While the celebration for Arthur's coronation took place, Giles was visited by a raven, who croaked, "Renthor." He headed to the stone of Renthor and found Morgan, two pagan women, Accalon, Sir Guigomar, and Ogier the Dane. Morgan told Giles that she had recently been wed by her mother to Sir Yurien. Morgan had a dream that said that Arthur would bring the ruin of the land if he survived another year and became king, so he needed to be removed. She said that Giles and Accalon would act first. Giles needed to get Arthur into the woods to go hunting, and she would handle the rest. (Ogier is Morgan's bodyguard, and she lusts for him; Guigomar is a Frank.)
While Merl and I dallied with women (much against my better judgment), Sir Senorix was approached by a man (Sir Baldulf) who asked him to find Sir Alek, but they did not,and so Senorix was invited to spend time in their camp. While there, he was told of a woman (Maid Finise) they are trying to woo. One knight attempted to sing and then Baldulf attempted some swordplay. Senorix challenged Baldulf to a duel to one hit, and Senorix won. They eventually found Alek. And the knight introduced himself as Sir Baldulf of Bristol, named after Baldulf for his heroic acts in his youth. He also had a mighty strong right arm. He said that he would be glad to come with us if I were tasked with an adventure.
Merl met up with Kay and went to see Arthur. He was in serious conversation with some other knights. He told Merl that they had been discussing how different knights would be employed and stationed. He told Merl that he wanted him for a special mission, to take on a leadership role and mentor some of the younger knights. He also warned that there were spies in their midst. Robert said that Arthur had devised a strategy to deal with the northern kings--it involved using a ruined, "cursed," castle as a shield in case the northern kingdoms attacked. Merl was to take some younger knights with him--including Senorix and Davos. He recruited me and Marius to find the castle--the Dolorous Gard. (It was once known as the Joyous Gard, before a tragedy took place.) The legend is that no man may take the castle until the man whose name is on the bottom of a rock comes to claim the castle.
Sir Marius had a chance encounter with Lady Vithalin and she convinced him to take her to see the sights of the city.
The knights headed for the castle, but couldn't find it. The next day they heard some sheep and Senorix suggested there should be shepherds nearby, but they could not find the sheep. The next day, Senorix was too tired to move on, so they waited another day. The next day, Merl finally led them to a hill where the castle sat. A lone shepherd sat nearby. He told them that some Saxons went up a week ago, but that nobody ever came back down. He also told them of some Roman gold buried a few miles away. Marius and Merl both headed off for the gold. Davos, Senorix, and Alek headed up the hill.
A long way up the hill, Senorix and Davos were so tired they could not resist the lure of a castle of beds and food. Alek continued on alone. He was finally able to see the castle. At the top, he saw a lone surviving Saxon, wearing the sigil of Cerdic, laying on the ground, dying. His vengeance rose against them, but he fought against it and moved on to the castle. He found a large black stone in the yard, which he tried to move, but failed. An old necromancer appeared on the wall and told him that he had one last chance to leave. Alek refused, and skeletons started rising from the ground and heading toward his companions, who snapped from their reverie. Alek was forced to fight the guardian of the castle. He demolished the guardian of the castle, but Marius ran like a coward from the skeletons, and Alek was forced to fight them, and they killed him. The others were finally forced to flee from the skeletons.
They searched for the hill again, but were not able to find it again.
They returned to London, and Merl told Baldulf of his son's death.
Later, Robert called me to speak with him. He told me that Arthur wished me to be a baron, and Lord of Amesbury. I accepted and retired to run the city.
Merl recruited me to battle against Lot and his Northern Kings. Giles and Senorix also fought with us.
During the battle, Arthur and Lot lined up and charged each other, Lot stayed in his saddle, and Arthur was unhorsed, leaving his foot stuck in the stirrup. Merl charged over to rescue him and smashed Lot, giving Arthur a chance to stand up and draw Excalibur, which gave forth a burst of light. When the light faded, peasants had rushed out of the city and helped sweep Lot's forces away.
News came through Salisbury that Cerdic had invaded Salisbury, and Robert returned to make plans. They decided to pursue Lot and secure the kingdom before dealing with Cerdic. Merl was sent out to gather aid (because Merlin convinced Arthur to keep Giles home).
Some knights were being sent to Brittany to recruit Ban and Bors, others were being sent to recruit Aelle. Merl, Senorix, Marius, and I went to Brittany.
In Brittany, we marched until we found a river we could not cross. The bridge was locked up on a tower on the other side, and a dwarf resided in the tower. He demanded 5 libra each to cross the bridge. Merl talked him down to 1 libra, and when we crossed the bridge, the dwarf ran, and we caught him and found that he was running to warn the army of Claudius' son. We returned to the tower, and found evidence that the dwarf transformed at night into a large monster. We left the dwarf on the other side of the river, tied up, and rode off to camp. In the morning, we awakened to find wolf tracks in our camp. We could not find that they had done anything, so we moved on, finding another river with another bridge, guarded by the Knight of the Moon--the knight defeated in a poetry contest by Merl in the Feywild a number of years ago. They fought, and Merl struck the knight's horse, but, after receiving a deadly blow from the knight, surrendered, and the knight rode off.
We finally reached the castle and found their knights in better armor than ours. King Ban invited us in to eat and relax. We told him of the plight of Arthur, but he said that they were hard pressed by Claudius. We asked for help in terms of armor and horses, and he agreed. We also agreed to help against Claudius once Arthur's enemies were defeated in return for their help in battle against the northern kingdoms.
We returned in order to prepare for battle against the northern kingdoms.
We headed to Bedigrane and found that Lot had brought a large number of Picts to fight us. However, he only had a small contingent of knights. Our army divided into small groups hoping to punch through a group of Picts and get at Lot's knights. Giles, Merl, and I were given a unit to command. Senorix was in Giles' unit.
We fought hard, and eventually Merl's unit was able to break thru and force Lot to retreat. The Picts did much damage to our horses, and Merl was forced to ride his rouncey.
The next day, we prepared to battle again. This time Lot put his Picts in the back and attacked with his knights. Before the battle, Arthur gave a rousing speech to rile up the troops. He announced that, unlike the Nothern knights, we acted not from the idea that might makes right, but that of honor and chivalry.
During the battle, we heard a trumpet and then a mist appeared, and both sides saw the banners of Ban and Bors coming out of cover. Lot's troops broke, and we charged after them, scattering them. After the battle, we recovered much loot, but Arthur gave it all to Ban and Bors, leading to much grumbling among our knights, including Wallingford, who suggested we should loot some nearby monasteries.
Arthur called Merl to him and told him that he wanted to reward our own knights, and there was a cache of silver hidden nearby, in the faerie lands--hidden by King Oberon. Merlin told Merl to gather knights and go get the treasure. When Merl said he would ask Giles, Merlin suggested to Arthur that another knight would be better. He gathered me, Senorix, and Marius to go with him.
Arthur met with Giles and told him that the army needed a rest. A local lord had some manors that could be used to rest. On the other hand, Brastius believed that Lot could be completely destroyed if he were pursued. Arthur asked for Giles' opinion and Giles suggested that the knights rest.
Senorix went to Arthur and told him that Wallingford wanted to loot the countryside.
We headed off to look for Oberon's silver. Senorix got us lost, but we stumbled upon a pool, with three women and a young child, with one of the women dressed as a knight bearing the arms of Mancetter and one of the women being a giant hag. But our knowledge of fairies suggested to us that none of these girls were fey. The girl told us that her lord, Oberon, had heard that Arthur had instituted chivalry, and he wished to test us. The child would test piety; the beautiful woman would test love; the warrior would test valor. We all agreed to the tests.
I went with the child. We went to a small chapel with a purple dragon being attacked by dogs until all that was left was a forked tail which turned into a cross. I interpreted that the dragon represented Arthur being beset by enemies, and all that would remain is the religion which would destroy paganism. We moved into the chapel where we saw a frightened mouse and a hawk above our heads. It swooped and missed the mouse. It turned for another attack and grabbed the mouse and ate it. There were three caskets--one of wood, one of iron, and one of gold, representing the true cross, the warrior's glory, and material wealth. I opened the iron one and found a beautiful weapon. The young girl turned into a beautiful woman and told me that she was free, and I had passed the test. We wandered off to a bower.
The woman led off Senorix and asked him if he had ever been in love. He replied no, and she asked if he would ever do anything deceptive for his lady. He said yes, and she said, "Good," and asked him to follow her. She asked him to close his eyes and hold her ribbons and follow him. They walked off and heard a beast. She told him to ignore the sound, but Senorix did not trust her and opened his eyes. She was disappointed, but they walked along. She blindfolded him and kept walking. At some point, he felt like he had lost hold of the ribbon and was falling backwards. He fell down the hill, and the woman rushed to him and healed him, and then a knight in black armor rode into the clearing and challenged Senorix. The girl asked him to ignore the knight and stay with her. The knight taunted him, but wandered off when Senorix ignored him. The girl said the spell was broken, and she agreed to return home with Senorix.
The warrior woman told Merl and Marius that a wyvern plagued her people, and she asked the knights to help her and not flee. They agreed, and she led them to a cave with a wyvern. Merl ran away, but Marius stayed to fight with the woman. The woman did most of the damage, but Marius dealt the final blow. She gave him an ancient Roman sword that cannot be removed from his hand, and will do more damage in the hands of a lazy knight.
The hag asked how we did, and we each lacked a little bit but had passed (except Merl). The hag asked what favor we would ask of her, and we asked where the cache of silver was. We got the silver and returned to Arthur and he distributed the silver to the knights.
While we were recovering, the Frankish knights suggested that we should have a tournament, using their strange new "lance" weapon. We gathered some knights, made a wager, and began the tourney. Basil almost killed the son of the Frankish king. But we won the tourney. Brastius later told us that Arthur had said there should be no more tourneys.
Giles heard Arthur and Merlin arguing about whether Arthur should send aid to Leodegrance. He could send Giles to handle it, but Merlin said that Giles must be kept near him. Giles talked to Arthur and convinced Arthur to go on a hunt with him, but Merlin arrived and led Arthur away with plans for the hunt left unfinished.
While most knights were in church, Merl and I attempted to build a henge. Merlin talked to us and told us that King Lot had sent Ryons the Giant to attack Leodegrance. Arthur wanted us to take 100 knights and help Leodegrance. Merl and I went to scout Camillard.
We met with King Leodegrance. He told us that Morgan le Fay had told Ryons of a horn hidden nearby that would tear down the walls of Camillard. They were searching near Northshire. Marius remembered a tale that told of the horn in an abbey, and we headed there.
We found the town of Northshire, and it was burned. Ryons had already been through there, taken a priest and headed west. We searched the village church. We found some books, but could not read them. Senorix and I headed for the abbey, while Merl and Marius chase Ryons.
When we reached the abbey, we found nuns hanging from the walls. We found a dying nun who told us we must keep Ryons from the horn. She told us where the horn was. I looted the abbey and we headed back to find the horn.
Merl and Marius caught up to Ryons. They attempted to ambush the giant, but failed the attack, but did get them to chase them. They managed to wear out the numbers, but Ryons and five of the knights caught up to them, and Ryons gave them a chance to surreneder. They decided to attack. Ryons smashed Marius to the ground and the knights smashed Merl.
Senorix and I found a shrine with a knight in front of it. He told us that only a just knight may take the horn, and if he used it unjustly, he would be cursed. I decided to test his mettle to see if he could worthily defend the horn. We fought, and he wounded me, but I managed to win and get the horn. We headed back to Northshire but found that Merl and Marius had not returned. We headed back to Leodegrance.
Merl and Marius awakened to find themselves bound as captives. Marius freed them and proceeded to stomple one off the knights. But they managed to kill him. Merl grabbed the priest and his shield and managed to escape.
The squires of Merl and Marius found us and told us of the battle with Ryons. We asked the priests about the books we recovered. They studied them for a day. While we waited, Merl returned and was sent to Leodegrance's daughter, Guinevere, for chirurgery, but it was Senorix who helped him most.
While Ryons was still away, we decided to attack his forces, hoping to scatter them while they had no commander. The battle turned against us, and I was forced to blow the horn. The blast turned the tide of battle, and the enemy army fled.
When we returned to Salisbury, we heard that Arthur had defeated Lot and chased him north, and Aelle had followed, raiding Lot throughout the winter. Cerdic had continued to raid Salisbury. Arthur congratulated us for our victory and gave us gifts. I gifted the horn to Arthur.
My squire Semple was knighted.