Late in the winter, Prince Madoc passed through Salisbury, staying with our lord Roderik. After he left, he headed to our domains, starting with Luceers.
He offered condolences on the death of Luceers's wife and asked if he would be ready to take the field in the spring. Luceers was a great host and composed a great ode to the Battle of Somerset for the prince. Prince Madoc announced that he planned to continue the war against the Saxons in the summer.
Giles, however, was a horrible host, feeding Madoc gruel and turnips, but Madoc likes him anyway because of his warrior spirit. They gave each other gifts. Giles gave Madoc the Axe of the Saxon on the bridge, and Madoc gave Giles a horse and the chance to lead the charge at the battle in the summer.
Then the prince visited me. My hospitality was good, as befitting one of Madoc's station. We chatted about battle, and he told me a secret. (Akalon has been a spy in the northern kingdoms,and they will help Madoc and Gorloi defeat one Saxon king, while Salisbury fights Aella again. But Uther has been smitten by a Frankish princess sent to be married to Madoc and may not take the field.
In the summer, Court is in London, but Roderik took no knights with him. Sir Ector offered to take care of Luceers' daughter while he is away in the summer.
Akalon visited Giles and wished him luck in the coming battles. We find out that Delan has plans to we'd Jenna (Roderik's daughter) in the summer, even though she is well above his station.
Roderik was late returning from London, and when he did return, he was in a somber. Luceers tried to keep the men's spirits up and distracted from the unease created by our lord's mood. Apparently Roderik plans to only muster knights, and not footmen for the battles in the summer. I talked to Elid and found that Uther had decided to send troops to fight the Franks instead of finishing Aella. Roderik's leaves for Gaul.
Roderik leaves us and Delan for garrison duty. I am untowardly cruel to the younger knights in frustration, hating that I am back in the towers where my father avoided glory, but Luceers tried to sooth their hurt egos.
While we waste out time in the towers, some peasant pilgrims arrived. They reported Saxon raiders on the road to the south, even burning a village in Logres. We decided to patrol for Saxons. We found a village raided three days earlier, and the Saxons seem to be looking for Steeple Lankford--Giles' holding. (A big Saxon was looking for revenge on the one who killed his brother on a bridge.)
One night, Merlin appeared to talk to Giles. He wanted us to protect Nineve, the nymph, on a trip to consult an oracle about whether she should support Uther. After some discussion, we travelled a day west and north. Nineve has seen visions of a sad time ahead but she needs confirmation at the Ring near the Forest Savage. We travel in the rain for several days.
Nineve told us that she must run an errand. Luceers flirts and deserts the ladies in waiting while Giles and I met a hermit in the woods who asked where we are going. Nineve said we were going to see Dame Oir. The hermit asked for our cloaks in return for telling us where the Dame was, but only Nineve was willing. The hermit did not like her cloak and went off muttering.
Back at camp, Luceers found love with the ladies.
Giles and I were questioned by a noble woman who asked what makes us good men. I said duty to my lord, and Giles said he's not a good man. She asked if there is any reason a man should not keep his word, and we both had reasons.
(Luceers resists the ladies.)
We went through a field of poppies, and I was forced to carry Nineve and Giles as they fell asleep.
(Luceers resists the ladies.)
We finally arrived at the hut of the wise woman. The old woman is the mother of Balin, who Nineve says will one day be a good knight. I recognized that Balin is a young man who lives in Cornwall. Nineve fed the old woman a potion that kills her. She gave me a ring to deliver to Balin in Cornwall.
(Luceers resists the ladies.)
It takes us three days to get back. (Luceers cannot resist the ladies. )
We headed north to the forest. The forest was restless because the kingdom is restless. The forest itself seemed to try to confuse us but Giles found the way through. On the next day, though, Giles had a harder time and the path led us to a village with a strange well with a large cross and Gaelic writing, which told the story of Helen, the spirit of water, who protects the area. There was a church and a tower under construction by peasants being whipped by overseers. Lord Gorboduc wanted the tower to be built in haste. We saw the Lord. Luceers spoke on behalf of the peasants but the lord dismissed us. Giles noticed that the lord had a scaly hump. We talked to the village priest and he told us to wait til evening. The priest insulted me, despite my desire to help his "flock."
That night, I caught the lord's soldiers taking babies into the tower. When i stopped one, he went to tell Gorbaduc, and shortly thereafter, the lord came down with his men. Luceers, following some superstition taught by his religion, threw water on the lord, and then we all fight. Luceers prayed during the fight and a cold wind and a knightly ghost rose from the well and points at the lord, helping us despite our impiety toward the old ways. The warriors scattered in fear, and the ghost disappeared. Gorboduc attacked me and Luceers. We slew him. I claimed his chainmail and won the town in a draw of cards. I'll send Isdernus to look after it, and get rid of that rude priest.
We headed back out through the forest and Giles led us well for one day and then got us lost again. As we travelled, a knight came out of the woods, surprised to see travelers in the woods. We recognized him as Sir Merrin the Beast-Knight. He invited us to dinner and we dined with him and his wife. She cooks her specialty, a horrible stew that honesty could not let go unmentioned by Giles and I.
The next morning Sam told me that his horse was killed by Merrin's dogs. I accused his wife of releasing the dogs and she denied it. As I left, I saw the dogs with their bloody maws, and I felt my arm twitching. Before I quite knew what had happened, I had slain every dog.
We finally arrived at the ring and found Picts there doing a ritual. We tried to intimidate them and despite Giles falling from his horse, the Picts left.
Nineve did her ritual and announced that Merlin is right. Uther must be high king, but his son will betray us all.
We returned home to find that Roderik and his knights had returned. They told us that when they arrived in Gaul, Callus heard Madoc talking to a Roman emissary. He said that he would only fight at one battle for one city. Madoc killed many Franks. Ektor won great glory by rescuing the Roman leader. They were one day from the Frankish king and Madoc left. The Roman called Madoc and Uther oath breakers. The next day Claudius defeated the Romans and the Franks now rule all of Gaul. The knights returned home, but the men grumbled against Madoc. (Perhaps Nineve's divination was correct.)
There was also news that the Saxons are reuniting and did some damage to some Southern towns. We ended the winter with people disgruntled and confused.
The winter time was good for me again, and despite a brief illness for the boys, the winter went well. Adwen has delivered me another child, a daughter.