The autumn rains were drizzling down on a small entourage consisting of a knight, a squire and dead old man slung over one of the packhorses. The knight bore the name Cadry ap Cadwallon and his squire was named Jasper ap Jaradan and the dead man was named Corwyn ap Cadlew. The three men were travelling on their way to Salisbury, having been to the northern parts of Logres where old Sir Corwyn had died from the wounds inflicted upon him by a saxon. Cadry had been quiet for most of the journey, at least after having collected the corpse of the man he had called father for most parts of his life. His true father Cadwallon had died when Cadry was but two years old and his uncle, with his ever-present smile and bushy beard, had taken it upon himself to raise his nephew together with his brother’s widow. Corwyn had also been the foster father of Sir Melkin, son of the great warrior Bryn, one of Cadwallons and Corwyn’s best friends.
Cadry rode on, drenched to the bone and seemed to be locked within himself. He didn’t know how he would tell his younger brother that their father was dead. He didn’t know how he would tell him that a saxon whoreson had robbed them of a father. He felt his anger boil inside together with his blood. Like the priestess Llinos had said last year, these slights could not go unavenged. If the cursed fenris family wanted a feud, then by all the gods dark and terrible, they would learn what it meant to rouse the ire of the Cellydon family. He would give the priestess permission to retrieve the old skulls from the forest and start working her curses on the blasted enemy. They would come to regret their choice of enemy when the last of their line died out and the spirits of their slain were doomed to forever walk this world as restless spirits forever denied the peace of the otherlands.
The squire Jasper mustered his courage and broke the silence “Sir, we must seek shelter. The horses will fare badly in this weather”. Cadry turned around and stared blankly at the young, stocky boy and was about to snap something at him but as always, Jasper had found a way to break through to his lord in a non-offensive and eminently sensible way. Sighing, Cadry nodded in response and started looking around. In the distance he could discern a small farm and he steered his horse towards it.
Arriving at the farm, the peasants first seemed reluctant to host an armed man, but when the sound of clinking coins was heard the door couldn’t be opened quickly enough. Having been given a simple meal of barley and pork both Cadry and Jasper sat by the fire and watched as their clothes dried.
Tearing himself away from his own grim thoughts, Cadry turned to young Jasper and studied him carefully. They were different in a lot of ways: one was tall, thin and blond, the other short, round and brown-haired. But despite his unfortunate shape, Jasper had turned out to be among the best of squires. He worked hard, he learned quickly and, unlike his father, his feet were planted firmly on the ground. Cadry couldn’t help but admire his friend’s young son. He would one day make Dinton into one of the most prosperous manors in logres if he was given a chance.
“Jasper, we might as well continue your lessons while we are sitting here. A knight is as much his words as his deeds. Your lord will from time to time expect you to counsel him on matters grand and small. That is as much your duty as taking up arms at your lord’s command.”
The young squire concentrated on the words of his lord and took them in and seemed to consider them, trying to discern where this lesson was heading.
“While it behoves a squire to be careful and attentive, as a knight you are going to have stand up for yourself and defend your honour and your ideals. A knight takes pride in his deeds and actions, for even the least of us are better than any other man or woman. Put a firm belief behind your words and let no one doubt that your counsel is true.”
Jasper seemed to be a bit uneasy since he was a quiet lad by nature, but the continual goading from Cadry had made sure that he had started to open up and actually voice his own opinions instead of just saying what he thought others expected him to say. There was a core of good, solid courage within the boy even though it had been subdued by having an overbearing father who usually took up all the social space in a conversation. Jasper was also a bit too careful for Cadry’s taste, but he supposed that that might help the boy survive.
“What Sir Amig taught me as a squire, was that a knight’s most important task was to do his duty to his lord, his family and his gods no matter what. It took me while for that lesson to sink in and maybe I understand his lesson a bit differently than he meant it, but it is still good solid advice.”
Sinking into a deep reverie, Cadry drank more of his beer and drifted of leaving Jasper to mull over what his lord had told him. Something about the words seemed to have taken root in the young man and maybe one day it would act as a solid ground for him too stand on when times turned tough.
Times back home at Tisbury turned out to be a strange mixture of dour and happy. The dourness came from Sir Cadry as he brooded over how he would find his uncle Garren’s remains and set things right with Ol’Tiss on his dead uncle’s behalf.
Cadry’s mood was also dampened by the burial of his uncle Sir Corwyn which had been large affair thanks to the old man’s renown and thanks to the fact that he had in everyone’s eyes been the chieftain of the Cellydon family even though his nephew was formally the lord of Tisbury manor and thus technically the true heir to the Durotriges royal line. Thus many kinsmen near and far had been summoned and for the first time since the death of Cadwallon, the whole of the clan was gathered in the same place. The burial had been a splendid and celebratory affair where everyone told tales of what awaited the old man in the land of the young and how they looked forward to meeting him on the other side or in another life.
After the celebrations, which lasted several days, more formal matters had to be attended to and the warriors of the gathered family swore allegiance to the young lord. Matters regarding the death of not just Corwyn but also a few other men of the family at the hands of the fenris Saxons ignited a fury among the gathered men and the invocation of blood feud against the hated enemy was well received. It was even decided that the ancestral seat needed to be better defended even when the lord was absent. Therefore, the family sent two additional warriors to live at Tisbury, increasing the guard force to 5 men in total. Nothing was more important to the family than blood.