[Game-Adjacent] Pendragon - The Story so Far

Pendragon: Tales of Chivalry and Sorcery is the place to go if you want to play Pendragon. Cpt._Funkotron will be your GM, with assistance from CarrieVS.

[Game-Adjacent] Pendragon - The Story so Far

Postby Cpt._Funkotron » Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:10 pm

Player
NPC


Year 485

Chapter I, In which the Beast of Imber is Slain

In the land of Salisbury, in the fifth year of the reign of Uther Pendragon, four young warriors of noble rank were trained in the profession of knightly arms by Sir Elad of Vagon, called 'Strawcutter'*^1. They were,

Eliver of Woodford, fleet of foot and quick in jest. Notably short of stature, left-handed, with flashing green eyes. Famously Energetic, and a Natural Speaker.
Bleddyn of Barleyfield, slow of speech but bold in battle. Very handsome, with an old scar from a training accident across his nose. When he spoke, he spoke with a stutter, and so tried not to speak often. Famously of a Suspicious nature, especially as regards to magic, and a Natural Healer.
Arcadia of Winterstream, and ardent lover and a furious foe. Of imposing physicality, short red hair, and a face that had once been beautiful were it not marred by a terrible burn-mark covering the better half of it; a keepsake from a Saxon raid. Famously Vengeful, especially in regards to Saxons, Loyal, and Honorable. Good with Horses.
Tathel of Tisbury, a lusty heathen, devotee of the Dark Goddess Cerridwen. Of towering stature and curly brown hair. Famously Pious, and a Natural Hunter.


One fine spring morning, Sir Elad 'Strawcutter' had the four squires sent for. He explained to them that there was word of a strange beast terrorizing the people of Imber, a poor secluded village in the Forest of Gloom; he'd had word of the matter from the village priest, an old friend of Elad's, called Old Garr. The beast was apparently not only mighty, but cunning and elusive. The lord of Imber, a poor knight of little fortune and dubious honor, Sir Laingren, had reportedly been killed by it. Looking into such a matter would ordinarily be the business of duly sworn knights, but since the Earl of Salisbury had taken most of the knights of the shire with him on some petty baronial campaign, Sir Elad charged the squires with the task as a chance to earn their own spurs. He made them a present of four brand new swords to mark the occasion, before sending them on their way the next morning. The night before departing, Arcadia seduced a visiting noblewoman called Lady Catrin, Tathel bedded a servingwoman called Mary, siring a son by her, and Eliver took notice of a mysterious Cornish emissary meeting with Sir Elad, but learning no more of him than that his name was "someone-or-other of Morbyn".

Accompanying them on their journey the next morning was another squire of the castle, Drusus of Baverstock^*2, Tathel's cousin, a schoolyard bully of strong arm and slow wits, from an ancient and estimable bloodline, his father Sir Brendan the Undersherrif of Gentian and his aunt Lady Indeg, the richest woman in the shire. Drusus openly despised Eliver and was openly despised by Arcadia. By reason of his rank, he was chosen to lead the expedition. Unbeknownst to Drusus, but knownst to Eliver, Drusus' father had just been dismissed from the office of Undersherrif for corruption by the Earl (who was himself Gentian's proper sheriff).

They were guided by a middle-aged peasant woman called Gladys, first traveling east to Sarum, spending the night there (Tathel and Drusus in the city's only brothel, the others in the great hall of Castle Salisbury. The next day, they headed north and west by way of Amesbury. While traversing the Abbey's land, they came across the Abbot's men in the process of hanging a chicken thief. The thief's young wife, mewling babe in her arms, pleaded with the squires to save him. Without a word, Bleddyn drew his sword, galloped up to the dule tree, and cut the hangman's rope. He then generously settled up the matter of the thief's defaulted fine, a matter of all of sixpence. The party made it west to Tilshead by late afternoon, greeted and received by its castellan, Lord Hywel.

Over supper, the castellan asked them their business, and charged them with two additional tasks; firstly, to learn what they could of the bandits who were thought to operate out of Imber, and secondly, if Sir Laingren were truly dead, to bring his children safely back to Sarum. To help them on their quest, he loaned them each a mail shirt before sending them on their way. The next day, they arrived at Imber. The locals seemed distrustful of their approach; banditry aside, many of the families of the village fed themselves by poaching. Gladys led them to the churchyard, where the late Sir Laingren was being laid to rest by his surviving daughter and heiress Lady Llewella, a mute maid of seventeen, and her bastard brother Leiryn*^3. Drusus tried to endear himself to the heiress by boasting of his pedigree and the good turn he was soon to do them, but inadvertently insulted her and her brother instead. Embarrassed and discouraged, Drusus refused to go on to meet Old Garr and instead decided to go off looking for the bandits on his own. Unfortunately for the scion of Baverstock, the very first group of peasants he tried to deputize in his hunt were in fact themselves some of the bandits he was hunting, and so they led him out into the woods and then turned on him once out of earshot of the village.

Meanwhile, the other four squires were introduced to Old Garr*^4, the village priest. He told them that the beast was said to look like a great black bear, but that no one had lived who had seen it up close. Most peculiarly, it never ate the men it killed. Many of the men of the village were experienced poachers and so they had already tried to trap it several times now, but the creature had outsmarted them all. Thankfully, it never roamed beyond the woods themselves. He could only speculate as to its origin, but his main speculation was that it all had something to do with Cadwy, the Witch-King of Summerland, whose realm lay but north and west of the woods they were now among. Nonetheless, if the squires-at-arms were volunteering to try to slay the beast themselves, he told them that the hounds and hunstsmen of the village were at their disposal to help track it. The hunters and hounds were duly gathered, but Drusus was at last noticed to be missing, and so the party first set off in search of their leader.

They found him bound and gagged in the bandit camp, which had just moments earlier been visited by the beast. All of the bandits were dead, the camp in dissaray, and Drusus badly hurt. He had managed to get hold of a knife and take the black beast's ear off before it could finish him. He then died in his cousin's arms, after telling him what had happened. Thanks to the parting wound he'd given it, the beast left a blood trail leading away from the camp. Tathel ran off towards it screaming bloody vengeance.

The beast had the drop on poor Tathel, and pounced on him from its hiding place atop a boulder. It clamped its terrible teeth around his throat and killed him instantly*^5. The others caught up shortly, and laid into the monster as one. After a furious combat, with many injuries exchanged, the beast was slain and its luminous red eyes dulled for the last time. Old Garr tended to the wounded before giving Tathel and his cousin the last rites, despite the fact that they had both been pagans.

The beast's corpse was borne back to the village, and there was much rejoicing. Leiryn and Llewella hosted the monster slayers in the Manor Hall to celebrate. Llewella the mute maiden and Bleddyn the stuttering squire seemed to be endeared to each other at once. Eliver asked Leiryn if there were likely to be anymore bandits nearby. He answered that he supposed they had all fallen prey to the beast now. This was a lie, because the late Sir Laingren had in fact been the ringleader of the bandits, Leiryn his lieutenant, and many more of the brigands had not been among those slain by the beast. The squires took Leiryn
at his word however, and so did not discover the truth. The next day, they escorted the half-siblings to Sarum, and find that no sooner are the Earl and his knights due to return than the shire is obliged to muster to war again, for King Uther's campaign against the Saxons.

Continued in Chapter III, In which the Able Squires of Vagon and Ebble are knighted, and King Uther Pendragon Battles the Saxons to a Stalemate at Meacred Creek.

Footnotes
*^1: He was called 'Strawcutter' because Saxons were known to be predominantly blond, and he had gained a reputation for cutting Saxon heads off like a reaper cutting straw.
*^2: An NPC who was introduced in the Pre-RP thread, in which the players chatted among themselves, introduced their characters, and took turns at the quintain. Brought along on the adventure to help give the players someone to bounce off of while they were first getting used to the game.
*^3: Introduced as an NPC, later promoted to PK by Arcadia's player, which is why information that the players didn't have at the time is included in this summary.
*^4: His proper name was Gaius, he was originally from Gaul, but came to Britain as a mercenary in the army of Aurelius Ambrosius, which is how he and Sir Elad met and became friends. Garr was short for Garum, a nickname he earned in the army for his foul stench, after the fish-based Roman condiment of that name. Gladys, the peasant woman who guided the squires to Imber, was his mistress, and also Leiryn's Aunt.
*^5: Tathel's player dropped out of the campaign shortly before this, and I obtained his permission to kill him off in this manner as a nice surprise intro to the fight.
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