"One of the requirements of becoming a Candlebee is—"
"—killing a Round Table knight?"
"The de Ganis are on coke."
Lady Ealhred speaks...
I was in attendance with my lady early spring day when word came from her lord: a journey to far Gales to beg forgiveness from the archbishop, and a lifting of the interdict! Praise Jesu, I am hopeful that this will be so. It is a horrible burden to be cut off from the church. I myself would live in eternal agony if my flesh-and-blood were to die without the last embrace from Holy Mother Church. And surely many mothers are at such risk, as our menfolk resolve the troubles with the high king. Mother of God, please keep my son safe!...
Lady Valery speaks...
The hills around Leicester were just regaining their green blush when a messenger from the bishop came calling to the keep, with a message from my lord and the archbishop, he said. He announced to me and my ladies-in-waiting, with no small amount of satisfaction, that my lord was on his way home after agreeing to annul our marriage. He went on, noting that this would of course reduce the status of my three children to that of bastard. Seeing no reaction from me, he licked his lips, like a cat that licks stolen cream off its chops, and said my lord would be back within the week.
After I dismissed him I looked to my ladies for counsel. Lady Peony suggested taking my complaint to the queen's Court of Love; Lady Glorie said I should fall on my knees and beg my lord's forgiveness, as he'd begged the forgiveness of the archbishop. As if! Lady Ealhred suggested taking up vows. Lady Oriel, understanding me best, offered her townhouse to me, as I was now an unmarried woman and it was unseemly to live in under a strange man's roof.
And so several days later I found myself keeping house across town, my children and ladies and servants with me. I got word of his return, but it was not until some time later that he came calling. I was dreading laying eyes again on my lord, for I did not know what my reaction would be: icy cold like the Trond goddesses of the north? Fiery hot like the savage blood of my warrior countrymen? But when he at last came to my door I found that I could not reject him—I still loved him! And so I said, if he wanted me despite the blackhearts of this church saying otherwise, he must meet me under the eaves of the Charnwood on Midsummer night and we would marry in the old way, the heathen way.
Early on the day of Midsummer Eve I rode from Leicester with my ladies and a few trusted servants, east to the holy well near unto Kirby Muxloe, and took a ritual bath under the ash trees. We slept in the grove that night, and the next day, with all our clothes and horses wet with dew, we rode up to the forest, and the old hill with the standing stones the people hereabouts use on their non-Church festivals.
He was there, which I did not expect, and alone, which I also did not. I thought that Sir Perseus, he of the heathen ways, would at least accompany his lord if his other, religious men could not.
But he came to me on the hill, by the old stones, and we said our vows and, as the custom of this land (and indeed, my own) dictates, I gave to him a gift of the heart: a Roman glass flask, chased with gold to set off the red of the glass, containing a very precious elixir given to me by the wise women of Trond before I departed to this land. Seeing as I have now how perilious the life of a Leicesterman is, I wanted my lord and now again my husband, to have the gift of life should he find himself mortally wounded and far from home.
He took the flask and stuck it in a fold of his tunic, then took my hand and we departed from the hill.
Did my dreams under the ash trees lead me wrong? Does he care for me at all? He had no heart gift to bestow to me...Did he only marry me for the sake of the children? I am so confused and, I fear, falling into a deep melancholy that not even the sight of the flowering hollies can overcome...
Count Edar Speaks…
No matter how long I live, I shall never understand women
As the winter storms drew to a close I took a small host of knights to seek out Archbishop Dewey. Arthur Pendragon is once again my rightful lord, and I have a duty to the people of Leicester and Lambor to look after their wellbeing. The church interdiction weighs heavily on their heads, and I will not allow my people’s souls to be at risk for my pride. Dressed in the meanest clothes I had – I think they once dismissed by Yeoman Bowman’s wife as being too poor for a free man of Allington to wear – I travelled to Dewey. I brought young Perseus with me after getting his pledge that if he attended me, I would expect him to agree to the requirements of the Archbishop, without heed to comfort or what he felt was just. When we arrived I was directed to wait on a stone bench for the Archibishop. For 5 days I sat, stooping to pray, but not too eat or to sleep. At the end of the 5th day I dropped from hunger and exhaustion, but I returned to the bench as soon as I recovered. Soon after that Dewey agreed to see me.
When I arrived and begged his forgiveness he made several demands – I would make a pilgrimage to St. Albans from Leicester, barefoot and do what was demanded of me. Of course I agreed at once. I would pay for the British Church to annul my marriage to Elaine of Garloth – Whatever the cost, I replied. The Archbishop said it would be more than I paid for the Pope to try to annul it. I replied as mildly as I could that it would have to be – the pope annulled my marriage when I accompanied Arthur to capture Rome and have Arthur declared emperor. We later agreed that 25 Librum would be sufficient. No problem. Finally, he said I would have to have my marriage to Valerie annulled, or she would have to convert to Christianity. I wish he had instead asked that I lose an arm or be blinded! But I could not refuse for the sake of my people. I only hoped to reach her and tell her before the Archbishop’s word did.
As we prepared to return to Leicester, we saw a fast rider depart the monastery on the road to Leicester. My horse was not fast, but Sir Aeddan’s was and he rode after the messenger. I would learn later that he was not successful in beating the ill tidings to my hall.
When I returned to Leicester, Valerie was nowhere to be found. Before I could look for her I was told that Lancelot was here to see me. That fine knight had done well for me, and it was his actions that reconciled the king and I. I had him brought to me and asked how I could serve. He told me that he had a grievance to put to the King’s judgement, or if I would not agree for the king to rule, then we would be foes. I asked him what this was and he said that my household had been responsible for the murder of 5 of his kinsman. I felt that this claim was not accurate, but with Valerie gone, I asked for time to consider. He agreed to let me have the night.
When he left, I learned that Valerie was staying in the house of one of her ladies. I went to her at once. I was prepared for her to be angry with me. I was prepared for her to be cold. I was not prepared for her to see me dressed as an unmarried woman. Seeing her this way tore my heart. I begged her to forgive me. I explained that I had to think of my people. She was unmoved. With tears in my eyes I pleaded – we were married in the tradition of her folk, and thought nothing of the church. We were in love. I married her in the church manner to give the people a cause to celebrate and to show my commitment to the lady in a way they could understand. The blessings of the church mean nothing to me without her. I continued to plead with her and she relented, saying if I would meet her at midsummer in the sacred grove, she would marry me in the tradition of her people. My heart leapt, and I agreed. She said until then she would remain at this house. I left feeling better than I have in years.
The next morning I agreed to present the dispute with the DeGanis to Arthur. I only asked that it be done after I had made my pilgrimage to St. Albans and that I must be here for Midsummer. He agreed to my requests and left at once.
My pilgrimage was a lesson in humility, as it was meant to be. Throughout the ordeal I found myself asking why God would demand that I be parted from my beloved Valerie. Throughout it all, I reminded myself that the penance was for the sake of the people of Leicester. I would spend an eternity in the pagan afterworld for Valerie to look upon me with love again.
Before midsummer, Galeholt, Elaine’s son came and challenged Perseus to a duel. Pereus accepted, and they fought. It was a terrible exchange, but Perseus lost. I grieve for the death of my fellow candlebee, and my friend’s son. I have heard the whispers that it is a good thing for my court to be without him, but noone has dared to say this where they realized I could hear.
Midsummer night came and I met Valerie at the appointed site. No priests were present but I am assured that we are once again husband and wife. She gave me a gift that night of a strange liquid. I took it of course, but I did not know to bring something for her. If only Perseus had been there to warn me of this custom! At first I thought this was not a problem – when we were first joined in Trond I had nothing, but I have since learned that I have hurt her deeply. Like I said, I shall never understand women. I blame Guinevere and her court of love. All that I have, indeed all that I am is Valerie’s for the asking. Were she to ask it I would even leave Leicester and return to her home in Trond. My home and my life is wherever she is. I am a simple man and not one given to great speeches, love poems, or songs. I do not have that gift. Nor do I have money to buy her gifts. Indeed the struggles of the last year have left me in debt to nearly all the wealthy of Logres! Still, if there was anything she wanted, it would be hers. I only hope that she understands what it is that she means to me. It is my fondest wish to live the rest of my years with her at my side.
As the year drew to a close I learned of the kings judgement - I am to pay a blood debt of 220 librum to the Deganis within the year. I groaned but thought, what is another debt at this point? I shall have to send my knights abroad to bring back money for these payments. Whatever comes, so long as Valerie stands beside me I know I will prevail.
Sir Arddur here....
Well the High King was generous. He let Ellidyr and myself go unmolested back to Leicester after there vwas peace made. No ransom was asked. What an Amazing High King we have.
When we returned Lord Edar was not as displeased with us as I thought he would be. We will bve punished I am sure, but he said he has much to think on and that he will get to punishing us later.
Sir Ellidyr confessed finally to Count Edar that while in Ireland he skimmed money from my lord! Edar showed so little emotion that I dont know how he felt. Edar said that Ellidyr should go about his normal duties while he considers the matter, and then he will summon Ellidyr again. Ellidyr was of course sadenned by this turn of events, but overall he is more happy and energetic tthan I have ever seen him. His burden lifted all he speaks about is Leona, and how he will right his wrongs and make Lord Edar love him once again. He is practicing his sword play very hard and getting ready for war in earnest. He said that he knows our Lord needs Librum badly and he has vowed that hew will find a way to help our lord.
For now we go on as usual and wait for word of our punishment, and Ellidyr awaits the arrival of his beloved. Tommorrow we will go pay our respects tpo all the fallen, especially sir Quillam and Sir Perseus. I wish to prove myself to my Lord soon as well and be made a candlebee as my father once was. I want to show my Lord my worth. Maybe I will help Ellidyr to find income fore our Lord. That would certainly put us back in his good graces.
Sir Amadis here...
Once I braved the open ocean for my lord (and a woman), and that ended poorly. A second time I sailed, to that damable island of traitorous Irish, and need I say how poorly that ended? A third time I sailed, to distance myself from jealous flatterers and hangers-on, south to the old Roman lands of Spain, and even though I was sad to leave my lord and companions and homeland, I was glad to be traveling and fighting for a worthy king. But I see now that lovely Spain's waters are also treacherous, as I sit on the sand and watch the waves play over the wreckage of the ship that was taking my cousins and I back to Leicester. Oh damable ocean! Saltier than tears, and just as plentiful.
Now it is light, and the villagers are coming down to salvage what they can of the wrack washing up on the shore. My spears and sword are gone, I have only one boot, and I am nauseous from swallowing so much salt water. But I still have my dagger, if these men prove themselves churls indeed.