Tuesday, November 18, 2008

524: Nohaut? No way!

Sir Roland here, a young knight of Hertford...

If 524 was to be the year of my dreams—finally off to Camelot to receive my spurs—then I say, what strange dreams men have!

I rode with my liege, the bishop of St Albans, for the king's spring court. I didn't pack much, just the little necessities that one needs in life as a (hopefully!) right worshipful knight and eldest son of a banneret...it fit, though barely, but I got it all onto only three horses. I felt so free to be so unencumbered.

At Camelot I was part of an illustrious company, beautiful ladies and shining knights in armor, lords and bishops and their retinues...it was hard to stand out in such a crowd. Although one youth, a bit simple but with ample native skill at arms, managed to do so. At the feast the afternoon after our knighting by the king himself, while I tried to convince Sir Rhodri to ask as his boon to be a knight of the queen's, that country bumpkin lad stood and asked to be the queen's champion! Just stole all of Rhodri's thunder. And this after standing there and announcing that he was undefeated in the joust! That got Sir Yngwe's blood up, as he and I had not 24 hours past done just that in the practice field near the hall.

We three decided we'd show this crowd that Mister Whitey-pants was not the only new knight on the scene. We took up the challenge of freeing one of the day's petitioners of her problem: a Lady Janine had come to court complaining that her family and father's lands were being harrassed by a giant trying to force her to marry. We rode off to Nohaut.

It was a long road, especially for someone for whom Camelot was very far from home. Nigh three weeks later, as Lady Janine said we were almost to her father's castle, we were waylaid by bandits—dropping rocks on our heads! Lady Janine, I'm afraid, was smushed into lifelessness. We dug her corpse out and hunkered down as darkness fell.

As we continued on to her father's castle, our way was blocked by four armed knights. They demanded as a condition of our travel, for us to swear to not lift a hand against their lord...and one of their number was awfully big. Bigger than even Sir Yngwe, who until then was the tallest man I'd ever laid eyes on. So we set our lances and had at 'em.

It was my first time fighting for real, and in the haze of my blood lust I did not notice my companions going down around me...until I was the only one left standing. I leapt off my horse to render first aid, but Sir Rhodri was beyond my skills. Indeed, I could tell that Sir Yngwe desperately needed a chirugeon. At that point I agreed to the original request not to raise arms against the local lord, and off we went to their camp, the bodies of Lady Janine and young Sir Rhodri draped over their mounts.

I asked of their very tall lord, and was granted, to take the body of Lady Janine up to the castle these men were besieging and return her to her lord and father. Yngwe was handed over to Lady Janine's younger sister, who was reputed to have some skill as a chirgeon. As I stood in the small, muddy bailey surrounded by hard-eyed men and weeping ladies, all of us heard a commotion from down the hill. We looked out from the castle's walls to see a small storm overtaking the camp below. And when the camp was thoroughly wrecked and bodies strewn across the heath, this small storm came riding up to the gate: the simpleton knight, all in white on his damable white horses. He asked if I would accompany him on his path of destruction further north, but as I'd sworn an oath, I declined. As the storm of one moved on, I gathered the squires and went back to the camp. Total destruction. Having so recently been a squire myself, I bid Sisbert and the others to pick out for better arms and armor for themselves. They also managed to salvage a very fine pavillion, which they loaded on several of the extra warhorses we acquired.

Now the lord of the castle, seeing his enemies dead before him and his defenses very weak, did the sensible thing and offered me the hand of his youngest (and only remaining) child in marriage. I thought about it, saw the ample lands before me, and accepted. We set off on a tour of these new holdings: meagre, to be sure, but now I am counted as a banneret, and will be a bastion of chivalry in these wild lands.

When we returned from our wedding tour, we learned that Sir Yngwe had succumbed to his wounds. Grievous news indeed! I told the old lord that I needed to make one more trip, and wanted my young wife to accompany me. He agreed, and we began the long road south to Lincoln, to take the heart of Sir Yngwe to his father, one of the Danes of Lincoln.

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