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The Great Pendragon Campaign Part 2

“And tell us Sir Owain” comes a voice, a nobleman with an accent of the North named Ùisdean steps outside into the gardens from the diners and continues “Will Uther treat our King in the same way he treated his good ally, the Duke of Cornwall? Hold him a captive, only to steal his wife after putting his holdings to the sword. As you say, none in Britain can withstand Uther Pendragon’s forces. So what’s to stop him from giving Malahaut that treatment. Who rules Cornwall now?”

Before you can even answer a second nobleman, with the latin accent of the city to his voice, named Herius steps forth “Sir Owain is surely mistaken, what can a mere knight know of his masters true strength. It is just his pride talking, did you not hear it in his voice”

Gaius merely smiles as conversations and arguments erupt throughout the gathering.

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“The Duke of Cornwall broke hospitality with King Uther, and thus we rode to war. God judged in Uther’s favour, so his cause must have been just. Otherwise, Cornwall would have prevailed, unless you doubt the wisdom of the heavens?” Owain answers in response to the first.

To the second “I have fought in three pitched battles under Uther’s banner. Surely that gives me a better understanding of Logres’ strength in the field? And as for the alliances I spoke of, they are true fact. Although I am listed as one of the King’s Men, I cannot claim to know the King’s mind, but I do know that he is dedicated to the defense of Briton from those who would come and claim the island for themselves.”

“Of course I am proud of my country, but it does not blind me to the fact that all the Kingdoms of this land are under threat from invaders like the Saxons. Each Kingdom standing alone and focusing on their self-interest will surely led to each of them falling in turn. Stong as Logres is, she cannot stand apart form the other Kingdoms of Briton. Are you sure that it is not your pride that is misplaced?”

“Thankyou Owain” smiles Gaius “Do not let Herius turn your words false, as he is want to do with anyone who isn’t kowtowing to him”

Gaius speaks up once more “One of Uthers own men, and a veteran of wars he knows full well the strength of Uthers armies. Do not disbelieve him because it suits you to believe the lies you’ve been telling yourself!”

Herius looks furious, “You know he’s playing you for a fool!” he snarls as he strides towards a door that leads to the inner palace. A mercenary, previously unseen steps out from a cunning illusion in the wall, an alcove for a guard to watch the garden and any who would use this door hidden only by cunning tilework to make the wall look unblemished. The mercenary draws his blade to stop Herius but Gaius waves his hand, and the mercenary retreats back to his alcove, and Herius leaves, slamming the door as he goes.

Ùisdean however stands firm, “He put a Duke to death for a simple breach of hospitality. Tell me Sir Owain, and answer me straight. Why did Uther keep Duke Cornwall from his lands for a full year? Do you think that the Duke leaving under such circumstances, with the King pawing his wife at every opportunity… don’t look at me like that Gaius, I was in London, you were not, do you think that the Duke leaving under such circumstances was a crime punishable by death?”

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“I can’t answer why Uther held Cornwall for a year. I am not in a position to hold those confidences. But it is no secret that there was a lack of trust between King Uther and Duke Gorlois. The fact that Cornwall only rode in Lindsey with a bare household of men may have something to do with Uther’s attitude.”

“King Uther went to war over a breach in one of the universal laws of this land, one of the very customs that our Kingdoms hold dear, and that place us above the barbarians. But it was God who chose to put Gorlois to death. I was at Terrabil when the Duke sallied forth. If Uther was wrong in pursuing his war, then He would not struck Gorlois down, and I probably would not be here to speak of it.”

“A question for you if I may - what is it that you fear? I have come as a friend, one who has shed blood on Malahaut’s behalf, not just at Lindsey, but skirmishing against the Saxons alongside Sir Hamm and Sir Geston. But it seems that there is little welcome here. Perhaps I should be one asking why Logres should be looking to renew an alliance with a Kingdom that easily forgets such things, that seems to place no value on past deeds?”

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“You marched to war only to protect Lincoln, not for Eburacum’s sake.” Ùisdean counters, “deny it and I shall name you liar, for I know Lord Huntingdon who was at the signing of the declaration of war against Octa and Eosa by the Pendragon, he told me all.”

“It is you I fear, your men, your loyalty to Uther and the increasingly erratic behaviour by your liege. You’ve said it yourself, you are strong, we are weak. Our knights busy themselves with ((he says something here that I will PM you, spoilers)) our army ((he says something here that I will PM you, spoilers)). So if your king decides to break bread with ours, then refuses permission for the Centurion to return to his home for a year, when Heraut de Aprés tires of his games and breaks hospitality to return to a land in desperate need of his rule, then by your logic, our lands are forfeit, our kings life is forfeit, and Uther swallows Malahaut whole. I don’t trust your rulers Owain, it is no secret that Uther desires to be High King, and has systematically seized or slain any Lords who oppose him, legality be damned. And now you pronounce yourself soldiers of God. Gorlois sallied forth, but he would not have done so had you not sat in siege of his castle. How was that to end any other way…”

Gaius holds up his hand and the Northern Noble holds his tongue immediately.

“Owain is right” announces Gaius “This is no welcome for a guest, a guest of honour. All I beg of you is to listen to his words, and ponder his question. Why should Logres be seeking to renew an alliance with Malahaut. Ask yourself that as you make your advise to the king. Owain, before we put politics aside, and break bread together, speak freely.”

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Merrick never appreciated the finer points of courtly skills like his older brother, and many would consider him to be rather ‘rough around the edges’, due to rarely being able to attend court; but, when at court in Sarum, he usually was engrossed in conversations and is known to be rather straight forward. An approach he decides will be best under the current circumstances…

As he approaches the guards on duty at the doors of Tullus’ wing of the palace, he notices the guards and their sloppy attire. He thinks to himself: They look as thin and weak as fresh squires… Another siege by the Saxons will surely wipe out this city…

Smiling, trying to project a congenial air, and from an appropriate distance away he replies, “Good evening. I am Sir Merrick, a knight of Salisbury, and these are my squires. I spoke earlier to one in your number named Opiter… I was hoping I could speak with him, if he is currently off duty, or possibly speak with the head of your garrison. Who would I need to speak with to get permission to gain admittance?”

“But first, I think I can help you,” he says looking at the guard on the left with the slumping helm, “may I see your helm?”

If the guard gives up his helm:

“Tewain, give me the cloth from around one of those bottles,” he commands of his squire. He then takes the cloth and wraps it around the inside of the helm in the hopes of helping it keep place atop the guards head. “A knight in Salisbury showed my brother this method, and he shared it with me. It works in a pinch and is not a perfect solution, but hopefully it will help while on guard duty…”

He then hands back the helm.

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“I do not regard myself a soldier of God, only that the fate of Gorlois was ordained by heaven. Both sides claimed hurt and injustice, one side emerged victorious. And trust me, Gorlois was safe behind the walls of Terrabil.”

Owain arrests a slight tremble of his hand at the memories of that day.

“He rode forth like an aspect of Mars himself, and struck down Prince Madoc. At that moment the day was lost, until Gorlois perished at the hands of one of Salisbury’s knights. I cannot believe that it was anything other than God’s will that decided his end that day. If our army was routed, Gorlois would have been clear to march and overwhelm Uther encamped at Tintagel. Uther’s fate was decided there outside Terrabil, and it was not the hand of man that made the judgement on Gorlois.”

“I marched to Lindsey to fight the Saxons who invaded this land, the island that we share. I will not be called a liar for seeking to fight a common foe to the benefit of both our nations. Perhaps it was Uther’s self interest that led us to that battle, but I was glad that it resulted in the breaking of your siege, as were all in my company.”

Owain gives a heavy sigh, tiring of these politics and struggling with the hostility of some of the questioning. Partly because it echoes some of his own doubts about Uther.

“I will speak honestly with you. When we arrived here, I was asked what price would I be willing to pay to remain free. Would I be willing to sacrifice my culture and identity for survival? To hear such questions is not a good sign about Malahaut’s position. I do not know what has happened here in the three years since Octa’s defeat, but it is clear that Malahaut is at a crossroads. I do not know what options are open to you, who else you may turn to for aid. Whoever they are, they will ask something from Malahaut in return. And yes, Logres will too. Your choice is what are you willing to pay?”

“If Uther does become High King, what has Malahaut lost? Yes, your King will answer to another, and that is no small thing, and I do state it lightly. But your cultural identity will survive, the essence of what makes Malahaut strong.”

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Merrick, the guard lets you adjust his helm, you note that he has already tried padding it, but your attempt is certainly an improvement. “Opiter is on duty in the courtyard” the other tells you, “Er… well, the head of the garrison is in the palace. If you need to speak with him, I suppose we can let you in”.

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Ùisdean opens his mouth to reply to you Owain, but a shake of the head of Gaius, and he retreats and sits back down. Gaius, in an instant is all smiles and geniality once more, and food is summoned for the higher nobles in the gardens, yourself included as their guest.

Owain is not exactly certain of everything going on here. Has Gaius set him up, pretending to favour Logres as an excuse to get Owain to talk and thus mobilise sentiment against his country in other more closed discussions?

(An Intrigure roll I guess, if allowed?)

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Absolutely you can make an intrigue roll!

(I’m not expecting much here, but a nice way to show Owain’s discomfort at such courtly things.

d20: 6 vs 5 Intrigue)

So close!

Gaius seems to be genuinely favouring Logres, and seems to be leading these nobles with a sway that you can’t understand. They do what he says, without question, even inturrupting themselves in full argument, at a mere nod. You have seen Kings with such power, but never a courtier, no matter how important.

Whatever grasp he has on the rest of the court seems to have it’s limits though, he appears to be unable to affect the advice the court gives the king, and it is seemingly very important to him that the Logres treaty happens.

The courts opinions of a future re-establishment of a treaty seems to run counter to his. Even among those that disagree with him, there are three differing factions, if they unite, you sense it will be bad for Logres’ desire for a treaty, only their deadlock seems to be paralysing the court and leaving room for positivity about Logres to flourish.

(( I am trying so very hard not to relate this to real world stuff, but bloody hell! ))

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“That would be nice, I do not want to be an imposition… Perhaps I can wait for them where you rest while not on duty, or somewhere else out of the way…”

Merrick thinks to himself: I wonder if Princeps Tullus is present… I will have to keep an eye out once inside to avoid seeming like I am barging in on him. I do not want to seem like I am infiltrating the villa…

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Owain will eat relatively frugally, and will enjoy the opportunity to move away from talking on politics. If he can he’ll try to direct conversation onto topics of different types of warfare and weaponry, but considering that most here are not knights and probably not martially inclined, he will settle on learning about what entertainments or other distractions are currently in vogue at Malahaut’s court.

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Owain, the rest of the evening is unremarkable and uneventful. The food is good, and by your standards there is no way to not eat frugally though they clearly see this as lavish. The entertainment is standard, musicians and jugglers and your hosts are cordial, but ultimately nobles of a Kings court and you see plots playing out beneath the surface of seemingly polite conversation throughout the evening.


Merrick, the boy shows you into the wing of the palace and inside, the entire place has been converted into a crude barracks. The boy shrugs “You can wait in the racks if you wish” he points to a room lined with beds, filled with sleeping soldiers “but you’ll be more comfortable in the gardens I would imagine. As soon as the Princeps arrives, I’ll have someone fetch you.”

You realise with perhaps some shock, that this nervous, green boy soldier is of a rank to command others!

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Balen spends the rest of the evening seeking to remembering the names and faces of any knights he can, then retires for the night.

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Merrick takes in his surroundings and thinks to himself: Was this the last line of defense during the siege? Are the other three villas in this condition? Are there no veteran soldiers who survived the fighting… Is Malahaut in that great of distress?

After a moment of consideration, he replies, “Normally, I would probably wait in the racks; but, as a soldier, I know how important it is to get proper sleep to be in top form and do not wish to disturb them. I think your suggestion of waiting in the garden may be best. Please show me the way, if you have time to.”

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The gardens are not hard to find, and in them you find three soldiers, older than all of the others you’ve seen and they are not on duty, however they are in a tight huddle, and their armour gleams with freshly applied beeswax, their weapons are in perfect condition, but there is a nervous energy about them. You remember your years as a squire lining up for inspection by the knights and you recognise the signs.

Could you also give me an awareness check please Sir Merrick.

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Merrick Awareness 12
d20: 14

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