Campaign of the Month: August 2016

Oath of Crows

The King of a Single Breath
Year 462

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It had not been known, what happened to Vortimer after the Battles of Glevum and Londinium. Most messengers claimed he had return to his safe haven, wherever that was.

But in the late winter of 462, a messenger arrived at court in Salisbury. He claimed he had news of why Vortigern so suddenly wanted to peace, for much had taken place, during the late autumn.

How Vortimer drove the Saxons from Kent

First it was said, Vortimer had gathered what men he had left in the western army, and met up with what was left of the eastern. But a few hundred real warriors and but a thousand loyal tribesmen, a large following in most battles, but not much if your aim is to claim a country. After gathering his trusted old men, he travelled into Kent, gathered up hundreds upon hundreds of men, for there were many that had fury in their heart and wanted to fight the Saxon overlords of the lands. It is said, that at this time, Hengist himself was away in the land of the Jutes, for whatever reason foreign kings do such things. And Vortimer seized the opportunity to rid himself of his father greatest allies, even though it was late in autumn, and no sane men fight at this time of year.

And so it was, claimed the messenger, that Vortimer saw a Grand Victory at the battle of Regulbium. Vortimers’ fierce allies from Kent drives most of the remaining Saxons of the lands. He gathers even more men, who when the saxons were gone, again had found their bravery. And it was so, that Vortimer had no choice but to accept these men as his as well. For he needed every hand that could hold a sword. He took the men of swords, tribes and shields, gathered them and said. “You are no longer tribesmen, no longer chieftains or Lords. You are Britons, and we shall be knights. We shall bring the usurper from his throne, and there shall be peace. Our way!”

He marched the troops towards Londinium, where he besieged the city. As Vortigern stood on the walls, watching the armies close in, his heart was gripped by fears. For had not his saxon friends by his side. He opened the gates to the city, and invited his son inside.

How Vortimer took the crown of Britain, and fell dead on the floor cursing himself

As Vortimer, the Blessed they call him, entered into the feast hall of the white tower he holds his sword in front of him. “I am the King of this land, and no man can say otherwise! Not even you Father, for you are not fit to rule a kingdom.” And there was much cheers in the hall. The Lord of the hall, he who they called Vortigern the Usurper, stood up and wept silent tears. “I do not care for what you have done for this Kingdom my son, wars brings no peace. But I see now, that I cannot defend it no longer. I hope that you will treat it, better than your father did.” And at the utter of that last word, Vortimer tore the crown from the head of his father, and put it on his head. “I am the King of Britain! I shall be an anvil, where my father was a stone!”

Then, as if gripped by sudden cold, Vortimer took the crown from down his head and looked upon it. “Have I become my father?” Then came fare Rowena, stepmother of Vortimer, lay a fine hand on his shoulder. “How fare ye, son of my lover. It seems that you are pale, and madness has gripped you.”

And as if stricken by the hand of a ghost of Death, Vortimer fell to his knees. Gasping for air as if it was more precious to him than the Kingdom he had taken. Vortigern, in a move that surprised all present in the hall, for it was known that Vortigern was a cold and heartless man, suddenly flew from his throne, screamed to the sky in honest anger. It seemed, that even the coldest of heart cannot bear to see their son die in such agony.

And so it was, that Vortimer became king, but for a single breath. Vortigern brought again the Crown to his Head. “I cannot wield this no longer… but I must, for just a few moments more. My last action, as a king of these lands, shall be to bring it peace. Send out messengers to all corners of the land.”

How Hengist returned, and how he promised many men Greatness

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In winter, scouts reported saxon sails in the east, only they could navigate in the winter cold. For Hengist had arrived, with his personal household. But he did not come for war and plunder, but for peace and brotherhood, and he wished to come to the meeting that had been promised. “If I can have the land, that was promised to me by my marriage. I will be content. I shall seek riches in other lands, and britons shall be my brothers in arms. Those of you who wish, shall join us on the seas. Together we will be great.”

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Friends don’t let friends do dangerous things… alone.
Year 462

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Bryn sat by the fire and watched the flames lick the dry wood. He involuntary flinched when the fire set ember flying onto the floor by his feet with a crackling sound. Such a comforting and useful thing, yet a dangerous and malignant force that devoured everything in its path. Bryn touched his left brow where half of it was missing since the attack on Chillmark last spring. The fire had eaten a piece of him that night, and he had an odd feeling that the flames some how longed for more. The door opened and the twins entered covered in snow. Bryn shook the uneasy feeling and beckoned them over.

Ennis, Camlin, come! Sit down.” The boys, so very like himself during that age, grinned and came over, water dripping from their curly dark hair. He knew them all to well. And now, when they were turning fourteen, he knew that he might loose them to the same reckless behavior that both had been his own blessing and curse. They always had had their mother close to them their entire life, and she had kept them in line like no other women had ever been able to. Nothing would have been able to hurt them, not even their own rash behavior. How could he explain to them how dangerous the next few years was going to be, and how important it was for them not to loose their heads to some sudden wild idea?

“Many times have I told you the story about my, and my brothers first battle,” he began looking from Ennis to Camlin, or was it from Camlin to Ennis? Some days even he was not sure.

“The battle of Carlion!”

“When you took the banner!”

Bryn smiled. It was quite astounding that they still hadn’t grown tired of the story, but he was thankful that he had captured their interest.

“We did,” he admitted, “but we also bled for it. They, Ceiwyn, Cadwellon and Edern, bled for my sake for it was my mad idea to go directly for the banner.”

“But it was successful,” said Ennis. Bryn was sure now that it was Ennis, he had that way of tensing his shoulders when he was excited. “You stood even though many of your comrades fell, and the battle was victorious.”

“It is true,” Bryn said. “It was a rash idea that worked. But this I where I want you to answer a question. Why was it victorious?”

“Skill,” shouted Ennis.

“Luck,” decided Camlin.

“Skill, luck,” acknowledged Bryn. “What else?”

Ennis stated counting: “Good gear, good commanders, good friends…”

“Yes,” interrupted Bryn, “good friends. And what, makes Ceiwyn, Cadwellon and Edern good friends pray?”

“They are honourable,” noted Ennis, “ and they are strong.”

“They are also honest,” thought Camlin aloud.

“And that, my boys, is why we took the banner, and also why we’ve managed to live through countless of other battles.” Bryn lay his hands on both of his sons shoulders. “It is because my friends have been honest enough to tell me when I am being reckless. They have told me not to act and when to follow my instincts as is the case with our battle of Carlion. That time they believed me, and followed me into madness. At other times… well if I hadn’t listened, I sure would not be sitting here today. It is important to surround yourself with good friends that can kick you, call you a bloody fool and then laugh and drink with you all the same.”

“If my friends kick me, I will kick them back,” muttered Camlin.

Bryn laughed. “And so did I, but” he added, “I still listened. Don’t forget to listen to your friends, even when your heads are burning with ideas, rage or desires. Your friends will keep you from falling into too much trouble, remember that my boys.”

That was all before all the winter’s misfortune struck the household. Bryn had been in the stable teaching his new squire how not to loose his horse in the middle of a battlefield, when it had begun. A crash inside the house had normally not alerted Bryn. He would assume that it was the twins arguing or fighting. Since the twins were sitting on the railing to one of the booths listening intently to what he was telling the new squire Bryn frowned and turned towards the noise. The boys gathering up behind him he walked through the courtyard and opened the door. Cælia was lying on the floor, white as the snow outside, clutching her swollen midriff whilst blood was trickling through her skirts. Going to her side Bryn shouted both for the boys to go and get the midwife and for the servants to aid him. The turmoil that followed lasted for days, and Bryn did not get much sleep worrying over Cælia’s weak condition. Eventually the fever dropped and the most critical period passed, but she was still bed bound for another three weeks.

Bryn thanked god for his mercy twice the following weeks, riding into Mere together with his chaplain visiting one of the churches there. He did not want to leave more often because of the unsure and shaky situation at home when Cælia was not able to steer up things. Looking back at it Bryn realises he should have shown his gratitude more vigorously.

Barely two and a half week after Cælia’s miscarriage the squire came to explain to Bryn that he could not find their armours or swords. After a bit of investigating they realised that the twins were missing too, and so puzzled the two incidents together.

Bryn took his horse and rode up the hill to get a better view over Hillfort to try and find the twins. On his way uphill he heard screaming and the shrill sound of metal hitting on metal. Changing directions Bryn soon came over a hillock and felt the world shift when he looked down over the battle. Two men were in close combat with the twins. Camlin was lying spread out on the ground, his armour removed while the stranger was getting back up on his horse. Ennis was backing steadily trying to fend of his attacker.

Bryn felt his vision grow dark as he gritted his teeth and drew his knife. Furious he urged his horse downhill into a maddening speed, shouting to get the attention of the cutthrots down in the valley. He steered his horse towards the man fighting Ennis and leaned down as the sword came swinging towards him. He hit the man in the shoulder and let himself fall out of the saddle. Time seemed to slow down as they fell together and Bryn recognised the foreign lord that he had met outside DuPlain two years ago when robbers had attacked their party. For a second their eyes met, then they hit the ground, Bryn’s weight landing on top of the man. Drawing the knife again, Bryn drove the knife into his opponent’s throat. The blood came pulsing, spraying on Bryn’s own arms and face.

The other man abashed by the reckless attack, met Bryn’s stare for no more than an instant before deciding that riding off was the sensible thing to do. Bryn tried to climb back into the saddle, but had strained his right leg falling out of it. Instead he called revenge upon the man:

“I will find you,” he called with a growling snarl that echoed between the hills, “and when I do, I will let all know what bravery you’ve performed here today, before I spill your guts and the ground and spit on them!”

Breathing heavily, he saw the man disappear behind snow and ice, and then he dropped the knife seeing to Camlin. He knew it when he saw it. The nasty gash in Camlin’s side did not look good, and with a grim look on his face he comforted the injured twin who was sobbing and begging his father for forgiveness. Ennis stood quiet, with a heavy look on his face while holding his left shoulder that also bled from the fight.

Camlin tossed and turned for a little more than a week before the gangrene took him. Ennis would not leave his brother’s side and did not seem to be able to sleep. Not even when Cælia was strong enough to sit with Camlin, would he rest and try to recover from his own injuries. The night when Camlin finally passed they were all gathered by his side. Emogen showed Camlin the first flower of the spring that she had found on the south side of the privy, and Coalan told Camlin a story of a bug that always sat upside down. Finally, the pain left Camlin and his blue eyes went blank.

The sorrow of Bryn and Cælia was immeasurable but to Ennis’ pain. The now alone twin was completely distraught, and it was heartbreaking to see him go around the house on his own trying as hard as he could not to show the tears that came rolling down his cheeks.

Bryn felt himself grow older that winter, like never before. The fall from the horse had made him less agile and his face was scarred by the sorrow in his heart. It made him both walk and look much older than the man who had “ridden the devil” the year before.

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A legend not his own
Year 461

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Edern sweated profusely under the stares and expectations of so many. He’d spent weeks talking, telling stories of his exploits, and constantly interrupted or gainsaid by Vortigerns lackey whenever attempting diplomacy. This night, this feast of tale and song, would be his chance to speak without interruption. Days and days of preparations, asking questions about the old stories. This had to work.

On the dais between the two great fires in the hall shadows danced strangely. Seen through the flames the guests seemed almost otherworldly. Damn, this was as bad as Carlion, maybe worse.

Edern mopped his brow and cleared his throat. Oh god, please do not let the cough ruin this.

In times long past
Under the truce of great Llud
The earthborn ruled

A hesitant enough start, and no great feat. But at least they were listening. Had he gotten this right?

Of light and heaven, tribe of mother Don
All her three sons gone
Ruled by shadow and treachery

Was that a trick of the light, or did that lackeys shadow suddenly loom large and threatening across the great table and king Cadwy?

Of water and darkness
The tribe of Llyr came
Ruled by greed and hunger

Oh god, what was happening? Such sudden menace, was the light fading? Was his voice even his own? The words kept spilling out, strangely compelled.

The treacherous shadow gave
And gave, and gave to the hungry
Greed unsated and reaching

The tribe of Don rose
To cast both treason and greed
Down to blackest depths

There sat wise Camnwe
In mind a tribe his own
Steadfast apart, yet deceived

As Edern spoke, though he hardly knew his own voice or words any longer, scenes of great treason, an usurping shadow, suffering, rebellion, nobility and the isolated wise king danced across his vision. From the bated breath, muffled gasp and still cutlery around the tables in the hall most saw the same.

Treachery and greed both
Together too great an enemy
For any, even the most wise

With light fled
There is no apart
When all is fallen to shadow

Suddenly aware that the fires on either side had died to embers and the hall had been cast into stark gloom, Lord Ludwell fought to find his voice. What in all the hells had happened? Were the clumsy words he had spun truly what had held the hall in thrall? Truly, strange things happen in Somerland. Bowed and hoarse, he spoke.

“There are other versions of this legend, with ends more worthy of bright summer. Some where the wise king lends his strength to the lightborn and the lands never fall completely into night, but more commonly the king lends sanctuary to the beleaguered Don, forbidding both greed and treachery from his doorstep. In those versions where the war goes ill for the Don, they then find some refuge in the long summer and some light remains to become a new dawn.”

No one in the great hall would tell a story after this one, not that night. The feast would continue the next day. Edern could not attend, falling violently ill and spending much of late winter coughing blood into the guest bed. The Sumerlanders were gracious hosts, many courtiers, ladies and even the king himself sharing his bedside occasionally. Long were those winter days, and though the king refused to speak more of politics, he would mention the heart blade…

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Conversations at blades' length
Year 461

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The staccato clash of weighted practice blades rang across Ludwell. Spring, in all its frenzied bloom and uncertain temper, sang around the manor. Upon the green commons at the heart of Ludwell, among darting children and servants and under the listless stare of watchmen, fought Edern and Elad. The former straight and at ease, the latter just risen from yet another fall into the mud and spitting frustration.

“It’s not fair. I can’t beat you, you’re probably among the best if not the best swordsman in Salisbury! Why should I even try, it’s pointless!”

Edern wiped his brow and sighed as Elad nursed his many bruises in sullen silence. “Let’s take a short break. Clydno, fetch us all water. You should also hear this”

Clydno, Ederns second squire, leapt at the chance to be spared the sparring post a while and ran to fetch water, returning breathless. “Here Lord Ludwell, Elad”. The trio took water and at length Edern spoke.

“What is the greatest valor, do you think?”

“To know no fear, kill my enemies and stand victorious on the field with their banner in my hand!”

Clydno said nothing, deferring to Elad as usual. Edern didn’t allow it. “Come now, speak up! You must take the place that is owed you and say your piece, even among your peers and betters”.

“Saving the life of my lord, giving my own in return”.

Edern hid a smile behind a hand and a bout of light coughing.

“Commendable ideas both, but no. The greatest valour is simply this: To acknowledge ones fear, listen to its warning, and stand fast in ones purpose in spite of it”.

“Fear” sneered Elad “I’ll never fear like a craven!”

Edern simply nodded, took his practice blade and sauntered back to the center of the commons. “Come then, show me your bravery”. Goaded, Elad sprang to and over the course of five whip snap exchanges sprawled thrice more into the dirt, several bruises richer. As the youngster caught his lost breath, Edern continued.

“All sane men know fear. I have never been as scared as I was at Carlion. Fear tells us something valuable if we listen, warns us of danger and overconfidence, reminds us to protect that which we love most. The trick is not to let it dictate your actions. If you hide fear with bravado or defeat it with blind anger you get reckless. Recklessness gets you needlessly killed”.

“But Lord Ludwell, did you not charge the entire pict army to take their banner, and won great fame for it?” Clydno spoke where Elad could not, the latter was still gasping for air.

“Aye, I did. But most who tell that story gloss over that barely one in ten still stood afterwards. We were damned lucky. We four, you know us, were young men then. Foolish and with nothing to lose. Bryn was always the reckless one and charged ahead. I knew the risk, but would not leave his side. For me then, and maybe for you in the years to come young Clydno, such risk is our chance at something better. At this.” A wide gesture encompassing Ludwell expressed the point.

“For you though, Elad, you have no need of this. You serve lord and oath best alive, and when your father dies you will own more than most men need or desire. Recklessness for you is only folly, throwing away much to gain little. Courage is defying your fear with reason and intent.”

Elad, having finally caught his wind and tired of the sermonizing, retorted “All fine talk, but how does that help me win against you?”

“I’m glad you asked. Firstly, with forethought. In battle you would do well to avoid those champions whom you are not good enough to defeat. Salisbury has plenty of skilled and desperate men with nothing to lose who will gladly risk their lives to win glory. To allow them the chance is simply being a good and sensible lord. If you should be unlucky enough to face someone like me in a trial by arms, or across the shield wall, what do you do with your fear in mind?”

“I don’t know”.

“Pick up your sword and shield”. Edern raised his and stood at the ready. Elad, suddenly wary, took his.

“You think. Cover up, fight carefully and defensively, watch for an opening. What are your advantages?”
Elad, circling, furrowed his brow in concentration. “You’re old, you cough a lot.”

“Good! When are you defeated?”

“When I attack you?”

“Yes, very good! So, you don’t attack. You let me attack. Again… ” A series of feints and attacks, all striking shield or blade “… and again. Until I am tired and start making mistakes. Or am swept away by battle or misfortune. No matter how good you are, ill luck will kill you just as surely as the most dangerous enemy”.

Both men lowered their arms, breathing hard. “What’s the point?” groused Elad “What’s the point in just staying alive?”

“The point?” Edern glanced backwards, catching sight of his radiant daughter emerging from the long hall. With a wry smile he stepped aside, clearing the view between the two of them “Oh, I think you will find out…”

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Will you not reconsider?
Year 461

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”Will you not reconsider”, asked Cælia and gave Bryn a frustrated look that made him smile.
“No, I will not,” he chuckled and continued to see to his armour. After the unfortunate incidents that had bestowed his friends this winter, he had to make sure to take extra good care of it.
“But, it is not right for a husband to stay out of his wife’s bed this long,” she argued. “It can lead to… well, rumours.”
”People always find something to talk about, but I dare say that this will not peek the interest of folk as of now. Not when there is a war coming.”
“Some are already talking. They say that you…” Cælia took a deep breath as if to force herself to say the words ”are riding the devil.”

Bryn looked up from his work confused. Naturally he knew that Mountain had been called devil by the common folk in hushed voices, but the flushed cheeks on Cælia indicated that this rumour was something else. He felt his face go red.

“They are saying what?!”
Cælia, now taken aback by his anger, turned her gaze down and answered in a small voice:
“That Lord Hindon enjoys riding his new war horse to the extent that he no longer finds his wife satisfying.”

Her cheeks were a burning red now. His anger flushing Bryn stood and threw the tools he was using. They hit the opposite wall with a sharp sound that echoed in the room.

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He had considered his choice both wise and sober, especially since it seemed like every other lady had died in childbirth this winter. Also, four sons and one daughter were more than any lord could wish for and he had to make sure that he had the finances to give them appropriate futures. Since their youngest had been born weak, and Cælia herself had needed more time to recover from the boy’s problematic birth he had felt weary to loose her. Their children needed Cælia to ensure that they grew up well so he had made up his mind, but then that horse had killed his uncle and people sure were talking.

“That horse is going to be as troublesome as it is going to be profitable,” he muttered after taking a moment to compose himself. “It will not stand! If anyone dare imply that I would do ungodly things with a war horse, I will challenge and kill them.”

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Of Faith, Fate and Destiny
Year 461

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The peaceful times and the good times were ending and thus Cadwallon was sent out by his Lord to gather allies. Many were the men who grumbled in privacy of their own halls but few had dared to raise the banner of rebellion against the high king, the so aptly called Usurper. Thanks to the quest for the Dragon Banner Salisbury was now counted among the few along with the men from Kent. Being a notable warrior known for his forthrightness, Cadwallon had been sent as an emissary to the court of the Duke of Glevum. The Duke, being a good man, hadn’t so far declared for anyone other than the high king, but many men claimed that he did so reluctantly. It was this reluctance Cadwallon and his lord counted on to perhaps turn the Duke and have him also raise the banner of rebellion.

Once he arrived, Cadwallon was treated as an honored guest and given a high place at the table of the duke of Glevum himself. Once the pleasantries of the table had been dispensed with the two men got to talking about more serious business and Cadwallon told most of the facts as he saw and knew them to the duke. The only thing that he kept to himself was the fact that Ambrosius Aurelius yet lived and was preparing to return to Logres, and this he didn’t speak of only because he had sworn an oath to not mention it until the time was right. Making an impassioned plea for aid and alliance by speaking of the old days under the rule of High King Constantin and by pointing out the many crimes committed by the usurper against his own people, Cadwallon seemed to make headway with persuading the duke. When he left the duke asked the Lord Robin send another messenger when spring arrived so that the matter could be discussed further. Lord Robin turned out to be grateful for this message for it was more than he had expected from the mission, and thus he rewarded Cadwallon with good silver for his swiftness and eloquence.

Having returned home to his manor dark news awaited the earnest warrior however. His wife had died whilst giving birth to a son who had fallowed his mother into the Otherlands but a few hours later. Grief-stricken that his companion of many long years had left him, Cadwallon spent little time at home during the winter. Instead he spent many days and nights a his brother-in-all-but-bloods manor, for Ceiwyn has also suffered a similar loss. The loss had however struck Ceiwyn much harder since the lovely Morwenna had been Ceiwyn first and only wife. He hadn’t had to put two previous wives in the ground and neither had he had to bury several of his own children. The dark moods in Ceiwyns hall suited Cadwallon because many dark thoughts had been swirling around in his head and the gloom brought a strange kind of clarity. During the darkest days of winter Cadwallon left to go visit his ancestors.

“With the Gods on your side, you are truly doomed!”

These words spoken by his grandfather had started to make sense to old Cadwallon as he walked the long and lonely road up to the burial hill of Tisbury. His third wife Nia had been laid to rest but a few days ago and so had his unborn and unnamed son. The winter seemed colder and harder than many, at least to Cadwallon. But maybe it was just the cold in his heart as fear grasped his very soul at the thought that the Gods would keep taking his family from him. Now he at last had a son but the signs had all been dark when the boy was born and thus he had order a cow slaughtered and sacrificed to Modron, the great mother. Yet it seemed that the Mothers touch was far away and that some otherworldly power had taken a greater interest.

As he sat foot on the old burial hill where all his ancestors lay he could swear he heard a groaning sound coming from underneath the hill. Walking over to the graves of his wives he fearfully pondered what this sign could mean. What did Ol’Tiss require? Why didn’t he makes his will clear?

Kneeling by the graves, he shouted to his distant ancestor, demanding an answer. But it was not the old man underneath the hill who answered but rather a large flock of Ravens who came swooping in and started cawing out their hunger. In the cawing a voice could be heard, a dark an terrible voice that spoke without words. It spoke of the dead and the dying, it spoke of the blood shed on the battlefield, it spoke of the skulls taken from the enemies of the Durotriges. It was an old call, a call not heard since before the hated Romans arrived on the shores of Logres. It now became clear, the old Gods were coming back! And the oldest and darkest called on the head of the Cellydon family like she had done in the days of old. Cerridwen called!

Several hours later as he left the hill Cadwallon had returned to his senses once more and had time to think on what it all meant. It meant that most of the things in his life had been leading up to this. All the fighting, all the toil, it was all a preparation for the coming war. The gods demanded that blood be spilled and that the usurper must be cast from his throne.

Cradling the hand that was now missing a finger a dark certainty came over the old man: only in giving his self fully to the Gods keeping would they stay their hand from his kin. Their life had been taken to balance the scales when he should have died in the battles of his youth

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The Brooding Lord
Year 461

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With the summer came the joyous news of Morwennas pregnancy but the warmth also brought the dreams that plagued Ceiwyn until the first snow. Morwennas pregnancy was celebrated as the fields were tilled but as the leaves turned yellow Ceiwyn could no longer stay in his home. The midwives worried glances and the dreams that haunted him every night made it clear: he had to ride of. The Lord had sent him the dreams, of that he was certain, and for the first time in his life he understood Magog’s droning words and the ramblings of the Old Gods priestesses. He suddenly understood what it felt like to be chosen. The Lord wished for him to retrieve a hallowed relic from the mountaintops. Again and again he had seen the lonely chapel with the withered stonewalls and overgrown gardens. At first Ceiwyn ignored the signs, later he considered them and finally he accepted them. So it came that Ceiwyn rode of in the early autumn to retrieve the small vial clutched in the hand of a withering statue.

The chapel was as distant as the dreams had foretold and the journey left Ceiwyn numb and tired, a numbness that would never leave his weary body. But he found the vial; clutched in the hand of the Virgin Mary just as in his dreams. But when he came home it was too little and too late. Morwenna had died giving birth to his second son and darkness fell over Chillmark.

Everything Morwenna had ever owned or touched was burned when she was lain to rest. Gowns, goblets and furs were piled on the pyre under the tear filled eyes of the brooding lord and as the black smoke whirled up to the heavens he cursed the fates and his soft heart.

In those dark days of winter Cadwallon kept Ceiwyn company by the fire, but even the kindness of an old friend couldn’t’ mend his broken heart. But Cadwallons company and humour kept Ceiwyn from being alone with his thoughts, something that kept him from growing even more weary of this world.

When the spring finally arrived one thing was clear: Ceiwyn blamed himself for his wife’s death. His affronts to the Lord and lack in faith had brought this upon his family and he vowed that from that day forward he would be a more pious man. But as Ceiwyn thought he was simply committing his life to the Lord worried whispers were heard in the Tarren household: their lords heart and eyes were growing crueller and colder every day.

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What are men to rocks and mountains?
Year 461

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The winter brought a lot of surprises for Bryn who spent the months at DuPlain, guarding the area and representing Dominus Robyn. Learning from the experience and keeping far away from his wife warm bed Bryn grew more suspicious and developed his eye for hidden conflicts and intrigues. Like the winter before he fell ill and regretfully felt his body grew weaker once more. Weeks after the sickness had left his body, it was still affecting his confidence. It was during these weaker moments that he met the older and wealthy lady Kyna, who despite Bryns lack of charming women took a liking to him. They would converse during late evenings and eventually end up below the covers together. A bit regretful and flushed by his own behaviour Bryn tried to end their relationship at the end of the season, but the widow being a strong willed woman has not yet forgotten about him.

During the end of the winter Bryn’s uncle on his roman side suddenly passed away after a dreadful accident. He had been thrown from his new expensive horse and ended up impaling himself on the fence on the side of his courtyard. Mountain, as the horse had been named, was the largest and meanest beast that anyone had ever seen in the Salisbury as far as was remembered. Bryn, being known as a competent rider, ended up retrieving the huge charger since no one else dared go near the creature.

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Unwelcome gifts
Year 460

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The winter of 460 was mild and after a few weeks a comfortable numbness had snuck into the hall and hearts of the Tarrens.

The crisp days saw the men waddling through snow looking for elusive deer and the long evenings where spent drinking and laughing in front of the roaring fires. During the starry nights Ceiwyn felt a flame awaken in his heart; a small tinder that slowly grew in his chest. He felt an affection he had never felt for any man or beast before budding in his chest and before long his love for Morwenna slowly began to bloom. But even such good thoughts can lead to discord.

To Morwenna it seemed an innocent Christmas gift. Perhaps a bit expensive but lovely nonetheless. The lovely fox furs matched here brown eyes and when she showed them to Ceiwyn he smiled happily. But why shouldn’t he? Such a lavish gift from Squire Elad as thanks for Ceiwyns training and friendship only proved to Morwenna that marrying Ceiwyn had been a wise choice. Elad was a striking young lad; as kind as he was goodhearted. Had he not visited her during the long summer? Hadn’t he laughed with her at the fire and kept her company during those dreary days? Her husband was lucky to keep such friends.

For Ceiwyn the signs were clear. The letters dripping of honeyed words, the constants visits to his beloved wife, Elad insistence on becoming his friends squire… and now this. The skinned foxes dead eyes gleamed as his wife spun; their rich fur gleaming as red as Ceiwyns hair in the dancing light. This battle would be long and bloody. But Elad would have a hard time skinning this fox.

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Edern
Year 460

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Summer Solo (Guard duty)

While on patrol, Edern and Bryn chanced upon a group of foreign travellers who had been beset by bandits. Edern, ever the vengeful one, immediately commandeered a handful of sargeants and left Bryn to his own devices among the foreigners. This proved to be a fortuitous turn of events, as these foreigners were a prickly and strange lot. Edern would secretly thank the gods for his good sense in leaving for the remainder of his years.

A hand with commoners can be a good thing, and the bandits were soon discovered. The low folk see things everywhere and hunters know their forests. Unfortunately the bandits proved to be more numerous than anticipated, a full dozen of the black hearted bastards had encamped in the woods enjoying their spoils.

Edern hid his Sargeants and squire among the foilage down the road, and set to cantering his warhorse up the trail. Upon discovering the miscreants he manfully feigned surprise and then dismay, turning his horse to ride away. A masterful rider, pretending to injure his horse in the process and slowly hobbling down the trail proved little challenge.

The bandits thought their fortune made, a wealth of armour and weaponry, and a horse to eat to boot! They charged after, determined to catch their quarry. Edern dismounted past the ambush, pretending to care for his horse, and as the bandits approached him he took up arms. The victorious hoots of the bandits soon turned to cries of terror and defeat. Barely had Edern deflected three ruffians off his shield before the ambush was sprung. A great victory, with only two injured Sargeants to pay.

The Winter

During the winter kin of the sprawling Anarawd bloodline, gathered and dispered across the lands after the wedding of Neillyn, came to ludwell. She had a bastard, and could not bear it publicly for shame. Edern, ever loyal to his blood, took the bastard in and claimed him as his own.

Word of his steady heart and wit spread, and before the wracking cough took him for the winter he was asked to sit in judgement in the company of important men, bringing wealth into his house.

The cough was savage as a pict this winter of 460, surely it will be the death of Edern before long…

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