Two of our knights were needed elsewhere- clearly Sir Nerovens had wedding preparations to attend to- so it was Sir Gherard, Sir Harvis, and Sir Hermel who ventured north, escorting Lady Nineve and her handmaidens into the Forest Sauvage.
Sir Gherard was quite vexed by the logistics of traveling with women, who seemed to want to stop constantly for all sorts of trivial reasons, and found himself quite restless and scouting ahead. However Sir Harvis and Sir Hermel were quite taken by the luxurious provisions Lady Nineve had brought along, eating quite well and looking forward to their next meals.
They crossed over into Glouchester, a land now divided between old Duke Eldol’s many relatives. They stopped at Castle Marlborough, where young Lord Eldwyn, no more than eight or nine years old held the castle. He did not seem to have a Regent, but rather ruled with the advice of a Christian monk. He granted the knights hospitality, and was the most gracious host they had met so far.
They avoided the main roads, and were able to avoid any banditry or challenges by hostile knights, and made it to the Forest Sauvage. Lady Nineve seemed to know the hidden paths to take, and led the knights forward.
They met a strange Squire, named Llewellyn, who was unusually cold, and asked the knights for a cloak. When Sir Gherard gave him one, they found that it did not fit him, covering barely a shoulder. Sir Harvis gave his as well, but it seemed quite small on the squire’s frame. Sir Hermel gave his cloak up only reluctantly, after being chided by Lady Nineve. (Sir Gherard and Harvis got Generous checks, Hermel got a Selfish check.)
Squire Llewellyn led them to the Castle of the Falcon, a small keep and nearby village surrounded by the local forest. The only knight present was the owner, Sir Ector, and the castle had clearly seen better days. He explained that he believed Llewellyn was a ‘spiritual giant,’ as if that explained anything. Without any servants to attend to him, Ector had his two sons, boys of about ten and eight, named Kay and Art, attend to the knights.
Sir Ector showed them the mews and the falcons (Merlins, as it happened), and the knights went falconing. Sir Harvis exchanged news with Sir Ector, and asked Ector if he had ever met Merlin- Ector said he hadn’t, but Harvis could tell the knight was lying. He did not press him on this mystery, since Ector had otherwise been a gracious host.
They continued onward through the forest, and encountered a pavilion of ladies, led by one Lady Blanche de Blanche, who told the knights she and her ladies were discussing morality, and wanted to know what made them good men. Sir Hermel said that it was because he took care of his family and provided for them. Sir Gherard said that he strove to be just in all things, and Sir Harvis that he was brave in battle. (Sir Hermel was clearly reaching for a generous check, after getting one for selfish; he got checks in Honor and Love: Family. Gherard got checks for Just and Modest, and Harvis for Proud and Valorous.)
They encountered a field of poppies, that made everyone who crossed through want to fall asleep, but the vigorous knights were able to carry out the squires and ladies who fell asleep.
Finally, they reached Lady Nineve’s destination, the home of an old friend of hers. This woman was near the end of her life, and was in pain, and asked Nineve to brew her a potion that would end her life. Lady Nineve was somewhat taken back by this. Sir Hermel told her she had to be true to herself, which comforted Nineve. After her original shock, she had no problem brewing the potion. She gave Sir Hermel the root he would need to cure his sickly child, and told the knights she and her handmaidens would be continuing north, to Gorre, to their mistress, Queen Morgan. She told the knights to go back the way they came, but also mentioned that if they sought adventure they might seek King Madog, the King of the Forest at the heart of the Forest Sauvage.
They ventured back to the Castle of the Falcon, where the younger page (clearly a reliable source of information), told them that it was rumored that anyone who passed three trials would be granted a boon by King Madog. Going deeper into the forest (now finding a clear path further in), they encountered a bridge guarded by Sir Joust, who wanted a friendly joust with the knights. Each jousted in turn, and he unhorsed each of them, however did so so skillfully that they were unharmed. Afterwards, he led them to the Castle of Ease.
At the Castle of Ease, they were feasted and granted warm beds, private chambers, and even a bath! Sir Harvis found his long lost sister Violet, who had married a knight and had two children. After staying the night, they found the castle most welcome… so welcome in fact, that they felt that if they stayed another night, they might want to stay another, then another. The three energetic knights took their leave of the Lord of the Castle of Ease, and continued on their journey.
After traveling through another village, where everything was unusually clean (including the pigs and the dogs and the peasants), they stopped at the Castle of the Race, where the Lord, Sir Yves, insisted on racing one of them. The track didn’t look so hard on foot, so all three knights agreed to race him. However once they set off, they found that the course was quite confusing, and Sir Hermel and Harvis found themselves hopelessly lost in the forest. Only Sir Gherard actually finished the race, with Sir Yves waiting at the finish line for him. He ventured forth into the forest to find his fellow knights, and found himself lost with them.
They traveled through the forest for several days (weeks?) getting no closer to Castle Sauvage. They first encountered Sir Bryan of Tribuit, who offered to show them the way out, and warned them that the forest was a dangerous, cursed place. Still, they ventured forward. Next, they encountered an old hag, who scoffed at them and told them if they had any sense they would leave. Still, they ventured forward. Next, they encountered a remote shrine, and the hermit who kept it, who pointed the way out, and told them no good would come to them if they stayed. Still, they ventured forward. Finally, they encountered a talking bear, who roared at them to leave. They figured this was a pretty good sign, and took the bear’s advice, and exited the forest, miles and miles away from where they entered.
They made it back home, to a scene of devastation. The Saxons of Wessex had raided their lands, so heavily that it would take years to recover. (In addition to the 3 points of raiding that had happened before, there were 2 points of ‘permanent’ damage, that reduced the value of their lands. Some of the knights, through good stewardship were able to mend the damage, and those who were married were also able to have their wives aid them, but it was a hard year all around, and most of the knights were forced to adopt poor lifestyle.)