Harvis, Dulan the Red, Arnold the Portly, Moris
The story begins with four squires in the County of Salisbury. Not the modern Salisbury you know, but one set during a period of war, political strife and knights. The county was ruled by the energetic and loyal, Earl Roderick, a man of great pride and a strong sense of duty.
The time was spring, and one castle in particular, Vagon, was where four squires sat in the main courtyard. The squires have been trained here for many years. While they have been esquired to many knights, they know their time is soon approaching for the glorious days of knighthood. Harvis, Dulan the Red, Arnold the Portly and Moris awaited directions for training as usual from the castellan of castle, Sir Elad.
After a vigorous day of training, Sir Elad determined he needed a task to be accomplished from the budding knights. He asked for each for the squires to test their skills against each other in both a skill of lance and horse racing. Eventually, Arnold the Portly was able to gain supremacy in the two contests. Sir Elad gave his true intentions, he wished to see which would make the best knight for a position of leadership. In light of the contests, Arnold the Portly was given stewardship of the group.
The task was simple, the town of Imber has been having trouble with a man-eating bear. He has no true knights to send to deal with the problem, so he tasks the squires to deal with the bear problem, by doing what knights do best: killing the beast. The four squires begin their journey as men of arms into the village close to Tilshead, about a days journey. Without much fanfare, the squires leave with armor and weapons. The roads were rough, considering the difficulty of riding a horse on rolling hills, but the trip was rather uneventful.
When the group approached the rather modest, nearly barren, village they noticed the shortage of farming implements. Upon entering the village, they met with their contact, an old priest, Old Garr, who acted as a guide for the town. He explains the situation, the village receives most of it’s sustenance from hunting in the area. When a body was found mauled in the woods, most hunters will now not dare to venture into the woods. The creature has yet to be spotted, but they are fairly certain it was a bear. To prepare for the bear, the squires quickly prepared their hunting clothing; which gave must greater mobility but at the cost of protection. Thankfully, all squires still had access to a shield.
Old Garr directed the knights, by the behest of the knights, into two groups. One was lead by Old Garr and was followed by Moris and Arnold. The other, which contained Harvis and Dulan the Red. Both had their own leads on the bear; with daylight hours wasting, the two groups quickly leaped into action.
The smaller group, led by Harvis and Dulan was not successful in the finding the bear. Instead, they encountered, deep in the forest, the sounds of thirty-dogs questing. Not expecting a large group of hunters in this remote land, they waited on full guard. Suddenly, the baying ceased. Quickly surverying the area, the Dulan discovered a strange looking beast resting by a forest stream. The knights attempted to approach the creature, but it was a cunning beast. It ran before the squires could even get within touching distance.
Not long after the beast ran into the underbrush, a knight appeared. He claimed to be searching for Glatisant, a strange looking beast. The group confirmed the appearance of the creature, and directed him to the way of the departing beast. After he dashed into the forest, they discussed the lack of information of the mysterious knight. He wore arms, making him a noble, but it was distinctively Gales. They chalked it up to an unimportant event and returned back to Imber. They did not know, the man they encountered was Sir Pellinore, king of Gomeret, a kingdom in Gales.
The second, larger group was more successful. With Old Garr’s knowledge of the land, they were able to find the bear a few hours before dusk. The two squires mounted an assault from foot. Arnold the Portly was able to land the killing blow, but not before Moris was hit soundly. He survived, but the blow left it’s mark on the nascent knight.
The return trip was celebrated with gusto and danger. The two groups consolidated into one, and celebrated the skinning of the bear. They planned to return to Vagon castle and present the skin to Sir Elad. As the celebration journey continued, the squires encountered banditry. Five bandits held a man at sword point, and three others attempted to steal a cow from his barn. The squires, being valorous knights-in-training, dashed to help the man The battle turned quickly to the squires favor, leaving only one surviving member of the bandits.
The bandit requested to be spared. He promised that he never wanted to commit banditry, but was forced to steal because he was hungry and he was pushed out of his village when he had no work. Execution is not within a knight’s jurisdiction, never mind a squires. If they wanted to bring him in from trail, they would have to bring him to the King’s Justice, which would involve them to bring him to Earl Roderick, the Earl of Salisbury.
Harvis and Dulan decided the man should be turned over to the Earl, and let justice decide his fate. Moris and Arnold was of the opinion that they should allow the man a chance for redemption. Eventually, the group allowed the man to become a monk-in-training with the help of Old Garr. Harvis and Dulan agreed, but with disapproval.
The group returned to Imber and continued to celebrate into the morning. Harvis drank a little too much; his body found drunk under a tree. His body was living, but very stiff.
The group returned to Sir Elad, who was impressed with Arnold’s victory against the bear. He coined him “the Fatman”. The rest of the group looked up at him with ironic envy. The celebrating did not last long, for Sir Elad desired to go to Sarum castle; the home of the Salisbury county court.
During their stay in the Sarum Castle, the squires have one of their first experiences with the court without the assistance of a knight. The squires had no problem being allowed entrance; they learn that Sir Elad is not only the castellan of Vagon castle but also the Marshall for the county. After they were escorted to the Earl, he was given the gift of the bear’s skin. He was quite impressed by the tenacity and skill of the hunters, and took the skin for himself as a gift.
Afterwards, they were released and allowed to mingle with the court populace. Most of the squires were attracted to the many eligible women of court. Most had their sights on Lady Adwen with her many manors. But some where attracted to the older Lady Indeg with not as much land, but she had the choice to pick her own husband. In the end, most spent time simply gaining their bearings in the rather large city and adjoining castle. As evening approached, the squires were invited to dinner with the Earl. An honor, indeed!
While the dinner was pleasant – the squires were placed at the far end of the table – the true honor came after the dinner. Earl Roderick decided the time was right for squires to be promoted to full knighthood. He asked for personal opinions. Sir Elad stood up, declaring the squires who defeated the bear to be brave and skilled, therefore eligible. The Earl asks each squire at the table and not unexpectedly, all agree.
Earl Roderick announces the ceremony will begin first thing tomorrow, and a vigil will be set that night. Most knights pass the vigil, with the exception of Harvis, who falls asleep. Being a Pagan Knight, he claimed, he does not need to worry about the Christian vigils.
In the morning, all oaths are spoken and all squires are transformed into new knights.
And they are now known as Sir Harvis, Sir Arnold the Portly, Sir Dulan the Red and Sir Moris.