490 proved to be a year filled with surprise and danger. The winter court at the end of 489 set the tone for the coming year in both personal and public ways. During the Christmas feast my attempt to make a courteous yet jovial jest in the spirits of the season seems to have upset Lady Gwiona’s sense of appropriateness, and the spirited girl slapped me in front of the earl’s assembled household. I’ll grant that the lass has a spirited and swift stroke, and it is my hope that when the Earl thinks highly enough of me to make her my wife she will pass those traits on to our children.
Sir Elad approached our little group of knights, informing us that we would be forming an eshield and that we would have to choose a leader. After some discussion it was decided that since Sir Miles and Sir James had been having difficulty finding common ground that I should lead this group into glorious battle when we marched to Lindsey.
Of greater significance so the Earldom of Salisbury was the unexpected return of Sir Beauford, aged through some kind of fae magics into a man seemingly past his fortieth year, with a son grown into the flower of manhood following in his wake. Claiming to have been lost in the fae lands and having been pursued by the wild hunt, Sir Beauford had returned to place his son into lordship of Broughton. Sir James seemed worried the youth might be some form of changling and got into a rather heated argument with Sir Miles about what means and methods could and would be appropriate to ensure the youth was free of fae influence, coming to blows in front of court. Sir Simon objected to giving up his stewardship of Broughton to an unknown outsider and challenged the youth to combat by trial for the holding. The youth gladly accepted, and the earl knighted him before the court as Sir Gerald to ensure the appropriate social conventions were observed.
When the duel began Sir Simon rained down numerous light blows upon Sir Gerald, almost as if he was simply trying to show the youth that his skill was so superior that Sir Gerald should simply resign and accept the inevitable. Yet, even as blows slipped past his sword, they glanced off of his shield, or skittered off his breastplate. Sir Simon, seeming frustrated in spite of his great skill, eventually brought a mighty blow down on Sir Gerald as if to cleave him in twain only to watch the steel in his snap with a ringing sound at the hilt when it crashed down upon the shoulder of Sir Gerald’s armor. Stepping back, Sir Simon called for another sword. I handed him mine hilt first and the duel resumed, with my sword doing no better and it soon snapped when Sir Simon drove it’s forge hardened tip at the wolf and Ivy filigree covering Sir Gerald’s breast. Sir Simon then changed tactics, launching himself forward beating at Sir Gerald with his shield before Sir Gerald’s sword slipped past his frenzied defenses, leaving him unconscious on the ground. Sir Miles tended to their wounds, bringing Sir Simon back from death’s door and tending to Sir Gerald, who had taken quite a beating despite staying on his feet. With Sir Gerald victorious in his claim on Broughton, I found a place for Sir Simon among my retinue as but for the grace of god, I could find myself in such a situation. Perhaps it is a concern only those of us who came up as household knights can fully understand.
After the snows melted and the warm breath of spring once again touched our lands, we were summoned northward, each of us with our retinues to take the Field at Lindsey. Formed up across the no man’s land between the two great Armies, we found ourselves standing in the center of our forces with King Uther. The army’s right flank was formed of and led by the duke of Silchester and a large number saxons, while our left was led by Gorlois, our almost foe from the previous summer. Arrayed before us were the forces of Octa, leading the saxon center. Sir James mentioned that the enemy arrayed against Gorlois was Eosa, Octa’s cousin rumored to be so large that there was no horse yet born who could bear his bulk. We had time for a quick prayer the lord of battle that in his infinite mercy and understanding that if we should fair to call upon him in battle for him to be understanding in the stillness before the charge was sounded, and then spurred our horses forward, to where Octa’s battle line was being reinforced. Our first foes charged at us from their lines, mounted atop steeds and dressed in colors somewhat familiar from our time in the fields of Frankland. My companions did well, although my own lance snagged before the clash of our lines and a rider drove his lance square into my chest. While my armor held, I could feel my ribs creak and groan under the strain as I fought to keep my seating. Sir Simon was caught in the fray and separated from our unit at this point, and his squire went to find him. Even with his loss though, our unit came out on top in our swirling engagement.
Continuing to press onward we angled our horses toward a group of furiously engaged Wotansmen we were able to catch sight of additional enemy reinforcements pouring into our area like a torrent bursting through a dam. The fighting was brutal, as I caught a lance through my shield as we closed to engage and the enemy fought with an unmatched fury, striking brutal wounds with their great spears while calling upon the blessings of their pagan gods. It was here that one such beast thew himself upon my stalwart chirgeon, driving his spear through his middle and pinning him to his saddle. Again, though sad though our losses were the Wotansmen suffered more. I tire of my tale for now and will seek something to soothe my parched throat. I will resume my tale shortly…