Game Location: Jan 23, 2015 at the Guild Hall’s Arena in Savannah.
James P.: Turpin deLoure – French Christian
John H.: Galien – French Christian
John S.: Celsus – Roman Christian
Josh K.: Romulus – Roman Christian
Rod F.: Jaufre – Occitanian Christian
Ron W.: Damahaut – Cymric Christian
Tony G.: Donecus – Roman Jew
William B.: Athras – Cymric Christian
Absent: Robbie W. (Squire Riorden O’Fergus) due to having to finish a dissertation.
Epilogue of Session 5
The session for A.D. 499 ended with the Lady Ester using some sort of enchantment to visit Galien and Turpin in their sleep. Galien resisted her charms, but Turpin did not. Because Ester’s lavender perfume could be discerned in their bedchambers upon waking, it was quite possible that she was somehow actually there in person. As part of the epilogue of Session 5, it was determined that both Galien and Turpin shared the information with the rest of the squires, as well as with the maiden Solei (whom both have a Pure Companionship relationship with).
Mini-Adventure: A Strange Winter for Sir Edam
The following players were present and ready to play at 7:00 p.m. and were able to participate in the Mini-Adventure:
In the winter of A.D. 500, Sir Edam started showing signs of strange behavior. First, he took some of the squires into the forest to hunt “wild snowmen” (they didn’t find any). Then he announced that he had cataloged the language of hound dogs, which the squires were expected to learn and practice at the dinner table. And this was followed by a bizarre cooking lesson, in which he attempted to roast a bunch of chickens on a spear while instructing the squires to widen the castle’s hearth with a sledge hammer (fortunately Sir Gorn sans Humour, the earl’s butler, arrived in time to put a stop to it). Evidently, the curse of the Witch of Raven Wood was starting to take hold of Sir Edam, just as it once did to his friends Sir Tilvor and Sir Lester.
Squire Donecus and the Witch
While hunting in the Savauge Forest, Donecus became separated from the rest of the group in a mist. He came across a pristine-looking cottage with a light in the window. He remembered hearing rumors that the cottage of the Witch of Raven Wood was spotted (in recent years) by hunters in the Savauge Forest. This cottage used to be located in a wooded area on the outskirts of Beale Valet. There was a time when it was believed that the witch was dead, and the cottage had become dilapidated. This was the building torn down by Sir Edam, Sir Tilvor and Sir Lester in their project to build a feast hall. Consequently, this action was believed to be what triggered the curse that brought madness and death upon Tilvor and Lester, and is apparently at work on Edam as well. For more details on all this, see the Rumors for A.D. 495 & 496 in this adventure log.
Donecus entered the cottage and discovered a middle-aged woman who identified herself as Minerva, also claiming to be the Witch of Raven Wood. She knew who Donecus was without the benefit of an introduction. She claimed to be neither good nor evil, but, like nature itself, sought a balance of forces. She was concerned of a growing evil in the woods to the south, and asked Donecus to be her champion in eliminating this evil. She did not reveal the name of this evil, nor give any real description of it. The time was not yet right to strike, but if Donecus was willing, she would begin the slow process of enchanting his sword.
As a sign of her good intentions, she told Donecus the means by which Sir Edam could be cured of the curse she placed on him. She also noted that she thought he had suffered enough, and that justice had been done over the destruction of her old cottage (and the rare and valuable arcane ingredients that were located there). According to Minerva, Edam should be taken to Ramsey Abbey for the Easter Vigil Mass. There they would meet a red-haired vassal knight named Sir Martonus of the Estate of High Tower. Martonus had a garden with an enchanted statue of St. Michael the Archangel that had healing powers, including the ability to lift curses. Moreover, the group should take a letter from Earl Dafydd requesting this to be done for Edam.
Donecus agreed to be Minerva’s champion, and she gave him a magic tea to drink which granted him the skill of Herbalism / Elementalism. Note that this is not the ability to do alchemy, but simply gives him the knowledge of how to identify and gather herbs and minerals. She told him to bring her “the stone that burns” (i.e., sulfur). When he left the cottage, he noticed that it no longer appeared pristine, but rather an old, dark dilapidated building.
Later in the year, Donecus returned with the sulfur. Once again, while in the Savauge Forest he found himself surrounded by mist, and this event led him to another meeting with Minerva in her newly looking house. She burned the sulfur in a bowl and waved Donecus’ sword over it, while chanting arcane phrases. This was a bonding spell, and only the first part of the ritual. He was to return to her once a year with newly assigned items, until the whole process was complete. Then Donecus would be ready to confront the evil that Minerva spoke about, and he would have the right sword to get the job done.
Once again the squires’ training involved studies with Theronde the Sage. He gave lectures on battle based on passages of “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius.
High Tower and the Statue of St. Michael the Archangel
As instructed by Minerva, the squires got a letter from Earl Dafydd and accompanied Sir Edam to Ramsey Abbey. The morning they were to depart to Ramsey Abbey, it was discovered that Edam had burned his mace in a fireplace because “it was speaking heresies! And we burn heretics!” Ramsey Abbey is a Benedictine monastery and feudal estate in the northwest section of Huntington County. It was also the location of the mysterious robbery of a golden chalice inlaid with emeralds (see “New Rumor” under A.D. 499 in this adventure log). At the Easter Vigil Mass, they met Abbot Leovian (considered the feudal lord of this area) and Sir Martonus, a widower who is a vassal knight in the service of Ramsey Abbey. They also met Martonus’ son, Squire Algus (age 20), and daughter, the Lady Avina (age 15).
A Ransom Demand from King Octa
As we know from the background of the Huntington Campaign, Sir Emeric (the father of Squire Dragan) and Sir Taurinus (the father of Squire Donecus) have been missing in action since the year A.D. 493. They disappeared after pursuing the Saxon Kings Octa and Eosa into Windsor Forest. In A.D. 499, a rumor was heard that Sir Emeric was being held somewhere in the southeast part of Britain. Now, in A.D. 500, a messenger from King Octa arrived in Beale Valet demanding a ransom for Sir Emeric.
Ordinarily, feudal lords do not pay ransoms for mercenary knights, so that responsibility would fall upon the knight’s family, and many such families did not have those kind of funds. Hence, mercenary knights were typically not ransomed. But Earl Dafydd had accepted Dragan as a retainer in his household, with the promise of eventually making him a bachelor knight, so he decided to treat Emeric as one of his own. He agreed to pay a bachelor knight’s ransom for Emeric, which was 12 L. Due to the scarcity of gold coins, a chest was filled with the equivalent in silver, being 240 shillings.
Damahaut and Turpin were sent to get a big chain from the blacksmiths: Valter, Hamon and Halblet. The blacksmiths acted as psychotic as ever. Thinking that the commissioned chain was to be used to lock of prisoners, they suggested that it was better to simply kill prisoners rather than having to feed them and care for them in the dungeon. Because knights are obviously too busy with important business to deal with such matters, the blacksmiths offered to act as the executioners of Beale Valet. More specifically, Valter wanted to be known as the “High Lord Executioner”, and Hamon wanted to be the “Honorable Assistant to the High Lord Executioner”, and Hablet wanted to be the “Honorable Guy Who Grabs People By the Throat and Chokes the Life Out of Them!” They asked the squires to kindly pass along their offer to the earl.
In Earl Dafydd’s court, the silver was placed in a locked chest, and the chest was wrapped with the chain which was secured with a padlock. The next day the chest was loaded on a wagon. According to the stipulations of the ransom demand, no more than 11 men were to deliver the silver, of whom only three could be knights. They were to take the wagon to Sycamore Castle, a motte and baily fortification in the northwest part of Essex County. The exact exchange was to take place in the baily (the keep on the motte was just a burned out shell, having been destroyed in the recent Saxon Wars). Horses were not to be brought into the baily. The Saxons meeting them at Sycamore Castle were to abide by the same restrictions.
Sir Edam, sporting a brand new mace, was chosen to lead the party. The other two knights were Sir Gerente and Sir Arhan of the Axe. The remaining 8 men sent were the squires of the Company of the Crimson Hawk, minus Riorden. Prior to leaving, Solei gave Turpin, Galien and Donecus (i.e., the three squires who had been seeing her in the context of Pure Companionship) each a healing potion called Essence of Bryony.
The wagon was taken to the baily of Sycamore Castle, wherein a group of Saxons awaited them: Sir Baldwine (the leader), Sir Eadred, Sir Wigstan, one berserker and 9 warriors. Sir Emeric was being held in the ruins of the keep for the moment. The padlock on the chain was removed, and the chest was opened, but instead of a pile of silver coins all that was in the chest was a bunch of rocks! Baldwine shouted, “Treachery!” and battle ensued.
After a heated fight, Sir Baldwine was struck a major wound by Sir Edam. He failed his Valorous roll and then made his Cowardly! Hence, Baldwine surrendered and, being the leader of the Saxon party, ordered his side to surrender as well. It should be noted that four of his fellow Saxons had been knocked unconscious by this point, including Sir Wigstan and the berserker, whereas all of the group from Beale Valet were still in fighting form. Sir Emeric was freed, and all the Saxons were taken to Huntington County as prisoners.
The Story of Sir Taurinus
Sir Emeric revealed that back in A.D. 493, he and Sir Taurinus were waylaid by a group of Saxons in Windsor Forest who were guarding the escape route of kings Octa and Eosa. They were imprisoned in a fortress in the southeast.
During that time, Taurinus despaired of ever being ransomed, and denigrated the life of a mercenary knight. He declared, “We constantly risk our lives for a handful of coins! It’s just not worth it!” A few months after he was imprisoned, Taurinus managed to escape but Emeric has no idea what has become of him.
The Arrival of Owen and the Revelation of the Events of Lady Ester & the Estate of Lonely Elm
A short, squat, raggedy looking fellow arrived in Beale Valet seeking sanctuary. His name was Owen and he had spent the past few years working as an herbalist for Lady Ester. Now he was on the run, saying that Ester tried to have him killed by a demon! Through Owen, the squires were finally able to hear the story behind the mysterious events of the Estate of Lonely Elm (see Session #3, A.D. 497). Here then is his story:
Lady Ester basically hated her parents, Sir Wymark and Lady Duriana. They discovered that she was practicing the dark arts and burned her spell books, but this did not stop her. Next her parents tried to marry her off to an ugly knight, so she came up with a plan to kill them.
She chose Halloween night of A.D. 496 to carry out the dastardly deed, because that was when the whole family was determined to witness the manifestation of the ghost of Sir Warrenus. That night Ester killed her parents with an axe, hoping that the phantom would be blamed for the deed. But the townspeople always suspected that she was not right in the head, so rumors tended to point the finger at her as being the culprit. Lacking better evidence, the official report from the sheriff was that a Saxon marauder had committed the murders.
For her next scheme, Ester invited the squires to come to the Estate of Lonely Elm to witness the apparition of the ghost of Sir Warrenus (and this was the basis of the adventure of Huntington Campaign Session 3). She used magical illusions to try to terrify the squires with various supernatural events in hopes that they would spread the word that the manor house was not only haunted, but horribly so! Ester figured that with such a dire reputation, suspicion of the murder of her parents would fall upon whatever evil spirits presumably possessed the house. Nevertheless, local society still treated her as a pariah.
The squires informed Ester of the clue that the ghost of Sir Warrenus gave (i.e., he traced the image of an “ohn” rune from Ogham) and she decided to look into this deeper, although she never shared the details with Owen. Last year, she ventured into the Fens for two days and then returned.
Next Ester spoke to Owen of getting a new start in life, and took him and her essential belongings into the Fens where they encountered the Unholy Raiders. They warmly greeted her but treated Owen with suspicion, blindfolding him and leading him deeper in the Fens. At one point, he could tell that he was sloshing through knee deep water as if walking across a submerged bridge fashioned from logs.
When his blindfold was removed, he found himself in the legendary town of Boston, populated with men, women and children. Their king, Darrowmere, was old and decrepit. He was a widower who had no children, and the people questioned his virility. The king accepted Ester as his new bride and they were wed. Shortly after this, Ester announced that she had conceived. A few weeks after that, Darrowmere died of Marsh Fever, resulting in Ester being the sole reigning monarch in Boston. Eventually she gave birth to triplets: two sons and a daughter (Konwen, Loic and Maellis).
Unfortunately for Owen, the Unholy Raiders of Boston continued to treat him as an outsider. He had to live confined in a building on the edge of town, and rarely was allowed to go in public. Even then, such outings were brief, and he was always escorted by some of the raiders.
He also began to fear for his life because he alone (having been Ester’s confidant for years) knew that the secret concerning the children of Ester. Their father was not truly King Darrowmere, but rather Squire Turpin! She wanted to make sure that her children had the blood of a champion in them, so she used the Honorable Challenge of the Huntington and Brun Squires to find a proper father (see Huntington Campaign Session 5). Using magic, Ester transported herself into the bedchamber of Squire Galien, who won first place at the contest. She appeared to him in the form of a dream, but involving actual physical contact, but he chastely resisted her advances which completely broke the spell. Because Squire Turpin won second place, she targeted him next, and he succumbed to her charms and her enchantments. It was then that the triplets were conceived.
Ester has become more diabolical over time, and apparently more mentally unbalanced. As Queen of Boston, she started envisioning conquering Britain and actually summoned a horned, bat-winged demon to help in this endeavor! Owen was brought there to be the human sacrifice that the demon required, but it looked with disdain upon him, shouting, “You call this toad of a man a worthy sacrifice? Away with him!” Owen was surrounded by a black cloud and the smell of sulfur, and appeared on the outskirts of the Fens. He stayed on the run, fearing for his life, and eventually made his way to Beale Valet to not only seek sanctuary, but to also warn the squires of the Company of the Crimson Hawk. After all, they possess a lot of knowledge that Ester would like to remain secret, such as the clue left by the ghost of Sir Warrenus, and her nocturnal visit to Turpin. Plus, she knows that they have the potential to be great knights who could thwart her plans of leading the Unholy Raiders in an invasion of Britain.
Earl Dafydd has granted Owen sanctuary, and Theronde the Sage decided to employ him in his capacity as an herbalist.