512AD: At a well near Otmoor a Strange Knight Challenges all who Pass to a Joust...

512AD was an eventful year with rumours, gossip, politics and glory aplenty!

It started with Roman ambassadors arriving at Court demanding that Britain pay them tribute "for Britain is and always has been part of the Roman Empire." Naturally Arthur sent them packing, offering only the sharp end of his lance! The talk moved on from that afront to discussion of Sir Hervis' exploits in raiding the Saxons - although not done under Arthur's instruction, and technically against his orders, his dashing deeds impressed all. Sir Erec expressed not a little frustration at being held back by Sir Gaelvius and persuaded not to join Hervis... Other talk centred on Arthur's expanding ideas regarding chivalry, and a growing sense that the old mode of being a knight was beginning to pass.

In February all headed to St. Albans with Arthur joining the pilgrimage. One night Queen Ygrainne was brought into the feast, the years in Amesbury Abbey doing nothing to decrease her beauty. Much to the surprise of all, Duke Ulfius, Arthur's cheif advisor, lept up and proclaimed she was a traitor to the King. Naturally this sent everything into turmoil with the resultant arguments fierce and vocal. It is only when she stood and silently waited for silence, the sheer force of her presence palpable, that order was resumed. The she told a tale that few had heard of the visitation of a man with the semblence of her dead husband on the night he was killed. How was she supposed to know that this was not her husband? She was not to know he was already slain! The child that was born of this union was taken from her by Merlin, and of his life and whereabouts she knew nothing.

Merlin spoke in turn, revealing that Arthur was in fact this very son and the mysterious man, Uther under a glamour; a revelation that caused many a breath to be caught in the mouth and heart to stop. Sir Ector spoke in support revealing how Arthur was brought to him as a babe by Merlin to care for. United Mother and Son embraced; no longer would Arthur be known as 'Merlin's brat' or 'the Bastard King'. No, he was Uther's son and legitimate heir to his throne.

The astonishing events were to continue. Later a unfamiliar squire arrived at court, the body of his lord slumped over the horse he led. He told of a strange knight at nearby Otmoor challenging all comers to a joust before they could pass. His lord had engaged him and was promptly slain.

Taking this as an afront to his court, Arthur asked who would accept this challenger in his name. Before any of the knights could respond, Sir Erec's squire Stephen dashed forward to sieze the chance to prove himself, and so it was that off he rode with Arthur's blessing

(Unfortunately, Stephen's player was unable to join us for the second session and so as yet his part in the subsequent events is at yet unknown...)

Next morning Stephen had not returned. It also son become clear that both Arthur and merlin were absent. The alarm raised, Erec and Gaelvius joined the search for them, tracking down the guard from the gates, the reluctant Guy and his hungover companion with an account of either incompetence or worse. They had been on guard when Arthur had left, one of them having vacated his post to respind to a call of nature and the other too woosy from the ale to notice Arthur's horse coming from behind and knocking him to the floor as he stepped out...

In haste Gaelvius and Erec headed out with hunting dogs to attempt to track down Arthur. The scent was soon located, the hounds straining at the leash and dragging them down the road to Otmoor. Part way there, they suddenly twisted and ran off road, with great urgency. Erec led the dash, and coming through a thicket stumbled into the path of a creature unlike anything he had seen before. A lizard, howling like a hound, pungent in odour, standing alert and starring at him, larger than his steed! True to his reckless nature, Erec charged, lance lowered. The fiend turned with an unearthly pace and set off away from him. The pursuit was on, but did not last long, as the creature sped with unnatural pace away from them...

In awe of what they had just witnessed, they returned ot the road and continued towards Otmoor and the stranger the squire had told them of. It wasn't long before they found him, stationary, waiting as described. Immediately they were challenged to joust, Gaelvius accepting without hesitation. Before the combat began, he enquired as to the knight's name. Pellinore, came the reply, King Pellinore, the best knight in the land.

They passed several times, taking it in turns to glance blows off each other, the banter running freely as they duid so. Pellinore was a polite and chivalrous opponent, if somewhat 'mad' in attitude. Then, just as it seemed they were too well matched, Gaelvius managed to score a blow upon his side, thrusting him down and onto the floor, losing consciousness with the impact. Erec's squire was dispatched to administer first aid, the bleeding quenched and enough comfort brought to bring him back round. congratulating Gaelvius, he responded to their questioning, revealing that he had indeed faced both Stephen [but what was his fate?...] and Arthur, breaking the sword of their noble king. In this exchange, Pelinore also heard of the creature they had previously encountered, 'ah, The Questing Beast, my doom!' With that, passion filled his eyes and he struggled miraculously to his feet. 'I must bid you farewell my friends, and continue the chase!' Unable to make him see reason, at that Pellinore left, struggling the way they described his mark as being.

And so back to the road and their search for Arthur. His scent rediscovered by the hounds, they progressed off the track once more, fining themselves by the edge of a misty lake. Across the eerie water they could perceive a distant boat. Upon it stood a figure, pushing it forward by means of a pole; slumped over it, just visable, another. Then a glint of light as something was given to the lake. Then a flash as from the water held proud by a submerged hand, came the unmistakable glint of a sword restored. The slumped figure grasped it, sheathing it out of sight. In the gloom the craft returned towards them, revealed as carrying Merlin and Arthur. Erec and Gaelvius received them, kneeling in homage and assiting them from the boat. Merlin strode off, grumbling under his breath. Arthur, however, was pleased of their company, and bid them escort him back to the castle.

Winter - knighting of Sir Stephen, death of the Countess.