Ektor came to Giles, and told him that we needed to go find Damian. While most of the knights were going to keep their word in helping Cerdic take Chichester, Sir Giles would take two young squires, Leslie and Gavin, and test them to see if they were ready for knighthood.
Here starts the tale of Leslie.
Gavin and I arrived in Sarum to ride with Sir Giles. Giles took us on a hunt for a boar to test our wilderness skills. Gavin found a boar, and Gavin and I quickly slew it. When it was my turn, I failed miserably at finding a boar, even leading us near Saxon territory. I also lost Gavin's falcon while trying to fish, and then Gavin got us lost tracking a fallow deer. Not a stellar performance if we were trying to impress the mighty Sir Giles.
At feast that night, we noticed that we were being watched by Patricia and Brea, two young noble ladies. Brea is Delan's youngest sister (but she would prefer to be a nun), and Pateicia is the oldest daughter of Sir Bernier (in Salisbury mainly as protection against further insurrection by her father). We talked to the ladies, but I have always been horribly inept around women. Gavin attempted to impress them with a story, but his story turned into a long, rambling mess of a narrative. Brea, however, gave me a kiss on the cheek. Perhaps, I only shone in comparison to Gavin's story.
The next day, we raced horses, and I fell off in the second stretch. Gavin, gallant friend that he is, returned to help me, and we raced the last stretch, but I fell again. Gavin won the race, and while I was disappointed to lose to Gavin two days in a row, my disappointment was short-lived when Sir Giles rode up and killed my horse for its impertinence in throwing me twice. The massive bloodshed cleared the stands of the ladies, no doubt in shock over such a bloody spectacle. Sir Giles replaced my horse with one from his own stables, which was most courteous, and I felt privileged to have seen first-hand the mighty stroke of Sir Giles. Not many men could sever a horse's head from its body with one swing.
Over the next few days we rode to Silchester to find some Saxons to test our arms against. We came across a camp of eleven Saxon scouts. I laid out a plan for us to attack a small group, and we attacked them in the open field as they left the camp. My horse was hit by javelins and kept me out of the first part of the battle. But once I joined the battle, we defeated the Saxons and attended to each other's wounds.
We returned to Sarum, and found a certain malaise in the air. Brea and the other women had been crying. There had been a raid in the northeast, and Sir Leo had been killed by a band of Aelle's men, who carried off Sir Leo's family and ambushed his knights, killing seven of the ten of them.
Baldulf in Court
The remainder of the brotherhood of the band met and decided to try to find replacements for the three missing knights.
Aelle and Aethelswith both offered to pay us (1 wall) to fight with them against the other Saxon leader. We ignored their requests..
King Port threatened us to stop allowing Cerdic free passage. We also ignored him.
We heard that King Lot had defeated the Picts.
The remaining Wallingfords arrived at court. They asked to not ride with us to Chichester and instead go to Silchester to rescue Leo's family. We granted them leave.
We also added another section onto the wall.
We found Ektor and Arthur in the Band's room, and noticed that the lad looked a lot like Madoc. Ektor was explaining the virtues of Roderik and how he had always listened to his good advisors.
Leslie, His Tale Continued
Sir Giles, Gavin, and I went to track Damian, who had been missing since he fled the battle. Giles knew that Damien had headed into the Campto Carronton forest. We found that Damien had last been seen with a knight named Galwin from Oxford near a village named Granlee in the Wallingford's territories. In the town we talked to the local landlord and found that Galwin and Damien had passed through and Galwin had been counseling Damien that the quest they were on--to find the stony hills hag--would bring him redemption from his cowardice at the battle. The hags previously had only killed knights, but the last year they destroyed an entire town, as if they were angered about something. Galwin and Damien had gone into the woods to talk to Mad Abby. Sir Giles, ever wise, warned us to never trust the fae-touched.
We headed to the homestead where Mad Abby lives. There were weapons and armor tossed all around the place. There was also an uneasy silence in the place, and we found three sets of footprints tracking all through the area, leading to and from a nearby lake. We also found a makeshift graveyard, with six graves with crosses over them that seemed to have been well tended. We also found tracks of hags leading out of the graveyard and into the stone hills. The house itself seemed as if it had been raided a few years back. All of the furniture, though broken, had been set up as if the house were still occupied. We also found, in the yard, Damien's dead horse. Gavin suggested that the knights had ridden up and met with a girl, but were then ambushed by the hags, who killed the horse and broke someone's sword. A bloodied, broken mace was also found. The hags must have fled into the mountains, pursued by the knights.
We headed back to the lake a few miles back. We tried playing the lute and searching with a falcon, but it took the careful eye of Sir Giles to find Abby's den. When we did, a young girl stepped out and called us murderers. Her family had been killed by the Wallingfords, and so Abby hates all knights. She said that the lady of the lake had given her an order to help us on our quest, but she did so unwillingly. We ordered her to take us to the hags. We spent one night at the homestead, eating berries, and then she led us into the hills.
We found the cave of the hag named Alice, and her corpse was in the cave, beaten to death with a mace. Abby took a necklace off the body and then led us off to Maude, the next hag, who lived in a nest/hut, where someone was singing inside. Gavin ran away in fear, and I was startled, but Sir Giles, of course, was unfazed and talked to her. She told Sir Giles to bleed me and she would help him. Luckily, Sir Giles challenged her to a game, instead. She said that they would ask each other questions and whoever answer first and correctly would win. If she won, she would get me. If we won, we would get information about Damien. We played the game for a while, but eventually, Gavin, who had recovered from his fear, asked, "Where is Damien?" and she raged at the twist in the game's questions, and attacked.
We realized that our swords were useless, but that other weapons worked. When Gavin hit her, she retreated, and we headed on to the final hag's resting place. Along the way, we found a knight, Sir Gotriel, a Saxon knighted in Gaul, trapped in a cage. He begged us to set him free. Ever honorable, Sir Giles set him free. We headed up the hill, and found Damien chained to the top of a hill. As we rescued him, the third hag appeared and told us we could leave without Damien. Gavin made a deal with the hag to renounce his own knighthood in order to free Sir Damien, with her warning that if he ever became a knight, she would unleash blood on the commoners. I was most aggrieved that Gavin, whom I thought would be my sword-brother until our death, had decided to renounce his knighthood.
Gavin rode off to find Abby and Luceer's son. Upon our return, I was knighted.
We found that the war in Chichester had been successful, and elsewhere, Mark had taken Dorset.
Luceers was visited by Akalon and told that his presence had been requested in the north at the wedding of Morgan to King Nanteleod (of Ireland).
The Wallingfords returned with Leo's wife and 2 of his sons and a chest of gold for the realm and a chest of gold for the Wallingfords. (1 more share)