Campaign of the Month: August 2016

Oath of Crows

The severed heads

Winter 487

The severed heads

At the winter court of Count Roderick in Sarum the usual peace and quiet was interrupted when one of the more prominent servants of the court rushed in to announce that Sir Cadry of Tisbury had arrived, just a few steps ahead of the aforementioned knight.

Some had speculated on why Sir Cadry hadn’t arrived in the company of Sir Melkin like he usually did when it was time for court. Only lady Brangwen had arrived from Tisbury manor and she had no explanation for why her husband was missing. Surely those bent towards gossip got something new to talk about when Sir Cadry marched in, dressed not in finery, but rather in an huntsman’s armor. With him he was carrying a sack and the more perceptive among the gathered noblemen could note that the burlap was stained red with what could only be blood.

The Count, being used to being obeyed, immediately demanded an explanation from Sir Cadry for his tardiness, his dirty appearance and what was going on. One could note some manner of uncertainty in Count Roderick’s eyes however when Sir Cadry approached, for there was something fierce resting over his appearance and bearing and his clothes were stained with mud, blood and leaves.

In a harsh voice Cadry spoke “I apologize for the lateness of my arrival my lord but what delayed me was my duty to both you and to my family. Three days ago when I was out hunting I found tracks in the forest to the north of my holdings, tracks that someone had covered up, someone used to moving in the wilds.”

One could note that there were a great anger hiding behind the words of the imposing man as he retold his story of the following days. “I started following the tracks, though the going was hard. A while later I found some traces of blood and they led me to a fallen tree where someone had stashed the body of Brathach.”

There were some murmurings among the assembled knights and someone quietly asked another who the blazes Brathach was. Sir Cadry apparently heard the comment and turned around towards the speaker and almost roared “He was 11 years old and my cousin four times removed, murdered in the middle of the forest!” The speaker did not make himself known and most people standing around seemed to embarrassed to say another thing.

Turning once again towards the count, Cadry lifted one of his hand to his face as if trying to wipe something away from his face. “They had cut his throat from ear to ear. A boy! I set out after the ones who had done this foul deed and a few hours later I almost caught up to them but they must have noticed that I was following them. They set up an ambush and one of them almost shot me right through the eye. It was only because the Forest Mother kept her hand over me that my bow snagged on a tree branch and I had to take a step back to untangle it. Had I not done so, the arrow would have pierced my skull.”

The knights standing closest to Sir Cadry on his right side could see a shallow clotted wound on his right temple where the arrow had grazed him.
Count Roderick seemed to be almost enthralled by the tale but made a small gesture as if to encourage the knight to go on.

“There were three of them. Three saxon scum, although I didn’t know that at the time. What followed was two days of relentless hunting where we chased each other around the forest. They were skilled outdoorsmen who could move through the wilderness without leaving much in the way of tracks. They set further traps for me and tried to use their superior numbers to their advantage but they did not know the forest like I do. When they came after me I led them deeper into the more dangerous parts. The forest took one of them as a tribute. I could only hear his screams in the night and judging from those it must have been a gruesome death.”

Some of the more grim knights present looked almost satisfied from hearing what had happened to a hated foe while others looked spooked, fearing the forest and what dwelled inside.

“The remaining two let their exhaustion get the better of them after two days of constant movement and skirmishing. One of them acted as bait and the other one hid himself away armed with a bow in a hedge. He was the first of them that I killed. When I approached him from behind he didn’t notice me until I was on top of him. He tried to pull out a dagger but I skewered him through the stomach before he could defend himself. His screams drew in the other one and that one came running with an axe in his hand. He tried to cut me down where I stood but exhaustion had robbed some swiftness from his arm and I managed to parry his blow in time. We fought for a long time. He was more than my match in skill of arms but what brought him down in the end was the slippery ground strewn with the blood of his dying friend. He slipped and fell and was to slow in raising his defences. I stuck my sword right through his throat and kept slicing just like they had done to poor little Brathach.”

Cadry looked like his legs would give out at any second and something hazy came over his eyes but something deep within him pushed him on and he steeled himself.

“When I got ready to give the dead to the forest as an offering, I notice one thing the dead men had in common other that the fact that they were saxons. They both carried markings indicating that they belonged to the fenris family. The same scum that several times have targeted me and my kin specifically. I say that they are a menace and a plague upon the land like all saxons and I say that if there is anything that this court, this county, this land needs to do before anything else it is to take up arms against the saxons!”

It seemed like Sir Cadry had struck a note within the hearts of many at the court and several men shouted out their agreement. Sir Cadry picked up the sack he had brought with him and approached the Count on shaky legs. He knelt down before the throne and looked up at his liege.
“I lay the greatest gift before you that I can give you my lord. Your dead enemies heads!” With these words, Cadry upended the sack and out spilled two blonde-haired heads and then he himself collapsed at the counts feet. When men rushed forward to see what had happened they discovered that Sir Cadry had suffered multiple wounds and lost a lot of blood. I wasn’t until a few weeks later that he had recovered from his ordeal and by then word of his deeds and dramatic appearance has spread.

Comments

Ah the dark ages; when storming in to a Count and dumping heads pn his floor was not a Faux Pas!

I also really enjoy the different styles you use in your stories. It makes them much more exciting to read!

The severed heads
ikabodo

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