my wounds. But that never stopped christine.
The Chirurgeons say I will need a week of rest or will worsen. I say that the Saxons are fools if they give me that time, and I cannot let the king fight their numbers without me. I know Brandegoris feels the same way. Though it cost us greatly, we will stand by Arthur.