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Story of Sir Cynfyn, Knight of the Medlar (Portfolio 2)

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Links About Sir Cynfyn

530 Character Sheet, front
530 Characters Sheet, back
Medlar Manor

Contents

First Portfolio

Second Portfolio
531, Undertreasurer of Oriel
532, the Tower of Spite
Cynfyn's Investiture
533, King Arthur's Insult
533, The Parisian Tournament
533, Those Damned Foreigners

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531

From Sir Cynfyn, Undertreasurer of Oriel, Lord of Medlarwod and Bunny, Knight in good standing of the proud Candlebees of Leicester;

To my Lord King Edar of Oriel, Count of Leicester, Lord of Allington, great Founder and Chief of the proud Candlebees, liberator of Leicester and right hand of King Arthur;

Greetings.

Herein is my advance report for the year 531 concerning the collection of taxes from your lands and subjects in your ancient kingdom of Oriel. As ordered, I hired 10 mounted sergeants and 50 others and we marched to Emain Macha, the haunted ruins they claim for their ancestral rites. Everyone knows what a bewitched place Ireland is, so I paid £5 to an Irish Bishop of great fame and power named Patrick mac Patrick mac Patrick, of the direct lineage of the ancient conqueror of Ireland, who came and worked it over—what’s it Odio? Yea, he exercised the site. Feast was great after, eh Odio? Don’t write that you idiot. Godamn giv…

As FX is my witness I will rewrite this for the king. --O

After the Exercise we set up camp nearby at Monaghan, and sent messages to the nine chiefs and their people to come and pay homage to your scepter of office at their Hill of the Stone. To the one that came, I did not treat him as a king and he did not expect it, but was submissive and acknowledged his position under your boot. He paid tribute in cattle and sheep, and thus I procured supplies for the army. He was Rigcolla the Loyal, representing the Sweeny clan.

For the first two months your troops collected tribute from the other eight chiefs and achieved good success. All people who swore allegiance and paid tribute were spared by us. When we found anyone who had participated in the murder of our Leicestermen, I killed them. Whoever resisted were taken and sold at the slave market in Dublin. Their impounded animals and goods were given to Sir Brastias’ broker, George of Glevum, to be sold. We found many empty villages and burned all of them to the ground. The Sweenys were helpful in finding vills, rooting out hidden goods, and collecting the pots and plow blades. It is a very hilly land, with many large lakes and except for the constant rain, quite pleasant.

I paid the mercenaries, then dismissed half the infantry and hired kerns from the Sweenys. They proved to be cheaper and more thorough at rooting out the treasures of their countrymen in areas we were unable to reach. It takes a peasant to loot a peasant. Afterwards the whole Sweeny clan wore shoes and Rigcolla remarked about it all the time. He looked ludicrous in his Irish outfit and I gave him a proper British cloak. He and his whole clan converted to Christianity too, and now their motto is “by the blessing of Fighting Jesus.” They have proved to be loyal and upright, and a valuable ally. Rigcolla might have noble blood somewhere in his bastard past. He is obedient and naturally deferent, but bears himself as a natural leader and has the respect of his people. His sons, who I have spoken to at length while they are hostages, say they could prove the nobility in their ancestry, if given the chance at your noble court. “Our father is not a cobbler,” they said. Indeed, Rigcolla is not.

I consider it a worthy endeavor, for of the £100 which you sent with me to invest, I return with £1000 now, and the same amount will be forwarded later by George of Glevum. The kingdom yielded its treasures and was at total peace when I departed. You need not waste a fighting man to head this land. A worthy steward would suffice now, who is capable of running an undisturbed land.

I will return to Leicester in early autumn, before the seas are too rough to sail. I have employed some loyal men to protect us during our return with this great treasure.

Your faithful and loyal servant, Sir Cynfyn of Medlarwood and Bunny

medlars piled

Background

I GM’d this year and so conspired to get Sir Cynfyn into an off-screen tale. Collecting taxes and revenge from Oriel seemed like a good idea. King Edar agreed and even warned Cynfyn, “Before you leave, let me tell you one more thing. It is important to remember that the Irish are capable of great treachery. Be on your guard. For those that have recognized my authority as their ruler, be fair to them, and treat them as you would a Leicesterman. For those whose actions betray them, let justice be swift and public. Let mercy temper your judgment with those deserving of it. Those who are just should not fear the representatives of their rulers. Those who would act against us should be prepared to face dire consequences.”

Since I am amused to localize my game and characters into the countryside, I did a little research. Wikipedia is good enough for this. Rummaging around revealed that Oriel was founded by the three Collas, called “the noble,” “the famous” and “of the two territories.” There was the local name I would use: Colla. “Rig” is an Irish word for “king,” and so this is actually King Colla, which is just me playing a bit of a game on Cynfyn after all his bitching about how these were not “real kings,” etc. The bit about the descendant of St. Patrick is more of the same—the locals taking advantage of the conquerors.

I got Sweenys because they were (later) from this area, and were enemies of the O’Neils, a branch of which Edar reputedly exterminated. A Sweeny motto is “By the Providence of God,” which I altered for the sake of the Fighting Jesus thread.

As for the Graft Rules, I note this: “Graft doesn’t always take away from the proper flow of money to proper coffers, but instead is applied to the peasants who do the work, to litigants at court, merchants bringing the goods and so on. A careful officer can probably get up to £19 a year in this manner without raising any official eyebrows.”

And also: “Personal Consequences

Whenever an office holder Grafts or Steals, these effects always occur:
• Guilt Roll. The Grafter must roll Loyalty (Lord). Success = Lose one point of stat; Critical = Lose two points of that Loyalty stat
• Check Selfish and Deceitful
• Lose 1 Honor for every £10 in a year taken.

So Sir Cynfyn politely skims just £19 off the top for himself, invisibly. He also helped young Sir Eliddyr get the same amount, though he had to take some nice bits from the plundered Irish goods.

And for the record, the money Cynfyn brings home and his report indicate a tremendous plundering of an already poor land. His intention was to wreak vengeance on the killers of his people, and destroy and take everything he could, and with his hirelings and the Sweenys, he did.
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532

Write that thing, about fightin’ Jesus and who I am and all.

Truthfully recorded by Brother Odio, servant.

Sir Bledri is dead. I can speak at all only because someone needs to faithfully record his last adventure.

Since he waits this long I will write. My lord sighs and stares at his fireplace. Not Lady Lizabet, young Cyngarn nor the newborn stir his melancholy. Christmas was miserab…

We are knights of Leicester first, bound together by duty. We are candlebees, together by virtue. We are friends, together by choice. When one of us is in need, we are all in need. And it was Sir Ardur who needed us, son of the great knight, Sir Brandegoris Hambone.

King Today’s court was here—pah. Weird looking foreigners, funny accents. Every meal was just decadence and gluttony. We were told to stay sober and not mingle with the foreigners. Most of us did just that. But the young are susceptible to the exotic, I hear, and the wine they say was exquisite, that piping music was a distraction. Many among us seemed agitated by them, others almost somnambulant. So it was the magic that made young Sir Ardur lead us, stumbling, among the foreigner’s side of the hall to where an old man sat with his daughters.

“You’re a wonderful old man,” said Ardur, and began addressing a girl who quickly flew into a rage and began striking him with the magical bag she was carrying, and all the other women at the table threw pieces of apple at him and young Sir Ardur flinching and enduring it as she screamed and the old man droned on but who could hear him anyway and finally we just grabbed Sir Ardur and dragged him away before the High King should see this disturbance.

“My son is a prisoner,” he said, “I am going to go get him.”

Beware of Listeneisse! Avoid that wasted land that took a man as great a Sir Bledri! Goblin knights, they were, monsters in human form scoffing at our sacred order with their perverse mockery of our ways. I killed them. They killed Bledri, my friend.

He weeps into his hands. L Lizabet touches him. He is like the stone effigy ordered for Sir Bledri’s grave. He rode like that the whole way back. It was at the Tower of Spite. He shakes off his wife.

We brought him back in a great procession, covered with the fur of the giant fox we slew, and whose tail will grace my helm ever after, in Sir Bledri’s memory. Crowds lined the streets and wept as we passed. He is to be buried in Leicester, but the priests are arguing about which cemetery he goes to. I told Odio to put him in Fighting Jesus’ cemetery, but he told me not to talk about that in the city, and that Count Edar would settle this, as Sir Bledri wanted.

Well, look, here is Lizabet weeping too. Why you hardly knew the man, wife! Come, up now and tell the girls to get supper on the table. Out of the way, Odio.

Later, by Odio. My lord is so struck with grief he does not even report that he has been granted three new manors and their knights as his gift for life, and also the title of Banneret. Despite the loss, Sir Ardur did collect his boy now. No wife, except that crazy apple woman if she comes back, FX say no. And apparently he’s still got plenty to learn that they didn’t teach him in the courts of Camelot.

Background

Zev GM’d this.

The visit of King Today got a lot more play time that Cynfyn gives it. Lots of fun courtly activity, with Cynfyn subdued and moderate, sober and calm amidst much frenzy. The events above occurred more or less how Cynfyn described it. It ended with the challenge of the King of Overthere and Arthur’s acceptance.

We set off for the forests of Cambenet. We encountered a hunting fox, hunting us that is, and it was huge gigantic. We managed to kill it, and Cynfyn claimed its 6-foot long tail as his prize. Some peasants skinned it while we went farther, up to the ruins of the Tower of Spite. We engaged with the aforesaid goblin knights, or something unpleasant and nasty.

Unmentioned here in public is that Cynfyn heard one of the goblin knights surrender to Bledri, who laughed and said “No,” but failed to kill it and was, instead, killed himself. That is preying on his mind a little bit.
medlars on tree

Text of Cynfyn’s Investiture

To Sir Cynfyn of Medlarwood, for outstanding courage in service to me, Sir Edar Earl of Leicester and King of Oriel, I do grant the noble title of Banneret with all its honors and benefits. Further, as a Gift I do grant to Banneret Cynfyn the lordship of the two manors called Upper Bogside and Lower Bogside, whose two knights hereafter are vassals to the new Lord Medlar; and which other manor of Soggyside is to be held in demense by Lord Cynfyn for the term of his life.


Fief: 3 manors. Fee: 2 knights Upkeep: +£6

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533

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I am Sir Cynfyn, Lord Bannerret of Medlarwod and Bunny, Knight of the Candlebees, and Odio here will record this. I so swear—O

Our old friend Sir Gwalchmi, the Round Table Knight, came to King Edar’s court in late winter, bearing word from King Arthur for our king. Our lord was summoned to come early to the High King’s Whitsun court. We set off at the end of April, in a cold rain and against raging rivers. We traveled by the King’s Road and got late to Lambor in two days. The steward, a new fellow there, seemed nervous. The next several days were clear and brisk, and the roads were crowded as always. No events delayed us—it is the King’s Road after all—until south of Kinetown.

A procession of knights approached from the south. As we were travelling south the commoners were already clearing the road. They all bore the arms of Aquitaine, notably many of the de Ganis clan. King Edar hailed them as fellow Round Table knights—three of them, Sirs Lionel, Blioberis and Blamore. I heard, indeed, we all heard, Sir Lionel slander our own good king and of course I will never allow the honor of my King Edar to be shamed so I rode up and challenged the dog, “to joust” I said and rode off to gain distance. He took his spear and we each broke lances. When rearming Jerry found a lance head in my shield, where I had used a harmless jousting lance! I saw that others of us were also fighting, so took my best spear and charged against his attack. Round Table he might be, but this knight dashed him down, and then his brother Blioberis too, dogs both of them. I was prepared to knock them all down, but the fighting was over. Gwalchmi had broken one of them in two—I doubt nothing now of that dragon story! Another even greater procession came about the bend flying the banners of Marshall Sir Griflet and High Butler Sir Bedivere among dozens of knights. Fighting stopped.

Sir Blamore apologized for the high spirits of his men, and while the many dead and wounded were borne off, slipped away. Sir Bedivere explained that they were going to Lambor to invest Sir Blamore with the title and rights of earl to Lambor. King Edar showed nothing when this was said.

King Edar wasn’t silent on the ride though. We discussed the insult that King Arthur had given to him by bestowing promised lands onto a court favorite. Countess Valery said she wanted to return home immediately. King Edar has patience as great as his sword skill, though, and great faith in the sovereign. We reached Camelot in mid March, and after a few days of welcome and feasting our lord was taken, with a few key advisors, to the king, in his bedroom. I do not know how it is done, but the room was actually warm, though there was ice outside.

King Arthur told us he needed an escort for his niece to Paris, who was to marry into the family of King Claudas. He wanted King Edar to go, who balked, and finally King Arthur asked what was troubling our lord and so he brought up the matter that the High King had violated his oath by giving away the lands he had promised to Count Edar at his coronation, and swore again at his wedding. Our good king explained that he owed many favors to the de Ganis, and tried using argument, flattery, appeals to past friendship and every other diplomatic art short of threat and coercion. King Edar, ever in the right, parried each argument and came back to Justice each time. At last the king, admitting nothing, said he would make a final judgment on this next autumn. As an act of generosity the high king gave King Edar a great treasure to repair his castles. Our lord assured him that this would be done.

All of us of Leicester are shocked at King Arthur’s arrogance, and many bold and foolish words were said at first, until King Edar silenced them. He bestowed upon me leadership of the escort to France while he would go home to Leicester and repair fortifications, as ordered. He’ll confer with his wide-flung family and friends, hire some armorers and fletchers, and stuff the castles with provisions.

Commentary

I am not sure what Steve intended to happen with this, but for myself, it was wonderful the way that the character of Sir Cynfyn just took over. He lives that life of gusto, I hope, and is fanatical about his prerogatives and rights as the vassal of Edar. Touchy, one might say, about Count King Edar.

I will confess, too, to an impulse to bewitch the game, sort of. Naturally it was Cynfyn who pointed out that Arthur had violated an old oath. Steve hadn’t intended that to be the plot point but like all good GMs he let me go, Zev saw the sense of its medieval logic, and we forged on to a story that Steve hadn’t anticipated: righteous rebellion against King Arthur.

In truth, King Arthur did breach his end of the feudal trust. Sir Edar has the right to bring that severance to public notice, and to declare the liege/vassal bond to be broken. This is not a smirtch on Edar’s Honor, and it might be if he did not declare it broken.

And I know Steve didn’t plan that. Good GMing—to handle the plot so well. We still finished the whole scenario, and the potential war is a very long-term action.

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The Parisian Tournament

I am Sir Cynfyn, Lord Bannerret of Medlarwod and Bunny, Knight of the Candlebees, sworn man of Count King Edar of Leicester. My man Odio here will record this.

I do swear.—O

We brought the good maiden to Paris without incident. Some of the Round Table knights shunned us, having expected my good Lord Count King Edar to accompany them. Sir Gawaine was his usual convivial self, and Sir Gwalchmai was our friend, as always. The only questionable part of the escort was Sir Aiden, the Irish prince. He is seeking a wife of means and family, but of course no one of sense would willingly graft an Irish limb onto a noble tree. He seemed to vent his eagerness upon our ward, but after I realized he was simply practicing that romance prattle, I tired to watching him. He is not of my party, and was named by King Arthur to his task. I’ve enough to worry about without also spying on an Irish knight and the queen’s cousin.

Paris is a ratty town, like London, but smaller and filthier. They hung tired old banners from the balconies and threw limp flowers upon the street before us. I’ve never seen such a collection of filthy, drunken men and debauched old whores as those who showed up to cheer us. Oh wait, yes I did. In Rome. Odio, did you know there’s an order of prostitute nuns in Rome that are dedicated to Saint Jezebel! Sir Lucius practically moved in there.

Ah, Sir Lucius, I’ll remember you well. He was that whore mongering lawyerly knight, who spent the time in Trond with Count King Edar in exile. No more, though. He was murdered in Paris—hung from a street sign one night. That caused some discomfort with King Claudas. It would do poorly to have such an offense mar the wedding between the two kingdoms. Promises were made, investigations were begun and I several times heard the screams of the criminals being interrogated. Personally, I figured that the old horn dog had bonked the wrong girl, but no one cared for my opinion, and Sir Gawaine seemed amused by the king’s distress. The wedding was completed, and we retired outside of the foul city to a grand tournament.

King Claudas is an ugly man, and despite all their élan, his men are slouches. The French are a backward people—hardly more than barbarians if you ask me—but one thing they did well was that tournament! It was a gala affair, with knights from all over the French lands and some from beyond. Thousands, I say. A glorious spectacle of chivalry from across the continent. Of course, none of them shone as we did, the original knights.

I was shocked when they declared that the jousting would be done for the horse and arms of each participant. Of course we participated, for the Honor of Leicester. What? Oh yes, and of Britain. I put aside Thunder, for I didn’t want to lose the biggest horse in all Britain for sport. I bested seven knights in all before falling to one greater than myself, a Sir Sigbert of Frankfurt, a subject of the French King. Sir Gwalchmi the Round Table knight won the joust, and in passing killed four and maimed six others. Wonderful sport.

For the melee we chose to be on the lesser side, that of Bretagne and some other western lands. The French knights are poor fighters, as I said, for we pushed forward with vigor until the Bretagne knights gave way and let the enemy into the camp. We never did that, though hard pressed. We fought under Sir Gwalchmi.

I would have been done, but a stranger pressed me for a challenge, a fight unto death. I didn’t know the man, and after he insulted me and my lord, I took it up. He did not last long, and though he had challenged me to the Death I spared him. When they found his blade smeared with poison, the French heralds were ready to hang the stranger. He was searched, and tokens of the de Ganis house were found, and the wretch confessed to being one of them. Some urged me to kill him, as was my right, but I still did not. I turned him over to the King Claudas instead, to deal with as he sees fit. I don’t know what they do to assassins in France, but it’s in his land.

All of us nobles were generously gifted by the king upon our departure. My Lady Lizabet and my men will all wear French silk to the Christmas Court this year.

Accompanying us back to Leicester were two diplomats from King Claudas, Sir Caldemar the Bold, and the Bishop of Troyes; and a priest from the Count of Tours, named Uno, who is the son of a famous British Duke Ulfius, who served under Kings Uther and Arthur. They wished to speak to my lord Count King Edar, and I have sworn safe passage for them. With their entourage, our return party is much larger than before, and so we return to Britain.

Commentary

Steve is still running the game. The French Tournament is a tournament adventure, juiced up with that armor gambling and the assassination attempt. Cynfyn ended up with over £70. He will be buying some barding for his destrier, and likely some mercenary sargeants if he can afford them.

It’s those Damned Foreigners

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I am Sir Cynfyn, Lord Bannerret of Medlarwod and Bunny, Knight of the Candlebees, sworn man of Count King Edar of Leicester. My man Odio here will record this.

I will—O.

I know now what is wrong with the King. It’s the foreigners—the de Ganis. They have done nothing but harm to Count Edar since they came here and poisoned the ears of our king. That’s what His Grapes Uno told me, anyway, before he stopped talking to me. Odio, what was that about anyway? He’s a bishop, a holy man like you, but he goes into battle in armor with lance and mace. Everyone knows that. So what did he say about Fightin’ Jesus again? Aunty Ma? What?

Anathema. I do my best. –O

Pfh, he’s got balls. If His Grapes gives me that crap again we’ll see whose Jesus is tougher.

My Lord is amused. medlars branch

See, it began when King Arthur was at Badon and the foreigners needed his help. Our king had said he would help them, because they helped him. But he didn’t, and so all of the lands of Ganis were conquered by that French King Claudas. And instead of staying to free their own lands then instead they all came here because our King Arthur is generous, and they said his Honor would be besmirched if he didn’t correct the error of his broken oath, see, the one that was when he didn’t help them. So now those de Ganis bloodsuckers are all at court when good men like Count King Edar are all at home doing what British lords are supposed to do, like keeping the land safe and rewarding his own good men.

See, that’s what was wrong there, with Sir Tristram. What right did those foreign kings have to be sitting under our Tree of Justice passing judgment on an Irish king for something that happened over in Ireland? Bullies, court bullies they are, all of the grasping and greedy and pushing everyone around because they have the king’s ear.

He is amused again.

But a few less of them to whisper now, eh Odio? Well, the king’s problem is over now anyway. This whole thing was because that scum Blamore convinced King Arthur to give him our Count King Edar’s lands for whatever cursed reason he gave. Now that Blamore is dead then that’s over, I would think. No more problem. I don’t think he has any heirs, since we killed his two brothers too. They were his brothers Odio, right?

Oh, brother and cousin then. They sure chose the wrong party to bully that day though. Poisoners, they are, all of them. First with that assassin in Paris, then with this attack. And you know they had poison on the blade, or else they wouldn’t have complained so loudly, you know. Fools. Attacking us, now three of them dead, and how many of their supporters? Only fourteen dead? I thought it was more. Fourteen then, and three that matter.

Now there’s only two of those bloodsuckers left, Sir Bors and Sir Lancelot. What? Lionel? A little rat—I meant important bloodsuckers. I’m confident that King Arthur will banish them all after he sees the crimes they and their men have done. Let us hope this little fight ends the trouble between our king and King Arthur.

Oh, and King Leinster is my witness, I struck Sir Blamore a fair wound when he attacked us, and I was attempting to bandage him when his vile brother struck me from behind. We were attacked, unprovoked, and defended ourselves. He swore that, did he not? Good. And the French bishop, too? Good then, I will rest again.

He sleeps. Lord FJ protect me from wounds like those.

My lord delivered his report from a stretcher, and Count Edar seemed less excited that my lord seemed to expect. We have learned that the lands have been heavily raided all year while we were gone, especially from Bedegraine and Lindsey.

It was Sirs Blamore de Ganis, Blioberis de Ganis and Ector de Maris who were killed at the Duel of the Oak. Sir Gwalchmi is under house arrest for his part, for he killed another Round Table knight. My lord praised our knights greatly for their parts in this. We are hoping that King Anguish’s word will exonerate us. My lord expects to be back on his feet in a month or two, “in case there’s a war,” he told me.

Commentary

Once again we seized control of the situation from the GM’s hands. (You can ask Steve if it was fun or not for him.) The tournament was a lot of fun, even though—no, I confess it—especially because of Gwalchmi’s murderous skill which killed 4, maimed 6 (I believe it was). Cynfyn himself won 7 jousts, thereby accruing great wealth in horses and armor. And there was an assassination attempt by a guy wearing the de Ganis badge. He had his excuses and lies of course, but who believes him now? Anyway, it was Cynfyn’s insistence on checking the de Ganis jouster for poison that finally set off the melee. And Cynfyn really was kneeling over his victim, apparently administering First Aid, when he was struck with a Major Wound.

Although in truth, I told he GM that Cynfyn would make sure that Blamore was dead from the First Aid.

Steve seemed a bit taken aback by having contrived a war between our characters (under Edar) and King Arthur. We, however, are all delighted with it, even though we are all probably going to be killed by Sir Lancelot. Oh yea, Bishops are officially addressed as "Your Grace," or when spoken of would be "His Grace;" or as Cynfyn insists, "His Grapes."

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