King Ban's Lost Sword
From the port of Carlion several ships set sail a week after the battle of Carlion. On the ships travelled a delegation led by the most worthy Duke Ulfius and with him fared such noteworthy knights as Sir Cadry, Sir Maelgwyn and Sir Brastias. Among them were also such worthy knights as Sir Padern and the young heir of the Anarwd family, Sir Cyn. It was no secret among the nobility that King Arthur had sent the company across the canal to Aquitaine to seek the aid of King Ban and King Bors.
To the great relief of many knights, most notably Sir Cadry who was renowned for his great dislike of the ocean in particular and waters deeper than his bathtub in general, the journey across the ocean turned out uneventful. Upon reaching shore, the delegation was met by a certain Sir Euric who held the land they had arrived in. Sir Euric proved a good host, if a bit distant, no doubt harbouring a certain reserve and suspicion towards armed foreigners. He also made clear his wish that none of the delegation should speak to his young daughter. Hardly had he uttered his wish before the young Sir Cyn encountered the young maid and spoke to her in private for such is the heart of the young that they seldom heed the wishes and advices of their elders. It was later claimed that the young knight had snuck out during the night to once again meet the young girl. No doubt immoral acts were committed.
After several days travel the delegation was fast approaching the castle of King Ban, when a knight came riding at full speed down the roads. Such was his ill-manner that he did not even stop to greet the knights. Sir Padern, being a rash man, prone to giving in to his every impulse declaimed that an adventure must be afoot and quickly rode after followed by young Sir Cyn. Sir Cadry and the still ailing Sir Maelgwyn was resolute in their determination to reach the kings castle but soon changed their mind when they heard terrible cries from the forest in the direction in which their younger companions rode. In the forest the two old knights only found tracks right by a gorge which made it seem like their young friends had ridden straight of the cliff. Mightily worried the elder knights found a small track down to the bottom and their found poor Sir Padern’s horse looking like a butcher’s block right before Christmas. Some devilry was afoot and the knights soon found them assaulted by infernal vegetations that in a most malicious and treacherous manner soon fell Sir Maelgwyn with a mighty blow. Sir Cadry was almost unmade by the deceitful glamour of the plants but at the last moment managed to find his courage once again at hearing the cries of help from his comrades. Slaying the plant and freeing his friends the knights were about to return to their travel companions, when the strange knights showed up. It turned out to be the King of these lands, Ban by name, who greeted the knights warmly and thanked them for ridding his lands of such a plight.
The knights followed the king back to one of his sumptuous hunting lodges, where Sir Maelgwyn could be treated and recover. The delegation, led by Duke Ulfius, started negotiating with King Ban to acquire the aid of his army and that of his brother, King Bors. The King was most willing to help the young highking of Britain but he explained that a geas rested upon him. He must not leave his lands without his noble sword, Coreuseus. Said sword had been stolen a year ago, and as such the king explained that no matter how much he wanted to rid to King Arthur’s aid, he was unable to do so. Duke Ulfius, being a man unused to being denied tried to offer many different things to make the king ignore such superstitions but the king remained adamant.
The younger knights Sir Padern and Sir Cyn insisted to their elders in private that surely it was their duty to recover the king’s blade so he could come to the aid of Britain. Sir Cadry and Sir Maelgwyn was reluctant at first but was soon won over by the exuberance and eagerness of their young friends. Said and done, the knights started investigating the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the sword. From a young, former squire of the king, by the name of Gundemar, the knights learned that the sword had been stored in the armoury as was their wont. The squire noted though that he had heard a strange sound from within and had peered in. In the chamber he had seen a man falling out of the window and with some prompting from Sir Cadry, recalled seeing an unusually large raven with strange blue eyes afterwards who flew from the tower. At the same time, Sir Padern performed before the assembled ladies of the court and brought many ladies to tears with his emotional rendering of the death of King Vortigern. Being in the good graces of the ladies, he learned that the most likely culprit was the enchantress Vivienne who resided in Boise-en-Val.
The knights set of for the lake in which the enchantress was said to live. They brought the former squire Gundemar as a guide. On the way to the lake they were warned three times “that nothing but trouble” awaited them if they kept following the track.
Entering a valley, the knights happened upon a cottage. Within lived a peasant woman by the name of Ceraide who told them that they had come upon the valley of no return and that they should take heed, for Vivienne only wished to speak with the wisest of men. Undaunted the company pressed on, considering themselves both brave and most wise. Some would consider such an action both arrogant and foolish, but I digress. In the forest the knights found several dead franks bearing a strange, black raven upon their shields. Riding on, they soon found the fabled lake and both the lake itself and the animals drinking from it seemed oddly still and peaceful. By the lakeside they came upon a young handmaiden of Vivienne who was washing a magnificent dress. She told the knights that if they wished to see Vivienne they must dive into the lake and retrieve something which the enchantress had dropped in it a long time ago. The youngest of the knights, Sir Cyn took it upon himself to do the bidding of the lady. He dove into the pool and at the bottom he found many things but felt that an old dagger was the true treasure to be brought up. Through many tests and tribulations, Cyn managed to prevail and was bid to stand before Vivienne. The enchantress congratulated the young man for having proven himself a good man but also scolded him for not being a just man and that he must take heed in the future.
As a reward for completing her trials, Vivienne told Cyn that the villain who had stolen the king’s sword was a blackguard called Nightraven and she told him that he could be found in the foothills of the mountains. She also warned that brigand was versed in the magical arts and might not die once defeated.
Undeterred, the three knights and the young former squire set of for the mountains and some force seemed to guide them towards an old tower situated high above a cave system. The knights decided foolishly to try to sneak up on the brigands but it was to no avail. Realising that they were discovered, Sir Cadry shouted out a challenge to Nightraven to face him in single combat. The vile frank accepted the challenge and ordered his men to let the knight through. As had happened son many times before when meeting something even resembling a saxon, Sir Cadry unleashed his hatred and fury and after a short exchange of blows soon wounded Nightraven.
True to his name though, the villain turned into a raven and flew up towards his tower. The brigands started attacking the knights but was swiftly dispatched by the skilled swordsmen.
Pursuing the shapechanger up many long stairs, the knights arrived at the forlorn tower. In the door of said tower a haggard man awaited them and when they approached he turned out to be some manner of foul wraith moving with speed of lightning. Only backing up against one another so the foul undead could not attack them from behind could the knights finally dispatch their foe. From the top of the tower Nightraven shouted taunts and threats at his enemies whilst hiding like a coward.
Within the decrepit tower more spectres awaited, one on each of the towers three floors. Since the revenants each waited in the stairs only one man could fight them at the time. Despite their unnatural fortitude and higher ground, they could not prevail against old Sir Cadry, he who had slain many kinds of strange beast and monster. With every duel Sir Cadry seemed to slow down though and being young and brash, Sir Cyn and Sir Padern ordered young Gundemar to boost them up and past the last wraith so that they could hunt down the foul necromancer himself at the top of the tower. All said and done, Sir Cyn faced the shapechanger at the top of the tower and slew him after having exchanged but a few blows.
But a few breaths later, Sir Cadry charged the top of the tower to finally slay his prey but found to his dismay that his young companion had taken the opportunity from him. At that moment the old knight looked like he himself had almost become one of the unquiet dead himself, growing pale and shaking like a man possessed by an unclean spirit. A great anger burned in his eyes and he started cursing his young ally for a thief and scoundrel and only through the intervention of Sir Padern did the confrontation end without anything sharper drawn than unfair words uttered in a fit of rage.
Fortunately, the king’s sword could be recovered and the knights could return to King Bans court. The kings received his sword with great joy, and being a good and generous king offered the knights a boon each. Sir Padern, being a selfless man, more concerned with the wellbeing of others than his own fortune, asked that Gundemar be allowed to become a squire again, having helped recovering the sword that he had lost. Sir Cyn asked for the king’s aid in courting the young maid, Florentina, daughter of Sir Euric. Sir Cadry asked that the king give him what the king thought appropriate for a man of his stature. Last but certainly not least of all the King promised to join the delegation in travelling to Britain and fighting alongside them. He also said that his brother, King Bors, in all likelihood would come to the young kings aid.