...Whilst they waited for the promised arrival of Hampshire, Prince Cynric had food brought out, to which our knights added their own. After initial hesitance, the food was discovered to be safe, and all joined in.
Eventually, Hampshire arrived, under the supervision of King Cerdic, King of the Gewissi himself. He had no hesitation in saying all the same things that his son Cynric had asserted, that they wanted to be peaceful neighbours, and that if Salisbury agreed to pay tribute, this would ensure this. Of course, they could always become his vassals of his and save the tribute! Unsurprisingly Erec and Gaelavin were not reassured by his assertions at all, and demanded to have words in private with the Earl of Hampshire. Cerdic agreed.
Hampshire spoke guardedly. He was unharmed, although his lands were now in Cerdic's hands. He spoke of Cerdic's strength, but clearly held back his remarks, concerned about the consequences of saying too much or the wrong thing. At least, though, he was alive.
Cerdic was naturally aware that Erec and Gaelavin were but emisseries of the Countess and could not come to any agreement themselves, and so when they declared that they would take his news back to the Countess he readily agreeded, and said that he would await word. In the end it was decided that Cynric would attend the Christmas feast at Salisbury, by which time matters should have been considered. And so, bearing Cerdic's best wishes, and unspoken threats, they turned their backs for now on Hantonne and rode towards Sarum...
Their journey home took them past Falt, Gaelavin's second manor, enfoeffed to Sir Maelwine's care. As they approached, their conversation came to an end as they were confronted by plumes of smoke rising ahead of them. Quickly they galloped to the village to discover that it had been attacked by raiders. Fortunately not much damage had been done - it would seem that this was more of a warning than an intention to cause harm. The raiders had arrived and had left via the woods to the south of the village. Quickly Gaelavin rode after them, accompanied by Erec and the rest of the knights. Their hunting skills did not let them down, as skillfuly they managed to follow the tracks the raiding party had left. Realising that they were on foot, Gaelavin spurred them on to catch up. Which they did.
Determined not to let them escape, the knights managed to surround the Saxon camp - as Saxons they were. Splitting their party in two, Erec and Gaelavin took the force that would attack from the East, the second party remaining to the west in case they attempted to run away. The skirmish that followed with brief and deadly, and the vast majority of the knights' men remained unscathed. Not all the Saxons were slain, although their leader was ably dispatched with blows from both Gaelavin and Erec. Those that survived were kept as prisoners, and taken back to Countess Ellen. Through questioning it became clear that these were Prince Aecswine's men - an act of retaliation for the 'lack of respect' shown to him by Gaelavin and Erec at court earlier in the year.
All that was left to discover now was how Ellen would respond to the 'offers' of King Cerdic, and the revenge of Prince Aecswine...
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