Against the background of everyone in the County suffering from Merlin’s plague of lice as part of his Moses curse.
The year starts with Sir Gato marrying Lady Nia of the Sisters of Minerva.
Sir Piran & Sir Mathuin had their own marriage issues with their proposed marriages to the twins Rose and Lilly respectively, daughters of the gruff Sir Scipio of — and Menna of who they have to impress in the adventure of the in laws. Sir Piran is somewhat tongue tied but Mathuin manages to impress with his sincerity and oratory.
in the rest of the county
- Afrer patrolling the west against Norgales raiders Sir Renauld investigates a convoy of broken limbed women coming over the border,
- in the south Sir Gilmere, Baron Middlewhich and Sir Gato march to fend of attacks from King Leogandance
- And with the Dux subjecting the county’s pagans to a heavy levy as a result of Sir Spurius enlisting the Pope to sanctify martyred Ennis, Sir Hannibal escorts Brother Hector the levy Inspector to Wallasey where Sir Anerin is not paying the levy.
The Broken Convoy
Gilmere encounters the convoy led by a young woman Nerys with her baby Geraint, they are the the remnants of Silennus/Lord Toads cult and confess their injuries and babes in arms are the result of Sir Anerins frenzy & debauchery during the quest at Lord Toad’s mountain.
Sir Renauld offers to escort them to Anerin or Chester for justice and then choose to make their case to Sir Anerin.
Travelling up the Wirral they encounter Monroe, witch of the Wirral who blames the knights of Cheshire for the curses of the county. Sir Renauld gets cryptic promises of aid from Monro in investigating and combating Merlin’s magics and then journeys on to Wallasey.
The Southern Front
The initial campaigning season is spent skirmishing on all fronts – however it becomes clear King Leogandance fancies his chances and his arranging his forces for invasion the Dux calls a council of war.
They decide to ride south on mass withholding from the raiding and ravaging in the interests of speed. Passing through the village of Madeley and hear that Leogandance is assembling his forces at Baldwin’s Gate a few miles to the south.
Following the River Lee south the Dux will call the men of Baron Middlewhich and sends then scouting south.
They harry out to Baldwin’s Gate following the lee of a brook for cover then passing through a copse.
King Leogandance has learnt lessons from previous Cheshire camp raids. His camp is no open encampment for raiding. It is an organised fortified camp in the Roman manner. Spikes protect the sides and sentrys are posted. The king himself is walking the bounds handing purses to craven peasants who are pointing back towards the Dux’s forces.
in an attempt to draw off the King Baron Middlewhich sends Sir Gato to drive off Cameliard peasants. He does so with perfect courtesy but remains ready for battle.
At this Leogandance saunters out his camp munching an apple.
“. Men of Cheshire – I salute your restraint under your pious Dux. But I’m wise to your plans and your location – runaway to your Dux and tell him not to worry – I’m coming – in my own time.”
Seizing the initiative the Baron calls down the rest of the Dux’s forces to bottle up the King in his camp. Sir Gato harangues the Cameliards outside of bowshot.
Rash young Cameliard knights ride out and chase Sir Gato – and are promptly hit by the Baron’s charge.
The men of Cheshire slam into the fresh faced Cameliard knights and Squires sending them sprawling. The skirmish is shortly done and Baron Middlewhich, Sir Gilmere leads the cheers.
King Leogandance throws his apple in temper after a page whispers in ear. He calls for his horse and his army.
Neddig, Sir Gato’s rides up pulling a young squire by his ear – “ Baron Middlewhich ! Sir Gato – this Squire Elyan he’s apparently a bastard of Leogandance’s ! “ Sir Gato treats the pup with all civility having killed the squires knight.
Baron Middlewhich’s party glee the vengeful Cameliardians who gain as the Dux’s forces arrive. The King turns to face the Dux so the player knights lead there men in turning to the flank and engaging the King on the side.
A tight charge and some frankly miraculous riding rolls the Middlewhich force smashes well timed into the flank of the Cameliard forces. The timing is superb is it mirrors when the Dux’s charge hits the front of the Leogandance’s line.
The combined shock rattles the southern force hacking left and right at enemy knights as they turn and run. Joining together with the Dux’s forces Sir Gato & Sir Gilmere run them off the battlefield and capture they’re fortified camp – Leogandance having the sense not to bottleneck his forces by trying to get back in the camp.
The Dux gallops up ‘ Middlewhich ! Sir Gato ! Well played ! Well played the day is ours – I say Middlewhich you should name that Sir Gato your Marshal the way he led that escape.’
Sir Gilmere names Sir Gato his marshal to the Roman’s further glory.
Sir Hannibal escorts Brother Hector to Wallasey. Despite the officious enthusiasm of Hector they retire to a party. There Hannibal abandons his woes and inhibitions to the pleasures of Sir Anerins pagan court.
Hector is not so easily seduced and while on his crone wife, Mother Redcap’s advice Sir Anerin attempts to seduce him through a battle of wits at the chess board he is resolute.
Morning brings sore heads and other parts. Hector is keen to get on with the collecting and speaks to Sir Hannibal our of turn and given short shift By the knight
“Insolence? Who do you think you are to order me around like a lackey! This man has entertained you as a guest and you insult him? I have escorted you across the realm and you speak to me of Rebellions and Vipers? You little turd. I was doing my duty to the Dux in face of blood-drenched enemies from all sides whilst you shit your breeches and hid behind your ledger books, no doubt.”
He bats Hectors paperwork to the mud.
“I am sure that my brother-in-arms here will pay what is fairly due, and what this war-ravaged manor can afford. And that can be the end of it.”
Sir Renauld arrives with the Convoy which is treated with courtesy Sir Anerin agreeing to get the fostered at his manor and brother knights offering to help too.
Winter the Dux is livid – refusal to pay by several of Middlewhich’s pagan or non-Christian knights has sparked a more general tax rebellion – with even violence in some parts (including Sir Renauld’s wife giving an Inspector a busted nose.) Baron Middlewhich backs up the Dux.
However Sir Renauld, Sir Gato and other conspiring with the sympathetic Brother Cadfel make the following case presented by Sir Renauld:
Renauld glances at Cadfel and stands up.
“My Dux, fellow equites.
I was not trained here but had a good Roman scholar in my youth. My understanding is that we still hold to Roman law, hence we call our lord by the noble latin word Dux rather than some vulgar term.
I cannot call myself Christian and it is distasteful for me to pay a tax to the bishop in Rome. But under Roman law the Dux can proscribe taxes necessary for the defense of the realm, and we must all comply, as long as it is applied with equitas.
My lord Dux – it is not my place to direct you, but may I suggest this: transfer the tax into a common levy on all manors, applied equally, for the common defense; and each manor can deduct it’s religious tithes or duties from that. That way the burden falls evenly on all manors, regardless of religion; the Christians can pay for the duty to Rome; the old believers can pursue Merlin; and those few of us that still follow old Roman way can pay for the legions.
I would ask you to consider my proposal, and perhaps consult with the scholar Cadfel, to see if it meets with the ancient laws and customs, by which we are all bound by our mutual oaths.”
To which after visibly reining in his temper the Dux retorts:
‘ equitas, aspersions on Cardinals – these words make my heads hurt – I gave orders they have been disobeyed. I rage.’
The bishop and staff look smug. The Dux raises his hand… ‘ but shall I show the opposite errors of my predecessor ? Rashness rather than vacillation? Or shall I show temperance.’
He closes his eyes and lets out a long deep sign his fists clenched veins nearly popping.
‘ when elected I promised justice. Let them there be justice – let the tithes be flat the cost be spread and mashed in with other taxes so no pagans pennies are directed allocated to papal expenses.
Let there be an amnesty now for rebelled to cease being outlaws over the 12 days of Christmas.
In future these charges will be discussed openly the winter before.”
He breathes heavily again but draws himself up to his full height
“ but mark you this – any hint of rebellion after this mercy will be punished across all family of the perpetrator – by iron and fire. Old men will be grabbed by their beards and smashed against rocks, maidenheads spilled and matrons butchered with the babies spilling from their guts and any knights involved in such infamy will be broken on the wheel, hung, cleaved and displayed on spikes.
Do we understand each other.”
So settled the matters though a spy of King Lots, Banquo, a refugee of the Orkney invasion from Man goes around promising pagans aid should they need it – Sir Gato persuades him to declare himself Lot’s envoy and so be seen in plain sight.
to move on from the anarchy we are going to fast forward 6 years next turn to the horizon of the boy king.