Evening-song sounded sweetly above the crackling of the fireplace. Pliant strings plucked reported thereabouts. Frotha Fleckbow the mæster returned to the Green Tree tavern, where harp music emanated, warm, comforting, like the hearth. The hedge Knight Joris (the NPC) sat drinking and raised a tankard to Froth’ in affable acknowledgement, amity. Baron Brendon and the huntress Tabatha all conversed, above the slight sounding gentle harp, which stemmed from Hal’s direction. Yet, before long, most of our number went to bed for the evening, Tabatha stayed down in the bar for another half-hour or so, snooping around for more information. Nothing new came to light.
The next morning the hedge Knight fed from a fine array of food, and bade our company join him. After confirming the food was safe from being poisoned, we all ate with him, heartily. Sweet meats and mead-bread made up the fare. Sir Joris had a letter, it was an invitation by the mysterious Fox Knight, daring to throw down the gauntlet, a challenge of an honour duel. T’was to be held out in the forest, presently. “I would ask one of you to act as my ‘second’ should I fall.”, asked Sir Joris, staring intently at Hal. Prince Henry shrugged his shoulders, beckoning an arbitrary NPC retainer be appointed to do so. "I shall step up to the plate, and accept this honour.”, replied Baron Brendon, bravely. “Whiskey.”, ordered Brendon at the bar.
The Bravosii stranger whom they had met before overheard us talking and offered to join our company, it transpired that the man’s name was Bryan Telson. We accepted. Orton Lugus also was then added to our number, though Brendon and his family and friends were wary about this, seeing as he had a chequered intimate history with “Lieder” (a.k.a. Iris Dannet).
We set off riding on horseback with a procession of people (Frotha’s retainers and the three other NPC’s). Inside the King’s woodland, shafts of amber sunlight pierced the trees, on this hot summers day a gentle warm breeze passed over us, as we trod on the leaves, and the ever growing fecundity of the forest.
En route to the rendezvous Tabatha overheard something said twixt Joris and Orton, who, advised Joris that the Fox Knight will not yield nor draw any quarter. It was rumoured that the identity of this chavlier renard was in-fact most likely ‘Lord Archæ’.
More time passes, Bryan Telson pipes up, whispering rumours of the lost ‘scorpion sword’. Stolen from somewhere, said to be hereabouts.
We reached the clearing, Tabatha scouted thereabouts in the undergrowth, without trace of footfall, silently and deadly. Brendon and Hal waited in the trees, Hal covered Sir Joris with his bow as he entered the glen, accompanied by Orton. Two of Frotha’s retainers were sent to scout about the place. Shortly after the mæster tried voice mimicry of an owl, which merely sounded in the likeness of a man, trying an impoverished imitation of an owl.
Orton orated his challenge out to the faceless silent glen, “Lord Archæ! I am lord Lugus, son of Conrad, for the love of God: the father, show your yourself!” An armoured man bearing a blade, shield by his side, strode boldly from the seclusion of the tree-line into the centre of the glen towards the two knights. Formally observed t’was indeed Archæ who spake thus, “I am he, and in the name of our father, I do accept your challenge.”
Roll initiative! (Oh it was so on!) Boom! Joris swung wide, the old man missing his mark; yet Archæ Reynard was not so unfortunate: his savage sword struck Sir Joris! An agonising cry of pain and strained look was written all over the old man’s face, as he tried to keep it together.
A voice issue from the edge of the forest, “I am Baron Richmœnd, his sanctioned second.” To which our bellicose Baron Brendon boldly bore down on the brigand. Boom! Tagged him! Slicing his right-shoulder, Archæ wailed in agony. “Yield!”, insisted Brendon. “Never!”
A shadow emerged from the trees, it was Tabatha, slowly drawing her bow, knocking an arrow. From the other side, Hal yelled, “No! Tabatha! Honour must be satisfied, do not strike!” She did not abate, and continued to take aim. Hal re-insisted, “You let loose that arrow and you are off the payroll, for starters!” Prince Henry aimed his own bow at Tabatha, who did not waver from her original target.
Archæ took the opportunity to strike Baron Brendon. (His one and only permanently burned off destiny point later…) Orton was attacked, instead, Archæ hitting his shoulder. Tabatha immediately let loose her arrow, seeing as how protocol had been breached already. Her flight ballistic hit Archæ straight through his throat. Garn. Dropped him. Brendon immediately rifled through the dead man’s boots in search of any evidence for his involvement in the framing of House Richmœnd.
Hal lowered his bow, as did Tabatha, the mæster Frotha, and his ten men, they all slowly milled about, gassing.
“Um, could somebody please help me?”, groaned Joris. Frotha immediately rushed to his aid, diagnosing the injury and stemming the flow of lost sanguine. He was unsuccessful in his attempted succour. Brendon was unable to find anything useful to aid their current cause about the corpse of lord Archæ.
“Good healer, go with your retainers, take Sir Joris back to King’s Landing, and see that he is in good health, and recovers speedily.”, said Brendon. “But I wish to accompany you, I have done all I can, for now. My cadre will ensure he is safely carried to a hospital. Orton! Why not you go with him?” Lord Lugus complied with the healer, “I shall see it be so.”
Tabatha tracked the footprints to his hideout: beneath the root on an ancient gnarlēd tree lay a small hovel. The earthen cave was littered with old animal skins, a few cooking pots and some cutlery. A blanket, an unkempt bed. Hal carefully checked for traps. None were found. They searched the place, again nada, rien, n’owt.
Upon returning to the city, it soon came to light that Sir Joris had gone to a better place: the empyreal heaven. After Henry said a prayer for the departed soul, lamenting the loss of his new old friend, the four of them could not help but wonder what it might have been like had Brendon’s wishes been followed. No matter. With the sad spectre of sorrow draped over their souls, the entourage went to the opening ceremony.
Trumpets sounded a fanfare, their banners draped in colourful solemnity: it was time for steady composure of regal visage. Heralds announced the Royal Houses as they passed the cheering crowds. Confetti cast and applause with cheers and hoorah’s sounded all about the tournament field. The pageantry of the procession in full swing on a summers day, Prince Henry on his palfrey, flanked by his noblemen and retainers waved at the crowds in Royal calm. Hal was oblivious to the group of cheering onlookers who boo’d and hissed, cursing the name of Richmœnd for the apparent killing of the yeomen. Tabatha noticed them, slid off into the crowds and feigned supporting their cause to extrapolate more about these duped rebels. Beside Hal was the Baron Brendon, who gave a subtle somatic signal to Tabatha, who disappeared mysteriously from the crowd: to go and investigate the Dannet pavilion.
As the huntress snuck stealthily into the tent, she began searching for evidence, any artefacts or letters that may help clear their name. Someone else entered, a Dannet guard. “Hello there, now what do we have here? A common thief in my masters tent?” The soldier smiled cruelly, drawing his sword and approaching the rogue. His sword swung down landing squarely on Tabatha’s pretty face. (Her destiny point was burned off too…) She managed to jump upon a table, draw her bow, knock an arrow and shoot the approaching soldier in the eye. Two more guards burst in as they heard the scream. Tabatha was on the defensive, drawing her blade. Boom! She was down, wounded twice by the oncoming onslaught. Frotha Fleckbow burned a destiny point to try and save her, to no avail. They were just too far away. In a last desperate attempt at survival, Tabatha clambered on one of the guards’ back, who lanced her to the floor, followed up, and plunged a fatal sword ending her breath, her thread of vital life.
Meanwhile, Hal had a brief audience with the King, and did, after listening to him intently, politely bowing and paying homage to his liege and sovereign, begged a boon from his majesty. Hal spoke of the farmers incident, and how they had been framed, concisely summarising the situation. “I’ll see see what I can do.”, replied the booming voice of King Robert (in a basso profundo deep baritone voice like James Earl Jones’ character at the end of Sneakers).
Now only a trio, blissfully unaware of the fate of their comrade, we headed back to the tavern. Changing from our armour into our silken livery, Brendon went to fetch Lieder, before long our motley crew arrived at the banquet. Alas, musicians played, nobles mingled and from across the room could be seen the young pig-nosed Adam Dannet. Hal rose to go and speak to the young man, but Baron Brendon put a hand on his shoulder saying, “Not yet brother, we must choose our moment carefully.” “Very well.”
Lieder was reluctant to go along with the proposed plan, and was barely compliant, only just staying with us after some smooth talking from her new paramour Brendon.
All went quiet as the King rose to make a toast. All cheered their sovereign on, all that was, except Adam Dannet. The young nobleman did the inevitable, despite the indicated revealing the identity of his indentured sister, unfurling the shield, giving the expected character assassination, adding to his accusatory tone that a rogue from our House had been caught only this afternoon. We were given a chance to defend ourselves. Brendon began, highlighting the key points of contention in this smear-campaign.
Adam Dannet struck back with acidic tongue, but was stopped in his tracks by Hal, who rose, and delivered a soliloquy that ran thus:
See you, my princes and my noble peers,
These Dannet serpents! My lord of Dannet here,
You know how apt our love was to accord
Belonging to his honour; and this man
Hath, for a few light goldragons, conspired,
And sworn unto the practices of him,
For his own reasons turn into your bosoms,
As dogs upon their masters, worrying you,
That almost mightst have coined me into gold!
The truth be told my noble lords, ladies,
That our House be no cold blood murderers
Of innocent yeoman, honest farmers,
Look here see you, we have testimony
From men belonging to House Dannet lands,
A golden-clad guard from King’s Lancaster.
It is well known that House Dannet is poor,
For a palm crossed with silver sells his soul,
Spake with a forked tongue of an argent whore!
Who sold his own sister simply for gold!
Though ’tis tragic that such a noble House
With tradition harking back more than mine,
Should stoop so low as to resort to this,
Though it be proved his noble knightly line!
Hal’s speech was met by a round of applause from his own House, all except for Lieder who left without anyone noticing. The King brought an end to the trial, but Adam Dannet would not let it lie. He threw down the gauntlet: trial by combat. Prince Henry accepted gladly. In the morning would be the first event of the day: jousting, where the fate of the Kingdom would be decided. One way or another. It all rested on the outcome of this Chivalric sport.
Here endeth the session.