Knights Rampant

493

Northern Treachery

After their exoneration for the kidnapping of the royal infant, our heroes returned home for a long awaited reunion with their families. It was not long, however before they were called back to Sarum to fulfill their knightly duties. Earl Roderick required a group of knights he could trust to accompany him on the long trek north to Malahaut. Uther had requested that the Earl try to secure more favorable terms for Logres in the event that they should need to come to Malahaut’s aid.

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Not long into their journey, while skirting through the wilds of Silchester (in order to avoid being detained by Sir Bevan and his cronies) they happened upon a small group of what appeared to be Roman soldiers raiding some local peasants. When called to parley, they were astounded to find the leader to be someone they knew well; Praetor Sygarius. The man seemed almost mad with anger, as he called out for the head of Prince Madoc. When the knights told him of the Prince’s death not two years previous, the Roman noble seemed to wilt in front of them, no longer sustained by his need for revenge. They took pity upon him, and Sir Rhydderch offered his Manor as a new home to the wayward Roman in exchange for his pledge of loyalty. Sygarius quickly agreed and with the help of a guide detached from Rhydderch’s retinue returned to Salisbury.

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The rest of the journey north passed without incident and the Earl’s men found themselves faced with a new challenge. For days they attempted to gain an audience with the Centurion King, while being forced to camp on the south edge of the city walls, denied all but the most limited access. After suffering the run-around for many days, Sir Rhydderch managed to secure a dispensation to visit the market abutting the river which runs through Eberacum. While there, he spied a knight he recognized from the wedding of the Princess Margawse to King Lot. What was a knight from the even farther North doing in Eberacum, and why was he allowed access to the northern side of the river? Without pausing to think, Sir Rydderch approached the knight to greet him on a bridge the spanned the river but when the knight saw him, he ran without so much as word. Forced back from the bridge by guards, Ryddererch made his way to the Earl and his companions who waited fruitlessly at the keep. When he shared his news, Sir Roderick chose to make a dangerous play and called to visit a family acquaintance who worked as a handmaiden in the keep. What she told him struck him nearly dumb. The Centurion King had been meeting in secret for many weeks with the emissaries of Lot and Uriens, in a plot to join with the Saxon kings, Octa and Eosa, against Logres.

The Earl quickly made his apologies to the Chamberlain of Eberacum and with great haste had the knights decamp. As they departed the city under cover of darkness, Roderick shared his news with the knights. It was clear that they would most likely be pursued to the border of Logres and perhaps beyond, but they hoped they had gained a long enough lead to give them a chance. Many days of hard riding over rough terrain saw them within spitting distance of the border when, as they emerged from the tree line, they were suddenly rushed by a large band of howling Saxons.

In the ensuing skirmish, the Saxons were put to the sword, but not before dragging Sir Rhydderch and Wynfor of Broughton from their saddles. Nearly overcome by their wounds, they were saved from immediate danger by the ministrations of Sir Cadfael and his Squire. Leaving his friends, who were unable to be moved, Cadfael took to horse and rode full out for the border of Lindsey. For hours he searched the lanes for any sign of civilization, when finally luck steered him across a small hunting party of knights and their ladies. While the knights departed for the local fort to alert the garrison, Cadfael commandeered a wagon from the huntsman and guided it to his friends. Once loaded the party made its careful way to the fort and its small village, where the knights convalesced for nearly 2 months before recovering. With fall fast approaching, the party made haste to return home and see to their lands, all the while wondering when doom would come howling out of the North to consume them all.

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