Sir Aeddan here -
My twenty-first birthday has passed, and I have been inducted into the order that will be my future. As a young boy I knew this would be the priesthood, and I looked forward to it, watching my older brothers learn the ways of knighthood. I knew that god had a different path for me, and I trusted in him to see me on it. Then Bardon hill came. My father and both brothers went to fight for Arthur, and both my brothers fell on the first day. My father was wounded and spent months dying. He had me swear that I would continue our family obligation, so instead of entering the church as a novice, I became a squire, and now I have travelled to Leicester to serve my lord - I think.
You see, with Count Edar gone, the lands of my father are being claimed by the Count of Lonazep. For nearly all of my life these lands were recognized as belonging to Edar by King Arthur himself, but Edar hasn't been seen in years, and at one time they were part of Lonazep... Nonetheless, I arrived in Leicester to learn that Edar's champion, Sir Bledri of Tilton and Sir Amadis the Anis Slayer were only just back from spending a year in the dungeons of Garloth. I presented myself to Sir Bledri and swore to aid him as he sought to keep Leicester county from being picked apart.
Bledri led us to Camelot were he hired the services of a lawyer to keep some of the more ridiculous claims from being believed. While there we saw something incredible - an emmisary from Rome came to Arthurs court to demand tribute. We were not certain how the King would respond. Both Bledri and Amadis seemed very critical of the King. I of course said nothing. These two great knights might speak ill of their king, and perhaps their actions have earned them that right, but mine have not. We did not have long to wait for Arthur's response. The next morning he sent the emissaries from Camelot with instructions to tell their master that Arthur was coming to make war on them to conquer the world as was his right.
Bledri and Amadis spoke about this and decided that the only way to get Edar back now was to go after him themselves. They bought a ship, hired mercenaries and we set off to Lesser Norway to the kingdom of Wiglaf.
Norwayite kingdoms are rather less impressive than those of Brittons, or possibly even than Saxons. We arrived in force in Lesser Norway and learned that Edar had been taken by evil tribesmen who had attacked years ago. The new king of Lesser Norway suggested that Edar had summoned them and was likely sacrificed by them. Still, we had to find them. We demanded to know their name - They called themselves Tronds.
While Amadis and Bledri planned how to proceed, I looked to get our footmen ready for the trek to Trondland. God has truly forsaken this strange land. The mountains here are steep like nothing I have seen or heard of before, and the wind howls in the passes. As I stared at the path before us, offering a prayer to god to watch over us, Bledri came up behind me and told me to get on the ship. It seems our pilot knows the way to Trondland. God is clearly watching over us. I prayed that he would keep the storms away.
We sailed north, and we were attacked by three ships of Danes. They were no match for we three knights and our footmen, and we drove them off easily. Eventually we were led into what the pilot called a fjord that would take us directly to the capital of Trondland. As we sailed in, we heard the sounds of horns and knew we were spotted. We neared our landing making ready to charge ashore in to a mass of savages. Instead we saw row upon row of ordered infantry, with cavalry positioned behind them. God be praised - it looks like English Knights rode behind the Cavalry!
Sir Bledri, Champion of Count Edar.
I have failed at so many things. I feared there would be no more victory in my future. Mostly, I fear for the brave men who followe me in my perilous wake. How many have I sent to their death? How many men have paid for my folly? I know I am better than my defeats on the battlefield. Surely God is testing me. For instance, High King Arthur's blind eye to Elaine's shinannigans bothered me a great deal. but I knew Arthur would come around if i was just patient. And then he told those Romans to go pound sound! So we set off Lesser Norway and actually found Edar! Alive! He doesn't have as much of a county as when he left, but I'm sure we will turn the tide!
Count Edar Speaks -
When the horn sounded and the runners came up, I waited to see who would arrive. When Sir Lucius arrived here months ago, I had hoped that it would be to tell me it was time to return home. When I saw Bledri and young Amadis get off the ship, I wept openly. Amadis ran up to me on my horse and threw his arms around me. I got off my horse, clasped him in an embrace, then walked up to Bledri and did the same. Valiant's cavalry took up a position of honor guard and escorted us to the hall. Before the hall my Valerie came to my side with my youngest - little Paddern was woken by all the noise, his brother slept through it of course.
The feast that night was like none I could remember. I do not remeber a time that was so good to me as that night. I could see that Bledri and Amadis had something heavy weighing on their hearts - Bledri looked much older than when I had seen him last. After confirming that their families were well, and that there were no new disasters at Tilton, I told them that ill news could wait. They did tell me that Amadis had slain the Black Annis once and for all! Astounding! I knew that when I had him knighted at Bardon that he would amount to greatness, and now he proudly calls himself candlebee too. After eating and drink, I could see that they had questions, so I told them my tale...
When we attacked Wiglaf's men to rescue Elaine and my people from sacrifice, we were outnumbered and badly bested. I asked to ransome those present and remain as hostage until my ransom could be raised. It was clear that he did not know who he had in Elaine, and I did not tell him. As a result, everyone but my squire and I were able to leave. Wiglaf was not a generous host, but he did not treat us badly. I had sworn to honor my oath not to flee, so I was given freedom to walk about the town. The people there did not love Wiglaf the way we Britons love our king, but they were loyal and good people. In that first year, we were attacked by several groups hoping to steal away with Wiglaf's good and people. They were not prepared for an experienced tactician to oppose them, and we drove them off. I looked to the West waiting for word from home each day.
The next year we received an emissary from Denmark on behalf of King Arthur. Wiglaf informed the man that my ransom had been increased fivefold because he felt deceived that he had released Elaine for so little. Had she not made such an issue of this when they left, he might never have known, but I did decieve him and accepted responsibility for it. There were more raids, and then I faced a shock.
King Valiant, a prince no longer, rode south from his home in Trondheim to raid Wiglaf. I was bound to fight against him, but my heart was not in it. My plans were sound, but my arm was slow and I fell wounded. I yeilded to those who beat me, rather than die on the field for my captor. I was taken north to Trondheim and saw that much had been restored since the Dragon attacked it. Valiant and his people look to me as a Dragonslayer, and while I point out that it was my companions who did this, they still honor me. I gave my oath not to try to leave - where would I go in these frozen lands? Valiant sent word to Leicester that I was now there, and I swore that I would defend Trondheim as his guest.
Valiant proved a much more generous host. I spoke with his men and spent hours talking with him about knighthood and the Briton ways of fighting. The young man has a keen mind and a good heart. We spoke of battle, and of the duties of a lord both to his senior, and to his people. It is strange that of all the people I have spoken with, it is only here in the north that men do not look at me strangely when I speak of the goodwill of the peasantry.
The more time I spend with Val, the more I seem to be noticing the attention of his young sister. She is a beauty, and if I were a younger man I would fall all over myself trying to win her attention, as it is, she is hardly of a marriagable age and I am approaching sixty. Still, she does not turn away from my admiring glances, and we speak often of Briton and of the lands here.
The winter in Trondheim is like nothing else. We spend hours on end in the great hall telling stories, and these people seem to want to hear everything. I of course started telling them of King Arthur and his rise, but the stories they wanted to hear were about me and my companions. Well of course I do not posses Bledri's way with words, but I remember the events like yesterday. I told them of our battles with the Saxons and their treachery, about the mysteries of the Forest Sauvage. I told them of Brandegoris and that ridiculous song. They wept alongside me as I told them of the beauty of the changing of the seasons in Allington. They cheared with the knighting of Seriol and shouted encouragements when I told them of my dear Christine's struggle to keep the Saxons from our homes while the knights were fighting. My stories must have been a powerful force in their lives after that winter they would snarl curses about saxons in a way that brought a smile to my face.
More than anything though, I found myself taking pleasure from the interest and attention that Valerie showed to my stories. Do you know the young lady actually began to flirt with me? At first I tried to ignore it in respect to my host, but when he did not object, I admit I flirted back. Who would have thought - me flirting with a young woman. I think the last lady I flirted with so chastely was Leri, shortly before we were wed. Of course she was younger than Valerie then, and I was hardly older then her.
Trondheim faced several raids, and we drove them off. Valiant had taken to heart all he learned from my stories, and I offered to train him in a more serious way. After all, if he is to be a king and lead men into battle, he should do so properly. I began to work with his warriors to shape them into a fighting force unlike anything seen since the Britons left years ago. Valiant has lamented not having a proper horse. Indeed if his men were on fine chargers, then they would be the most formidible section of a battle line since the candlebees! In the evenings, I am able to enjoy time sitting by the fire with Valerie. Were we in Briton, her brother would be responsible for finding her a suitable husband. It is amazing that this thought fills me with jealousy. I am already married, although it has been months since I have truly thought of Elaine, and years now since we spent any time near one another.
In the summer several passing strange things surprised me. First, several babes born this year were given the names Seriol or Christine. I did not know these were Trond names, and was told that they were given to honor the fallen heroes of my tales! When I learned this I could have been nocked down by the batting of a babe's arm. I am certain that Seriol and Christine are smiling down on me from the heavens. I only hope they do not object to the time I continue to spend with young Valerie. The other thing was that a warrior returned to Trondheim claiming that he saved my life! I was a bit surprised by this, not knowing it was in danger, but was as eager to hear the story as the rest. It seems that while he was traveling to the south, he encountered a woman with a young boy named Edar. When he asked, she said he was named for the hero who slew the dragon in the north. The warrior knew this to be me, and slew the boy so that it would not "steal my luck as well as my name". I was shocked, but everyone in the hall was relieved and cheered! It is times like these that I remember that I am in a strange land with strange traditions.
The harvest that year was exceptional, and we had a grand feast to commemorate the occasion. All of us ate and drank our fill. It was at the feast that Valerie made clear her desires for me, and that we should sleep together. I could think of nothing that would make me happier. From that night on we stole intimate moments together whenever we could, and although we thought we were being discrete, it surprised noone when Valerie told me that winter that she was pregnant. Fortunately, Valiant was happy for us as well. Later that winter he told me he thought he found a suitable husband for Valerie. It was like I was struck with a saxon axe. I knew we two wouldnt be together forever, so I asked only to be sure that the husband treat my child well. Valiant laughed and told me I misunderstood - he told me that I should marry Valerie. If before I had been struck by an axe, now i felt like I stood in the path of a trebuchet. My mouth couldn't work, and my thought slowed. I am told that I just stood there for a moment or two with a grin on my face. Then my thoughts returned and I told him that I could not. Not that I didn't want to, or that there is anything that would make me happier, but because I am already wed, and unless that marriage is ended by the church, I cannot marry again. Valiant told me that Valerie would wait to be my wife. We sent another ship to Leicester to tell them where I was so that I could go home and seek the Archbishop to get a divorce.
The year passed and I found myself enjoying the comforts of Valiant's hall. It reminded me very much of the Allington of my youth. I repeatedly told Valiant and Valerie that they must see my home when this hostage business is over. They both look a little stricken by that, but agree to come see britain. I look forward to the day I can present Valiant to King Arthur. There are of course more raids, but they don't fare well against Valiant. That winter I learned that Valerie was pregnant again. Life is good. If I didn't know I was sworn as a hostage here, it would never occur to me.
In mid spring a ship arrived and word came that a briton was on board. I was sure it was Bledri, but instead it was Sir Lucius. He has stayed in Denmark, rather than returning home, and arrived with several danes, including the woman that young Amadis is so infatuated with. Lucius spent the next year with us, and while I don't think he approved of some of the things he saw, he knew better than to comment about Valerie, or my eldest son Aguar, named after Valerie's father. or my newest son, named for my dear friend Paddern. Valerie had suggested naming him Seriol, but I could not name one son after another.
Another summer turned to autumn, to winter, and then to spring. If I am to live here for the rest of my days, I shall only regret that I cannot marry Valerie. But then in the summer there was a signal of an approaching ship, runners said it was foreign, and had the look of Britons on board. Valiant rallied his men and we prepared an honor guard to greet them
After hearing my tale we retired for the night. There would be many more discussions to have before all was said.
Sir Lucius here....
What is there to say? After speaking with Edar's Leicestermen it seems that his Queen Elaine has written Edar off and furthermore She seeks to plunder his( her?!) own county of Leicester to feed Garloth's people. My Lord is beter off with his new young lover. He is as full of life as I have ever seen him. His sons are growing well and one of them, Padern, I think, shit all over my leg when I first held him. I never met Padern but when Edar saw what the child had done he belly laughed and said that Padern would have approved of that. Strange.
Well Myself and some of Hrothgar's Danes came to rescue my lord edar and found that he needed none. He is happy here in Trondheim, and if he is a prisioner it is never spoken of. i wonder if Valiant will actually accept a ransom from his brother in law. We will see. I am happy for Edar but long to see Britian again. The summer monthes here are nice (what there is of them) but too short, then it's back to freezing my marbles off. At least a few of the girls here have kept me warm. They are pretty in their own bullish way, though that " Lady" of Amadis' Is certainly in a class all her own. I find that I do miss Amadis and Bledri and the rest more than I thought I would. I am actually a knight of Caerwent, but more and more do I think of myself as a Leicesterman. Strange. Maybe it is because of the sense of brotherhood here. These Leicestermen do not come to one another's aid because of duty honor or profit. They come to each others rescue because of Comradeship and respect and Dare I say..... Love for a boon companion. It is not unheard of I suppose. Many STORIES say such things happen. But this is the first I have ever experienced of it.
I believe Edar will bring his lover back to Britian and seek a divorce from the Archbishop. I am worried that the Archbishop will be loathe to grant it. She IS the HIGH KINGS sister! Who would risk offending him. I fear that if Edar is to be happy the perhaps Elaine will have to perish. Since she is younger than Edar this doesnt seeem likely. Without aid of course......
Sir Amadis here...
Farley the cotter down in Nethersby had a saying he was fond of: "If ye want it done, do it yeself." I reminded Sir Bledri of old man Farley as we sat at table in the high king's court after another unsuccessful attempt at securing help for our lord Edar. Bledri speared a couple of roasted wrens off a passing platter and said the Old Man used to say it better: "Get off yer arse and go kick some, son!" So instead of waiting for King Arthur to fill out the missing 1300 librum of Edar's ransom, Bledri and I went down to the quay and bought a boat and a crew to take us to Norway. As Bledri figured, might as well take some of that 600-odd librum we collected and use it, otherwise Edar's likely to come home to no holdings at all. Count Edar picked his champion well.
Few knights of Leicester accompanied us. Those that did were very young and quite inexperienced—and terrified of battle-hardened Candlebee Sir Bledri, Count's Champion. Young Sir Aeddan, a good chap, could hardly bring himself to speak directly to old Bledri! Most are infatuated with the high king's court and upcoming war with Rome, or defected to other lords. Ha! Let's see the lord of Lambor's love of his commoners...no sir. Word in Netherby is not good on that account. And Lincoln? Even worse.
Why? Why switch alliegence away—to a lord whose lands are still savaged from Saxon invasions 15 years ago, or a man whose own sons all fled the county, or still another who speaks with a Danish accent—from a man as charmed as Count Edar?
How charmed? I can't over-emphasize enough. Whose lands actually expanded and throve under the Saxon Invasion? Edar's. Who never experiences harsh weather? Edar. Whose peasants run toward the lord when he rides up? That's right: Edar.
So I ask you: who gets captured by cannibal Norwayites, captured a second time by cannibal Norwayites, is missing for five years...and comes riding out on the plain as the brother-in-law of a second king (Valiant), ransom waived, and sent off with a chest of gold and eternal promises of friendship?
Count Edar, that's who!
Count Edar Speaks -
The news I have from Bledri is grim. It never occured to me that Elaine would decide to pillage Leicester to rebuild Garloth, and then leave me in Norway. One of the two maybe, but not both. And now I hear she has turned against her brother. This cannot stand!
Bledri and Amadis are of course incensed that the surrounding nobles have picked at the borders of Leicester while I was gone. This disappoints me, but does not really surprise me. I expect that when I return, the majority of these men will renounce their claims and renew their friendships with me. Honestly, I would rather one of my knights serve a loyal knight of the round table, be forced to aid in Elaine's revolt in the name of loyalty to me. When I present myself to Arthur, I will thank my neighbors for protecting my lands from those who would be in revolt while I was a prisoner, and then will ask if any of the round table will help me restore order to Leicester before we ride on Rome. Rome, imagine that... I suppose that if I am to divorce Elaine, then going to Rome will allow me to petition the pope directly...
We left Trondheim and Valiant generously refused ransom, and even sent me home with gifts. I swear on my honor as a knight, should Valiant ever need aid, I will set sail with all who I can muster. My departure was bittersweet - I long to see my home in Leicester, but I will miss Valerie terribly. Once my lands are again secure I will bring her and my sons home. We arrived in Camelot to much fanfare - it has grown a great deal while I have been gone. I am afraid that whatever business was being tended to was disrupted by my arrival - Arthur saw me immediately. He heard of my tale, and I was able to present him with the gifts of amber we purchased long ago in Denmark, as well as a portion of the gifts Valiant gave me. I heard that some scoffed at part of my tale, but none in court doubted the gifts that I was able to bring. After all, when I left it was to ransome his sister. While I was gone, Bledri sought to raise money to free me. Now I return after being a prisoner for nigh 5 years, and am able to give Arthur gifts of nearly 100 Librum! I have been told that in the morning I will be able to address the king and speak of my desire for Leicester. Although Amadis and Bledri speak of politics and Arthur not being as great as we once thought, I believe he will hear me and come to our aid.