Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by AmongHeroes
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Prologue



Along the road to Constantinople, The Byzantine Empire

“To our king! To Arthur! To Arthur!” The cry rose above the din of blade, hoof, and man, coming to the ears of the embattled knights like a trumpeter’s call. With the ringing cacophony of forged steel tattooing the air, the knights arrayed in a rough battle line along the road, began to collapse backward towards the line’s center, heeding the rallying command.

Arthur Pendragon, King of the Britons, stood behind the corpse of his fallen horse, swinging Excalibur in deadly and precise arcs at the advancing tide of mercenaries and bandits arrayed before him. The once bright sheen of his mail was ruddy with dust and splattered with gore, and the blue of his eyes was wild with exertion. To Arthur’s left, Sir Lamorak slashed through the belly of a mercenary, and took the brief reprieve to once again send up his rallying cry.

“To Arthur! To Arthur!”

Arthur ducked beneath the swing of an ax, and stabbed Excalibur into its owner’s throat. Blood rushed down the length of the blade before the king kicked the dying man from the weapon’s embrace.

“They are too many,” he called breathlessly to Sir Lamorak, angered despair evident in his voice. “How is this our end?”

From over the small rise where the retinue of Knights of the Round Table fought alongside their king, a new wave of enemies crested the hill, and moved to descend upon the group. The retinue of knights, along with their accompanying squires and men-at-arms, numbered only fifty. As it stood now, they were engaged with almost four times that amount.

The knights fought valiantly, maneuvering as best they could to come to the defense of their king. All had long ago abandoned or lost their horses in the midst of combat, and all were covered in a mixture of their own blood, and that of their enemies.

“Riders, coming up the road!” Yelled a knight.

“Spearmen! Array yourselves!” Came a broken reply.

A few of the remaining men-at-arms tried to push to the flank of the group in an attempt to defend against the coming wave of cavalry. The battle was too far gone, however, and the men that did manage to push their way to the front were brought down by mercenary arrows and blades before they could setup their defense.

Arthur glimpsed the first wave of Saracen cavaliers hurtling into the right flank of his men, and an involuntary wail of empathetic rage left his throat. The crash of metal, and the rending of flesh and bone joined the whinny of horses and the death knell of dying men.

In that moment, Arthur was struck across the back, just below his ribs. The armor about his torso took the brunt of the blow, but his balance was lost, and he fell hard upon his plated knees.

With his head bent in dazed delirium, a single thought cut through the fog of his mind.

My God, why have you forsaken us?



Camelot

Sir Lancelot of the Lake, looked down from his place at the top of the keep, and across the rooftops of Camelot towards the River Usk. The dawn sun was just breaking, and the light gave a soft, ethereal sheen to the great city. It was an awe-inspiring sight, and one that filled Lancelot with a well of pride: at Arthur’s side, he had helped to save this land.

The faint smile that was affixed upon his handsome face faltered then. It will need saving again.

Turning back into the interior of the tower, Lancelot looked to the man that waited dutifully beside the mantle. He was a young man, barely more than seventeen, yet he wore the emblazoned tri-crown crest of King Arthur with evident pride.

“You are clear with your task, then?” Lancelot said to the man.

With a slight bow, the man replied. “Yes indeed, my lord. I will not rest until I have fulfilled my duty.”

Lancelot exhaled slowly through his nose, and nodded. “Very well. Be on your way. May God bless you, and speed your mission.”

* * * * *

By the time the bells of St. Stephen’s cathedral tolled, riders were already making their way from Camelot, traversing the realm to all points of the compass. Each carried a message for the knights in the service of King Arthur, calling them to Camelot at the behest of the regent, Sir Lancelot. Their service to the crown was needed, and all haste in answering the call to duty was required. Crisis had arisen in the land of Arthur.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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Sir Myr gazed upon the works of man and despaired...

"How did you even manage to do this?" He asked, a sense of morbid curiosity currently overpowering his anger for the moment as he looked at the statue that had just been unveiled to him. It was meant to be a statue of King Arthur riding atop of his mighty steed, sword drawn and looking magnificent; What he was currently looking at was a man with the head of a horse riding atop of a horse with the head of what looked closely like the King... the horse headed man was even wearing a crown...

The actual answer would never be heard, as one of his servants... Tallen if he remembered correctly, burst through the door. "My lord, a rider from Camelot baring the royal seal has just arrived for you..." The man trailed off as his gaze was drawn to the strange, possibly treasonous statue nearby.

Sighing to himself, Sindri simply shook his head as he turned to the sculpture in question before saying "Start again... and this time don't get creative with it." to the 'artist' in question before turning and beckoning Tallen to lead the way. "Let's go and see what the Regent wants from us."

......................................................

It didn't take long for a horse to be saddled and supplies organized for a trip to Camelot. While a normal trip would require a lot more time to organize due to the logistics of traveling with a semi large group of retainers and servants from all walks of life, Sindri was traveling light due to the timely importance of the summons; Himself and two of his retainers as escorts would be more then enough for the road to Camelot. Some of the more mundane servants and solders under his banner would be following the next day at a somewhat more subdued pace.

Without anyone to really say goodbye to, Sindri Myr stirred his horse onward, his two bodyguards following seconds later as they took to the road for Camelot at all speed.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by AmongHeroes
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The still air of the late summer morning was tinted with the barest hint of chill, calling forth a bank of mist over the slow moving surface of the River Usk. Flies and locusts danced across the mirror-like water, illuminated as flaming embers with the rise of the new sun. Reflected in a bend of the river, the usually gray-green walls of the house of Otterden were glowing a dull orange on the eastern face, making the small manse a dim beacon against the greens of the surrounding lands.

Set along where a spur road to the great city of Astolat crossed over the River Usk, Otterden was a quiet barony. It was served by just shy of a hundred families, and encompassed less than a thousand acres. The residence itself was too small to even possess free-standing defensive walls, instead relying upon the river to the east, and the wood to the south for natural protection. The shop of the local blacksmith, cooper, and saddler, along with a small market stand and church, were the only other buildings situated on the main road beside that of Otterden House.

In the tumultuous times leading up to the reign of Arthur, the barony of Otterden had been without a steward, and the peoples that lived within it were defenseless to all manner of raider and invader. Following the successful repulsion of the Saxon incursion, Arthur had decided to expand his scope of influence, and reestablish the peerages that would support his claim. In his wisdom and grace, Arthur bestowed Otterden into the care of Sir Delwin.

It was a proper posting for a newly risen knight and minor lord, as the quiet rural setting afforded the studious Delwin vast opportunity to hone his chivalric skills, and master his lordly duties. Located fifty some miles northeast, and upriver from Camelot, Otterden was a place Delwin cherished above all others—it was his home, his gift, and his responsibility. King Arthur had given him a gift few in the world could hope to match, and it had changed not only Delwin’s life, but the entire fate of his eventual bloodline. For that, Delwin would forever be in the great king’s debt, and his life and sword were pledged unto his dying breath.

The fisherman’s son who was now a lord, reclined against the cool stone of Otterden’s east wall, with the river flowing calmly before him to his right and left. With the sun rising into the trees before him, and a fishing pole resting gently in his hands, Sir Delwin Pryde felt such a sense of peace and contentment that he thought he could near float from his spot along the riverbank. Hardly a worry beleaguered his consciousness, and the stresses of ill-fated dreams and desires did not cross before his mind.

At this very moment his only concern was the fish that had yet to tease at his line. For even the concern of finding a proper wife, and continuing the name of Pryde, and thus his maintenance of Otterden, were far from his thoughts.

A flourish along the lawn behind him brought Delwin more fully into the now. Turning to look along the length of the manse’s wall, he just caught sight of his trusted steward, Alwyn, rounding the corner in a rush.

The balding man came to stop a few steps from Delwin, his face red with exertion.

“My lord, there is news from Camelot…”

Alwyn took a few breaths, begging his lord’s pardon with a lifted hand before continuing. “A rider, bearing the crest of the king, has just arrived. He states that you are urgently needed by the regent.”

Delwin made his feet at once, the fishing pole forgotten. Taking Alwyn about the shoulders, Delwin looked the man hard in the eyes.

“What has happened, Alwyn?”

“I do not know, my lord,” the man replied with a forlorn bent to his head. “The rider did not linger, begging forgiveness that he must continue on to summon more knights in the service of the king.”

“God save him,” Delwin said, releasing Alwyn’s shoulders.

Taking a step back, Delwin’s brow knit in worry. There were any number of reasons for Sir Lancelot to call up the king’s bannermen, but none of those explanations bode well for the realm.

Delwin’s jaw clenched, and he nodded his resolve. “Make ready for my departure. We leave for Camelot within the hour.”

Alwyn bowed his head, and ran a hand through his graying strands of disappearing hair. “At once, my lord.”

In the distance, the peaceful stillness that had permeated the morning like a hopeful promise was broken by the ragged cawing of a lone raven.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Zendrelax
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Zendrelax I am Spartacus!

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The flickering flames, dancing their small glory into the yawning void, were forced by iron to stillness; one by one, the light of each candle was extinguished. In a practiced motion—for all around was darkness, and he could not see—he placed the candle snuffer on the red robed table. Despite the darkness, he could find his way, for there was not a single stone in this room he did not know. And so, he turned from the hidden altar, and, not a step out of place, left the secret chamber.

Well, not so much a chamber that itself was secret, as a chamber that held secrets. His secrets, to be precise. Fittingly, the only entry—door or window—was in his personal chambers. And his personal chambers were cleaned only be a servant who held similar secrets, and as such whose discretion was guaranteed. Of course, there were rumors abound as to why he had a maid who was assigned only to the cleaning of his chambers, but it was preferable that the courtiers whisper about licentious indiscretions with a commoner than about private altars draped in red cloth.

That is not to say he hadn't slept with her. He found her quite attractive, and she found him the same. He had been careful to not sire a child of his own, though—he did not presently desire fatherhood.

All of that aside, he stepped through the door of his dark chamber into the chamber of his sleeping. Unlike the former, this room had windows, and the light of the rising sun crept through them from over the horizon. He walked up to a wooden door, and, mindful of the sleeping form in his bed, silently opened it, and stepped out into the air.

There was, of course, something solid in that air to hold him up: his own personal balcony of stone. Closing the door behind him, he walked out onto this light-bathed stone, right up to the edge. The small lights of the night were being drowned in the orange and pink of the coming day. As the great disk edged over the limit of his sight, Sir Gruffydd Haern smiled. There was, he thought, some considerable majesty in the darkness, but it did not compare to color and light.

He stood there awhile—he did not pay heed to quite how long. As the sun rose, becoming more than his eyes could bare, he cast his sight upon the ground below. The town that had sprung up around his father's castle, long most prominent for being a place to stop and resupply for those traveling to Camelot by a southern road. Since its lord had been raised to greater importance, however, it had itself grown. There were greater functions involved in managing a sizable county than a small barony, and such functions required functionaries, who created opportunities for the enterprising freedmen of the realm, who, in turn, made the town a more desirable to traders, who drew in further business. Despite this self-perpetuating cycle, it was a town, not a city, and was not likely to grow quite that large. Still, more modern maps were assured to have Ironhold drawn in on the southern road to Camelot.

The town was largely still. While one or two of its people were assured to be awake, the town did not generally rise with the sun. The people of the fields, beyond Ironhold, were a different story. Sir Gruffydd knew that the serfs had much work to do in a single day, and liked to imagine he could see some farmers off in the distance.

There was a sound behind him. He turned to see a woman, blanket draped about her shoulders and pulled to her skin, now stood in the open doorway. He walked up to her, and wrapped his hands around her, just above her waist. She wrapped her arms around his, and, her braided, brown hair hanging to just above the small of her back, she leaned her head into the crook of his neck. For a short while, they simply stood there.

Slowly, gently, she pulled back, but did not let go. Together, they walked back through the door into his chambers, and closed it.




"My Lord, I apologize for the interruption."

Sir Gruffydd Haern looked up from the book he had been reading as he sat lazily in a cushioned chair. He had, of course, heard the servant enter—while his perception was not particularly exceptional, he thought it perfectly reasonable that someone skilled in the arts of stealth could easily pick determine a person's presence when they were merely trying be unobtrusive, not hidden.

He had also opened the door, but Gruffydd elected to ignore this fact for the moment.

"It is no matter, just some tripe from the continent. What is your business?"

"The Count Haern desires your presence in his study, my Lord. I was not informed of the details, but it is some matter about a messenger from Camelot."

Gruffydd straightened in his chair, and breathed in sharply, and he mused. A message from Camelot? With the King away on his fool quest for some cup long worn down to dust by time? Curious.

"Very well, going there shall take but a moment."

Gruffydd was out of his chair, and the room, in short order, and the servant closed the door behind them.

"You are dismissed."

Leaving the servant behind to return to his ordinary duties, Gruffydd began down the stone halls of his home. There was carpeting, there were unlit torches, but it was largely bare stone.

Camelot. He had only been to Camelot once, for a banquet celebrating the casting of the Saxons from the shores of Britannia. The walls of the castles had sconces and portraiture and tapestries, not torches but sconces, vases with flowers, and carpets so thick they could swallow his bare feet.

He preferred the stone. The rest of Camelot's luxuries were welcome; fine food, fine drink, fine song, fine cloth, all pleased him. But the halls of the castle always looked like a child's idea of what do with wealth. He wondered which of the King's ancestors had littered the stone with such gaudy nonsense.

But at last, he came to his father's study. It was a room he had seen countless times throughout his life, and the most important feature was always the desk where his father sat.

Closing the door behind him, Gruffydd walked up to his father, and knelt down next to his chair.

"Ah, Gruffydd," the old man's voice warbled under the strain of his years, "you heard what my man had to say, yes?" He took an unfurled scroll from his desk and passed it into his son's hand.

"Of course, father." Gruffydd took the scroll from his father and made to read it.

"Please, sit," there was a twinkle in the old man's eyes as he gestured to a chair across the desk from him, "you shan't be doing much more before the day is done."

His brow creased and mouth turned down in a small frown, Gruffydd rose from where he knelt, and sat properly in the chair, holding the parchment before him.

When he placed it down again, his father looked at him expectantly. "Well, what do you think?"

"I think our beloved Lord Regent has been terribly, frighteningly vague."

The old man burst out into raspy guffaws, and Gruffydd's lips curled up into a smile.

"Just make sure don't make jokes like that in the capital."

"Of course, Father. I will make jokes about the Picts or the Gaels instead." The Count Haern chuckled more.

"Be mindful that the Lord Regent may not appreciate jokes right now. If the details aren't in the message, something must have spooked him into secrecy."

"I suppose I shall need to use my limited discretion."

"Speaking of your discretion, that maid of yours has a second to fill in for her while you're away, yes?"

"Her brother."

"Ah, the ties of blood." The old man's eyes grew wistful. "Excellent. She'll arrive with the rest of the retinue that will be sent after you. I've already sent word for horses to be made ready for you a couple retainers as escort."

"If we ride hard, we should be still be able to make it by nightfall."

"Not if you stand around talking to your old father! Go on!" The old man laughed, but it was an order all the same. Gruffydd stood and bowed, before turning to leave.

And he mused. The kingdom in great danger, while the king was away? Were it just any Knight, it might look like a man grasping at power, but this was Lancelot. No the threat was real, and the King was off chasing scraps of clay in the sand with the greatest knights of the realm.

Gruffydd's mouth turned sharply into a frown.

Driving the Saxons back into the sea was a great feat, but its accomplishment did not make the land safe for all time. But there was nothing to be done for that now. Until he reached Camelot, all Gruffydd could do was ride hard, and ride fast.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by FitzEmpress
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FitzEmpress I'm new

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Time had not been kind to the cobblestone wall. Mounds of moss broke out from betwixt the stones as the earth sought to reclaim the rocks for its domain. The knight studied from underneath his tree, where the roots sprang out of the earth like fingers of a buried corpse, the path the wall walked - or had once walked - besides a road of roman design that cut through the small woodland. Nature had yet to take back what the Romans had taken from them, the sturdy design of the Latins still held sway over the land. Their roads still valued for the traders to ride upon, for armies to march upon. Roman villas, a luxury to the few and a fantasy to many others and gods, old Roman gods still wandered in places. Look hard enough and one could find the old Roman in the new temples of Christ. Become lost far enough in the woods and one would inevitably stumble upon a shrine to some god or being long forgotten made by past conquerors who's essence still lingered in this new age; this new Briton.

But it was the wall that had the knight curious. He studied it for some time, his eyes tracing its shape, estimating the density, guessing at the strength - he guessed not very, as the earth was allowed to so easily take it back - what curiosity that struck him was why someone would build a wall out here. He pondered this question to himself for a time, leaning upon the pommel of his blade, the tip of the scabbard planted into the ground for support. Was it to protect against bandits? To keep the land back further encroachment? Did those who decided to build the cobblestone wall intend to claim this plot of land for themselves before some unseen importance forced them to abandon their desire. Whatever the reason, the knight knew it was a question with no answer.

He angled his head to one side, his helmet swayed ever so slightly upon his head as he looked up at the sky. A mixture of grey blankets and morning red shifted above. The night's rain had passed in his sleep and the air was fresh, the mud a thick dark having had their fill of water. This would be his last rest before Camelot. He took to estimating the time it would take, with his swift pace and knowledge of the land, within five hours the last fragments of his journey would take him. He began to ponder on the squire that had been tasked to find him. The squire, as the saying went, had drawn the short straw when he was tasked to deliver the message. For the knight owned no land for which to rest upon, had no levies, had no entourage. (He didn't even have a horse). The squire rode to the nearest town that the knight had last sent word from, charting a course that gave him more witness to the world outside of Camelot than what the poor boy expected. Town after town, hamlet after hamlet, nobody ever questioned the rider's intentions - it was unbefitting to do so from anyone in the King's Court - but it had been a hunter that aided the boy with finding the knight. The hunter who in turn owed the knight a favor, and felt this was best to serve it.

'Sir Mael?' The squire asked, his face tired from the days of riding. The knight at first did not respond, the curiosity of the cairn in which the knight, the hunter, and the squire stood within still had his attention. The boy waited for the knight to finish debating with himself before whatever argument he was having was over, upon which he finally gave the boy his attention. There was a moment of doubt in the boy, a brief debate of his own for if the hunter had tricked him, he could not imagine any knight within the King Arthur's court looking as disgraceful as the man before him and yet, there he stood.

'My lord,' The squire stated, a hesitance to his voice. The fear that this was an indeed a mistake, or worse, an imposture, lingered on the soul. 'The Lord Regent requires your immediate return to Camelot. It is of the utmost importance.'

'The Lord Regent?' The knight parroted. He weighed the words with importance. 'Very well, I shall set off forthwith. I thank you for tracking me down, I understand it would not have been easy. So allow me to apologise.'

'No need, my lord. I did as my Lord Regent asked of me.' The squire said, watching the man pass by him. He watched as the man gave his thanks to the hunter, who grumbled something intelligible, the squire watched with uncertainty as the man began to walk in the direction he came. The squire chased after him. 'My lord, you are Sir Mael of Cornwall, correct? It would be most improper for you to claim otherwise.'

The knight, or, man who claimed to be a knight stopped. 'Tell me, do you know of me by any other names?' The knight asked of the squire. The boy squirmed as he questioned his position on answering. There was no threat to his words, no hint or warning or intent to harm, so with a hard swallow, the squire answered. 'The Hedge Knight, my lord.'

The Hedge Knight smiled. 'Then I am who you seek.'

Mael cast his idle thoughts to one side and finally stood. He rolled up his belongings within the thick square of cloth he used to keep himself warm. Tied the ends with wise experience, wrapped a piece of leather around each end and threw it over his shoulder. He stretched his body, the taut of his muscles signalled their awake. Finally, he grabbed his sword, with one hand, letting sheath rest on his shoulder, he began the walk to Camelot.

'Five hours?' He said to himself, the sun began to filter through the trees, a golden haze before him. 'I can make it before that.'
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Clumsywordsmith
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I could hear the baying of the hounds, echoing clear across the moor – and I was running, footfalls pounding out a steady cadence against the coarse ground below. There were flames – flames in the distance – and somewhere between the scent of ash and fumes lurked the cloying stench of death. Decay. Figures appeared now upon the further hill; eyes glowing orbs in the darkness, fingers taloned claws: branching horns upon their hideous heads, and they bore down upon me even as I drew my weapons, gave a final cry and hurled myself into the fray... A great light from above. The rattle of thunder.

(And I surged from my bed with a wordless cry, axe already between my fingers – arm cocked as if to throw – and there in the doorway the little serving boy. He makes as if to speak, then his eyes go wide – from the snarling expression still wrought across my face, to the axe held aloft in my hand. I cough, slowly the lower weapon as I drag knuckles across my sleepy eyes.)

“Apologies, boy. What is it?” The boy does not respond at once. Eyes still wide, features seem caught between the decision of whether to flee or to stay – but eventually he takes a breath, steps a little further into the room and summons up the courage to speak:

“Sorry to trouble you, m'lord – but there's a man down there. Says he's to see you, m'lord.” (He goes quiet again, large brown eyes remaning locked upon the weapon still in my hand – though it is resting upon the coverlets, now. No longer the same threat. I follow his gaze. Quirk my lips into something like a smile and release the weapon, swivel about and plant my feet upon the creaking wooden floor before pushing from the bed.

“Not to worry, lad – I mean you no harm. Just... some men you'd be better careful trying to wake.” The boy nods vigourosly a few times, eyes still wide as he begins to step back from the door – gaze now fixed upon Arian's half-dressed form, running now over the ugly pattern of scars and welts that lace their way across his back and abdomen – the Knight, for his part, merely bends over to scoop up a loose fitting smock from where it had been left – crumpled – from the night before. Pulls the linen tunic over his head, wraps a belt about his waist and then shoves the axe through a loop. Gives a nod.

“Lead on. Let's meet this fellow, shall we?” The boy gives a wordless grunt, scampers off toward the crooked wooden steps leading to the inn below – the only light to be seen is that of his little lantern, amber glow pouring from between the slits in the tin visor. It is only halfway down the stairs, however, that the boy drags together a few words to speak again:

“But... but... I hadn't reckoned you for a Knight, m'Lord – my father was most awfully displeased with himself too, to discover it.. I've...” Another stutering pause. The light falters as he rounds the corner, steps down the landing and continues on:

“Been wanting to ask, though – you've kilt men, then? Kilt them -dead- like, Sir?” Arian does not respond – just gives a noncommital grunt – and not until they reach the entrance to the common room below does he turn to the boy and speak.

“Two things, boy, to keep in mind – and if they are the only two things you ever remember, it may well be enough. Firstly: “ here he raises his forefinger, eyes narrowing a bit as he continues: “One must never – under any circumstances – ask a lady how many winters she has seen... and secondly:” here he raises his second finger, eye brows raising a little as he gives the youngster a baleful stare: “Secondly, one must never ask a man about those he has slain; only a braggart will tell you... and only a fool would ever ask.” With that, he sweeps wordlessy by and steps into the dim light of the room beyond.

The inn is a quaint little place – and though small, a cheery fire still rages in the hearth even at such an ungody hour. Few patrons remain; a trio of drunkards sitting in the corner, one of their number already snoring away, head lying upon a puddle of beer in the middle of the table. The other two drinking quietly, seemingly having reached that stage where enough is enough, and yet one merely waits upon the other to admit that it is finally time to retire for the night. A pair of men playing at dice. The inkeeper, wearily mopping up the mess of a bartop.

And then the stranger – dressed in the royal tabard, face drawn and wearied. Boots spattered in mud. He turns at once to Arian as the man emerges, eyes him up and down with a dubious frown before stating:

“Sir Arian... Hydd, yes?” The knight merely nods, then plucks at the silver medallion about his neck – pulls it out briefly for the man to see.

“You have found him. What of it?”

“Word from Camelot. You are needed.” And without further comment, he extends a length of scroll – then turns toward the inkeeper and demands:

“A room for the night, fellow?” Frowning, the man shakes his head.

“Nah. Sorry, m'lord – we're full up this eve'. Unless you're keen to sleep in the stables...”

But Arian – after no more than a few moments of scanning over the scroll – simply shakes his head and remarks:

“No, not at all goodman. He can have my room. I shall not be needing it any longer.” And with that, he turns and sprints back up the rickety old steps – taking them three at a time – calls out to the drowsing boy as he rushes past: “Ready my steed, boy – and be snappish about it!”

(It takes no more than a few moments for me to ready myself. What few possessions I have already packed in my saddlebags, and all that remains is to pull on my traveling clothes, strap on my sword belt and sling the roundshield across my shoulder. My maille and helm I leave packed away – they won't be needed, I think, on the road from here to Camelot.)

And so, with the sun low at his back and shadows long before him, Sir Arian finally rides beneath the great gates of the fortess city. Camelot. City of kings and heros. It would be intriguing to see, no doubt, just what need the Lord Regent had of them. And who else would be there to answer the call.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by icmasticc
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icmasticc Chaotic Order

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Evil is evil.

The tavern grew quiet as each man stood furiously, brandishing their best glares against one another. Their wooden chairs rocked and slid into tables around them which in turn caused the once resting mugs atop the furniture to rattle and crash into the ground. Patrons abruptly ended their conversations and most eyes, in a grand subversion of expectation, averted the origin of the escalating argument - most people understood that it was simply safer to let the situation unfold naturally, without interruption. The three, angry men stood in an almost perfect triangle leaving only a small distance between themselves. They were similarly hefty though their heavy leathers weaved between worn pieces of hastily put together armor plates hid their bodily shapes. They were also of similar height in that they were all just about average for men with a few inches here or there either taller or shorter. The distinguishing factor between the trio was their style of dress; each man clearly belonged to a different corner of the land though it was just as clear they had known one another for some duration of time.

"You bastard!" One in black shouted.

"What'dja call me?!" A shorter one in brown yelled back in reply.

"He called ya a bastard, can ya not only cheat, but claim deaf as well?!" The third man said, a particularly intricate scar curving around his face. The man in black furrowed his brow before spitting on the ground behind him.

"Who cheated who, damn you?! I told this one to bring the woman back to me as proof and all he does is give me his filthy word!" The shorter man flashed an accusatory finger at the man in black as he spoke. The man in black's eyes widened, filling with heat.

"You sayin' I ain't trustworthy?!"

"Who would trust the word of a man who only thinks of coin?!"

The scarred man stepped back and folded his arms, letting a chuckle loose into the air. "Both of you ain't worthy of any trust. Because the deal fell through, I had to dirty my own hands when our client called me a liar. Said I'd not deliver the goods. Now my reputation is sullied. Which one of you is gonna repay me for that, huh?"


Lesser, greater, middling, it makes no difference.

The man in black and the shorter man in brown both turned their attention to the man with the scarred face. They paused for a second as if to see if he would retract any of what he had said and they both grunted in disbelief after the realization of confident words set upon them.

"Of course your reputation is gonna be tarnished if you kill the damned clients!" The shorter one in brown yelled angrily. His voice held noticeably more fury than before. He suddenly turned back to the man in black. "This is all your fault, damnit! If you'd only brought back the whore to me, we could have all had enough coin to eat and drink all day and night!"

"You think my job is worth the pittance you pay me?! Gettin' women ain't easy so you owe me a bigger share of the pot this time!"

"Now there is no pot you ploughin' idiot!"

"You sayin' I'm stupid?!"

The man with the scarred face cleared his throat in a purposefully exaggerated manner before speaking. "I think yer both a couple of idiots, but this can be remedied. I'll simply cut both of ya down and recoup a bit of my costs," He said, placing a hand on the waist-worn hilt of his blade.

At the sight of a clear sign of coming violence, the tavern's owner came rushing from his corner where he cowered. He was not a man who usually inserted himself into conflicts of this magnitude, but he needed to protect his own reputation if he ever hoped to regain any regular customers after this incident.


The degree is arbitrary, the definition is blurred,

"Please sirs," The tavern owner began, his head bowed and hands clasped together pleading. "Could you at least settle this outdoors? I can't afford another incident like this, I'll lose everything."

The arguing men stopped and collectively looked on the tavern owner. The man with the scarred face spoke up first. "Well look at this disrespect. You think you're better than me? Huh?!"

"N-no, sir, I just..."

The shorter man in brown spoke next. "Seems like he's makin' light of our own situation. Y'know, I've passed by this place and it seems to be full all day..."

The man in black folded his arms and grinned, baring gnarled and cavity ridden teeth. "He's got a point. Maybe instead of turnin' on each other, we should just start collectin' a tax from this guy. Call it an investment in our interests."

The tavern owner dropped to his knees and cowered once more. He knew there was nothing he could say and if he refused or said anything at all that the men did not like, his financial stability would be the least of his problems. While the previously angry men were slowly coming to the same conclusion and finally agreeing on something, a hooded man in another far corner of the tavern was finishing a mug of his own strong drink. He wore a maroon tunic with a black linen hood pulled up and over his head and black sleeves under the shorter sleeves of the tunic. He set his mug gently on the table as a sigh of exasperation escaped his lips. It had already been a trying day as it were.


If I'm to choose between one evil and another ...

The hooded man stood and made a scene of scooting his wooden chair back. The sound captured the attention of the angry men and the tavern owner as well as a good majority of the patrons who were still desperately trying to ignore the situation. The man adjusted the black belt around his waist before beginning a slow stroll towards the center of the tavern where the other men stood. Silence enveloped the establishment and the air grew tense. "I do not believe I know, or have heard of, any of you rabble. What I can tell immediately, however, is that you do not seem to understand the subtle difference between one's indoor voice and one's outdoor voice," The hooded man said as neared the group. The men raised a brow.

"What the hell is this garbage?!" The shorter man in brown said. The hooded man stopped just in front of the tavern owner who had still not risen from his previous position.

"It is an observation. And one that means to say that I've grown tired of hearing your voices shout obscenities back and forth. It is also an indecent conversation in truth, especially when considering that you are supposed to be part of the knights who protect this little village. Your plate may not be immaculate, but I see that you all bear the same unique crest."

The man in black chuckled and the man with the scarred face seemed to size this new individual up. It was the man with the scarred face who ultimately spoke. "Look at ya, with yer nose so high in the air and yer elegant speak. You must be wantin' to invest in our interests as well."

"I think I agree with him," The man in black chimed in, "Why don't you both start by giving us everything you have right now and we'll be generous and collect from you again in three days. If you do that, we won't hafta arrest and execute you on the spot!"

The hooded man sighed and looked over his shoulder at the tavern owner. "Let me apologize for this in advance, kind sir, but I have a splitting headache and these men have only made it worse. Your establishment is going to get a little messy, but rest assured that I will cover the damages," He said. The previously angry men, now fully in agreement with one another, nodded in each other's direction and slowly spread out to surround their hooded adversary. The tavern owner managed to get out of the growing circle right after he acknowledged the message he was given. The hooded man finally pulled down his head and ran a hand through his short hair. His piercing blue eyes only gazed straight ahead as his attackers circled him.

"It would be rude not to introduce myself before we take this time to get to know one another further," He said. The men stopped circling and began to unsheathe their weapons. The man with the scarred face pulled a worn-looking sword from an equally worn scabbard while the man in black brandished a makeshift club of some sort and the shorter man in brown unsheathed his own rusty, tattered blade. "Just try and remember what happens here today and how it feels afterwards. It will be a feeling that I will replicate as many times as necessary should I ever hear of you bothering this or any other honest establishment again."


... I'd rather not choose at all.

"My name is Ronan. And all who are unjust shall answer to me." Sir Ronan of Agaelya declared. At that, the three knights sworn to protect the small village of Tragaye charged.

------


The tavern door swung open and in walked a slender squire clearly out of breath. He panted heavily as he looked to and fro in search of the individual he was meant to give the letter he clutched in his hand. All he was met with the was the sight of broken chairs, busted tables, and three men who were badly beaten and bruised. Swords lay at their sides or scattered to the far wall on the left while the tavern owner spoke with a pair of knights behind the counter in the center. The squire rushed to owner and, disregarding his current conversation with the knights of Tragaye, gained his attention. "Sir! I'm seeking a man who is supposed to frequent this establishment! They say he is close to a giant in height and equally as large in width and--" The squire stopped as his wandering eye caught glimpse of a hooded man through a window. He immediately turned on his heel and rushed back outside to find Sir Ronan readying a large brown mare.

"What news do you bring, squire?" Ronan asked without looking back. He could feel the presence of the squire staring at his back as he filled his saddlebags and adjusted items hanging on either side of his steed.

"I bring you a letter from the Lord Regent!" The squire exclaimed. Ronan immediately stopped what he was doing and turned. A brow raised, he took the letter and opened it with a sense of urgency.

"Intriguing," He said simply. Without so much as another word, he mounted his steed and galloped off down the road. It would take no time to exit the village and be on the road towards Camelot. It had been a long time since Sir Lancelot had come calling and now that it had actually happened, Ronan found himself merely curious as to what could be so urgent and important as to send out a messenger. With these thoughts on his mind, Ronan rode hard and fast towards Camelot. It would be a day or two before he would arrive.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by TheMoatedGrange
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TheMoatedGrange Tennyson's Hussy

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The wind whispered soft sighs through the leafy glades of Hwethyd, which glistened vivaciously with morning dew. The castle stood atop the barony's tallest and in fact only real hill of significance, a low-lying granite structure that sprawled out across the plateau. Inside its walls, however, one would be apt to think themselves back in the forest - trees grew everywhere, wildly, within the courtyards, as did tall grasses and specifically fenced off cultures of various herbs from across Britannia and beyond.

That was where Lady Meredith could be found today, wearing a long, flowing green robe belted with a leather band studded with copper rivets. Her long auburn hair was left to sweep down her back and in tresses across her shoulders. Her dress was, in many ways, somewhat liberal for a woman of her stature, and it certainly would not have been appropriate in public, but for Meredith conforming to social convention was something that she had made a habit of avoiding.

On this particular day, the Green Woman was stooped low over a particularly earthy patch of land between the small chapel that she very rarely frequented and her own, personal library, which was stocked full of tomes pertaining to medicine, herbalism and - in a small compartment accessible only through a hidden staircase - mysticism and occultism. Meredith's fingers raked lovingly through the dirt, drawing up tiny little red bulbs that she placed delicately in a small wicker basket at her elbow.

There was a disturbance in the garden, and Meredith noticed immediately. The trees and bushes were not singing as naturally as before. She stood, hands still muddy, and turned to find her handmaiden, Éalla, a strong-looking Welsh girl with broad shoulders and a broader brow. "M'lady," She said, sweeping into a perfunctory curtsey. "A messenger has arrived from Camelot," She gestured towards the arches of the courtyard that led from the library, and Meredith turned to observe the messenger. He bowed tentatively, his eyes scanning around the garden wildly.

"I am not going to put a hex on you, dear man," Meredith said with a sly little smile. "If that is what they are saying in Camelot,"

***

Meredith rode for Camelot later that same day, her armour and various tomes of herbalism in tow, along with assorted jars, vials, pots and boxes containing a whole host of herbal remedies in a small cortege. Clad in the light-fitting leather armour and mail of the Saxon invasion, Meredith rode purposefully atop her horse, and all the way the peasants bowed low in their doorways, muttered to each other, and crossed themselves with fear.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Rockette
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Rockette ♕ / 𝚊 𝚕 𝚙 𝚑 𝚊

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ᴀ ᴅ ʏ ᴍ ᴇ ʟ ᴅ ᴀ. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ᴏ ғ ᴛ ʜ ᴇ K ɴ ᴜ ᴇ ᴠ ᴇ ɴ




on where foxes cry and ravens caper . . .


Within the spires and stones of Clousea-Verhavert, the ambiance of stone and eastern splendors was lain with ice and rigidity, the usual garnish of court, flattery and ebullience of traditional joviality was lost within the masonry and spent from rivalry and entombed hatred. The ancient grounds of the previously dubbed Clousea castle was once desolate and forsaken, the denizens typically hidden behind gilded fronts and warped metals embedded deep into stone and rock with ravens of polished granite and nature poised to strike. In the induction of their sworn enemy, the Verhavert stone-workers had taken the structure of the southern lay and molded that into the coupling of foundation, to amplify the ground, to unify their edifices to compound the families of vulpine and avian sigil bearers.

Now, the southern keep of the smaller, more recluse Verhavert was sanctioned as a construction of defense, of fortitude and military prowess, where the secrets of the Clousea-Verhavert methods were kept in the forsaken spires. Very little remained and the houses were nearly vacant and left to the traveling patron or carrier, surrounded in thickets and browse. Similar flora capped the edges of the grounds, the eastern forestry thick and thriving, teeming with their fauna inspirations and heralding the stories carried yonder from the thickets. Glades murmured, the barks held memorial, and only leaves trembled with their vigils; laced with silence, burdened with memory, and encumbered in the designated charge of guarding the Clousea-Verhavert expanse. The morning sun struggled to clip the edges of stone, pouring light into the courtyards where imposing figures were constructed and heralded and the ascending beast with wings aloft and crowned was cantering towards the sky with maw agape and figurine wild and untamed.

Lady Imelda rose with the sun, her rituals began with the faintest caresses of sunlight over the crown and down the carefully detailed feathers, the fur reaped with sallow colours before the rest of the keep began to stir and rise; habits and duties never faltered. Reflective consideration glimmered within her eyes spliced of emerald of amber, and what admiration and hubris could be garnered was only slight, eclipsed by the sensuous cape of her lashes. Bustling about, those had risen came with similar endeavors, briefly glimpsing the winged beast before sweeping over the stones to tend to their own rituals, all sorts dressed in the colours carrying to their combined royalties with a tempered sort of fashion. The former Knueven carefully tucked brunette threads behind the shell of her ear, the length of her hair moderately secured in a plait twined down her spine, untended for the purposes of slight slides of the uniformity of perfection the Clousea-Verhavert generations contended for. She only returned from her days within Camelot some weeks ago, with relaying information about her brother and the intended quest and fabled treasure awaiting their endeavors, much to the increasing vexation of her betters.

With a final farewell of sweeping lashes and lingering glimpses, Imelda carefully vacated the foyer grounds, retreating into the depths of stone that were a literal tomb, suffocating to one unaccustomed to the state of architecture this far way East. These musings parried through her thoughts, idle and dexterous, always languid and fixated into a stupor of yonder consciousness. Since the time of invasing parties and where arrows fell like spears of heralding demise, Imelda had become terribly melancholic, the disillusion of the Knueven Vallore had left her with gaping regret and unbecoming notions, the sort that tarried and dallied. And thus, compared to her kin that sired to her impression, it was quite worrisome if not overall alarming to her previous graces, where Imelda’s wit and retorts were sharp and framed in crystalline tines, refusing to yield and permit lax qualms and errors. The transition was queer and misplaced, but unsurprising to those who were of the former battalion that thrived on quick execution and hushed terror.

Assassins were not meant for these relaxing affairs.

Her quarters were silent upon entry, the mute flutter of fabric, robes befitting to her station and blue-blooded siring fluttering her footfalls trained to be snuffed to the point of wraith like stillness.

“M’lady,” a quiet voice uttered from the dawning gloom, the tendrils of morning grace having not met the void of darkness within her chambers quite yet. Stationed to one wall, a woman of similar genetic bearings and graces stood, hands fiddling with the belt festooned to her slight hips and the swell of her gaze peeled wide in some indication of anxiety.

“Dousabel,” Imedla quietly intoned, head canting to one side in a brief permission that proffered the Clousea-Verhavert youth to continue.

“I’m - uh. I don’t know, if you have heard from anyone else quite yet.” She muttered, voice pitched low. “But Alysone, she - ah. She passed away during childbirth.” Her eyes were pools of quivering colour, trembling in depths of emotion so pure and raw that Imelda could only peer through their depths, to gauge the severity of her words and attempt to contain the traditional formality of all those of their blood.

The archer simply inhaled, the passage of her nassal hissing with breath until she shuddered, her exhale trembling.

Alysone, their cousin, was among those of the Knueven Vallore that had found suitable suitors despite their shadowed involvement during the Saxon invasion, and had been among the first to be with child. Most of the Knueven had been too involved and effected by their separation to attempt little else, thus the various transfers to the keep in the south, where Imelda would have joined them if not for her other duties. To gain favour in the courts, to be the selected envoy to Camelot to compete and carry the heavy burden of the blood given name. The labels were heavy, fixating and sometimes ill-favoured, commonly by those who were informative of the Knueven and the following separation of their troupe. Imelda felt the swell of her heart ache, the organ attempting to illustrate through her frigid countenance, only the glimmer of her eyes allowing the wealth of emote she felt from the deliverance of death.

“And the child?” She breathed.
“Wrought in stillness. I’m afraid.. Her husband is distraught, mother has him being tended to.”

“I see. And the proceedings to her honour? When shall we attend?”

“That’s another thing, actually...” Dousabel brought her gesture flush to her mouth, the downturn of her lips severe and her brows arched, lifted within sorrow and anguish from the mourning of one of their own. “There was a rider at the gates this dawn, with a parcel detailing your prescense within Camelot once again. Mother and father tasked me with the deliverance of these...”

Imelda stilled, her previous stature having been set to mild pacing, her mind and heart abound in reeling fixation until she stopped, oblique slashes of her emerald and amber oculi penetrating the light of the sun filtering through her domicile.

“I’ve only been home some weeks, and they summon me to return? Was there any direction or explanation as to why?”
“None, I’m afraid, the contents were cryptic by Mother’s explanation, I didn’t see the letter myself.”
“Of course not.” Imelda's brow contoured, the sensuous cape of her lashes sweeping low as a sigh slid past her lips. “I assume then Mother and Father have made the necessary preparations, unless they require an audience with me?”

“They, uhm, didn’t say. But! I’m sure they’d love to see you, I mean, with Alysone -”

“That’s quite all right, Dousabel. We both believe it best that I depart immediately.” Imelda’s eyes gradually began to soften, her younger sibling obviously troubled by the depart of her elder, if not feeling unholy robbed of the impression Imelda often left to the others. Her, and her older brother, were often figures of maternal and paternal affections, replacing the dissociation and distance of their parents as the cumbersome burden of legacy and fate kept them from doting to their many children. Though, such affairs were discouraged, Imelda still swept Dousabel into an embrace, the latter’s arms cinched tight about her belted and robed waist and squeezed, her youth and warmth thus remaining with Imelda through memory and perseverance; for upon the dawning of her cousin’s death, something ill and foreboding suddenly sired within her soul.

[ ♕ ]


There were particular preceding orders and matters to Lady Imelda’s departure, for not all were informed of her sudden summons, much to the murmurs of her various kin. A contingent would follow, per the orders of her parents, who appeared to see her off with her siblings gathered about with dejected frowns. Imelda never broke revere, despite her previous embraces, and when Alysone’s misfortune was brought up, her Mother quietly dismissed the issue with clipped mutters that it would be handled and seen to properly, as was the order of things. Imelda knew she had other concerns pressing to her attention, such as the distance and ride ahead and the dread settling within her bones like ice. She had been at court for so long, and at home for only enough time to resettle and grow sluggish in her melancholy, but the sudden events left her inquiring inwardly as to why such vagueness was proffered instead of detailed instruction.

She was donned in her light armour and mail that was bequeathed to her former alliance, the memory alone seeped deep into leathers and crossing plate, and her hair was carefully pinned away from obstruction, with her horse saddled and prepared for a taxing gallop. Imedla was astride her beast within seconds, only sparing her family and the rest that had gathered a fleeting glance, the emerald catching sunlight and burning peridot before she encouraged her mount to carry her yonder to Camelot.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Gowi
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Gowi Clichéd Tsundere™

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S i r I G N A T I U S

C A M E L O T - O U T S K I R T S



It had been a long stretch back to Camelot, that much was for certain.

Ignatius had been traveling back from a several skirmishes along the eastern stretches of Britannia. The settlement of the area by Anglo-Saxon’s had been nearly a century old at this point and Camelot feared that it was organizing in what could become a dangerous precedent. Ignatius was known to be quick enough and familiar enough with rough terrain, though the more he stayed in Britannia the more he thought the people who were his new superiors just simply viewed him as an alien who was expendable in purpose. Though, whether he was an expendable Roman or not he did return with results more often than not— and this case was no different. Camelot’s concerns were no doubt sources in the realm of truth regarding the province of what they called East Anglica. The pagan Anglo-Saxon’s of the area had overwhelmed the Brythonic natives and have set up a petty kingdom under their leader whom they identified as King Wehha of the East Angles. Ignatius preferred to gather more information, but his reputation as a Roman serving King Arthur was one likely to get him identified and killed if he became overconfident in his task.

But now, with Camelot in the distance he could feel confident of his return— though he wasn’t sure what the Knights of the Round were going to do about the news he would be bringing to their attention. The concentration of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom was dangerous, but as far as Ignatius could tell they hadn’t enacted any form of oppressive ideal or vicious declaration of eradicating the native Britons— they had just created a Kingdom where they had the strongest attribution to do so. But then again, the bordering vassals and allies King Arthur Pendragon held might have held a far different perspective than he. After all, the conflict with the migrating Saxons against the Normans and Britons wasn’t inherently new— blood had been spilled aplenty over it and it would be likely blood would be spilled again. Taking a light breath, Ignatius smiled as he rode forward and making for the gates; thinking on the bloody past was unimportant without knowing what Knight-Regent Lancelot was going to do with the information.

However, as he entered the city he was stopped by a passing emissary by the name of Iorwerth— a man ten years his junior, but in times of peril he had encountered before.

“Sir Ignatius!”

“Sir Iorwerth? Are you well?”

Iorwerth’s expression and posture were faint, which was something Ignatius noticed from the emissary— he was clearly overwhelmed and fatigued. But why? What was going on? Ignatius looked away from the man for a moment to see if there was anything imperative going on around them that could be fault of such exhaustion. But there was nothing— a peculiarity that worried him.

“Yes. I am just in a hurry to the stables— myself and the other emissaries of our lord have been requested to send out imperative messages to reach knights pledged to Camelot. The knight-regent has sent out a message for them to come to Camelot with staunch precedence and clear immediacy. I’m sorry, I really shouldn’t be dawdling. My apologies and good tidings.”

“I see. Be well and safe.” Ignatius responded back before Iorwerth could pass him.

A staunch precedence and clear immediacy.

The words repeated in Ignatius’ mind, his step increasing in speed as he continued to his destination. He already had to report to Lancelot following his quest that he was assigned, but to hear that something of such importance had occurred that Lancelot had to call so many others to Camelot in a state of what seemed like peril was worrying. His curiosity and anxiety piqued he made sure he would get to Lancelot before day’s end if he could help it— after all this call to arms of sorts was relevant to Ignatius just as much as any other as he had faithfully served since he had immigrated to Britannia following his incidents in his past. What in the name of god had happened?

He didn’t know, but he was damn well sure he was going to find out.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Barrett
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Barrett Oh, the year was 1778...

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"Careful. Careful. Gently... There. Not so hard, was it?"

The voice sounded both disinterested and fiercely focussed, clearly communicating that its owner cared little for what was being done but god help him if anyone making a mistake would not still receive a sounds thrashing. The men lowering the cabers into the deep gouges torn into the earth were most aware of this, the sweat beading their foreheads having little to do with heat. Rather, the Northumbrian air was damp and cool as it always was, carrying the stench of rot and the tang of sea salt.

With the first log set into place, the men took a few seconds to wipe their brows and grin abashedly at each other before stepping back. All eyes were now on the man who had spoken, a veritable slab of muscle and scowl. Stepping forward, his expression of disinterest barely slipped as he wrapped his arms around the tree trunk, some seven metres long, and began to lift it. Rippling muscles shifted under his skin like snakes, straining and stretching as he heaved his burden upwards until it stood almost as erect as some hours earlier, before the woodsmen cut it down. With a glance, he sent the men scurrying to their work, securing it in its new position by building up a thick set of earth on the base and weighing it down from behind. When they were done, the man stepped away.

"Good. The first one is set. Now go and fetch another or this wall won't be finished before winter."

Neither the words nor the tone were particularly harsh but Barda-beorht's peasants hurried to obey. To be used as part of the wall in this little border fort, each trunk had to be felled, stripped, staked and hardened before being moved over to the chosen spot and placed in position. Once there, it could either be lifted into place by a team of around ten men using sticks and poles or the lord of the land on his own. And as the local brigands and marauding picts had quickly learned of Bard-beorht's skill at and love of shedding blood in righteous battle and resolved to steer well clear, the most exciting part of the knight's day was testing his strength at a job normally performed by near a dozen men.

Needless to say, he could barely conceal his excitement at the arrival of a rider clad in the bright colours and thin robes of the south, pointed out to him by one of the men currently digging the next stake pit. The man was shivering on his horse even in the current, mild weather and looked on dumbstruck at Barda-beorht's bare chest. After a few moments of improper staring, he collected himself, leapt down into the mud and kneeled.

"My lord, my name is--"

"I'm sure it is, now why are you here? What message do you bring from Camelot?"

Without missing a beat, the messenger replied.

"Your presence is requested by Sir Lancelot at Camelot. While he acts of regent of the great city, he has requested the presence of a great many of knights from all corners of Britannia. I shall ride south immediately, when can we expect you to join us?"

Barda-beorht's grin had begun to spread across his face from the word 'requested' and now looked like the smile a wolf gives a particularly stupid rabbit that has wondered into into its den.

"If you manage to beat me to Camelot, you can tell Sire Lancelot that even if my horse dies, I will run south."

So saying, he set off at a run towards the distant form of his ancestral home. To leave for the south needed some provisions, some armour and above all a sword. The proper preparations would take a week or more, what with arranging for someone to lead in his place, organise a guard and gather an adequate baggage train for his retinue.

An hour later, he left, alone and with little more than some food, a set of half plate, a sword, a shield and two horses. Barda-beorht would be damned before he arrived late to momentous happenings at Camelot, damned a thousand times over. So he rode off in the midday sun, a sword at his hip and a smile on his lips, off to seek adventure, glory and battle but mostly an end to lifting trees.
Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Culluket
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Culluket Tertium Non Data

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Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all?

--King Lear





The wind picked up and over the hills as the horse clopped miserably toward the woodside village, the distant grasses rippling in soft, emerald waves. As if in welcome the grey sky began to drizzle, spitting cold little droplets of tentative rain. The way had been long, and now it seemed the rider would be drenched on top of everything else before his duties were complete.

The hamlet, such as it was, was sparse as a beggar's table, and not much more to look upon. Times had evidently been humble since the Saxon wars. The smithy stood cold and little-used, the distant chapel still bore the visible scars of arson, and even after all this time few menfolk could be seen amongst the pale figures dotting the huts and fields. The messenger rode irritably between clucking hens with a single barking hound, well advanced in years, yapping at his mount's hooves. A brisk trot along the wood's edge, and he drew alongside a scattering of peasant women who bent to the sparse field, tending to the earth. A few of them glanced up, some curiously, some in badly-concealed suspicion. One or two in candid interest. He cleared his throat, remembering his purpose.

"Ho there!" he called, "Is this the village Demdyke?"

"Aye," spoke an older woman, dubiously.

"I seek the castle of the Red Virgin," the messenger stated, "The knight in black said to be unvanquishable."

"You after a challenge?" she looked him up and down, "Not had a challenge in ages."

This wasn't going quite as he expected.

"...The castle, good woman?"

"No castle," scowled the woman in reply, "Shepherd girl's gone in the woods on some fool errand."

"Mind how you speak of God's chosen in fair company, old mother!" piped a younger woman kneeling in the furrow beside her.

"You can go stuff them high words up your backflap, Dierdre Tallow, don't think I've not seen how you follow that girl with your eyes! There's some good Godly behavior all right." The elder woman spat on he ground, heedlessly, "Virgin, my foot."

The younger girl flushed red and turned her attentions quickly back to her labors. The rider let out an explosive breath and set his jaw, drawing himself up as best he could in his weary, saddle-sore state.

"Now look here," he proclaimed, "I come on order of the Regent himself and I am sworn to bring tidings to Ysobel of Demdyke! I have ridden hard for some miles without food or rest, and would be done with this without delay."

"Well, you'll not find 'er in the wood," sniffed the harridan, "Deep after some ne'er-do-wells hidin' out in the trees. Ask me, the girl's dead as mutton like as not."

"It's wrong you are," muttered the younger woman, not deigning to look up.

"I must find her," said the rider, heading off another spat. "Where in the wood am I to go?"

"I'll take thee," came a deep, dry voice from behind.

The messenger turned, beholding a crook-backed yet strong old man, his beard long and knotted. "See me to yon horse and I'll take thee true," he swore. "Know the girl well. Not hard to track. Armor weighs a swivin' ton."




The day had light left to spare, but a swelling river of thick, brooding rainclouds drifting lowly through the sky above had cast the already gloomy forest into an early twilight. And deep within the darkened wood rang a strident, clarion voice; young, foolish and pure.

"Black Piotr!"

The Kettle Knight stood girded before a crude palisade of felled logs, singing her challenges to the man that lurked within. Two of Piotr's outlaws had broken and fled at the sight of her and the terrible certainty in her voice, but two more, cruel in spirit and foul in body, now moved to flank her, each more than a head taller than she.

"Pete don't want to talk, lamb." chuckled the fiend moving to her right, a heavy club weighing in his hands. "But we do."

"So be it," Ysobel sang in rebuke, bracing her shield. "Beg thy penance now or plead for it before the throne of God!"

"Oh I'll 'ave penance a'right." Avowed the one moving to her left. His teeth clenched in a yellow-toothed leer and spittle frothed at the edge of his lip, his sword tracing circles between them. "We'll see how sweet ye sing when me an' ol' Tom have you bare an' trussed and spit clean through like a suckling pig."

"Aught more to say before we carve, little lamb?" growled the first, hungrily.

"I forgive thee," she said, flatly.

They lunged. There was a brittle ring of metal, a whip of air, a thud, a sickening crack, and the first man thumped to the earth like a heavy sack, jaw shattered, neck snapped. His head rolled at an obscene angle, smeared with blood as the second came in from the side, colliding with her and coming off the worse for it. The shield thumped once, the heavy mace two, three times more, each blow pounding the fallen brigand deeper into the leaf-strewn mud. There was something heedless in the way she fought. As though she simply didn't understand that she might lose.

Ysobel took a handful of breaths and crossed herself, filling her capacious lungs.

"Black Piotr, come out!" she shouted in her piercing young girl's voice. "Thy dogs are slain at thy doorstep! Come out! Or hast thou turned too craven to face one more true and honorable than thee?"

That was enough.

The ragged gate burst outward and the brigand leader marched forth across the trail of dead branches, a giant of a man, white-haired, thick with scars and a mangled, twisted lip warped into a perpetual snarl. Ragged old chain hung about his chest, a vicious pike gripped in his right hand, and his bare arms were like the trunks of battered trees. There were no words, no reason left in his mad eyes as they burned into the girl's own. He only snarled, set his weapon and then charged like a wounded bull, roaring.

The pike slammed full-force against the virgin's shield and slid along its length with a tortured scream of iron as she backstepped heavily, bracing her feet in the shallow mud. Piotr roared and hammered at her with the polearm's butt, striking twice against her armored breast before her counterblow sent it ringing from his hands. His fingers were stricken nerveless with the force of it, but still he grabbed her kettle-forged pauldrons and with impossible strength flung her sidelong against the trunk of a towering oak, scrambling to recover his weapon. She shouted a piercing war-cry in return and pushed herself off, ducking the shaft of the giant's blade and slamming the ball of her mace into his exposed knee.

Crows left the treetops shrieking as Piotr screamed, staggering and striking back against the hateful girl, pitting all his weight against hers for a good minute before his leg buckled in a white blossom of pain and he collapsed backward into the wet midden of the forest floor. At once, her boot planted square upon his chest like a black anvil, and for all the difference in their size, her armored weight upon him was so crushing and great that he could not rise no matter how furiously he tried. She bent there, breathing near as heavily as he, regarding him. The heavy club hung from her black-gloved hand, unmoving, dripping red blood onto the earth.

And he, he was overcome. Years of battle and ravenous hardship, only to be brought low by a dressed-up girl in pantomime mail, barely a child, an arrogant, sheltered whore with no knowledge of the world. Pain, frustration and rage overtook him. His eyes bulged with violence and his bellow was like that of a mad beast.

"End it then!" he spat, red-faced and snarling, "Witless, snot-nosed little sow! I'll have no quarter from the likes of you!"

Ysobel gazed down at him in the wooded twilight, her eyes liquid and unreadable and totally without fear. The leaves rustled in the upper wind, and cold, grey raindrops began to patter down upon them from the twilit eaves above.

"...What ails thee, father?" she asked, softly.

Father.

The stricken giant gaped, blinking up at the idiot girl through the raindrops and sweat and the maddening fog of pain.

Barely a child.

"...What?" he swallowed, "What say you..?"

Would have been her age, now.

"What sorrow is this that hath driven thee from the arms of God?"

Her mother's hair.

"Don't bleat to me of God!" he shrieked, gripping her plated boot and struggling against her weight, straining to rise as she leaned forward and crushed him back down into the mud and wet leaves. His voice shook like the boughs above them, and hot tears spilled from his eyes unbidden. "I spit on him, and on you! End it or just swiving DIE, you little fool!"

Her father's eyes.

"This wouldst I do," she piped in her sing-song voice, "And Christ forgive thy blasphemy. But Falken, Smith of Demdyke hath been a friend to me, and fought once beside thee, in the King's militia."

Closed forever.

"Old Falk," he sputtered, half-crazed, "Old Falk is dead. Done in and gone!"

"Nay, he liveth still, though he canst fight no more. He named thee once stalwart and true. And in thine eyes, I see not hatred, but grief whenst thou look'st upon me. ...Old father, whither now is thy house, that thou liveth as a beast in yon thicket?" The girl's brow creased in guileless concern, gesturing slowly with the dripping mace to take in the broken, lifeless bodies. "Whither those thou love'st, that thy bread is broken with such curs as these, and taken from the mouths of others?"

"No words... No words for you. What do you know of the rack of this world? Taken... You can't know. A child can't know!" The giant roared, rocking under the girl's boot. "YOU CAN'T KNOW WHAT HE TOOK FROM ME!"

The Kettle Knight hung her mace from her belt, watching him still.

"Teach me," she said.

"My Grettr," he choked, "My little one. Oh Devil in Hell... Years of toil and war for your bastard King. And what reward? A bier and two bodies! End it. Let it be over."

"Yet it is not," the girl said with her damnable, idiot certainty, "And in this vale of tears hath I found thee, 'pon this dark hour. Poor father, wilt thou not come with me, to look upon thine old friend, and pour out this bitter cup with those who wouldst share it?"

The ruined giant stared up at her, panting beneath her boot, raw with old wounds and fresh pain. She offered her little hand, gazing back. Barely a child. Would have been her age, now. Her mother's hair. Her father's eyes.

"Even now, it is not too late." Ysobel murmured softly.

"Little fool," Black Piotr sunk back in the mud, gasping, beginning to shake as grief overcame him. "Stupid, witless little fool."

"Perhaps," she said, in a small, sad voice.




And so it was that when the messenger arrived to bring his tidings to the terrible guardian of Demdyke, he found instead a little red-haired woman in black iron kneeling in the leaves, cradling a scarred giant who wept brokenly against her shoulder, like a lost child in the pouring rain.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by AmongHeroes
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The courtyard of the Great Keep, Camelot. Ten days following the summons.

The blossoms of the climbing vines, the meandering buzz of honeybees, the song of the circling swallows, and the vibrant green of the grass, belied the dire gray storm that gathered in the back of Sir Lancelot’s mind. In the courtyard outside of the great keep, the regent of Arthur paced ceaselessly as his thoughts continued to gather. With his eyes downcast upon his booted feet, the man was lost to the world around him.

Even now anxiety crept up his back, tingling at the roots of his brown hair. The knights he had summoned in the service to their king were gathering in Camelot; each having responded to the call with the loyal alacrity only a king like Arthur could garner. These men and women were knights and nobles of the highest order, chivalric and true to their king and cause. These facts alone would make the news Lancelot would have to impart upon these faithful subjects a gut-wrenching prospect.

What a time I must prevail upon? He thought, his eyes almost welling with tears. Am I destined to preside in the twilight of Arthur’s reign?

Something from beyond Lancelot’s immediate view drew his notice. Whether it be a sound or draw of movement, he could not say. Yet, it called his attention upward from his dark musings, and brought him back into the more pleasant setting which surrounded him.

Looking up, Lancelot saw the approaching figure of Sir Ignatius Dantus. In spite of himself, Lancelot gave the man a smile of greeting, and a nod of pleasant notice.

“Sir Ignatius,” he said, crossing the distance to the other man, “it is a fine thing to see you here, my friend.”

“The first of many I’m sure, Knight-Regent.” Ignatius stated with a nod as he retrieved a piece of parchment from his inventory before placing it down on the table before the two men.

Lancelot’s eyes followed the knight’s hand as Ignatius withdrew a roll of stout parchment from the midst of his cloak. There seemed to be weight to the roll of paper; not a physical weight, but an intangible one, born of ill-tidings and grim fortunes. Lancelot closed his eyes, and exhaled a slow breath.

“I’ve returned from the quest I was committed to in the eastern stretches. Tis as Arthur feared before he left— the anglo-saxon’s are gaining in strength; they've united under a king. My full report is in writing.”

“The fulfillment of your mission is most valuable to the crown, Sir Ignatius, and the timing of your report could be no better…” Lancelot’s jaw clenched, and he stared hard at the Roman. “…And no worse.”

Turning away from the garden table and into the full light of the climbing sun, the pleasant sounds of the courtyard yet played in antithesis to the mounting somber reality. Lancelot’s fingers played across the pommel of his sword, drumming lightly upon the bejeweled device of death.

Sir Ignatius was a trusted member of Arthur’s court, so trusted in fact that the king had given the man a quest of high value to the realm. The threat of a Saxon resurgence was a real one, and something that Arthur feared almost above all others. Sir Ignatius had been dispatched to ascertain the threat of such a return, and the mission had produced vile fruit.

The temptation of displacing some of the weight that had settled in the last month upon his shoulders, and sharing it with another soul, was a tempting prospect to Lancelot. Especially with this latest stress added to the heap.

Lancelot lapsed into silence for a time, his back to Ignatius, lost in thought. When at last he turned back to the knight, Lancelot’s face was thin lipped.

“I am sure you are keen to learn the meaning of this summons, Sir Ignatius. Yet, I shall not dishonor the rest of our king’s subjects by speaking of the matter early.”

Stepping forward, Lancelot clapped a hand upon the shoulder of Ignatius. He gave it a friendly squeeze.

“Your hard work is held in high esteem, Sir. Please forgive my abruptness, but I must prepare for the coming meeting.”

Reaching forward, Lancelot took the parchment from the garden table, and placed it carefully within the folds of his tunic.

“I shall review your report in detail. For now, however, I shall bid you farewell.”

With that, Lancelot gave Ignatius a polite nod before turning to make his way into the halls of the Great Keep. The calls of the swallows, and the buzz of the bees wafting unperturbed in his wake.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by AmongHeroes
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Below the walls of the Great Keep, Camelot

Granite spires, topped with banners stitched in the bright livery of the house of Pendragon, fluttered in the summer wind. Situated atop a large hill in the middle of the city, the Great Keep of Camelot rose towards the azure sky like a beacon of stone, calling a trumpet of hope and prosperity outward to the rolling hills that surrounded it. Its imposing size and large ramparts likewise sent a clear message of martial strength, which gave the subjects of Camelot an equal sense of protection and pride.

Set slightly below the keep, and across a large cobblestoned courtyard, known as King’s Mall, stood St. Stephen’s cathedral. The great structure covered almost as much earth as the keep itself, with the four ends of its cross-like outlay rising upward to near the height of the ramparts that bordered it. Its stone face was polished and inlaid with marble and limestone, and segmented at regular intervals by tall panes of thick, colored glass.

It was in the midst of these two giants of magnificent human achievement that Sir Delwin stood. Looking outward from his vantage point near the center of King’s Mall, the web of cobblestoned and dirt streets spread through rows of thatched rooves, wooden shake, and the open spaces of town squares. Beyond the ribbon of gray the denoted the outer walls of the capital, the shimmering blue of the River Usk wound its way along the southern third of the city, while to the north the land was covered with forests and marshes, all the way to the Lake of Avalon and beyond.

The sounds of merchants and craftsman lifted upon the breeze, to give the city a living, breathing quality that quickened Delwin’s pulse. It was a sound that spurned a sudden rush of fresh awe for the humble knight. Though Delwin had traveled to Camelot on numerous occasions before, it was still far and away anything grander than he had ever laid his eyes upon. The confluence of high-born and commoner alike, all intertwined beneath the true king of Britannia, gave Delwin chills, and seemed a fitting embodiment of every tangible hope that Arthur had bestowed upon the Britons.

An echoed clang rang out from high in the bell tower of St. Stephen’s, tolling the noon hour, and causing Delwin to spin in his boots to gaze upon the spectacle. The appointed time for Sir Lancelot’s address of the marshalled knights was at hand. Delwin’s childlike adoration of Camelot melted quickly away, and was supplanted with an anxious tremor in the pit of his stomach. It was now that the subjects of Arthur would learn the fate of their king.

Though Lancelot had kept a tight lip upon the matter, the arrival of so many knights in Camelot could not be ignored by the commoners. Rumors ran rampant, spreading like disease from hovel to trade-stand in a litany of flavors, ranging from the great king’s death, to the announcement that Queen Guinevere was with child from some traitorous knight. The speculation was salacious, and outlandish. Delwin, along with most of his compatriots, rejected such notions out of hand. But it could not be denied that some event of gravity had come to a head within the realm, and even the brave warriors of Arthur were not immune to that fear.

Adjusting the sword at his hip, Delwin set his resolve, and joined the other knights that had come to gather in the open air of King’s Mall in making their way inside the Great Keep. In the milling mass of stout men and women, every color and combination of heraldic device danced upon tunic and cape. Great houses and noble names came together with families of new and slight reputation—a testament to the tumultuous times of the Saxon invasion, and the magnanimous gratitude of Arthur Pendragon. For his part, Delwin’s deep purple tunic was fitted with a silver device of a leaping fish upon the field of a shield, flanked on one side by a column of three crowns—a tribute to Arthur—and a rampant stag upon the other. His long hair was drawn up into a tight bun at the back of his skull, and his beard had been freshly trimmed. Vanity was not in Delwin’s character, but honor certainly was, and he was not about to be addressed by the regent looking like a country fool.

As the group of knights came to congregate at the massive wood and iron gate that led into the Great Keep, Delwin scanned the crowd, hoping to catch the eye of a veteran of the Saxon campaign he might commiserate with on this most auspicious of occasions…

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Clumsywordsmith
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(Soft scent of flowers upon the quiet air, and I knew I had arrived well before the city spires appeared upon the further rise: I found myself murmuring quietly beneath my breath, even as I urged my steed on down the winding trail to the city below:

“Rings of flowers in her hair;
Never seen, a maid so fair:
Measure once, her graceful step;
Swaying life – such...”

And then I felt the words leave me – thoughts, for a moment, lost in another time:

...Roses, covering her face – and she laughed. Sprang away from behind the bush, turned to me and looked – eyes flickering from beneath dark tresses of unruly hair.

“So slow! Not a stag, but a hog. Hog lord, we shall call you!” And then she was off again, darting through the garden greenery, words trailing away in a stream behind her: “Catch me if you might, oafish pig!” And I ran, of course. But the briars snagged at my cloak. And the branches whipped in my face. And by the time I had come to the little pond at the garden's centre she was already gone, whipsering away down the hill like a quiet wind. I panted. It was hot. Leant over the water – stagger back as I see the dead whites of those lifeless eyes staring back. Roses, indeed, covering her face: red seeping in streams from some unseen wound. But when I reach to the water she is gone – and I blink, stand with a start as a voice bursts out near at hand.


“I said, Sirrah, what business have you in Camelot?” And the face was not exactly kind – grim, dour frown with heavy hand now resting upon the hilt of his weapon. The others, too, shifted uneasily nearby. Hands inched toward bows. Fingers tapped upon spearshafts. Arian blinks several times, then coughs – straightens in the saddle and extends both hands palm outward, annoucning even as he scrabbles for the medallion about his chest:

“Sir Arian Hydd, goodman – Knight of the realm. Called forth on urgent errand to Camelot. Regent's bidding.” The guard squints, brown eyes narrowing as he eyes the silver stag held aloft in Arian's hand. He puckers up his lips, spits in the dirt nearbye before grunting in acknowledgement:

“My apologies... Sir.. please, the city is yours.” Still, the gaze that follows Arian on his way beneath the city gates is more than a little suspicious; not, perhaps, that the guard could be blamed: a few days hard ride had done his appearance little good, and were it not for the impressive horse between his legs, or the ornately ornamented sword at his side he might have appeared no more than any common thug. (I did not blame the man, at any rate – and couldn't help but wonder how long I'd been sitting there, lost in thought, before I came to – figured it was best not to know, and instead chose not to look over my shoulder as I tucked the medallion away, wound my way along the ancient city streets toward the gates of the fortress looming above.

It was much as I had rememberd it, from years since past – and indeed, in all likelihood it were me – not the city – that had changed in the time between. Quite a crowd had already begun to gather by the time I arrived, though – as I scanned the faces around me – none I recognised. Not yet, at any rate. Save Sir Delwin – though it had been many years since last we crossed paths.)

Swinging from the saddle, Arian lands amidst the swirling drape of his mud-streaked cloak with a soft crunch of the cobbles at his feet. He hands the reins to a boy nearby – tosses him a copper coin with a deft flick of his fingers – then strides toward Delwin. He offers the man something like a smile, inclining his head by way of greeting before offering his hand in a firm clasp, announcing as he does so:

“It does me well to see you again, Brother – my apologies I could not come... hmm... better appointed.” And with these words he steps back, gives a faintly self-conscious glance toward his disheveled traveling clothes, then proceeds to fall into line with the rest of those waiting before the great gates.

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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Culluket
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Ysobel dismounted at the bridge, thumping heavily to the moist grass as Sir Arian was grudgingly admitted inside. The sun crested the Cathedral above the walls, near-blinding her, and she smiled in spite of the day's grim tidings, her lips moving as she gave silent thanks to God.

"This is as far as I go," rumbled the giant mounted beside her. "Ill memory. Bad blood. Too soon to bear. I'll glean what news I may and make camp afore I hie me back to the village."

The little knight stood tiptoe and offered up her arms. The scarred old man leaned in the saddle, letting her embrace him. It was a comical scene, and yet, none who watched found it in themselves to laugh.

"Go with God, friend of my friend." she murmured gently by his rough cheek. "I shall see thee when the Lord wills it, and all is again well."

Black Piotr breathed a short, bitter laugh.

"I'll not hold my breath," he said, turning about. "Dear little fool."

He said it fondly. Forlornly.




Ysobel watched him go, disappearing into the greenery and haze. And then she took the reins in one black-mailed hand and crossed on foot, leading her white pony across the length of the bridge to the towering gate where the two would-be watchmen slouched in their rough mail. They straightened as the girl approached, the clip-clop clip-clop of loyal hooves sounding a wooden song behind her. Her face was stern, purposeful.

The watchman who had spoken to Arian cleared his throat whilst his companion stared rigidly ahead like a young boy who knows full well his sibling has been caught in some callous wrong, and has no wish to share in his punishment.

"Hr-hrmm, hail and be welcome to..."

The man fell silent. The virgin looked up at him without fear or kindness, staring him down, her gaze scornful, relentless and unbearably pure.

"...I, ah..."

By degrees the veteran crumbled, slowly averting his eyes from those of the little woman, unable to hold her eyes despite their difference in age and stature. Ysobel regarded him in silence as he withered beneath the weight of his own guilt.

"I hath heard it once said that men hath entertained angels unawares," she spoke, her bright little voice hard as crystal.

"...Yes, m'lady."

"Have a mind of thy tongue, knave," she went on. "Lest it one day wag at the wrong hound."

"I... Hrm!" the man swallowed, shamefaced, mumbling into his boots. "...I do most 'umbly beg yer pardon, m'lady."

"Tis not my pardon thou shouldst beg." she said, tersely, drawing on the reins. The pony snorted dismissively, the clip-clop of hooves passing away with the heavy chime of iron.

The grizzled watchmen let out their collective breaths. They exchanged one brief, wordless glance, and there saw enough of one another's shame to turn away in remorse, and not take their eyes from the bridge again.




At last beyond the wall and into the bustle of Camelot, Ysobel lifted her arm high as she caught sight of the sign of the leaping fish before the Keep, waving and lifting up her voice.

"Sir Delwin!" she called, piercing the air like a joyful clarion. Perhaps he would not remember her, the distant, little black figure with her banner and horn. But the fisher-knight's humility and noble bearing had remained ever in her memory.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Zendrelax
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Camelot was much as Gruffydd remembered it. The Great Keep, stifling finery masking the strength of stone. St Stephen's Cathedral, native stone and craft bent to adoration of a foreign god. The King's Mall, thronged with the teeming mass of life, an energy and vivacity beyond the sedate life of Ironhold, but gentler and softer than the march of war.

The latter being the good part. Perhaps good company or his Lord Regent's business would distract him from decadence and religion.

But before any of that, there was Lancelot's address, where they would finally learn why they had been called to the Capital. And, due to his station, he had come dressed finely. Not draped in the colors of his family, not with the Haern tincture, ordinary and charge emblazoned on his person. He was near enough that he could have been, but his departure had been far too rushed than would allow that, and while he had been in Camelot for some handful of time, it was not so long that his retainers, such as they were, had organized themselves and arrived with his more formal finery.

Yet, he had not come wholly unprepared. The tunic he wore was black, as he favored, was soft on the bare skin underneath, and both buttoned and cuffed by silver. The many hairs of his face had been cut and groomed into the style of his liking, and the hair atop his head had been drawn back out of his sight. At his hip, as with every knight present, was his blade. Gruffydd wore a finely crafted piece of steel, unadorned by the ostentation of jewels and precious metal, but a closer inspection showed both weapon and scabbard to be made of only clean, bright steel, and fresh leather—though not so fresh as to retain the stench of the tannery, of course.

So dressed he found his way to his peers, a selection of faces and names remembered from the rest between bloody battles with the Saxons, and the feast in celebration of their victory. One face in particular stuck out to him—after all, it is not every day that a commoner is risen to the peerage.

"Well now!" Gruffydd's voice was full of mirth as a approached the knights slowly clustering around sir Delwin. "It has been some time since I have seen these faces. I only wish the circumstances were not these." His smile grew rueful. "I must admit, while some of the gossip floating around the city has been truly abhorrent, these past few days have not seen me well at ease."
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by icmasticc
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The sun was beaming, but Ronan paid little attention to the weather. He held his mare at a casual trot as he neared a large stone bridge with Camelot looming on the other side like a massive stone watchmen. He had taken his hood down right after leaving the village, his short brown hair and blue eyes gleaming in the sun. His recently trimmed beard was still as short as he liked to keep it, but he also had not changed his clothing. Unlike most other knights, Ronan kept his plate within the walls of Camelot. When not performing knightly duties, he preferred to look more like a mercenary as his extracurricular activities would lead one to believe. His weapons, however, hung loosely on each side of his mare, the large mount able to carry all the weight due to its sheer size. Ronan had bred the steed from its younger years and it was the only horse he would ride anymore - Gaela, was her name.

Gaela and her equally large owner crossed the bridge came to the gates where the city guard stood watch. Unlike other places, the guard at Camelot always looked attentive and ready to fulfill their duty. It was a testament to the rigid structure of the great city that its guard were not wholly lazy or unprepared in their aesthetic and mannerism. Ronan pulled gently on the reins and slowed to a stop as a halting gesture from the knights - a normal procedure - prompted him to do so. One of the men, carrying a large spear, marched over to the side of the mare. "State your business," he ordered. Ronan was silent for a moment before a chuckle escaped his lips. The guard raised an eyebrow.

"My attire does well to disguise my identity, fair guard," Ronan began, "However... One would think a resident of this great city would recognize a knight."

The guard took a step back and looked into Ronan's face only to be met with a scowl. He straightened up immediately, surprise all over his face. "S-Sir Ronan! My deepest apologies, I did not intend--"

"Tis fine, fair guard," The amused knight interrupted, "Do make sure not to repeat such mistakes however. Lest you incur the wrath of a certain virgin clad in black plate." Ronan saluted the guard with two fingers and steered his mare through the gates and into the city. As he hitched his mare to a stable nearby and jumped down to the ground, the air around King's Mall filled the man with wonder. Off duty, Ronan spent little time within the city walls so every time he would return it would feel like the first time all over again. He marveled at the sights and smells and all the people gathered and going about their business. This day was also particularly business because news of the returning knights was spreading amongst the common-folk and many more bodies than usual stuffed the Mall in order to get a glimpse.

Strapping the unreasonably large and cloth wrapped Mace to his back via a strap which crossed his chest, Ronan made a beeline in the direction of his gathering fellows. He recognized Sir Delwin and some of the others immediately. As he neared, he put on a smile. He couldn't be gruff all the time of course. "Ah, brothers and sisters!" He nearly shouted, "Tis a fine day to be out in this open air. I trust all of you are well and such?"
Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Gowi
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S i r I G N A T I U S

C A M E L O T - K E E P E N T R A N C E



It had been a tiring wait for the other knights in service to the realm to arrive in Camelot.

Sir Ignatius had been pressed up against a stone wall as he looked over each newly arriving knight that had been called in some time ago by the Knight-Regent. Ignatius had been the first, but then again he had been in Camelot since the day Lancelot sent out lesser knights and lowborn servants to get the word out to all manners of men and women who had served the realm faithfully; thus it was no surprise he had been prepared and ready for the arrivals himself. There was also the fact he was overeager to learn why Lancelot had called so many and so abruptly— perhaps it was the Roman in him but he could feel a familiar ache in his bones that reminded him of a ill feeling. But then again, he could’ve just been anxious or paranoid. But Arthur had told him to trust his feelings in the past and it was not a fact he was going to ignore now.

We are all so gregarious today, it appears.

His lips grew a warmer grin as he looked over the first of the arrivals, though he was sure that many more were upon their way. But it was known that today would be the gathering of all of the knights and warriors that were sent for so this would not be wasted time sitting at the base of the Great Keep. The knight of latin origin crossed his arms as he looked over each individual as they arrived giving a slight nod as he stood quiet with ears open; if they addressed him, he would speak but if not he would remain contemplative and introspective.

The thought did bring to mind one fact however— how many of the knights hailed did he know personally or simply just had heard of? How many would be men or women he shared conflict with or had a worthwhile knowledge or relationship with and how many would just be mentions that were nothing more than whispers to his person? He mentally shrugged the curiosity off as he went back to his idle actions.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Bright_Ops
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As impressive as Camelot might have been, Sindri couldn't help but fell ill at ease whenever he went there.

Camelot felt like a dream to him; A cruel trick of the Fae that gave gave you a taste of a world better then your own but would fade away with the early morning mist as the sun rose at dawn. Despite the grand nature of Camelot's keep and its stone walls, Sindri couldn't help but notice just how fragile the just rule of the King actually was... It would only take a blow or two in the wrong place at the wrong time to bring it all down.

The fact that the King had left his kingdom alongside almost all of most loyal knights in the search of a holy relic that might not even exist for an extended period of time was one of the many things that had worried Sindri deeply since his arrival at the capital several days ago; No doubt the fact that so many knights were being called in by the Lord-Regent was due to someone finally trying to take advantage of the King's absence, be it an external foe like the Saxons or an internal one... Loyalty only lasts so long when the King is away and the throne is empty after all...

Dressed somewhat formally for the occasion, Sindri bore the green serpent of the relatively newly ascended House Myr with pride on his black tunic while he watched the crowd of knights in order whom he recognized and if possible from where... for the moment however, he decided against starting a conversation; Those he spied whom he recognized were already caught up in conversations with others and he felt it would be rude to butt in to what honestly appeared to be joyous reunions. He had a feeling that such moments would be common in the coming days.

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