Friday, October 20, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Episode 01 - Pendragon

9/9/2017
The Great Pendragon Campaign

Episode One
"The First Year"

Pendragon

After years of wanting to someday have the guts to run a Pendragon campaign, I've decided to take the plunge.  Joining me in this journey are Rocky, Adrian, Flip and Urim.  I have to thank Alan Bahr for always encouraging me to do this.

Flip plays Riordan, a Trusting knight from Pitton. His father, Jordan, died of mysterious circumstances back in 466 while serving under Aurelius Ambrosious who held up the Pendragon banner. His grandfather, John, was killed by Pictish raiders in 440.

Adrian plays Perriton, a Prudent knight from Steeple Langford. His father, Perin, died while in the service of Uther in 480. His grandfather, Peregrin, still lives a ripe age of 75 with his last battle being the Battle of Kent in 457 under King Vortigern.

Rocky plays Gilmere, an Honest knight from Shrewton. His father, Gilbert, passed away from natural causes in 472. His grandfather, Gerin, died in a raid in 442.

Urim plays Bliant, a Chaste knight from Berwick St. James. His father, Berel, died in the Battle of Windsor in 473. His grandfather, Belias, was killed in a raid in 443.

Episode 01 explores the four soon-to-be-knights as they first undergo a training session under Sir Elad, who has them undergo Quintain Training, with all save Glimere falling from dodging the rocks that were to strike them in the chest.  Afterwards, they were invited to Race and in the race, Gilmere ranked first, followed by Riordan, then Bliant, and finally Perriton. As a final part of their training, the four were then invited to take part in a Jousting challenge, and in three rounds, Roirdan and Gilmere ended the challenge in a draw.

Sir Elad then asks of them to take part in a task for the good of the country. The four travel to Imber to deal with what may well be a man-eating bear or wolf. They are tasked to find Old Garr, a healer, who will help them fulfil the quest.  The group's journey to the village at the bottom of a valley allows them a brief glimpse of Stonehenge in the distance.

At Imber, they meet Garr and his mistress, whom he is living with in sin. The  soon-to-be-knights are a bit perturbed by this, but focus on their duties. They begin the hunt for the bear as soon as morning comes and the hunt stretches for a few hours. It is by noon that their hunt begins to show signs of the trail. They find the bear, and while Perriton is trying to motion directions, Roirdan does not hesitate and breaks into a charge! The dogs with them rush forward, to distract the bear. Perriton yells at them to go for the mouth, as he prepares to go for the leg. The massive bear fights back viciously! Gilmere, in turn,  hears strange sounds that draw his curiosity. He sees a creature, unlike anything he has seen before: head and neck of a snake, body of a leopard, haunches of a lion, and the feet of a hart. And before he could say more, the beast bounds away and almost immediately, a mounted and armored man crashes through the bush, searching for the beast. Gilmere only recognizes the crest of the man to show he is a knight of the de Galis clan. He asks Gilmere if he's seen, "the Glatisant" but leaves without offering more information.

With the success of the kill, the bear is skinned and its meat is shared by the village. On the group's journey back, however, they encounter a group of bandits that have assailed a farmer and his daughter. They dispatch of the bandits quickly. Perriton promises to return and pay them for the cow, but he remembers they have a mission and his focus has to remain on it.

They return to Vagon and there Elad suggests they visit the earl to share their adventures.  They arrive at Sarum and there, they meet the Earl Roderick and his wife, the Countess Ellen. After a brief series of faux pas, the Earl introduces them to the gathering and they find themselves making a few new acquaintainces. The death of the bandits is deemed just and the coat of the bear is received well. They are fascinated with the story of the Questing beast as well. Perriton shares the story of the fight against the Bear and even crafts a chant/rhyme on their battle against the bear. Perriton is asked if the bear became a man, and learns that some bears supposedly turn into men upon death. He is told to speak with Sir Ameg of Tilstead, an older knight who has had numerous experiences in his life. A veteran of many battles. Perriton bonds with Lady Jenna, the Earl's daughter, whom he promises to take note of tales to share with her in the future.  His stories gain the eye of Lady Elaine, a woman whom other ladies do not hold in high regard.

Father Tewi, on the other hand, notices Bliant, who commends him for being a man of honor and faith. He asks Bliant why he has not been married yet and recommends he consider Lady Gwiona, a woman with a blank handkerchief in her hands. Her husband recently died after proposing to her.   He also recommends Lady Indeg, if Blaint is not seeking beauty but roots. She is the richest heiress, widowed twice, and is lonely. "Would you choose beauty or comforts?" Bliant admits he would rather choose Gwiona to comfort her for her losses.

Gilmere speaks with the Bishop Roger, the Bishop of Salibury, and learn he is well educated and curious of the stories of the Fair Folk. He believes the world can benefit from greater learning and fears to dispel. He asks Gilmere to share an account of the creatures he encounters to document them in an illuminated tome. Gilmere admits he isn't certain he's comfortable with that. Sir Jarren wraps his arms around Gilmere from behind and tells the Bishop that was the Pagan way of saying one is not interested. Gilmere knows Jarred to be a skilled and ambitious young knight and the best swordsman at court. He points out how Lady Adwen, who has been glancing at them, now believes in the Fair Folk since the "honest" man has spoken of them. Gilmere is asked to give her a small wave. She looks away, shy having been bested in a wager and now owes Jarred a kiss. Gilmere honestly admits he would not wish to participate further. Jarred admits he seeks never to be wed, "I am legend and legend shall end with me."

Riordan is gambling with some other people, among them a banneret knight, Sir Hywel, playing backgammon as they talk about the ferocious bear. "Not as horrible as the manticore, however." Sir Hywel's wife used to tell him about those stories. His wife, however, died, giving birth to his daughter.  He asks Riordan to consider his daughter, who is still 9, but worth considering being the fir wife to Riordan the Bear-Killer.

The four are then knighted, and they are asked to join the Earl for the Vigil.  Everyone is dismissed and are to return by the morrow. The four accompany him to the Church and there they try to remain awake long enough for the vigil. Perriton nods off in the Vigil.The Earl wakes him.  The Vigil continues.

With the come of dawn, the ceremony reaches its zenith. They speak their oaths, they are given their arms, their sword, and their spurs, and to close, the tradition of the Leap is celebrated!  The groups are told to rush forth, and leap at a single bound upon their horses.

Riordan is maddened by his passions and he breaks into a run for the backrooms. Gilmere leaps successfully and lands on the horse's saddle. Bliant leaps and successfully lands as well.  Perriton hesistates, but then feeling disheartened by his emotions, he charges forward but somehow he still lands upon the horse, despite the cheers of the people. The three turn and stare at the lone horse, wondering what happened to their companion, Riordan.  Ellen leaves the Earl's side and searches for the missing knight.

As the night stretches on, the three are the center of attention in the gathering and are unable to separate to look for the others. Riordan is lost in the many hallways and corridors of the castle, shameful of his failure to do the Leap. He turns to the sound of footfalls and he slips into the first door he can find to hide behind. Closing the door behind him, Riordan hurries down the steps and it takes a bit of a while before he realizes there is a fog in the chamber. The steps he walks upon glow from within. There are rocks, like gigantic crystals of salt, all around. Inside are silhouettes of winged horses, serpents, and other figures. A figure comes into view, who turns upon realizing his presence, addresses Riordan with his hands raised in the air as he holds his staff high. "You! It is too soon for you to be here."

In an eyeblink, Riordan is back at the hallway. He can still remember the man's burning eyes.  Countess Ellen finds him and helps him to his feet. She tells him the others are worried and that he has been missing for almost a week. Riordan is puzzled. It still feels like the same day for him.  Months pass.

With the absence of Merlin, supposedly from helping King Uther win a victory in the Battle of Damen, the knights are soon called to join the Battle of Mearcred Creek in Sussex. The Knights gather as a unit lead by Sir Amig, but then are assigned to lead their own company of men for the fight.  The battle against the Saxon footmen is violent, with Bliant a few times separated from his companions. The battle rages on despite Uther's superior troops, and in the end, the knights not only successfully route the Saxons, but have successfully captured as well a number of Saxon's key soldiers. The mood of the Christmas court is gloomy. Despite the standoff in Sussex, the Saxons gained a victory in Caercolun. Earl Roderick, pensive given the events, urges his new knights to practice hard at the arts of war. "This is no time for poetry," he says.
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