The Great Pendragon Campaign

AD 491

Pendragon AD 491

Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (2,975 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,658 Glory) (absent)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,394 Glory) (absent)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,228 Glory) (absent)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,723 Glory) (absent)
6. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,187 Glory) (first appearance)
7. Sir Morin of Idmisdton (1,178 Glory) (first appearance)

King Uther Pendragon holds court and pronounces judgement upon Duke Gorlois. Gorlois has affronted him beyond all tolerance. Uther claims that Gorlois is a traitor, and the proof is that he left in secret, stealing treasure and slaying servants on the way out of London last year.

Our Heroes remember well, having had the chance to stop Gorlois but deciding not to. They do not bring this missed opportunity up.

The talk at court is bloodthirsty. Prince Madoc wants to give the Cornish what they deserve. Sir Cyfan is tending to his lands and is unable to offer his normal counsel and commiseration with the Prince this year.

Sir Brastias, ever faithful, is nonetheless concerned about the Saxons, who seem to have endless numbers. Sir Lug affirms Brastias’ worries but affirms the need to support the king.

The king demands all available men, knights and levies alike, for the war upon Cornwall. Earl Roderick pulls Our Heroes aside and lets them know that actually, their levies should stay behind in case of a Saxon incursion. However, they and their retinue should prepare to ride.

Rumor has it that Gorlois is not actually a traitor, but escape to preserve the honor of his wife, the Duchess Ygraine, from Uther’s scandalous advances. Deciding on the truth of this is a little beyond Our Heroes’ pay grade. But apparently even Prince Madoc has been overheard arguing with his father over proprieties, and the wisdom of using his political strength to enforce his own lusts.

Uther commands all knights to march on Cornwall immediately. Any stragglers are to follow as quickly as feasible.

The Knights follow, apprehensive. The last time they marched on Cornwall, it was into almost certain slaughter, averted only by the intervention of Merlin. But Merlin is nowhere to be seen. In general the Knights are not really supportive of this, but Uther is their liege’s liege. What choice do they have?

The march is long and cold. Scouts go out and return. Gorlois has divided his forces into two: the majority at Castle Terrabil, ten miles inland; the rest at Castle Tintagel, on the coast. The Duchess is at Tintagel, but if Uther moves on Tintagel then Gorlois’ army at Terrabil will move on their rear and pin them up again the other castle. Uther sends his son, Madoc, with the bulk of his army, to besiege the army at Terrabil. Uther himself rides with a small force to Tintagel. Roderick gives the Knights their choice: Glory at Terrabil, or with him and Uther to Tintagel?

The Earl turns to Sir Lug. Lug, with no hesitation, says “We have ever gone with you and the King. We will accompany you still.” The Earl inclines his head. “Sir Lug, you are a true knight. Would that all my men were as steadfast as you.”

They ride.

Castle Tintagel is on an outcropping in the Irish Sea, connected by a narrow causeway. A deathtrap, so of course Sir Gwyn volunteers to lead the assault. He gets halfway across and the two knights who went with him fall to their deaths. Sir Gwyn hastily retreats back to the mainland. Several more attempts fail. Uther rages. The knights, and Our Knights, stand around and wait for orders. They ride patrols and observe, and attempt to starve them out.

One afternoon, Sir Gwyn sees a rider approaching on a white mule. He rides out to meet the rider. It’s an old man with a long beard. Merlin? Merlin! The arch druid of Britain greets Gwyn by name, and, annoyingly, knows all about him despite them never having met before.

Gwyn escorts Merlin to Uther’s tent and stands guard.

That night, while Our Knights are watching the camp, Uther and Merlin (and noble Sir Brastias) leave the tent and ride up the coast. Our Heroes follow at a respectful distance. Merlin sees them but says nothing. Arriving at a standing stone, Merlin dismounts and begins a ritual. Sir Marin, faithful pagan that he is, watches respectfully. The others are suspicious, but if Uther is participating, what reproach may they give?

Uther, Merlin, and Brastias remount and return to camp. The Knights retreat to the side of road as they pass; Uther nods regally at them as if to thank them for their escort.

Returning to camp and unable to sleep. A few hours pass. The Knights mill about, restlessly. A shout goes up: “The duke! Open the gate!”

Gwyn sees Duke Gorlois ride into the castle. He stands guard at the causeway. A few hours later, the duke rides out. Gwyn, Marin, and Lug move to intercept! Suddenly Merlin is there, holding up his hand. “Knights, hold. As you love Britain, trust mine counsel.”

They hold and watch the duke disappear into the fog. They eventually go to sleep, and have dreams troubled by visions of dragons and blood. The night is cold and long.

In the morning, messengers arrive! The knights ride out and escort them in. Their words are for the king only, but rumor spreads quickly: A battle at Castle Terrabil. Duke Gorlois was killed in the fighting, but before he went down, he killed Prince Madoc.

Uther is hit hard by the news. He retreats to his tent to grieve in private.

The body of Duke Gorlois is brought to Tintagel under a white flag, and disappears into the castle. The next day, the Duchess Ygraine surrenders to Uther. Uther accepts, and takes her into protective custody.

Prince Madoc is buried at Stonehenge. The Knights attend, and notice an empty plot ready to hold Uther when the time comes. It is a sobering thought.

Word comes from the south: The Saxons have made ingress into Kent. Women and children are being sacrificed to Wotan, the bloody Saxon god of war. Uther is dismissive, and announces his wedding to Ygraine. The courtiers are impressed with Ygraine’s cunning — she is apparently moving quickly to secure her future. The wedding is the social event of the summer. Ygraine’s daughters are on display; it is assumed that Uther will be marrying them off to secure alliances as necessary.

The Knights are garrisoned at Tintegel for the winter. Their commander gifts them sufficient rewards to let their treasuries build appropriately.

“I don’t know how much longer I can support Uther,” says Sir Nidian privately, when he hears of the year’s events.


Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (3,173 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,725 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,583 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,392 Glory)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,746 Glory)
6. Sir Morien of Idmisdton (1,391 Glory) (first appearance)
7. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,358 Glory) (first appearance)

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