08 October 2012

Pendragon, AD 486

Dramatis Personae (in order of Quality):

Sir Lug of Winterslow (Jeremy) (1401 Glory)
Sir Owain of Over Wallop (Norris) 1362
Sir Nidian of Haxton (John) 1348
Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (Dale) 1220
Sir Cyfan of Teffort (Joshua) (1169 Glory)

Sir Cyfan was a new addition to the Salisbury band.

As spring breaks over Britian, Earl Roderick's vassals convene at Sarum for Pentecost court.  Merlin is there, hobnobbing and scheming as usual.  Also present is a guest from the Continent, Praetor Syragius.  He is here to make the procession around Logres and beg for help defending Rome against the barbarians.  Earl Roderick of Salisbury is under command of Uther to show courtesy to the Praetor, or he would probably be pelted with turnips and laughed out -- the current problems with the Saxons are directly related to Rome's refusal to aid Britain 76 years ago ("look to your own defenses," the Emperor wrote to the British Collegium).

When last the Salisbury boys took measure of the mood of the nobles, things were grim -- 485 was a bad year for the Britons.  But now there is rumor of a plan!  Prince Madoc wants to take a select group of knights up to Colchester to pick off Saxon raiding groups.  Glory!  Plunder!

After a few weeks of hanging out at the castle, the Earl summons them in.  Madoc is off to the side in the Great Hall and nods at the knights as they enter.  "As you know, men," begins Roderick, "the Prince plans to take a select group of hand-picked knights to Colchester to harry those Saxon dogs, raid their supplies, and put as many of them to the sword as possible."

The knights smile and shift in anticipation.

"While he does that," continues the Earl, "I need all of you to perform garrison duty in the west."

Well, that is not as glorious, but when your liege says jump ….

The knights pack (i.e., tell their squires to pack everything) and head out to a little manor in the hinterlands.  The lord is three years old, his elderly and boring uncle is regent, and there is nothing going on.  They ride the borders of the land every day, and mostly nothing happens.  Chase a few bandits (they have an infuriating tendency to melt into the population or underbrush), listen to a few peasants complain (they always complain, so they are told to take it up with the Earl).

Then one day, they are helping an old man try to find his pet goat, when suddenly they hear the goat bleat in terror!  A giant steps out and roars at the knights!  They are somewhat stunned but manage to collect their wits and charge!  They ride him down like champions and manage to kill him before he gets a hit in.  As they are cleaning up, they hear clapping and cheering.  It's the old man!  A strange mist swirls around him -- now they can see that it is Merlin!  

"Leave your horses and squires, and follow me," says the magician.  He leads them deeper into the forest, which has begun to take on a barely perceptible glamour.  The trail forks, one leads into the forest, the other goes down towards the shore of a lake.  Merlin points down the forest path.  "There!  Protect me, knights!"  He strides down the lake path and steps onto a small barge.  Out of the forest charges a strange being. It is a man astride a horse, but both man and horse are the same slimy dark green color.  The man wields a sword in each hand -- as the knights gape, other arms grow out of the man's body, wielding swords and clubs.

Some of the knights gather themselves together [making Valorous checks] and attack.  Sir Owain is again reduced to 1hp at the first exchange.  Things are going badly for the knights.  It is making five attacks per round and beings to mow through our heroes.  [As always, I roll everything openly and announce target numbers, so the players know that the danger is real.]  I begin to worry about a TPK, but thankfully someone -- Sir Teryrnor, I believe? -- rolls a masterful stroke and puts the creature down.

Sir Lug binds everyone's wounds; then they follow Merlin's trail to see how fares the magus.  They see him out on the misty lake, standing on the barge.  He kneels.  A smooth, feminine arm rises from the water, holding a gleaming sword!  Merlin takes the sword, concealing it beneath his robes, and murmurs to the being in the water.  The arm disappears beneath the surface and the barge floats, of its own accord, back to the shore.

Merlin steps back onto dry land.  "Well done, knights.  Britain is in your debt.  Let us go now."  He leads them back through the wood to where their squires and horses await.  The knights turn to thank him, but he isn't there!  Perplexed, the knights return to the country manor and continue their garrison duty while the severely wounded rest and heal.

They return back to Sarum at the end of the summer, where the Earl is impressed but upbraids them slightly for waiting until the end of the year to tell him about such a portentous event.

During the winter phase, Sir Nidian and Sir Teryrnor have bad harvests. Teryrnor is able to sell a ring and keep himself in his accustomed maintenance, but Nidian lives as badly as his peasants.  He refuses to squeeze them, which is admirable but has consequences -- most of his best horses die or go lame, and his armor rusts.  Luckily the campaign specifies that this year the Earl will replace any steeds lost -- so Nidian lucked out.

Sir Lug squeezes his peasants twice, and now they are all hard of hearing whenever he is around.  Not insubordinate, technically.  Technically.

Sir Nidian, having witnessed the near-massacre of himself and his friends, becomes concerned about his legacy and decides to marry as quickly as possible.  He finds a merchant's daughter; somewhat beneath his station but hopefully fertile.  The rest of the knights are trying to maneuver at court and woo a nice nobleman's daughter or something.  They are not terribly successful.

At the end of 486, the standings are:

Sir Lug (1545 Glory)
Sir Owain (1507 Glory)
Sir Nidian (1454 Glory)
Sir Teryrnor (1333 Glory)
Sir Cyfan (1297 Glory)

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