511AD: The Countess of Rydychyn

The mood in Logres was a positive one as the new year awoke. With the young Arthur now indeed King things were looking up. The Saxons were quiet and the talk was of the chivalrous ideals that Arthur was trying to promote, a new way of living as knights, where might was not always right, and there was more to life than brute strength. Only time wil tell if those who haven't pledged their loyalty to him yet will be sympathetic to this - or if they will march again, putting their hope in the number of men and the sharpness of their blades.

Rather than push on against the Saxons and those who stood against him, Arthur called him knights to consolidate, to strenghten their fortifications. Although prudent perhaps, not all were so keen on sitting still whilst the foe grew stronger again. The Knights new companion, Hervis, was one whose restlessness got the better of him. Defying Arthur's instruction, he gathered together men to join him on a daring raid against the Saxons in Anglia. Sir Erec was tempted to join him, but listened to Gaelvius' council to stay loyal to Arthur.Maybe other options for action mighjt show themselves that would keep their loyalty, but at the same time promote Salisbury?

Whilst in court at Sarum, Erec, Gaelvius, Guenloie & Maelwine spotted two unfamiliar faces. The first of these was a young Cymric, an Esquire by the name of Stephen Johansson. He and Erec struck up an immediate rapour - both sharing the same 'lusty' attitude to life. In fact, Erec took the chance to enlist him as his own squire! His name hints at a mystery, Stephen is a fine Christian name, and yet he follows the pagan ways, and although he is Cymric by culture and appearance, his surname hints at another background, more Viking than Celtic...

The other stranger was a middle aged Lady who had come to Sarum having heard of their acceptance of Arthur and his chivalry. When her late husband died, three brothers took advantage of the years of anarchy to usurp her land, and so the Countess of Rydychyn found herself dispossessed. If the knights were able to defeat the brothers and regain her holdings, she would be willing to allow them to hold the lands in her name. Gaelvius, Guenloie and Maelwine, touched by her plight, were willing to go to her aid on these terms, but Erec and Stephen wanted to drive a harder bargain. Not only did they want her to pledge allegiance to Arthur, as she had already offered, but they wanted her to do so to Salisbury as well. Concerned by his attitude, Gwyn spoke to the Countess Ellen...

When the Countess of Rydychyn left them to consider their response to her plight, Erec himself went to speak to Ellen. He pleeded that such an arrangement would be good for Salisbury, but his arguments didn't hold water, until Ellen stopped to think about Rydychyn's motives [Erec failed a passion roll (loyalty Lord), Ellen then fumbled her 'merciful' roll!] Of course, it was clear! Ryndychyn was simply being a hussie lookig for a new husband, or perhaps she was trying to take advantage of Erec! Together they plotted an alternative, maybe they could take up her request and seek to marry young Robert, the Earl, to her. That would tie Rydychyn to Sailsbury and keep Erec out of her grip...

With the backing of Ellen, the knights drew together their forces. With their 'Knights Academy' they were able to swiftly pull together a force of 60 mounted men, alongside a number of foot soldiers for additional support. The young knights included Sirs Morian, Bryan and Cyon, the latter a promising newcomer to the academy.Plans were drawn and prayers said - by Gaelvius at least - for the success of the mission.Gaelvius was also approached by Father Gregory, the elderly priest of Earl Robert, to carry out an assignment. Could he escort a young man to Oxford, a certain Pertoines, a young scholar with a vision of setting up a centre of learning there? Without hesitation Gaelvius said yes, this request softening any concern he may have felt about the way they'd pressed the Countess of Rydychan.

The journey to Wallingford passed without event. As they drew towards the town, they were met by a force of 10 knights and a unit of foot soldiers who were accompanying Sir Basile de Wallingford. Having made no effort to hide their coming, they had been seen approaching, and Wallingford had ridden out to intercept them. The nicities soon ended, Erec and Stephen needing little encouragement to ride down the opposing knights, which they did with little hurt to themselves. Sir Basile hadn't charged with his men, and seeing them quickly dispatched, he turned his horse and sort to flee, but encouraged by Guenloie, Sir Maelwine and Sir Cyon caught him, and slew him... After the skirmish, Guenloie offered first aid to those that needed it, especially Stephen Johansson who was sorely hurt.

Holding a number of knights and most of the footmen prisoner, Stephen took out his pain on one of them (inspired by the example of Sir Erec shortly beforehand), but was able to gleane little information about the town of Wallingford. The battered man insisted that it only had a few guards left there, but Stephen still felt uneasy about how few had come to meet them. Was this some sort of trap? Gaelvius turned a blind eye to the harsh treatment they were dishing out, but when Pertoines protested, stepped in to stop the interrogation.

Arriving at Wallingford, having left the prisoners guarded by most of their knights, they found the man's words to be true. They were met at the gate bySir Gerrard, a young knight who was caught out by their carrying the banner of Wallingford. Once in, it became clear that the town was now indeed theirs. Erec began the negotiations in his usual brusk way, whilst Stephen went to look for locals he could quiz about their attitude to their now dead Lord, and his predecessor, the Countess of Rydychan. Gaelvius went looking for the local priest, to similarly ascertain his attitude to their leaders past and present.

Sir Geriant, the middle aged seneschal to Wallingford, took over from Gerrard, and Erec found he was able to gain some clearer information at last. He had served under the Countess, and had found her a good woman. True to his duty, he had also served Basile, but it was clear that he saw him with less affection. With his assistance the knights left in the town were gathered and given the chance to serve Arthur and Salisbury.Erec also declared that there would be a feast that night to celebrate their liberation - and to try and soften them to their liberators!

Gaelvius found Father Philip in the town's tavern. As kindred Roman Christians, he hoped that the conversation would soon flow, and so it did - especially when Gaelvius offered to set up an annual fund to help orphans and disadvantaged orphans in Wallingford, promising the princely sum of 2 a year! his persuaded Father Philip that whilst Basile might have been generous towards the church, the new rulers might indeed be so too. In fact, it seemed clear that he was more concerned for the coffers of the church than the welfare of their flock...

Stephen found an elderly couple in the market. Seeing their stall he was prompted to buy their talk, offering them 2, one immediately, and another later in private after they had finished their conversation. The flashing around of such riches in front of those who'd never seen so much caused a great rumpus, with many young and old flocking aorund to try and grab something for themselves. One child even managed to grab Johansson's money purse before being violently slapped away. Such was the greed of the the commoners, that even this did not put them off. Retreating into Cyril and Mabels shack, they final got the chance to talk, Cyril taking over from Mabel as she administered some first aid to Johansson's wounds. As the others had found, it was clear that the commoners felt much more love towards the usurped Countess than the somewhat cruel Basile. Stephen eventualy left, slipping out to avoid the crowd still arguing over the produce he had left them - the 2 buying the entire stall - and headed back to join the others, the promise of an annual gift of groceries ringing in his ears!

The feast turned into a riotous affair with Erec getting embroiled in various boasting exploits, telling of his adventures through the years, and exchanging ever more unlikely stories of the fae. Stephen managed to skillfully fail in returning the flirtatious approaches of one Lady in the hall, a Lady Elaine. Surprisingly, however, Sir Gaelvius found himself slipping off with Rachel, the serving girl... (an unexpected failure at rolling under his Chaste of 16 and managing to roll a 1 for his Lustful of 4!)

The joyful noise of the feast only came to and end when Lady Clare, the now widowed wife of Sir Basile, demanded to know what they were going to do with the knights they had captured. Her demands soured the end of the evening, and the fesitivities soon ended with the sounds of the captured knights being brought into the relative safety of Wallingford...

With the dawning of the new morning, Gaelavin, now wracked with guilt after betraying his religious principles, headed to Mass with Father Philip. Erec, Stephen, Maelwine and Guenloie opted to sleep on and get over the revelry of the previous night and the exertions of the day, and so they were not aware of what happened in the service, but rumour had it that Sir Gaelavin fell asleep during the sermon...

Our slumbering knights were eventually woken by the sound of disturbance, the alarmed ringing of the church bell [With the coming of Sunday noon, Stephen also regained much needed hit points]. The brothers Beleus and Bege, alerted to the taking of Wallinford and the killing of their elder sibling, Basile, had come in force to demand his body and the return of their land. Hearing this, there was debate - how should they respond to this? Plots were drawn up. Could they escape en masse and attack from behind? Could they attack with bow fire? Could they trick the brothers into the castle and murder them? Should they simply hunker down and survive the seige? In the end Stephen broke the stalemate by shouting from the city walls, offering to pay them 2 for each brother should they leave. This was met with derision. Finally they agreed to send out the dead Lord's body in a cart, accompanied by any of the prisoners that wanted to leave with it. Only Sir Gerrard expressed a desire to go, maybe the others wanted to side with them, or maybe they just feared them too much. This small party was met by one of the Brothers, but did not result in their leaving.

Eventually, Maelwine opted for a more direct approach, riding out and challenging them to a duel. Would either of the brothers fight him to resolve the issue? Neither were wiling, but instead Sir Gerrard came forward, and the joust commenced. At first it seemed as if it was going against Maelwine, being struck by Gerrard, but he managed to maintain his grip on his horse, and turn and charge again. Several times they passed, watched by the opposing forces, until Maelwine struck a might blow, rendering Sir Gerrard unconscious and near death. Returning victorious, he was surprised by the cheer that went up from behind him. Looking back as Gueloie administered first aid, they saw the appearance of siege engines. Things were no longer looking so good.

With little experience of sieges, it was clear that they had to act, and act fast. Trusting in the honour of their foe not to attack as they left the castle, they raised their forces and rode out to meet them on the field instead of from behind the wall. For two hours they fought, a succesful charge and withdrawal. Sadly, however, as they withdrew to charge again, Sir Maelwine, still carrying the wounds inflicted in the joust a few hours ago, was struck once more, a blow leaving him reeling and close to death [0 hp]. A squire managed to retrieve him safely, with Gueloie administering her healing arts once more. It was a close thing, but it looks as if he may pull through after much recouperation...

So what happened to Sir Gaelvius during this period? The following was played out through email between sessions... (7th-20th September)

Sunday morning you drag yourself to Mass with Father Philip. You haven't slept well, troubled by events at the feast and feel the need to seek forgiveness for your wayward behaviour. Pertoines, the Scholar, also accompanies you. He is fresh with the early morning, too caught up in his books last night to get too caught up in any excesses. You are aware that none of your other companions join you - those pagans are too busy sleeping off the excesses of the night's entertainments!

Father Philip's service isn't all that spectacular. It is quite clear that he is more wrapped up with serving his own needs and building up his status than truly following Christ. You aren't surprised by this, thinking back to your conversation of yesterday. As he mumbles on, your eyelids begin to droop, and you drift into sleep (we did indeed roll an energetic roll for you during the last session - as much as anything it was a way of conveniently separating you from the others so they could play without having to worry about Gaelvius)...

You're woken abruptly by the panicked sound of church bells tolling out an alarm. The knights in the congregation are running to the doorway, presumably to their posts. Children are crying and their mothers are doing their best to calm them, whilst gathering up their possessions. Pertoines is shaking you, 'Gaelvius, wake up, Wallingford is under siege. We've got to get out now so I can get to Oxford before we're trapped here. You've got to help me!'

As he says this, you notice behind him Father Philip grabbing the gold cross from the altar and nipping out into the vestry at the rear of the church.What do you want to do?

First thing is that we need to ensure the villagers are safe for the time being.

I imagine that whatever happens the church will be a safe sanctuary and no one will attack it.

I therefore ask Pertoines to stay in the church and look after the villagers.

I imagine he will be scared, but telling him that this is the safest place to be for the time being should do the trick. Can he help calm the villagers and get them to say prayers for the well being of all around? He could he stand at the door and invite all villagers to join him inside.

This should calm their spirits and give Pertoines a sense of purpose. 'Remember Pertoines, this will give you something to write about when you're at Oxford. In future, other monks will look up to you for guidance so now is the time for you to start showing your true colours....".

As rightly suspected, the grip of terror doesn't leave Pertoines' face as you suggest this,

'I'm no warrior, I'm just a scholar, how can I defend these people. Why should they listen to what I have to say? They don't even know me! If I die here, how will my school ever be built? You're supposed to look after me - you promised Father Gregory.'

Urgently you try and calm him down, trying to persuade him that he can trust you and that the church will prove a place of sanctuary - it's God's House after all. As you do so, the panic fades from his features [I rolled a 6 against your Trusting trait, reckoning that this would also provide a measure of how trustworthy you may come across as being. This was also underneath your Orate of 11] 'You're right, of course you Gaelvius, we can't just abandon these people.' With that he releases his grip on your shoulders and runs to the doors, calling for people to come in to safety.

And with this I leave to follow Father Philip....

Father Philip doesn't seem to have noticed you following him, and so you are able to observe him thrusting the cross into the rope belt he wears around his waist before throwing a cloak over he shoulders and casting the hood over his head. You wonder if this is an attempt to hide his identity and to conceal the cross he has snatched. Having done so, he opens the small door to the side of the vestry and leaves the church.

Without hesitation you follow him out, taking care not to be seen by him. Any other day trying to sneak around in chainmail would be almost impossible, but with the sound of the church bells and the disturbances all around, the noise of your armour is lost.

Philip walks at pace through the church grounds and past a few other huts, until he reaches the wooden defences around the town. When you arrived initially, these seemed to be in good condition, fairly new, but it would seem that he knows of a weak spot. With a bit of pushing and pulling, he dislodges a couple of panels and forces his way through to hole coming out on the East side of the town. At a distance you can't tell what happens to him next, and so you rush across to the hole. Peering through, you seem him ducking down and sprinting away from the town into the cover of bushes some distance away, before beginning to work his way around to the south of the town (the main entrance is to this side).

I suspect Father Philip is going to try and help Beleus and Bege...

Not sure why he needs the cross though.

I imagine he knows them, but then again maybe he has never met them and this cross was given to him by Basile?

Anyway, no time to think for too long.

As soon as I notice Father Philip leaving the village I follow him, WITHOUT LEAVING A BIG GAP BETWEEN US - he could very well tell the attackers about the gap in the wooden defences...

I stop him as soon as I can - no doubt he will hear me coming (although there must be a lot of noise around and his puffing must be quite loud), but I am probably in much better shape than he is...

Of course I make sure that I cannot be seen by the attackers.

[To see how successful you are I made a few rolls. Initially I rolled a 7 against your DEX (10) to see if you were able to run quickly across the terrain. It seems you could! Then I rolled an opposed roll between your Hunting (13) against his Awareness (12). For you I rolled 11, a success. For Father Philip, 1, a lower success.]

Squeezing through the hole in the fence you run towards Father Philip as fast as you are able, trying your best to keep low so as not to be seen by the attackers you can now clearly hear that are amassed to the south of the town. There's also some sound to the north, perhaps they are gathered there too [there were two ways into Wallingford, the main entrance to the south and a secondary gate to the north]?

You are almost upon him when Father Philip notices you. He turns and sees you just before you leap on him, but by then it is too late for him to evade you as you send him tumbling to the ground. At first it looks as if he is going to fight back, but then he realises who it is that has caught him,

'Ah, its you Sir Gaelvius, my friend, it is I Father Philip, not some peasant! Why do you hinder me as I go about the work of God?'

"Where is it you are going Father Philip? I would have thought that at times like these your place would be with your congregation, making sure of their wellbeing."

I do not mention the cross at first, waiting to see if he is goping to mention it. I also want to understand if he is has met the brothers or anyone in their entourage before.

"Why of course, Sir Gaelvius,' he stutters. 'But there is one higher calling is there not, that of protecting the church itself. I go to preserve its future. What good is it to save a congregation if its mother, the church, is destroyed by doing so. Without the church, the people are left helpless."

You press him harder, and eventually it becomes clear that what he is really talking about is saving his own neck, and saving the wealth of the church. As you force that admission from him, his eye's glint momentarily as he pulls the cross from beneath his cloak. 'Perhaps you could help me protect this? I'm sure it will be of benefit for both of us when this is all over?

[This is clearly an attempt to play to Gaelvius' selfish side seeing as his attempts to distract him with religious talk haven't worked, maybe a Selfish (7) vs. Pious (13) test? Against Selfish I roll an 18, a failure. Against Pious, 14. Both fail - clearly you're free to take this how you will!]

I need to know if he is known by the brothers so move the conversation that way.

The plan is - if he not known by them - to approach them pretending to be him and pretend I want to help them to take over Wellingford...

Thinking fast you go along with his suggestions, smiling and relaxing your grip, although remaining alert, 'How are we to profit from the cross? Who around here would buy it from us? Maybe the brothers might - I assume you know them through Wallingford?'

'I thought you were more like me than you let on last night!' he responds laughing. 'I never had the pleasure of being introduced, although I saw them when they called on Sir Basile. If they were anything like him, they won't have noticed me - and, indeed that is what I hope for. Basile had a soft spot for gold, greedy man that he was. When we show them this, I am sure we shall be rewarded don't you think?' But come, we'd better be quick, it sounds like battle might have been joined.' Pausing to listen for a moment, you realise he's right, from the south come the sounds of steel on steel and the thundering of hooves. 'Lead on my friend,' he says gesturing, 'let's go find ourself favour with the real lords of this land, and their gold too...

"my dear father Philip, how I like your style! I feel I have a lot more to learn from you. Come on you lead the way. After all you know this place better than I do and you are such a good orator I think it would be better if you talked to the brothers first..."

As soon as possible I knock him out making sure he won't come round for a while. I take his robe but use his other items of clothing to tie him up to a tree, also making sure to gag him so he won't be able to shout for help. I also take the cross of course.

I am now the new father Philip...

One hardened trained knight against one plump over-indulgent priest? Not surprisingly you manage to take him out effortlessly, binding and gagging him to a nearby tree. This done you take his cassock and cloak and change into them (do you throw them over your armour and risk that being spotted, or do you remove that and hide it away?) Soon, with the cross tucked into your belt and for now out of sight, you move towards the south and the sounds of battle, cautiously keeping out of sight.

Eventually you reach a vantage point where you can see what is going on. You peer out from your hiding place to see Maelwine returning into the town victorious, but then, like him, you turn around as the cheer goes up greeting the arrival of the siege machines. Maelwine and your other companions seeing this retreat with haste into the safety of the town to discuss their plans.

Seeing this, you realise you have to act with haste before things degenerate quickly. You scamper down towards the brothers camp, trying to remember to act like a priest rather than a warrior, seeking to talk to the brothers. Naturally you're stopped by a guard before you get too far, "Oi, you, 'man of God', what you doin' 'ere?" he shouts, unsheathing his sword as he does so. "Where do you think you're going in such a hurry. Can't you see that blood is soon to be shed? This is no place for the like of you - be off with you!"

Actions?

One would be to try to get to the brothers to try and talk to them and maybe kill one/both if I have the chance. This would be my preferred course of action, but would it fit with the game you have already played? Have the others come across the brothers on the battlefield?

If this is not possible I will have to try and do as much damage as possible in the camp.

Can you let me know?

Also, is the guard on his own and would anyone notice if I overpowered him (in case I cannot convince him to take me to the brothers?)

The others haven't encountered the brothers in battle yet, and so your meeting them wouldn't necessarily alter the plot so far, although I would have to think fast about what to do should you kill one before the battle commences as that would potentially change things. If I were you, I would try to play along with the religious angle - perhaps you have some vision from God for the brothers, maybe you have been called to ride with them in the battle and the power of the cross you bear will bring them victory or some such. Deceitful I'd admit, but maybe it might give you the change to impact upon the battle at some crucial point?

Failing that sort of approach, once battle commences, I am sure there is much you could glean from the camp, or loot, or distrupt...

I think you'd hard pushed to overcome the guard without anyone noticing, although if the rolls were with you, I guess you could get a sword to his throat before anyone else intervenes?

"Lower your weapon my Son, I have come in peace. I am the priest of this village and knew Sir Basil very well - these impostors should not be here, I hope their souls will rot in Hell! Anyway forgive my outburst....(calmly) I have come to pray for you and bless you all before you do battle.

No doubt the men will appreciate that! Do you think it would be all right if I stayed at the back of the camp to say my prayers?..."

The guard looks abashed, "Of course Sir, please accept my apologies. Yes I'm sure the men would appreciate your prayers" With that he lowers his sword and gestures you through to the camp. Beyond him men are milling around preparing the siege machines and forming lines for battle. Squires scurry back and forth making sure their lords are ready. Footmen and archers are gathering in their units. It is clear that they are ready in case the men in Wallingford attack. The camp is a basic affair, although with the coming of the siege engines it is gradually growing as they look to dig in. A few pavilions have been erected, no doubt if this turns in to a full scale siege they will add more. You imagine one is for each of the brothers, maybe another to attend to any injured.

As you pass the guard and approach the camp a cry goes up, 'Father, over hear, we need your help!' At first you take no notice, forgetting momentarily your disguise, but the call is repeated more urgently. Looking around you see a woman's head poking out of one of the pavilions, clearly addressing you, "He's bleeding heavily and we can't stop it. Perhaps your prayers are the only hope he's got!"

I arrived at the end of the fight where Sir Gerrard was defeated so i suspect I might be in danger here.

I put my hood over my head and approach slowly, assessing the situation.

Is Sir Gerrard in a private tent or in the open. How many people are around him and (if I can see him), is he conscious?

As you approach, you can see into the pavilion. It's not particularly larger - room for maybe 5-10 bodies lying down? At the moment its occupied by only the one prone figure and the lady who called you with a servant who is helping her.

"Thank you Father, we've tried everything to help him, but we can't staunch the blood." At that point a groan comes from the figure on the floor. He's murmuring under his breath as the servant mops his brow. "Don't mind what he says, he may be conscious, but is clearly delirious".

Coming a little closer still, you can see it is indeed Sir Gerrard, the young knight whom you met only the night before as you rode into Wallingford. He shows no sign of having noticed you, or being up to doing anything if he does.

This is when Gaelvius is faced with a moral conflict.

Anyone else would find an excuse to take their leave, but I feel compelled to pray for him and give him the last rites.

I just gave your character sheet a merciful check!

I ask the ladies to leave us alone for a while so that I can take his confession. "Would you be kind enough to wait outside for a little while whilst I pray with Sir Gerrard and take his last confession?"

The Lady and her servant bow and leave, "Of course Father..."

I never look at him in the face and "mumble" everything so that he doesn't recognise my voice (or rather the fact that it is not Father Philip's voice) but do everything properly in the name of Christian charity. I use the cross I have to divert his attention away from my face (assuming he is well enough to look up anyway).

If everything has worked fine so far, I leave the pavilion after a few minutes, talking to the ladies in my most charitable voice on the way out...Please tell me if I think he recognised me (awareness?) and I might play this last bit differently.

The last rites go smoothly (although I must point out that the cross is a big one that you'd have as the centre piece of an altar rather than one a priest would usually carry!) As you pray his restlessness stops and his breathing evens out. As you mumble your final amen, his eyes suddenly open wide and stare at you momentarily, before he falls into what seems like a deep sleep. Has he recognised you? Have your prayers brought healing? Is he going to die? It is hard to tell on all of these scores. As you stand pondering what to do next, a shout goes up from outside, "The gates are opening, to arms!" Looking through the tent 'door' you see the organised movement of an army preparing for engagement.

How many rounds have the other played in the battle?

I assume they have played for a while before Maelwine got injured, so shall we carry on for a bit?

I scan the camp and the battlefield.

Are all the soldiers on the battlefield? Have the siege engine been left unattended (sabotage).

Are there some men standing on their own I could attack one by one....

Imagine the scene, me coming from behind (careful with your comments) and killing all of them one by one....

By the time the brothers get ready to engage in battle there is no one left behind them...

Just joking....well maybe not if it can be done to some extent!

Only two rounds of the battle were played, although of course that's two hours worth!

I don't think the siege engines will be left unguarded, a couple of footmen with each perhaps as a precaution? Equally, the brothers will now be in the thick of it. Of course, not impossible you could make some daring attack from behind - no ones looking over their shoulders!

The brothers pavilions are also vulnerable.

There's also a pagan priest performing some foul ritual at the rear of the battle, waving a totem whilst chanting.

Are there some horses that I could use -how many? I have a plan that would involve a few). Also,is there a fire somewhere? And could I kill the pagan priest "discreetly"?

Horses? There are certainly some cart horses around, but not riding / war horses. Could you kill the priet discretely? With a bit of care, possibly, as the attention of most is on the battle.

What about fire? Any around?

Fire? There's one in the heart of the camp, but there are people around it...

How many people around the fire? I suspect they won't be soldiers as they would all be on the battlefield?

Let's say 7, mixture of women and older men who are there to help out behind the scenes.

My plan would be to kill the pagan priest and tie his body on a makeshift cross and send him on horseback on the battlefield...sure to impact on the morale of all those pagans.

Brutal, but no doubt effective!

I would also like to take down the pavilions down (except the one where Sir G is) attach the material to 2 horses and send them on fire through the battlefield.

OK

They will go through the enemy forces first causing chaos. By the time they reach the front line the material should have burnt down completely so there won't be much danger for my allies.

If I can do all that I would then like to walk up the battlefield, still with the hood over my head but with a sword in hand.

Stylish.

Right, let's see what happens. If we can wrap the background today by email and have you arriving on the battlefield at the beginning of the Battle Round Three - they've just withdrawn ready to charge back in.

Rather than going back and forth with emails, I'm going to assume that you'll go for the priest first, tethering him to the horse, but holding back the horse whilst you arrange the other horses, so you can set them off at the same time.

I'm going to give the priest an awareness of 15, but with a -5 penalty as you're coming up at him from behind (I presume) whilst he is focussed on his rituals. Rolling to see if he spots you, I roll a 2, a low success. I'm going to roll your hunting against this to see how well you manage to sneak - as before, the noise of battle will cover armour sounds. You've got 13, I roll 3 - amazingly that's a higher success! I'm going to give it a check too, as that's two significant ambushes made with it.

How well do you do? Against your sword I roll 18 - thought that might be a miss, but see its a crit. (checked). He rolls 12 against his dagger, but with the surprise and the need to arm himself that's a failure. You roll 42 damage (6,6,2,2,2,3 x 2). That should do the job quite nicely.

How do you get on with the horses and tents? Your horsemanship is 16. I'm going to give a penalty to that - these aren't your horses, and you're not used to handling cart horses - bringing it down to 12. Rolling, I get 2 (its a day of low rolls...) You successfully manage to organise the horses as hoped.

Before we look at whether or not you get the fire, is there anything you wish to add to that so far?

Sounds good.

I think I am just going to walk to the fire and ask them to make sur that someone is looking after Sir G.

I then just take some fire (presumably there will be a branch or burning torch that would have been used in the evening.

I imagine they would all be focused on the battle so won't care too much about me, but if anybody challenges me, I will say that I need this for my prayer rituals for the men that are fighting and just walk away.

I should be quite an impressive figure so that should be it?

As you walk up to the fire, one of the men turns to you, raising his hand in a greeting, "Father. Where did you sneak up from - you've come from the monastery I presume? It is too late if you've come to pray for the men before they rode into battle if that's why you're here. Still, there is never any harm in having a holy man with us, late or on time! Will your god be with the brothers as they seek to reclaim their land?"

Expressing your regret that you didn't make it earlier, you reassure them of your prayers, and that God will stand for justice, and add that you've just been praying with the wounded knight in the tent, can someone tend to him? Grabbing a branch from the fire, you move on to 'pray around the camp'. Using this as an excuse, you slip back behind the tents, ready to set your plans in motion.

The three horses start easily as you slap their rumps and wave the brand at them. It only takes a moment before the pagan priest and the two burning tents are dragged into the battlefield. You stride out purposely before them, the chaos giving you cover as you move through the camp itself...

Great - if I'm lucky (no such thing as luck for a man of God like Gaelvius), it will be chaos amongst the brothers' forces very soon.

Several of the men might catch fire, others will be so focused on what's happening that they will forget the enemy coming from the other side, or start fighting amongst themselves....

Before we break, I'd like to know if I can locate the brothers. Are they together? Are they fighting at the front or directing their men from the back? Bodyguards?

Could I get to one and kill him before making his brother kneel for his life?

And just to make sure...

I send the priest and the horses in front of me.

The horses must go wild with panic as there is something on fire and however fast they run they cannot escape it...(that was said from a horse point of view).

It is likely that several of the horses on the battlefield will become wild as well and many knights will fall and injure themselves...or maybe the horses (the one i have unleashed and the others) will just trample over all these soldiers....

And a solitary figure rose from the carnage that was the battlefield. He was walking amongst chaos, his face covered so that no one could guess his identity, ready to strike at any time...

It was, it was....Father Philip! (No just joking).

Go Philip, Go!

Meanwhile, back in the Battle of Wallingford...

Once more the knights charged at the men of Sir Bege and Sir Beleus, searching for an opportunity to push home the advantage they had wrought so far. They did so succesfully, smashing into their ranks, sensing confusion among them. As they fought side by side, it began to dawn on them that something was amiss. Rather than running from them, their foe were frantically pushing at them. Behind them they could see smoke. Erec wheeled his horse into some space to assess what was happening, trusting in his men to cover him. Yes, there was smoke, fire, being brought towards them on manic horses, spreading chaos amongst their enemies ranks. Strapped to one of the horses was a body, but who's he could not yet tell. Also emerging from the smoke was a priest!

With their enemy in disarray, they grasped the chance their gods had provided them, and rode hard upon the two brothers, who unable to withdraw had no choice but to meet them. Sir Malaccus took Sir Bege de Wallingford, whilst Sir Erec and Sir Gaelvius - yes the figure emerging from the smoke was he - took Sir Bege de Wallingford. The victory was theirs!

[And so finished a year that the GM expected to be a quick one night session, but turned into an epic!]