I knew when Mother had brought to me the chest that was my father's, that she had given her tacit approval of my desires...to offer my service to Edar, Count of Leicester, King of Oriel, Knight of the Round Table, and one of the finest men in all Christendom.
For weeks the news reaching Leicester's square has been grim, even as the townspeople's excitement mounted with the return of Leicester's knights from the Continent, armies arriving from Hertford and far-off Trond, and the upset of our neighbor to the south, Lambor.
But when Hertford left to defend his own county, and Archbishop Dewey came to town it got ugly. Leicester received word from one of Sir Cynfyn's squires that Bedegraine was on the march and had taken the Medlarwood, pillaging the surrounding lands. Indeed, that Sir Cynfyn had fallen on the field outside Bunny and was lost: another Candlebee flame extinguished. But before the mason's could be summoned to inscribe yet another name on the Pillar of Resistance, Bedegraine was again on the move, and attacked my lord Leicester on the King's Road. Several of Leicester's men were wounded or even killed, though Leicester carried the day.
It earned him no respite, for word soon followed that Lincoln had seized Allington, the soul of Leicester and our count's familial manor. The Archbishop chose this sensitive time to arrive in Leicester's hall with Queen Elaine of Garloth in tow. The Archbishop was mighty displeased that Leicester had gone to the Pope in Rome for an annulment instead of going to the head of the British church...Mother says that Christians have always fought Christians, and that this helps keep the religion strong. My mother, my sister, and I only heard the account of his audience second-hand, so I cannot vouch for the truth that Sir Perseus threw the Queen over his shoulder and carried he from the hall and threw her down a latrine...nay, it cannot be so. Though if he had, Leicester's queen would have rewarded him well, as the Archbishop said Leicester must put aside his Queen Valerie as he was still married to Queen Elaine in the eyes of the church. And as Edar would not, the Archbishop excommunicated him, and placed the whole county under interdict. Alas! Even the doors of St Christopher are shut tight.
When we heard that an army from down south was marching toward Medbourn, we could only assume it was from King Arthur, come to finish off Leicester...we prayed all night in our little chapel, Mother, Wihtburh and I...and in the morning, Mother took me to the chest, and had me dressed in Father's mail, and handed me Father's spears and sword and let me go to beg my lord Leicester to let me fight for him. My sister, as desirous of action as I, he would not knight, but sent back to the city to serve the Queen. She went, but I could see how hard her face was set in her disappointment.
I am told it was not a large battle, as these things are reckoned, though it was to me, and mighty fierce. But my lord Leicester's skill on the battlefield is legendary, and we found many opportunities to advance our forces through the army opposing us. The only one to seriously challenge our progress was a hero, who almost cut down my lord Leicester before I knocked him from his horse and Sir Perseus slew him fighting him on foot. Only after the battle did I learn that this man was a Round Table knight, a foreigner by the name of Sir Sagramore.
I was also told that this was not King Arthur's largest army, and even though we destroyed it utterly, he will almost certainly be back with an even greater force, and more heroes to throw at us. But now I am a knight, and a man, and have ridden with a real Candlebee, and fought for my lord Leicester, so I do not care what comes next. My mother is proud of me, and I know that my father, my God bless his soul, would be, too.
Sir Perseus, Candlebee.
I believe I am marked for death by the British church. Whatever that means.
Where do I begin? First, Archbishop Dewey shows up and demands that King Count Edar renounce his marriage to Valerie since the British church never divorced he and Elaine. I don't know, the pope seemed a good enough authority for me. How many different flavors of christianity are there already? They all seem the same to me. I don't like any of them. Anyway, it just seems like a ploy by Arthur to bring Edar down. Right before this Dewey clown starts his excommunication mumbo jumbo, I jump in.
Now, I want everyone to be very clear on why I did what I did. I don't care about the church phooey. What I took great offense from was the names archclown Dewey called my Lord's wife, Valerie. People should know that he called her rude, untrue names and also claimed she fornicated with dogs!!! So either he was calling Edar a dog, or saying... how could anyone say such things? If he is an Archbishop, then I want nothing to do with their church. Sadly, the peasants still want in. So, after these insults, something had to be done. In my recklessness, at least I didn't kill him. But I slapped him full across the face. I wager archclown Dewey will never forget me. And yes, their funny version of an nailed god worshippers will now probably try to poison me or kill me in my sleep. heh. They need to wait in line for that. I figure Lancelot or maybe Sir Bors will be the end of me. I am not stupid. They are both skilled powerful knights. I am young yet. Perhaps my passions will see me through, perhaps not.
But wait, there is more. 'Queen' Elaine shows up. Last I heard she was out of favor with the High King, but apparently he is not above using her as a cat's paw. She stood in Edar's hall, demanded Edar get rid of his trollop, and started to move towards her old rooms. Edar said she should instead be quarter in more appropriate rooms, so, putting her over my shoulder since she wouldn't obey her supposed still-husband, I took her out and threw her in a horse stall in a stable. She tried to leave, but I wouldn't let her until she said she wanted to leave the whole town. And before she left I said: 'When I threw you in the mud, your outsides finally matched your insides.' To some of you readers, this my sound monstrous, but I assure you, the woman that pillaged her own husbands lands while he was in prison deserved such a statement. Her spirit is dirty. My father hated her, and I see why. She is a spoiled, petulant, evil, stupid woman. Even her own brother the High King was angry with her. So, you can add her to the list of people that hate me and will see me dead. Again, Lancelot is still going to have the first try.
The more I see of religion the less I like it. All of this politicking makes me ill.
One of Arthur's small forces attacked from the south. We crushed them. Round Table knight Sir Sagramor fell. Too bad, I didn't have anything against him. One more man Arthur has killed needlessly.
From the scribe of Sir Cynfyn...
For my Lord Cynfyn, Banneret of Leicester, loyal vassal of Count King Edar, Odio the scribe records the doleful events of this summer of 534, that I may read it to him when he is conscious again.
My lord, you know of the sad winter holidays, and the visit by Sir Tor to urge appeasement, and the plague of grey friars that the good lord Count King Edar himself dispersed with his canny recitation of Scripture. For the record it was Sir Ginagal that you slew, and his brother Sir Ginavan who struck you and left you for dead. We lost all our footmen after that, though half of them have simply run away and not come back. Thank that boy of yours to have dragged you to where we hid at the chapel. I thought you were going and to die, and administered last rites. That cut on your forearm is the mark of Fighting Jesus that you said I must do when you die. I said it would be on your chest, but I dared not touch near to that gaping and sucking wound. Thank your wife for your life, for I swear to FJ that it was her tears upon your bleeding lungs that saved your life. God knows my own skills could not have helped.
Lord Edar arrived with some men, for he was on his way to pay homage to Count Derfel for his lands in Allington. Without you he was nearly slain, but others arrived late and saved him. The army then searched out and drove off the Bedegrainians with many losses, and restored most of the plundered goods to the manor where Hugh has been dividing them fairly among the villains.
The rest I will write as I hear of events.
Lord Edar sent the Irish and Danes south to raid Lambor. They have been impatient and causing trouble in the city.
Count King Edar led the army to clear the north east of raiders. They came through Lonazep, but were largely from Malahaut.
Sir Tor returned. He demanded that Lord Edar turn over to him His Grace Uno, who was a traitor and felon, and wanted for justice in the court of King Arthur, who he had rebelled against. His Grace protested that he was a bishop, and could be tried only by Canon Law. Tor said he had instructions to turn him over to Archbishop Dewi. His Grace Uno protested that his overlord was in Rome, not some stinking Welsh wilderness. Finally Lord Edar stopped the bickering and said he would not release Uno, who had been guaranteed safe passage by the word of his man Cynfyn, and he would keep the laws of hospitality which were more ancient than any laws of Britain. Tor left, after calmly warning of great dangers ahead.
The city was blessed by a visit from His Grace Archbishop Dewi, whose behavior at Lord Edar’s court was barely better than those grey friar vermin. Is it a Roman rule to be as loud and abusive as possible at court? His Grace denounced Lord Edar as a faithless sinner of Nebuchadnezzar proportions. Arrogant old fool, I’m here and I can attest it is slander! The Waterman accused Lord Edar of bigamy, for he had two wives! Of course Lord Edar refuted this, and reminded everyone of how he and King Arthur had, together in Rome, petitioned the Pope and gotten the ridiculous wedding to Queen Elaine annulled. Dewi said it was worthless, because Edar was of the British Church, and thus he should have come to Dewi for an annulment, but didn’t. Thus, he was still married to the
queen, and he demanded that Lord Edar rid himself of his wife Valery. Lord Edar, ever the man of upright honor and candor, as well as the victim of blue-eyed love, refused. bitch
Whereupon His Grace Dewi, Archbishop and ranking authority of the British Church, revealed bell, book and candle and began the ritual of excommunication. Sir Perseus revealed his father’s hot blood and knocked the book down and stepped on the candle, then pushed the venerable archbishop to the floor and drew his sword, yelling so the clerics ran away and left Dewi on the floor. Sir Perseus was restrained and Dewi left, and found refuge in our own abbey, where he completed the ritual. This time Lord Edar and Sir Perseus were excommunicated (ha ha the latter being a Pagan!), and the entire county placed under Interdict. My good lord, know that Fighting Jesus is not subject to the laws of any Church and so we, and all who follow the Fighting Jesus, are safe. But the peasants everywhere are distressed. The doors to churches and abbeys are nailed closed. Dead lie in the street, unburied. Babies will die unbaptised.
His Grace Ufo offered to convert Lord Edar and all his people to the Roman way, whereupon Edar asked “What does that mean?” Ufo said that they obeyed a higher power than a tee totaling archbishop. “And that is whom?” asked Lord Edar. “Why, the Pope, who has several archbishops as vassals, and each of them the equal of that old heretic,” said Uno. Lord Edar, ever thoughtful, said he would consider it.
The Danes and Irish staggered back from the south, where a large army had driven them away so they suffered many losses and little booty. Lord Edar moved against them, using his foot men to fight in the woods, saving the knights for encounters in open places.
While so engaged the Lord Edar received word that beautiful Allington was seized by the tewwible Derfel, claiming disseizure due to Lord Edar’s failure to fulfill his vassalage obligations. Lord Edar, wisely looking to the long term, sadly nodded when he heard the news and turned back to dispatch men to a burning manor. After some difficulty the raiders were driven off before they pillaged too heavily.
Lord Edar is ever the courteous lord, eager to honor everyone according to his rank. Even against his enemies. Brace yourself, Sir, because this is hard to believe and I’ll be glad when we go to court and hear the truth of it. My sources are good, but… Well, listen.
Queen Elaine herself came to court! Yes, in full pageantry, and demanded audience with Lord Edar, who naturally saw her immediately in his hall. You know how arrogant she is. She called Edar “husband” and demanded he rid himself of “that trollop.” You know the way that only a queen can be when she abuses her position. Valery had to be held back, that savage little barbarian. And one of her whelps too. But no one could hold back Sir Perseus. They say he knocked down her guards and threw the queen over his shoulder and took her out to the court yard and threw her into the corral, the one is always full of horse shit. The Queen left, filthy and weeping, with her entourage screaming and crying and her guards ashamed of themselves.
That was the end of waiting. In a week we had word of a large army moving towards Medbourne. Lord Edar, ever one for offense rather than weakness, went to defend the land. I am so sorry, my lord, you were still incapable of action. This was the day you took your first meat, Sir, impossible to consider you in combat. It was a large army, mostly from Huntington, but with many from Lincoln and a band of volunteers led by Sir Sagramore, knight of the Round Table. We were outnumbered, but this is out land and the men fought like wolves at bay. It was fierce and we lost six good men, and many more commoners, but Lord Edar led from the front, and with his household guard cut his way through to the camp. Hot-headed Perseus and some youngster slew their leader, Sir Sagramore, previously of Greece and now of Hell.
The weather worsened, and I pray every day to FJ that you will wake and be well. Your Lady Lizabet is the most dutiful wife, and it pleases my heart to see your increased tenderness towards her. My lord, I will pray now and hope the next time you awake you will be able to sit up on your own.--Odio
Sir Arddur here...
Well I followed that fool Ellidyr all the way to London where I ran into minions of that damned De Ganis clan. Just how many uncles, brothers, cousins, and hangers on do they have in that clan? They tried to do me in but I escaped. I was able to find a tavernkeeper and a few other commoners that had seen Ellidyr though. Of course I'm quite a few pennies lighter now as a result. They said that he had an altercation with some De Ganis Knights and fled north east. I followed that trail until I came to a small cottage. It was at this cottage that I found him. To my amazement, he was acting like his old self and was looking much better than he had in a long while. He was even sober. He said he hadn't had a drink in over a week. There was an old woman and her 4 children that lived here. The woman had fallen on hard times and her husband was slain. It seemed that Ellidyr had been aiding her for a week. He was even doing peasant's work, like chopping wood and planting. What the hell. I asked what had happened and no sooner had I asked than I saw the answer come riding up on a beautiful red palfrey. Yes! Bright red, like a rose. The woman on its back was something out of a bedtime fairytale. She was smallish, barely under 5' tall I wager. and she had dark hair and features, and ice blue eyes that could see right through a man and into his very soul it seemed. She greeted me warmly as if I were a long lost friend and Immediately I was charmed by her crooked smile and sparkling eyes.
It seemed that Sir Ellidyr had saved her just after leaving London. A group of roving bandit mercenaries had her and her trapped and had waylaid her cart. They were searching it and manhandling the poor lady (whose name I came to find out is Leona) and Ellidyr, drunk and caring little for his own safety charged them. These were hardened mercenaries but Ellidyr was a man possesed I hear, and he killed 3 of the six, and wounded another before they fled. The woman took him to the farmhouse and dressed his wound with magic (so he says), then she talked to him for the next four days and it was during that time that he claims they fell in love. She claims to be a sorcerous and says that her father is a minor baron of Hertford.
As I had come upon the scene she was coming to fetch Ellidyr to meet her father and they were to be married at his castle in one week. This seemed like madness to me.
I reminded Ellidyr of his oaths to Count Edar, and that Edar had to give him permission to marry, and that a war was at hand and we needed him back. Upon hearing this, Leona agreed. She took us both to her fathers castle and provisioned us as well as gave us better arms and armour, and clothing. She was quite generous. She said that she would allow Ellidyr to go to his Lord and when the war was ended she would come to Leicester with her father and ask Count Edar's permission to marry Ellidyr. She is a woman who knows what honor is and how important is for a man. I truly like the lady. She is remarkable. I could see that Ellidyr did not want to leave but we convinced him to go finally. Now we have stopped at a small abbey. The "Abbey of the sacred thorn" or some such. I hope Lord Edar will not be cross with us and I hope we can reach him in time to be of assistance.