AD 500 (Part One): A Trap Is Laid

Spring Court in Sarum was, to say the least, an interesting one with many surprises and turns. The major topic of conversation was that of war. To the South West King Idres and his son Prince Mark were advancing steadily towards Llogres, defeating and pushing back all who were in their way.

In Gales, King Nanteloed was mustering forces, seeking to subdue the land an it would seem unite it under himself.

To the East, the various Saxon kings were competing for supremacy. Word was that sooner or later one of them would become bretwalda, their overlord.

Where should Salisbury stand in all this turmoil? Should the Countess stand firm and alone? Should she seek alliance with King Idres, or Nanteloed, or even as some would suggest, offer assistance to one of the Saxon Kings and make the best of their inevitable conquest of these lands.

But not only was there unrest at large, but also at home. Sir Gaelavin received word that his wife had born him a daughter. The celebrations were tampered though by strange tales of this child. Her skin was discoloured, brown in hue, and her temper ferocious. The whole manor knew of her arrival as her angry screams filled the air relentlessly. No one seemed to be able to calm her...

Still, such domestic worries had to be put to one side at court, there was much to be done. Whilst the ransom of the captured King Cerdic had meant that he and his forces were currently leaving them alone, this didn't mean they were devoid of Saxon 'guests'. Prince Aescwine of Essex and Prince Celyn of Sussex were in Sarum, scowling at each other across the table. Privately they had requested aid from Ellen, 15 knights service in their campaign against the other. Failing that they were demanding tribute in order to be left alone and protected from the other. It was with great effort that Gaelavin and Erec maintained decorum and didn't fling aside the expectations of hospitality in face of their goading.

The knights were united in their advice to Ellen not to support or pay the Saxon scum. With the tribute from King Cerdic, Sarum was now secure behind its walls - they didn't need to submit themselves in this humiliating way. Without telling the Countess of their plans, Erec and Gaelavin plotted to get the Saxons fighting amongst themselves. First they needed to get them out of the castle and to find an identifying item - a cloak brooch perhaps? Back at the Feast, they started talking about going on a hunt in the morning, just the two of them, as proper men. Dangling this hook before them, the Princes were soon snared, each announcing they would accompany them and prove that they were superior to the other. Ignoring Ellen's quizical looks, the knights accepted their joining them.

This settled, it was time to celebrate. Ellen suggested that perhaps Erec's bard might sing for them - perhaps the tale of the deliverance of Medbourne from Gorbaduc and the lifting of the curse through the water from Stevington Well. Erec, hopeful of a chance to impress Ellen as he continued to win her, encouraged his bard to go for it, and this the bard did! An impressive epic emerged of his composing, detailing the quest with great detail, lifting up Erec's role without holding back. A catchy chorus soon grabbed the attention of all who were present, with many joining in with vigour. Erec's glory soon faded somewhat as his bard, carried away by his success and Erec's encouragement, continued into the detail, outlining in song how Erec had succumed for a day and night to the arms of the Maid of Stevington Well. Ellen was left laughing and Erec blushing...

Fortunately for Sir Erec, word came during the hilarity to Countess Ellen of an attack on a messenger heading to the Court, just a mile away. Quickly Erec volunteered to ride out with Gaelavin and a handful of other knights. When they arrived, they found the messenger beset by Saxons, the rest of his party engaged or dead. With speed they charged into the fray and manged to swiftly despatch the foe, taking prisoner a number of them. The messenger would not reveal his name or intentions, only that he had a private word for the Countess herself.

Back at the Court, they presented the messenger to Lady Ellen. Despite Erec's efforts to be present to hear what message was presented, the Countess firmly sent him from their presence. Nevertheless, he awaited outside her chamber to glean what news he could. Gaelavin, on the otherhand, sought to submit himself to Ellen's wishes, refraining from any attempt to discover more about this mysterious messenger and the news he carried. When the messenger left the Countess' chambers a little later, Ellen was surprised to find Erec at attention by the door. Taking advantage of his presence, she sent him to take the visitor to his quarters. Still curious, Erec did so ...via the nearby inn and a flagoon or five of ale to ply him with questions. Now under the influence of the Salisbury brew, the guest revealed a little more about himself. He was from Cornwall, a messenger from Prince Mark himself. But as to the message he bore? Not a word. Frustrated, Erec was left to ponder the possibilities...

During this session we drew up these rules regarding Erec's bard and Gaelavin's appearance