Monday, May 26, 2008

509: Can Nothing Go Right?

Some quoting fun:

-Greg, can I roll a new passion? Love Life.

-Do you know Chirgury?
-Yes, but...I'm in need of it.

-(Greg, looking at the amount of dice thrown) "Did you crit?"

-41 points!
-41?....I'm okay.

-Just put me on the fucking Pillar already.

Sir Padern here

Why does God hate me so? I maintain that damnably expensive church of his and its equally worthless caretaker. Surely that should mitigate...other events at my hands.

He surely frowns on Sir Brandegoris, a man any lord would be proud to have as vassal, and one I'm certainly proud to call companion. How else to explain his wife, the charming Lady Priscilla, dying in childbirth, and the continual misfortune and raiding of little Tilton-on-the-hill? It's not even a full-sized manor; why do the Saxons keep attacking it? And now he thinks a church will protect Tilton. Has he not ridden with me? By the bosom of St Barbara, I do not understand it.

And while I age and fall into decrepitude so that I can barely cut my meat at table, let alone the meat from Saxon bones, He honors Sir Gwair with a battlefield death...Gwair, a man who made me look holy in comparison. Tsk. Sir Gwair, always the life of the party. I miss him, I admit it.

It's no wonder then that not only could we Candlebees barely repulse a Saxon party raiding Leicester lands, but I took another grievous wound in the fighting, as did Brandegoris. Three months of sitting on my ass before going back into the field and trying to accomplish something before dear Count Idar's return from fighting for the King....Brandegoris announced that through the tutelage of Kevan he was now ready to take on the Black Annis, and since that cursed wretch is responsible for a hefty reduction in Idar's comptal income, off we rode, our scars still pink and new. (Hell, last year's scars are still pink and new.)

Well, I forgot how awful that hag's screams are. I sat on my horse, petrified, as Sirs Bledri and Tobias were rent asunder. My only consolation? That Candlebee stalwart Brandegoris was in the same kettle, and when he mustered his Valor he smacked Black Annis with his hambone-mace, but his arm trembled so he could not hit very hard (as he usually does). He, Eddy, and I finally rode away like little girls to the screams of the man we'd left behind. People say, "Oh, woo, you went up against Black Annis a second time? Well done!" but I can only think, What a complete waste of space I am; I can do nothing to benefit my lord dear Count Idar.

Can't I just die already?

Sir Edward here

Despite my best warnings, young Sir Bledri was seduced by the considerable charm of the Candlebees. And look what it got him! A face-full of hag and an early death.

Those Candlebees are a rough lot, friends. Don't let the stories convince you otherwise.

Brandegoris here

I begin to think that it is not just Tilton-on-the hill that is cursed or that I, myself am cursed, but that all of Britian is cursed.

I still am not right with God, even though I brought the late Sir Gwair's son to live with me as pennance. I find myself looking upon the boy's mother too often and for too long. Then I think of Priscilla, and then I renew my vow to never marry or to be with another women in any way, and it gives me a measure of comfort. Anyway the woman is having a tryst with my bailiff Sam, as if they thought it wasn't noticeable. Sam's wife Agnes is not pleased I hear. I will probably have to step in and do something about it soon. Maybe marry her off to someone from the village so she could leave my manor house. Then I would not find myself tempted by whatever evils there are that are making me think of the inappropriate.

I am still not right with God. I tried going to church in Leicester once last year after a visiting Roman Bishop convinced me that my denouncement of God could compromise Priscilla's place in heaven. I only made it halfway up the front steps and then just could go no farther. My anger came back and I turned away. Father Merle assures me that my feelings towards God are my own, and while I will probably be tortured in the bottomless pit of hell, that Priscilla was God-fearing and devoted so she will be fine. Her life will be less painful now than it was on earth he says. I like to believe that.

We fought at a slate mine in the nort hills near Tilton, and the battle was a draw. The area around Tilton was raided but we sent the Saxons back. Padern was nearly slain as was I but after months of recovery we were whole once again.

We felt like the year was not going well again and I felt that Cavan my kern teacher had taught me the knife as well as I could learn it, so we went to rid the land of B lack Annis. It seemed reasonable at the time. Long story short? We were petrified, Bledri nearly slain and we all ran away in the end. I was so petrified that I could not think straight, so I forgot to use my iron knife (wasp-sting), and I used my mace instead. I lost my armor to the Hags rotten stomach vile and in short we went back to Leicester with our tails between our legs.

Next year will be better. It has to be. I hope Edar returns from Nanteleod with good news.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

508: The horror of battle

Count Edar here

Not since Lindsey fell to the Saxons have I known horrors in battle like I have this year. We rode to the south with King Nanteleod to finally face the Saxon Cerdic. We first encountered his forces at the battle of Winchester. With the Men of Leicester on the right wing of the battle we charged in to their midst. Though the battle was fierce, we pressed forward, we moved beyond the front lines of the enemy and were attacking his soft underbelly when Sir Gwair was knocked from his horse. Before we could regroup, he was beset by two units of Heorthgeneats. Gwair is a mighty knight, but one man could not stand before those numbers, and Gwair was nocked to the earth. I know Gwair to be a devout pagan, and I hope that his soul is content wherever it goes. The Saxons withdrew, and we held the day, but the cost was heavy.

We could not let Cerdic withdraw so easily. After tending to our dead, we pursued him, and did battle at a place called Netley Marsh. The Saxons were cunning, and were were led into the poor footing and trapped. Young Avitus fell when archers shot his horse out from under him. He tried to get free, but the beast fell upon him and crushed him into the marsh. Next to fall was Padern, though I confess I did not see what knocked him low, for just after that I was knocked from my horse. My squire was nowhere near at hand, and so I had to face an endless onslaught of Coerns coming out of the marsh while on foot. In an open field the Coern is no threat to a knight, but in this marsh and in their numbers, I was fortunate to fight my way to Brandegoris' side. We did battle for much of the day. Brandegoris continued to urge me to flee, even going so far as to offer me his horse. But I could not. Padern and Brandegoris were the last of the my fellow Candlebees. What kind of man would I be if I fled and left them to die?

Back to back we stood, oblivious to the tides of battle around us. As the day progressed, the number of Coerns and Heorthgeneats surrounding us drew the attention of two groups of the feared Saxon Berserkers! They were truly fierce as they came charging at us, and I thought that perhaps our time had come. With a grim nod to Brandegoris we met them head on. I watched as Brandegoris hewed into one, only to see it continue to advance and strike him. Its fellow attacked Brandegoris from the side and smashed him from his horse with a great club. I had no time to wonder if he had survived though. I crashed into the largest Berserker with my spear, and it peirced him from his stomach through the back of his neck. The brute fell dead, but my spear was trapped. I has hit by his fellow so hard that I think I spun around before everything went black.

I woke up in Sarum. I still do not know how sever our losses were. Somehow we had all survived. Brandegoris and I spent a month at deaths door. I would not have made it, but my beloved Christine came down from Leicester to tend to me herself. She gently nursed me back to health. There is snow on the ground now as we prepare to return home. Many of our men will not be returning at all. I have not been able to find King Nanteleod, and those I have asked about him are evasive. I heard a rumor he had fallen in the battle, but I don't know if he lives or not. With my friend Gwair gone, and the King possibly lost, the only comfort I take is that my son Seriol has survived the battle. When I find the King I believe it will be time to have him knighted.

Suzanne here...

The Candlebees have been having a rough few years; I think we were ready for them to go out with their boots on. Greg's been tinkering with the Pendragon battle system (yay), so we decided to play a two-year night, test out the rules, and kill ourselves off. Sir Gwair was the only one lucky enough to die heroically. The rest of us...

In the new battle rules you can choose to move into and through the enemy's front lines, right into the thick of battle! Which we did. You can also, depending on your rolls, choose your targets, and we kept going for the tough guys. But still we didn't die. Avitus and poor old 4d6 Padern took big hits, got major wounds and sunk unconscious to the ground to return another year. Idar and Brandegoris each fought a pair of berzerkers, didn't bother to fight defensively, and still lived.

But it's not like we didn't try. Maybe we'll test out the battle rules again and get it right next Saturday.

Sir Gwair speaks

So I says to myself, "Gwair," I says, "At least you went down swinging. With a woman or a sword, at least your blood was thundering." Yes, I knew the years were catching up with me. The last few winters were cold and cruel, and I noticed I was losing a step or two with the ladies. When that saxon nurse said "ooh, you must have been something when you were younger," that hurt more than a strike from an axe.

And then there was that whole fiasco with that Septimus tart. What a mess. Poor old Padern. But I can't help but feel responsible since it was I who wanted to go bed a noble lass, and then somehow failed to net her with my previously infallible charm, and then threw the arm-wrestling match to let Padarn see some action. Somehow he is better looking than me now. Ah, well, he deserves it, he's been a pillar of strength for Lindsey forever.

Finally, one of those axes did me in. I have to admit, I thought I was done for so many times before this. I don't have any regrets. Hopefully Olda will take care of the kids. I saw more than my fair share of action in my life. I loved my more than my fair share of maidens, too, and I don't regret that at all. As I stand here in the middle of the Bridge of Swords, I look back, just for a moment. I see the distant chaos of battle, my Candlebees fighting like demons, and just for a second I wish I could return to their company. But my path lies in another direction.
I truly hope there are women in the next world.

Sir Brandegoris here

It was as I suspected...God has NO mercy. I did everything in my power to slay myself in the battles I fought in while destroying the saxon plague, but my life it seems can not be taken by mortal man...unless he be a physician that is.

The first battle, called the battle of winchester was a splendid victory for us Britons, but because Cerdic's men were all faint of heart ,the battle was not a long one. The only significant thing that happened was that my closest friend and companion Sir Gwair the not- so- chaste, was ambushed by saxon dogs and lured into a trap set for him upon the battlefield. How do I know this? MY MAGIC SADDLE was present. I saw the saxon warlord WOLFHEAR of Woolsthorpe present at the battle and ever his men pressed around the defiant Sir Gwair of LILBOURNE. (Gwair put up with that snotty bitch long enough. I reckon he will ALWAYS have the right to be OF LILBOURNE).

Wolfhear's men had ado with Gwair and overpowered him and none of the Candlebee's had any chance to aid my good friend. Wolfhear did not trouble himself with Gwair once he set loose his hounds upon him. He fought elsewhere and I must admit, Wolfhear is indeed a mighty warrior worthy of his reputation. He will be worth killing someday. After the battle when I questioned one of Wolfhear's men I understood why it was that Wolfhear had particularly sought out Gwair. It seems that the young Saxon lass who attended Gwair in prison was Wolfhear's niece and for some reason unknown to me,she told Wolfhear(after Gwair was ransomed), that Gwair had not only flirted her to death, but had compromised her chastity. Yea, and even bedded her against her will.

It seems that even in death Gwair is mighty and even an enemy woman will want to tell their handmaids that they once had the pleasure of sleeping with the legendary Gwair! It must be a pagan status symbol or something. But it did give me a chuckle. The only thing that gave me a laugh this year, in fact.

In the end the Saxon Wolfhear had his way and his men killed sir Gwair after un-horseing him. They then set about cutting off Gwairs private parts to give to their master but I am told by a third-hand account that Gwairs squire went insane with rage and somehow( not by the grace of God i'm sure), drove off the men and took his masters body off the field. Gwair has often been fortunate in his squires.

I will take Gwair's squire as my own and Tom, my own fine and loyal squire will help train him. When I get back to Leicester I will build a large Tomb with an effigy for my best friend sir Gwair. We never saw eye to eye on religion or on matters of the flesh, but he was a good man and had been my brother-in-law Rhun's boon companion as well. He has saved both Rhun and myself more than once in battle, and I will remember him every yule as I gather together the families of Tilton.

I have spoken to father Merle who assured me that by building a church at Tilton I could avert its inherent evil and that if I, as pennance, gathered together all of Sir Gwairs children and mothers and invited them to Tilton to live I would once again be okay with the Lord. I really do not care if Im okay with God, but I WILL take it upon myself to take care of Gwairs squire, mothers, and children. I know that even if he was a bit irresponsible, he would have done the same for me. I am troubled as of late because a realization has struck me. Seeing Gwairs old bed partner Cake,may be uncomfortable for me., and the thought of her living at Tilton petrifies me.In my confusion I confided in father Merle about the isue and he suggested that I found Cake attractive and tempting. I of course have taken a vow never to be with a lady again after Priscilla, so I told him that his notion was absurd. He suggested that I invite Cake to stay at Tilton to test my resolve and so that I could resist temptation. I called him a fool and said that the whole thing was a non-issue, and of course I would have her stay. No big deal. I will also be bringing my own children back to Tilton. Perhaps all Gwair's widows will be able to aid me in caring for them?

The battle of Netley marsh was a disaster. Padern cut down and nearly slain in the first charge, Me and Edar without Gwair's solid shied next to us. The battle was Very LONG, and hard, and in the end my Count and myself were off-horse and back-to-back struggling to survive. My only wish was to die and meet God so I could smite him with Skullcrusher, so I asked Edar repeatedly to take my mount and flee, but my Lord is a boon companion and one of the most brave and noble Lords in the land, and he stood with me till the last. It is his sacrifice in staying with me till the end that made me change my mind about living and NOT dying. How could I selfishly abandon my Lord because of my own pity. He was ready to die to make sure that I did not. If he values my life so much, then how can I not Value myself? In the end we were ambushed by four Berserkers. Raving drunk men that were touched by the Gods and given the strength of battle-mad frenzy. We did as well as we could, but these men are dangerous and have been the death of many good knights. Somehow we were not captured after falling unconcious and after several monthes of healing and wondering if my Damned drunk physisian would kill me( he nearly did so) I and Edar recovered.

Am I okay with the God ? NO. But for my Lord Edar's sake and to keep up apearances I will build a small shrine(no church) and as pennance I will keep Gwair's children and their mothers. I am nearly destroyed by the loss of my wife, but I have my children to think of, my good companions(Padern and Edar), my excellent and loyal squire Tom of Weathersfield, and a slew of people depending on me. Priscilla loved me and one day I will meet her again. I dont know where, but I will. She will make me answer for my life and I know that PITY will not be a virtue that she would want me to elevate above other virtues. I have a duty to my Lord, and my people, and I have decided that I will NOT let them down. My happiness is shattered , so now I must cling to the ONLY thing I have left... My duty.

I fear for Sir Padern, my Lord who knighted me and has always been a good companion. He IS old and not as hardy a fighter as he used to be, but I have seen him and he is very skilled. The problem is I think he is lonely and misses the " old days". His hey day. I am afraid that Gwair's death will depress Padern even more. I am going to suggest that he take another wife and perhaps even take life easy at Medbourne for a while, to rest his mind and spirit. I hope he agrees. Perhaps one of Gwair's children's mothers? interesting idea. ...........Certainly not Cake however. Shes just not his type.. I'm sure of it.I'll write again next year if God does not have me destroyed before then.

507: Raids and Ransoms

Sir Avitus Here...

Count Edar has once again been called to fight alongside King Nanteleod. This year I was asked to stay behind and the Candlebees and I went on a special mission for the Count. It seems that The Iron Mine at Woolsthorpe was in operation again, and the ore was being taken by Sorestan. Edar had a manor at woolsthorpe long ago, and asked us to see if it could be reclaimed. He told us we were to investigate it, and then look into the accursed Black Anis that had returned to the woods south west of Leicester. Brandegoris had been planning to face the creature again since it took the life of his brother in law, so off we rode.

Upon arriving at Woolsthorpe we discovered that the village had grown up into a town with a pallisade. We could not cause the defenders to ride out to meet us, so we rode to the mine. We found no resistance, but it was clear that a saxon noble held some influence hear, since the peasants were afraid to leave the mine. Some strange bloodlust seems to have come upon Padern and Gwair - they set to burning the fields around Woolsthorpe in an attempt to force the enemy to ride out to meet us. After days of raiding and burning, we were preparing to return home, when we discovered a force of 30 Saxons coming to meet us. We thought we had evaded them, but as we were about to cross back into the county of Leicester, we were ambushed. The battle was short, and unfortunately, all of us were claimed for ransom. Fortunately, sir Padern's squire Seriol was able to escape. I say fortunately, because the young man is the comptal heir. It would be a grave loss to have him held.

Padern, Gwair, Brandegoris and I were taken back to Woolsthorpe. Gwair and I had been seriously wounded in battle, and the only reason we survived was the Saxons wanted our ransom. Brandegoris was recognized again for his hambone exploits - I find it curious that among rural people, stories about fighting with food achieve such fame. In more civilized lands it is understood that you do not throw your food at your guests, whether they are welcome or not. Still, this caused Brandegoris to be brought before the local warlord. Apparently he again threw food at someone, killing the poor fellow. I understand that we are at war with these saxons, and they deserve to die, but for a man to die at the table? This doesn't seem a fit way to go. These Saxons however, thought the matter was hillarious, apparently fighting to the death at dinner is something that happens in their pagan afterlife. They took Brandegoris all about the Kingdom of Sorestan and had him perform. While this happened, Gwair and I recovered from our wounds, but Gwair was greivously wounded again. There was no battle this time though. The young maiden who tended to our wounds was not swayed by Gwairs charms. She told him he was too old! I on the other hand, found her to be quite charming, but as she was a saxon and a pagan, I resisted the temptation to bed her.

Count Edar returned from war and learned of our capture. These rural lords are strange, but it must never be said they are not generous. With no means to myself, the count paid for my ransome from his treasury. Brandegoris and Padern were ransomed by their manors, of course, but Gwair was not. In a truly ingenious political and legal maneouver the Count of Lambor seized Gwair's lands. It seems that Gwair was ignoring convention and sending taxes and gifts to Count Edar, even though he held the manor through Lambor. When Padern learned that this had happened, he refused to be ransomed. He asked me to return to Count Edar and plan a rescue for he and Gwair.

The count is a man loyal to his vassals, and a shrewd field commander. When I delivered Padern's message, he asked about Woolsthorpe's new defenses. The army had disbersed for the harvest season, and it was clear that we could not must the forces necessary to take Woolsthorpe before the army of Sorestan arrived to engage us. Edar again went to his treasury, but could not raise the money to ransom Gwair. Noble Brandegoris pledged to pay much of Gwair's ransome, even surrendering the saddle he inherited from his father. He placed great value in its virtues, but I honestly never saw evidence of them. In the end we were able to ransom both men.

Harvest was nearly upon us. Edar sent Padern and Brandegoris back to their manors to tend to their lands. The curse of the Anis would be dealt with another year. Unfortunately, the tragedy of the year was still to come. Brandegoris' lady wife, the much adored Priscilla, died in childbirth. Brandegoris reacted as any distraught man would, but the years brudens were to much. In a moment of anger he lashed out, cursing god and rejecting his christian faith. Fortunately he realized his error, and Father Merle of Leicester has assured me that he has returned to his beliefs. Though they are misguided in their faith, this local take on christianity is still more likely to lead to salvation than embracing pagan ways.

Sir Padern here...

Well, so much for reclaiming the iron mine at Woolsthorpe. Maybe next year, after we take care of Black Annis.

It will be said, however, that a finer group of knights than the Candlebees has never breathed the sweet summer air of Logres.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

506: Girl Trouble

Some quotes. Everybody likes quotes:

"Don't let them put us in a position of breaking Hospitality."
"Hey. I'm just sitting here eating ham."

"You did all this with your loins."

Sir Padern here

Stick with what you know; that's what I say. Getting the peasants to do your bidding? Go to Idar. Intimidating Saxons? Brandegoris is your man. The intricate ways of the city? Avaris knows what to do. How to best torch a village of recalcitrant serfs? Ask Gwalchmai. And relations with the fairer sex? Gwair has all the facts.

So what was I thinking when, after our Somerset campaign with King Nanteliod went bust, of wooing a comely lady in the court at London? I'm an old man; I should have known something wasn't right when I won the arm-wrestling contest against Gwair. He's ten years younger than me! But blinded by Lust I fooled myself into thinking my own brawn was superior, and so went off with a most-willing lady of high looks and some repute.

The next thing I know I am defending myself with my sword, half-clothed and unarmored. I could see, or thought I could, Sir Brandegoris in the hall wailing away at the strange and strangely upset men besetting me. But then one of the dastards ran me through and I sank to the floor bleeding profusely.

The next thing I know I'm being wheeled into court to face charges of...I'm not sure what! And the panel had already made up its mind as to my guilt, so there was no arguing. Eighty-sixed from London, and saddled with a hefty fine for the men Brandegoris killed and laid low. (Good lad.) Count Idar was trying to be diplomatic but it was really too much to take and we were in short order hauled from the courtroom, shouting and cursing at the top of our lungs.

My wound in my, ah, upper thigh procluded us from riding from the city, so Sir Gwalchmai devised a plan whereby Idar and I would boat up the Thames to Hertford-town while the rest of the Candlebees rode out Cripple Gate with squires disguised as me and Idar. Those Septimus thugs were completely fooled, and we got away clean

At Gwair's suggestion we will send them a dinar every Whitsuntide toward the money owed. Ha!

So, not only does Sir Gwair innocently escape the adventure of the Loose Lady of London and her Angry Brothers Greg had planned for him, but when it comes time to apply some healing to my Major Wound....Gwair is usually the Candlebees go-to guy for First Aid, so it's unusual for him to miss, much less fumble. And then the bastard rolls max damage from the fumble! I think I'm just going to steer clear of the ladies, despite my hell-sent new looks.

Monday, May 5, 2008

505: Knights of the Hart

Sir Edar here,

The burden of ruling in Leicester is not what I expected. For several years now I have not been able to ride with the Candlebees. Still, it is good to have a place to call home where we need not worry about the Saxons finding us. My eldest son Seriol has been Squired to Sir Padern, and Alaine will be squired this yule. My dear Christine has pointed out that his twin sister will be of marriageable age soon - a problem no father would like to consider. I have observed that many noble households use marriage to form alliances. I will have to think carefully on my daughters future.

Once again I have had to spend nearly a week to attend to my Lord King Nantleod. It is a great honor to be called upon, but I do miss the days of only having to ride from Allington north to Lincoln. At these meetings I am one of many voices in council, but this year it was different. The King made a point to ask my advice and after discussing his planned campaign, we spoke of matters of politics. The King told me that the Collegium would be meeting and that I would be called on to vote. Me? No, I said. I hold the title of Count, but have not been confirmed in it. The King told me this would be changing, and that he would support my claim of title. It was clear that he expected me to vote for him, but this didn’t trouble me. I have sworn to serve him, and my friends and I have witnessed too many treacherous nobles for me to favor one I didn’t know. I told the King he had my support, and we spoke of the coming campaign. He also asked if I was still getting along well with my troublesom neighbor the Count of Lambor…

I returned to Leicester and mustered what Knights I could. Indeed, only a score of Lindsey knights remained, including those recently returned from being lost with Sir Brastius. However, we gathered the footmen and road out when the King arrived. Though my offering was small, I was pleased to see that Lambor fielded only half as many men. We traveled south to face Cerdic, intending to fight him near old Sarum. On the way we were approached by a representative of Duke Ulfius who offered to join us. While I do not trust the man, the King brought in his forces, and we met Cerdic in battle at Levcomagus. The battle was short and decisive, and as our enemy withdrew, we regrouped and prepared to follow. I believe Cerdic would no longer breath had we not learned that the Saxons were sallying forth from London. London! Sir Avitus had told us of the treachery that lead to its fall. Their army was large and we did not know where it would strike if we ignored it, so we chose to engage it instead of pursuing Cerdic. At the end of the day we alone stood on the field, and our foes had fled. We lost two friends in the battle – one of the Martin of Thetford, the other a dedicated man of Lindsey. We besieged London, and it fell in a matter of days. Although some knights laid claim to spoils, most treated the Romans of London with courtesy, as they had become subjects of the King.

With the campaign season drawing to a close we made ready to return to our homes. Padern was concerned about fixing the walls of his tower, while Brandegoris is already discussing how he and his lady will be fixing up Tilton on the Hill. I was again called before the King. He told me that an army was massing to meet us. He explained that we were free to depart, but he asked that we stay to fight for him. Though it was to be at our own expense, I have never been asked to stay and fight for my lord before. I couldn’t say no. However, I would not speak for my men. I went before the Lindsey knights and explained that a foe was coming, but that if they chose to stay, they would have to keep themselves. I would support the foot in the troops. Reactions were mixed. Padern was vocal in his support of staying, but others were anxious to return. I made it clear that each man who chose to leave could do so, and that I would not find his service lacking. Brandegoris, Gwair, and Padern disagreed. I wished all who would leave a safe journey, and went to address the footmen. I believe that Padern may have been too vocal in his comments, for when I saw him next, he looked like he had been wrestling with the Danes. We learned that London would not be able to withstand a siege, so we set out to meet our foe in the field.

What can be said about the Battle of Hartford? We met twice our number of knights in combat. These men had been conquered by the Saxons and fought for their Saxon masters, but they were Britons nonetheless. The battle was brutal. We fought all morning and into the afternoon when I saw a break in the enemy lines. Through the gap I saw the Count of Hartford and his household guard. They had been taking a terrible toll on our forces. With a cry of “CANDLEBEES!”, I led our forces through the gap and against the count. His Knights were strong but we met them head on. I collided with the Count and while his lance was shattered on my shield, mine pierced his armor and his heart. As he fell his men drew close around him. We exchanged blows felling two more, but Gwair was grievously wounded. We slew the last two and the enemy routed. We left Gwair in the capable hands of his squire and pursued. One knight and four footmen fell before me before I heard the sound of the horn calling us back. We regrouped, and marched to Hartford.

The city had thrown its gates open and surrendered! Half of the Knights opposing us had stood apart from the battle, and they pledged themselves to the King. What a feast we had that Knight. Padern, Brandegoris, and even a recovering Gwair spoke of our deeds that day with such pride. My fellow Candlebees have spoken highly of our accomplishments in the past, but to have these boasts acknowledged by the King in front of my son… it was a great thing. I pointed out that our Victory against the Count of Hartford was due to the actions of the Candlebees, but they insisted that it was my fury in battle that took the day.

The young Duke had fought in the vanguard, and asked the King to be Knighted. The King declared he would grant the request, and ordered that those of us with Squires of age should be knighted also. Simon, Eddie III, Bart, and Brugyn were thrilled, while my son Seriol became the senior squire to sir Padern. The King granted me 4 manors around Hartford to rule as part of Leicester so that I could support these new knights. This campaign has been a costly one, but the costs are outweighed by the respect and admiration of our fellows, and the gratitude of the King.

To distinguish ourselves for service, the King accepted a suggestion from Sir Brandegoris. The coat of arms of all knights who fought this day would be the charge of a Hart’s head. We would be the Knights of the Hart. Before we left for home, my King accepted my second son Alaine as a squire to his household. A great honor that ties me closer to him.

Sir Brandegoris speaks

In truth, the battle of Hartford would have gone very ill for our good king Nanteleod had not the Candlebees been present. No... I take that back. If Count Idar,"Scourge of the saxon Dogs", and "Champion of Christ", not appeared on the battlefield that day. I was moved by him. He was always just a fellow knight of Lindsey and a companion to me until that day. But watching him valiantly strike down the enemy while other men fled in terror has changed my view. His own oath-sworn men left the field to go back to their hearths while their Count AND Duke fought like devils from the otherworld. Idar, my count and friend has been very modest, but the truth of the matter is that the Saxon Count of Hartford and his three champions, no.... heroes, approached and no one but the Candlebees would have ado with them. I am Brandegoris the Giant. I am Brandegoris of the Hambone who destroyed a saxon Kings arm and captured him and who has killed a fiend knight and even the knight of DEATH itself. But I could be NO help to my oathsworn lord on this day. Nor, I think, did my Lord need it. He fought like a man possessed. He slew the count of hartford, descendant of Thor, as well as two of the three heroes. Liofa the Red Wolf, and Welenca of the silver tree. I was Impotent. I tried to aid my lord but the enemy was great and their charms of satan protected them from my blows. Gwair was nearly slain. Only my Mentor and Friend till the end, Sir Padern was able to strike ones head from its shoulders, but at great cost to his own well being. He slew the invincible warrior Thrunor of the Sacred hold, and now that warrior will be Paderns slave in the otherworld when Padern dies, and will serve Padern mead and wait upon him and his warriors. All four of those saxons were great heroes amongst their people, but Idar abd Padern were greater on that day.
I defeated a knight of Hartford in single combat that day. His mame was Sir weathers of Weathersfield . I had to grapple within myself not to enslave him and sale him back to his kin, But I have now taken a sacred oath, made only to myself and geased upon me by father merle, not to assail any Briton or profit from their destruction. I am not really a church going man, but I do feel as though god watches me. I let weathers go and shared his famalies hospitality. I made him swear to my Lord Idar and I even took his oldest son as my new Squire since my own faithful squire Simon was knighted by King Nanteleod. Sir Weathers will be my eternal companion, and I his. I will make sure that his son is well provided for.

I love my 3 year old daughter Matilda more than anything. She is a true treasure and has her mothers eyes. I am worried however because I have not yet been blessed with more children. A son especially. Because of the battle of Hartford and my many near death experiences, I have decided to make a will. The only person I can leave my things to it seems is my daughter as a dowry to whatever man she would marry, or my old and loyal ex-squire and fellow Candlebee Simon. I, for the moment will go with Simon, My new Heir and I will also leave him Tilton-on-the-hill, until a male child is born.

I have re-affirmed my oath to Count Idar, though I of course still support Duke Derfel as well. And I hope the next year is a year of peace so that I can straighten out Tilton and reward those few followers I have with gold.

I am worried about what the new year holds. This autumn I will bury our old companion , Martin of Thetford And sign his name to the Pillar of resistance. Farewell until next year.

Sir Padern here

I'm pleased and satisfied—happy, really—that Idar is Count of an expanding Leicester, and that he's King Nanteliod's man. Nanteliod looks to be the next high king, and from number of vassels he's claimed, I wouldn't doubt it. So it was with relish that I spent the summer fighting for my lord and comrade-in-arms. Battles in Levcomagus, London, Hertford, and skirmishes at all points in between. Good old-fashioned fun, that!

But being the crusty old bastard that I am, I was bitterly disappointed that my fellow Lindseymen (Candlebees excepted!) called it quits at the end of their forty days service. Panty-waisted cowards! I expected better, and can only surmise that I failed in my duties training these men as squires, for they apparently never grew the balls to be a true Lindseyman. Beset by enemies and scrappy as hell! That's what we are.

It did feel good smashing through the line of Hertford "heroes" and watching dear Idar pulverize their count. Good show, man!